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In the past three theatrical seasons, productions from The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, have transferred to Broadway and stolen the hearts of theatregoers and critics alike with their unique approach and innovative design. Encouraged, Sammi Cannold, a sophomore Theatre and History double major at Stanford University, took a page from A.R.T.'s book.
"We have a phenomenal grant program [at Stanford] called ReDesigning Theater, through which they encourage students to come up with ideas that are innovative and pushing the boundaries of theatre. Last spring, I was really inspired by the work going on at the American Repertory Theater — and all work all over the world that expands the boundaries of theatre via reinventing this 'relationship' with the audience — and wanted to do something that would push that," director Cannold told Playbill.com. "I had always been a fan of the musical Violet. I adore the music and was listening to [it] one night and thought, 'Wouldn't it be really cool if this musical, which is about a woman on a bus, was actually put on a bus?' and flushed out the idea from there. [Producers Kelly Gregg and Brandon Powell] came on board, and everything got rolling…"
The production essentially began "rolling" when producer (and Stanford junior, majoring in Human Biology) Kelly Gregg contacted Musical Theatre International to license Violet as well as the University's on-campus shuttle system, Marguerite, to charter a bus for the rehearsals, dress rehearsals and Nov. 14-17 performances.
"It was a unique conversation," explained Gregg of her conversation with the bus company. "I remember calling them up and being like, 'We have this sort of crazy idea. We want to sing and dance on your bus.' And, they were very open to the idea, which was so nice because I was very worried that they would think we were insane… It's been this constant contact between myself and this bus company as we rehearse and discover different things about this show. They've been very open to working with us to find a happy medium where the passengers and the driver are safe, and everybody is safe on the bus."
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