I had the extraordinary pleasure of choreographing "Hair" this summer for the producer, Jane Permar and a cast of extremely talented actors. I had never seen the show on Broadway, only the movie, and here it is weeks later, and I still cannot stop thinking about it.
The actors came from prestigious musical theater programs from Carnegie Mellon and NYU TISH and one of my favorite students from the island Tessa Permar directed it. Tessa recently graduated from Vassar where she directed a number of shows and she also trained at various performance programs including at the Eugene O'Neal Theater where she performed for Meryl Streep. I have seen former students go on to dance on Broadway and dance companies, but to see a student thrive in such complex ways that is necessary for a Director is awe inspiring. My opinion about Tessa's phenomenal directing abilities was shared by my colleagues who were also working and supporting the show, who have much more experience in the theater world than i do.
We all agreed that it was easy to see Tessa's future as theater director in demand due to her many gifts. Her warm up games and exercises with the actors served as both learning tools and ice-breakers in aiding the actors feel free to experiment in a non-judgmental and nurturing environment. She was demanding with a gentleness that made one not want to disobey her. She gave the actors time and space to play with the material yet in a time efficient manner. Her organizational skills and professional manner was effective in the show to build quickly without extra stress from the performers. If Tessa was stresses, and I am confident she was, she never let it show or slow her down.
She raised the bar very high for any director these players are to have in their futures. I take off my hat to you Tessa! I am awestruck and proud beyond belief!