Gina Rattan Makes “Music” History

Gina Rattan is too young to remember the last live musical on national TV.

It was “Cinderella” — back in 1959.

Gina graduated from Staples in 2004. Heck, her parents are probably too young to remember that show.

But the Staples Players alum knows all about the “Cinderella” now running on Broadway. She joined it in September 2012 as associate director.

Now — in a clever plot twist that’s almost too good to be true — she’ll be part of a history-making event. On December 5 (8 p.m.), NBC airs “The Sound of Music” — live.

It’s the first nationally televised performance of a musical since that long-ago “Cinderella.” And Gina is the associate director.

Gina Rattan, heading to work.

Gina Rattan. The hard hat is because the set was under construction.

The challenges are enormous, she says — and Gina knows from challenges. After earning a BFA from the University of Michigan, she served as resident director of “Billy Elliot” on Broadway. Part of her job: wrangling the 4 different pre-teen Billys.

Working with Carrie Underwood (the Julia Andrews role) and director Rob Ashford sounds easier. But staging the 1st live TV musical in over 50 years is far tougher than singing do-re-mi.

“The set for TV is so much bigger than a theater set,” Gina notes. “And we use several sets, on a huge sound stage. But the rehearsal space was so small. We really had a to adapt.”

In addition to stage blocking, she devised blocking for cameras. Auditions and pre-production began in mid-September. Rehearsals started last month.

Sound of MusicThe von Trapp children go to school for 15 hours a day, so finding rehearsal time was difficult. “With ‘Billy Elliot,’ we had a routine,” Gina says. “This changes every day. If I can make this schedule work, I can do anything!”

While all that goes on, another camera crew is filming everything. That’s for a behind-the-scenes “Making of…” documentary, which airs November 27.

Oh, yeah. The cast also found time to record a cast album.

But it’s all coming together, Gina promises.

“This is so unique,” she says. “The dancing is gorgeous, and the kids are fabulous.

“It’s very exciting: a beautiful live show with a full orchestra. Anything can happen. That’s what I love about theater.”

And that’s why an enormous audience is expected on December 5. The hills — and living rooms — will be alive with the sound of music.

Thanks, in large part, to the frenzied, but very professional, work of Westport’s Gina Rattan.



3 responses to “Gina Rattan Makes “Music” History

  1. Wow, I am that old: remembering that I sat mesmerized watching the story of Cinderella unfold with an older visiting cousin and my mother on our only black & white TV, rabbit ears and all. Thanks Dan for highlighting Gina, another gifted talent who can trace her roots to back to the Staples Players.

    • Gloria Gouveia

      Thanks, Mary Ann for sharing the perfect detail of your wonderful memory.

      I too, sat mesmerized by the original live production of Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren, Stuart Damon, Ginger Rodgers, Walter Pigeon, Celeste Holme, Jo Van Fleet and another TV comedienne whose name I can’t recall, and committed to memory every word of every lyric of every song. Remarkably, not long ago I caught a broadcast of the kineoscope shot during the live production and I found myself instantly transported back in time.

      Congratulations Gina! Your career is already off to a brilliant start. We will all be cheering you on as we watch another milestone in television history.

  2. Another Westporter, Walter Grossman, is one of the producers of the current Broadway production of “Cinderella” so Westport is obviously the place to be from if Broadway is your goal.