We had the chance to talk with John Brandl, director of Walter Cronkite is Dead, and co-founder of Kettle Moraine Players. Brandl talked about the show, a comedy, and why he chose it for the KMP season.
KMP was founded to do non-musicals. Although musicals make up about 90% of the shows produced by community theaters, they make up only 10% of the shows published. We wanted to bring to our area intelligent, fresh, interesting shows that you probably haven’t seen before, and that will make you laugh or make you think.
I’d say that 95% of shows do both, but most shows tend to lean one way or another and in varying degrees. Walter Cronkite is Dead splits the spectrum of “make you laugh” to “make you think” pretty much right down the middle. I found myself laughing or smiling through most of the script. When I wasn’t laughing or smiling, it was shocking me. Just when I had it figured out, WHAM, I didn’t see that coming and then, BAM, didn’t see that coming either.
The play reminded me that I shouldn’t try to predict people with only limited exposure to them, because I’m always wrong.
Imagine sitting next to a stranger on an airplane. The stranger starts talking to you and you think, “Oh geez, not this.” But you are polite and you make small talk, and the small talk turns into big talk. And 90 minutes later, you realize it’s time to leave, but you don’t want to leave. You want to keep talking. This play is like that airplane ride.
If I had to name just one thing the play is about, I’d say it’s about the human condition. Definitely the human condition.
I’ve been directing for 43 years, and this script was the most challenging I’ve done so far, because it is so complex. Joe Calarco has written a tight, wonderful, funny and endearing show. This script kept me fully engaged for the entire 90 minutes. I’m certain our audiences will enjoy it as much as I did.
Walter Cronkite is Dead is showing in a limited run at Kettle Moraine Playhouse, May 13-22, 2022. Five performances only. Tickets are available online at the KMP website: www.kmplayhouse.com/theatre.
See you at the show!