“It’s An Honor”: Maurice Emmanuel PARENT on Directing “A Strange Loop”

“It’s An Honor”: Maurice Emmanuel PARENT on Directing “A Strange Loop”

April 19, 2024

Maurice Emmanuel Parent is a Norton-award winning director who has staged productions across Boston for years. But when he first learned about A Strange Loop and heard that SpeakEasy and Front Porch Arts Collective would be mounting a co-production, he knew that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Maurice recently sat down with us to talk about his experiences with A Strange Loop, and what he hopes audiences will take away from this “big, Black, queer American Broadway show.”

What attracted you to this project?  Why did you want to direct A Strange Loop

When I saw A Strange Loop I was in disbelief that something this bold, honest, funny, and raw was not only being produced on Broadway but also receiving such high praise. It is an honor to mount a production for local audiences.

At its core, what is A Strange Loop all about? 

It’s a story of one Black, queer man who writes musicals writing about a Black queer man who writes musicals, etc. The central character is both writing the show and performing in it. At its core, however, A Strange Loop is about the ‘self’ or ‘I’ and the fact that what we consider our ‘selves’ is a collection of lessons we’ve learned from our families, communities, friends, and even our own thoughts, and how we need to examine and unpack those lessons to see if real change is even possible.

This show won every new musical award New York has to offer.  What do you think sets it apart from other recent musicals?

The writer, Michael R. Jackson, is Mensa-level smart, in my opinion. He’s also brave and worked on this piece for over a decade. It has the emotional depth of a Death of a Salesman with catchy tunes you’ll be singing to yourself for weeks (probably not out loud, tho).

Reviewers have called the show  “radical,” “daring,” “groundbreaking,” and “bold.”   Which adjectives do you feel best capture the experience of seeing A Strange Loop?

Unapologetic, Celebratory, Acerbic.

What do you hope audiences take away from seeing this show?

On the most basic level, if you see someone on the streets who shares some or all of the identities of Usher, the show’s central character, please stop to think about what they might be going through, moving through life, and what they might be working through in their mind.

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