Trinity senior Drew Klingner will graduate this May after years of involvement with Hoof 'n' Horn and the theater studies department. Klingner spoke with Recess about his thesis production, "Parade."
The Chronicle: To start out, can you tell me a little bit about your experiences with theater at Duke?
Drew Klingner: I’ve been involved in eight Hoof ‘n’ Horn productions now, two of which were joint productions with theater studies. I’ve pretty much exclusively done musicals at this school, but I’m also a theater studies major. I’ve interacted with lots of faculty and sort of transitioned from performance roles at the beginning of college to more leadership and production-type positions toward the end of my career.
TC: End of your career? That sounds a little finite. Do you plan to pursue theater after Duke?
DK: Yeah, I am currently looking for a job in theatrical producing. I hope to be on a general management team on Broadway next year.
TC: Your thesis work is "Parade." How did you first come across this play?
DK: I played in the pit orchestra [for "Parade"] during my sophomore year in high school and fell in love with the show. Since then, the story stuck with me. I did background research and was intrigued by the history surrounding the musical, and then when it came time to select a show for my thesis, this one immediately popped into my head.
TC: Can you give a brief synopsis?
DK: Parade is about a Yankee Jew who moves to Atlanta and is the target of misplaced post-Civil War southern anger. He’s wrongly accused of the murder of a 13-year-old girl and the show processes the aftermath of that.
TC: So, it’s a little dark. Not as light-hearted as a parade sounds.
DK: Yeah, the title might be a little bit misleading...
TC: How has the work process been?
DK: It’s been amazing. I started work on this show a year and a half ago, and it’s been great to be able to spend that amount of time recruiting staff and auditioning to fill all positions necessary and working with people who are all dedicated and really talented. Parade is the first direction of a musical senior distinction project at Duke.
TC: Did you have to get through red tape to make that happen?
DK: Working within the framework of the theater department’s distinction process, I had to find a way to include Hoof ‘n’ Horn in the existing infrastructure, so once I had my advising panel, we found a route and it worked out pretty well.
TC: You’re really setting a precedent here!
DK: I guess you could say that. (laughs)
TC: How do you think your production of "Parade" fits into the canon of Hoof ‘n’ Horn?
DK: It’s a much larger-scale musical than Hoof ‘n’ Horn takes on. It’s less campy, less classical musical theater. It was definitely a challenge that Hoof ‘n’ Horn was ready for given the people in the program right now, and I think everyone stepped up to the plate. In a typical year, I don’t know if this show would have been feasible.
TC: You’re graduating in May. How do you feel about Duke as the place to have been doing this?DK: Duke is a really interesting school for people with a passion in the arts. [At Duke], a lot of people interested in the arts are also very extraordinarily smart compared to the average artist. There’s a lot of opportunities here to push Duke students into careers in the arts that are not necessarily the performer route. For me, that works because pursuing some sort of arts management or producing after college is a much more stable career. There are resources and faculty connections to really dig into that side of the arts.
"Parade" opens tonight at 8 p.m. in the Reynolds Industries Theater. Shows will run through April 20. Tickets are available online or at the box office. For more information, visit the production's website.