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Getting ready to roll out a hit with "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" May 3-19 at AFD

“That was definitely better than last night!”

The cast of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" laughs. They are sitting on the stage, spread out over the steps of the recently painted set, scripts and pencils in hand, ready to take notes. The previous night they had done a run of Act 1, and it had been a little rough, but tonight the run of Act II was a big improvement. The show is coming together on schedule for an opening night on Friday, May 3.

Each night after a run-through, director Ryan Began gives notes, some general, some specific, ranging from anything the overall tone he is looking for, to a specific change he wants an actor to make in a particular moment.

Ryan starts with the big picture first.

“Some of your moments were much too subtle. There is no room for subtlety in this show. I want you to fire on all cylinders. Don’t worry about being over the top; I can always pull you back later. Every night I want you to leave everything you have on the stage. I trust you, you just need to trust yourselves.”

This director may expect his cast to give their all to fulfill his artistic vision of this show, but it’s no less than what he expects and gives himself.

Ryan, who lives in Boston, has directed for Huntington Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and New Repertory Theatre. Last year at AFD, he directed “The Light in the Piazza.” Under his directorship, that show ranked among AFD's most successful musicals.

Ryan stays up at night creating timetables for sets and props and designing rehearsal schedules. He searches for inspirational images for his designers, polishing his vision of the show and figuring out how to convey it to his actors. He posts on social media to get the word out. Then he grabs a few hours’ sleep (maybe) and puts in a day’s work before returning to the AFD in the evening to work some more.

His artistic vision is a full one. He can’t help but envision the set, the costumes, the lighting as he begins to read through a play months far in advance of casting. By the time auditions arrive, before the first production meeting, he has amassed ideas and images from hours of research, and he knows exactly what he wants.

Now he is seeing his vision come together. The cast is very funny, the choreography is amazing, the singing sounds wonderful. But there is still room to make it even better.

So the cast sits, pencils in hand, listening and taking down notes. There will be notes for props and costumes, lighting and sound as each rehearsal progresses ever closer to opening night. Tomorrow is the designer run, where all the designers (lights, sound, costumes, hair and makeup, props, set design) are asked to attend and see how their part of the project is coming together with all the other elements.

The next night is the “sitzprobe,” the first night when the band and the cast come together and hear what each other sounds like. A week later they perform their first show before a live audience at the open dress rehearsal for seniors.

By then, everyone will be tired. But the adrenaline of their first performance will buoy them forward. When the band strikes up on opening night, Ryan’s job will be done. His months of preparation will have paid off, because he trusts his cast, and they will be doing what he has asked: they will be ready, firing on all cylinders, performing one very entertaining and over-the-top show, leaving everything they have on the stage for audiences to enjoy.

Be a part of that audience and don't miss this sparkling and fresh musical comedy! Tickets are now on sale at

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