Tuesday, November 29, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Eleven

We knocked a few minutes off of last evenings’ run, which shows that we, the cast and the production as a whole, are going in the right direction.

Now, we have a few days off, as both director Larry Lesher and actor Chris Kateff will be out of town.

Back on Saturday night, for hopefully 2 runs of the show. We’ll have 2 more runs of the show on Sunday before we move into the Studio Theatre on Theatre Row for the start of tech.

Monday, November 28, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Ten

We are drawing nearer to our December 8th opening and excitement with the show continues to brew.

The cast reconnected last evening to run the entire show and it’s really taking shape with everyone continuing to relish the characters they are playing. I’m certainly having a good time. The show is so much fun to perform in and to watch that I can’t wait to get it in front of an audience.

We’re back to run the show again tonight and then we are off until December 3rd.

Here is a link to the website for the show, designed by a friend and colleague of Todd Michael’s: http://www.gracyeproductions.org/

Friday, November 25, 2011

GREG'S GUARDIAN ANGEL Reading Set For The Morning of December 11th

On the morning of Sunday, December 11th, I will be heading to NJ to participate in a reading of the comedy short GREG'S GUARDIAN ANGEL for All Things Random and Phalanx Film & Video. I do have a performance of THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS that afternoon at 3PM, but the reading shouldn't go too long.

As previously mentioned, Greg Vorob and Elmer Santos will star as Greg and his guardian angel respectively, while I will be playing Greg's boss in his office job who pops up briefly.

Film Threat Review of GUNDERSON'S

GUNDERSON’S

****
Year Released: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 13 minutes
Directed by Matt Porter

Written by Max Azulay, Matt Porter, Phil Primason, Mallory Westfall

Starring Max Azulay, Dan Azulay and Timothy J. Cox

Review By Mark Bell

Max (Max Azulay) has recently been diagnosed with Gunderson’s, a new STD that afflicts the genitals and causes the occasional twitch. Most don’t take to a sexually-transmitted disease diagnosis happily, and Max is no different. Well, maybe a little different; he’s a middle school health teacher.

Gunderson’s is supposedly a small storyline from a different project, and despite it definitely lining up with that feel, like you’ve been dropped right in the middle of a much bigger narrative, it works. It works because the film is really funny, and when you go the absurdist humor route and pull it off, you can forgive an awful lot. Make me laugh, and it doesn’t necessarily need to make sense anymore. Plus, and I’ve said this before, if you establish that the rules of the universe onscreen are warped, you can do what you want as long as you respect and work within that warped framework.

And I’ll admit: I love gibberish in totally inappropriate contexts. Watching a middle school health teacher go off in front of his class, treating them as if they’re older than where his maturity stalled, gets a cheap giggle or three out of me. Expand and elevate that foundation with well-written and delivered comedy, and you’ve got me on your side.

If this is really a small bit of a much bigger film, than I want to see the bigger film already. Maybe that’s asking to be disappointed (maybe this is the best bits), but I like what I’ve seen so far, and I want to see more!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Nine

We ran the show last evening again, but without actor Chris Kateff, who is traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Personally speaking, I feel better with each run, but there’s always room for growth and improvement.

After the holidays, we’ll be running the show several times. We’re pretty lucky in that we’ll have 4-5 rehearsals in the Studio Theatre performance space before opening, so I'm not worried.

Just a few weeks until opening. Very exciting!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Inspiration From James Cagney

I watched the classic film ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES last evening, as a means of trying to find inspiration for my role as death row inmate Moose Kowalski in THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS.

I hadn’t been clicking in the role…I felt something was missing and then I started to watch the great James Cagney last evening and I received all the inspiration I need.

One of the greatest actors of all time, Cagney was so tough (even when he was down, out and defeated). If you crossed James Cagney is a James Cagney picture, chances were that you weren’t going to make it out alive. He always brought his experiences of growing up on the streets of New York to every role he played and he never lost that toughness. Watch any of his performances and you’ll see an expert in the art of acting.

Here’s two great quotes on acting from Mr. Cagney

There's not much to say about acting but this. Never settle back on your heels. Never relax. If you relax, the audience relaxes. And always mean everything you say.

All I try to do is to realise the man I'm playing fully, then put as much into my acting as I know how. To do it, I draw upon all that I've ever known, heard, seen or remember.


Back with rehearsal tonight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Eight

Last evenings’ rehearsal was a short one for me, since actor Chris Kateff was away at an event and most of my scenes are with him.

We did run through the second half of the play and like the first half, is really starting to take shape.

Things with Eddie Knight continue to progress. I really enjoy all the characters that playwright Todd Michael has crafted and I’m having a good time with Eddie Knight. He’s not as broad (comic wise) as some of the other characters in the play, but hopefully the subtlety that I am bringing to the role earns me some laughs.

Ziggy and Moose Kowalski are also fun characters to play. These are pure supporting roles...they come on, do their thing and then they're gone.

Back again Wednesday night.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Possible Reading of GREG'S GUARDIAN ANGEL On December 11th

It's not set in stone yet, but the hope is that the cast of GREG'S GUARDIAN ANGEL will meet on the morning of December 11th to meet and read the script.

More to come on this soon.

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Seven

We did a stumble through of the entire show last night and taking into account that we stopped a few times, we still managed to run the show in one hour and twenty eight minutes, which will obviously go down the more we run it.

It was nice to watch scenes come alive. If there’s one thing about this show, it pops with a lot of energy.

Back again tonight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Six

Last night, we worked every scene in the play…ran it two to three times and with each run, it got better and better. The show continues to take shape and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Off till Sunday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Five

Rehearsals for THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS continue to go very well.

Last night, we concentrated on all of the physical scenes of the play. We ran them over and over again to cement them in our minds as comedy is all in the details and in being specific, so repetition is important.

In other news, I am happy to report that tickets for the show are already listed and on sale on a number of sites, including Theatremania, TheatreOnline, nytheatre.com and TDF. Org, where tickets are currently on sale for the discounted price of $9. Thanks to our press agent Raquel Perazzo for all of her hard work thus far.

Back with rehearsal tonight to stumble through and clean up any trouble spots.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GREG'S GUARDIAN ANGEL Update

Director Dan Kowalski is in the process of setting up a table read of GREG'S GUARDIAN ANGEL for next month.

Production on the film will likely take place at the start of 2012.

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Four

Four rehearsals in and the show is already coming together, looking pretty solid. I feel that I am going in the right direction with all three roles in the production so far, but of course, there's always plenty of more work to do.

Back again tonight.

Monday, November 14, 2011

AUTOPHOBIA Update

I heard from director Chai Dingari regarding the status of the short film AUTOPHOBIA and it's coming together nicely.

The deadline for submitting to the Tribeca Film Festival is December 2nd so Chai has to
have a cut by then.

He should be nearing completion this week and can hopefully send me something next weekend.

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Three

We finished blocking the play last evening and followed that up by reviewing the play from the beginning. The review went very well, as we managed to revisit the first three scenes of the play. We shall continue our review this evening.

After one full week of rehearsals, already the mood is quite positive, with everyone bringing a lot to the table. There's also a lot of laughter in the rehearsals, which always makes for a harmonious process.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lines...Lines...Lines

Lines for THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS are coming along nicely. It'll be nice to return to tomorrow's rehearsal with 4 scenes memorized. Then I can start having fun with all three of my roles.

Rogue Cinema Review of ARGYLE

Film Reviews: Argyle (2011) - By Brian Morton

Posted on Thursday, November 03, 2011

Small towns are a very different kind of a place. Everyone knows everyone, your business is always public business and when there’s a scandal the town all bands together to keep it a secret. Well, in the new movie from Dial Tone Pictures, Argyle, a small town fights to keep itself from becoming known as the home of an infamous serial killer….but that’s not the whole story here.

Charlie is a documentarian, he’s just finished a doc that he’s particularly proud of and is excited to hear that a famous doc maker is interested in his work. When this controversial filmmaker calls Charlie, he asks Charlie to go back to his hometown of Argyle and film a portion of a movie about serial killers. It seems that a notorious serial killer was born and bred in Argyle and its Charlie’s job to go back and make a short film about the origins of this monster. The problem is that no one in Charlie’s hometown remembers him…except his parents and his best friend, the town is rallied against him making any movies about this town embarrassment and, finally, he’s been saddled with a boom operator who not only doesn’t want to be there, but is actively agitating the townspeople!

Argyle is the first in a proposed mini-series, and I really hope to see more of this. The acting is very good, the story is good and I really liked the characters, Charlie is very home-spun and down to earth and his friend, Max, has the potential to be a very, very funny character! I’d love to see more from small town Argyle. I’m giving Argyle 3 ½ out of 4 cigars, and it lost that ½ a cigar for being too short for my tastes…I really wanted a bit more. You can visit small town Argyle for yourself by heading over to http://www.dialtonepictures.com.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Screen Shots From THE GOOD MAN

Here are a pair of screen shots of me as the evil Warren Conrad in Mike Sgroi's THE GOOD MAN.


THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Lines

I have already started work on lines for THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS and am happy to report that I have three scenes down and three more to go.

Back with rehearsal on Sunday night.

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Postcard


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - Two

Blocking of the entire play continued last night and now, we have only the last scene of the play (8 pages) left to block, so we are moving along at a very nice pace so far and director Larry Lesher has stated that he loves the energy that everyone is bringing to the project.

Time to start memorizing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS - One

Last nights' rehearsal was a lot of fun and we accomplished quite a bit. We managed to block 25 out of the 58 pages in the script, so it is certain that the entire play will be blocked at the end of this week.

Larry is already shaping comic bits and the entire cast is game. Lots of talented people here. It's fun to watch the work already taking place.

Back again tonight!

Monday, November 07, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS Starts Tonight

I will be heading to the Ripley Grier Studios at 520 8th Avenue this evening for my first rehearsal for THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS, where we will jump right into the blocking of the show.

Can't wait!

NY NUTS 6 Closes

The NY NUTS 6 play festival came to a close last evening and it was bittersweet, as I really enjoyed performing in BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, although I am, admittedly, a little sore from all the physical comedy that the play required. Totally worth it.

I hope for the chance to work with both Bara Swain and Lisa Peart again…as soon as possible. Both were wonderful to work with.

Pictures from the production coming soon.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

NY NUTS 6 - Performances

The NY NUTS 6 festival continues to be a lot of fun, with people reacting strongly and positively for BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. Last nights' show felt very strong, with the audience laughing pretty much all the way through.

Back again tonight!

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS Script

I read the script to THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS in one sitting and loved it. I'm going to have a ball playing death row inmate Moose Kowalski (great name), burlesque stage manager Ziggy and movie quoting cop Eddie Knight.

I get to jump right into these roles on Monday.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bookstove.com Review of The ''NY NUTS 6'' Play Festival

Theatre Review: Aching Dog Theatre Company’s "NY Nuts 6”

Published by Peter Sanderson, November 4, 2011

The latest festival of short plays from the Aching Dogs Theatre Company was an evening of hits and misses.

The Aching Dogs Theatre Company premiered their festival of short plays, titled NY Nuts 6 last evening at the Hudson Guild Theatre (441 West 26th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenue).

The festival, which takes place for this weekend only, consists of 8 original short pieces, between 10 and 20 minutes in length and is sponsored by the New York Hotel Trades Council AFL-CIO.

The plays presented were:

Bling Bling! by Alicia Frank

Rooftop by Tammy McNeill

Housekeeping by James Armstrong

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt by Bara Swain


Crisis by Pamela Scott

Divine Intervention by Don Creedon

The Rehearsal by Roberto Mugnai

Jerry Springer Is God by Matt Pelfrey


Short plays are hit or miss with me. I think of short play hit makers like David Ives and Rich Orloff, who seem to make it look so easy and I have wondered for years how they do it. I applaud all playwrights who venture into this challenging area of theatre, but some are much better at it than others. It’s hard enough for a writer to construct an interesting story for a full length play, but for one that’s supposed to be only 10 minutes? What I’ve learned from watching and reading the David Ives’, the Chris Durangs’ and the Rich Orloff’s of the world is that for these kinds of pieces, you need to hook the audience right away. If it’s a comedy, get the laughs out there fast and keep them coming. Good acting and direction also helps. You need to engage and in the case of last evenings’ presentation from the Aching Dogs Theatre Company, some were more successful than others. Overall it was a night of hits and misses.

Bling Bling! by Alicia Frank was the first play of the evening and sadly, I was underwhelmed. For the life of me, I can’t even tell you what the play was about because it was so stunningly incomprehensible that I thought it was nothing more than a play about 3 women who get together to sing and dance. Actresses Nina Rochelle, Brenda Crawley and Elizabeth Dilley invested their roles with considerable energy and gusto, which was appreciated, but ultimately Ms. Frank’s play didn’t engage me, as I was uncertain as to what her characters intentions were. What were they fighting for? What was the story? Director Debra Ann Register did what she could to keep things moving along, but overall, I walked away from Bling Bling! more confused than anything else.

Rooftop by Tammy McNeill was more to my liking. Here was a two-hander about two males, one of them, Tom (Dan Sickles) is about to end his life because he feels that his life is in shambles, but before he decides to end it all, he gets a heavy dose of tough love from his friend Brian (Collin Leydon) who tries to remind him of how good he has it. Ms. McNeill’s play was sharply written with plenty of humor and heart, nicely directed by Tim Ruddy and superbly acted by both Dan Sickles and Collin Leydon.

James Armstrong’s Housekeeping had a lot of potential and did feature a spirited comic performance from Nicole Marie Stultz, as a woman who takes the word ‘’housekeeping’’ to another level when she decides to literally take over a hotel room occupied by Sultan Mahmud’s harried businessman. Sadly, what hampered the production was a very thick accent. Mr. Mahmud’s very thick accent to be exact. Now, Mr. Mahmud is not a bad actor, but his accent was so thick that I could only understand about 20 percent of what he said therefore I couldn’t really follow what was going on in the play. The casting of Mr. Mahmud in a leading role in a comedy proved deadly for the production and I was heartbroken, as obviously, Mr. Mahmud is not to be blamed, but director Sandra Cummings does deserve all of the blame as she did one heck of a disservice to playwright Mr. Armstrong, Ms. Shultz and especially to Mr. Mahmud.

Bara Swain’s quirky, but endearing Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, starred Lisa Peart and Timothy J. Cox, as a soon to be married couple spending the night before their wedding in a small hotel room in Chinatown. Peart’s Olivia is having wedding jitters, but have you ever seen a bride-to-be so jittery that she morphs into the cast of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit? Her fiancĂ© Lloyd (Cox) probably hasn’t, but he loves Olivia no matter what, so with the will and determination of a hostage negotiator, Lloyd tries to bring her back to reality with love and with care. It was a charming piece, thanks largely to the adorable pair of Peart and Cox, who elevated the material with their winning and energetic performances.

In Crisis by Pamela Scott, a father (Eliud Kauffman) has his hands full one afternoon dealing with his ex-wife (Darcy Reed), while on the verge of becoming a Dad again with his current fiancĂ©e (Michelle Ebner) who wants the first marriage to be annulled. The daughter, Jennifer (Bridget Rooney) is stuck in the middle, uncertain where she fits in all of this and who she is going to be living with when the dust settles. Obviously, there’s a lot of tension between these characters, but Ms. Scott’s play soared because of its humor and always having its heart in the right place. The production received a boost from director Susan Pilar, and from her cast, all of whom did very nice work, especially Bridget Rooney who sparkled as Jennifer.

Divine Intervention by Don Creedon is about Grainne (Diana Craig) who has been married five times, who just hasn’t met the right guy I guess, so for the first time in 31 years, she visits her local priest, Father Divine (Jeffrey Mitchell) with some shocking admissions. While Mr. Creedon’s play was perceptive and witty and while Jeffrey Mitchell had nice moments as Father Divine, overall the production plodded along with no real energy or enthusiasm, largely due to ponderous direction, specifically a very slow pace, from director Walter Michael DeForest.

The Rehearsal by Roberto Mugnai suffered the same problem as Housekeeping. Here was another case of a thick accent in a comedy that proved deadly for the production. Sadly, the accent, which belonged to playwright / actor Roberto Mugnai was one of the many problems with the production. For example, the casting of playwright / elder actor Mugnai opposite the young Michelle Ebner, who are supposed to be getting married might have worked if the play addressed the fact that the woman is marrying a much older man. But it doesn’t, so it looked more than a little awkward. Regarding the play itself, it dealt with Mugnai and Ebner as Marvin and Valarie, who show up at their church for their wedding rehearsal, but their priest (Sana Hem Keith) is running late and while waiting, the couple begins to bicker. The bickering escalates into all out war, bringing demise to their engagement and thank God, because this was one unpleasant couple. In fact, Mr. Mugnai’s entire play was so unpleasant and quite mean, with characters that were downright grating on the nerves that frankly, I couldn’t wait for the play to be over. There was a running (unfunny) gag of both parties constantly cussing in the church, causing other parishioners to shush them. It was a cheap attempt at laughs. I wanted to shush them as well, because trust me, it was not funny.

The final show of the evening, Jerry Springer Is God by Matt Pelfrey was about a group of twenty-somethings who, at the urging of Tex (Vance Clemente) decide to stage a fight in the hopes of getting picked to be guests on The Jerry Springer Show. Unfortunately, Tex’s friends don’t share his enthusiasm and abandon the idea, but when RC (Greg Prosser) learns that Jim (Oz Agu) has been sleeping with his girlfriend, Tex has everything he needs and of course, a big fight ensues with everyone engaging in Springer-style antics. A likable cast has a lot of fun with the material handed to them by Mr. Pelfrey. You would that think that the whole Jerry Springer phenomenon is too 1999, but it’s still quite topical and very amusing.

Like I said before, I applaud all playwrights who venture into this challenging area of theatre, but to reiterate, some are much better at it than others.

The NY Nuts 6 festival plays its final performance this Sunday.

For information on the Aching Dogs Theatre Company, please visit www.nyhtc.org/secured.php?page=aching_dogs

Opening Night A Success!

Last evenings' opening night was a rousing success for all of the shows in the ''NY NUTS 6'' festival. We played to a large house, which gave each show a warm reception.
I thought BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT went very well and am thrilled that people enjoyed it.

I get to do it all over again tonight!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS Cast List and Other Info

Director Larry Lesher plans to get a script in my hands today, which I am looking forward to. According to Larry, the reading on Tuesday night went very well. Looking forward to joining the madness.

Here is the cast list for THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS

Courtney Cook (Torchy Farrell / Bubbles Flamour / Heloise Fralick)
Timothy J. Cox (Moose Kowalski / Ziggy / Eddie Knight)
Nancy Kellogg Gray (Sister Mary Joseph)
Matt Harris (Mickey Loomis)
Brian Hopson (Warden / Willard / Father McLaughlin / Joe Loomis)
Chris Kateff (Father Patrick O'Day)
Lawrence Lesher (Director)
Jessica Luck (Veda Munson)
Todd Michael (Dixie La Hiff aka Phyllis Munson / playwright)
David Zwiers (Sister Mary Bernadette / costumer)

Tuesdays' Tech and Last Night's Final Dress

The last two nights have been spent in the Hudson Guild Theatre space. It’s been a little chaotic for the festival, as getting things like scene changes to flow seamlessly takes time and practice.

Speaking only for BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, I feel that Lisa and I have adjusted to the space and continue to have the same fun with the play and our roles that we had in the rehearsal rooms in the previous weeks. People seem to be enjoying the show as Lisa and I have received numerous comments and compliments of the work from actors and directors in the other shows.

Here’s some great news! Last night, Bara Swain informed Lisa and I that the play is going to be published in the ‘’Best Short Plays 2012 addition’’ and that our names are going to be listed as the original cast. It was another nice birthday gift (I had many yesterday).

Tonight is the official opening. It’s always exciting to have another opening. I know it go very well.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Tech Rehearsal For NY NUTS 6 Tonight

Last evenings’ final rehearsal of BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT with writer / director Bara Swain went very well. We ran the show two times…even had an audience member for the second run…an actor from one of the other shows in the festival…and then we called it a night. Thankfully, the audience member laughed…so that’s a good sign. Actress Lisa Peart and I feel very good about the show and are excited that tech week is here.

Tonight will be our first time in the Hudson Guild space, which is exciting. It’s a bigger space then we have been working with so Lisa and I plan to get on the stage right away this evening and make any necessary adjustments. I’m not that worried.

Tomorrow is the final dress rehearsal, which will be open to the public…so it’ll be nice to have people in the audience before the official opening of the festival on Thursday.

THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS To Begin Rehearsals This Week

The cast and director Larry Lesher are set to meet for a readthrough of THE ASPHALT CHRISTMAS this evening, but I will be unable to attend due to the tech rehearsal for NY Nuts 6.

According to Larry, the script is finished and will be sent out to the cast today, so at least I will have a chance to read the script.