Monday, August 31, 2009

In Discussion (Early Stages) For A Production of 'Alice Through The Looking Glass'

After Saturday evenings' performance of AS YOU LIKE IT, I bumped into my ARSENIC AND OLD LACE co-star Sean MacBride Murray (Teddy) and his fiance Heidi Zenz, who were nice enough to attend a performance of the play. (Sean and Heidi are about to make their Secret Theatre debuts in the company's upcoming production of HENRY V.)

The three of us were chatting when Richard Mazda, artistic director of The Secret Theatre/The Queens Players spotted us and noted that Sean and I happened to be wearing the same lemon colored shirt (with matching tan shorts). Sean and I also also happen to be of roughly the same age, size and build and this led to a moment of inspiration on Richard's part that he couldn't shake, so he went home and at 2am wrote to Stephen Daltrey the composer and playwright behind The British Library's sponsored production of 'Alice Through The Looking Glass', with Sean and I as potential candidates for the roles of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Mr. Daltrey's show has a succesful history. It enjoyed a successful run, starring Richard's daughter in the role of Alice, at The New End Theatre in Hampstead which is a respected off West End House. The show garnered great reviews from many papers including The Sunday Times who described it as second only to Cirque de Soleil in terms of entertainment during the 2000 holiday season in London and has been chosen to be featured in the next three years during the Holloway Festival for the 2012 Olympics.

Richard proposed to Mr. Daltey that he might give it a New York premiere and he is very interested.

We're in the very early stages right now. I have to read the script and Richard would like to set up a reading with Sean and I, to see if we click in the roles,but Richard is extremely excited by the idea of mounting the show in his theatre during the upcoming holiday season.

Stay tuned.

Invited to Join The Queens Players

I have been invited to join The Queens Players, the repertory company of The Secret Theatre, a very flattering invitation, which I have accepted.

Thanks to Richard Mazda and Rich Ferriolli for the invite and for the chance to contribute to the company.

Performances This Weekend

We had two performances of AS YOU LIKE IT this weekend and while both houses were small, they were quite appreciative and I felt that both performances were pretty strong.

Last nights' performance was a lof of fun. We had a full house...an energetic audience...which elevated the work of the entire cast. All of my scenes felt playful, truly as if we were doing it for the first time.

We are now heading into our final week of performances. This show has been such fun, I'd hate to see it come to an end.

Back on Wednesday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Queens Chronicle Review of AS YOU LIKE IT

‘As You Like It’ crisp and fun
by Willow Belden, qboro Editor

The Queens Players, with their production of “As You Like It” at the Secret Theatre, are again proving their ability to pull off engaging Shakespeare productions.

The play, which spawned such lines as, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” tells the tale of a banished maiden, Rosalind, who flees with her cousin Celia to the Forest of Arden. Disguised as a man, Rosalind becomes entangled in a bizarre sort of love triangle and must conceal her identity from both her father (who, exiled by his usurping brother, is also camped out in the forest) and her eventual lover (who, conveniently, also wanders the woods).

The show is well-paced and the acting sharp, with cleanly delivered lines, dynamic character development and body language that hammers home Shakespeare’s wit and brings to life his bawdier verses.

The costumes — all modern dress — add texture to the characters, with a few minor exceptions. Unfortunately, the production’s shoestring budget is painfully apparent when it comes to the scenery, which consists of amateurish trees, a crudely painted backdrop and a smattering of unmistakably fake flowers.

The acting makes up for it though. Claire Morrison’s rendition of Rosalind is particularly dynamic, aptly showing Rosalind’s personal growth from a quiet, slender girl to a veritable ringmaster. Morrison handles the task of playing a woman who’s playing a man who’s playing a woman with remarkable ease, and her angular features and endearingly awkward stance lend credibility to her male disguise, even if her facial expressions are sometimes overstated.

Anthony Martinez truly melts your heart as Rosalind’s love interest, Orlando. Undeniably handsome and admirably resolute, yet humble and caring, Martinez’s portrayal of Orlando can’t help but charm.

Timothy Cox, who plays both the teddy-bear-like banished duke and his hard-nosed, usurping brother, transitions skillfully between the two roles. And Chris Kateff puts forth a humorously energetic portrayal of the melancholy Jacques.

One of the weaker links in the cast is Michael Henrici, who speaks with a perplexing hint of an accent as Orlando’s brother Oliver. Through no fault of his own, Henrici’s final costume is also out of place, making him look as if he belongs in the “Sound of Music” and might at any moment go yodeling through the Alps.

The play’s main weakness, though, stems from the attempt to update it — an attempt which only goes half way. The costumes are distinctly modern — one character even uses a cell phone — yet the surroundings could have come out of any period production.

Director Greg Cicchino and Set Designer Stephanie Stover would have done well to re-imagine the play’s setting, sending the exiled characters to the kind of place today’s leaders might flee (Canada? A military-style camp in a remote border land?) rather than to a mystical forest. Such a change would have added consistency to the production, and would have made the duke’s situation seem less like a camping trip and more like banishment.

All in all, though, the show is entertaining and crisp — definitely worth seeing.

‘As You Like It’
When: Aug. 20-Sept. 5, Wed.-Sun. at 8 p.m. and Aug. 29 at 3:30 p.m.
Where: The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd St., L.I.C.
(718) 581-6477
Ticket price: $15

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another BlogCritics Review of AS YOU LIKE IT

By Jon Sobel

Some secrets are more secret than others. The other day I was 115 feet below ground, inside Secret Caverns in upstate New York, marveling at the attraction's 100-foot underground waterfall. Man, is that loud. With abundant, fanciful advertising signage rippling for miles along the nearby roads, Secret Caverns are surely the least secret caverns in these United States.

A bit harder to find is the Secret Theatre. Located in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, NY, the Secret Theatre is not far from well-known cultural institutions like P.S. 1 and Silvercup Studios. But the two-year-old space is tucked away under the shadow of the elevated number 7 train, set back from a night-desolate street through a loading dock, indicated by a single sign, then another half-hidden sign, then through a lightly marked door... you get the picture.

Manhattan snobs, check your snobbery at that door. The Secret Theatre's current production of Shakespeare's popular comedy As You Like It is as good as any Off Off Broadway Shakespeare you'll find on the more glittery side of the East River, and better than most.

The Queens Players, resident at the Secret, are not to be confused with the Queen's Company, which presents Shakespeare with all-female casts and anachronistic bursts of pop music. This As You Like It does not lure (or repel) with experimental casting or unorthodox interpretation. Extraordinarily well directed by Greg Cicchino, it triumphs with more or less pure Shakespeare.

We'll probably never know whether the Bard's inability to use female actors had anything to do with his attraction to stories that involved young maids disguising themselves as swains. What we can safely say, reinforced by the elastic Claire Morrison's animated and expert performance here, is that Rosalind is one of Shakespeare's most fully realized and interesting female characters.

Banished from the court of the usurping Duke Frederick, she flees into the Forest of Arden accompanied by her moody cousin Celia (the comically smoldering Melisa Breiner-Sanders) and the court Fool, Touchstone (the magnificent Daniel Smith, here channeling John Cleese.)

The forest, also the hiding place of Rosalind's beloved and already banished father, Duke Senior, and his band of loyalists, is at first a "desert" of hunger and exhaustion to the newcomers. But the upbeat Duke (the appropriately stentorian Timothy J. Cox, who also plays the usurper) has fashioned it into a pastoral realm of merry ease, removed from the stresses of court (read: modern) life. Yet the forest's fantastical aura also makes it a fit setting for the play's most famous passage, the "All the world's a stage" speech. Uttered by the melancholy Jaques, it is, among other things, the ultimate exposition of life's meaninglessness. Yet Jaques (Chris Kateff in a knife-sharp performance) is a man apart. Both mocked and humored by the other men of the Duke's company, he cannot, even to the bitter end, share in the rough optimism of his lord, nor the love-soaked banterings and witticisms of the young lovers prancing abundantly about.

And love and wit do triumph. If, as Touchstone lectures, "The truest poetry is the most feigning," it is nonetheless the rhymes carved in the trees by Rosalind's swain, the passionate, lovelorn Orlando (an effective Anthony Martinez), that keep hope burning, not to mention the story.

Mr. Cicchino has a gift for focusing his actors' strengths, and for creating moments of unscripted, silent humor that move the action swiftly along. From his fine cast he draws out a number of standout performances in the smaller roles too, including Michael Henrici as Orlando's cruel elder brother Oliver (and the heavily inebriated and uproariously named Sir Oliver Martext); Griffin DuBois as the besotted shepherd Silvius; the zesty Larissa Laurel as Phebe, Silvius's cantankerous object of desire; a mutely hilarious Amy Newhall as Touchstone's foil, the clueless country wench Audrey; and the delightful Louis Tullo, a welcome newcomer to the New York stage, in two roles, notably a very funny LeBeau. Indeed, despite the dominance of the Rosalind-Orlando storyline, the production is the very model of a modern ensemble piece.

Leave it to Shakespeare, in the loving and crafty hands of a director like Mr. Cicchino, to bring to glorious life the human tapestry in all its poetic good cheer under the rumbling elevated trains of Long Island City.

As You Like It runs only through Sept. 5, so make your plans now. Tickets (call 866-811-4111 if you don't like ordering online) are a piddling $15. You can't even buy a movie ticket and popcorn for that anymore, but you can get excellent live Shakespeare one subway stop from Manhattan.

Cast of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Cast of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Don Pedro: Bradley Anderson
Benedick: Matthew Coonrod
Claudio: Daniel Koenig
Balthasar: Ensemble
Don John: Andrew Stephen Johnson
Borachio: Alex Simmons
Conrade: Ari Lew
Leonato: Timothy J. Cox
Hero: Maria Smith
Beatrice: Sheira Feuerstein
Antonio: TBD
Margaret: Rachel Marcus
Ursula: Heidi Zenz
Friar Francis: Ensemble
Dogberry: Lawrence Lesher
Verges: Nan Asher
The watch/ensemble: Nikki Bohm, Riah Werner, Ashley Adelman

Last Night

While it was nice to be back on the boards with AS YOU LIKE IT, I personally felt a little sluggish overall. Oh well! I get to redeem myself with tonights' performance.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lawrence Lesher To Play Dogberry in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

My good friend Larry Lesher and I will be working together in the upcoming production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, with Larry cast in the comic role of Dogberry, a not so sharp constable.

Larry and I shared the stage together, briefly, in the Pioneer Playhouse production of BABE: THE SHEEP PIG a few years back. In MUCH ADO, Dogberry and Leonato have a few scenes together, which I know Larry and I will have a lot of fun with.

Rehearsals start on September 14th.

AS YOU LIKE IT Returns Tonight

It will be nice to jump back into AS YOU LIKE IT after a few days off. We had nice audiences last week. Let's hope that word of mouth has spread and the houses will get bigger and better.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some AS YOU LIKE IT Pictures

Here are a few pictures from AS YOU LIKE IT, compliments of Cameron Hughes.


As Duke Senior with Daniel Smith as Touchstone


From left to right: Daniel Smith (Touchstone), Melisa Breiner-Sanders (Celia), Me (Duke Senior), Claire Morrison (Rosalind) and Anthony Martinez (Orlando)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cast as Leonato in Queens' Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Great news!

I will be reprising the role of Leonato (it's been 13 years since I last played the role) in the Queens Shakespeare's upcoming production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

The first rehearsal will take place on Monday, September 14th.

More info to come soon.

Opening Weekend of AS YOU LIKE IT...

...was a huge success! Great audiences and one very favorable review so far and many more to come.

Now for a little rest.

Back with performances starting on Wednesday night.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

MUCH ADO Audition This Morning

My audition for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING took place about an hour ago and I felt it went very well. After doing my Leonato monologue, I read a Dogberry and Leonato scene, reading both roles, as well as Benedick, although I don't think I'm well suited for that part.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Of course, I plugged AS YOU LIKE IT to both director Jonathan Emerson and Nan Asher, Aritisic Director and Producer of Queens Shakespeare. They both plan on attending, which is very nice of them.

AS YOU LIKE IT Last Night

Last evenings' performance was pretty strong, I felt. The crowd wasn't as animated as our first audience, but it did appear that they were enjoying themselves. Every audience is different...that's what makes live theatre so much fun.

Back again tonight!

Friday, August 21, 2009

BlogCritics Review of AS YOU LIKE IT

Our first review is in! That was fast!

The review below, a very flattering one for all, was written by Nick Leshi, an actor, playwright and director that I have known since my days with Thomas Patrick Clancy's Dark Night Productions (RETURN ENGAGEMENT, THREE RIVERS). Nick has always been very kind and supportive of my work and I hope an opportunity arises some day where we can work together, either on stage or as collaborators on one of his own written works. You never know what the future will bring.

Here's Nick's review for BlogCritics.Org

Theater Review (NYC): As You Like It Transports Audiences to Shakespeare's Arden Forest

“When you enter the woods, magic happens.” That is the first sentence in the Director’s Notes of The Queens Players’ fine production of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The talented troupe is the resident company at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, New York, and it would not be an overstatement for me to paraphrase those words by saying, “When you enter The Secret Theatre, magic happens.”

As You Like It has always been one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies. It is a pastoral romance in which the characters, hopeful of “a better world than this,” escape the trials and tribulations of their surroundings in search of a more simple and rewarding life, through either their own choice or through forced exile. When one character laments, “Oh, how full of briers is this working day world,” she is stating the frustration of many and the desire to find solace in a society full of dangers and oppressions.

The comedy certainly has some flaws compared to some of the Bard’s other classics, such as an over-reliance on telling rather than showing key plot points. Many pivotal scenes occur out of the audience’s view, only to be retold after the fact, (i.e., the first encounter between Touchstone and Jacques, the heroic saving of Oliver’s life by Orlando, the conversion of Duke Frederick in the end). It is not surprising that certain moments of exposition are the weakest parts of the production. The Queens Players, however, manage to take the many merits of the play to superlative levels, bringing the orchards and forest of the tale to comedic and dramatic life on the stage.

Do not let the name of The Secret Theatre intimidate you – it is not too difficult to find. Located at 44-02 23rd Street in Queens, it is a charming, intimate space. The simple set, designed by Gregory Cicchino, effectively represents the location. Four large tree trunks with a minimalist rendering of a leafy canopy above the stage evoke the estate of Oliver de Boys and the court of Duke Frederick. Placement of some colorful flowers at the roots of the trees and removal of black veneers to reveal a beautiful, detailed painting by Stephanie Stover are all it takes to transform the place into the idyllic woods of Arden.

The actors do a commendable job of bringing it all to life. Rosalind is one of Shakespeare’s strongest female characters and Claire Morrison does a nice job of portraying her. She shows broad range in depicting the prim and proper charms of the banished Duke’s daughter and then the rambunctious side of her personality when she disguises herself as a boy named Ganymede when she herself becomes banished from the duchy.

Love at first sight is a romantic cliché that Shakespeare perfected in many of his stories, and it is a plot device that works extremely well in As You Like It. Rosalind falls in love with Orlando after watching him beat the champion fighter Charles in a wrestling match. Orlando, played with energy and charisma by Anthony Martinez, is also smitten, and spends the rest of the play learning to woo the object of his attraction through lessons from Ganymede, as Rosalind toys with his desires and test his intentions. Both Ms. Morrison and Mr. Martinez manage to convey the love their characters feel for each other with nothing more than looks in each other’s eyes, both when they are struck by cupid’s arrows during their first encounter and at the play’s climax when they stand before each other again and finally embrace with all their barriers down.

As strong as the male and female leads are, the strength of the play lies in the supporting cast. Chris Kateff does a wonderful job as Jacques, the often melancholy philosopher who weeps for the death of a deer and chastises Orlando for defacing the barks of the Arden Forest’s trees with his poetry, yet discovers a glimpse of the joy of life through his interaction with Touchstone, the court jester (performed with jolly abandon by Daniel Smith). Jacques is the sobering voice of intelligentsia, viewing life’s journey as pre-ordained, leading to an inevitable anticlimactic and bitter end, as he describes in his famous speech, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

Jacques’ doom and gloom nature is countered by the optimism of the banished Duke Senior. In an inspired act of casting, the roles of the usurping Duke Frederick and his vanquished brother Duke Senior are played by the versatile Timothy J. Cox. He does a splendid job of making each unique and memorable. Watching him alter his appearance from the Napoleonic rigidity of Frederick to the more relaxed and bouncy Senior is a revelation. As the tyrannical Duke Frederick, Mr. Cox embodies a stiff, stern, and severe posture, switch in hand, barking at those around him. As Duke Senior, even though he has lost his title and earthly possessions to his traitorous brother, Mr. Cox renders him with arms wide, ready to embrace not only his fellow Forest renegades, but also the world around him. Duke Senior’s loss turns out to be his blessing.

Melisa Breiner-Sanders is another stand-out in the part of Celia, Duke Frederick’s daughter. Her emotional reaction upon hearing that her cousin and best friend, Rosalind, is being kicked out of the realm and forbidden to return, and her father’s refusal to hear her pleas to revoke the punishment, is one of the dramatic highlights of the play.

Others in the cast are also noteworthy: Amy Newhall as the mischievous Audrey, Larissa Laurel as the hilarious Phebe, and Michael Henrici as Orland’s domineering brother Oliver (and as the drunken Sir Oliver Martext in another nice bit of double casting). The rest of the supporting actors fill out their roles admirably: Jason Basso, Matt Cardenes, Louis Tullo, Jonathan Hinman, Griffin DuBois, and Harrison Gibbons.

The fight direction, lighting, costume design, and especially the original music by Vince Peterson, all deserve accolades. Director Greg Cicchino did a superb job of bringing it all together and drawing out the best from his actors.

The show runs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through September 5, 2009. All performances are at 8 p.m., with a special matinee performance on August 29 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at TheQueensPlayers.com.

If you have the chance to see the show and enjoy it, be sure to vote for them for the New York Innovative Theatre Awards which celebrate Off-Off-Broadway excellence.

Enter The Secret Theatre and witness the magic for yourself.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Audition Tomorrow

I re-read MUCH ADO today in preparation for tomorrow mornings' audition. What great fun the play is.

I have no idea who I will be reading for, so I intend to go in ready for anything, although I wouldn't mind reading for Leonato, Dogberry or Don Pedro.

We'll see.

AS YOU LIKE IT Opening A Success!

The cast of AYLI was treated to a full house for the opening night performance of the show last evening, which went very well.

Back again tonight!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

AS YOU LIKE IT Opens Tonight

I am so ready for tonights' opening and am excited for it. The cast and crew have worked very hard in bringing this show to life and I'm damned proud to be a part of it.

In his final words to the cast last evening, director Greg Cicchino stressed the importance of keeping our focus; not to force anything, but just stay true to the characters.

The show has been publicized well and rumor has it that a few reviewers will be in attendance this first weekend.

We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING - Audition on Saturday Morning

I'm excited for my audition for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING on Saturday morning. I have a few monologues from the show ready, plus I think we will also be reading sides. It would be great to go from one Shakespeare comedy to another.

We'll see what happens.

AS YOU LIKE IT Opens Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day and I am very excited for the performances to begin. I know that the run is going to go very well.

Tonight is the final dress rehearsal; a chance to clean up some last minute issues.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rehearsals Last Night

We had a late start last night, due to some technical snafus, but we did manage to do a run through of most of the show; all of Act One at least.

We're back again tonight to do another run of the show. Practice makes perfect.

In other AYLI news, Richard Mazda, Artistic Director of The Secret Theatre might plan on filming the show in its entirity or parts of the show for the company archives and for members of the cast. If most members of the cast are interested, we'd film on the morning and afternoon of August 30th, hours before an evening performance of the show.

I think it would be a lot of fun, so I intend to participate in the filming.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Click This to View THE LITTLE MAGICIAN

Daniel Lachman's film THE LITTLE MAGICIAN is available for viewing on YouTube.

Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDxDgH20kBU&feature=channel_page

Thanks to Dan for all of his wonderful work on the film. I'm very proud to be a part of the film.

AS YOU LIKE IT This Weekend

We had two long days of tech rehearsals this weekend, but we accomplished quite a bit in that time. All of the technical issues were dealt during our cue to cue session. As of now, everyone should be all set as far as props and costumes are concerned. Everything has come together.

It's just a couple of days until Thursdays' opening and I feel more than ready for an audience.

I know that we have a winner on our hands!

nytheatre Voices Interview

Thanks to the folks at nytheatre.com for conducting and posting this interview. I have enclosed the interview below, but you can also visit the link at http://www.nytheatre.com/nytheatre/voices.php?t=cox

Timothy J. Cox, As You Like It

A nytheatre voices cyber-interview

Timothy J. Cox is an actor. He has found his niche as a character actor and for over a decade has perfomed a wide range of roles in both classic and contemporary plays. He has worked in New York and regionally. Learn more about As You Like It.

You will be appearing in The Queens Players'/The Secret Theatre’s production of As You Like It. How does the change in time and place from the original affect the way the play will unfold and what can audiences expect when they attend?

There are two different worlds at work in the production. In one, you have the royal court, which director Greg Cicchino equates with modern life, where all the politics and backbiting take place. People live on their cell phones and blackberries and don't communicate with one another. When the play begins, a duke has just been banished by his own brother, so life is pretty bleak for all. No one is really happy there. In the other, you have the forest where, as Duke Senior says, "life is more sweet than that of painted pomp". In the forest, all the trims and trappings of the court are not important. It's not a place for cell phones, IPods and blackberries, but a place for people to get away from all of that and focus on what's really important: peace, contentment and communing with nature and your fellow man. From time to time, people forget to stop and smell the roses or spread a little sunshine. The hope with this production is to take people away from all the stresses of life for just a few hours and take them to a place that is…well, magical.

Could you give us a quick rundown on how you heard about this production, how you got to be a part of it and had you any prior experiences with the company?

I had heard of The Queens Players/The Secret Theatre for quite a while, as I am myself a resident of Queens. So of course, I had seen their posters and postcards in the neighborhood, but I myself had never worked with them before, but was certainly aware of their successes and their reputation for putting on quality work. Once a posting for this show went up, I immediately submitted, as I have always wanted to play the Dukes. Greg cast me and the rest is history.

You will be playing two roles -- Duke Senior and Duke Frederick. How do you prepare for doing this and how difficult is it to adopt two different persona within a very short time?

You trust and serve the material. William Shakespeare does a large portion of the job for you. He makes it very clear that Duke Frederick is the bad guy and that Duke Senior is the good guy. It's the best of both worlds for me. One minute, I'm playing this very volatile Duke Frederick and the next, I'm playing this very soft, gentle and kind Duke Senior. It's great fun. I get to be a part of the story from both sides. I think the key to playing a role like Duke Frederick is to not play him like a villain. He's not Iago or Richard III. He doesn't think that he's a bad guy, but he doesn't drop many hints that he's a good guy either. That's where that trust in the material comes into play. If you put your trust in Shakespeare and in the vision of the director, which I have thoroughly in the case of Greg, it makes your job as the actor so much easier.

Shakespeare’s plays often have large casts and many indie productions will cast one actor in two or more roles. Now that you have had this experience – is this a good idea? What important considerations must be thought out before deciding to do this? Is this something every actor would be comfortable with? Let us know your thoughts about this.

I think casting one actor in a number of small roles is wonderful. It's been my bread and butter for years and I think it is something that all actors should try. For one, it's a lot of fun and two it provides a nice little challenge for the actor. It's the actor's job to go out there onstage and make 5 or 10 lines feel like Hamlet. How fun is that? In my case, it helps that I have a supporting actor mentality. I like to come on, do my thing and then get the heck out of there. It all depends on the director as far as the considerations for this are concerned. I'm just thankful to the directors I have worked with who have given me the freedom to take those small characters and blow them up any way I like.

What sort of roles do you enjoy most and what will be in your immediate future?

Film director Robert Aldrich once said to actor Bruce Davison, "Be a character actor, they always work". I've followed that advice myself and it has served me pretty well so far. Character roles are richer, more interesting to play, at least to me. I'll take the role of the Gravedrigger over Hamlet any day. It's where I fit, where I belong. Yes, I was born a character actor and I'll be playing character roles until someone runs me over.

As far as other projects, I just wrapped two comedy shorts and a dramatic film, so along with As You Like It, it has been a very productive summer. I take it one day at a time as far as the next thing is concerned.

August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Advice from Character Actor Chelcie Ross


Chelcie Ross is an American character actor that you may recognize from a number of popular films like MAJOR LEAGUE, HOOSIERS, BASIC INSTINCT, RUDY and ABOVE THE LAW.

Here's great advice from him to aspiring actors everywhere.

We all know actors who are waiters. Some are waiting for the "big break", others are waiting tables. There is nothing wrong with the latter. We all have to eat. Just remember to make a way to do our work. Study as much as you can afford to. Find the people who will let you act. Community theatre, church drama, four friends who want to do scenes, they are all changes to exercise these instruments. I have done all those forms plus industrial films, live industrials, legit theatre, musical theatre, reader's theatre, radio D.J., radio drama, on-camera commercials, voice-over, TV, independent film, and major studio, big budget whoppers. Everyone of them contributed to what I bring to the job today.

Be good to you're fellow players: We are all in this together. Whether you are working, or in-between jobs, you need all the help you can get. I just read an interview with a very famous director who decided to slum a bit and try the other end of the camera. He reported that this acting thing is a stroll in the park and he was mystified as to what the big deal is. I've got a hint for him: What that little experiment missed is the part where you go 0 for 22 in auditions, spend 11 months wondering where the next paycheck is coming from, your mother suddenly has health problems that tap half of your cash reserves, your summer love from Shakespeare Under The Stars lands a network series, and you mentor (and probably the best actor you have ever seen) gives it up because he can't get cast and has to feed the family. Factor that stuff in and then come tell me how easy it is. Try to remember that your contemporaries now will be the same 30 years from now. You need them. Treat them like family.

AS YOU LIKE IT Last Night

Last nights' work thru was very helpful. We tightened a few problem spots and just ran it over and over again.

Saturday is a big day...and it'll be a long day. The hope is that we'll get the technical issues taken care of and run the entire show, possibly twice.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

THE LITTLE MAGICIAN Completed

I heard from director Dan Lachman today regarding the short film THE LITTLE MAGICIAN, which I worked on a week or so ago.

The film is finished and Dan thinks it came out great!

Thanks to Dan again for the chance to be a part of the film. I should be receiving in the next couple of days.

Queens' Shakespeare's Next Production MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Queens Shakespeare, which just finished a run of TWELFTH NIGHT in Manhattan and produced ARSENIC AND OLD LACE a few months back is about to start holding auditions for their next project, the great Shakespeare comedy MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, which I will most definitely be auditioning for.

The production is going to be directed by Jonathan Emerson, who appeared as Officer O'Hara in ARSENIC, in addition to building the set for the show.

Auditions are taking place next week.

Last Nights' Run of AS YOU LIKE IT

At this point, it's all about putting it all together and cleaning up the rough spots. We do have a solid foundation and if we build from that, then we will have a great performance run.

Back again tonight to work thru all those rough spots.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

AS YOU LIKE IT - Running The Show Tonight

Tonight will be out first full run of the show, with costumes, so I am very excited. Rehearsals continue to go very well. With 8 days to go, we're still putting it all together, but with each run, the show gets better and better.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NYTheatre Voices Interview

I just participated in an online interview for nytheatre.com's voice's section, a section written by or in some cases, about theatre artists,. These artists talk about their work, specifically, how they do it and why they do it.

It was a chance for me to plug AS YOU LIKE IT and my approach to my work.

It should posted on the nytheatre.com site soon.

AS YOU LIKE IT - Act II

We worked on a number of scenes in Act II last night and will continue with that this evening. We will also do a full run through of the entire Act tonight as well.

Tomorrow, we will be doing our first full run through of the entire show, so I'm excited to see where we are. There might even be some audience members there, which will be great.

Monday, August 10, 2009

AS YOU LIKE IT Opens In 10 Days

It is now ten days before the show opens and we're getting down to the wire now. From now until we open, we will be in rehearsal, running the show over and over again.

Tonight, we will be focusing on Act II. I have only one scene in that act, but it's the final scene of the play, which is going to be great when it all comes together.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Bad News With MARTY & DOUG

Due to scheduling conflicts, I will be unable to appear in MARTY & DOUG'S NEW RELIGION. With AS YOU LIKE IT performances, it just wouldn't work out.

Hopefully I'll have a chance to work on future All Things Random projects.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

AS YOU LIKE IT Today

We worked through all of the scenes in Act One and they are looking good. I am very happy with where the show is right now and it'll just get better with every run.

On Monday, it'll be 10 days before we open. I'm feeling very confident about the show and about how good it's going to be.

Back in rehearsals on Monday to focus on Act II.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

AS YOU LIKE IT - Last Scene

We have blocked the last scene of the play. Now, it's time to take all the pieces of the puzzle and put them all together.

I am off until Saturday, were we will repeat what we did this past Saturday and do a run through of Act I. It came off nicely the first time we did. Now it should be even better.

AS YOU LIKE IT Tonight

This evening, we are blocking the final scenes of the play. In addition, a rep of The Secret Theatre will be taking some publicity shots, so hopefully I'll be able to post them when they are available.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

BlogCritics Interview With As You Like It Director Greg Cicchino

Spotlight on Greg Cicchino, Director of The Secret Theatre's Upcoming As You Like It

Part of: StageMage

Author: Hannah Marie Ellison — Published: Aug 03, 2009

Greg Cicchino is a graduate of Syracuse University with a B.F.A. in acting with an additional concentration in Directing. He has trained in many styles of theater, from ancient Greek through Shakespeare to the clowning styles of Jacque Lacocque. He has directed dramas and has extensive experience with musicals as well, including The Unusual Suspects, which enjoyed a successful run in the New York International Fringe Festival and is now being licensed for a South Korean production as well as optioned for a tour of Japan. His latest work is a revival of the William Shakespeare fantasy/comedy As You Like It, which opens at Queens, NY’s The Secret Theatre on August 20th.

The story revolves around Rosalind (Claire Morrison), daughter of the recently banished Duke Senior (Timothy J. Cox), and Orlando (Anthony Martinez), the man she falls in love with, who is the son of her father's deceased friend. Unbeknownst to each other, both must flee the volatile Duke Frederick (also Cox) and do so by entering the Forest of Arden. Rosalind disguises herself as a man and travels with her cousin Celia (Melisa Breiner-Sanders) and servant Touchstone (Daniel Smith) into the forest. While incognito, she befriends the lovesick Orlando in order to determine if his love is true.

The tagline for Mr. Cicchino's revival is “Magic happens in the forest.” It is hard not to be swept away with a line like that.

According to the press release, “Shakespeare's characters journey from present day fast paced city life into the Forest of Arden, an untouched place that harkens back to fantastic worlds like Sherwood Forest, or even The Garden of Eden. Melding contemporary practices with a classical approach, the actors will invite audiences to share in the adventure of this beloved comedy.”

It sounds positively magical to me.

In addition to the aforementioned actors, the production will also feature Jason Basso (Adam), Matt Cardenes (Dennis/Forrester/Jacque the Son), Griffin DuBois (Silvius), Harrison Gibbons (Corin), Michael Henrici (Oliver), Jonathan Hinman (Charles/William), Chris Kateff (Jacques), Larissa Laurel (Phebe), Amy Newhall (Audrey) and Louis Tullo (Le Beau/Amiens).

Mr. Cicchino took a few moments to answer a few questions for Blogcritics:

If you would, please give our readers a brief history of how you became involved with The Secret Theatre.

We met as many great romances begin – on Craigslist. I applied to direct a one-act for them about two years ago. They asked me back to direct another one, after which I joined the company. I have since become great friends with many members of the company. This is my second main stage with the company, my first being Antigone in March.

What drew you to directing As You Like It?

I am admittedly a bit of a Shakespeare snob. I am in love with heightened language and the power of words. The Secret Theatre had been doing a string of classical tragedies, which we eventually coined "The Dark Ages," and were looking to brighten it up. This play is essentially a wonderful series of vignettes, with some great verbal sparring between some incredibly diverse characters. Shakespeare sets it up with just the right amount of tension. But boiled down, it is about people escaping into the woods and finding love. How great is that?

What is your own “take” on the play?

I find myself drawn to plays (specifically comedies) with stories that call for a simpler frame of mind. (Not that I don't love your old fashioned elitist comedy!!) As I said, there is quite a bit of linguistic swordplay going on in this play – and everything is about sex. So these are obviously not stupid characters.

By simple I mean the characters don't need to be drinking Red Bull to get through the day. (Though the actors might!) The heroes of the play in the first act plot to escape the court – which I have equated essentially to modern life. Everything is a catastrophe. OH NO! I MISSED MY TRAIN! MY WEEK IS RUINED! As soon as they enter the woods, all that conflict seems to vanish. The first lines you hear when they enter the woods create an entirely different tone, one of communion with all that is around you...and of course a whole new set of problems set in. But I feel these are the problems more worth investigating – the question of finding simple happiness.

At the end, even after they are given permission to return, many opt to stay, and all bring this new philosophy with them. I actually write this in my director's note. Maybe we need to start thinking of life a little more in that way – rather than faster faster, we need to slow down and enjoy.

What do you think the play has to say that will draw a modern audience?

Hopefully the fact that it’s gonna be awesome!!! What I said above I think says it all. People need to be able to shut off their blackberries and iPhones and iPods and cell phones and laptops and schedules and breathe for a few minutes. I think that is what this play offers.

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As You Like It opens on August 20th and will run until September 5th.

For information on tickets and performance dates, please visit The Secret Theatre online.

THE BOUNTY

As in my previous background experiences, today I was reminded of why I prefer the stage.

Speaking of the stage, I'll be back at AYLI rehearsal tomorrow night.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Working on Feature Film THE BOUNTY Tomorrow

So much for never doing background work again.

Yes, I'm doing it again...although I do not plan on making it a habit like this time last year.

Tomorrow, I will be playing a pedestrian in the upcoming Jennifer Aniston action comedy THE BOUNTY, which also stars Gerard Butler, about a bounty hunter who learns that his next target is his ex-wife.

I figure, I haven't done it in a while and besides, the temp well is a little dry at the moment, so I must do something to keep myself busy.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

AS YOU LIKE IT Today - Act One Runthrough

The runthrough of Act One went very, very well today. Director Greg Cicchino was pleased our progress, but we still have work to do. I think the run lasted just under 90 minutes, which is fine for now, although Greg would like us to shave a few minutes off that, which the we can and will do when we repeat todays' process next week.

I'm working very hard of bringing a softer side to Duke Senior and focusing on giving Duke Frederick as much of an edge as possible. With repitition, I should get to where I want to be.

Back on Wednesday to revisit the final scene of the play.

AS YOU LIKE IT Yesterday

The speak thru yesterday was helpful, but I feel now that it's time to start putting the show on its feet, which we are doing today with a full run through of the first act of the play, which I am looking forward to.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

AS YOU LIKE IT Rehearsal This Morning

We are doing a speak thru of the entire play this morning. After that, we will be blocking a number of the early scenes in the play, so it'll be nice to put those scenes on their feet.

19 days until the show opens. Tickets are available at www.secrettheatre.com/