Located in Gorky Park just off the Pushkinskaya Embankment, the Stas Namin Music and Drama Theatre is small but cozy. It is part of a larger theatre district together with the open-air Green Theatre. Its repertoire features the major modern theatre genres, including musicals, rock operas, avant-garde productions, dramas and comedies. The theatre’s artistic director intended it to consist of multi-talented actors, who are expected to be equally good at acting, singing and dancing. Fifteen years ago, this idea allowed Namin to become a sort of innovator, and the theatre now puts on both dramas and musical shows.
The auditorium seats only 230 people, and most shows are two hours or shorter, creating a real chamber atmosphere and establishing an intimate relationship between actors and viewers, who become the theatre’s devoted fans from the moment they enter the space.
Most Russian music lovers know the theatre’s founder and director Stas Namin as the leader of the popular Soviet music group, Tsvety. A composer, performer, producer, artist and director, Namin has been an integral part of the theatre community for many years. In 1999, he abandoned most of his projects and focused exclusively on the performing arts, having put together a team of like-minded professionals. The theatre’s story began with the cult Broadway musical Hair by Galt MacDermot, the American version of which led Stas Namin to put on a similar show in Russia. The musical was staged in record time, and the Russian version has been playing to full houses both on tour and in the theatre’s own building, which was opened in Gorky Park in 2000.
The current repertoire contains over 20 shows for adults and kids alike. Among the viewers’ indisputable favourites are Jesus Christ Superstar, a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber (directed by Stas Namin and Andrey Rossinsky), and Victory over the Sun, an updated avant-garde opera by K. Malevich, M. Matyushin, A. Kruchenykh and V. Khlebnikov – a great triumph of early 20th-century new Russian art. Recent productions which were well received by both audiences and the critics are New York. The Eighties. Us, a play about Soviet emigrants (directed by Mikhail Shemyakin), and Beatlomania, a stage production about the Beatles, featuring 25 love songs (directed by Stas Namin).
The theatre pays close attention to young audiences, both putting on shows for them and running the children’s theatre studio (opened in 2011), where kids play and learn acting, singing, dancing and elocution. Stas Namin also teaches a Musical Theatre course at the Russian University of Theatre Arts (Russian: ГИТИС), and children attending his studio are able to truly immerse themselves in the arts. As for the theatre’s troupe, although the actors are not ‘famous’ in the sense that they do not appear on the television or the big screen, they are extremely talented and committed to their art.
Stas Namin Theatre is well equipped, and no expense is spared to make excellent stage sets, costumes and musical accompaniment. The building design, while reserved, lends a warm, homely atmosphere. There is a café and bar in the basement, some of the shows are staged on the Green Theatre’s open-air stage in the summertime, and some productions begin in the theatre foyer. All of this fosters friendly relationships between the theatre staff and the audience.
Gorky Park is a great place to visit in and of itself, so it’s definitely worth having a walk around before or after the show. The Stas Namin Theatre puts on shows almost every day.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com