It’s a family affair with Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” this year at Zumanity Theater on March 3 at New York-New York.
Husband-and-wife Nicky and Laetitia Dewhurst are co-writers and -directors of the 2017 one-night-only benefit production, and Nick’s father, Brian Dewhurst, who plays the clown in “Mystere” at T.I., Cirque’s longest-running Strip production, is ringmaster of “One Drop.”
I sat with father and son after a sneak-preview run-through Feb 7:
So, Nicky, did you set out with fun in mind, with Monty Python in mind and with your dad as ringmaster?
Yes and yes! The whole thing came together when we thought about the key characters, and I talked to my dad about being part of the show before we really formulated what we were going to do. He said, “Yes, absolutely!”
We went through a couple of scenarios. Then we landed on this concept of an old ringmaster going back in time to his youth and seeing himself. When I explained that, I was like, “This is perfect, you know. Brian is perfect for this role.” He’s been in the circus his whole life and knows exactly what that feels like.
Has your dad been the perfect student to take your direction?
Actually, I’ve been incredibly impressed because I showed up the other day to fix his Wi-Fi, I walk in, and he’s got all his script laid out, and he’s reading his lines. He’s learning his lines, and I’m going, “Wow, it’s amazing that you …
(Brian interrupts) Well, it only takes me twice as long to learn the lines as it used to, then I forget them, so I have to go over them again.
Nicky: It’s definitely collaboration. We work very well together.
Brian: He’s being generous. He probably wants something. But, seriously, he and Laetitia are doing an amazing job.
Nicky: This is definitely a partnership my wife and I have. She’s incredible. When she’s not around for a session of directing, I suddenly feel a little insecure. I just get that “oh, where is she” because we bounce ideas off each other, and she has the same feeling when I’m not there.
She goes, “Can you make it to the dance rehearsal?” even though I’m not dance, I’m not choreography. She likes to bounce ideas off me.
Brian: “It’s not like that at all at home, though.
(Laughs all around.)
Is there anything that Brian has tweaked?
He’s just added his own little flare to moments where I’ll say, “This is what we want here, and we want that here.” And he’ll go, “Well, Nick, what if I just did this instead?” And I’ll go, “Oh yeah, of course — yep, perfect.”
I can’t be specific because it happens so often, and that’s his genius. It’s happened twice. That’s his genius and our relationship, how we’re able to connect and still get to the final product.
The four previous shows have been heavy in imparting the seriousness of the message, yet you seemed to have brought fun to it even though it’s a delicate tightrope to walk.
Nicky: I’m not taking anything away from the previous shows because it is a very, very serious subject. They’ve done some beautiful presentations of representing that walk for water and those kind of things that are powerful and emotional.
Brian: The “Zumanity” theater is smaller. It lends itself to seeing the acts without too much distraction because other places you could have people all over the place, but this theater brings everything more focused.
Nicky: It is a difficult subject, and one of the things that we wanted to do to try to help this year is to have people leave positive but informed. They go out and say, “I had a great time, I get it, we’re here for the right reason, and we’re donating our money. We enjoyed ourselves.”
You’re not going to disappoint because you’ve got William Shatner and things coming down from the ceiling right into the audience.
Brian: When in doubt, bring in a clown.
Nicky: String somebody up from the ceiling and drop them in.
Brian: We’ll send in the clowns right into the audience.
Nicky: And we have our “Screw It — We’re Moving to Mars” singalong:
This planet is a big disgrace
There’s only one solution for the human race
Let’s pack and get out of this place
Screw it, we’re moving to Mars!
No passport needed, there’s no immigration
Everybody’s welcome at this destination
Let’s all let go of our daily frustrations
Screw it, we’re moving to Mars!