Thursday, October 23, 2008
"The auditions for The Robber Bridegroom have come to a close and I've been fortunate to assemble quite a cast. Something my Musical Director Mark Elliott and I agreed over early on in discussing this project was that I cared less about having "pretty" voices than I did about having authentic and talented actors to play the characters. I have it all with this group and I couldn't be more thrilled.
Each show I direct (heh, all five of them now) has had a different audition focus for me: auditions for The Island of Dr. Moreau involved groups of 8 - 10 at a time for a two hour movement and vocal lab, The Constant Wife required straight on reading of sides for scenes, for The Flight of the Dodo I asked actors to sing a ditty, experiment with bird movement and perform a short group scene.
For The Robber Bridegroom I simply had them sing - sixteen bars in the style for the initial audition and selections from the score for the callback. While the audition process was going on, Mark and I were listening to their voices and watching them for infusing character into their singing. As important to me however was observing the personalities in the room. Watching the way they interacted and treated each other, watching how they asserted themselves while balancing the competitive nature of the evening graciously. The fact that they are incredibly talented singers and skilled actors felt to me to come hand in hand with being excited to work with these people for the sheer joy of sharing a creative process with them.
Part of the beauty of this play is the nature of it's storytelling, a group shared experience with the audience. From the moment the audience walks into the theatre there should be something special in the air and the fact that the entire ensemble will be onstage for almost the entirety of the 90 minute show will add to community feeling the show is meant to produce.
There are a slew of co-existent dualities in the story. Jamie Lockhart has two faces, the clean cut gentleman and the robber stained with berry juice. Rosamund is spoiled but bored and lonely. Salome wants money and gets it but can never be satisfied. Further themes contrast passion and violence, love and lust and actor and audience. We see the actors are audience as they act and as audience we participate in the performance. This dual shared role will bind us in the experience of performance - for 90 minutes we share the support of the tale and it's telling. Hence my interest in the inherent charm and grace of the actors I've cast - this concept can only be produced by a generosity of spirit."
And here they are:
Rosamund - Caroline Fourmy
Jamie Lockhart - Cameron Brune
Salome - Amanda Hartly
Clement Musgrove - Dan Loftus
Little Harp - Steve Best
Big Harp - Michael Kingston
Goat - Kyle Gibson
Goat's Mother - Darrelyn Marx
Airie (Goat's Sister) - Kate McGroarty
Ensemble/Raven - Julie Nichols
Ensemble/Narrator/Banjo - Dylan Lower
Ensemble/Violin - Hilary Holbrook
Ensemble/Salome Understudy - Katie Swimm
Ensemble/Jamie Understudy - Eric Lindahl
Ensemble/"Deeper in the Woods" soloist - Sean Dean Effinger
Ensemble/Rosamund Understudy - Jennifer Tjepkema
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
The performance went really well and for some of the actors it was their first big venue performance. Afterwards we had a short discussion with the audience, mostly high school age kids. I am always struck by the fact that some of them view the play as pro-war. It really takes no stance, but, I think since most of America today is not for the war (well any war for that matter) it just comes off that way unless you are blatantly bashing it. That would be an easy target for an artist. And this of course, is not something we would do as it would be a disservice to the soldiers and families who provided us with their stories. I think presenting the letters as we do gives the audience so much more to think about in terms of the costs of war and the humanity that lies within it as seen through the eyes of the men and women fighting it.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Letters Home cast and crew traveled to Los Angeles on Monday for a single performance at the Cerritos Center. A 1500 seat performing arts center. The group left at 7:45am -- coffee in hand. Stretch limo transportation.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
He calls it a "A powerful little Chicago show"
Read about it here *** 1/2 Stars!
Monday, October 6, 2008
REVIEW | Emotional turmoil fuels rich British play
Sometimes there is so much flamboyance and "high concept" in the theater that plays with a quieter, more deeply satisfying emotional richness get swallowed up in all the noise.
British playwright Simon Stephens' "On the Shore of the Wide World," now receiving its U.S. debut by Griffin Theatre, is just such a quiet play, though there certainly is no shortage of emotional storminess driving its characters. The exceedingly gifted director, Jonathan Berry, and his ideally chosen, generation-spanning cast of 10 have homed in on the play's wonderfully crafted scenes, focusing all their energy on a truthfulness and intimacy that grows increasingly magnetic. There is some lovely, thoughtful acting here, full of genuine vulnerability.
"On the Shore of the Wide World," winner of the 2006 Olivier Award for best new play, takes its title from a poem by John Keats that aches with mortality, loss and the ephemeral nature of love. And these sentiments figure heavily in the psyches of the Holmes family at the center of the play. In fact, each member of this family feels beached -- desperate to head out to sea, even if that means just taking a train from the suburbs to see a movie in the city.
At the chronological center of this working-class family from outside Manchester are Peter Holmes (Paul D'Addario), who carries on his dad's business of restoring old homes, and his wife, Alice (Elise Kauzlaric), whose college education was cut short years earlier by marriage and early pregnancy.
The couple had two sons: Alex (Brian Deneen), who recently has fallen for Sarah Black (Lucy Carapetyan), a beautiful, headstrong, troubled girl, and Christopher (Josh Schecter), a mischievous kid recently killed in an accident. Christopher's death is the catalyst for many of the family's already troubled relationships to implode, with Alex's grandparents -- the volatile, abusive Charlie (Norm Woodel) and his timid wife, Ellen (Ariel Brenner) -- caught up in their own problems.
Four "outsiders" fuel the instability as Sarah helps Alex move into manhood, as Alex's old pal (Christopher Chmelik) lures the young couple to try life in London, as Peter's pregnant client (Susan Reynolds) supplies a desperately needed ego boost and as John Robinson (Ian Novak) becomes a most unlikely "suitor" for Alice.
The whole story is played out amid the raw, minimalist beauty of Marianna Czaszar's set -- a battered, once grand hotel slated for demolition, and perfect for secret assignations. Think of it as a broken dream palace in a world where reality is often inescapable.