Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Newman in THE VERDICT

Here's a clip of Paul Newman, in a brilliant, Oscar nominated performance, as an alcoholic attorney who retains his dignity and self respect while fighting a medical malpractice case in Sidney Lumet's fantastic film from 1982, THE VERDICT.

Staged Reading Audition on Saturday

I have an audition for a staged reading of a new work with Coffee Black Productions (http://coffeeblackproductions.wordpress.com) this coming Saturday.

The name of the work is THE CONNIE SAXON SHOW. I don't know much else about the project at this point, but I do know that if cast, the reading will take place in Park Slope, Brooklyn on January 18th.

Click Here for OVER COFFEE Trailer

Here's the trailer for OVER COFFEE http://vimeo.com/8448908

That's me uttering "Goddamn, that's good" at the end of the trailer.

There's going to be a website built too, as Sean thinks that it might be a nice way to promote the film a bit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

OVER COFFEE Update

Heard from OVER COFFEE director Sean Meehan regarding the status of the film. He's working on getting it scored, color timed, and foley'd over the next few weeks and then it should go up online soon after that.

As for projects in 2010, Sean has a few ideas that he's working on now and he mentioned that when they come to something more concrete that we can try to work together again, which would be great.

Working on TV Show MERCY On Monday, January 4th

I will be working on the new television series MERCY on Monday, January 4th (Upcoming Episode # 113).

MERCY is a hospital drama set at the fictional Mercy Hospital in Jersey City, NJ. On Monday, I will appearing in a bar scene as a blue collar type.

Even though I promised myself that I'd never do background work again, I'm making an exception in this case because it is an AFTRA job, where the money is a little better.

It's still background work, but money is money.

The shooting will take place in Seacaucus, NJ.

Monday, December 28, 2009

MIDSUMMER To Return on Friday

MIDSUMMER returns on Friday for the start of what will be the final weekend of performances.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Robards in LONG DAY'S JOURNEY and ICEMAN

Here is the great Jason Robards as Jamie Tyronne in Sidney Lumet's 1962 masterful film adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT. This scene is known as "Jamie's Confession," which comes late in the play.



And here is a clip of Robards in his iconic potrayal of Hickey from another one of O'Neill's masterworks THE ICEMAN COMETH (1960 adaptation, also directed by Lumet). This speech comes at the end of Act II, during Harry Hope's birthday party, with a bit of a revelation from Hickey.



These clips are only mere samples of why Jason Robards was the greatest interpreter of the works of Eugene O'Neill.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Great Character Actresses

Here also are a few of the character actresses who have and continue to inspire me.

The late THELMA RITTER


PATRICIA CLARKSON


The late MAUREEN STAPLETON


KATHY BATES


DIANNE WIEST

Great Character Actors

Here are a few of the great character actors who have been strong influences on my work.

BRUCE DAVISON


RIP TORN


ROBERT LOGGIA


The late MARTIN BALSAM


The late JACK WARDEN


CHARLES DURNING


WILLIAM H. MACY


The late THOMAS MITCHELL


JOHN MAHONEY

Lawrence Lesher Directs Ken Ludwig's LEADING LADIES

Thought I'd give Larry a plug here for his upcoming show.

If you're in Florida and want to see a funny comedy, check out LEADING LADIES by Ken Ludwig at Theatre WinterHaven

Arts Notes: Are Leading Men Really 'Leading Ladies?'

By Barb Stuewe
THE LEDGER

Published: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 3:06 p.m.
The cast list is set for Theatre Winter Haven's "Leading Ladies," with show dates of Jan. 14-31 at the Chain of Lakes Complex in Winter Haven.

The comedy by Ken Ludwig, the author of "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Moon Over Buffalo," tells of two Shakespearean actors who find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing on the Moose Lodge circuit. When they hear that an old lady is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long-lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, the relatives aren't nephews, but nieces!

Jarrod Snapko returns to the Theatre Winter Haven stage as Leo. Derek Wyatt is Duncan. Theatre Winter Haven veterans Susanna Carey and Larry Helms take the roles of Florence and Doc. Also a familiar face to the Theatre Winter Haven audience is Nick Judy, playing Butch. Judy is also set designer. Michael Kutner plays Jack. Sarah Jane Fridlich is Meg. They are first-timers at Theatre Winter Haven. Ashley Lee completes the cast as Audrey.

The show will be directed by Larry Lesher. Camille McClellan is costume designer. Lighting design is by Tom Johnson. Stage manager is Marty Stanley.

Tickets are now on sale for this production. You can make reservations by calling 294-7469, stopping by the box office or by going online to www.theatrewinterhaven.com. Prices are $20 for adults and $19 for 17 and younger.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Great Arthur O'Connell Quote

Here is a great quote from character actor Arthur O'Connell.

"The stage is vital to an actor. On the stage, a performance is all yours. Nobody can edit or cut you out. Actors need the stage for the rejuvenation of their abilities and equipment."

Here are some great pics of Mr. O'Connell from ANATOMY OF A MURDER, FANTASTIC VOYAGE and THE GREAT RACE.



The Year in Review

It has been a wonderful year and a busy one as well. So many memorable projects. When looking back over the last year, I can't help but wonder where I got all the time. No regrets over the course of the year. I learned quite a bit. I learned especially that I'm still learning, as at the end of the day, actors are still students.

Theatre Projects included: ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, THE WOMAN OF AMAZONIA, OEDIPUSSY, AS YOU LIKE IT, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and finally A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. All of these productions were memorable for one reason or another. These projects offered countless challenges and memories that I wish cherish forever.

Film Projects included: HEART SHAPED BOX,CANDYLESS,FERRY TERMINAL,DESIGNING CONSEQUENCES,OVER COFFEE, ARGYLE, THE LITTLE MAGICIAN, THE EVANGELIST and FROSTED JUSTICE. Most of these projects have been completed and look pretty darn good. I am now awaiting the completion of OVER COFFEE and ARGYLE, which I know are going to be fantastic.

I even did one day of background work, on the film, THE BOUNTY and remembered why I disliked background work so much.

Many projects were completed and released this year, including OVERCROWDED, ARRANGEMENTS, THE RED WAGON and JACK CARSON. The results are a mixed bag, with OVERCROWDED being the highlight!

MICHAEL AND MICHAEL HAVE ISSUES premiered this year as well and I enjoyed my brief appearance (aka "The Nod") in the pilot episode.

The NORTH SHORE HEALTH SYSTEMS SHOOT in Long Island also proved to be a memorable project.

All in all...a very good year!

Now on to 2010 and new challenges and experiences.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One More Review of MIDSUMMER

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Theatre Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (2009)
By Michael Dietz

Who would have guessed that William Shakespeare and his oft produced fantasy/comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream would capture the spirit of the Christmas season? Well, capture it, it does!

Katherine M. Carter's production, running at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, set entirely in a dream, complete with colorful pajamas and magical music, is utterly delightful. It is as faithful a Dream as I've ever come across and is at the same time, by far, the most entertaining Dream I have ever seen.

The play is really a mash-up of three intersecting comedies. At its center is a love-scramble. Hermia (Angelica Duncan) and Lysander (Joe Mullen) want to be married, but Hermia's father, Egeus (Charles Baker) prefers Demetrius (James Parenti), who is adored by Helena (Katie Braden). Theseus (Brandon Hillen), the Duke of Athens, rules that Hermia must marry Demetrius or retire to a convent or face instant death.

So the two young lovers take flight. Their escape takes them through the woods, where they are pursued by Demetrius, who is, of course, hounded by Helena. Little do they know they've plunged into the middle of a domestic wrangle between Oberon (Randy Warsaw), King of the fairies, and his wife, Titania (Tiffany D. Turner).

Meanwhile, a group of rough-cut tradesmen have decided to put on a play at the wedding feast for the Duke. And off they go to rehearse in the same woods where the kids have fled and the fairies are squabbling. What ensues is an immortal hodge-podge of fairy dust, confused affections, transformations and eventual restoration of happy couples.

Carter's Dream sparkles with such luscious, sweet imagery that all one can do is sit back and wait for each magical moment to unfold and reveal the next. Her set is snow white and mostly bare, allowing for plenty of space for her ensemble to play. From Jeni Ahlfeld's adorable costumes to Jillian Marie Walker's enchanting sound design (which included the composition of a lovely dramatic score) and finally to the pleasant lighting design by Lisa Hufnagel, there is simply nothing to dislike about this production. It's as though Carter and her design team allowed their imaginations to run wild.

The ensemble is fantastic, with Randy Warsaw as a mischievous Oberon, Tiffany D. Turner, elegant as Titiana and Ahlfeld, romping all over the proceedings with cat-like tread and curiosity, as Puck. The smaller fairies are played, charmingly, by Sarah King and Trish Phelps.

The role of Bottom is taken by Chris Kateff, who bites into it heartily and seldom misses an opportunity to make his audience laugh at this dithering, good-natured fool. His fellow playmakers are just as well-cast: Miriam Mintz as unassuming Tom Snout, Timothy Williams as the cowering Snug (complete with tiny bear companion), Charlotte Layne Dunn as an energetic Robin Starveling, and especially Timothy J. Cox, outstanding as the teddy bear-like Peter Quince and Andrew Ash as Flute, the latter earning hoots from the audience for his hilarious turn as "Thisbe" in the misbegotten play-within-the-play that is one of Dream's many comic high points.

As the four mismated lovers, Angelica Duncan (Hermia), Joe Mullen (Lysander), Katie Braden (Helena), and James Parenti (Demetrius) are appealing and funny; Braden and Mullen, particularly, bring a sly contemporary flavor to their characters without compromising them, offering a neat counterpoint to the ethereal magic all around them.

Rounding out the cast are Brandon Hillen and Heidi Zenz, appealing and honest, as royals Theseus and Hippolyta, while Charles Baker is right on target as Helena's stern father Egeus.

All told, a lovely Dream and a lovely holiday entertainment as well.

Monday, December 21, 2009

MIDSUMMER to Return on January 1st

Yesterday was the final performance of MIDSUMMER before the Christmas holiday and it was spectacular.

Now, the cast and crew are off until a brush up rehearsal before the January 1st performance.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yesterdays' Shows

Both shows yesterday were pretty solid and we managed to get good audiences, even with the crazy weather.

Today may be a different story, but I have not received word as of yet if the show is going on or not.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday Night

A solid performance last night, with a lively crowd who seemed to enjoy themselves.

We have two performances today, so after last nights' show, I went home and got some much needed rest. I have also been battling a cold, so the rest helped that as well.

Back at the theatre in a few hours.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Last Nights' Performance of MIDSUMMER

Last nights' audience was our best. They enjoyed the show from the very beginning to the very end.

It was a strong performance overall, with everyone in the cast still giving their all, although I must say that the play within a play sequence came off like a Carol Burnett episode, like when Harvey Korman tried to keep from laughing at the antics of co-star Tin Conway. That is the best way to describe how that sequence went last night. People were trying their best not to break character. I flubbed a line in the middle of one of my speeches and learned that when you get the giggles and then try to speak Shakespeare at the same time, the giggles are always going to win.

It was glorious. Live theater at its best!

It's why I do this.

Back again tonight!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

YourNabe.Com Review of MIDSUMMER

Queens Players delight with madcap ‘Midsummer’

By Arlene McKanic
Thursday, December 17, 2009 11:13 AM EST

It seems that Katherine M. Carter, the director of the Queens Players’ adorable version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” remembered that the important word in the play’s title is “dream.”

Thus, she not only has a dreamy set draped in white linens and softly lit by Lisa Hufnagel, but has costume designer Jeni Ahlfeld dress the cast in pajamas and white ankle socks; Bottom and his men appear in scarlet onesies.

The playfulness is further enhanced by having Snug the Joiner (Timothy Williams) a very tall bloke, carry around a teddy bear. Snug even has a little matching mane made for Teddy when he plays the lion in Pyramus and Thisbe.

The morning is greeted by the songs of birds — kudos to sound designer Jillian Marie Walker. The Bard would have approved.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of Shakespeare’s dopier comedies. Though it has a couple of authoritarian male figures, namely Theseus, duke of Athens (Brandon Hillen), and Egeus, father of Hermia (Charles Baker), it has none of the discordance or “slut horror” of a work like “Much Ado About Nothing.” Keeping with the title, it’s 99 percent moonlight and fluff.

The plot is this, sort of: It’s close to the duke’s wedding to Hippolyta, played by the charming Heidi Zenz, but he’s beseeched by Egeus, whose diminutive daughter Hermia (Angelica Duncan) wants to marry Lysander (Joe Mullen), the man she loves, and not Demetrius (James Parenti), the man her father wants for her. The Duke warns Hermia that the penalty for such disobedience is death or being sent to a nunnery. In the meantime, Demetrius is being aggressively wooed — nowadays one might say stalked — by the lovestruck Helena (a wide-eyed Katie Braden), who he doesn’t care for in the least.

On another plain of existence, the fairy king Oberon (Randy Warsaw, in slinky purple silk and guyliner) and his queen, Titania (Tiffany D. Turner, proud and dignified till she wakes up in love with the transmogrified Bottom), aren’t getting along because he wants her to release her page to his service. She doesn’t want to.

Because of her stubbornness, Oberon sends his servant Puck (a Goth and impish Ahlfeld), to bewitch Titania with a love potion so she falls in love with the first ugly thing she sees upon awakening from her nap. Puck also mistakenly bewitches Lysander, because (s)he mistakes him for scornful Demetrius. And Bottom (an appropriately scenery-chewing Chris Kateff) and his men (Andrew Ash, Timothy J. Cox, Charlotte Layne Dunn, Miriam Mintz, and Williams) are putting on a play based on Pyramus and Thisbe, a more tragic tale of bad timing and misunderstanding, for the Duke’s wedding.

All this is an excuse for the cast to not only show their acting chops but gambol about the little whitewashed stage like babies. The rehearsals for the play-within-a-play are only matched in hilarity by the near-brawl between Hermia and Helena after both Lysander and Demetrius are bewitched into falling in love with the latter.

Duncan plays Hermia, who thinks she’s being dissed because she’s short, like a wet cat with the evening crazies. (“How low am I, thou painted maypole?” she screeches at Helena. “Speak! How low am I? I am not yet so low but that my nails can reach unto thine eyes!”)

Parenti and Mullen play the boys as wonderfully disdainful, pugnacious and lovesick. Also good are Titania’s servant fairies (Sarah King and Trish Phelps), who think nothing of waiting on a man with the head of jackass. Perhaps they think this is normal for mortals?

This most delightful and inventive “Midsummer” will be running through Jan. 3 (they skip Christmas) at the Secret Theatre. They call it the Secret Theatre because it’s a few blocks from the Citicorp building, and hidden behind a loading bay, but they’ll have a sandwich board outside on the street. It’s a summery joy, perfect for a winter’s evening.

If You Go

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

When: Dec. 16-19, Jan. 1-3 at 8 p.m., Dec. 19 and 20 at 3:30 p.m.

Cost: $15 general admission, $10 students

Where: The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd St., Long Island City

Contact: 718-392-0722

Web site:secrettheatre.com

MIDSUMMER Still Going Strong

MIDSUMMER came back last night and it's still going strong. The audiences have consistently enjoyed the show and last nights' crowd was no different.

Back again in a few hours.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CAFFIENE ADDICT Callback

The callback audition for CAFFIENE ADDICT this afternoon went okay, I thought.

I was given a lot to think about, as far as the character of Andrew is concerned, prior to reading and tried to give the director and playwright what they wanted. They seemed to be happy with my readings and complimented me on yesterday's work, but
I think they're concerned that I might come off a little too old or mature for the part. Andrew is suppossed to be between the ages of 28-32 and while I'm 33, I tend to come a little older. It's a blessing and a curse.

We'll see.

Callback Audition for CAFFIENE ADDICT At Noon Today

I will be going back in to explore the role of Andrew in CAFFIENE ADDICT a little further at noon today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MIDSUMMER Returns Tomorrow

MIDSUMMER returns tomorrow and I'm hoping for big houses for all of the performances this week.

We need to get butts in seats!

Todays' CAFFEINE ADDICT Audition

Todays' audition for that CAFFIENE ADDICT, the one act I mentioned a few days back went pretty well I thought. I read the sides twice and presented a monologue and thought I did pretty well with both.

We'll see what happens.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2nd Week Comes To A Close

After two weeks of performances, MIDSUMMER is in a pretty solid place, although it is a little disconcerting that our houses have been consistently small thus far.

Maybe it's because of the time of the year, the weather and or the location.

The show is listed everywhere...especially on sites like Facebook.

Director Katie Carter intends to send a huge email blasts. Now that we are critically acclaimed, hopefully that'll butts in the seats.

Tonights' performance was okay. Some of it felt little rushed. Nothing major. I just think the cast just needs a few days rest. Lord knows I could use some.

We have another review that is expected to be released this week from Arlene McKanic of YourNabe.com. Hopefully it'll be a good one!

One Act Audition On Tuesday

On Tuesday afternoon, I will be auditioning for CAFFEINE ADDICT, a one act play that will be part of the Manhattan Rep Theatre's Winterfest in February, on the 10th, 11th, and the 12th.

The play, written by Lucky Preksto (who attended and liked my work in MIDSUMMER), tells the tale of Andrew, an American, living in Lisbon with his girlfriend, Sophia, also American. He hates the city, feels trapped in his life and relationships there and is looking for an escape. An ex-girlfriend, Caitlin, arrives for a visit unexpectedly from New York, he thinks she may be his way out. They make an evening of it.

I really enjoyed the sides that I read, so I am intrigued about where the rest of the play goes.

We'll see what happens.

Possible SAND Rep Project Coming Up

Nothing is set in stone yet, but I may be getting involved in a workshop reading of a new work with SAND Rep (SPRING JUICE).

Stay tuned.

This Weekend

Shows continue to go very well and we're receiving all of these positive reviews. It's a good feeling, being in a winner!

Another Great Review from BlogCritics

Theater Review (NYC): A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Secret Theatre

Author: Joseph Arthur Clay — Published: Dec 12, 2009

Love is in the air, and on the earth lovers of both fairies and foolish mortals collide in the forest outside Athens, resulting in one midsummer night that none will soon forget. Throw in a bunch of amateur actors, including a ham named Bottom given to making an ass out of himself, and you may think it all a dream. But on The Secret Theatre's stage, it is a dream of uncommon reality that you are unlikely to sleep through.

The production, which opened last week in Long Island City, Queens, is truly magical — an extraordinary theatrical experience. Everything about this dream-inspired production, complete with the entire cast dressed in colorful pajamas, feels honest. It also feels deeply imagined, and unique, and alive thanks to solid direction from Katherine M. Carter and great performances from a number of sensationally gifted actors.

Midsummer is widely considered one of the Bard’s most lighthearted pieces, its pre-screwball comedy and romantic roundelays easily accessible to audiences. Along with Romeo & Juliet, Midsummer is probably the Shakespearean title most frequently performed in theatres all over the world.

Ms. Carter has succeeded in drawing us in to a world of mystery, subtlety, and wonder, with a completely white set that is playful and indeed dreamlike. The stage is mostly bare, save for two blocks and four pieces of fabric (representing columns) hanging from the ceiling. And although the forest is dark (thanks to some imaginative lighting by Lisa Hufnagel) it isn't sinister, and is made appealing with the addition of evocative music composed by Jillian Marie Walker.

Shakespeare brings us three worlds: the sophisticated court of Athens, wherein two sets of lovers, Hermia (Angelica Duncan) and Lysander (Joe Mulen), and Helena (Katie Braden) and Demetrius (James Parenti) are having their problems, augmented by the interference of a second world ensconced in the nearby forest: Oberon, King of the Fairies (Randy Warsaw), who for his part is having problems with his queen, Titania (Tiffany D. Turner). Oberon's aide Puck (Jeni Ahlfeld) assists his master in all sorts of peculiar deeds, usually designed to make mortals uncomfortable, such as placing an herb into the lovers' eyes to confuse their affections. Puck does likewise for Titania, who awakes to find herself in love with an ass, so metamorphosed by Bottom the weaver (Chris Kateff) with the aid of a fluffy head band.

Theseus, Duke of Athens (Brandon Hillen) will soon celebrate his nuptials to the passionate Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons (Heidi Zenz).

Then we are introduced to the third world, namely, the "rude mechanicals," workmen of the area — amateur actors who will put on a production of Pyramus and Thisbe to entertain the lords and ladies of the court. They are Bottom the Weaver (Chris Kateff), Peter Quince, a carpenter (Timothy J. Cox), Francis Flute, a bellows mender (Andrew Ash), tailor Robin Starveling (Charlotte Layne Dunn), Tom Snout, a tinker (Miriam Mintz), and Snug, a joiner (Timothy Williams).

It is in the setting forth separately and later intertwining the three worlds that makes for the fascination that A Midsummer Night's Dream has held for audiences since Elizabethan times.

Angelica Duncan is a fiercely strong Hermia – she has a beautiful voice for Shakespeare – and Katie Braden is a tender, shattered Helena; they’re the emotional center of this Midsummer. Joe Mullen, an intensely giving actor, makes a heartfelt Lysander, and when he and the equally giving James Parenti's Demetrius both fall victim to the same fairy spell, the men joyously play fools of the highest order.

Surrounding A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s romantic quartet are a number of sensationally gifted actors, the breadth of their talents proves downright intimidating. Randy Warsaw and Tiffany D, Turner are magnificently imperious as Oberon and Titania, while Jeni Ahlfeld is a vibrant, devious Puck.

The company of Players, led by Timothy J. Cox as a wonderfully realized Peter Quince, are a lively group of clowns that had me laughing all the way to the very end. Special mention must go to Chris Kateff who gave a superlative Bottom. At times reminiscent of a young Tom Hanks, he was entertaining from start to finish and deservedly indulgent as Pyramus in the play within the play, which was certainly a crowd pleaser. This was counterbalanced by Andrew Ash's screamingly funny Thisbe and by Miriam Mintz's vivid rendition of Wall.

A celebration of love, community and the power of theater, this is a Dream you don’t want to wake from.

A Midsummer Night's Dream runs at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City until January 3. For information on tickets, please visit The Secret Theatre's website.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another MIDSUMMER Review

Queens Midsummer no more yeilding but a dream

By David Rigano
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Secret Theatre is one of the best kept secrets in Queens. It took me nearly twenty minutes to find the place. Once you can deecipher betwee 44th Road, 44th Street, 44th Avenue and 44th Drive, you come to the arts building that houses The Secret Theatre (located on 23rd Street between 44th Road and 44th Avenue). But The Secret Theatre is not actually in said arts building, it's down the alley just right of the arts building. And there are two productions running concurrently, so make sure you go into the correct theatre.

However, it's all worth is for the production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream which is playing in the theatre closest to the street (go up a small set of stairs to the plateau that forms the entrance to the theatre) produced by The Queens Players and directed by Katherine M. Carter.

Ms. Carter's production was sleek without being cheap, chic without being gaudy and an all-around good time. Employing a design reminiscent of Peter Brooks' "white box" Midsummer, Carter takes us to a dreamlike no-man's land. So dreamlike, in fact, that all of her performers are dressed in pajamas! This white set (complete with flowing white columns) serves the multi-faceted purpose of indicating every setting of the play, with the help of the beautifully whimsical light design from Lisa Hufnagle.

The play concerns the forbidden love between Lysander, an Athenian youth, and Hermia, whose father Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius, beloved for Hermia's childhood friend Helena. Make sense so far? To escape the harsh Athenian law, Hermia and Lysander flee through the forest, pursued by Demetrius who is, in turn, pursued by Helena. Also in the forest are a motley crew of handymen-turned-actors, lead by Peter Quince, rehearsing a play of Pyramus and Thisbe. Got that? All of these mortals find themselves entangled in the marital feud of Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies. And, in the morning, Theseus (of the Minotaur myth) will wed Hippolyta (Queen of the Amazons, from later on in the same myth). Follow?

In the central roles of the lovers, James Parenti and Katie Braden (as Demetrius and Helena) provide the more slapstick and sex-driven humor to the more pastoral and domestic humor of Joe Mullen and Angelica Duncan (as Lysander and Hermia). This does not mean, however, that the slapstick is not provided by all. Mullen must, at one point, catch Duncan as she propells herself horizontally across the stage toward a cowerring Braden.

Next up are the mechanicals, a ragged bunch of actor-wannabes, provide a far less romantic brand of comedy than the lovers. Lead by Timothy J. Cox as Peter Quince, whose power is often usurped by the dramatic Nick Bottom, played by Chris Kateff, this is about the sorriest band of crude actors with the biggest hearts anyone could ask for. The performance of Pyramus and Thisbe in the last scene of the play--always a highlight of any production--is spot on campy, ridiculous and completely honest.

Finally, the fairies. Mischevous creatures who take joy in screwing with mortals. The first we meet is Jeni Ahfield, deliciously malicious in the role of Robin Goodfellow, better known as Puck, quickly followed by the imposing Randy Warshaw as Oberon and the devestatingly elegant Tiffany Denise Turner as his Queen Titania. Rounding out the fairies are the delightful Trish Phelps and Sarah King (who provides beautiful ukelele music throughout her scenes with her queen).

The production is whimsical and farcical, but not bagatelle. In its seriousness, in its humor, in its honesty, it is a delight from beginning to end.

A Midsummer Night's Dream runs at The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd Street, LIC through January 3rd. Tickets can be purchased through OvationTix.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Greg Cicchino on MIDSUMMER

AS YOU LIKE IT director Greg Cicchino was kind enough to post his thoughts on MIDSUMMER on his blog and I wished to share them with you.

I then had the pleasure of seeing Katherine Carter’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the smaller space. It was very smart and quick. They cut it down to fewer than two hours, so it was over before you knew it. Her concept was that it was in fact, all a dream, so everyone was in colorful pajamas on a stark white space, which made for a very striking contrast. There was also some great text work, which is of course an important point for me as well. Congratulations cast.

Thanks for the kind words Greg! Greg is keeping busy with God Bless You Mr. Scrooge!, currently in performance and rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet.

For more info on Greg, please visit his website at http://www.gregcicchino.com/

MIDSUMMER and TITUS

The show continues to go very well. The entire cast is having a lot of fun.

I would like to send my congrats to the cast of TITUS ANDRONICUS, which opened at the Secret Theatre last night. The cast includes my good friends Thom Brown III, Meg Mark and Sean MacBride Murray.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Last Nights' Performance

It was great to return to MIDSUMMER last night. The show went pretty well, I thought and the crowd was bad for a Wednesday night, about 10- 15 people and they seemed to enjoy themselves.

Back again in a few hours.

Queens Chronicle Review of MIDSUMMER

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ delightfully playful

by Willow Belden, qboro Editor 12/10/2009

With pajama-clad actors, a cloud-like white set and whimsical sound cues, the Queens Players’ production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” definitely emphasizes the night and the dream aspects of the play.

Their rendition of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, running at the Secret Theatre through Jan. 3, is crisp, playful and wonderfully imaginative. The acting is sharp, the punch lines are delivered perfectly and the production moves along at an energetic clip.

You’re sure to leave the theater smiling after taking in the tale of frustrated lovers, mischievous fairies, amateur actors and love potions wrongly administered.

Each set of characters — the Athenian elite, the forest fairies and the lay people rehearsing a production of “Pyramus and Thisbe” — wears a distinct style of pajamas, making it easy to distinguish the groups and adding delightful comic effect.

The four principal lovers — Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius — are clad in bright pink and green garb. Oberon and Titania, the fairy king and queen, along with their entourage, shimmer in sleek satin.

The prize for best fashion goes to the troupe of half-witted laypeople, though, or “mechanicals” as they’re called. The amateur thespians sport bright red “onesies” throughout the show, the kind of pajamas you wore when you were 2. Brilliant costume choice.

The mechanicals also put forward some of the best acting in the production. Chris Kateff steals the show as Bottom, the verbose, self-important weaver who plays Pyramus in the play within the play and famously ends up with a donkey’s head. Kateff’s transformation to asshood is a delight to watch.

Andrew Ash, who chews innocently on the sleeve of his onesie as Flute the bellows mender, and Timothy Williams, who gingerly steps into the role of the lion while glumly clutching a teddy bear, are also particularly entertaining.

Three of the four Athenian lovers are aptly portrayed. Angelica Duncan is an adorably pixie-like Hermia. Katie Braden captures the desperately jealous Helena with fitting intensity. And Joe Mullen is a charmer as Lysander.

James Parenti is the weak link, beaming through scenes in which a look of outrage would be more fitting.

Jeni Ahlfeld deserves mention for her portrayal of Puck, the fairy messenger, a role she plays with nymph-like agility and appropriately devious grins.

If the acting and costumes aren’t enough to draw you to “Midsummer,” know that the production also includes a ukulele and armor made of a cardboard apple crate.

All told, it’s an excellent feel-good production and the perfect way to warm up a cold winter evening.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
When: Select dates through Jan. 3.
Where: The Secret Theatre 44-02 23rd St., L.I.C.
(718) 392-0304
Ticket price: $15

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

MIDSUMMER Returns

MIDSUMMER performances return in just a few hours.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Opening Weekend A Success!

Tonights' performance was, in my opinion, the best of our run thus far. The audience was great and we were at the top of our game.

Overall, I think the cast and crew have a lot to be proud of. The show has come together nicely, with people seeming to enjoy themselves. The one review that we received was also a nice boost. I think we have 2 or 3 more reviews forthcoming, so hopefully they will be positive as well.

Now, a few days off to rest and relax.

Back again on Wednesday.

BlogCritics Review of MIDSUMMER

Theater Review (NYC): A Midsummer Night's Dream

Author: Hannah Marie Ellison — Published: Dec 06, 2009

It’s easy to throw A Midsummer Night’s Dream out of balance – there are the pairs of moon-crossed lovers, then there are those rude mechanicals. Often the lovers are in such perfect sync with their out-of-whack, juice-of-the-flower induced crisscrossing that Nick Bottom and his pals seem superfluous. Or contrariwise, the preparation and performance of “The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe” can be so delightful that the romantic mix-ups pale in comparison. So it is a pleasure to report that Katherine M. Carter's dream inspired production, which opened Thursday night at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, is an adorable delight all around, thanks to a brisk pace, enchanting music and solid performances from an enthusiastic cast.

For those who don't know, Midsummer is Shakespeare's magical classic comedy that involves two pairs of lovers who, after facing a romantic dilemma, flee into the woods only to become the playthings of a group of fairies who are having their own romantic challenges. There is a royal wedding with entertainment by an inept troupe of would-be actors who also fall prey to the fairy antics while rehearsing in the woods. Much confusion ensues with magic and mistaken identities before the air is cleared and things wrap up with a hilarious play within a play (which in this production is quite hilarious indeed).

Unlike some of the Bard's plays, Midsummer's setting is pretty malleable. I have seen productions set in everything from medieval castles to unknown planets without compromising the text. From the moment I walked into the Secret Theatre for last nights' performance, I was instantly swept away in director Carter's world. She has chosen to set her entire piece in a dream, with a stage that is white as snow and bare, save for two blocks and a few pieces of fabric hanging from the ceiling, representing columns. Her company of actors are dressed in colorful and very comfortable looking pajamas (I was a little jealous). It’s welcoming, relaxing and yes, dreamlike. The original music, composed by sound designer Jillian Marie Walker, adds to the magic and wonder and the lighting design by Lisa Hufnagel perfectly captures the mood of the piece.

It is a very playful environment that Carter has created and she has directed her actors to play and boy, do they ever. Carter has gathered together a fantastic ensemble cast. Both Tiffany D. Turner and Randy Warsaw excel as the fairy royals Titania and Oberon, as does the vivacious Jeni Ahlfeld (who also designed the lovely pajama costumes) as Oberon's servant Puck. The four lovers in this play can often be generic and hard to tell apart, but this Hermia (Angelica Duncan), Demetrius (James Parenti), Lysander (Joe Mullen) and Helena (Katie Braden) all have great moments with strong individual personalities and they are also very, very funny as well.

Then there are the mechanicals. As led by Chris Kateff’s gloriously ridiculous Bottom, they are anything but common folk. All of them – Timothy J. Cox as the hapless director Peter Quince, Andrew Ash as Flute, Charlotte Layne Dunn as Starveling, Miriam Mintz as Snout and Timothy Williams as Snug (complete with tiny bear companion) – under- and over-play beautifully, making their appearances seem too few, and too brief. Rounding out the ensemble is Charles Baker, who does fine work as Hermia's stubborn father, Egeus, as do Brandon Hillen and Heidi Zenz as Theseus and Hippolyta respectively. Sarah King (who sings wonderfully in the production, like a young Joni Mitchell) and Trish Phelps also provide able support in their brief roles as Peaseblossom and Cobweb.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at The Secret Theatre until January 3rd. For information on tickets, please visit. www.secrettheatre.com

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Queens Players

After just a few months of involvement, today I decided that it was time to step down as a member of The Queens Players, which is the resident acting company at The Secret Theatre.

To me, I feel it's time to move on to some new adventures.

I would like to acknowledge and thank both Greg Cicchino for the chance to be a part of AS YOU LIKE IT and to Katie Carter for the chance to be a part of MIDSUMMER.

Speaking of MIDSUMMER...tonight's performance was pretty good. Again the audience was a relatively quiet, but appreciative crowd.

Back again tomorrow.

Last Nights' Show

Last nights' show went very well and although the house was a little smaller (10-15 people), they were nevertheless an appreciative crowd who enjoyed themselves, especially with the "play within a play" sequence.

Back again in a few hours.

Friday, December 04, 2009

TITUS Audition

My audition for TITUS ended about an hour ago. I thought it went pretty well. While I don't think I am ideal for the role of Chiron, the evil son of Tamora, it still felt good to read and at least I had a chance to show director John Basil what I could do with the text.

If cast, I should hear something within the next week or so.

TITUS Audition This Afternoon

Today is the day of my audition for TITUS ANDRONICUS at the American Globe Theatre.

I have done all of my text work and have gone over both scenes a number of times, so I feel as ready as one can.

We'll see what happens.

Opening Night A Success!

As expected, opening night was a rousing success. The audience laughed and enjoyed themselves immensely. I couldn't be happier with the turnout.

I would like to thank the cast of TITUS ANDRONICUS (which opens next week at The Secret Theatre) for showing their support by attending the performance.

Back again tonight.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

MIDSUMMER Opens In A Few Hours

Tonight is the big night! Hoping for a full house.

We'll see what happens.

Audition For Crime Drama IN THE COMPANY OF MISFITS On Saturday

I just snagged an audition for the role of Fred, a pessimistic misanthrope who has grown tired of his life working as a hit-man for the local crime lord in the crime noir/dark comedy IN THE COMPANY OF MISFITS, to be directed by Morgan Eschmann.

FROSTED JUSTICE Update

I received this email from FROSTED JUSTICE director Michael Deaerborn

Hey Timothy,

Just wanted to thank you again for you participation in my film. I got the rough cut put together tonight and it looks great. Your performance definitely adds a lot to the piece. Hopefully I can have the short digitized, on a DVD and in the mail to you in the next few weeks. Once I get a DVD copy for you, I'll shoot you an email asking where I should send it.

Michael Dearborn

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Final Dress...

...just ended about an hour ago and went very well. We even had a few people in the audience, who laughed a lot and overall seemed to enjoy themselves...so that tells me that we have a winner on our hands here.

Tomorrow is the big opening night.

Can't wait.

MIDSUMMER Final Dress Tonight

Tonight is our final dress rehearsal for MIDSUMMER. Hard to believe that it's just about that time for another opening.

Last night's run felt a little sloppy, but no worries...we get to do it again in just a few houirs.

I think we have reached the point where we need an audience to react. When we hear those first laughs tomorrow night...and they will come early...we will all be at ease.

More production photos were taken last night as well, so I'm sure we'll be receiving those very soon.

Opening night tommorrow. Can't wait!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Last Night

Last nights' first dress rehearsal/run went very well, I thought. Everything looks good as far as the set and the performancews of my colleagues. The sound and lights are running very smoothly as well. The music used in the production, provided by sound designer Jillian Marie Walker's sister, is extraordinary. It perfectly sets the mood for the entire show.

As far as my own scenes with the mechanicals, I thought they poppped with a lot of energy, although at times a little too much energy vocally, but that's very easy to pull back.

Overall, a fine run of the show, although we did add five minutes onto the first act, which is not good, but also very easy to fix.

Back again tonight.