Island Arts: ACLO’s Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague’s commitment to the Alameda Civic Light Opera is so strong that he’s willing to travel here from his Southern California home in order to serve as its artistic executive director, his full-time gig since 2006.
Teague has worked with the company since it began in 1997, and he offers a vast array of talents, which include directing, choreography, writing and event technical expertise. Its current show, “Hair,” was chosen as part of ACLO’s “Season of Change,” which features shows that marked pivotal points in America’s history (and, fortuitously, some shows that are enjoying fresh Broadway runs).
He took 15 minutes out of a long, busy week of pre-show preparation to chat with The Island about himself and his upcoming show. “Hair,” by the way, opens at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 12 and runs through September 27 at the Kofman Theater, 2200 Central Avenue. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, with a special show at 8 p.m. Friday, September 25. Tickets are $30 for students and seniors, $34 general, and are available online or by calling 864-2256. (And just a quick note: The show contains strong language, adult themes and nudity.)
ABOUT JEFF: Teague said he started performing when he was young. One of his first shows was a high school production of “Oliver.” He has years of ballet training and has also studied music composition. Before he came to the Bay Area, Teague did musicals and professional Equity work down in Southern California. His credits include direction and choreography for a host of community and youth theater houses, including the Pleasanton Playhouse, Inland Valley Repertory Theater, Bonelli Center Theater (Huntington Beach) and many more.
HIS START WITH ACLO: Teague said he’s been with the company since they began, in 1997. He said he had just been transferred to the Bay Area for a management position with the Tyco toy company and that he contacted ACLO for a gig there. His first show was as choreographer for a production of “A Chorus Line.”
NUMBER OF ACLO PRODUCTIONS: Between 20-25
JEFF’S STYLE AND VISION: I like to approach pieces that like “Hair” that are things you won’t see anywhere else. When you see a lot of classic pieces, it’s really difficult to create something fresh and new. Certain pieces allow you to do that. Because of my choreography background, I like to put in a certain movement of a show, how it flows. In the whole first section (of “Hair”), you are introduced to characters, but there’s no plot. And it just sets up who these people are, what they were experiencing at the time, what they believe in, what they were fighting for. So I tried to incorporate choreography that’s unique, that takes you to different places. We also talked about characterizations. We’ve really been studying with the actors what it was like to live in that time period and how different it is now. The other thing too is, a lot of people who lived through this period are very passionate about hair. And those are a lot of our patrons that are going to be coming to see the show. So we want to do it justice.
HOW HE RUNS ACLO FROM HIS SO CAL BASE: I have a family who hosts me up here, one of our board members. I stay here pretty much during the summer and once a week every month during the off-season. I work from my home office, (doing) everything that’s basically non-rehearsal. I do set design for the seasons, staff, all that. I come up here when I have to work on the shows.
ABOUT “HAIR”: We usually try to pick a show that has adult themes that is going to be a creative show. It’s a show we can put our own individual stamp on. We try to choose a show every year that’s interactive with the audience, so it’s a different experience. From the moment you walk, in the show begins. When you walk into the lobby, there’s going to be actors who are going to be picketing, they’re going to be face painting, and taking you back to the era of peace an love. There’s a plot in here that’s also very narrative – we come out into the audience quite a bit in the show, and interact with the audience. And the cast for “Hair” is not called a cast. They’re called a tribe. Because they’re a collection of hippies.