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Talking Point ... Doing Zanna, Don't!

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Tim Acito's Off-Broadway hit Zanna, Don't! received its UK premiere at Docklands venue The Space earlier this month, and transfers to the Upstairs at the Gatehouse venue in Highgate Village in June. We caught up with director Joseph C Walsh to find out more about it.
What's the history of the Zanna, Don't!?
Zanna Don’t! opened Off-Broadway in March 2003 after a developmental workshop in 2002. It received wonderful reviews and won numerous awards including the Broadway.com Audience Award for Favourite Off-Broadway Musical and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding New York Theatre Production. Ever since its closure it has been rumoured for a Broadway transfer. I first became aware of the piece when I bought the CD on a whim during a trip to New York five years ago. I instantly fell in the love with the catchy score and played it non-stop! I became a one man marketing department forcing friends to listen to and buy the CD. Wild Oats, which also consists of Rob Archibald and Ashley Vallance, is thrilled to be presenting the London Premiere. For all of us involved it is a dream come true.

For the uninitiated, what's it about?
The show is about a group of High School students coping with the trials and tribulations of their Senior Year. However, this is Heartsville High, which exists in a world where to be gay is the norm and straight unthinkable. The show will take the audience on a journey that is one moment hilarious and the next incredibly moving. It is a very special piece. For me, it is about anyone that has every felt an outcast for any reason. At its’ heart the show is ultimately about love and understanding.

Were you pleased/surprised by the reaction at The Space?
We were overwhelmed by the reaction we had at The Space. We received so many wonderful comments and interesting and insightful reactions to the piece. It was inspiring and rewarding to watch an audience go on a journey with these characters. Literally laughing one moment, crying the next and then laughing through the tears the next.

What's the funniest line in the show?
That is really hard. There are so many hilarious moments … many unspoken. My favourite moment literally changed from night to night. A line that always went down a storm was, “What kind of a High School would this be if the Captain of the Football was not in the School Musical?”

And the catchiest song?
“Sometime Do you Think We Can Fall in Love?” You will definitely leave humming this wonderful feel good tune.

Which other shows would you compare it to?
To be honest, it is one of the most unique shows I have every come across. It is inspired by many wonderful works both musical and non, but the writers have come up with something completely singular, unique and wonderful. I did, however, jokingly say to Phil, the choreographer that I wanted the opening number to be a cross between High School Musical and Spring Awakening.

Any chance of another transfer after the Gatehouse run?
We are doing everything in our power to make that happen. We honestly and humbly feel that this show deserves a longer life in London. It is a magical evening’s entertainment that also has a strong heart and a point to make. It is not only from a production stand point, but also an audience stand point the perfect recession buster musical.

In three words, why should people come and see Zanna, Don't!?
Magical, Moving, Marvellous!

Zanna, Don't is Upstairs at the Gatehouse from 9 June 2009 to 5 July 2009


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