The Vlog Continues

Hello hello.  In all the chaos of trying to get the videos edited and out to the inter webs I completely forgot to post the second video on my own website!  Woof.  So here we go, episodes 2 and 3 are now available for your digital consumption.  If you are interested in following along for the journey make sure you like the video, subscribe to my YouTube channel and if you are feeling up to it go ahead and share my videos with whomever you want.

 

 

The Actors Medium

Certainly I am not the first person to consider that theatre is the actors medium, not film or TV. Fran Montano wrote about it in 2014, Kevin Spacey expressed it at a Bollywood panel, Rutger Hauer, and many more have states this thought before it even occurred to me. But as an aspiring actor it is something that has been gnawing at me more and more.  My third year of graduate school we will be taking an “Acting for the camera” class and attempting to put together a basic reel that I will be posting on this website as well as submitting to agents in hopes of getting film auditions.  It is important to note that film (including commercials) can obviously be lucrative.  A single national commercial can net an actor a years worth of income in a matter of days.  Additionally you could find yourself in the position of someone like Stephanie Courtney, better known to most of us as Flo from Progressive. She is fiscally set for the rest of her life.  But she didn’t go to LA to become the face of an insurance company. Stephanie worked her tail off and was a company member for The Groundlings out in LA because she was and is an actor.  She performed frequently and wrote often to hone her comedic and performative skills, giving herself the tools necessary to walk into an audition room and become the character known as Flo.

The Hilberry Theatre has a history stretching back more than 45 years and a distinguished reputation in the college theater world.

This is where I currently train, The Hilberry Theatre in Detroit, MI. I got my BFA from CU Boulder and then spent 5 years in Chicago doing store front theatre all over the city as well as a touring production that went around the state of Illinois.  I turned 30 this summer and at this point I am 12 years into this profession.

The theatrical stage is where the Trade of acting is actually practiced. Not in front of a camera.  Good editing and cinematography, along with some nice underscoring and foley work, can make a mediocre actor look fantastic. On the flip side those departments can also ruin good acting.  Great film requires many masters in many different fields to come together and collaborate on a single artistic vision, the acting is just one part of that.  The stage, especially if we are talking about minimalistic design elements, is where you can see someone truly Act. Add back in masters of light, sound, costume and staging and the theatre can be a place that is more powerful than the cinema.  It’s just damn hard to pay the bills.  So go to the theatre, watch someone working on their trade and recognize that they do this for well over 40 hours a week and for very little financial compensation.  Especially in smaller theatre spaces.  In my last post I talked about how Concert’s Are Kicking Theatre’s Ass and I think that one aspect of the live concert that people enjoy is the fact that even though this music is recorded and I may own the album, or even just the one hit wonder, the live performance of the song that I am seeing right now is unique and will never be the same again.  That is something that Theatre needs to embrace and lean into in my opinion.  Hamlet will be performed for another 100 years, but tonights performance is perfectly unique.  Did you see it, or did you watch a movie that you’ll be able to watch any other night? So go see a show, if you’re lucky you’ll see a master before everyone else. And for my own selfish interests, come see a show at the Hilberry.  

The Underpants

The actors gather around the table for the first reading of The Underpants.

Rehearsals for the first show of the 2017-18 season are underway!

 The Underpantsadapted by Steve Martin in 2002 (originally written by Carl Sternheim in 1910) is a German farce featuring 7 of the 8 third year MFA actors. The play is being directed by Scotty Arnold, an incredibly talented musical composer based out of NYC, Stage Managed by Brian Haven, ASM by Jayme Beerling, Costume Design by Mary Liz Velesano, Scenic and Props Design by Emily Wilemse, Lighting Design by Natalie Colony, and Sound Design by Dan Morency.

Opening night is Friday, September 29th at 8:00 PM at the Hilberry Theater. Plan on being there because it is going be a blast.

Reviews

The promotional performance at Sidetrack on Monday night for Under A Rainbow Flag went very well.  People were quite receptive to the music and we handed out a ton of flyers after we sang our two songs.  Hopefully that will translate into a few more butts in the seats for the remaining shows.  Additionally we have been getting some buzz, good and bad, with some of the reviews that have come out.

Paul Thompson from Broadwayworld.com wrote us a wonderful review, and I had the good fortune of meeting him on Monday night after our preview.  We also got favorably reviewed in Chicago Critic as well as Chicago Stage Standard.  Thought it isn’t a full review Best Gay Chicago called us a “Must See” and 5 pink crowns.  The review from Time Out Chicago wasn’t as positive as we were hoping for but the issues they took came from the script and the score not the actors. In addition to being Jeff Recommended we are also Chicago Reader recommended!

I am exceptionally excited with the feedback we have been getting and I can’t wait to get back to the show tomorrow night!

Jeff Recommended

What an absolutely amazing opening weekend.  I am so proud of my cast mates, our director, musical director, stage manager, designers, musicians….every single person that has been involved with Under A Rainbow Flag since the first staged reading. Thank you all so much for the hard work that you put into the show to make this opening weekend such a success.

Our performance on opening night was by no means perfect.  I know that I missed a couple dance steps among other slight hiccups (that only the people who have been with the show would notice) throughout the night, but, and I kid you not, they laughed they cried. We were all having a very fun time and the energy was fantastic.  Everything you could hope for in an opening night.  Overall I was pleased with my performance but I am also continuing to look for and make new discoveries with my character.  Paul Gibbs is an interesting man.

This morning when I found out that we were Jeff Recommended I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to get to the matinee performance.  The Recommendation means that 7 judges saw the show opening night and enough of them liked enough things about our show so that now the remaining 20ish other judges will come see the show.  Now this does not mean we are Jeff Nominated, we won’t find that out for a few weeks, but I will certainly be posting about that if it happens.

Tomorrow night, we are performing a promotional segment of 2 songs at Sidetrack during Musical Monday.  We will be going onstage at 10:30, right in the middle of busy time…peeps got connections I guess.  Then hanging out, drinking and singing show tunes. Nice.

Post Princess Bride

As you wish, to every single person who came to the show, tried to come to the show, lives outside of Chicago and told me that if they could they would have come to seen the show! It was a wonderful smashing success and I really could not be more pleased with how amazing the show turned out.  We took many pictures during the show and I will try to post some of those here once I get copies of them.  To all those who weren’t able to make it I do have this little treat for you:

Working with Dave Gonzalez (and Nick Toussaint, Inigo from our Saturday show) was really fun because this man is not only an incredibly talented actor but the dude really knows how to fight well.

So. Much. Fun. If any of you were ever thinking of getting me a gift (for some reason) you don’t need to ever ask me what I want because the answer is simple: Fighting gear.  This includes swords of all kind, daggers, knives, gauntlets, gloves and anything else that could be used in a stage combat scenario.  One last time, to all the people who were involved with this show in any way I love you.

The Princess Bride

Ladies and gentleman I have been having an absolute blast the last 4 weeks preparing for this weekend.  Edge Professional Theater company will be performing a stage adaptation of The Princess Bride as a fundraiser for youth theater and I am fortunate enough to be playing the role of Westley.  The entire process has been a labor of love and here is a little movie trailer style preview of the show

Movie trailer on facebook 

Tickets are still available and I would love it if every show was completely sold out so that we could help raise as much money as possible for children’s theater.  The group of artists that I have been privileged enough to work with is incredible and I truly hope that I get to work with each of them again.  Originally I thought that fighting left handed was going to be the most difficult part of this show but I was mistaken, I guess that having two left handed parents means I have some of that skill somewhere in my DNA.  The most difficult task has been focusing on my life outside of this show because I honestly just wanted to keep working on Princess Bride everyday.  Come see the show and remember, every single one of you that reads this, “As you wish.”

Accountable

Following another weekend of keeping quite busy with performances in the evenings, speech and debate tournament on Saturday, rehearsal on Sunday morning, closing matinee and then strike for The Rover…I suddenly find myself with some extra time on my hands.  Now that Rover has closed I have Thursday-Satruday night and Sunday afternoons free.  What to do with that time….hmmmm.  It would be so easy just to take that time off for the next couple of weeks and slowly try to figure out what I would like to do.  But that is exactly what I am trying to avoid doing, wasting a day.  I need to hold myself accountable for my time and wasting a day is something that I am realizing that I don’t want to do, but more importantly, something that I can’t afford to do.

This week I have been listening to a mix of motivational speeches that thedjraz posted on 8tracks.com. Most of the speeches, but certainly not all, are given towards athletes but the same principles can be applied towards a career in the arts.  Becoming a professional actor requires a similar level of insane dedication that it takes for those who work towards becoming professional athletes.  Currently I have 18 more days of P90X to complete before I reach the “end” of the program.  That being said I will go ahead and say that I am already looking forward to the second round.  I’m looking forward to the pain, the struggle, the discipline that is required to survive the next 90 days, and I know that I will be looking forward to another 90 days after that.  For the second round I will be adding more daily goals, not just working out everyday. I need to sing, practice piano, read, run monologues, study movies, study other actors, see shows, network…I need to work.

The best part about all of this?  I am the one who gets to make it all happen.  I get to look back on my life when I am older and I get to see this period in my life as the time that I really started to figure out what it actually takes to become a successful person.  That I held myself accountable and was able to make things happen.

Gentleman’s Rule

20121115-175837.jpg Last night I had the privilege of attending the second ever performance of the acapella group Gentleman’s Rule at The Royal George Theater with my friends Samara, Miquela and Carrie. The group is comprised of 10 men and they sang a wonderful mix of love songs, hip-hop, 80’s jams and 2 original compositions. Both of the original songs were arranged by Dan Ponce, the founder of Straight No Chaser, who is also the Producer for GR along with Charlie Blum.

Now I am by no means a professional critic for acapella, or music in general, so my personal review of the show will be looking more at the production as a whole.

Singing: Awesome. No need to be an expert here these gentleman clearly know how to sing and they killed it.

Costumes: all the gentleman were wearing black t-shirts, dark gray sports jackets, dark blue jeans and gray Nike high-tops. Simple and effective it showed that this was a group effort. At one point they took the jackets off and hung them on hooks all over the set.

Sound: Overall the balance and volume of the sound was very good. Hand held mics were used and luckily all of the guys actually knew how to use them! I know that might sound stupid but it is important to know how to hold a microphone. The sound only had a few stumbles throughout the night and only one that was bad enough to really take me out of the moment.

Set: The build was a very basic box set with ~8″ platforms DSR & DSL, exits MSR & MSL, a 6 (I think) step staircase USC leading to a platform about 5′ high and 15′ wide. There was a small proscenium atop the platform as well. The whole set was painted a olive green with deep red trim. All facets of the set were used which I always appreciate.

Lights: This was by far the worst part of the show. Unnecessary / clearly unintentional blackouts, poor spot work, lighting up the wrong part of the stage etc. occurred throughout the show. At the top of the show a soloist stood on the USC platform and he either needs to move down one step or they desperately need to fix where the light is hung because his whole head was in darkness. Fail.

Choreography: It was simple but effective. The most distracting part was when one or more of the guys wasn’t committing to the moves. I’m not sure if it is because they thought they might look silly or what but I will say this, you look more ridiculous when you aren’t doing the dance. Nike that shit.

Overall: This was only the 2nd concert that these guys have done and they did a great job. They got better as the show went on and they got more an more comfortable. The transitions between the songs were hit and miss depending on which member of the group was just bantering with the audience while they introduced the song. I highly recommend that people go check out Gentleman’s Rule if you have the opportunity. They have 13 more shows at The Royal George and I know that they will only continue to get better with each show.