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!

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.”

Metamorphoses

On Tuesday, November 20th I had the privilege of attending Metamorphoses, a production of The Lookingglass Theatre, at their main stage space downtown. Since moving to Chicago in 2010 I have had the good fortune of seeing a large number of shows, including some classic Greek productions, but none of them quite compared to the wonderful experience I had on Tuesday.

Metamorphoses, written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, is a play that has quite a developmental history dating back to 1989 when Ms. Zimmerman was staging a production of The Odyssey at Northwestern University during a summer program/class and she envisioned the entire production could, and in some ways should, be performed in/around a pool or body of water. Mary noticed that many stories in Greek literature and myth involved water and over the next 23 year Metamorphoses gradually became a fully realized piece being performed all over the country and garnering numerous awards, from Obie’s to Tony’s to Jeff’s, for direction, design, writing and performance to just name a few. Time Magazine called it “The Play of the Year” in 2001 when it was running in New York in off-Broadway at The Second Stage Theater. Metamorphoses is comprised of 11 vignettes based off the poem of the same name by Ovid.

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Picture of the set for Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman before the show began

The picture to the let displays the performance space that the audience got to view before the show.  No set pieces were flown in and only a few props were used throughout the production.  For myself, and I assume the majority of the audience,  the most eye-catching part of the set was the large pool of water (I estimate it was about 18’x40′) reflecting the lone chair and lights in the space.  The water was of an unknown depth and with the first two rows of audience members being given black towels, because they were going to get splashed, you could feel the potential energy that the pool provided to the space. The lights then dimmed, a pre show recording played and the show began…

ACTING (Usman Ally, Patrick Andrews, Anjali Bhimani, Lawrence E. DiStasi, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Anne Fogarty, Raymond Fox, Chris Kipiniak, Louise Lamson, Lauren Orkus) : The ensemble of 10 (5M 5W) did not have a weak player among the group.  The show calls for each actor to play at least one Main character in one of the vignettes as well as several supporting roles throughout the production.  Each actor did a wonderful job a creating unique, passionate, tragic, comedic characters that we are all familiar with for every scene that s/he was in.  Most of the characters are very one dimensional but that is the point! The energy required for the show was evident from the beginning and a testament to the physical shape that these actors keep themselves in.  Often times they would be tussling, dancing, even being submerged in the water for extended periods of time while also speaking (or yelling in a, thankfully, justified way) with another actor or even narrating the scene themselves.  I was continually impressed all the way up to the very end of the show.

DIRECTING: No wonder this show has won so many awards for its direction.  The use of the space was absolutely brilliant, with sight lines in the 3/4 thrust being constantly cleared to assure every audience member a fantastic view of all the action taking place on stage and brilliant use of all 7 different entrance/exit points .  The aforementioned actors were all managed exceptionally well to give a piece with so many different scenes a congruous overarching feel for the whole show while also maintaining the drama of each vignette individually.

SCENIC DESIGNER (Daniel Ostling): Though it is probably already clear at this point I must say it again, I loved the set. The pool was absolutely brilliant in and of itself but the deck around it was also very important.  The large door, chandelier, and cloud backdrop all complimented particular scenes and never distracted from action on the stage.

LIGHTING DESIGNER (T.J. Gerckens): Mind blowingly wonderful.  I could rave about the design but my favorite part was easily the use of lighting with King Midas.  How do you make everything he touches turn to gold? With incredibly well focused lights that transform the stage golden yellow with his every step and a perfectly placed special that transmutes his daughter when she jumps into his arms.  OK one other part, the scene with Eros and Psyche was done in almost darkness! Too many lighting designers forget about yin and yang and don’t use darkness enough.  Brilliant.

COSTUME DESIGNER (Mara Blumenfeld): I will never pretend that I know anything about costumes, or clothing in general, which is kind of a bummer because it means that I have no credibility to give.  The costumes were mostly classical in nature with a few modern touches here and there.  Overall I really enjoyed them and was never taken out of the show by a costuming choices.

SOUND DESIGNER (Andre Pluess) with ORIGINAL MUSIC (Willie Schwarz): The music and sound of the production only ever aided the action on stage and never got to the point where it was about the sounds and nothing else.  The soundtrack is available for purchase and if you have seen the show I have a feeling that if you put the music on it will magically be able to take you back into each one of the scenes as if they were unfolding in front of you again.

STAGE MANAGER (Cynthia Cahill): I really hope Cynthia was the one up in the booth calling the show the night I saw it because I know how important and amazing stage managers are.  They have to deal with so many different things and I just wanted to give Ms. Cahill a shout out for never being late (at least to the point where a first time viewer of the show would notice) on a single cue, light, sound or otherwise.  Thank you to all stage managers everywhere!

In summation! Go. See. This. Show.  It really is a remarkable production and I am so happy that this was my first experience at The Lookingglass Theatre and I look forward to seeing many more productions in the future.

Weekend Catch Up

Ahhhh I have fallen behind but I will catch myself back up…in one post!

Streamwood Sabre Speech Shindig: The kids did great!  I was so proud of the students who placed in the tournament because it was a perfect representation of hard work = results.  The kids who have been showing up to practice, working with coaches, working with their peers, stepping out their comfort zones, challenges themselves etc…all of them have shown great improvement and a lot of them placed in their respective events.  If you are interested in the specifics for the tournament you can see the overall team scores as well as the individual results on an amazing website called Speechwire. I look froward to more hard work from all the kids as we approach the first holiday break of the year.

 The Rover: Our second weekend of the show went quite well.  On Saturday and Sunday we had good houses of about 20~28 people each show.  The energy of the production was not lost due to our 3 day break, in fact I think everyone was rather well rested and energized from some time off.  The second weekend of a show is alway very interesting to me because typically the actors and crew have just spent about 7+ days of constructing the set, doing a cue to cue rehearsal, 2-3 dress rehearsals, 1-2 previews and then the opening weekend of the show.  After having been immersed in the show for that solid week+ I am always curious to see how everyone comes back to the production.  Thankfully this group of actors is very talented and professional.  I am excited for another 8 wonderful shows with these crazy goof balls.

Titus Andronicus: On Monday evening I attended a production of Titus Andronicus produced by The Right Brain Project (RBP) which my friend Zack Meyer was performing in. The show will be running for one more weekend and I would highly recommend that you GO SEE THIS SHOW!!! First off I love Titus Andronicus, I think that it is a brutally beautiful piece of work and when staged correctly can be exceptionally powerful.  The RBP does a good job with this production, the acting is solid, the scenic and costume designs work together (love it when that happens) and the fact that the amount of fake blood used in the show warrants a poncho for every member of the audience is awesome.  Check out their website for purchasing info, tickets will most likely be going fast for this closing weekend. Also, Zack was awesome.

That isn’t everything…but it is a lot of things and that’s good for now!  Till next time.

Happily Busy

The weather has finally cooled off in Chicago, took until October 25th which is quite amazing, but that has not slowed down my schedule today.

I woke up with morning at 6:30 feeling a bit congested and not really wanting to get out of bed. I sucked it up, not wanting to spray myself in the face with water, and got ready to do Yoga X. About 15 minutes into the program my nose started to clear up and I received a jolt of energy. By the time I finished up shavasana I was feeling awake, energized and ready to tackle the day.

I auditioned for two films today, one called The Martyr and the other called Axed Story. Both auditions went well but I was told that I won’t be hearing anything for at least two weeks for the first one and a month for the second one. I liked both of the scripts, or at least the parts I got to read, and would enjoy working on either project. Currently I am downtown at The Art Institute of Chicago assisting with a public hunt for Watson Adventures along with my friend Nicole. She said that it is a large group (47) for a public hunt but we managed to get the groups sent off without a hitch. They should all be back with the next 35 minutes.

Following the conclusion of this hunt I will be swinging by my residence to pick up my bag (such a useful bag), grab some food and them heading off to…another audition! Boom school. After that I make my way to The Rivendell Theater for opening night of The Rover by Aphra Behn. I am very excited to open the show and see what new moments and discoveries are made tonight. Plus, surprise not, the cast part is going to be after the show. Yes it is a costume party. Yes I am dressing as Rufio from Hook. Of course I will take a ton of photos because most of the cast will be dressing as characters from the Peter Pan world.

Time to finish up this Hunt! Stay tuned for pictures.

Be Prepared

Today, like every wednesday for the last month, I headed out the door towards rehearsal for The Rover which will be opening on October 27th at The Rivendell Theatre. I am very pleased with the show and love what this cast has been doing. I really hope any an everyone will come check it out.

However tonight it was raining like crazy and I get around Chicago on my bike. So I threw on all my rain gear (pants and jacket) with my rehearsal clothes in my bag. Unfortunately, in my haste to gather my rain clothes and not be late, I forgot to bring a belt. Luckily for me I had my backpack with me.

20121017-202757.jpg I have this bag pre-packed as best I can so that if I need to run out my door at the last second I can grab that pack and most likely have everything I could need. So I McGyvered a belt out of the two handkerchiefs that I carry for…well for whatever! Inside I also carry: zip ties, 3 carabiners, compass, pen, 2 pencils, 1 black and 1 silver sharpie, small notepad, lighter, mini channel locks, sewing kit, band aids, neosporin, alan wrench set, 2 pocket knives, athletic tape, contact solution, contact lens case, extra contacts and a flashlight.

I credit this bag and the way I have packed it to a few different things. First and foremost I give credit to my father. Secondly to the Boy Scouts. And third to my friend Shane who has the same bag and told me to go buy it because he knew how useful it would be for me. Honestly I love being that guy who can help out anyone if they are willing to ask for it. It has aided me multiple times in the world of theatre and will continue to do so. Oh and if you see me around and need a band aid, just ask!