Thursday, June 28, 2007

SERVANT A Sucess...Cast in THE ODD COUPLE

SERVANT had a fantastic opening Tuesday night and today we received a great review from Charlie Cox of the Advocate Messnger, who commended the entire cast for their work...citing us as one of the best casts in Pioneer's history.

Yesterday brought more good news, as I was cast as Jesus Costazuela in female version of THE ODD COUPLE. Very excited to be working with Larry on another project right on the heels of SERVANT.

DATE WITH A STRANGER goes up on Saturday night with 3 other one acts. Should be fun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Article on SERVANT


Here I am pictured with Zanna Fredland (red dress), Matthew Franta and Meg Mark in a scene from “The Servant of Two Masters”.

Tuesday June 26, 2007

Fast-paced farce: pratfalls, mistaken identity and true love in Playhouse show

By Jennifer Brummett

Lawrence Lesher thought he'd be acting in "The Servant of Two Masters," the second offering this summer at Pioneer Playhouse. It didn't quite turn out that way and Lesher actually is in the director's chair for the 350-year-old farce. And that's OK.

"I love farce. I think it's very funny. Theater can educate but should entertain, too," Lesher says.

He certainly isn't daunted by this old, old commedia dell'arte piece. Don't cringe or quit reading - commedia dell'arte, in its original Italian form, is nothing more or less than improvisational theater that typically was humorous, with stock conventional situations: jealousy, old age, adultery, love. There were stock characters, too - but back to the farce.

Lesher says "The Servant of Two Masters" is fast-paced. The Pioneer Playhouse production has been modernized and moved from Venice to Venice Beach, Calif., which is "much more identifiable," he notes. And the play itself is "closer to 'Three's Company' than Shakespeare," he adds.

"There's a servant with two bosses. Neither knows about the other because the servant wants to collect two salaries," Lesher explains.

And, naturally, Cupid's arrows have flown.

"There are two lovers trying to find each other. They're in hiding. He is because he killed her brother in a duel over her honor. She's wearing her dead brother's clothes to claim the dowry money he was going to get," Lesher says.

Got that? If you're fuzzy on the details, Lesher has added a character named "Our Lady of Exposition," who will help clarify what is happening.

Three-hundred-and-fifty-year-old plays do have their challenges.

"There's not a lot of help the author gives," Lesher says. "There aren't stage directions. Not a lot of the jokes are understandable."

And that two-week rehearsal period is grueling. Lesher says he's fortunate to be working with a group of "real professionals" who are getting along well. "I'm very pleased with everyone's work," he notes.

Potential theater-goers should not be intimidated by the age of the play. Lesher and company are not treating it reverentially.

Because it is a farce, an audience member is mean to laugh - a lot.

"And it's truly a love story," Lesher adds. "Love conquers all at the end. ... There's a big, happy ending. Love cuts across class lines.

"We're not going to solve the crisis in Gaza with this but I think it will be good fun."

People do not need a special knowledge to enjoy "The Servant of Two Masters."

"If you enjoy watching TV, you'll enjoy it," he says.

As for picking up directing the show instead of acting - he loves both. Their appeals are different.

"When you act, it's the most narcissistic thing to do. It's just your job to do the best you can," Lesher explains.

"With directing, you're in charge. You have to worry about everything. ... If it tanks, it's your fault."

But if it succeeds, the director knows he had a hand in that.

"I take a lot of joy in directing when I'm crafting a production," Lesher adds.

If you go:

Servant of Two Masters
8:30 p.m. Tuesday-July 7 except Sundays and Mondays
Pioneer Playhouse, Stanford Road
Dinner served at 7:30 p.m.
Adult cost: $27/dinner and theater, $15/theater only
Children 12 and under: $14/dinner and theater, $8/theater only
Reservations: (859) 236-2747 or (866) 597-5297

Web site: www.pioneerplayhouse.com

Copyright:The Advocate-Messenger 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

SERVANT Opens Tomorrow

Everything is set for tomorrow's opening of SERVANT.

I am very excited to put the show in front of an audience. Larry has added some fun elements to the show, including some great music and a "dumb" show to introduce all of the characters at the start of the play. Very funny stuff.

I'll report on the show's opening later this week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SERVANT

We stumbled through Act One today and it's looking good. With the opening only a few days away on the 26th, I'd say we're in a great place.

Here is the cast list for SERVANT

Pantalone: Robert Hess
Clarice: Meg Mark
Smeraldina: Patricia Hammond
Dr. Lombardi: Me
Silvio Lombardi: Matt Franta
Beatrice Rasponi: Zanna Fredland
Florindo Aretusi: Aaron Rustebakke
Brighella Cavicchio: Jeffrey K. Miller
Vicki: Sara Maas
Nicky: Jason Vaughan
Porter: Caston Masters
Our Lady of Exposition: Katy Franta
and in the demanding role of Truffaldino Bottachio: Matthew Harris

It's a very strong cast.

ODD COUPLE Auditions are next week, after SERVANT opens.

Last evening's BABE performance was fun (as always), although the crowd was our smallest.

Back again with BABE tonight.

Stumble through of Act Two of SERVANT for tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Entering the Last Week of BABE

BABE closes on the 23rd, so hopefully attendance will be on the rise as we reach the end of the run. Audiences have reacted nicely to the show, but the numbers have been down, although we did have over 200 people at the last performance on Saturday.

I am off book for SERVANT, which is nice. Now we can start having fun with our roles.

Not much else to report at the moment.

Friday, June 15, 2007

BABE Review and the First Few Days of SERVANT

My performance as Babe was described as "delightfully porcine," by Ross Johnson of the Danville Advocate in his review of BABE: THE SHEEP PIG. Hmmm...I guess I'll take that as a compliment. The review overall was positive. Larry Lesher got a nice review...actually, he was a favorite of the reviewer. Good for him!

The first couple of rehearsals for SERVANT have been exhausting, yet productive. As I've mentioned in the past, blocking rehearsals are never fun, but the cast is already creating funny bits for their characters, to which Larry is thrilled, I'm sure. It's going to be a very funny show, that I already know for sure.

Danville continues to be a nice experience so far. The weather does leave something to be desired, but I deal with it.

DATE WITH A STRANGER also continues to go well. We had a rehearsal today that went very well. The one acts will be presented on June 30th...right after a performance of SERVANT, which will be attended by my g/f Amanda. It'll be so great to see her. I miss her daily.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cast As Dr. Lombardi in SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS

Larry Lesher held auditions for SERVANT this morning and released the cast list not long after. I am happy to announce that I will be playing the fun, supporting role of Dr. Lombardi, a windbag of sorts, whose self-absorbed pontifications are a source of constant irritation to just about all the characters in the play. He's going to be fun to play.

The cast finished our first read through just a few minutes ago. While Tom Cone's script is more than a little rough, I think our cast is more than up to the task of bringing it to life.

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, rather than set the play in its intended Venice, Italy, 300 years ago; our production will be set in modern day Venice Beach, CA. We hope that by doing this, the play will be more accessible to modern audiences.

Back with BABE tonight. The run has been a positive one so far. I hope the energy from those first performances is still there.

We'll see.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

BABE Opening Weekend A Success!

The opening weekend of BABE has been a successful one. On Thursday, we played to an almost packed audience, including the Mayor of Danville and a Senator. Not bad! The entire cast continues to amaze me with their talents and professionalism.

Auditions for SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS is on Tuesday morning. Larry Lesher already has some great ideas about the production. As always, whatever happens happens.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

BABE Opens Tomorrow

The show is set for tomorrow's opening, which I know is going to go well.

In other news, Larry Lesher has been tapped as the new director of SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS because the other director backed out at the last minute. Not only is Larry directing SERVANT and THE ODD COUPLE, but he is also directing the one-acts. Oh my!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Advocate Messenger Article on BABE



Pictured with Zanna Fredland (Fly) and Meg Mark (Puppy)

Tuesday June 5, 2007

Kids, pigs and other whimsy kick off 57th year at Pioneer Playhouse

By JENNIFER BRUMMETT

There's a new challenge for this season's Pioneer Playhouse actors who have next-to-no time to get ready for a grueling summer of changing up plays every couple of weeks. The first show, "Babe the Sheep Pig," includes choreography, singing, kids and fake animals.

Oh my.

Director Robby Henson says he's up for the challenge of this family comedy.

"Since this is our first play, our cast will be fresh off the boat and eager to dive in," he says.

Henson says "Babe the Sheep Pig" is based on the popular children's book that became a successful movie - "Babe" - about an orphaned pig who aspires to be more than he was born to be.

"It is a classic tale with an empowering message that anyone can rise above adversity and be what they choose to be regardless of what others say," Henson explains. "Like the movie, our story is inspirational, darn cute and will delight young and older audiences alike.

"We are trying to bring a lot of finely-tuned stagecraft and whimsical hijinks to the stage so it entertains everyone. There's quite a bit of elaborate dancing and singing. This will truly be a play to bring the whole family to, and very young ones are welcome."

It's not without its challenges.

"The first thing I thought of after finishing reading the script was, 'Boy, that's a lot of work - singing, dancing, animals and kids,'" Henson notes.

But he was keen on the script for another reason.

"I did get a chance to work with the director of the movie version of 'Babe,' Chris Noonan, in Australia several years ago when we were both working together on a film project (that didn't get made) about a royal family of crash test dummies," Henson explains. "I did spend some time in Sydney working with Chris, thinking up how to make crash dummies walk and talk and fall in love. Chris is very talented and I consider his 'Babe' one of the best films ever made."

And the play, of course, is just so darn cute.

Babe the Sheep Pig will show at 8:30 p.m. June 7-23, except Sunday and Monday, at Pioneer Playhouse, Stanford Road. Dinner served at 7:30 p.m. Adult cost: $27/dinner and theater, $15/theater only. Children 12 and under: $14/dinner and theater, $8/theater only. Reservations: (859) 236-2747 or (866) 597-5297. Web site: www.pioneerplayhouse.com

Raintree County update

The Raintree County Festival is set for July 24-Aug. 5 in various venues in Danville.

Committee member Holly Henson says one of the highlights is Catherine Bush's play, titled "A Jarful of Fireflies," which she says is "seeing Danville captured through a comically gifted writer's eyes." Sunday and Monday performances, including a Sunday matinee, have been added during the play's run.

An activity has been added July 25 at West T. Hill community Theatre titled "Raintree Remembered." It is centered around eyewitness stories and will begin at 8 p.m.

The Raintree County Festival has been named a Kentucky Top 10 Festival by the Kentucky Tourism Council. More information can be found at www.raintreecounty festival.com.

Monday, June 04, 2007

BABE Opens Thursday

The sets have been painted.
The lights hung.
The costumes are just about ready to go.

It's almost showtime for BABE, the first show at the Pioneer Playhouse. The cast and crew continue to work very hard, constantly being inventive, impressing the heck out of me and always making me laugh. For example, Larry Lesher plays an alcoholic, chainsmoking rooster that has to been to be believed. It is quite hysterical!

I've been having a lot fun playing Babe, even though it is an exhausting character. I go pretty much nonstop for a little over an hour. I envy guys like Larry who get to play broad comic characters, while I have to be the straight man.

I hope audiences enjoy the show. We'll find out on Thursday.

Rehearsals are under way for the one act festival. Working with Zanna Fredland on DATE WITH A STRANGER has been a lot of fun thus far. The roles are very different from the ones we play in BABE. We're actually play a pair of crazy people who meet in a coffeeshop and go through the meeting, courtship, engagement, marriage and breakup of a relationship...all in about 15 minutes. It's quite funny.

Everything else is going well. The group is awaiting the arrival of the director of SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS...whose name I forget offhand. All I know is that the director has a strong classical background.

We'll see what happens with that.

Friday, June 01, 2007

BABE Update

Rehearsals for BABE have gone wonderfully thus far. Director Robby Henson has been throwing so much at the cast (dancing...lots and lots of dancing), but we have stepped up to every challenge and task with professionalism and grace.

The role of Babe has been a fun one to play. I was initially hesitant to jump into it, but I think I have managed to bring some humor and heart to the role. We'll see what an audience thinks.

David Wood's play is not just your run of the mill children's show. It's quite good actually. It is extremely well written with rich, interesting characters.

I love the cast very much. Every member brings something magical to their roles. Bob Hess is especially perfect as Farmer Hogget, bringing the right amount of gruffness to the role. Zanna Friedland has been great to work with as Fly, Farmer Hogget's dog and Babe's "Mum". Larry Lesher, Meg Mark, Aaron Rustabakke and Matt Harris are also great in a number of roles ranging from sheep to dogs.

Some publicity photos were taken for BABE early in the week. If any appear in the local papers, I'll be scan a copy in for all of you to see.

In other news, we will be doing a series of one act plays, to be directed by Larry. Many of them are by David Ives (SURE THING, THE PHILADELPHIA). I'm doing a one act by Cherrie Vogelstein called DATE WITH A STRANGER...very funny and one that brings back memories from acting class in college. That scene was done a lot. I will be doing it with Zanna. Should be a lot of fun.

More to report later.