Monday, November 24, 2008

First in about Bear Country

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!


Intern Company: Adam Souza

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

Straight from the Cast: Blog with Billy Sharpe

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 Hawaii to Mexico. After making it through the hurricane, I missed my initial flight and had to overnight and take the first flight out the next morning. I arrived in sunny Montgomery on Saturday afternoon just in time for the lunch break! When we met for rehearsals after lunch I was filled with excitement and anticipation about meeting the cast! I knew Rodney Clark, and Jessica Blair from Beauty and the Beast here at ASF two years ago. I also have a dear mutual friend with Mark Woodard, so I knew to be on the lookout for him. As for everyone else, I had NO idea who these people were; however, I was excited to get the process started of developing new friendships! It is always fun to gather for the first few days of rehearsals and see who fits in with whom, and how the group dynamics will work.

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 New York City! Small world – after all. I also had mutual friends with many of the other cast members so that gave us common ground and a springboard for conversations. The first two days of rehearsals were a blur, albeit a fun blur! On our first Sunday night, we gathered at an apartment of one of the interns and laughed, had a few drinks, and some cubes of cheese MAY have been thrown… I was drinking a concoction I like to call “Summer In A Glass.” If anyone would like the recipe… find me, I’ll gladly share it… perhaps I’ll put it at the end of this entry?!!?

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 Buffet City (*****), Donny’s Home Cooking (*****), King Buffet (***), Golden Corral (*****), and some other Asian Buffet that I don’t remember the name of right now (***) where I ate a crawfish for the first time… I missed Ryan’s this past Monday because I was suffering from intestinal trauma… I will not elaborate… let’s just say I am gluten intolerant and I ate some wheat and it knocked me out for about 16 hours…

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 Hollis, AL… (If you have never been, GO next year!!!! It is a hoot! We had a blast!) We also caught up on the Saw movies by watching the first 4 on DVD before we went to see Saw 5 at the Rave! What a gory good time! We usually try to gather on Sunday nights at someone’s apartment to wind down from the week and have some laughs and drinks and occasionally play some mindless party game!!!! There was also a fun night when many members of the cast went bowling… I do not bowl, because I am THE WORST BOWLER in the WORLD… however, I went along for moral support and of course to critique the bowling techniques of my coworkers!

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

A Christmas Carol Trailer

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

Be A Kid Again Promotion

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

A Christmas Carol Official Opening

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

Christmas Carol Rehearsal

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

Meet Intern David Hudson

Good morning!

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.