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.
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.
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!
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.
I had to laugh the other day. Well, I laugh at some point pretty much every day, but this was for a particular reason. My friend Beth Hylton, a fellow UNC-Chapel Hill PATP graduate, and co-star in the recent Maltz Jupiter Theatre production of The 39 Steps, sent me an e-mail to let me know I was “on the wall!” She explained by elaborating that she had just arrived to rehearse a play at the Public Theatre of Maine, only to find a photo of me in their production of The Foreigner featured prominently on the theatre’s wall. She was kind enough to take a snapshot and include it with her message so that I can share it with you.
You never know where I’ll turn up! Thanks again, Beth, for sharing this–I had a great time at the theatre, and the photo of the wall is a hoot!
“The Violet Hour” opens officially tonight! Don’t miss this remarkable play in its first NY revival. It’s a beautiful production and only runs through 3/25! I am thrilled to be working with such a superbly talented cast (John P Keller, Cheryl Freeman, Lincoln Thompson, and Heather Lee Harper) and director (Nathaniel Shaw) and stage manager (Kerri Lynch) on such a surprising, funny, and thought-provoking script. I think it’s Richard Greenberg’s best play. Join us!
Click the image to read more about the play and buy tickets online. Remember: we only run through 3/25 and you don’t want to miss this production!
I’m getting extremely excited about this production of The Violet Hour. The more we explore Richard Greenberg’s dazzling and intricate play, the more funny, heartbreaking, and profound it seems to become. This is a beautiful piece of writing that deserves to be a major hit. And I have to say, this production is looking like a winner. All that’s needed is a perceptive theatrical producer to catch this production during its limited run and move it to an Off-Broadway venue for an extended run. Yes, after two weeks of rehearsal, this revival is already looking that good. My fantastic fellow performers are John P. Keller, Cheryl Freeman, Lincoln Thompson, and Heather Lee Harper. Kerri Lynch is our resourceful Production Stage Manager, and Nathaniel Shaw (co-founder and Artistic Director of The Active Theater) is our insightful and inspiring Director. All five roles are incredibly challenging and equally rewarding. And Nathaniel is weaving everything together beautifully.
The basic storyline is simple: It’s April 1st (note that date), 1919. The Great War to End All Wars has just ended. The world is starting to hope again. In Manhattan, John Pace Seavering, a young man from a wealthy family, is trying to launch his career as a publisher of great literature. But he can only afford to publish one book, and can’t afford to make a mistake or he may be ruined before he starts. Should he pick the sprawling, unwieldy burst of genuis from his less privileged college friend Denny? Or the pure, uncluttered autobiography of Jesse Brewster, a beautiful, mature, self-made black celebrity? When he can’t bring himself to make a choice, Fate steps in, and the game changes in ways that no one could have seen coming.
The Violet Hour has not been seen in New York since its 2003 Broadway premiere, and now that we’re in the thick of rehearsals, all I can say is that it’s more timely and thought-provoking than ever. I love a play that makes me laugh, breaks my heart, and makes me gasp. The Violet Hour does all of that, and more. It will challenge you to take another look at the world around you. It will surprise you. And isn’t that sorely missing in a lot of the theatre you’re seeing these days?
You can see more about the production and the team by clicking the image on this post to visit The Active Theater’s web site. From there, you can also see the performance calender and buy tickets. The show plays March 9-25 at the Workshop Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, 4th floor, NYC. I urge you not to miss this production. One performance is already sold out. If you’re a casting director or anyone in the entertainment industry, you will want to see this play and these performances. People are going to be talking about this one.
I’m very excited. This has been a very good week. I landed a neat role in a short animated film, and now I’ve been cast in the plum role of Gidger in the first New York revival of Richard Greenberg’s fascinating play, The Violet Hour! It’s being produced by the Active Theater here in NYC this March. I play a publisher’s assistant, an extremely well-educated man who is having a midlife crisis of epic proportions. He is emotionally on the edge, terrified he will live and die without making his mark on the world. Gidger is outspoken, sometimes shockingly so, and also extremely funny. He’s one of those people who holds nothing back, and has an impressive vocabulary with which to express his intense emotions. The play is slightly fantastical, and full of surprises–including a printing machine that outputs potentially life-changing information!
I had a great time at the auditions held by casting director Cindi Rush and Artistic Director/Director Nathaniel Shaw. My thanks to them both for creating such a great audition atmosphere, and for inviting me to audition in the first place. And of course my thanks to my agent, Reneé Glicker at About Artists, for submitting me. I learned after the auditions that Nathaniel has an impressive resumé, including three years as a featured dancer with the magnificent Paul Taylor Dance Company. PTDC happens to be my favorite dance company in the world, so I took this as a great bit of serendipity. I know how hard the PTDC dancers work, and the remarkable quality of their performances. One of the best directors I’ve worked with to date, Sara Lampert Hoover, was also a modern dancer. Nathaniel was gracious, insightful, and a lot of fun at the auditions, so I can’t wait to start rehearsals on February 13th!
The Active Theater’s production of The Violet Hour will play March 9-25 in NYC. I will post more information as soon as I have it. You can also click the logo on this post to visit their web site and see a full calendar of performance dates. If you’re going to be in NYC, I hope you’ll come to one of our performances and say hello afterwards. This is a very funny and thought-provoking play that deserves a big audience. And in fact, the March 9th performance is already sold out! Stay tuned for more information.
With the onset of the holidays, I’ve finally found time to sit down and add the reviews and a nifty photo gallery from my recent production of The 39 Steps at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter, Florida. I had a fantastic time there onstage and off, and am only sorry it was over so soon. Many people have asked to see photos of the production, since they couldn’t make it down to Florida to see us in person. I’m glad I can finally oblige! But honestly, as delightful as the pictures are, they can’t hope to capture the level of silliness we reached with every performance. I played about 15 or so characters, and had 20 costume changes–6 of them in the last 5 minutes of the show! It was like doing the Actor Olympics–and it was great, giddy fun.
I found a great WordPress plugin that made it easy for me to set up a swell-looking photo showcase, complete with a carousel of thumbnail images for all the pictures, so you can just sit back and watch the slideshow, or you can click any thumbnail in the carousel to jump to that image from the production.
I don’t yet know what 2012 will bring, but I hope it brings more projects like this production, working with wonderful people like all the folks at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, inspired (and hilarious) director Peter Amster, and my fellow cast members Joe Foust, Christian Pedersen, and Beth Hylton. It was a great experience, start to finish.
You can click the image in this post to view the photos and the reviews. If you happened to receive an iPad this holiday season, the photo slideshow is supposed to display nicely on those devices; it works well on my iPhone.
Happy New Year!
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