I’m happy to announce that the trailer is now available for the sitcom pilot Stool Pigeons, in which I play a clueless and abstemious Pastor who finds himself surrounded by hard-drinking oddballs:
If you’d like to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign to help get the pilot post-production work done, please click here. (Although maybe this one should be called a Kickfinisher campaign?) Thanks!!
This week, out of the blue, I received a lovely email:
Andrew: we have seen many of your performances at Vermont Stage and we were wondering if there are any DVDs or tapes of any of your performances that we might purchase, such as The Foreigner. You have been a special gift to the Burlington audience.
Hopefully, Sheila and Irv Goldman
Boy, that made my week! It’s been a few years now since I was last at Vermont Stage Company, and it really does my heart good to know that the work I did onstage there in shows like The Foreigner, I Am My Own Wife, King Lear, Waiting for Godot and others, has left Burlington audience members with lasting, happy memories. I wrote to the Goldmans, expressed my appreciation for their kind note, and obtained their permission to post it on my blog.
I also explained to them why no such recordings exist. And as other audience members may not know the answer, I thought this post would be an ideal way to shed light on the question:
Frankly, I wish that there were DVDs of those excellent Vermont Stage Company productions! I would love copies, myself. But ironically, it’s my own union, Actors Equity Association, that limits recording of live productions featuring union members. And the intent is good: to protect us from unscrupulous producers out there who might film a production, then show, sell, or license it without any additional remuneration to the performers who made the production a success. So, unless a theatre obtains permission to record a full production for purely archival purposes (for example, researchers can view a lot of NYC and some regional productions at Lincoln Center Library), or puts a media licensing agreement in place that will pay residuals to the performers, then no full recording can be made. It’s both part of the magic and part of the frustration of live theatre. Once it’s over, it’s over, except in our memories.
But I’m deeply grateful when audience members let me know that they enjoy my work, and still remember some of my performances years later. That gives me a lovely new memory to enjoy, too! The last time I was in Burlington, Vermont, a middle-aged man stopped me on the street, looked me in the eye, and said very seriously: “Blasy, Blasny!” I laughed, he grinned like a kid, and then he strolled away happily before I could respond. I think The Foreigner makes audiences happier than any other play I’ve done so far, and hope to do another production (I’ve already done three) sometime soon!
So, thank you, audiences. You’re why I love performing in live theatre above and beyond the fun and more lucrative worlds of film and television. That live, one-time-only connection between actor and audience in a theatre is potent and memorable magic, indeed.
I’ve identified some sort of trend in my casting. A couple of years ago, I played Pastor Manders in a production of Ibsen’s Ghosts. Last August, I filmed a scene as a subway preacher in the upcoming 2013 film Can A Song Save Your Life? with Mark Ruffalo. Then last December, I played the Ghost of Jacob Marley in a production of A Christmas Carol. Now, I’ll be playing a Pastor again. What’s next–playing the Ghost of a Pastor? ;-)
This time, it’s a small but fun role in the pilot of another web sitcom pilot. This one is called Stool Pigeons and it centers around the denizens of a downtrodden neighborhood bar. Sort of like a down and dirty version of Cheers. I attempt to preside over an impromptu memorial performance for one of the characters–but I won’t say which one! We shoot the pilot the last week of March.
I’ve also just learned that the comedian Gallagher is now attached to the project, so that should make for an amusing shoot!
I’ll share more information when I have it.
For the first time, I landed a gig based solely on resumé and video clips. Video clips are definitely the big casting tool these days, and I’ll be creating more of them. This shoot was a blast. It was for my favorite local TV station, so already I was psyched to be part of their ad campaign for their new mobile app. They were shooting five 15-second silent comic spots that day, and they will be released gradually over the next six months. I’ll do another post when I know mine is launching.
I can’t say too much about the spot before it airs, but a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll just share a post-shoot photo with my co-star and new buddy Sarah Seeds. We really had a blast working together, and with the great team from the TV station. It was a lovely bunch of people with great senses of humor, and I hope we’ll all find a reason to play together again sometime soon. Plus, I got to work in my pajamas–it doesn’t get better than that! ;-)
Wow, this all happened so fast! While I was in Massachusetts rehearsing A Christmas Carol at the Hanover Theatre, my agent let me know that I had landed a great role in a new ensemble sitcom pilot aimed at web distribution, set for filming in January 2013. The show is called Terminal B and it centers on a classic band of misfit workers at a down-and-out airline in the middle of nowhere. I was cast as Stephen Brown, the well-meaning but uptight and hapless manager of the team (think Steve Carell in The Office and you’ll have a general idea).
The merry madness of Terminal B is the brainchild of executive producer Charles Berlepsch and co-creator and producer Jimmy Sackenheim, co-producer Tim Flocke, story by Kevin Steele, with script and direction by Mike Basone. It was great fun receiving the updates for the script, and imagining what my fellow actors were going to do with the wonderfully silly roles as each character blossomed on the page. When we started rehearsals, the cast did not disappoint. Each and every one of these actors is a hoot. And we all got along immediately–essential for a good ensemble comedy. There was a lot of riffing during rehearsals, and Mike decided to keep some of it for the shoot.
We filmed the pilot over four days this past week, and the crew was every bit as savvy and fun as the actors. Everybody had a great time, and when we filmed the final party scene, it was a real party. I’m crossing my fingers that our pilot will be picked up and funding will materialize so that we can make at least a season of this show. The characters are so much fun, and have so much potential for both comedy and emotional growth, that they really deserve a long run.
My thanks again to Charles, Jimmy, Mike, and the entire cast and crew of Terminal B. It was a real pleasure. Here’s hoping this is only the beginning. I hope you’ll Like the show on Facebook, and support our efforts to make more episodes!
The wacky cast of “Terminal B”!
While I was born in Cambridge, MA and raised in Belmont, MA, the vagaries of Fate are such that for all these years I had never actually been hired to perform at a theatre in Massachusetts! That all changed in a wonderful way in November and December of 2012, when I was hired to play the Ghost of Jacob Marley in the Hanover Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol.
This production, and indeed the Hanover Theatre itself, owe a massive debt of thanks to Troy Siebels, who is Executive Director of the Hanover Theatre, as well as Adaptor and Director of this lovely holiday production. Troy’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of redemption is a carefully balanced blend of Dickens’ own narrative (delivered variously by the cast members over the course of the evening) with favorite holiday songs and carols to enhance each scene’s storytelling. The cast of 31 (a remarkable number for any theatre in this day and age, and all the more remarkable because 16 of those were Actors Equity contracts!) sings, dances, narrates, and brings the tale of the almost-irredeemable Ebenezer Scrooge to life all over again.
Much the same could be said of the theatre itself, originally built in 1904 as the Franklin Square Theatre. Troy and a dedicated band of other local entrepreneurs have rescued this gem from potential ruin and decay, and turned it into a 2400 seat showplace, complete with a fully-restored Wurlitzer organ–one of a handful remaining on the East Coast. The organ served as the perfect accompaniment for our show, as it does for many others that pass across the vast stage over the course of a calendar year. It is one of the handsomest theaters I have ever worked in, and the show was as well run back stage by the local IATSE team as the theatre was out front by the gracious and efficient office staff (led by Office Manager Stacey Leigh O’Dell). The community has a palpable investment in this beautiful venue, and you feel it the moment you speak to a member of the staff, or step inside the elegant auditorium. In these challenging economic times, I find it all the more impressive that Troy and the other dedicated members of the Worcester Center for the Performing Arts have not only rescued this theatre for the community, but turned it into a genuinely successful business venture, as well! It wouldn’t surprise me if other arts organizations across the country hear of this success story, and ask Troy to consult with them on how they can achieve such a feat in their own communities. You can read more about the theatre on their web site.
I had a great time playing Jacob Marley. I always love a new challenge, and in this case it was the fact that Jacob Marley had to fly. And not just fly. Fly up over 20 feet in the air, appear through fog and hallucinatory lighting, descend over the London rooftops of the gorgeous (and massive) set, and land on the top frame of Scrooge’s fourposter bed! Troy and our wonderful Production Stage Manager, Carola Morrone Lacoste, were both there to oversee my session of flight training with the expert from ZFX, and once I got past the sheer amazement (and yes, some initial fear!) of being 20 feet up in the air on a single thin wire, we were able to leverage the flying mechanism to make Marley truly otherworldly. Each run-through of the scene helped me gain confidence in “owning” my flight pattern, and by the time we opened a few days later, I’m told the scene looked great. I was excited to be able to use the flying mechanism to keep Marley from ever looking like a grounded mortal. In addition to Troy’s direction, and Gail Buckley’s costuming, I couldn’t have created my Marley without the terrific teamwork of the Marley Crew: Assistant Stage Manager Candice Mongellow (head of flight crew and conductor of all flight cues!), Josh (vertical flight), Mike (horizontal flight), and Amanda and Jackie (wardrobe). As an actor, I’m used to the fact that my performance includes the contributions of the Director and the designers. But this was the first time where it literally took a team of four to create my character’s unearthly movement. I couldn’t have been in better hands, and the confidence the team gave me translated to freedom onstage, so that I could enjoy playing the scene in a way I could never have done on my own.
The rest of the cast was equally dedicated, and also a lot of fun. And most of them, male and female, knew how to knit! I’ve never seen anything like it. We had an enormous amount of fun backstage. There was even a holiday Secret Santa among the cast and crew; it’s a measure of Troy’s care in casting that everyone’s gifts were so clever and thoughtful, and that everyone had a great time. All in all, it made for a delightful way to spend the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And during tech I joined the knitting brigade, so I am now working on a scarf for Tim that I hope to have ready by next December!
My thanks again to Troy, Stacey, Carola, Candice, and everyone involved in The Hanover Theatre’s 2012 production of A Christmas Carol. It was a blast.
Production photos by Scott Erb; courtesy of Troy Siebels and Stacey Leigh O’Dell from The Hanover Theatre’s 2012 Production. Backstage photo by Rosie. For a great shot of me in midair, as well as reviews of this production, visit my All Reviews and Photos page.
I heard from director Kathryn Rotondi today that her lovely and thought-provoking short film Free Man, in which I have a brief scene as a Funeral Director caught between family members, is continuing to make the rounds at LGBT film festivals. The film is a sobering look at what happens to a gay couple when one partner dies suddenly and they do not have civil marriage rights to protect their last wishes.
Here’s the list of screenings so far. Congratulations, Kathryn! I’m proud to have been a part of this project.
Free Man Festival Screenings:
Spokane GLBT Film Festival
San Francisco, CA
Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
Reelout Queer Film + Video Festival
Inside Out Ottawa-Gatineau LGBT Film & Video Festival
Reeling 2011: The 30th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival
Chicago, U S A
Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
Tampa, U S A
Austin Gay International Film Festival
Austin, U S A
New Jersey Film Festival
New Brunswick, U S A
Out of Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
Jersey Shore Film Festival
Deal, U S A
Toronto Inside Out Film Festival
Andrew Sellon as Nikola Tesla and James Glossman as Thomas Edison in “The Dangers of Electric Lighting” at Shadowland Theatre, NY
There are only two papers that review Shadowland Theatre productions up here in Ellenville, NY, but happily reviewers from both came to see The Dangers of Electric Lighting and both loved it. The first link also has a number of photos from the show. I’ll be posting a few pix or a slideshow soon. Enjoy!
Review from the Catskill Chronicle
Review from the Times Herald Record Online
The science is secondary to the human drama in this eye-opening play. If you thought you knew Thomas Edison, or knew nothing about Nikola Tesla, this play by Ben Clawson, directed by Brendan Burke, will set you straight on both!
This all happened so quickly that I didn’t even find the time to post that I was cast in this production, but I open tonight as Nikola Tesla in the NY Premiere of The Dangers of Electric Lighting, about the War of the Currents between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. It’s at Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, NY, and plays from 9/14-30. If you’re going to be in the Catskills area, come see the show! It’s a great cast, and an excellent production of a surprising and thought-provoking look at an unknown chapter of U.S. history.
Click Shadowland’s nifty animation in this post to visit the site for more information and for tickets.
Costume by Arjun Bhasin for the film “Can a Song Save Your Life?”
Late last Friday night into early Saturday morning I filmed a scene for Can a Song Save Your Life?, written and directed by John Carney (Once), and starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly. The shoot had to be done overnight because the scene was set in a moving NYC subway car, and late at night at the end of a subway line was the only time a real station and train could be used. I played a man the script titles Christian Father, a quiet man with a well-worn bible and a handful of prayer pamphlets. Honestly, it all went so smoothly that it was over almost before it began. John and Mark couldn’t have been more gracious and fun.
When John introduced himself before the first take, he mentioned he wanted to add a new line. He also said he liked the line improvs I did on my audition clip, so I should just keep those. I think we ended up doing only three takes of the brief scene; each time Mark reacted slightly differently to me, and I had great fun responding to whatever he sent my way. I’ve never had a nicer or more generous scene partner, and hope I get to play with Mark again one of these days; he is seriously fun. When it was all done and I was wrapped, I thanked John for a great time. He has a great attitude and energy, and I would love to do another project with him. Even though we were under a time constraint, everyone was working smoothly and having a great time doing it; that doesn’t just happen by itself.
As with my experience on the set of The Smurfs, every single person with whom I came into contact was incredibly nice as well as talented. Mariela Comitini (first AD), Maura Kelly (second AD), Arjun Bhasin (costume designer), Deirdre Wegner (asst. costume designer), Patrick, Joanna, and so many more. While waiting outside my little honeywagon, I had a good time chatting with the actors who make up the “band” in the film before they shot their scene that night; what a bunch of sweeties. I also had a great extended conversation in the wee hours with a lovely young woman named Grace, who lived up to her name, looking after me and getting me where I needed to be when I needed to be there. The funny thing about a movie shoot is that while there’s typically a lot of waiting in the process, once your scene is up for shooting, time is of the essence, and you meet a whole bunch of wonderful pros for very fleeting discussions and arrangements. Someone hands you a cool prop, one or two other people are wiring your mike into your costume, while someone else might be sharing last-minute instructions with you. Suddenly things fall into place, the others vanish, the director calls “Action!” and in no time the whole thing is over. You never get to go back and thank all those folks again for the great job they do!
John has written a lovely script, and has surrounded himself with a great bunch of performers; in addition to Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly, the cast includes Catherine Keener, Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden, and Adam Levine. Given how beautiful John’s film Once is, I have high hopes for this one, which shares a spiritual kinship with that hit. Anyway, my thanks to John, Mark, and all involved for a swell time. I can’t wait to see the finished film!