Monday, November 30, 2009

Two From O'Toole

Here are two scenes from the 1964 film BECKETT with the great Peter O'Toole.

Possible Film Role in Scott Goldberg's MR. MULLEN

Nothing is set in stone as of yet, but I may be working on the upcoming film MR. MULLEN, directed by Scott Goldberg.

MR. MULLEN is a film about the crash of the economy and the corruption that comes from behind the scenes with big business corporations and the Federal Reserve. Chris Mitchell, a man who has worked hard his whole life loses his life savings and his job due to government corruption. He targets Senator Edward D. Mullen, a man who is responsible for Chris’ lost life savings. Not able to take it anymore, Chris seeks revenge on Edward and his family.

I hope to play the role of Chris' father Thomas. If cast, the shooting will take place in Glen Cove, Long Island in the next couple of weeks.

For more information on Scott's films, please visit


Heard from director Sean Meehan regarding the comedy short OVER COFFEE. Sean has stepped back from working on the film a little to finish some other projects, but has estimated that he'll have something ready to show people in January or February.


Thanks to Chris Kateff for these great photos from this past weekend.

Audition for Film THIS IS STILL LIFE On Saturday Morning

On Saturday morning, I will reading for the role of an unemployed alcoholic named Russell in the film THIS IS STILL LIFE, to be directed by Martha McCann. It follows a young girl named Sinead, who is celebrating her 17th birthday in the city with her father Russell. Although they have a broken relationship, they come together on this night to try and renew their bond as father and daughter.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Two days of solid tech rehearsals later, the cast and crew of MIDSUMMER are ready to enter production week. In my opinion, both tech rehearsals were the most organized and relaxed tech rehearsals I have ever been involved with. We got out early on both rehearsals, so that will tell you how organized they were. Director Katie Carter assembled one hell of a crew for this production and I'd like to thank each member by name.

Stage Manager: Griffin Parker
Sound Design: Jillian Marie Walker
Costume Design: Jeni Ahlfeld
Lighting Design: Lisa Hufnagel
Assistant Director: Paul Markert
Assistant Stage Manager: Gabby Senatore

From here on out, every run of the show is going to be treated like a performance.

As far the show itself, it is running wonderfully, with the entire cast giving strong performances. As for myself, I am having a great deal of fun playing Peter Quince once again.

Can't wait for the opening on Thursday.

TITUS ANDRONICUS Audition on Friday

I received my sides for my audition for TITUS ANDRONICUS at the American Globe Theatre, which will take place on Friday afternoon.

I received two sides for my audition. In the first side, I'll be looking at the role of Goth # 2. He's a warrior and battle hardened.

In the second side, I'll be looking at the role of Chiron. He is one of Tamora's evil, wicked sons, who rapes Lavinia and cuts out her tongue and chops off her hands. He finds delight in evil. So not light stuff.

Looking forward to this.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Thanks to actor Frank Sellers for these pictures from the FROSTED JUSTICE shoot.

MIDSUMMER Tech Begins Tomorrow

Tomorrow and Sunday will be long days at the theatre, as we are entering tech week, in preparation for the opening of the show on Thursday.

After a few days away, I feel nice and rested and ready to jump back into the mix.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

BlogCritics Spotlight on MIDSUMMER Director Katherine Carter

Spotlight on Katherine M. Carter, Director of The Secret Theatre's Upcoming A Midsummer Night's Dream

Author: Hannah Marie Ellison — Published: Nov 23, 2009

The Queens Players, who work out of the Secret Theatre in Long Island City, are back with yet another classical work for the stage. This time it's William Shakespeare’s much loved comedy/fantasy A Midsummer Night's Dream, which opens on December 3rd.

From the press release: Follow four young lovers into a colorful and mysterious forest where fairies Titania and Oberon rule, where a band of “rude mechanicals”, led by the hilarious Bottom, rehearse a play and where love is put to the test by the mischievous Puck. In the end, will the lovers end up with their correct mate? Will the mechanicals make it to their performance before the Duke? Is Titania doomed to love an ass?

You may be thinking to yourself, "Another production of Midsummer"? I certainly thought that at first. But something about director Katherine M. Carter's production is drawing me in.

Perhaps it's Carter herself, her enthusiasm and passion for her work.

A graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, where she earned a BFA in Acting and a BA in Directing, her enthusiasm and passion for the work have kept Carter extremely busy. She has directed and assistant directed productions with both the Hangar Theatre and the American Globe Theatre and has even served as a directing intern on the Tony award winning Billy Elliott: The Musical.

Actor Timothy J. Cox, who plays Peter Quince in the upcoming production of Midsummer, has said, "Katherine is just one of those bright, shining talents. I look at her and I know that she's going to work forever."

Although very busy bringing Midsummer to life, Ms. Carter was gracious enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions for Blogcritics.

Could you please give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you get involved in the theatre? Have you always wanted to direct?

I'm a Midwestern girl, born and raised in Michigan. I am the oldest of three siblings with two younger brothers. I started in theater in the 6th grade when my crush wanted to do theater and I wanted to hang out with him. From then onwards, I acted in everything. From 9th to 12th grade, I performed in over 60 productions. My senior year of high school, I directed my first production, a stage version of Clue.

After that I was aware that directing was a path I could take. During college I earned my BFA in Acting and a BA in Directing, and I would say that junior year was when the transformation took full effect. Between junior and senior year, I was a member of the Hangar Lab Company, saw that directing was really where I wanted to be and from then on it was a done deal.

The short answer to that question is: No, I didn't always want to direct, but sometimes you have to be honest enough to say "I'm a good actress and singer, but I am a much better storyteller from the outside." On top of that I have too many control issues to be an actor (laughs).

How did you become aware of The Secret Theatre and why did you want to become involved as a director with the company?

A lovely actress, Elspeth Turner, was in their production of Macbeth last spring. We were working on a production of The Odd Couple together at the time and she invited me to see her work. After Macbeth, I met Richard Mazda, the Artistic Director of The Queens Players, and we exchanged information.

I wanted to direct at this particular theater because there was so much potential with the space and the actors, I wanted to tap into it and see what I could do. As directors we are always looking for places where our skills could be of use, and since I had just come off of directing Twelfth Night, I knew my Shakespeare experience would fit right in with the company. Richard and I talked, he invited me to direct Midsummer, and that was that.

With so many productions of Shakespeare, especially A Midsummer Nights' Dream, going up every year, what made you want to direct this show, in the winter of all times?

Ah, the age old "why Midsummer" question. Very good. To tackle the Midsummer in winter question for me is simple – why should I let a shows' title dictate when it gets performed? Would you only do The Winter's Tale in winter? Or Summer and Smoke in the Summer? The seasons are ever changing and what is lovely about theater is that you enter a world away from the outside and are transported somewhere new. It's not what's happening outside that matters, but the story that is being told inside which counts.

For the show itself, I have always loved Midsummer. This production is a personal thank you to past theatre teachers who made me read the play over and over and perform in it. So many of us storytellers take this show on every year, but for me, it is about finding something new and interesting with a tried and true text. It is also a director "must do," as I say. Almost every director has done their version of Midsummer at least once, if not more, and this is my first go at it.

What is it about this play that speaks to you? What do you hope an audience will take away from your approach to the production?

The story speaks to me as a director. I love the variations of emotions, the levels of being in love, and the pure, almost farce-like comedy. As a director, when you see a good story, you want to tell it in your own voice. Midsummer has always been that way for me. I want the audience to laugh out loud and have a jolly good evening of theater.

For each audience member who sits in that theatre, the experience will be different: some will laugh at the mechanicals, some will feel for Helena, and others will dislike Puck for meddling. It's all subjective. For me, it's about communicating the story. If the audience leaves understanding the story, hopefully on a new level, and has fun, then I'm happy.

I was delighted to read that you have worked with a Shakespeare giant, John Basil at the American Globe Theatre in Manhattan. How did you become involved with the company? Have your collaborations with him and the Globe helped shape you as a director? If so, how?

John Basil has had a huge impact on me as an artist. He is a wonderful mentor and friend. Both he and his lovely and talented wife Liz are friends and supporters of my work.

John took over the fourth year of the BFA acting program my senior year of college. We got to know each other in class, and about a month in, I asked him if I could work on his next show at the American Globe. Well, that happened to be Henry V and I was one of the two associate directors working on it. John was a great teacher both in class and in rehearsals.

After Henry V, there was a director opening in the Globe's 10-Minute Play Competition. John offered me a spot and the piece was well received. To say the least, John and I spent a lot of time in the same rehearsal room. My directing style is under the direct influence of John. He gave me a great set of tools to attack any text, and a renewed love of Shakespeare. I look forward to working with AGT on many more productions.

What's next for you?

More directing. I have a few things in the works. Coming up at the end of January, I will be directing a reading of a new play, The Rose Gardener by Sarah Ashley Bischoff at The Tank. I've been keeping the spring open for some new plays and musicals. This fall and winter have been a complete blur, since September I have worked on almost ten shows, so the spring is more of a blank canvas at this time. You can always check out my website my website for the latest and greatest.

A Midsummer Night's Dream opens on December 3rd and runs until January 3rd. For information on the production, please visit The Secret Theatre's website (


The last MIDSUMMER rehearsal before the Thanksgiving break just ended about a half hour ago.

We cleaned up Act One and Act Five tonight so now, those acts will run much smoothly. The problem I had in the Act Five play within a play sequence was cleaned up as well and am very happy with the new direction it is going in.

Back on Saturday for a long day of tech rehearsal.


The FROSTED JUSTICE shoot was a nice experience. A lot of physical work on my end, as I literally had to fight someone for a donut. Not too exhausting though and director Michael Dearborn ran things pretty smoothly overall. We even finished a little ahead of schedule, which is always nice.

Michael expects the film to be completed in mid-December.

Audition for American Globe Theatre's TITUS ANDRONICUS On December 4th

Yesterday afternoon, I received a call inviting me to audition for the American Globe Theatre's upcoming mainstage production of TITUS ANDRONICUS.

I should find out in the next couple of days what part I am reading for, but just to get my foot in the door to audition is very big, as AGT is a company that I have always wanted to work with.

We'll see what happens.


I am now playing one of the cops fighting for the donut.

Last Night

As always, it was nice to rehearse in the space for our runthrough of the entire show. The show is coming together nicely, although last night, the Act Five, play within a play sequence was a little rough. I certainly felt rough. I tried something new and when I was doing it, I was conscious of the fact that it wasn't working. That's what rehearsal is for.

I get to come back and do it again tonight.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cast As Police Chief in FROSTED JUSTICE

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be appearing as a police chief in the short film FROSTED JUSTICE for director Michael Dearborn.

It's the story of two detectives that eye the same donut in the break room at their police station. They start off by being cordial towards one another, but quickly, they start fighting over it. A scuffle ensues where they are handcuffing one another to tables and chairs, trying to keep the other from getting the donut. Then, once the two detectives are tangled on the floor and chained to the furniture, their chief comes in, sees them and then smugly eats the donut right in front of them. I will be playing the role of their victorious police chief.

The shoot will be taking place for a few hours tomorrow afternoon.

Could be fun.

MIDSUMMER Tonight and Tomorow

MIDSUMMER is going to get two solid runs of the entire show in before the holiday...tonight and tomorrow. After those rehearsals, we should be in a very good place for our tech rehearsals.

After tonights' rehearsal, the cast has been invited to help in the painting of the entire all-night painting party. It should be fun.

All of the lighting and technical issues will be looked into on Wednesday, so when the cast returns for rehearsals after the holiday, we can just go into our tech and dress.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


We worked in the space for yesterdays' MIDSUMMER rehearsal, which was nice. The more practice we get in the space, the better.

With the opening of the show about two weeks away, we continue to be moving in the right direction with everyone working really hard on their roles. I must say that this is a solid ensemble of actors.

Back again tomorrow for another run in the space.

Friday, November 20, 2009


RUN FOR YOUR WIFE, the hilarious British farce by Ray Cooney, which is slated to be the last production of the summer at the Pioneer Playhouse is going to be directed by the great Larry Lesher.

I may be heading back to the Playhouse to participate in the production. Stay tuned for more details.

Pioneer Playhouse Announces New Season

A Nice Family Gathering
by Phil Olson
June 11 – June 26

The story of a man who loved his wife so much, he almost told her! Now that he's a ghost, it makes it tough to do. But he's decided to try…during the first family gathering since the funeral where, to everyone's' surprise, his wife… has invited a date! A sweetly touching comedy that explores the hidden realms of the heart. Rated PG

Miranda: The Catch of the Day
Adapted from Miranda, by Peter Blackmore
June 29 – July 10

During a fishing expedition an uptight society doctor lands a surprising "catch"…a longhaired mysterious creature with medically speaking…a tail. This is a 36-24-36, 5'8"-tall fish that no one—especially his suspicious wife—will ever believe! Rated G

World Premiere! — The Dillinger Dilemma
by Elizabeth Orndorff
July 13-July 24

Award-winning playwright Elizabeth Orndorff has crafted an inspired and sublimely ridiculous comedy based upon the real-life rumor that notorious gangster John Dillinger spent the night inside Danville's Gilcher Hotel and then left quietly, for reasons unknown. Full of real-life people, long-ago places and over-the-top speculation, the play is a work of comic genius that explores old gossip in new sidesplitting ways. Make your reservations early for a play inspired by local legend! Rated G

For Better
by Eric Coble
July 27 – August 7

Karen and Max are Internet users who want to get married, but between texting, tweeting and e-mailing, do couples need to be in the same room anymore to exchange vows? An intriguingly hilarious romance for the digital age, poking fun at our love affair with gadgets and technology. Rated G

Run for Your Wife
by Ray Cooney
August 10 – August 21

A taxi driver gets away with having two wives on opposite sides of the city until complications cause his double life to expire! A high-octane farce that will leave you exhausted from laughing so hard! "Virtually non-stop continuous laughter!" — New York Post. Rated PG

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Mechanicals Last Night

Last night, we cleaned up all of the rough spots in the scenes with the mechanicals. It was a very strong rehearsal where each actor brought new, fresh (and funny) ideas to the scenes and to their approaches to their characters. Everyone is making me laugh, which is a joy when you're working.

Director Katherine Carter, along with Assistant Director, Paul Markert and Production Stage Manager, Griffin Parker, all seem very pleased with the progress everyone has made in these last couple of weeks.

I personally feel very good about where we are at this point in the rehearsal process, but there's always room for more growth.

Off of MIDSUMMER unil Saturday morning.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hopkins and Thompson in THE REMAINS OF THE DAY

Here is a sweet and tender scene between Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, two extraordinary actors in two superb performances from the film THE REMAINS OF THE DAY.

In the film, Hopkins plays a rule bound head butler, whose world of manners and decorum in the household he maintains is tested by the arrival of a housekeeper (Thompson) who falls in love with him in post-WWI Britain. The possibility of romance and his master's cultivation of ties with the Nazi cause challenge his carefully maintained veneer of servitude.


MIDSUMMER returns tonight to focus on all of the scenes with the mechanicals, to polish and sharpen all of the comic moments, as timing is everything.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Lives

In what proved to be a very easy process, especially for someone like me who is not computer savvy, I was able to transfer to the new Weebly website I created to my domain name, so will live on.


Actors have to make tough decisions all the time. I was faced with one this morning.

A job offer came my way which has proven too difficult to pass up and unfortunately, it will effect my involvement with ROMEO AND JULIET.

I sent a letter to director Greg Cicchino stating my case and I, of course, apologized for putting him in this position, but I am sure he will find someone quickly to take over the role.

I have the utmost respect for Greg and I know his production will be a fantastic one!

One More MUCH ADO Pic

Here is a picture of me and Larry Lesher (as Dogberry) in a few moments after the final performance of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

Thanks to Daniel Koenig for the picture.

Sir Alec Guinness in TUNES OF GLORY

Here is a moving scene from the 1960 film TUNES OF GLORY, a fantastic film with an amazing performance from Sir Alec Guinness as the one of a kind Colonel Jock Sinclair (Guinness considered this performance as Sinclair to be one of his finest).

The film also stars an equally stunning Sir John Mills.


I have created a website for MIDSUMMER...for fun mostly, since I am for an expert webmaster, but hopefully it'll be used as a tool to entice friends and family to attend the performances.

Production photos will be posted on the site. There is a blog which will feature updates from rehearsals.

Most importantly, there are links to the Secret Theatre main page where you can purchase tickets, which are on sale now, but as I juts mentioned, I have $10 tickets, so drop me a line if you're interested in those.

Check out the site:

MIDSUMMER - Advance Tickets

Regarding advance ticket sales for MIDSUMMER, our goal is between $1,000- $2,000. We know this is a lot and of course we will be happy with whatever number we have, but it's always good to have goals.

With that said, I wanted to start getting these advance tickets sold, so for anyone who is interested in purchasing $10 tickets from me, you know how to reach me.


Heard from director Matt Porter regarding the comedy pilot ARGYLE, where I play the over-energetic Principal Cox.

Slowly and steadily, Matt and his crew are making great progress with "Argyle"!

His editor, Matt Kazman, is working tirelessly, scene by scene, to put together the first cut of this lengthy piece. The first full cut of all 45 minutes or so should be complete in about month. In the meantime, he has shot a few pickups and inserts, as well as beginning to think about original score composition.

His most exciting news is that the project has received a grant from Columbia University for post-production. It isn't millions, Matt said, but we all know that a little bit of money in this business can go a long way! Yes, it does.

Matt hopes in his next email to be able to include some more stills, and perhaps even a few video clips.

MIDSUMMER Stumble Through

I have to say that it was a delight to watch how wonderfully MIDSUMMER is coming along last night. The entire cast looks like they are having a fun time with their roles and with each run, it will just get better and better.

The mechanicals return on Wednesday night to clean up their scenes.

One thing: It's tough being the straight man when you are surrounded by the comic lunacy of my fellow mechanicals. Hard to keep a straight face.

A model for Peter Quince poppped into my head just a few moments ago...that of Bob Newhart. Very straight laced, what some would call a square. Very deadpan.

I'll try something on Wednesday, see how it works.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I read through Greg's cutting of R&J this morning and while he has made some cuts within scenes, there's still plenty to work with.

In reading over the play and the role of Capulet, ideas are already popping into my head on the man.

Capulet is quite the mixed man. While he is sometimes interfering, commanding, and controlling (especially towards the women in his life), at the same time, he can be courteous and generous, as he appears at his party in the end of Act One. He strikes me as a politician or a military man...charming when necessary, but quickly, his angry side can come out. Very much a Jekyll & Hyde type. He sometimes lets jealousy get in the way. When Tybalt tries to incite a duel with Romeo at the party, Capulet tries to calm him and then threatens to throw him out of the family if he does not control his temper; he does the same to his daughter later in the play.

He seems to be one of those guys who goes from 0-10 with the snap of a finger.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stumble Through of MIDSUMMER Tomorrow

Tomorrow nights' MIDSUMMER rehearsal will be a stumble through of the entire play. It should prove to be a nice indicator of where we are and what we need to work on.

MUCH ADO Comes To A Close!

MUCH ADO came to a close yesterday. Our final two performances went pretty well, with the last performance being the best overall performance, in my opinion, of the entire run. Audiences laughed and enjoyed themselves, which was nice, but it still doesn't change the fact that the overall production had many problems.

That's not to say that I regret being involved in the production. Not at all. It was great to play Leonato again and it was great to work with my good friend Larry Lesher, as well as a number of other talented individuals in the cast who I am now proud to call my friends.

Like any other show, it was a learning experience.


Saturday, November 14, 2009


Director Greg Cicchino has opted to push the run of ROMEO AND JULIET back one week. We will now be opening on January 21st. Greg also asked if anyone would be available and interested for the show to run for four weeks instead of three, which I had no objection to.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rough MUCH ADO Tonight

I thought that tonights' performance of the show was a little rough. Lots of flubbed lines (myself included) and just a lot of rough moments. It was a nice sized house, but in my opinion, we never captured their attention. Nothing to be done about it.

An afternoon show tomorrow and then the final performance tomorrow night. Review of MUCH ADO

Queens Shakespeare casts The Bard in reality show

By Arlene McKanic
Thursday, November 12, 2009

William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing (or The Real World: Messina)” is supposed to be a comedy, and it does have its silly moments, but the production of this play at Queens Shakespeare made me mad. It has nothing to do with the acting or directing, which are excellent, but the story’s misogyny is disgusting. Will probably knew it was disgusting too, even subconsciously, for in “Much Ado” he has also created one of the great female characters in Beatrice, played here by the wondrous, Hilary Swankish Sheira Feuerstein.

Director Jonathan Emerson imagines the play as an episode out of “The Real World,” (see subtitle above), with TV screens playing on either end of the stage, and digital camera operators forever present, even, at some points, stopping the actors’ progress. Blackberries, cell phones and iPods are also much in evidence. The effect is charming, though it doesn’t blunt the nastiness of what happens to Hero.

And if you don’t know the story, here’s what happens, to Hero and others: Leonato is the governor of Messina, with a daughter named Hero and a mouthy niece named Beatrice. They’re visited by Don Pedro and his two pals, Benedick and Claudio. Benedick swears he’s a confirmed bachelor, as Beatrice also swears she’ll never marry (and she has good reason not to, as we shall see). Of course they fall in love amongst much rapier-sharp banter and with a lot of help from their friends, though they don’t know it until late in the game.

Claudio falls in love with Hero, but Don Pedro’s bastard half-brother Don John wants to mess things up. Since Shakespeare had as much of a thing about evil illegitimate half-brothers as he had for women’s virtue, he has Don John and his henchmen mess things up a great deal. They cause Claudio and Don Pedro to see who they think is Hero and some clandestine lover at her window after making sure her roommate Beatrice is away, even though it’s really Margaret, Hero’s maid, and Don John’s sycophant Borachio.

Claudio not only renounces Hero but does so at the moment of what should be their wedding. The accusations from all the males present (save the friar and Benedick) are so vicious that Hero faints dead away at the altar — it’s as if all the pent-up rage these guys have ever felt against women is unleashed on her. Friar Francis, who was supposed to marry Hero and Claudio, suggests to the distraught Leonato that he announce that Hero has died of her shame, Claudio and the Don having stormed from the church before the lady could be revived.

In the meantime, they’ll find out who slandered Hero, or, if the rumors are true, send her quietly to a nunnery. Of course, Hero’s good name is restored, the miscreants are dealt with, the marriages go on. Yet one has the queasy feeling that Hero’s will be miserable and she is too yielding to return the misery in kind. Beatrice and Benedick, with their lovely love/hate dynamic, will be just fine.

People could write volumes about this madness, and have.

But the company is faultless. That the actors not only handle Shakespeare’s intricate, sparkling wordplay without a stumble but actually revel in them would be enough. Feuerstein’s smart, vivacious, sarcastic Beatrice is backed up by Matthew Coonrod as an adorably cynical and silver-tongued Benedick, and though one can’t like Claudio after his public humiliation of Hero and you know he’s going to be a lousy husband, Daniel Koenig, with great dark yearning eyes, is excellent.

The Lennonesque Zack Locuson’s Don Pedro is just as good, and you feel for him after Beatrice rejects his marriage proposal because she just doesn’t think he’s serious. Still, you can’t like him either in the end. Even when he thinks Hero’s dead he takes the whole business rather too lightly. Maria Smith projects goodness and sweetness as the mistreated Hero, and we can at least hope that her devoted cousin can put some starch in her spine.

Lawrence Lesher nearly steals the show as the constable Dogberry, with his insanely funny malapropisms (“O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this.”) Heidi Zenz, a pretty young woman, actually makes you believe she’s Verge, Dogberry’s elderly male headborough. She also makes a touching Ursula, the other of Hero’s maids. Nikki Bohm projects a dangerous sexiness as both a Messenger and one of The Watch. At one point she wields a riding crop, which she uses to great comic effect.

Andrew Stephen Johnson makes an appropriately sullen Don John, who must be a forerunner of King Lear’s Edmund; you can imagine the two of them on some prison island together, commiserating. Alex Simmons and Ari Lew are properly oily as his henchmen Borachio and Conrad, and Ashley Adelman makes a nicely disreputable Margaret.

Antonia Villalon is memorable in her triple roles as a messenger, the watch and a sexton, and Patrick Mahoney is good as both the friar and Leonato’s brother Antonio. One wants to despise Timothy J. Cox’s’ otherwise jolly Leonato for his willingness to believe the worst about his daughter and only child, but Cox too well conveys his bewilderment and grief as well as his contempt. He can’t help that he lives in a time when an unmarried woman’s virginity was the sum total of her worth.

Emerson and his crew make good use of the little space, both onstage and in the area before it in the Bowne Street Community Church’s parish hall, and he doesn’t gloss over the story’s difficulties. For example, after Hero’s restoration he won’t allow her unalloyed happiness at being reunited with the faithless Claudio, and at one point after their marriage they sit glumly on opposite sides of the stage apron.

The production makes do with very little: plaster statues of lions, garlands of flowers, ropes of pearls, glittering jewels (kudos to stage and properties manager Tara Schmitt), and a modern living room set and lighting design by Emerson and Joseph Sebring.

Queens Shakespeare makes the best of this troublesome play. It’ll be at The Bowne Street Community Church till November 14.

Another MUCH ADO Promo Video

Here is another MUCH ADO promo video

MUCH ADO Last Night

It was nice to return to the role of Leonato in MUCH ADO last night. We had a small, but very appreciative crowd of 6 people in the audience last night.

All the reviews are in and the critics are split on their thoughts on the production, especially the concept.

Personally speaking, if the show is ever remounted, the concept needs to be revisited and things need to be made more specific. That's my two cents on that.

Three more performances to go.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Queens Chronicle Review of MUCH ADO

‘Much Ado’ as a reality TV show? Heck, yeah.

by Willow Belden, qboro Editor


Beatrice and Benedick argue with one another (yet again) in “Much Ado About Nothing.” photo courtesy Queens Shakespeare

Don’t let the community theater-esque location fool you; the Queens Shakespeare production of “Much Ado About Nothing” is far from amateurish, with powerful acting and innovative conceptual choices.

Staged as a reality TV show, the comedy is done in modern dress (ranging from sleek cocktail dresses to Hawaiian shirts to sexy Halloween costumes), and features a bright blue set with leopard print throws on the couch.

An introductory video teaser promises to tell the true story that unfolds when 14 people converge on one house in Italy, and throughout the play, cameramen follow the characters around, with realtime footage projected on two monitors. The technique is particularly effective for soliloquies, with actors staring directly at the cameras, rather than simply talking to themselves.

Despite the updates, Shakespeare’s well-known story remains unchanged — a tale of feisty lovers, comic matchmaking ploys, blatant disguises, racey gossip, a conniving bastard son and an elaborate scheme to derail a marriage.

The actors strike the humorous chords with skill, bringing to life the goofy plots, the bawdy lines, the malapropisms and the double entendres.

Sheira Feuerstein puts forth a stellar performance as Beatrice, the argumentative, headstrong niece of Leonato, governor of Messina.

Timothy Cox is similarly dynamic as Leonato, the cheerful, generous governor who is deceived into turning on his daughter. Zack Locuson, playing the matchmaking prince Don Pedro, and Daniel Koenig as Claudio are also commendable, and Andrew Johnson pulls off the misanthropic bastard son, Don John, with fitting sourness.

Several of the minor characters also elicit laughs, most notably the dim-witted constable, Dogberry, played by Lawrence Lesher.

Unfortunately, Matthew Coonrod overacts as Benedick. The leading male character, meant to be bitingly sarcastic though secretly in love, comes off as an effeminate drama queen — which makes it hard to believe that the spirited, intelligent and exceedingly attractive Beatrice would fall for him.

While Coonrod’s performance is distracting, the play as a whole is crisp, enjoyable, energetic and well worth attending.

‘Much Ado About Nothing’

When: Nov. 12-14 at 7 p.m.
Where: Bowne Street Community Church, 143-11 Roosevelt Ave.
(212) 868-4444
Ticket price: $15, $10 for students

New Website

I have just created a brand new website, compliments of

Since I haven't been utilizing the website that Kyle Pierson created for me for quite a while now, I thought it was time to create a new one.

Here is the address for the new site:


Last evenings' MIDSUMMER rehearsal was cancelled, due to a scheduling snafu with the rehearsal space. No worries! The mechanicals will be returning to rehearsal in the next couple of days.

MUCH ADO Returns Tonight

Performances of MUCH ADO return tonight. Only 4 performances left!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Shout Out to The Mechanicals of MIDSUMMER

Here's a little shout out to the mechanicals of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.

Chris Kateff (in action at the Huron Playhouse) as Nick Bottom

Andrew Ash as Francis Flute

Charlotte Dunn as Robin Starveling

Miriam Mintz as Tom Snout

Tim Williams (at left, in action in Hudson Shakespeare's TROLIUS AND CRESSIDA) as Snug the Joiner

A Quote from Billy Bob Thornton

Acting is playing--it's actually going out on a playground with the other kids and being in the game.


Last nights' rehearsal for MIDSUMMER was a lot of fun. We tackled the famous play within a play scene in the final act of the show and it was a delight to watch as well as to work on.

Everyone is bringing in really solid and funny ideas for their characters. Tim Williams, who plays Snug the Joiner as a guy who's scared of his own shadow, was given an adorable little bear by our Bottom, Chris Kateff. The bear will be featured prominently in all of the mechanicals scenes, with Tim at all times. Tim and I even came up with a good name for the bear...Copernicus, Nic for short. I like it! Charlotte Dunn, who is playing Starveling, has this frisbee that lights up when she is depicting the Moonshine in the play. Hilarious!

We get it run the scene again tonight, as well as Act Four, where the mechanicals have only one scene.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Here is the cast list for Greg Cicchino's upcoming production of ROMEO AND JULIET

Romeo - Justin Randolph
Juliet - Jessica Russell
Friar Lawrence - Katie Braden
Benvolio - Jesse Kane-Harnett
Mercutio - Dan Smith
Tybalt - Shelleen Kostabi
Paris - Charlie Gorrilla
Lord Capulet - Timothy J. Cox
Lady Capulet - Alice Bahlke
Prince - Josh Odsess-Rubin
Montague / Apothecary - Kathryn Browne
Abraham - Jeni Ahlfeld
Balthasar - Tyler Gattoli
Gregory - David Rysdahl
Sampson - Anthony Martinez



Show Title: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Date of First Performance: December 3, 2009

Date of Last Performance: January 3, 2010

Venue Name: The Secret Theatre located 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse or E,V & G to 23rd St/Ely.

Venue Address: 44-02 23rd St, Long Island City NY 11101 (between 44th Ave and 44th Rd)

Performance Schedule:
 December 3-6, 9-12, 16-19, January 1-3 at 8pm, December 19 and 20 at 3:30pm

Ticket Price: $15 general admission

For Student Groups Please Contact Katherine Carter at for special rates and offers.

How to buy tickets: Visit

Producer or Producing Company: The Queens Players

Author/Creator of the show: William Shakespeare

Synopsis: A Midsummer Nights' Dream in Winter? Yes, please! In director Katherine M. Carter’s energetic new staging of Shakespeare’s most beloved romantic comedy, follow four young lovers into a colorful and mysterious forest where fairies Titania and Oberon rule, where a band of “rude mechanicals”, led by the hilarious Bottom, rehearse a play and where love is put to the test by the mischievous Puck. In the end, will the lovers end up with their correct mate? Will the mechanicals make it to their performance before the Duke? Is Titania doomed to love an ass? A Midsummer Nights' Dream is a non-stop comedy that will warm you up in the cold winter months.

Directed by: Katherine M. Carter
Stage Manager: Griffin Parker

Sound Design: Jillian Marie Walker

Costume Design: Jeni Alfheld
Lighting Design: Lisa Hufnagel
Assistant Director: Paul Markert
Assistant Stage Manager: Gabby Senatore

The show features:
 Jeni Ahlfeld, Andrew Ash, Charles Baker, Katie Braden, Timothy J. Cox, Angelica Duncan, Charlotte Layne Dunn, Brandon Hillen, Chris Kateff, Sarah King, Miriam Mintz, Joe Mullen, James Parenti, Patricia Phelps, Tiffany D. Turner, Randy Warsaw, Timothy Williams and Heidi Zenz

MIDSUMMER Returns Tonight

MIDSUMMER returns tonight.

The mechanicals will be working on their final scenes of the play and maybe even a little review of what we did a week or so ago.

Another BlogCritics Review of MUCH ADO

Theater Review (Queens, NY): Much Ado About Nothing
Author: Nick Leshi — Published: November 9, 2009

Having seen and performed in a number of William Shakespeare’s plays in my lifetime, the hypothetical question always arises: “If the Bard were alive today, what would he write?” Since Shakespeare’s plays in his own time were such crowd-pleasers, it is easy to imagine the playwright of Avon churning out screenplays for Hollywood blockbusters or stories for Broadway or West End musicals and plays. I’ve even heard one or two people suggest that he might have become a staff writer for a daily televised soap opera. Might he have scripted the allegedly unscripted reality shows that have overtaken virtually every channel on the boob tube?

The talented cast and crew of Queens Shakespeare imagine such a heresy in their new production of Much Ado About Nothing and the results are surprisingly entertaining. The subtitle is Real World: Messina and like MTV’s trendsetting and pioneering reality program, the new staging of Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy brings the shenanigans of lovelorn couples in Sicily to a modern-day mansion turned television studio where cameras record the houseguests' every public and private moment and we, the audience, serve as captivated voyeurs.

Jonathan Emerson makes his New York directorial debut with this little show at the Bowne Street Church in Flushing, and it is quite the accomplishment. A teaser video sets the tone, nicely capturing the feeling of the competitive reality genre in which real people agree to have their lives documented by television crews in an effort to gain fame and fortune. Those shows tend to be full of artificial drama as the editors (and participants) try to spark scandal and controversy in a quest for high ratings and publicity. The curtain rises and the live action scenarios that unfold before our eyes make it perfectly clear that the comedy and drama that stemmed from the mind and quill of William Shakespeare are as timely and relevant as ever.

In the program, Emerson writes what you might be thinking: “A Shakespearean comedy staged as a trashy reality TV show... what???” He explains: “We hope to illuminate the classical text by showing that the circumstances and characters are relatable, or at least relatable to what we see in our own living rooms every day on TV. Much Ado About Nothing is driven by gossip, slander, and scandal and nothing embodies these elements quite like the sordid world of reality television.”

I admit, I was skeptical of the concept (which Emerson credits cast members Matt Coonrod and Daniel Koenig with help in conceiving), but the result is an intriguing interpretation that does indeed showcase Shakespeare’s words in a fascinating new context. Some of the historic wartime back story of the tale is lost in the contemporary setting, and some plot points that were cultural norms at the time of Shakespeare become jarringly archaic when seen from a modern perspective, but the depth of character, the universal themes of the human condition, and the beauty of the language remain, proving once again that Shakespeare’s masterpieces are excellent sources for constant reimagining.

Two camera operators shoot footage of the characters throughout the play, “broadcasting” it live on monitors on either side of the stage. The action takes place on the proscenium and on the floor in front of the audience, creating an intimate, up-close feel to everything that is taking place. Rather than distracting from the performances, it is a subtle effect that reminds us of the artistic theme of this interpretation, but does not overshadow the actors and their work. By recording the actors and projecting their close-up visages on TV screens, it ran the risk of showing the differences in the two media. Acting for the stage is often broader than acting for film and television, where more subtle emoting is preferred. But the intimate blocking and staging by Emerson and the talents of the cast avoided that trap, resulting in nuanced performances by all. The camera gimmick that might have come across as an annoying diversion instead worked wonderfully, complementing the live action, which was still the main focus of the theatrical experience.

Shakespeare’s convoluted plot deals with guests at the house of Leonato, the governor of Messina, after a successful battle. Leonato throws a masquerade party and his daughter Hero prepares to wed Claudio, a lord and soldier. The couple, along with the Prince of Aragon, Don Pedro, try to make an amorous match between Leonato’s orphaned niece Beatrice and Benedick, another lord and soldier, and friend of Claudio. Don Pedro’s bastard brother Don John, however, with the aid of his companions Borachio and Conrad, tries to ruin the pending nuptials and stir some trouble by starting a rumor that Hero is far from chaste and virtuous. Chaos ensues until the truth unfolds, the villains are captured, and all ends well in traditional Shakespearean comic fashion.

The production’s format makes Leonato’s house the setting for a reality television show. The set and lighting, designed by Jonathan Emerson and Joseph Sebring, believably recreate the atmosphere of a reality show locale. The soliloquies feel like confession room segments on Big Brother or solo side interviews on Survivor. The masked party feels likes a decadent bash that we would see on Temptation Island or Paradise Hotel. As the characters manipulate each other and scheme behind each others' backs, and as the frivolous jesting mushrooms into tense confrontations, the resulting tears and anger would not be out of place in any episode of The Bachelor or The Hills.

Timothy J. Cox plays Leonato as a Donald Trump-type host straight out of The Apprentice, a man used to the spotlight, his large portrait hanging on the wall, playing to the cameras, the first to show up in costume for the masquerade festivities, opening his liquor cabinet to his guests (because we all know that a little bit of alcohol reduces inhibitions, resulting in the best booze-induced drama, ready to be caught on camera). But fun times lead to sober moments, and the best scenes in Shakespeare’s comedy are actually his most serious: the heart-wrenching aborted marriage ceremony when Hero is accused of being a loose woman in front of everyone, and later when Leonato, Antonio, and then Benedick confront Claudio and Don Pedro claiming that their accusations have killed the heartbroken and innocent maiden. Cox shows his wide range, from the happy-go-lucky Hugh Hefner-like master-of-the-house to the conflicted father, forgetting the cameras, eyes brimming with tears as the laughs turn to the horror before him.

The spark for all the mayhem is Don John, a man “not of many words,” a bitter, villainous puppet-master who yearns to throw his own melancholy cloud over others' joy. In the original text, the motivation for his dark nature is hinted at through his few lines and the description by others. Andrew Stephen Johnson plays Don John’s hatred and jealousy of his brother Don Pedro, when forced to be his subordinate, as the ultimate anti-social reality show villain. Tossing cups, kicking chairs, spitting at pictures, Johnson’s portrayal reminded me of Puck – not Shakespeare’s sprite Robin Goodfellow, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but the rebellious, antagonistic, anarchist David Rainey who eventually was evicted from The Real World: San Francisco for all the trouble he caused.

The heart of the play should be Benedick and Beatrice, whose sharp-witted barbs, fiery interplay, and denouncement of love and marriage make their eventual union a satisfying conclusion, and Matthew Coonrod and Sheira Feuerstein do a nice job of expressing that emotional journey (especially the lovely Ms. Feuerstein, whose energy and timing were a constant pleasure to watch). But the real heart of the play in this production were the brilliant and genuine performances by Daniel Koenig as Claudio and Maria Smith as Hero. Their chemistry was perfect, from the love they showed each other at the beginning, to the raw rage and grief they exhibited as the scandalous lies drew them apart, and to the profound, tender emotion they evoked at their reconciliation – hesitant and frightened, but completely believable. Coonrod and Feuerstein do a commendable job of bringing laughter and passion to their keystone roles, but Koenig and Smith were transcendent in parts that in other productions are often eclipsed by the more showy characters.

Such high praise is merited when actors take their roles to new levels, making them their own, adding nuances even when there are few or no lines to speak. This version of Much Ado About Nothing had plenty of examples of smaller characters stepping up and making an impactful contribution to the story, ingraining themselves in my mind: Ashley Adelman as the seductive pawn Margaret; Ari Lew as the shaggy-haired, scheming sidekick Conrad; Nikki Bohm as the stunning Messenger and (together with Antonia Villalon) the Charlie’s Angels-type members of the Watch; and Heidi Zentz as Dogberry’s hunched companion Verge.

Lawrence Lesher brought a deadpan style and fantastic comedic skill to his depiction of the side-splittingly hilarious character Dogberry. Alex Simmons brought dimension and humanity to Borachio. Patrick Mahoney’s deep voice and towering stature brought integrity to his portrayal of Friar Francis and power to his representation of Antonio.

It is a real joy to see a production team and group of talented young actors take a chance on an idea and fully commit to it, and then witness the successful results. Even if you hate reality shows, the concept works here and makes Shakespeare’s story of betrayal, sabotage, gossip, and most important, love, feel as pertinent today as ever.

Queens Shakespeare’s production of Much Ado About Nothing continues on Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m., Friday, November 13 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, November 14 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 at or call (212) 868-4444, or at the door. The theater is located at Bowne Street Church at 143-11 Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, NY 11354. Free parking is available on-site or take the 7 train to Main Street.

Monday, November 09, 2009 Review of MUCH ADO review
Heather McAllister · November 7, 2009

Jonathan Emerson, the director of Much Ado About Nothing or The Real World: Messina calls his production a "hot mess." His feeling, as expressed in his program notes, is that the circumstances and characters of Much Ado are relatable to what we see in our own living rooms everyday on TV. While reality TV is driven by gossip, slander, and scandal, the key word in any production, no matter how broadly performed, should be reality. This sordid reality TV interpretation, while succeeding at being a hot mess, has very little reality to offer.

Much Ado is a fun play, focusing on the ideals of social grace, the use of deception for good and evil, and the importance of honor. If you need one, here's a synopsis.

The production opens with a video montage of "Real World: Messina," accompanied by 1980s music. The montage is meant to introduce the characters and their points of view. As the montage ends, two cameramen follow the cast onstage, projecting their shaky, dizzying images on two large TV screens at the proscenium's edge. Watching the shaky camera work left me a little queasy, yet much of the action is performed solely for the cameras, so unfortunately, much is lost.

I wished for stage pictures to help tell the story, beyond the close-ups of the actors crouched down looking at the floor, or the couch sprawling/lounging that comprises most of the blocking.

I am curious why the uncredited costume design isn't used to help define character; for example: the virtuous Hero's dress is hiked up so far we all see her underpants; the Prince Don Pedro is dressed in t-shirt jeans and Adidas for the wedding ceremony; and strangest of all, the lovely Heidi Zenz, who makes a fine Ursula, with a clear voice and bearing, is double cast as Verges, dressed as if she escaped from an episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You! complete with large fedora, giant men's overcoat, and magnifying glass.

The comedy is played broad and the styles of the actors wildly vary, from Saved by the Bell-ish groan-inducing sitcom, to Nathan Lane-level exuberant, exhilarating farce.

My hands-down favorite in the company is Dogberry, as played by Lawrence Lesher. Lesher is completely delightful! His every appearance lifts the play to the highest level. His skill and timing, embodiment and portrayal of Dogberry are completely sincere, connected to the material, and hysterically funny! Every nuance, every word, every look from Lesher made me smile or laugh heartily. In short, he is wonderful.

Other standouts are Patrick Mahoney, double cast as Antonio and Friar Francis. His rich voice and strong, grounded performance brings depth and honor to his roles. Daniel Koenig makes a properly conflicted Claudio, and Andrew Stephen Johnson's Don John is intriguing.

Good as these individual performances are, the hot mess wins out, and The Real World: Messina could use a reshoot.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

MIDSUMMER Returns on Tuesday

MIDSUMMER rehearsals are back on Tuesday. Looking forward to jump back into the shoes of Peter Quince.

The Opening Weekend

The opening weekend of MUCH ADO went very well, even though the show received a less than positive review from BlogCritics. Although individual actors, myself included, received kind words, it's bittersweet when the show itself does not receive the same kind words.

And now a few days off until we return for another performance on Thursday.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

BlogCritics Review of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Theater Review (Queens, NY): Much Ado About Nothing

Author: Hannah Marie Ellison — Published: November 07, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing may be the most grounded of William Shakespeare's comedies, as there are no fairies and goddesses, no teenage lovers wandering off into the woods — just a pair of sweethearts who have been hurt too many times, and another pair for whom heartbreak is new. If you were to take this grounded comedy and set it in the scandalous world of reality television, where emotions run high and maturity levels are often called into question, what would the results be?

Director Jonathan Emerson tried to answer that very question with his production of the play that opened this past Thursday at the Bowne Street Community Church in Flushing for Queens Shakespeare, Inc. I wish I could tell you that Mr. Emerson's production was as grounded as the Shakespeare text, but sadly, it is not the case.

From start to finish, his reality-television-conceptualized production is more than a little confusing, with strokes that are very broad, but not very specific. Story and even technical issues, such as lighting the stage (although admittedly, the Bowne Street Community Church may not be the most ideal space for such a production) were mostly tossed out the window in favor of the reality television concept, which included two distracting cameramen who followed the action of each scene, but proved to be nothing but eyesores. It is a pity because even though Mr. Emerson's concept fell with a resounding thud, most of the members of his 15-person cast managed to play through the distractions and gave good, even great performances.

When Don Pedro of Arragon (a noble and commanding Zach Locuson) and his men return to Messina after the war (although they are dressed as if they are returning from a night of clubbing), they are received by the governor Leonato (the always genial and gregarious Timothy J. Cox) at his estate for a month of celebration and revels. Romance seems to be in the very air, and soon love blossoms for the young Count Claudio (a fantastic Daniel Koenig) and Hero (a rather bland and indifferent Maria Smith), Leonato’s daughter.

In Don Pedro's entourage there is one Benedick (Matthew Coonrod, who works hard, but comes up short), a stout soldier and quick wit, who, when not at real war, is at a war of words with Beatrice (Sheira Feurstein, instantly likable), Leonato’s equally witty niece. Don Pedro's misanthropic brother Don John (a very dull Andrew Stephen Johnson) does his level best to ruin the revelry, but his lies are brought to light with the help of the dim-witted constable Dogberry (Lawrence Lesher, delightfully loopy) and his partner Verges (a darling Heidi Zenz ). Don John and his compatriots Borachio and Conrade (Alex Simmons and Ari Lew, both energetic) are brought to justice and weddings and wooing go forth as planned.

Just before the play began, the audience was treated to a brief video teaser to the production titled The Real World of Messina, which introduced the characters of the play in their reality TV form. Mildly amusing, yes, but it proves my point that the concept doesn't work. While characters like the scheming Don John and the feuding Benedick and Beatrice may, from an archetypal standpoint I suppose, fit into the world of reality television, other characters like Dogberry and Leonato, who play major roles in the movement of the story and the plot, do not. Mr. Emerson should have tossed the reality TV concept out the window and preserved the story, as that is what matters.

Again, it is a pity, as there was a lot of potential on that stage Thursday night, but with a concept that provided nothing but distraction after distraction from the story and the text, clearly there is still some work to be done.

My advice to Mr. Emerson: In the future, instead of broad concepts, stick to the text.

Much Ado About Nothing runs at the Bowne Street Community Church until November 14th.

Last Nights' Performance

Last nights' performance of MUCH ADO went very well. The show in general just gets better with every performance.

Two performances today and then a few days off.

Friday, November 06, 2009

American Globe Audition

My audition for the American Globe Theatre went very this afternoon. I received a great vibe and compliment from Artistic Director, John that's keeping me postive about my chances. It also helps that I was recommended by Katherine Carter, who I thank dearly for getting me in the door to be seen.

John mentioned that there are a number of projects coming including a reading of MUCH ADO and school performances of both TITUS ANDRONICUS and HAMLET, so he said that if I hear anything, it will likely be around December.

The Opening

Last nights' opening went very well. We played to small, but appreciative house of less than 10 people. It was a Thursday night, so I wasn't too concerned, plus it was a nice warm up for tonight and for the weekend performances where I know we will have more people.

Back on stage in a few hours.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

MUCH ADO Opens Tonight

Time for another opening night!

This has been an interesting journey. A great Shakespeare comedy combined with the world of reality television.

I don't know how people are going to react to concept. It's a tough one to gauge. Are they going to be confused? Will they be able to follow the story?Who knows? Hell, maybe people will like it.

All I can do is go out there onstage and do my job as best I can.

MUCH ADO's Final Dress Rehearsal Last Night

We had a late start last night and didn't finish until midnight, but we got through the entire show and it looks pretty good.

The show has come together over the last couple of weeks and it's been nice to watch some of my colleagues performances. Many of them have grown into their parts nicely.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

MUCH ADO Tonight

We got through the entire show tonight, including the blocking of the curtain call and I must say, we have a pretty good show on our hands...even though I am still NOT a believer in the reality show concept. I feel that audiences are going to be confused by the whole thing, but obviously, there is nothing I can do about it, other than to go out on stage and do my job as an actor.

Back for the final dress rehearsal tomorrow night.


I just found out who is playing my daughter Juliet in R&J, a lovely young actress named Jessica Renee Russell, who, a few months back in HENRY V (At The Secret Theatre) brought great life to the the tiny supporting role of Alice, the maid and confidante of Queens Katherine in HENRY V. It was a sharp and nuanced comic performance (yes, there are funny parts in HENRY V).

The role of my wife, Lady Capulet, is going to be played by the delightful Alice Kelly Bahlke, who appeared, to great acclaim, in OUR FANTASIES ARE EATING US ALIVE! a few weeks back. Alice is about to open in CYRANO DE BERGERAC at the theatre, so she likes to keep pretty busy.

I am looking forward to working with both of these ladies.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cast As Capulet in The Secret Theatre's ROMEO AND JULIET

Director Greg Cicchino (AS YOU LIKE IT) gave me the best birthday gift I could ever ask for...a role in his upcoming production of ROMEO AND JULIET...that of Lord Capulet, the father of Juliet. It's a nice role and of course, the chance to work with Greg again made it difficult to say no.

Rehearsals start in December, right around the time MIDSUMMER goes into performance and opens on January 14th...a few days MIDSUMMER closes.

I'm on one heck of a streak with this Shakespeare guy.

MUCH ADO Tonight

The first tech rehearsal for MUCH ADO went okay tonight. We had a bit of a late start and only got through the first act, but it was nice to jump back in after a few days off.

Back again tomorrow night for tech rehearsal number two.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

BlogCritics Interview with Jonathan Emerson About MUCH ADO

Interview: Jonathan Emerson, Director of Much Ado About Nothing at the Queens Shakespeare Company

Author: Kate Shea Kennon — Published: Nov 01, 2009

Jonathan Emerson is making his New York City directorial debut with the Queens Shakespeare Company's Much Ado About Nothing opening November 6. Here is an interview with Jonathan about the production and the theatre company.

Much Ado About Nothing remains one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies and one that is often adapted for a different time and place to better suit a modern audience. A local production this past summer put a sparring Beatrice and Benedict in the Star Wars cantina. The BBC is presenting Much Ado to take place in a department store. What do you have planned for the famously argumentative couple?

Our production finds Beatrice and Benedict squaring off in the sometimes glamorous, more often trashy world of reality television.

Intriguing. Whose vision is this setting? Who's been watching too much television?

The concept was a collaborative effort between myself and a few friends. Since gossip, slander, and scandal drive Shakespeare's plot, we tossed around a few ideas, maybe staging the show in a high school or backstage at a community theatre. We discussed a number of other settings and eventually landed on reality television.

Reality television is ubiquitous. How does it augment the story of Beatrice and Benedict — one of the great loquacious couples of theatre history?

It puts them and the other characters into circumstances that most people will find a degree of relevance. Not only because of the modernization of the staging, but because, in my experience, almost everyone has at least one reality television guilty pleasure.

You're right - I actually have many of those guilty pleasure reality shows in my DVR. I'm very fond of the crazy housewives series in particular. I can't help thinking about how Caroline Manzo is handling her "best friend" Bernard Kerik's corruption trial! How will you execute this reality television setting?

We are planning on utilizing camera people throughout the show whose camera work will be shown on televisions incorporated into the set which will also us to highlight certain moments and certain discoveries for each character as well as hopefully add to the feel of being on a reality set.

This sounds like a very multi-media approach to Much Ado. Will the audience then see on the televisions what is unfolding on the stage?

Well, to avoid the televisions being a distraction to the audience, the televised action will be more close-ups. It has been really fun to sit the actors down and have the camera come to them. It's very confessional booth.

Confessional booth — that's very reality television. Very Real World or Jon and Kate. I imagine it is effective with all the asides built into Shakespeare's plays.

Yes, for those monologues and soliloquies, the close-ups on the camera make the moments more relatable.

What is your experience with producing Shakespeare?

I've worked a great deal with classic theatre at the Youngstown Playhouse in Ohio. I directed The Taming of the Shrew there. Here in New York I've performed in and was the production manager for the Queens Shakespeare Company's Hamlet and Twelfth Night. I'm so grateful they are giving me a chance to do this.

Tell me a little bit more about the theatre company.

QSC was established in 2006 as a resident, non-profit theatre company in Queens, New York. by Nanette Asher who is its present President and Artistic Director. Since it began, QSC has presented Macbeth, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Arsenic and Old Lace.

Best wishes on the new production. Much Ado About Nothing, or as the Queens Shakespeare Company puts it - The Real World Messina.

Much Ado About Nothing will run from November 5 -14 at the Browne Street Community Church, Flushing, Queens. SmartTix or 212-868-444.


Todays' MIDSUMMER rehearsal was a lot of fun. We put the first two scenes with the mechanicals on their feet and they are already bursting with energy and enthusiasm.

I'm off from MIDSUMMER until November 10th, but I intend to review lines and blocking from now until then.

AMERICAN GLOBE THEATRE Audition on Friday, November 6th

Thanks to a recommendation by Katherine Carter, I have snagged an audition for the American Globe Theatre on Friday, November 6th.

This is a theatre company that I have wanted to work with for some time. As led by John Basil, the Globe has presented quality classical work in Manhattan for many years now. My teacher, the great Stanley Harrison, has worked with them many times over the years.

It would be a joy to work with this company.

MUCH ADO Opens This Thursday

MUCH ADO opens on Thursday and it should be a lot of fun. I'm curious to see how an audience is going to react to the reality television concept for the show.

We'll see.

MIDSUMMER Returns Today

We will be working/blocking in the performance space for the first time today, so it should be a nice workout, as Katherine wants all of the mechanicals scenes to be very physical.

Press release for the show to go out soon...hopefully.