Vadim Feichtner is currently the musical director for Elmer Gantry at Signature Theatre. He was last seen on Broadway conducting The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. His many Off-Broadway credits include Fly By Night, Little Miss Sunshine, Nobody Loves You, The Other Josh Cohen, Elegies: A Song Cycle, The Memory Show, Infinite Joy, The Burnt Part Boys, Ordinary Days, I Sing! and Cam Jansen. Vadim can be heard on many of the cast recordings for some of those shows. Select regional credits include Bay Street: My Life is a Musical; Broadway Across America: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown; Williamstown Theatre Festival: Party Come Here and Goodspeed Opera House: O Henry’s Lovers. As a composer his work has been heard at Barrington Stage: Surviving the Avalanche; Lincoln Center: Songbook Songs of Innocence and Experience and NY Public Theater As You Like It (incidental music, written by William Finn). One of his lesser known credits would probably be being a part of an edition of Webster’s Children’s Dictionary (holding a tuba). Vadim is married to the multi talented actress Leslie Kritzer.
No matter what project Vadim is working on, his energy comes out in his music. It could be a reading of David Kirshenbaum’s Party Come Here at NAMT (National Alliance of Musical Theatre), or a show in the underground of Roundabout Theatre Company as with Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days. You can always expect a passionately played and well sung production when Vadim Feitchner is in charge. You have until Sunday to hear his work on Elmer Gantry. I highly urge you to hear this very talented individual’s work and here’s hoping Vadim is back for more fun in one of our area theatres real soon.
What was your first professional job in the theatre?
I musical directed Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lake Performing Arts Ministries in Cleveland, Ohio when I was 16. I had never worked a show in that capacity before and was terrified at the prospect of telling 40 year olds what to do (Judas was the bartender at Moose O’Malley’s, a local pub). I enlisted my garage band, Backseat, to be the orchestra, made 700 bucks for the entire summer and was never happier. Side note: a bandmate from the aforementioned Backseat is now running for state office in Ohio and has received an A rating from the NRA. It’s a conflict.
Can you please tell us what style or styles best describe the score of Elmer Gantry?
This is such a special and beautiful score that Mel and Bob have written. To my ear it is made up primarily of 3 different flavors of distinctly American music: bluegrass, gospel, and a sprinkling of Copland-esque 20th century classical. The show lays out each style in its pure form and then as the score progresses you hear how the different sounds either mesh or collide with each other. Our amazing 10 piece orchestra really plays the heck out of it.
You have worked with composer William Finn on several projects. What do you recall about your first meeting?
Bill happened into our classroom at the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program one day and just stayed. I don’t remember the first moment particularly, I just recall being so wowed that he was there. Falsettos was a big, big, deal to me during college. In class we used to get into some ‘spirited’ debate and I was absolutely sure that he loathed me. The one day, out of nowhere, he asked if I wanted to be the music intern on a workshop of a show he was writing, The Royal Family of Broadway. I was just supposed to be there to get coffee for people, but for whatever reason, I kept getting thrown into rooms to teach music to the ensemble, or drill notes with Elaine Stritch (?!). Bill walking into my classroom turned out to be the pivotal moment of my professional life.
You are married to the talented performer Leslie Kritzer. How did the two of you meet and what is it like being married to someone in the same profession as you?
Leslie and I met at NYU doing a reading of a show called Bongsan Mask Dance (she does not remember doing this). Shortly after I musical directed her in a solo show at the Ars Nova. We ran into each other sporadically after that but didn’t start dating until 8 years later. Being in the same profession is great because we’re often on the same schedule. Last year we were lucky enough to do 3 shows in a row together. For a lot of people who could spell disaster, but we love it. Leslie also enjoys getting free coaching and accompanying.
What is next for you after Elmer Gantry concludes its run?
Walking my dog endlessly.