Friday, October 31, 2014

The Princess Diaries with...Raina Helen Fraley

Name: Raina Helen Fraley

Education: I have a B.F.A. in musical theater from Syracuse University.

Hometown: I'm originally from Houston, Texas

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables to me, is the alternative princess stories to the traditional fables we love and grew up with, set to a folk/rock score. We reveal many of the darker moments that occur in these stories. The cast and creative team has has also created a world in which all these traditional fairytale princesses intersect and intertwine. For example my character, Snow White, has several scenes with Sleepy Beauty, and we've justified that choice by explaining that Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are hiding out in the same forest (me with dwarves, she with fairies) and have crossed paths while hiding out there.

Describe Royal Fables in three worlds: Heightened reality, whimsical, and boozy

Who do you play in Royal Fables: Snow White

Describe your character in three words: Survivor, spunky, and hopeful

True love is _____?: Like tunnel vision

The best thing about playing a princess is ____?: Being able to talk to animals.

Who is your celebrity prince charming is?: Joseph Gordon Levitt!

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: If I could play any fairytale princess, while growing up I'd have said Ariel (The Little Mermaid) for sure. I love the water and collected everything Ariel as a kid. Now I'd probably say Princess Kate (even though she is still a duchess), because her outfits are the bomb!

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Sarah (who plays The Little Mermaid) actually looks like a Disney princess I think! So she'd be my choice for sure.

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: The most played song on the ipod of our version of Snow White: would probably be "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues, or "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum.

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: I have a few favorite moments from Royal Fables. I love 'Royal Shuffle' from Cinderella's ball scene, but I also like a key moment during my song when we reveal how Snow and Sleep are homies.

The Princess Diaries with...Emma Davis

Name: Emma Davis

Education: Senior at NYU Steinhardt

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables is the REAL version of made-up tales. It shows the human side of these princess characters and makes their stories and journeys relate-able to people of today's generation.

Describe Royal Fables in three words: Sexy. Story. Telling.

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: Belle

Describe your character in three words: Smart. Trusting. Loving.

True love is______?: A rare and beautiful human experience.

The best thing about playing a princess is_____?: Getting a chance to live in the impossible for a little bit!

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Hugh Dancy

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Belle!!! She's always been my favorite princess!

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Cathy Ang because she's as sweet as princesses come.

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "P.S. I Love You"- Frank Sinatra's version

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: "Little Men"- it's so different from everything else in the show and such a fun song.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spotlight On...Nicole C. Hastings

Name: Nicole C. Hastings



Hometown: San Jose, CA



Education: Barnard College of Columbia University, BA, American Studies



Select Credits: The Second City Touring Company, The Second City's American Mixtape at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, The Second City Mainstage & etc understudy



Why theater?: The money. Kidding! I had a roundabout path to theater in my adult life, though I did it when I was younger. Simply, this makes me happier than anything else. I have also done a lot of sketch and regular improv in recent years; I love live comedy and the relationship you build with an audience through laughter. Something I specifically love about music improv, however, is that the heightened emotion inherent in music permits some very real, vulnerable moments in addition to the comedy, which -- to me -- results in a uniquely powerful product.



Who do you play in Blank! The Musical?:  The beauty of a show like this is that I will play anyone, and it will be different every night. I may be the ingĂ©nue, I may be the romantic lead, or I may be the sassy old British bartender -- or I may be some combination.



Tell us about Blank! The Musical: Blank! The Musical is a fully improvised, narrative musical. More precisely: it's magic. Blank! is six actors, three musicians, and a technical team creating a professional-level piece of musical theater in real time, which will entertain and move you, while having something to say. If the power of theater lies in its ability to comment on some aspect of society today, then this show is the apex of that experience: this is a piece of theater that is happening now and is -- by its nature -- of its time. It's innately present. It's alive. 



What is it like being a part of Blank! The Musical?: It is joy.  There is a very special energy in the room when you collect people who are passionate about this art form -- one that is young enough that we get to help carve its path together. We're all veterans of this art form (music improv) in our respective communities; together, we're working really hard to push previous boundaries about how great it can be.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: It has to have heart.


Any roles you’re dying to play?: The one(s) I'm going to play opening night.



What’s your favorite show tune?: "Still Hurting" (The Last Five Years). My roommate and I saw The Last Five Years when it was in previews here with the original cast, and I still find it extremely powerful.



If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: For musical theater: Jason Robert Brown. For personal heroes: I would bring Madeline Kahn back and work with her.



Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Probably Lauren Ambrose. When she was in "Can't Hardly Wait," I had the same haircut, and we looked eerily similar. I'm 5'1" and sometimes a bit of a hot mess, so the movie of my life would be called "Small Disaster."



What show have you recommended to your friends?: I just got into town, so I haven't seen much this time around; however, I'm really looking forward to Matilda, so I suspect I will be recommending that after I see it Wednesday. I'm a Tim Minchin fan. 



What’s the most played song on your iTunes?:"If You Ain't Got Love" by Mason Jennings.



What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Chocolate and peanut butter combined. 


What’s up next?: We'll see!

The Princess Diaries with...Sarah Treanor

Name: Sarah Treanor

Education: Currently a Junior at NYU studying vocal performance

Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables is a beautiful song and dance cycle that tells the stories of a lot of different princesses. One of the things I love about Royal Fables is that each princess shows a side of them that isn't typically told in the original fairy tales.

Describe Royal Fables in three words: Honest. Modern. Girl-power.

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: The Little Mermaid

Describe your character in three words: Strong. Sure. Sexy.

True love is______?: Loving someone for all of their imperfections.

The best thing about playing a princess is_____?: Getting to tell a story people think they know, but with a twist!

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Chris Pratt! (I like a prince with a sense of humor)

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Anna from "Frozen"! She's so quirky and fun!

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Jen!! She's worked as a princess before!

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "Somewhere Beyond the Sea" by Frank Sinatra

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: Getting to work with all of these amazing artists on a new piece of theater.

Spotlight On...Douglas Widick

Name: Douglas Widick

Hometown: Boca Raton, Fl



Education: NYU Tisch Acting Department



Select Credits: F#%king Up Everything (Off-Bway), North Coast (PIT), The Dead Dad's Club (UCB)



Why theater?: The connection with the audience. I keep coming back to the theater because you can feel the words land on an audience immediately. No matter how long you've been doing a certain show, if you keep it fresh, the audience will have an experience and reward you with their energy, attentiveness, and reactions.

Who do you play in Blank! The Musical?: Myself! Every show is different, so there are no set roles, and we usually play multiple characters. Whatever aids in the telling of that night's story, is the amount of characters that we get to play. The only text we are a slave to is what our unconscious minds feed us.

Tell us about Blank! The Musical: Blank! The Musical is an improvised musical from the Overture to the Closing Number. The thing that differentiates it is the audience gets to craft the show themselves using an app designed specifically for the show. The audiences pick the name of the show, the notes of the main theme, and even the title of songs. 



What is it like being a part of Blank! The Musical?: The rehearsals have been a master class in composition while simultaneously creating strong group mind with a group of people who largely haven't played together before. The show represents three cities (Chicago, Boston, NYC)! Our director, TJ Shanoff, is one of the silliest and funniest people I've ever met, while our MD Mike Descoteaux blows my mind about every 5 minutes with his breadth of Musical Theater knowledge. Mike is a walking Musical Theater Almanac.

What kind of theater speaks to you? Who or what inspires you as an artist?: I love modern musical theater like 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and rockier shows like Spring Awakening. The shows that Trey Parker and Matt Stone write are my favorite of all time because of their combined homages to classics while hitting social commentary. If you can make people think and laugh at the same time, that's pretty impressive.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Elder Cunningham or McKinley in Book Of Mormon and Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Oh, and Mama Rose in Gypsy.



What’s your favorite show tune?: Probably "Turn it Off" from Book of Mormon. It compresses a century of musical comedy and sexual oppression into 3 minutes. 



If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Amy Poehler or Steve Martin. 



Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would play the hot dog vendor who my character is stressing out because he's late to rehearsal but 'needs some protein' on the way. The vendor would say some perfectly timed hot dog pun as my character ran off. The movie would be called, "A Heartshare in the Pokonos." 



What show have you recommended to your friends?: This is becoming redundant but Book of Mormon and Sleep No More. 



What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Kiss" by Prince.



What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Italian food. zero self control in that domain.



What’s up next?: Well after Blank! goes to Broadway for 80+ years I'll probably continue making shows and videos with my sketch group Pop Roulette and performing hip-hop improv with North Coast. Oh, and movies...action movies.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spotlight On...Hallie Haas

Name: Hallie Haas

Hometown: Northampton, MA

Education: B.A. Oberlin College (Theater and Comparative Literature)

Select Credits: Film: "Fort Tilden" (Grand Jury Prize SXSW), Theater: Iphigenia 2.0 (Cleveland Public Theatre), Beautiful Thing, The Altruists (Oberlin)

Why theater?: Theater is the most alive art form. Because each performance is unique - both between performers and between performers and audience - it requires one's fullest presence, which to me is the most thrilling and beautiful state of being.

Who do you play in Lonesome Devil?: The Daughter - she has a real name BUT IT'S A SECRET.

Tell us about Lonesome Devil: Lonesome Devil is the story of a rag-tag band of Satan-worshippers who kidnap a young midwestern teenager in an attempt to raise the devil. It’s a horror flick in the Tarantino tradition, a love story, and a sitcom – blood, laughs, and tears, baby, all you can eat.

What is it like being a part of Lonesome Devil?: The team is incredible, and I am constantly surprised by the dynamism of the play. My character has the biggest arc of any role I've ever played. In describing the show to friends, I often say, "I'm in the play and I still can't believe what is done to me."

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: As a comedy person I am predominantly drawn to theater that explores the hilarious and absurd. I am deeply inspired by children and children-at-heart – individuals with clown-souls who are willing to play at any moment.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I've wanted to play Beatrice in Much Ado ever since I saw Emma Thompson bite that apricot at Kenneth Branagh when I was 8-years-old

What’s your favorite showtune?: This is a hard question! I am going to deflect with some beloved composers - Sondheim, Bernstein, Kurt Weill.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Danny Kaye if he was still around. Nowadays, if we're talkin' big guns, Annette Bening would be a dream. Or Steve Martin.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Rosalind Russell “A Woman of Many Hats"

What show have you recommended to your friends?: If The Foundry's Good Person of Szechuan was still running...

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Retrograde" by James Blake

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Peanut butter? If you knew how much I ate you would understand my guilt.

What’s up next?: I’m an improviser and comedian so I perform in that respect regularly. I've been working on some solo character pieces, but as for bigger projects, who knows! The future is nigh!

The Princess Diaries with...Kristin Kelleher

Name: Kristin Kelleher

Education: BFA Syracuse University

Hometown: Katonah, NY

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables revisits many of the well known princesses and takes a closer look at their stories by revealing their inner monologues.

Describe Royal Fables in three words: You go, girl.

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: I play the Traveling Princess. - from every young American girl's favorite fairytale, the Norwegian "East of the Sun and West of the Moon". In all seriousness- it is a lovely story in which I make a mistake that costs me the love of my life, and I decide to go on an epic journey to find him and win back his love.

Describe your character in three words: Inquisitive, humble, determined

True love is______?: Something that can only be found once you find love for yourself.

The best thing about playing a princess is_____?: Getting to live out my 4-year-old dream- my mom loves to tell the story of when I came home from preschool frustrated that everyone was calling me Kristin.. Because clearly I was Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: My celebrity Prince Charming would have to be Ewan McGregor circa Moulin Rouge..

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: My previous story probably gave it away, but I have to go with Belle. She is intelligent, kind, devoted, and sees beyond the surface into the cores of people.

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Lizzy- maybe it's those luscious blonde locks and how great she looks in a tiara.

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: I'm thinking she's a Crosby Stills Nash and Young girl. She gets down with "Suite Judy Blue Eyes".

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: My favorite moment occurs at the end of the show- not to give anything away, but my character shares a moment with a fellow princess and inspires her to take a risk.

The Princess Diaries with...Lizzy Palmer

Name: Lizzy Palmer

Education:
 Syracuse University


Hometown: Encinitas, Ca


Tell us about Royal Fables: It's not what it seems


Describe Royal Fables in three words: Girls with emotions


Who do you play in Royal Fables: Cinderella


Describe your character in three words: Loves a party


True love is ____?: Sweet morning kisses

The best thing about playing a princess is ____?:
 It makes me feel special


Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Ryan Gosling


If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Pocahontas,  she's a chief's daughter, that's almost princess status


Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Erin, she pulls off up dos at rehearsal


What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "Complicated"


What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: Kathy's face

Spotlight On...Lyndsey Anderson

Name: Lyndsey Anderson

Hometown: I was born in Laurinburg, North Carolina. We moved around a lot though, and I ended up going to high school and college in Indiana.

Education: BA, Theatre, BA, English, Indiana University

Select Credits: Recent NYC Theatre: Let Him Eat Steak, Hooker Raft, Wolf Girls, Keeping Abreast, Pizza Man. Recent film/tv: "Forever", "Blue Bloods", "National Lampoon"

Why theater?: For me, theatre is a mainline to Source Energy. An actor onstage is always asking the audience "This is me at my most childlike, most joyous, most vulnerable, most fragile. Don't we look a lot alike?" Live performance always reminded me that I wasn't alone and that life is this huge, humbling and shared experience of bittersweet.

Who do you play in Lomesome Devil?: The Visitor, a bisexual, Satan worshipping serial killer.

Tell us about Lonesome Devil: This play (by the hugely talented Ben Lewis) is unlike anything I've seen. Ben and Eric Powell Holm as co-directors have taken such graphic and at times disturbing subject matter and turned it into one of the most hilarious and poignant projects I've been a part of.

What is it like being a part of Lonesome Devil?: So good I cannot wait to get to rehearsal. It's like a big family. Most of us have worked together many times before. We're all kind of in love with each other.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: New works, created with the spirit and enthusiasm of children creating stories and worlds in the backyard. My favorite tshirt says "My favorite artists are my friends". Whenever I see John Egan and Katie Melby act, I'm inspired and enthralled. A couple of days ago, Hallie Haas and I were rehearsing a scene and she looked at me dead in the eye and said a line so truthfully I had chills up my spine.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I was dying to play The Visitor, though I didn't know it at first. Anything that comes out of the mind of Ben and Eric. Iago. Hedda. Lady McB. Anything by Sarah Ruhl.

What’s your favorite showtune?: I cry whenever I hear "Ol' Man River".

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I've been directed by Austin Pendleton before, but to be able to act alongside him would be a dream come true.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I'd love it to be a girl version of Richard Linklater's "Boyhood", with a real girl who isn't an actor that grows up before our eyes.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I always tell people to get their asses to Cloud City.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: I've been devouring The War on Drugs's "Lost in the Dream" album for months now. The first track "Under the Pressure" is my shower song, and "Disappearing" is gorgeous with this sentimental, retro feeling. I can't wait to take a road trip to Big Sur again with this record in the mix.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Maybe The Visitor is rubbing off on me, but none of my pleasures make me feel guilty.

What’s up next?: A massage. And then I'm going to finish writing a play I've been working on for a couple years now. And I'm sure our caravan will conceive something awesome for the winter. Right friends?

For more on Lyndsey, visit http://www.lyndseyanderson.com/

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Princess Diaries with...Livie Casto

Name: Livie Casto

Education: NYU - Steinhardt

Hometown: Vacaville, CA

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables is a really interesting new piece that explores the untold truths behind all of your favorite fairytales!

Describe Royal Fables in three words: Challenges narrow mindedness.

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: Scheherezade

Describe your character in three words: Protector, fighter, heroine

True love is _____?:  Honest and real. It requires a lot of work and sacrifice, but in the end it means sharing your life with someone who will bear witness to the little changes and growths you make each day, for better or for worse, and appreciate you for all of them.

The best thing about playing a princess is _____?: I wouldn't exactly call her a princess, but it's cool to play someone who is so strong and fearless.

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Ed Westwick. Well... Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass.

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Jasmine :)

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: I could tell you... But that would give too much away!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Princess Diaries with...Catherine Ang

Name: Catherine Ang

Education: New York University (Class of 2017)

Hometown: Cupertino, California

Tell us about Royal Fables: The princesses that you though you knew lay their deepest desires and fears all on the table!

Describe Royal Fables in three words: PRINCESSES GET REAL

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: Sleeping Beauty

Describe your character in three words: Desperately needs coffee

True love is____: When you and your boo can live like hermits but still find all the adventure in the world through each other's company

The best thing about playing a princess is____: Having fluffy animal friends

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Ben Wyatt (Parks and Rec)

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Mulan

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: WE'RE ALL PRINCESSES INSIDE but probably Erin (Thumbelina) because she's perfect.

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: When the Beast is revived - MUCH FEELS

The Princess Diaries with...Elyssa Renee Ramirez

Name: Elyssa Renee Ramirez

Education: BA in Musical Theatre from SUNY Geneseo

Hometown: Bronx, NY

Tell us about Royal Fables: This show is a really unique profiling of the archetypical fairytale princesses that we all thought we knew. We get to hear the stories we know from their own perspectives and what we learn about is often really surprising.

Describe Royal Fables in three words: Sexy, dark, unexpected

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: I play The Princess Who Wanted to Solve Riddles, a woman who takes the search for her soul mate into her own dark hands.

Describe your character in three words: Manipulative, intriguing, defiant.

True love is______?: Hard to find, even in fairytales.

The best thing about playing a princess is_____?: Claiming the power of the position.

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Channing Tatum. *swoon*

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: She's not a fairytale princess, but I love Pocahontas' story. She is so strong and I love how she communes with nature.

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Shunori's long, gorgeous hair reminds me of a real-life princess.

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "Maneater" by Nelly Furtado.

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: I really love the very beginning of the show where Scheherezade introduces the concept of what we're about to do and we see all of the princesses' stories emerge from her imagination.

For more on Elyssa, visit www.elyssareneeramirez.com

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spotlight On...Trevor Kluckman

Name: Trevor Kluckman

Hometown: Aberdeen, Scotland/Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY

Education: BA Theatre Arts, Marymount Manhattan College. Private study with Alan Langdon.

Select Credits: Television: "One Life To Live", Theatre: Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, Thomas in Venus In Fur, Leonard in Seminar, Juror #10 in Twelve Angry Men, Banquo in Macbeth, Joe in Balm In Gilead at LAByrinth's NYNY Festival.

Why theater?: Depends on the day.  And sometimes the answer to that question is not as readily at my fingertips as I'd like.  But the theatre itself has a way of presenting those reasons as you go along.  I suppose a common denominator tends to be that in the theatre I have the opportunity to let free certain aspects of myself that more generally go hidden, suppressed, or brushed aside.

Tell us about Buzz?: Buzz is an extraordinary play.  It depicts the beauty and power of love, and to the measures we take to protect our little worlds within the world at large.  The play also speaks truthfully to the tragic power of shame and its consequences on the things we create, or try to.  It does so against the backdrop of perhaps humanity's most pressing concern (climate change), yet remains a deeply personal piece.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Anything brave, both in writing and acting.  And anything that gives the stage to underrepresented voices, issues, and people.

What’s your favorite show tune?: Anything from A Chorus Line.


If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'd evaporate to work with Eugene O'Neill.  But someone living?  Oh, so many.  I think Dean Norris (Hank on "Breaking Bad") is an unbelievable actor, and I'd love to just be around him.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what it be called?: Oh geez...The actor would be Jeff Todesco and we might call the movie "Your Song".

What show have you recommended to your friends?

: "Buzz"!

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Florence And The Machine's "Shake It Out" is a track I come back to a lot.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?

: Ice cream, cake, fruit pies, cookies, fish and chips, beer, peaty scotch, chocolate...how much time do you have?

What’s up next?: Readings of Leslye Headland's (Bachelorette) Sins Cycle, series of Tennessee Williams shorts, both with Animus Theatre Company

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: How to Scare an Audience 101

Tis the season for a ghost story! With Halloween creeping toward us, Everyday Inferno presents an adaptation of one of Western literature's greatest ghost stories. In Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, adapted by Jamie Wylie, an age old psychological thriller about a new governess and her possessed children is reexamined and given a hauntingly spooky spin.
Performed in a room of the Moriss-Jumel Mansion in New York, The Turn of the Screw tells the tale of a dinner party where Douglas, the host, shares a story of intrigue about a young woman sent to Bly to care for Flora and Myles, a pair of children who may or may not have a secret of their own. As the story goes on, mysterious figures and ghosts of the past appear given the guests, and audience, a good fright. Where writer Jamie Wylie and director Anais Koivisto succeed is keeping the audience engaged from start to finish. The intimate parlor setting evoked the hauntingly innocent spirit but when you use a specific space with little theatrical ability, there is a chance that the spooks may not translate. While some experienced the horror, the overall thrill factor was underwhelming. But it is with great ambition to tell a ghost story in a site specific setting that Everyday Inferno should be greatly commended. The theatricality of having the party guests serve as the characters of the story was a clever device however it may have spoiled the intrigue of what surprises were coming as you watched the actors come and go from the room with no secrecy.
Leading the ensemble was Meg Kiley Smith as the Governess in a tour de force performance. Smith commanded the stage, giving her character the wonderful journey of strong woman to potential insanity. Sam Ogilvie as Miles was hauntingly perfect as the young boy with a plethora of secrets. Leslie Marseglia had little to do as Mrs. Griffin except interject with a little quip but it was her terrifying presence in the shadows of the hallway as Miss Jessel that defined her performance. The juxtaposition of the two characters was quite lovely. Graham Miles served as the occasional comic relief as Mr. Griffin, though you almost wished he had more to do to show off his strengths. James McCloskey doubled as party guest James and the source of the madness Quint. His moments as Quint, lurking outside, offered many onstage and in the audience a freight but had McCloskley not had the double duty and thusly being seen exiting the Mansion, his spook could have been even grander.
Director Koivisto did a phenomenal job guiding the company through storytelling. The key to any successful ghost story is to keep the audience captivated, and she did so. With the site specific space a source for occasional blocking issues, Koivisto did a fine job ensuring every seat to be a good seat. However the only moment that wanted so badly to be played upstage facing the audience was the final moment with the Governess and Miles as some audience members could not see the action and thus not comprehending what had happened. Koivisto also served as costume designer and did a wonderful job evoking the period. Marseglia’s black dress was perfect as she blended into the darkness allowing her to be quite ghostlike with the aid of the LED lanterns.
The Turn of the Screw was one of those Catch 22 productions. On one hand, the site specific nature added a haunting element to the ghost story style play. On the other hand the lack of theatricality that could have scared the entire audience was lacking because of the inability of the space. Either way, if you’re in the mood for some Halloween fun, get yourself to the Moriss-Jumel Mansion.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Princess Dairies with...Jenifer Dillow

Name: Jenifer Dillow

Education: Currently a junior Musical Theatre major at Pace University

Hometown: St. Mary's County, MD

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables is a new song & dance cycle by Nick Luckenbaugh.  It tells the stories of all the beloved fairy tale princesses.  Unlike the Disney princess stories, this new musical takes these fairy tales and looks at the darker and deeper side to the tales.  There's an inner truth to each of the famous princesses that Luckenbaugh unlocks with his songs.  Each princess takes her mask off, revealing what the storybooks missed.

Describe Royal Fables in three words: Beautiful. Daring. Genius.

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: The Miller's Daughter

Describe your character in three words: Motherly. Fearless. Young.

True love is______?: Inexpressibly beautiful

The best thing about playing a princess is_____?: Living out a childhood dream and wearing the beautiful costumes

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: HUGH JACKMAN (I hope he sees this)

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Belle

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Megan

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: Chopin's Fantaisie Impromptu

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?:  My favorite moment is the transition from Cinderella's song to the Twelve Dancing Princess' song.  It is genius.

Review: Stuck in Providence

Every traveler’s fear is being stranded. For whatever reason it may be, weather or broken transportation, being forced to stay in a terminal is never ideal. In David A. Gill’s fascinating play Providence, a group of travelers are forced to spend the night in a bus terminal in Providence, Rhode Island. As the night dwindles away, the strangers realize that when the present is halted, the past must be confronted.
When a bus bound to New York experiences mechanical issues, the occupants of that bus are stuck waiting in a terminal until the bus can return to its route. What starts out as muddy comedic vignettes quickly turns into an evening of pain, sadness, and the search for hope. Though it is set up as an ensemble piece, the secretive Trevor serves as the entrance point for the audience. Trevor, who has a dream or premonition of some sort, spots a woman he believes to have the answers he’s been searching for, thus hiding her bag so she can’t leave. Trevor, and the woman, Glory, for the most part are each other’s sole interactions with the occasional blip from the inebriated man. Through their interactions, we learn of Trevor and Glory’s past and the secrets they’re forced to confront upon arriving at their destination. On the other side of the story, best friends Robert and Stuart encounter the free-spirited Patema who places a wedge between the pair. All the while, the man on the phone searches his little black book for a lady companion. As the interactions occur, there are occasional flashbacks to Trevor, Glory, and Robert’s past that allow for insight to their current situations. With so many stories to track, many of which contain mutual themes, playwright David A. Gill offers an odd structure to his piece. The conceit of reality is that everything is happening at once in the same room, but rather than jumping from the two main dialogues, there is a lot of overlapping and “say and wait” dialogue, causing some of the actors to be forced out of the moment as they awkwardly wait for their cue. Additionally, Gill and director Tom Wallace have many of their characters exiting the stage without intent. As far as plot is concerned,  Providence relies on vagueness. The intriguing aspect of the script is the character relationships, both familiar and stranger. How these characters interact with one another is captivating. How they react to the stories they hear is what makes this play real. For the most part, the duo and trio are the main interactions, but the most intriguing contact of the evening was between Robert and Trevor late in Act II. Their dialogue was filled with life and humor, a beautiful juxtaposition to the rest of the play. The first act is filled with so much exposition, it feels like a giant set up for something. But by the second act, the payoff was lacking due to a very unsatisfying and confusing ending. From the start, there was always something off about the world of Providence. Our main characters received a very clear and clean ending with their stories neatly tied but before we can sit in hope, the true identity of the inebriated man is bizarrely revealed. On the whole, there is some fluff that could be trimmed to allow for a intermission-less play to keep the momentum consistent.
Providence relied heavily on chemistry between the actors as this was very much a character driven piece. The trio of Nick Adamson, Nico Meyer Allen, and Geri-Nikole Love drove the play as Stuart, Robert, and Patema respectively. Adamson utilized the goofy nature of Stuart playing off of Allen’s polar opposite Robert. Though we never truly learned the origin of their friendship, their bond was quite stunning, exposing a new definition of bromance. Nico Meyer Allen utilizes his snark to cover the sever pain Robert has suffered. Love as Patema blended well with Adamson as the newfound adorable pair. Joel T. Bauer as Trever, the wildly eccentric firestarter, is brilliantly erratic. Though his character arc takes some odd twists, Bauer commits to it fully. His moments with Michelangelo Milano’s seductively handsome Andrew were wonderful, but it was truly the sole moment with Allen that displayed the strongest chemistry, and actors, on stage. Carla Briscoe as Glory was painfully neurotic and was only able to shine when her character’s walls were successfully broken.
Despite a difficult structure to tackle, director Tom Wallace created the world of Providence to the best of his abilities. By capitalizing on the sincerity of the relationships, Wallace directed his cast to do discover the humanity and heart within each individual. Production designer Charles Kirby had a limited space to create a giant terminal. While the space looked like a rundown waiting room, the spacial relationships suffered greatly. Wallace rightly asked his actors to live in the moment, getting loud when called for, but rarely did the other characters take note of the outbursts allowing for some unrealistic moments. With the set up as it was, eavesdropping needed to be a larger part of this world.
Providence has many of the elements for a well-made play but a clean and clear restructure may be in order for the bus to finally take off. Despite living in a specific time, Providence is a universal story that strikes the right chords.

The Princess Diaries with...Erin Long

Name: Erin Long

Education: Shenandoah Conservatory – BFA Musical Theatre Class of 2013! Woo!

Hometown: Lock Haven, Pennsylvania

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables takes a closer look into the stories and princesses we all know so well or at least think we know so well…

Describe Royal Fables in three words: Creative, enchanting, semi-dark

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: Thumbelina!

Describe your character in three words: Hopeful, spunky, Earthy? (She just loves nature!)

True love is _____?: Spending your life with your best friend.

The best thing about playing a princess is ______?: Living out a childhood dream. I was obsessed with the animated version of Thumbelina growing up.  I probably watched it 4 times a week…

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Gonna be cliché and say Prince Harry?

If you could be any fairy tale princes who would you be?: I love Thumbelina, but I am gonna have to go with Ariel. I am a water girl and love swimming.

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Sarah Treanor, who plays Ariel in Royal Fables. She has those beautiful “princess” eyes!

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: “Free” by Zac Brown Band or “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: “The Night Goes On” – such a fun ensemble number!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Princess Diaries with...Madeline Fansler

Name: Madeline Fansler

Education: Graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Theatre and Music

Hometown: Telluride, CO

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables sheds light on the darker side of the princesses we all know and love--the part that the fairytales left out. One by one, each princess tells her story through song and dance, revealing her innermost thoughts, fears and desires.

Describe Royal Fables in three words: The untold story.

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: I play the 12th Dancing Princess.

Describe your character in three words: Adventurous, Passionate, Rebellious

True love is ______?: Eternal

The best thing about playing a princess is_____?: Definitely the chirping bluebirds that awake me from my royal slumber each morning. I'm really hoping they'll stick around after the show is over.

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: I think many women will agree with me when I say Ryan Gosling. What a stud.

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: I've always loved the Little Mermaid. I think I've watched that Disney movie upwards of a thousand times. It's largely responsible for my parents picking up on my love for performing because even as a tiny toddler I couldn't take my eyes off the screen as I would sing along in full costume ie blue bath towel "tail" and my mom's bikini top. And yes, in case you were wondering, I do have the special edition DVD. I got it for Christmas last year and I watched it three times that following week. Including special features.

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Definitely James. Technically he's playing a prince but those fierce dance skills are clearly a result of him attending years of royal balls.

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: I love the moment right before my song when the clock strikes midnight. I don't want to give anything away, so you'll have to come see for yourself!

For more on Madeline, visit www.madelinefansler.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Princess Diaries with...Hayley Biegel

Name: Hayley Biegel


Education: Currently pursuing BM in Vocal Performance at NYU Steinhardt 


Hometown: White Plains, New York


Tell us about Royal Fables: It’s a seldom heard perspective of princesses and their more human characteristics. It sheds a little light on the reality of our dreams and how they don’t always come true and they aren’t always so wholesome.


Describe Royal Fables in three words: GIRL POWER...!


Who do you play in Royal Fables?: Rose Red


Describe your character in three words: disenchanted, jaded, (yet) hopeful


True love is____?: A lifelong process of mutual respect --- also chocolate. 


The best thing about playing a princess is_____?: Um, I’m a princess. And it’s nice to be able to play an often-dehumanized character in a humanizing way. 


Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Ryan Gosling, obviously.


If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Sleeping Beauty – no reason besides I think she’s really pretty 


Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Sarah Treanor. 


What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "Best Thing I Never Had" – Beyonce 


What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: I really like "The Night Goes On" where all of our characters can interact.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Princess Diaries with...Theresa Burns

Name: Theresa Burns

Education: NYU Tisch School of the Arts

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Tell us about Royal Fables: Royal Fables is a fresh and surprising look at the fairy tales we all grew up with. It puts a different spin on these stories through awesome (and catchy) songs and dances.

Describe Royal Fables in three words: Surprising, engaging, dynamic

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: Rapunzel

Describe your character in three words: Optimistic, vivacious, open

True love is______?: Possible

The best thing about playing a princess is_____?: The dress!!!

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Joe Manganiello- he's the dangerous hunk AND ultimate boyfriend, all in one.

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Belle- reading all day is my jam.

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: I'm going to say our director, Megan Mekjian. She directs this production with such grace, positivity, strength, and loveliness, that she's the clear choice.

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "Brave" by Sara Bareilles

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: The epic dance party we have during Cinderella's song!

For more on Theresa, visit www.Theresa-Burns.com

The Princess Diaries with...Shunori Ramanathan

Name: Shunori Ramanathan

Education: Yale University 2013 - Political Science and Theater Studies double major

Hometown: Bangalore, India

Tell us about Royal Fables: It's a song/dance cycle that sheds light on aspects of princess's lives that the fairy tales overlooked

Describe Royal Fables in three words: Taking off masks

Who do you play in Royal Fables?: The Princess from "The Princess and the Pea"

Describe your character in three words: She sees everything

True love is____?: Giving all of yourself.

Who is your celebrity Prince Charming?: Ryan Gosling (Get outta my way, Eva!)

If you could be any fairy tale princess who would you be?: Jasmine - she's got the sexiest outfit!

Which company member is most likely to be an actual princess?: Lizzy?

What would be the most played song on your princess’ iPod?: "Underneath Your Clothes" by Shakira

What is your favorite moment of Royal Fables?: Shhhh, I can't tell!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Spotlight On...Suzanne Bachner

Name: Suzanne Bachner

Hometown: New York City

Education: Ethical Culture Fieldston Schools (K-12), Oberlin College (BA), Actors Studio School of Drama at The New School (MFA)

Select Credits: CIRCLE (5-month Off Broadway run, Most Daring Show of the London Fringe, "Ingenious"- The New York Times), We Call Her Benny ("the future of theatre" - Broadway World) and Brilliant Mistake ("a work of pure genius!"- the Coast News)

Why theater?: It is the most thrilling collaborative medium where the creation and experience of it happen simultaneously requiring letting go of the result to make a powerful, visceral, incomparable impact.  It's like magic!

Tell us about Stories of Love and Passion and Spitting In The Face Of The Devil?: Two very different solo roller coaster rides created and performed by two remarkable artists. In Stories of Love and Passion, Rosie Bitts tells incredible intimate tales that run the gamut from sexy to disturbing to poignant to hilarious and belts zesty seductive heartbreaking songs accompanied by the wonderful Jeff Poynter.  There's also a thread of fantastic burlesque. Spitting In The Face Of The Devil is Bob Brader's true story of discovering that his abusive and ex-Marine father is a pedophile.  It's told with much light and unexpected comedy which makes it powerful, riveting, uplifting and unforgettable. Both these artists could tell (and in Rosie's case sing) any story that would transfix an audience, but these particular pieces are dynamite!
  
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theatre that is authentic, risky and no holds barred.  Artists who don't save it but share it and are generous to a fault on and off stage.   I love the international Fringe touring community - the work is superb and the camaraderie is unique in a competitive field.  No better place for support and inspiration!

What’s your favorite show tune?: "Anything Goes"

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Anjelica Huston

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Sarah Silverman - "The 200 Year Old Woman"

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Sarah Elizabeth Greer's BIO-HAZARD: a relative comedy is a knockout show also in the United Solo Festival

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea (because I am!)

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: See above

What’s up next?: Denver's Dangerous Theatre is producing my choose-you-own-adventure play, BITE, Millstone Repertory is producing my adaptation, "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and I'm working on a new play.

Spotlight On...Rosie Bitts

Name: Rosie Bitts aka Trinda Reed

Hometown: Victoria BC

Education: Life

Select Credits: Writer/performer: Stories of Love and Passion and The Fabulous Miss Rosie Bitts; Author: Erotica serial "The Lady Corsairs"

Why theater?: I love theatre because it transports people to a different place. I love being the person who facilitates that magic happening.

Tell us about Stories of Love and Passion: Stories of Love and Passion has been a real work of love. I wanted to tell stories that are real, raw, and uncensored but in a palatable and entertaining way. I love that it is a mixture of what is funny, heart wrenching, and juicy about passion and love.

What inspired you to write Stories of Love and Passion?: I was inspired by the beauty of everyday stories about passion from people's lives. I love the juiciness that comes from our human experiences.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love fringe and on the edge theatre. The artists that most inspire me are the ones that are taking risks and creating something new.

What’s your favorite show tune?: "I Don't Know How To Love Him" (Jesus Christ Superstar).

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would love to work with Joey Arias. I really appreciate Joey's work.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Chloe Sevigny (even though we have completely different body types) and it would be called "The Woman Who Loved Too Much".

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The last show I recommended to my friends was Bob Brader's work "Spitting In The Face of The Devil".

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "St. Louis Blues" (Louis Armstrong).

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: That's not for public consumption.

What’s up next?: I plan to continue touring Stories of Love and Passion over the next two years as well as working on a new comedy cabaret show with my musical partner Jeff "Saucy Fingers" Poynter.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Take Me Out to the Reality Show

Baseball is one of those sports where you can attend a game and either see an exciting battle with a high score or a pitchers battle where the action is quite minimal. This translates pretty well into theater. There are some plays with the fast-paced action while others drag on and on until the big finish. In Randomly Specific Theatre’s production of Larry Phillips’ Secondary Pitch, a slow paced family drama centering around three brothers, one of whom is a legendary baseball pro, as they attempt to reconnect with the potential of a reality show looming.
When superstar pitcher Stephen Dowd is forced to retire from the National Pastime, he moves in with his brothers, a down and out minor leaguer and a former reality star, as the trio learn that they may be the source of a new reality show focusing on the behind-the-scenes drama in Stephen’s life. Secondary Pitch is a family drama at its core. As the show’s producer drills in everyone’s head, the dynamics between the brothers is what is most appealing. Where Phillips’ script works is through seeing the rise and fall of three very different personalities. Where the script needs sever help is through the plot and tracking the ever-changing personality shifts from scene to scene. For example, in the first scene of the play we see Stephen as a pretty stand-up guy. Moments later, without warning, he becomes an incoherent drunk. We later learn that he is dealing with addiction, but the initial shift is so drastic, they don’t feel like cohesive ideas. The other problem within the script comes at the outlandish ending. There are a lot of pointing fingers throughout the play with occasional reveals. But in the final moments, there are so many reveals that the action prior is put into question. When we learn that the entire scheme is set up by reality show junkie Kevin, you can’t help but chuckle at the hilarity of the moment. When you think the brothers have finally bonded and the sentimentality of a patched up family is achieved, it’s immediately broken by a “Candid Camera” ambush. And thus, Secondary Pitch plays out like a quintessential reality show. Which is funny, since reality TV is the source of so much of the brother’s drama. But maybe that was the point to comment so strongly on the source.
The quartet of actors offered a spectrum of performances. Despite working with hard material, Ryan Dusek as Stephen offered the strongest performance. Though he looked much younger than his proposed age, Dusek played the no-care burnt out pitcher with ease. Peter Buck Dettmann’s baffoonary as Kevin was played up by sight gag clothing. It’s unfortunate his character’s big reveal made him a despicable character. Phoebe Leonard’s even more despicable Meredith was defined by her stop at nothing attack on a family. You couldn’t help but become intrigued by her ruthless journey of destruction but root for her? There was no way to do so. Larry Phillips, who wrote the play, also played Paul, something that did not benefit the production. Phillips character was severely more dramatic, but his portrayal was quite comical. His scenes with Leonard were some of the better moments for his characters, until she drops the truth bomb on him.
Director Matthew J. Nichols discovered the truths and sincerity of Phillip's play and brought them to light. With a three quarter thrust set up, staging could be hard, but Nichols was able to allow each seat to be a good seat. Nichols and his design team were able to establish a multi-location world within the small theater. Scenic designer Jason Bolen’s bright green house may not have been the prettiest but the floor treatment greatly made up for it. For those paying close attention, a baseball diamond was designed onto the floor. Was it part of the world of the play or actually in the boys apartment may be up to the audience to decide. Mark Hankla’s lights went to the extremes depending on the location, though the night time scenes were a bit dark. Director Nichols served as sound designer as well, utilizing the baseball idea to the extreme. The amount of on point baseball references, from the script to the stage to the sound, were borderline overboard if the message of the piece is that the drama goes beyond the field. Though thematically, discovering that many perfect transition songs should be commended.
Secondary Pitch could have been a strong first pitch but with a mediocre cast, the potential of the script was unable to shine through. The play is pertinent and engaging, but to put it in baseball terms, it was barely made contact.

Spotlight On...Cooper Grodin

Name: Cooper Grodin

Hometown: NYC

Education: Laguardia High School of Music and Art, University of Wisconsin-Bachelors of Music, Manhattan School of Music-Masters in Music

Select Credits: Phantom Of The Opera Spectacular (New Production National Tour, Phantom), Les Miserables (25th New National Tour), Shakespeare In The Park's Into The Woods

Why theater?: I love to perform and theater seems to be allowing me that privilege.

Who do you play in The Phantom of the Opera?: I play the Phantom.

Tell us about The Phantom of the Opera: Phantom, is an epic once in a life time role. A very complex genius character.

What is it like being a part of The Phantom Of The Opera?: It's a real honor to work for Cameron Mackintosh on one of the largest productions in the world. We've taken advantage of 25 years of technological updates and made the show very raw and human.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Work which takes me on a ride and makes me question my existence. Any great artist can affect me regardless of medium. But as far as theater is concerned it must be Mandy (Patinkin).

Any roles you’re dying to play?: George In Sunday In The Park With George

What’s your favorite show tune?: Soliloquy from Carousel.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Michael Fassbender

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Jake Gyllenhaal "TBD".

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Jersey Boys, Death Of A Salesman, All My Sons.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Da Unten Dem Tale" an immaculate German folk song composed by Brahms. The recording by the counter tenor Bejun Mehta.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Carbs

What’s up next?: Returning to MCS Studios in Manhattan to continue my acting studies.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: Great Specificity

We all have dreams for ourselves. Sometimes we have dreams for others. Some would even say we have great expectations. Inspired by Charles Dickens’ classic “Great Expectations,” The Assembly has lifted the characters from the page and transported them to modern times and ideals, exploring just exactly their great expectations. That Poor Dream is one of the most daring and innovative pieces to grace the indie stage recently.
With the majority of the action occurring on a train from New York to Fairfield, Connecticut, That Poor Dream follows endowed Pip and a mysterious traveler who was a huge part of Pip’s past. On their journey, the action jumps back into dreams and memories that inform the future and tackles the themes of the piece. Devised by the company, That Poor Dream began as an exploration of class and economic disparity using the structure of the Dickens’ novel as the source material for a modern spin on American Dreams. That Poor Dream is a very specific play. The investment by the company is strong and the clarity and vocabulary of the devised world will always be strongest to them. Sometimes in a devised piece specificity may not translate properly to the audience. One of the most specific moments in this play was the fourth wall breaking monologue section where the characters are no more and the actors address the thematic Dickens title. Up until this moment, the world of the play was character driven. With no warning or explanation, a series of presumably autobiographical thematic actor monologues halt the action. While individually they were quite beautiful and impactful, in the overall arc of the piece, especially knowing the characters will immediately resurface, its placement is bound to be a polarizing moment for the audience. Where it failed was its ability to allow the audience to understand exactly why the actors broke character. After T. Ray Campbell offers his stunning monologue, he rightly becomes emotional. But moments later he’s whisked back to portraying Miss Havisham, who’s not necessarily supposed to have those emotions. With the blurred worlds now coming to the forefront, the impact of the ending, something that had potential to be quite powerful, is lost. An argument can be made that the actor is playing both actor and character as one as a comment on the dream of being a working actor, but again, the clarity is lacking. Despite this singular moment, the overall devised piece is wildly innovative with a captivating use of past and present.
The entire ensemble brought their heart to That Poor Dream. It was evident and clear through their performance. When creating this world, the characters may have a tinge of real hidden deep within, but those who were able to tap into the character world were by far the most interesting on stage. The most invigorating performance was Emily Perkins-Margolin as Jaggers. Perkins-Margolin’s characterization was brilliant, hilarious, and touching. The voice itself made the character fresh. The chemistry between Edward Bauers’s Pip and Jocelyn Kuritsky’s Estella left something to be desired, it was the moments between Bauer and Terrell Wheeler’s Magwitchthat drove the show. Wheeler offered a heartbreaking performance as Pip’s benefactor.
photo courtesy of Nick Benacerraf
Director Jess Chayes had a mammoth task of guiding the That Poor Dream train, and fortunately her effort was sublime. Despite a gigantic gap between audience and actor due to the large downstage playing space, Chayes discovered a way to keep the piece intimate. Production and scenic designer Nick Benacerraf had an overall winning design on the stage of The New Ohio. Again, the gap between audience and actor was a bit of hindrance, he greatly made up for it with his brilliant creation of a train. Benacerraf and lighting designer Derek Wright utilized the space wonderfully, especially through the exploration of the upstage world behind the train. Wright’s precise light shifts helped keep the action moving with his clean and distinct tones. On the innovation front, Ray Sun deserves much credit for the going above and beyond. However the overall video arc was inconsistent and muddied. Sure, the audience should always be able to allow their imagination to run free, but for those nitpicky few who know the realistic landscape could never be seen out the window of this specific train as the video was showing a trainless highway in New Jersey, it’s a bit jarring. Additionally in the specificity realm, the live feed delay used during the miss Haversham scenes was a bit confusing. Technological advances in theater should always be welcome as long as they’re being done properly.
That Poor Dream is a captivating and daring journey of innovation. The heart of the project came to the forefront and shined. While there were many moments of clarity lacking, the expectations of something special were achieved.

Spotlight On...Matt Opatrny

Name: Matt Opatrny

Hometown: New York City is home now, and I was raised in Shelton, Connecticut

Education: I got a degree in Biological Sciences from Clemson University, which rarely comes in handy when doing theatre, though this play delves a bit into psychology and neurology so I found myself drawing on a lot of what I learned back in college. I also studied theatre at Clemson, and have trained a good deal with SITI Company in physical theatre. Most of my education has come from working with my beloved collaborators at Blessed Unrest over the last 14 years.

Favorite Credits: I cannot choose favorites of the plays we have made at Blessed Unrest. It would be like picking your favorite child. I love them all. Also I have been teaching physical and devised theatre a lot in recent years with Jessica Burr, Blessed Unrest’s Artistic Director, and I am quite proud of what we have created in a short amount of time with students at Texas Tech, Stephens College, and Centenary College.

Why theater?: Because it’s fun, and the people who do it are fun, and passionate, and dedicated, and nuts in all the best ways, and I’ve never met anyone else, in any other line of work, who works as hard for as little money as theatre people do. We’re all obsessed. And as technology dictates more and more of our culture we need places where people gather together and share an experience. My favorite part of my job as Managing Director of Blessed Unrest is giving the lobby speech before opening the house, when I get to look at a room full of people and tell them to turn off their phones. If nothing else, theater is a place where groups of people sit together with their phones turned off. (Well, at least most of them are off.)

Tell us about LYING?: It’s an incredible feat on the part of the cast and director Jessica Burr. The design is gorgeous, and I think the elements have all come together better than possibly any other play we’ve produced (and there have been 25 of them). The acting is stellar, and oh so personal and close and deep. The staging is genius, really, it’s lovely and fun and complex and really really smart. The play takes you for a ride, with four of the five actors playing 36 characters and there are no pauses for transition. It’s like a train that only picks up steam as it plows ahead, and then in Act 2 the train takes a turn into a deep long tunnel that goes places you don’t expect and rarely see in a theater. It’s bold. It presents sexuality and nudity boldly. It questions perceptions of reality and self-knowledge. It asks us to release our firm grip on what we think we know of the world. “Give up the ground, which you never really had to begin with. The greatest lie of all is the feeling of firmness beneath our feet.”

What inspired you to adapt LYING?: Lauren Slater wrote this incredible metaphorical memoir. A friend recommended it to me and as I read it, it felt like it was begging to be staged. She is a mind-blowing writer. She’s smart and hysterically funny and is pointing at things that need to be looked at and thought about. She asks huge questions, questions so big that even after working with this book for almost a decade I am still discovering things and pondering things I haven’t quite grasped yet. And this story I believe is enhanced by the medium of theatre, as we can take the question of identity a step further with the layer of an actor playing a character that is a metaphor for the writer. In her book Lauren uses stories and characters that may or may not be real in order to reveal deep, juicy truths about herself. At its essence that is what I think theatre is. It’s an art form through which real people pretend to be other people and in doing so express deep truths of their own.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: SITI Co and Bill T. (see next two answers), Complicite, Tom Stoppard, Michael Jackson, Hemingway, Ismail Kadare, the US women’s national soccer team, Indigo Girls, Lauren Slater, Pahu Van Riel, Van Gogh, Mike & Ruthy, Mozart, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beatrix Potter, and mostly my collaborators at Blessed Unrest and our fearless director Jessica Burr.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Anne and Bill (see next answer) and I would need a year (at least) to prepare my body. (Though I have worked a bit with Anne, and what a pleasure it was.) We are also working to establish more partnerships with brilliant little companies from all over the planet like we have with Teatri Oda from Kosova.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: SITI Company and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s collaboration A Rite. It is the perfect marriage of physical theatre and dance. It was conceived, directed and choreographed by two of the world’s treasures, Bill T. Jones and Anne Bogart. I firmly believe that artists hundreds of years from now will be studying the work and words of both of those geniuses.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Brad Pitt (why not?) will play me in “The Adventures of a Myopic Swashbuckler”. That’s a play I’m going to write someday. And then sell to Hollywood. And then make oodles of money. And then do more theatre. It’s gonna be great.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Watching movie trailers on the internet. I rarely go to movies, but see the trailer for nearly everything that comes out. Except the scary ones. Why are there so many horror films made? And violent action films? Who pays to watch these things? I suppose this is part pleasure and part curiosity for me. Movies are such a huge part of our culture, and a part that we export all over the world and many people I have met travelling have a very strong image of the United States based on what they see at the movies. I like to know what people are seeing, but am rarely inspired to go see them myself.

What’s the most played song on your iPod?: I am a bit of a Luddite and do not have an iPod, or a smartphone. I still play CD’s, and sometimes cassette tapes. Lately, our Cyndi Lauper CDs have been getting a lot of play as she is integral to the soundtrack of this show.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Farming artichokes on a mountainside in rural Italy, and in my spare time hunting for truffles with my truffle pig. Seriously.

What’s up next?: We’ll be hosting Teatri Oda from Kosova for the US premiere of our play The Sworn Virgin with which we toured the Balkans in 2012. It’s a bilingual play (English/Albanian) that I co-wrote with Lirak Celaj of Teatri Oda, and it is centered on an ancient Albanian tradition in which women take a public oath of lifelong celibacy and are instantly seen as men, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with that. It’s fascinating.

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