Here's a teaser for our new play Bear Country starting Jan. 9th! Tickets make a great last minute gift!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Here's a teaser for our new play Bear Country starting Jan. 9th! Tickets make a great last minute gift!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Bear Country is a play that takes place over a 50+ year span of time dramatizing important moments both real and imagined in the life of Coach Bear Bryant. There is a cast of only four actors, one who plays Coach Bryant at the end of his career looking back on his life; one who plays Coach Bryant throughout his life; and two who play all of the other important people that populated his life during important decision making and life changing moments. The mature Bryant wears only one iconic outfit – instantly recognizable to anyone. The other three actors have close to thirty different looks, some that have to happen in just seconds. The creative team (director, designers) decided to take a somewhat presentational approach to the costumes.
The play is written in a fluid style with scenes bleeding into scenes and actors changing characters within the context of a scene. If we tried to create completely different visual statements for each character the production would run the risk of becoming a frantic “fashion” show which could actually be more intrusive than helpful. We chose to use very realistic “period” clothing pieces to enhance the time, place and character of each scene of the play, but also chose not to attempt extremely detailed changes (wigs, facial hair, body padding, etc). Thus, an actor that plays two coaches during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s wears the same pants and shoes, but changes his jacket and adds a hat for one of the coaches.
We all recognized from the very beginning of the project that we would have to be especially true to the details of Coach Bryant’s life because we are in the heart of “Bear” country and there is an enormous amount of common knowledge about him and his story. But we are also fortunate to have fantastic resources at our fingertips. So, in addition to book research, I have been to the
An important element of the visual story is the “period” football paraphernalia from the 1920’s, 30’s and 1970’s. We found a company in Los Angeles that rents authentic athletic costumes for movies, TV and commercials and they have much of what we need in their stock. In addition they are building other special items just for us. These uniforms (helmets, shoes, jerseys, padding, etc) greatly enhance the authentic feeling that we are trying to create for our production of Bear Country.
Spot the crew member in the light grid! One of our brightest ideas (haha) was building a light grid using airline wire. This lets the crew walk out and set the lights and the wires don't cast shadows on the action below.
The infamous tower. Coach Bryant would spend the practice up in the tall metal tower watching his team below. Woe to the person that caused him to climb down before a practice was over.
That's the last post for the set of Bear Country. They're almost done with it and I'm not allowed to take photos once it is completed, so if you want to see the final version call 334-271-5353 -or- 1-800-841-4273 or visit www.asf.net to purchase tickets to fantastic show. Better hurry, tickets are going quickly!
Hiya! Don't forget that The Scene party is on January 16th here at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. We'll have live music by Lance Brown, food, drinks, and highlights from Paul Bryant's career at UA. Top it off with a 7:30 showing of the new play Bear Country and you'll have a great night of football, friends, and fun!
Tickets are going quickly for this show so if you want to come to the party then call 334-271-5353 -or- 1-800-841-4273 -or- email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like to party and you like theatre, then this is your Scene!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Today we had our Christmas Party with everyone gathering together in the front hall to eat a great lunch (some went with the traditional turkey but I went with the Southern favorite of pulled pork barbecue) and all kinds of sides and desserts. I managed to snap some pictures between visiting friends and enjoying lunch. It's picture time!
The line's starting for the food.
I didn't know Santa moonlighted! (hehe)
Kristi W, our sassy intern, poses for a picture.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Our next production, Bear Country, a play about the great Paul "Bear" Bryant, is starting is a month here at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. In fact, the first rehearsal is this afternoon. I'll try to get a few photos so you can see the four amazing actors that we have for this production. In fact, the lead for Bear Country will be in rehearsals in as well as finishing up the last few weeks of A Christmas Carol: The Musical as the old miser Scrooge.
But the big news for today is that we've got a great special going on for this show called the Sideline Special. We're offering a discount on the seats in our 100 and 500 sections of the theatre, the "sidelines" where you buy one adult tickets and get the second for half price. You have to act fast, though, because this offer is only for the Tuesday and Wednesday shows in the first two weeks. So if you've been waiting to get your tickets then go ahead and give the box office a call at 1-800-841-4273 or visit the link at the side to buy online.
I'll be back with more fun pictures and another update on the Bear Bryant Set soon!
Friday, December 12, 2008
More discounted tickets are available to our production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical for selected shows (this weekend and next at the 7:30pm shows mostly)! If you've been waiting to see the show then this is your moment! Call 1-800-841-4273 or visit www.asf.net for a great deal on your tickets to this amazing musical production.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
So the other day I was snooping down in the Scene Shop and came across parts of the set for Bear Country, the next play to be in our Octagon Theatre. I caught the boys laying down the astro turf and saw the plans to turn our thrust theatre into a football stadium. Here are the pictures I snapped while spying downstairs.
It's Bryant in his tower where he watched how the plays worked on the field. The designer does tons of research for each set.
A Bird's Eye View!
A Bug's Eye View!
Since the football field starts at the 50 yard line, this ramp provides the perspective in the corner that the field continues down to the field goal.
The top of Bear Bryant's tower. This gave Coach Bryant a better view to watch practices and see how strategies were working.
Annnnnnd...Poof! The magic of the painting crew transforms a bit of Astroturf into a beautiful field!
"Action!Ramp" holds up the rest of the field and once everything is painted it'll look like our Octagon Stage holds half a football field.
That's all for now. Next time I'll have more photos of the set being assembled and hopefully will have lots of great shots from our Christmas Party next week. Last year someone proposed, I wonder what will happen this year.
*edit*: The original picture of stairs were removed because they are part of another show. The correct stairs to the tower are pictured in Part 2 of the build for Bear Country.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
For three shows in our 2008-2009 season (A Christmas Carol: The Musical, the Three Musketeers, and Les Miserables) our scene shop built a turntable to go on the Festival stage. It's installed right now and will go until next summer when we close the season and dismantle it. The turntable (think lazy susan) makes quick scene changes easier and sets up some dynamite blocking choices. Here's a quick podcast on how it was made!
Monday, November 24, 2008
I recently sat down in a meeting with our COO, Mike Vigilant, who is also the author of our upcoming production of Bear Country am almost biopic of Bear Bryant, head football coach for the University of Alabama during a very successful and controversial time in the university's football program. Here's what he had to say about the play so far (I'm paraphrasing a bit):
The play is about like jazz, verbally, like a dance between the characters. There's four people playing about 15 different roles, so alot of very quick changes. The interaction between the actor playing Bear and the rest of the cast has the tempo and the style of jazz with the theme and variations throughout the memories. In fact, this play is supposed to make sense even if you were to take out the dialog and just have Bear telling his memories. We should have about 80% of the show done before rehearsals start, but since this is a first time production, the remaining 20% will come during the rehearsal process and everyone from the actors to the director start working on making this real.
As much as I love jazz, this sounds like an amazing play, and I don't even understand football! Tickets for Bear Country are on sale now and they make great Christmas gifts! Call 1-800-841-4273 to purchase today!
Another intern interview! This time with Adam Souza. Enjoy!
Born: West Hartford, Connecticut.
Past Experience: Grew into theatre with a play here and there while growing up. Played Willy Wonka at 10. Lots of experience with music on different instuments like the piano, guitar, trombone; also played a bit of soccer and did competitive fencing (which is very different from stage combat!).
Siblings: one younger brother who's more business minded and in school to be a pro golf manager.
Schooling: New York University. Large school with a large drama program (Tisch School of the Arts) but still small enough to to have a good collegiate atmosphere.
Working with Charlotte's Web: It's changed the way that I look at children's theatre- what it means and the level of theatre. It is almost harder to perform for children because you always have to tell the truth. It requires a lot more work and energy because things are more important to kids. You have to approach kids with an open mind because if you don't connect then they tune you out; there's no sense of obligation for kids to pay attention to the story you are telling.
Everyone I've worked with on the show have been of such a high caliber and I'd love to work with Nancy again.
Dream Role of Rep: I'd love to be Athos in The Three Musketeers. Loved the book as a kid and have read it over and over, just to be a Musketeer would be great.
Classes and Teachers: I love how demanding the teachers are. They and the environment challenge you and force you to the next level. Denise [Gabriel, movement instructor] is great. It's hard at first to get your mind around what she's trying to point out in our body movements but when you do finally grasp it then it becomes this amazing and big thing that you've never given thought to before. Ray [Chambers] keeps so much info in his head and is always so precise. He's really committed to teaching a skill for everywhere, to empower the actor. Greta [Lambert] is all about nurturing the ability and talent of everyone. She creates an environment where you feel safe to take risks and push yourself.
Graduation: I have mixed feelings on this. I'm looking forward to taking the skills with me into job force but sad that we'll be leaving before Les Miz. We know it's coming up soon but there's so much between now and then that we haven't given it much thought.
Have you found "The Moment?": It varies project to project and is very difficult to find. I'm just now getting to the point where I can feel that true moment as an actor.
Future Dream Role: Macbeth to be sure, also Richard III, but it will be years before I'm age appropriate.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Billy Sharpe (Cratchit, A Christmas Carol: The Musical) checks in with a new blog about working (and playing) at ASF.
Sooooo, I was asked a couple of weeks ago to write a little something for the blog, and that is when anxiety and panic set in… what could I POSSIBLY have to say that would be of any interest to anyone? After much angst and confusion I am sitting down to write a TELL ALL about the cast of A Christmas Carol – The Musical… well, maybe NOT a TELL ALL… How about a TELL SOME…
Most of the cast gathered on Oct 10th for the first day of rehearsal. I was “stuck” in the Pacific Ocean on a cruise ship that was sailing from
It seemed that this group already started to play well together as they had a chance to mingle at Geoffrey’s house after the first day of rehearsal. I discovered that I had actually met one other cast member three years earlier at a Mexican restaurant in
The next day Jessica Blair, Mark Woodard, Will Ray and I started the tradition of Buffet Monday. We decided that every Monday we would find a different Buffet and use it as our grazing spot for lunch. So far, we have gone to
We have also had many other outings in addition to the Buffets!!! Some cast members/ASF MFA’s went to the Haunted Chicken House in
This cast is an AMAZING group of FUN and TALENTED people without a rotten apple in the bunch! I hope this gives you some insight into our activities so far, and I hope to have another entry to the “Times” in about a week!!!! Here is the Summer in the Glass Recipe:
1 can of Frozen Minute Maid Limeade (the large size not the small!) empty into blender
Fill the can almost to the top with vodka and add to blender
12 mint leaves in blender
Sooooo much ice that you think it is too much and then add one more ice cube
Blend/Mix/Liquefy until completely mixed… enjoy!!!!!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Enjoy and come see A Christmas Carol: The Musical now playing through Dec. 24th!
Check the link out to the side for ticket information or call 1-800-841-4273.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
We're running a promotion for A Christmas Carol: The Musical for the following dates:
11/18 @ 7.30pm
11/20 @ 7.30 pm
11/26 @ 2pm
Buy one full priced adult ticket and get the second for half price! That's $75.00 for two tickets this fabulous holiday musical; it's like Broadway has landed in Montgomery, Alabama. You can't beat this deal so bring your mate, date, family, and anyone else you'd like to share the magic of this Christmas story with, and help support the arts by loving what we do best, entertaining you!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Well, after a week of previews we are headed straight for the opening weekend of our newest production, A Christmas Carol: The Musical. This amazing show is full of Singing, Ghosts, Dancing, and Mutton Chops (that fun bit of facial hair that all the guys are running around with). It will make you laugh and cry, often at the same time, and really brings to life the Christmas spirit, with a side of silliness.
I have to warn you; this is not your grandparent's Christmas Carol.
The opening number itself is full of singing and dancing, and contains about three scenes within the musical number. Our sound and light crew hustle the entire time to keep up with the show's demands. The entire production lasts about 90 minutes, so you can see that it starts at a fast pace and never lets up. The group of actors play so many parts that they are constantly in new costumes, which are gorgeous, and their roles are so captivating. We have a whole group of ghosts who help to drive home Marley's message to scrooge and a line of "presents" that Christmas Present uses to help show Scrooge the joy of life. Check out the program to see exactly how many roles each actor plays.
And it is lovely.
The set is amazing with a turntable (watch for the podcast coming next week on how they built the turntable, complete with photo montage!) and beautiful London scenes. The costumes are absolutely lovely and make you wish for a real winter in the South. We've had, like, one freeze warning so far and it's almost Thanksgiving? This show is absolutely fabulous with each and every song and dance.
Scrooge, the character we all dislike in the beginning, but the one that most of us can connect with. Watch for Scrooge's backstory and you'll find out why he is the way he is, and all the while you're disliking the poor soul you'll be secretly wanting for him to redeem himself, because if there's one person who needs hope, it's Scrooge.
So why haven't you bought your ticket yet? This Broadway musical won't be in town forever so hurry up and get your tickets while we have them. Got family coming for Thanksgiving and you don't know what to do with them? We have two shows the day after Turkey day so come out to a show with the whole family.
Don't be mistaken for a Scrooge this Christmas. Come out and enjoy the fun of live theatre with your family and community!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Two for the price of one! Here's another video, this time of a sneak peek during a rehearsal of A Christmas Carol: The Musical. In it Marley as a ghost tries to convince Scrooge of the consequences of his greed. Enjoy!
Monday, November 3, 2008
I'd like to start the week off with a new project. We have a new education opportunity called our Intern Company where we bring theatre graduates here to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and they work with our great teachers and perform on our professional stage for a year before heading off into the big theatre world. We have some great actors here this year and I'm slowly interviewing all five of them. First up we have David Stewart Hudson:
Birthplace? Washington D.C. (inner city kid)
Childhood Experience? Very involved in theatre as a kid and always wanted to be an actor. Also went to an art high school and used to write plays as a kid.
Siblings? Only child.
College? University of Maryland. It had a great theatre department with multiple theaters and a great teaching facility.
Acting for Children? It's been a challenge but the three things that Nancy (Director of Charlotte's Web, our children's production, and Assistant Artistic Producing Director at ASF) teaches are so very true. To reach children you have to reach Simplicity, Connectivity, and Honesty. Kids are an honest audience and you either have their attention and belief or you don't.
Looking forward to the rest of the season? Yes, to competing against all the other actors for roles in upcoming productions. This first show, Charlotte's Web, was all ours and now we'll have to go up against some big competition for future roles.
What do you think of the teachers? Greta is amazing, lots of trust and cuddly almost with her teaching style. I'm very excited about Ray's class on Shakespearean text, I think it'll be fun. Denise's movement class is challenge. There's something very important there with movement and acting and I'll eventually get my head wrapped around it.
Do you work with the MFA's very much? Not yet, we'll start working together during the repertory season.
Have you had that moment yet where it all clicks when becoming a character? Not yet, I'm slowly getting into what acting is. There's no more backstage or green room chatter, though, so I can stay in that place longer.
What are you looking forward to the most in class? I'm looking forward to working with someone who challenges me to stay in the moment.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Meet the newest Scrooge to grace the stage of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival stage. He's mean, cranky, and plagued with a sharp sarcastic sense of humor that you can't help but pity him. He brought us Capitan Hook from last year's production of Peter Pan and we welcome him back to embody the classic bad guy turned good from Charles Dicken's widely popular story A Christmas Carol. Here he is, Montgomery's own Rodney Clark!
Come see him in our large Holiday production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical, previews from Nov. 7th-16th only $25.00! Call 334-271-5353 or 800-841-4273 to order tickets!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It's been awhile since I've posted here and it's all because we're busy building the greatest season for all of you! Soon I'll have up a few videos from the Christmas Carol rehearsal and how the scenic crew built the rotating stage. We'll be using this stage for three of our performances: Carol, Three Musketeers, and Les Miz.
3 Mo' Divas was quite a short show at only a week long! That's quite a change compared to the shows we build and run. They've now moved on to another city and if they come near you then you have got to go see them. These divas are H-O-T!
Right now we have Charlotte's Web running and you can see a photo album of the cast visiting a farm to observe how the animals interact. This adorable show is great for kids and adults alike.
See you at the theatre!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
$10 cover at the door
Come on out and party with people from around the city!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Hello! Yes, we are still alive!
I hope everyone had a great end of summer blow out. Labor Day has come and gone and summer finished we look to Fall to start our brand new season starting with 3 Mo' Divas!
Our Producing Artistic Director, Geoffrey Sherman, was recently interviewed by the guys over at Inexplicable Dumb Show. Here's a link to the main interview.
These guys are hilarious, so give them a try. And remember, it's for the children...
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
I know, I know, updates have been getting farther apart and it seems like we've run out of stories. That, my friends, is an incorrect assumption.
We're hitting the end of the season now with West Side Story closing this Sunday at 2:00 (we're going to miss you guys!) and looking forward to the new season beginning in a month with 3 Mo' Divas kicking it off! In the meantime, though, we're working on a new series of articles to really give the inside look to this theatre.
We're charting a new course and are going to have a new topic everyday. So if your interest is costumes, set building, acting, or my favorite, marketing, then you'll know when to check back each day and see what our awesome submitters have whipped up.
As always, I'll see you at the theatre!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I wanted to put up a few reminders about our last few weeks in this season. Here we go!
- We're in the last week of West Side Story performances! So if you haven't seen the show yet you need to hurry because it won't be here after August 24th!
- Want something a little different? Scot Bruce will be here next Monday, August 18th, with his amazing tribute to Elvis, the king of Rock and Roll. Tickets are flying and we don't have too many left for this awesome show. Act fast or you'll miss out on a night of great music and fun!
- Our season closes on August 24th, but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop. Emerge Montgomery, our city's premier young professional party network, is coming to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival on Tuesday August 26th. Come join the hot, young, savvy up and coming professionals of Montgomery for a night of fun! We've got blues guitarist Lucky playing, food served up by some of Carrabba's finest servers, and more. You have to RSVP, so consider this your official invite to the party. Call 334-271-5336 to RSVP
Friday, August 8, 2008
Our season is going to be a hit right out of the gate this year all thanks to a little show called 3 Mo' Divas.
How many of you have heard of the show called 3 Mo' Tenors? It was and still is a blockbuster hit with theatre audiences everywhere. After their success we all knew it wouldn't be long before they would develop a show featuring the talents of three women whose range extends through multiple styles and centuries of music. And thus was born the amazing show 3 Mo' Divas.
This show features three Divas (using the original meaning of "goddess" or a woman who has rare and outstanding talent in opera or other extensive musical arenas) who have been classically trained in the major music styles of the past 400 years. The show itself is reminiscent of a musical concert and will keep you engaged throughout the performance and singing the songs the next day. For more information on the show, check out their website here and see what they're all about. Tickets are on sale right now and are flying out of the box office for this amazing celebration of women and music. Call 1-800-841-4273 or visit www.asf.net for more information on how to order tickets.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Scot Bruce returns August 18th! Tickets on sale now!
Why, you may ask, do we have a large picture of a girl with the French flag and "Summer 2009" across the top? The answer would be because we have been granted the amazing opportunity as a regional theatre to produce Les Miserables! This show has taken the world by storm and is set to shake the foundations of Montgomery, Alabama with its beautiful music and epic story. But the only way to purchase advance tickets to this amazing show is by getting a subscription. What are our subscription, you may ask? Well, they're pretty much broken down like this:
Create Your Own
4, 5, or 6 vouchers good for our major plays in the upcoming season (not good for
our musicals, MFA programs, or Bear Country.)
Tickets to the majority of the season, 7 shows in all, including Les Miz.
Tickets to our Rep season (Othello, The Comedy of Errors, and The Three
Musketeers) and also Les Miz.
Those are our major subscriptions and they can be made to fit any schedule or price range. Call the box office at 1-800-841-4273 to learn how you can subscribe to our amazing season this year.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Need a few more reasons to see the hottest ticket in town?? Check this out... I've got a few!!
If I ask you what the most romantic piece of classical literature is, what would you name? Romeo and Juliet is a prime candidate, of course. If I ask you who the most popular modern composer and lyricist is; who would you name? Stephen Sondheim is a logical choice. What if I tell you there’s a show that gives you the best of both of those worlds?! Well, that’s West Side Story and it’s playing now at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. The story line is adapted from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the lyrics are by Sondheim. Throw in dynamos like Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, and Leonard Bernstein and you’re sure to have a hit on your hands!! Now I’ll leave the history and accolades to the theatre professor and stick to my own thoughts! (The link goes to a review by Auburn Montgomery theatre professor Val Winkelman.)
To begin, I cannot tell you how impressed and glad I am to know that there is a live orchestra playing for this musical production! We were greeted by the thrilling sounds of instruments warming up as we quickly found our seats. The curtain speech welcoming the audience and thanking the sponsors of the production was both quick and sincere and also brought the exciting news that next summer’s season will bring a production of the world-wide phenomenon, Les Misérables, which is sure to be a “must see” for theatre goers from far and wide.
I knew this would be a great performance the moment the lights came up on a well designed and very open stage. The boys took to the stage and commanded it with their exciting mix of dance and stunts. These gangsters were truly impressive as they seemed to dance their way across the stage and through the lives of those street-wise characters. Director and Choreographer Karen Azenberg did a marvelous job of capturing the look and feel of the original musical while adding her own elements. Paul Wonsek, the designer, created the set to continuously adapt and provide just the spaces the actors needed to stretch their dancing talents. The stage hands as well as Paul deserve a huge round of applause for the incredible and impeccable scene changes. It was truly remarkable to see a set and scene changes work so beautifully!
The actors blew the audience away with their triple talents in singing, dancing, and acting. The Jets and Sharks fit their “tough guys” personas and provided very nice vocal performances while their ladies sang and danced beautifully throughout the show. Loren Christopher portrayed a wonderful and gentle wide-eyed young boy in love while Nina Negri brought her gorgeous Opera trained voice to the role of Mari. Beautiful Jacqueline Colmer made the perfect Puerto Rican hot tamale as Anita, friend and confidante to innocent Maria. I dearly hope that they’ll bring these three back next year for Les Misérables, mostly Nina to lend her voice and experience with the show.
This is a wonderful show from beginning to end and my date for the evening is still talking about how much he enjoyed it! This show really is the hottest ticket in town and is well worth a trip to Montgomery to see. I have a feeling that once you see this show then you’ll start to look forward to Les Misérables next summer! I know West Side Story has certainly whetted my appetite for it now!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
I finally went to see the whole show of West Side Story last Friday and I was completely blown away. This really is the must-see show for the South this summer and it is simply spectacular. The music and dancing are out of the world and the costumes are just beautiful; this show really sets the bar high for what the Alabama Shakespeare Festival can do for regional theatre here in the South.
Our production of West Side Story recently had an article in the online Playbill (!), an e-zine that has all the ins and outs of theatre entertainment. Here's a link to the article.
West Side Story has taken the city by storm and is really the show to see this summer. If you haven't checked out the actor's bios online then check it out here and see the great people behind this amazing show.
As always, I'll see you at the theatre!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Everything is bustling around the Festival as we gear up for a new season. And oh, what a season it will be. Have you heard that we are doing Les Mis? YES! Les Misérables, “the musical that swept the world.” We are all super excited about everything we have in store for you. Not only are we presenting three musicals but also three World Premiers, including Bear Country, a play based on the life of legendary University of Alabama coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant. And don’t forget our repertory season…Othello, the playful Comedy of Errors and Charles Morey’s adaptation of The Three Musketeers.
I am also ecstatic to report that our beautiful, full-color season brochure is hot-off-the press and on its way to your homes. Graphic Designer Jenna McCollough and PR Manager Meg Lewis have been working hard since February designing, editing, tweaking and proofing. Inside, you will find all the information you need on subscriptions (including our new payment plan!), travel packages and education programs.
Remember that West Side Story is still running and is “the hottest ticket in town!” Make sure to get your tickets now. And while you’re at the box office, you might as well order your subscription as well. ASF continues to bring you the great classics of the stage side by side with exciting new works and Broadway hits. Come be a part of our 2008-2009 season and play with us!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
The news is in! Scot Bruce is coming back to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival on August 18th for a one night performance! If any of you didn't catch his pelvis shaking performance last time he rode through town then this is your chance to shimmy and shake your way through a night of classic Elvis. Here's a little snippet for you. Enjoy!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
West Side Story has captivated audiences already and we're only in the first week of true performances (I've heard tales in the box office of repeat customers). Last night was also a very romantic evening for many of our patrons as they received a glass of champagne going into the theatre and a rose on leaving. Yesterday was an interesting day in the office with buckets and buckets of roses huddled about and a few boxes of champagne sitting in the corner.
If you're interested in sharing champagne and roses with someone special, then don't fret, we still have another champagne and roses night next week on July 29. If you haven't already gotten your tickets to West Side Story then give the box office a call at 1-800-841-4237 or visit www.asf.net to get your seats now.
That's all for today. I hope you've gotten your seats because this show is selling quickly!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
Here's another snippet from the press junket on 7/9. Tony and Maria singing "Tonight (Balcony scene)" in the rehearsal hall. Enjoy!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
I know, this is the same post that I put up a few days ago then took down again. I thought I had a mistake in the video, only to find out that it was correct. So, in the way of OK-Go, here we go again! This is an interview done with Karen Azenberg a week before West Side Story opened. And wow, was it ever a party yesterday! The show is amazing and the after party was spectacular. Kudos to the amazing Meg for getting all of that together.
And now on to the interview!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
Remember that press junket from last week? I've just edited a few songs that I caught on film. Here's the first of the two, the "Jet Song" that continues after the last clip. Enjoy!
And if you didn't catch the scene leading up into this song, check it out here. I'll see you at the theatre!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Hey there bloggers!
Here's a special treat for this afternoon; a review of our limited engagement play "Beaux Stratagem" still here till Saturday night. This play is the beautiful result of our talented MFA (Master of Fine Art) students who have given zest to this Restoration period play. Here's a link to the actual review at the Montgomery Advertiser's website. Enjoy!
Good morning bloggers! Here's another entry in "Tony's" (aka Loren's) blog. Enjoy!
July 10th (10:43),
Okay, we have a problem. Nina (Maria) is making me cry in MY death scene (POST DEATH)! Which isn't going to fly. I mean lets really think about this, how many times have you attended a funeral where the one who passed away starts crying... I'm doing my best to be a good little dead boy (reduce my breathing, try not to sneeze, twitch, or swallow), but if I'm getting all choked then we have a problem. So I guess we'll just have to cut her final "...how many bullets are left in this gun,
Nina is a treasure.
This week we've started full run-through of the show. It's getting very exciting. Each week it's as though we're all working on a vast painting together. In the beginning we sorted out all our colors, brushes, and techniques. Then we started to apply large broad layers to the canvas, and NOW, we're finally starting focus on the details that will make the painting accomplished and unique. However, as details go they are often the most difficult, and sensitive to apply. Thankfully we have Karen, the women who envisioned this painting, in all it's detail, long before we were chosen to help illustrate. Thank you Karen, I only hope you know...
July 11th (6:24)
We just got back from lunch, YEA LUNCH! And now back to work. We're on the stage for the rest of this week, which is both exciting and intimidating. There are so many people at work to make this show a true spectacle, which really makes you appreciate the opportunity you have to be apart of it all.
Today will mostly be spent adjusting to the stage and our EXTRAORDINARY set. I hope everyone reading this has or will soon have the chance to see this amazing work of art, and I can't wait to see the lighting designers magic in play. Additionally, the crew has been so supportive and helpful in our adjustment to the stage. "Cool boy, REAL cool...!"
HURRAY, Mark (THEE Stage Manager) just brought out a basket full of our 'dance at the gym' shoes, but NOW . . . with rubber soles. For a little while it seemed like we were doing Hans Brinker the Musical instead of WSS. LOL. Now, I have to be honest, these rubber soles are a million times more important for the dancers than for me - BUT climbing up a 12 foot metal latter to the arms of your star-crossed love with no traction underneath you has it's own level of impending doom.
We just finished the RUMBLE, with knives, search lights, a 42 foot fence, and everything - well...9 foot fence, but it feels like 42 when you're climbing it. LOL. Just kidding, I think it's TONS of fun, I think everyone should come on down and give it a try.
We're about ready so start working Act II for the first time on stage...so far so well. No major injuries, or life crises (as Karen would say...)
Talk to ya'll again soon. One last shout out to all the amazing people that are helping this come together, and to each of my extraordinary fellow actors who are filled with talent and love. Thanks to all of you!
We're all looking forward to West Side Story coming together starting this Friday night at 7:30. I'll see you at the theatre!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Welcome back to the
I worked here 10-12 years ago doing Little Foxes, and I hadn’t been back until Geoffrey arrived and you produced Beauty and the Beast. Geoffrey and I have been working together since the late 70s, and so you could say I’m here because Geoffrey is here. You have a beautiful facility, and it gives a designer the opportunity to do more.
Were you trying for a historically accurate set from when the show first premiered?
Yes, I did go with a ‘50s feel. When I was growing up, West Side Story was the original production. I was from
I’ve seen a number of West Side Story productions over the years, and it has turned into a caricature of what life might have been like in
I think if there is anything I’m trying to do, [it] is get it back to the grit and slightly scary atmosphere of what that life might have been like, instead of stepping back and looking at a cartoon version.
What places in
The buildings themselves were not particularly important as much as [were] the laundry hanging from the windows and the desolate alleyways. This is the part of town that isn’t the beautiful city that you think about; [it’s] the area where people are a little poorer and live hand-to-mouth. So it’s not so much the city skyline but the texture of the neighborhood and what that feels like that inspired the set.
How do you go about designing a show?
The first thing is [to] develop the machine of the play so that it moves efficiently. This has nothing to do with decoration or emotion or anything; it’s how to get from one scene to the next. This play has 15 to 25 scenes, and the problem is how to keep it flowing magically so that you don’t lose momentum. A piece can die if it takes 30 seconds to change the scenery because you lose the attention of the audience.
In West Side Story, once the ball starts rolling you don’t want to stop it because it’s scary, you know – there’s going to be death out there, and if you wait five minutes for a set to change, then you lose the momentum and it’s very hard for the actors to bring it back.
Then, secondly, you are trying to do things that allow the director to have interesting playing spaces and interesting confrontation amongst the actors. Again, that’s not an aesthetic consideration but [finding a way to give] the director get the variety she needs.
And finally it’s getting the environment, the colors, and also coordinating with the costume designer to make sure that the set doesn’t overpower the costumes, because you don’t want to make the set the most important.
You always design around people. You make the set feel like it’s only finished when an actor stands in front of it.
Is there a piece of the design that you are particularly proud of?
Some of the backdrops in this particular set are some of my better. That doesn’t mean that on stage it will be the same, because there’s the translation between what I paint and what can be painted on stage.
How did you design the lighting to establish the feel of the play?
In this case, it’s really in what you see and what you don’t see. It’s more of a matter of shadows and darkness that people come in and out of. It mostly takes place at night, so I tried to give spots of light and dark that people come out of, like what happens in a horror story.
Not that West Side Story is a horror story, but it is a sinister place where people are hidden in the dark and they come out and snatch and hurt you.
How much imagination is the audience going to need to see the world of the show?
I think you see the entire world. Each scene’s set feels like it’s a full stage. For the most part, I think this is going to present what life in
What do you want the audience to feel when they fist sit down and see the set?
I won’t say fear so much as trepidation about what’s going to happen. I’d like the environment to set up a feeling that there is something hard about living in this city, and that it’s a place where life can be taken away very quickly.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And Paul's set is truly amazing; it is so very complex and looks so very real. You'll just have to see the show to really appreciate it. As always, if you have any questions for our actors, designers, builders, or anyone who makes these shows happen, then comment here and I'll be sure to get you an answer.
Remember, West Side Story opens on July 18th, so if you haven't gotten your ticket yet you'd better hurry. Specials are still good for the first two Tuesday nights, so go to www.asf.net or click the BUY TICKETS link in the sidebar to get your tickets today!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Good Afternoon Bloggers!
I know, I know, it's almost four in the afternoon and I usually have this updated before noon, but trust me, this is worth it. I mentioned that yesterday we were schedule to have a press junket at the theatre for West Side Story and it ended up being awesome fun. We were allowed into rehearsal with cameras to film some of play and I got some great shots. Here's the first one, the first scene with the Jets right before their song. The song will come in a few days. Enjoy!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
I've got another treat for you this morning! Another cast member of West Side Story, opening in less than two weeks on July 18th, has written a blog for today. Enjoy!
Ok, so this is my first time writing a BLOG entry. I guess I will just let you know my thoughts in a somewhat organized manner (If I told you my thoughts without organization, I'm afraid you might either judge me or dismiss me as COO-COO!!!).
2 weeks ago, when we pulled up to the Festival Theatre, we all gasped. The beauty of the theatre, the acres and acres of grass, and the cute ponds and bridges. It is definitely a big change from good ol' NYC.
We dove right into rehearsal. I wasn't rehearsing as much as the others at first, but I knew that would change quickly....a little too quickly : ) Rehearsing is definitely cutting into my poolside and pina colada time. LOL.
The cast has connected quickly. Already, the Jets/Sharks pranks have begun. Crazy tricks like writing on each others' cars ("Jets Rule", "Maria's got a bun in the oven", etc..) to silly stringing each other after a long day of rehearsal. Maria wants peace, not war!! So, of course, I was not involved in these games. C'mon guys, someone could get hurt.....or SHOT or STABBED. Oops, did I just give away too much of the PLOT?
I could not ask for a better Tony. Loren Christopher is the most beautiful, passionate, sincere and vulnerable Tony you will ever see. What is even better is that he is like that off stage as well.
I don't know how Karen (our director AND choreographer) is still alive after these long days of rehearsal. She gets no break. She is such a hard worker who is also extremely creative and precise. She is fun to work with.
I have so much more I want to tell you , but I must get back to my duties on stage : ) I will write more soon! Thanks for reading and come see the show! Get your tickets fast! I almost could not get one. See you!
Thanks Nina! And in other exciting news, we've got a Press Junket scheduled for today, so by next week there will be a podcast with behind the scenes footage of rehearsal and dancing. Maybe I ought to get one of the pranks on film as well, eh? Sounds like the back hallway has turned a bit dangerous. As always, leave a comment if you have a question for any of our actors, builders, costumers, or pretty much anyone here.
See you at the theatre!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Starting this Friday we have our MFA production of The Beaux Stratagem, a rowdy romp through 17th century England involving two young men's scheme to woo and then rob young women across the countryside. What's the only problem? They didn't anticipate a real love. Check out all the facts behind this hilarious play at wikipedia and see why love can cause the best of plans to go awry. Tickets on sale now at the box office at 334-271-5353 or 1-800-841-4273 -or- online at www.asf.net. We'll see you there!
Good morning bloggers!
If you're local and have been watching tv, then you know that the new West Side Story commercial hit the airwaves yesterday. The original can still be found on youtube under our channel. Keep checking back as we add more press junket footage and some footage of choreography from our two upcoming shows Beaux Stratagem and West Side Story.
There's going to be quite a few radio interviews going on in the next few weeks as we rush towards opening the show on July 18th. Today we had an interview on the morning show at WAKA, Mix 103 with JT and Leanne, and 12Talk at WSFA's channel. Listen tomorrow as our director, Karen Azenberg, is interviewed on Alabama Live at WSFA.
Can you believe that time is winding down? We've got less than two weeks to get this show on the stage. Rehearsals and building have been killer as everyone gets this massive job ready for opening. All of the hard work will be worth it when the lights go down on July 18th for the opening night and the audience watches this amazing show come to life. I for one can't wait until the official opening on July 20th when we have a large party after the show where everyone is invited to eat, drink, and dance the mamba!
Yesterday we had a large rush for tickets so I hope everyone already has their tickets. And as always, leave a comment if you have a question for any of our actors, designers, or builders and I'll be sure to get you an answer the next day!
I'll see you at the theatre!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
In place of the "A Day in the Life" series, today we have a special blog from Loren who plays "Tony" one of our young lovers in West Side Story. Enjoy!
It's 11:00am, which means we're exactly an hour from getting started in Studio B. I think a general review of Act II is on the schedule for today. Which means somewhere throughout the day (perhaps a few times in a row), I will - generally - get shot! HOWEVER, yesterday I rushed a cue, which ultimately put Nina (Maria) and I in the wrong place at the wrong time, resulting in her getting shot in the back, instead of me getting shot in the front. Although it would be nice to NOT get shot for once, I HAVE NO IDEA how we would play that one out. LOL! Needless to say, I don't think I'll be rushing that cue anymore. Thanks GOD we're only acting...
Long before guns and death scenes however, is the ballet, which is first on the list of things to review today. These dancers are worth the price of any admission - dedicated, talented, professional, and good people. It's so difficult for me to concentrate on weaving in and out of their choreography (as my character observes the fantastic world of "Somewhere") when all I really want to do is stop and watch them.
It's now 11:05am and two of our dancers (Lauren and Ashley) are in the studio deeply involved in their yoga routine, as Maria Totten (our dance captain) is warming up in front of the mirror, in between stretching and doing abdominal crunches. Our AMAZING stage management is busy running in and out of the studio setting up for the day, while our director, Karen (::applause - applause::), who I've never seen NOT working, is in her chair deeply involved in whatever it is in front of her. All the while Jets and Sharks are filtering into the room, one of which is John (Baby John) with his new RED hair color! Which looks awesome! All the Jets (except for me) have dark brown hair, so the costume and make-up depot is slowly changing that up a bit. In fact there's some talk that Eric (Riff) will be joining me in the
Everything is going great...and this show is going to rock. So much more to say, but I have to get myself ready for the day. It's not east getting shot ya know...takes ALOT of preparation. LOL. Take care...
Thanks Loren! Man, lately every time I try to type an "e" I always get a "3." I don't think many people would appreciate a post in leetspeak. As always, bloggers, if you have any questions about our actors, shows, or build, then just leave a comment and I'll make sure you have an answer in no time flat. See you at the theatre!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Good morning bloggers!
Yesterday I found an awesome lolcat pic while surfing icanhascheezeburger.com. Take a look:
Am I the only one amused by this image? I hope not.
On to the news! We'll be doing a complete series on "A Day in the Life of..." (hopefully with pictures) on people throughout the building and featuring an employee a week. So keep checking back each Monday to learn more about what people do around here and put some names to the work being done.
I've been sneaking the rehearsal reports for West Side Story and it looks like rehearsals are going extremely well. Scenes are being block and the musical numbers are being worked. I love going by and hearing the music from the show. I have to admit, I wasn't very familiar with the show before working on this project, but now I'm a little addicted to "Jet Song" and "America." There's also a video floating around the internet where Cher performs all the music from West Side Story and plays each character. The special effects are pretty good for the time that it was shot.
I hope you've gotten you tickets already because I checked with the box office and they are going very quickly. The previews are about completely gone now but you can still grab some seats if you act quickly. I would suggest the first two Tuesday nights. Not only are there some great seats avaliable, you'll also get a glass of champagne and a rose. Very romantic, no? Also the first week in August has some great seats still open. See, don't I look out for all of you?
That's it for today. If you like the post then digg it on Digg.com by click the little icon up at the top of the post. And keep checking back for your backstage connection to life at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival!
Monday, June 30, 2008
Good Morning Bloggers!
I have a special update today with a blog from Mike Jones, our MFA stage manager for the production of Beaux Strategem. This restoration play (the genre after the civil war where the humor got increasingly raunchier, we'll talk more about that later) is about two gentlemen who decide to make their fortune by seducing country women and stealing their money. These two con artists get a surprise in the end from their lovely, and very clever, young ladies of choice. So here's a day in Mike Jones' life!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Hey there blog buddies! My name is Mike Jones (Michael Aaron Jones on my union card), a 2nd year MFA student studying Stage Management. My current project is serving as Stage Manager for the MFA company production of The Beaux’ Stratagem. Here is a little peak into my day and the rehearsal process of our show.
8:30am – Start of the day
My alarm clock(s) go off. I actually have two to make sure I get up in time to start my day. I have a good 3 hours before I need to be in the rehearsal hall but I start thinking about the rehearsal day in the shower—if not in my dreams.
Stumbling into the kitchen I make sure to pack a lunch and a snack to eat during rehearsal. Over a bowl of cheerios I put together my To Do list for the day. Here are a few things on the list.
o Check E-mail / Respond. This one point on the To Do list often prompts additional tasks to be added to the list.
o Prepare for today’s production meeting by assembling all my unanswered questions and notes that came out of rehearsal.
o Check in with Katrina, the costume designer about today’s fitting schedule and questions from yesterday’s report.
o Check in with Dusty, the scenic designer about load in progress and questions from yesterday’s report.
o Homework! I confess I often fall behind on my Theatre History homework. This item has floated from “To Do list” to “To Do NOW” list over time.
After I make my list and check it twice, I spend a few minutes in quiet meditation to mentally prepare for the day. Then I pet my cat, Ophelia, before jetting out the door to the theatre.
10:30am – Production Meeting.
Once a week we have a production meeting in the large trailer behind the theatre. This is where all the designers, the director, production department heads, the production manager, and stage managers for the show meet to discuss the show, everyone’s progress and share concerns / answer questions. I make sure to have my questions written down and any e-mails/reports/drawings I need to reference printed and in my notebook.
11:00am – Set Up
In the hour before rehearsal Heather (the ASM) and I head into the rehearsal hall and get it ready for the day. This might involve re-arranging chairs and tables, setting out hand props and furniture, fetching costumes pieces from the shop for the actors to use, making coffee, filtering drinking water, etc. This is also a great time to talk to the director about the day, his concerns or worries, etc. On this day Heather sets everything up in no time while I follow up on some e-mail and start planning the next day’s schedule based on Ed’s (the director’s) plan for the week. When Ed comes in we talk about a few things on his mind in regards to the production. I take notes and get answers for him asap.
12:00pm – Rehearsal
Today our rehearsal is only from 12:00pm to 5:00pm because of the rep performance of Cymbeline tonight. All the actors are in Cymbeline and I’m the production assistant.
We start the day running through the fight choreography and the dance steps. Touching on these every day helps the keep them ingrained in the actors’ bodies. After that we pick up with scene work. I keep an updated prompt copy of the script with the blocking (where and when the actors move). Heather usually holds book in case the actors forget a line and ask for it then she can call it out to them. I create a rehearsal report while we work. This report will go out to all of the designers and production department heads as well as the faculty and artistic leadership of the theatre to keep them updated about how rehearsals are going and to ask questions that Ed has for the designers.
At 1:20pm I announce the break and hit start on my stop watch. Our break schedule is based on the Actors Equity Association’s rulebook. We must take a 5 minute break after 55 minutes of work OR if the director or SM want to keep working, then they MUST take a 10 minute break after no more than 80 minutes of work.
Breaks are a great time for me to check in with the director and ask about tomorrow’s schedule or get clarification on any notes he might have mentioned during the rehearsal hour. It’s also a good time to respond to e-mail, run to the costume/prop/scene shop if need be, etc. Hopefully, however, I get to sit on a sofa in the back hall and nosh on a sandwich with the cast. Today, that’s just what I’m doing when Tim, our production manager walks by and says “Hey- you got a minute?” Suddenly I’m in a meeting about next week’s schedule. Before I knew it my stopwatch is reading “10:00 ” and our break is up. I stepped back into the hallway and announce “We’re back!” as I walk to the rehearsal hall. SM’s rarely really get to take a 10.
5:00pm – The end of the rehearsal day comes with its own To Do list.
o Talk to the director. The time after rehearsal, once the cast has left is a great time to make sure the director is getting what he needs from you, the cast, and the team. It’s also a good time to discuss tomorrow’s schedule and today’s report with him.
o Prepare tomorrow’s rehearsal schedule. Check with Ed, the director about what he wants to work tomorrow. Check with costumes about fittings I need to schedule. Talk to David, our fight director, about what he wants to work tomorrow. Get a list of vocal sessions tomorrow from Sarah, our vocal coach. And confirm dance work schedule with the movement coach and choreographer, Denise. Now I put all of that together in one master plan of attack for tomorrow. Heather helps proof the schedule before I call it done.
o Publish the daily schedule. Once I finish with tomorrow’s schedule I send it off to the West Side Story stage management team if they haven’t already added their schedule to the document. The schedule is then e-mailed out to a number of people in the building. We print 29 copies 10 of which are posted on call boards in the building and 19 of which are put in people’s mail boxes in the building. We also record the schedule on a voice mail system that the cast can check from home if they forget what they read on the callboard.
o Complete & publish the rehearsal report. This is also e-mailed to a distribution list as well as printed with a few hard copies to be distributed.
Around 5:30pm or 6:00pm – Done with Beaux.. on to Cymbeline
I finish up my rehearsal day and head down to the green room to heat up a microwave dinner. I’ll eat that while I make coffee and filter water for our evening performance of Cymbeline. Setting up and running that show will complete my day.
That’s it! A peak into my rehearsal day for Beaux Stratagem. I hope you enjoyed it!