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What’s the Big Deal about Elevator Repair Service?

by Kristy Mandour and Heidi Nelson

The Select

The New York City based theatre ensemble, Elevator Repair Service, brings fresh and innovative takes on the most cherished classic American literary works. For those who had the pleasure of experiencing Gatz (their version of The GreatGasby, presented at A.R.T. last year), you can understand the New York Times calling ERS’ work “thrillingly theatrical and moving.” But if you didn’t see Gatz, there are few things you might want to know about this young, quirky company with the odd name.

The Select

ERS builds their shows from outrageous ideas. During Gatz, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s entire novel is read on stage. In developing The Select, the group used whatever they had handy as props to represent objects in the story (after all, you have to get creative when you can’t put an actual bullfight on stage). The sound design is probably like nothing you’ve heard before, at times surprising, energetic, or just plain silly. You’re never quite sure what they’re going to do next.

Elevator Repair Service has presented all across Europe and the United States. After rehearsing for two weeks on the Paramount Mainstage in July, the company actually premiered The Select at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland. Check out their website to take a look at where these globetrotters have taken their shows so far.

So why the weird name? Well, when Artistic Director John Collins took a career aptitude test as a young man, the results suggested he should pursue a career repairing elevators. So now he runs his own “Elevator Repair Service.” I, for one, am glad that he decided to make interesting theatre instead, and if the elevator in the Paramount breaks during the show, I’ll just take the stairs.

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