Concerts are kicking theatre’s ass

Pete Miller wrote a great blog post two weeks ago, posted on 2AMt blog, that addresses a topic that has been on my mind for quite some time now; Do we need more theatre in which audiences take an active role?

The driving force for me regarding this topic is the same as it is for most companies, how do we get more people to come attend a show at the theatre?  Looking at other forms of entertainment is a logical place to start.  I rule out TV, movies and the internet from this topic because they are not live.  Yes I know that some live arts are broadcast over TV or in Movie theaters, but seeing a live show versus seeing something live being broadcast is not the same. Broadcasting live events is just one way to attempt generating additional revenues.  The main contenders that I see for comparison are dance, music, opera, musical theatre and concerts. My conclusion is that concerts are kicking everyones ass.

 

When I attend a concert the crowds are alive and actively participating in the shows. Whether that be dancing, singing, talking with their friends, recording video for snapchat/instagram/facebook or simply watching/listening to the show. Audience members leave the concert having done almost anything that they found themselves motivated to do during the course of the show. Whatever the art onstage inspired them to do.  As Pete Miller stated in his post “The most frequent research and practical finding is that millennials are hungry for experiences” concerts are an artistic outlet that certainly gives its audience that option.

Sleep No More, The Scottish Tragedy of Macbeth, playing in NYC is one of the most interactive live theatre shows playing at the moment.

 

Of those musical artists I think the theatre community should look at the live shows of Lady Gaga and Pink, among others, to see how they are constructing a narrative in their shows.  They are not simply taking their albums and performing the music live but rather using their music as a component in a larger show.  However, not all theatre companies have access to incredible sound equipment which allows an audience member to yell and cheer without disrupting the whole concert for everyone.  I have no definitive answers in terms of what the theatre can do to include its audience more in the creation of the art, but I think it is something that is certainly worth exploring, I know that I will be trying to spend more time in that gray area as I continue my artistic journey.

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.

Been a while

One year of graduate school remaining.  My classmates and I have some big ideas about this year.  Hopefully you’ll be interested in the work we do.  Stay tuned for more information to follow.

Bottom Row (L-R) Brian Haven, Nick Stockwell, Ernest Bentley, Wesley Cady, Brandon Wright, Natalie Colony, Breayre Tender, Antonia Lc’Che, Emily Willemse, Dan Morency, Jocelyn Levadoux, Haley Cavanaugh. Middle Row – Ryann Woods, Tobias Wilson, Matthew Smith, Alyssa Gewall, Jacob Chapman, Jared Lee, Alyssa Still, Kirsi Myntti, Mary Valesano, Top Row – Monica Brady Bernard, Jasmine Walker, John Bergeron, Lani Call, James Kern, Katie Link, Cody Robison, Sarah Sumerwall, Quint Mediate, Noelle Tutunjian, Jayme Beerling, Meccah Martin, Ernest Peeples, Luke Lecher, Emily King.

 

Break Over

After taking a break from acting for the past half year to spend some time teaching and directing I have come to miss performing more than I imagined (and I imagined I would long for it like a Bears fan for a quarterback) would be possible.  I need to take steps to become a more professional actor and continue towards a career in the arts that will have better stablity in its hours and pay while also pushing my artistic limits.  Time for a change in the scenery.

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.

Opening Night Under A Rainbow Flag

In life you plan, train, practice, rehearse, re think, adjust, tweak, change, and prepare as best as you can for your moments.  Whether that is a presentation, a game, a test or any other number of important things.  Sometimes you are nervous and scared, other times you are excited and ready, but no matter how much preparation you do, eventually, you have to take a deep breath and go for it.

Fortunately, for myself, I am in the latter position in regards to my opening night feelings for our performance of Under A Rainbow Flag.  I have been involved with this show for about a year now and having seen the changes it has gone through, both in script/composition as well overall feel, I am confident and proud to say that this show is ready to be performed in front of an audience…hopefully a large one.  All of the people in this show are exceptionally talented and that isn’t limited to the actors.  The director, designers, musicians, stage manager, choreographers…everyone has brought an incredible amount of passion and dedication to this project.  We are ready.  Hopefully you will be able to join us for a show, we run for 5 weeks and I would love to see you in the audience.  I will also post reviews, good or bad, if they come out.

TICKETS CAN BE BOUGHT HERE

UARF Poster

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.

Princess Bride Opening Night

What a wonderful opening night my friends and I got to experience last night!!!  The show went quite well but in the aftermath of the performance we started doing a little bit of reflecting and the things we realized were remarkable:

  • First rehearsal was on January 17th
  • We only had 16 total rehearsals
  • Of those 16 rehearsals we NEVER had the whole cast together
  • 4 of those rehearsals we did with a guest director
  • We did our Cue to Cue rehearsals without our light board operator
  • We had a stage manager for the first 11 rehearsals but not the last 5 and not for the run of the show.
  • The first time we ran the show with the entire cast was the opening night performance…

Not to be excluded are things like some of our ensemble members went above and beyond with contributions to costume, props and set work.  On Saturday night one of the ensemble will be stepping in to play the role of Inigo Montoya. Our Count Rugen is also running the sound for the show. We are going to end up meeting our ticket sales goal and make money for Edge Youth Theatre…The list just goes on and on.  I know that I want to work with all of these people again in the future and I hope that it happens.  Another sold out show tonight and hopefully we will sell the last few tickets for Sunday to make it a sold out run!  To all those who see the show and to all those who took the time to look at my website, as you wish.

Westley and Buttercup

Westley and Buttercup in The Princess Bride

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.”