Directors leave after ‘artistic differences’

It was happening, then it was cancelled, then it was on again.  After a shaky start, the HWS Rembiko project had another chair pulled out from under it this summer in the middle of the rehearsal period. Well, two chairs.

Two directors helming three shows for the HWS Rembiko Project this summer unexpectedly left the program due to artistic differences, according to director and upper school English teacher Adam Howard.  Daniel Faltus, musical director of former music teacher Paul Ludden’s opera “The Trojan Women” and of the “Concerto Concert,” left after two days of rehearsal.  Ludden, who had just finished his last year of teaching at the Upper School, was brought in to replace him.

Eve Zappulla, director of a rock-musical adaptation of “Othella” titled “Bennie Othella and the Jets…” and publicist for the program, was reassigned a week-and-a-half into the program to solely be responsible for publicity, after which she soon left the program altogether. 

Faltus, described in press releases for the project as an “L.A. opera stalwart,” has been called in as a musical director for school performances in the past, such as the middle school musical “Oklahoma!” in May of 2004.  

Students and faculty attributed the loss of Faltus to differences between him and Artistic Director of the project and English teacher Eric Schrode. After Faltus’ departure, Schrode spoke to the cast of “The Trojan Women.”

“He said this was the straw that broke the camel’s back and that there were other disagreements,” cast member Julian Hicks ’08 said.

Zappulla was recommended to the program by Howard.  As well as directing “Bennie Othella,” she designed posters and flyers to be distributed once in Edinburgh.  Those involved with the show said the show was not coming together fast enough.

“Things were moving slowly.  [Zappulla] was a good director but in the time we had allotted we needed to get through things faster than we were,” said Taylor Lasley ’08, who played Bennie Othella.
Schrode, co-director of “Bennie Othella” took over direction for the show, which he had created, during week two of rehearsal. Adam Gold ’07 was called in by Schrode to take over graphic design. 

Emily Nelson, a friend of Kristi Schultz who choreographed “Bennie Othella,” was brought on the trip in Zappulla’s place to chaperone her flat in Edinburgh.

“I think they were both [Faltus and Zappulla] unprepared for the speed at which the program is operated,” Howard said.  “If one is not ready to hit the ground running and can’t make adjustments, it’s tough to function within the Edinburgh Project.  We move swiftly and that pace doesn’t always work for everyone.”

“I admire both of them and wish them the best,” Schrode said of Zappulla and Faltus. “The postcards that Eve designed were our best ever, and Faltus is a man whose myriad accomplishments speak for themselves.”