Law & Oratory: New Theatre Victoria director prepares for his directorial debut


April 21, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 21, 2010 at 11:22 p.m.

Theatre Victoria's new producing artistic director Charles Moster on the new set of "The Dinner Party" still under construction.

Theatre Victoria's new producing artistic director Charles Moster on the new set of "The Dinner Party" still under construction.

For Theatre Victoria's new producing artistic director, Charles Moster, the case is closed. The former Austin lawyer pleaded guilty to loving his new job. His sentence? Three months hard time directing and producing his first play, Neil Simon's "The Dinner Party."

OK, OK, enough with the lawyer jokes. While Moster was the co-founder and senior partner of Moster, Wynne & Ressler law firm in Austin, he also has 35 years experience in the theater. Victorians will get their first taste of Moster's skills when he makes his Theatre Victoria directorial debut on April 30, the date the show opens.

"Everything is going fabulously. I'm really privileged to have taken on the theater after Scott [Mohon] and his efforts have allowed me to hit the ground running," Moster said. "I can focus almost entirely on the production itself. Victoria is really blessed. The level of talent here is incredible, and it's a joy to work at such a high level."

It's fitting Moster's debut will be "The Dinner Party," considering the comedy is about a lawyer who invites three divorced couples to a dinner party in Paris. One of Simon's most recent plays, it is his best work to date, Moster said.

"What I like most about this play is that it's his most innovative work so far. It's light years ahead of 'The Odd Couple,'" he added. "You're seeing more rounded characters on stage. 'The Dinner Party' really digs into what marriage and relationships are all about and whether or not people can change. But the context is hysterical and possibly explosive."

In addition to directing the play, Moster is already hard at work looking at the bigger picture. He has big plans in store for Theatre Victoria and beyond, he said. In addition to having characters mingle with the audience before the show to set the mood and a cast party that is open to everyone after the show, he also already started revamping the theater's website and started a bimonthly theater newsletter that is distributed all over town. He's also looking into how the theater and the Welder Center can be used to bring more life to the downtown area.

"I'm hoping the community understands that the Welder Center and the other performance arts groups that perform here can revitalize downtown. I'm working on how we can get the restaurants and coffee shops around here operating before and after shows," Moster said. "The question is: How can everyone help revitalize downtown? It's important to the growth of Victoria. It works in Austin, it can work here."

Moster also envisions Theatre Victoria presenting Broadway-quality productions and the Welder Center becoming one of the top performing arts centers in the country.

Insanely busy as he is, Moster thoroughly enjoys his new non-legal career. A playwright, actor, composer and lyricist in his own right, Moster added he feels quite at home in his new surroundings.

"This is the most fun I've ever had in my life. This is the best job ever," he said. "We're a family here, and it's all about how you feel when you walk through those doors. We're creating something very important in the community and a theater should be more than just about the shows. It should be a vocal point, a central point, and where the community can work on projects that are joyful and fun."



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