Interview with a Clown

This week has revealed two very exciting occasions for both local and national theater:

Firstly, on the national scale, James Corden, the original Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors on the London and Broadway stages, has been announced to host this year’s 70th annual Tony Awards in June. Yay!

Secondly, our own One Man, Two Guvnors, enters its closing weekend after a successful run on the G.K. Hardt Stage.

These coinciding tidbits of news are both an occasion for celebration and reflection.

First, let’s reflect. The London and Broadway versions of One Man, Two Guvnors brought immediate popularity. The Guardian gave it 5 stars and heralded as “One of the funniest productions in the National’s history.”

Our own production, the North Bay premiere of One Man, Two Guvnors also received rave reviews locally and from the entire bay area theater circle.

David Templeton of the North Bay Bohemian called our production, “the funniest play the company has presented since its black box staging of the similarly over-the-top The 39 Steps. Featuring a truly masterful performance by 6th Street’s Artistic Director Craig Miller.”

6th Street’s One Man, Two Guvnors has also been listed as a Theatre Bay Area “Recommended Production” as well as a “Must Go See” Production by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Buzz-Wham!

This is quite an accomplishment for such a challenging show!

As artistic director and our very own Francis Henshall, Craig Miller recently reiterated to me, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard!” This is putting it lightly. One Man, Two Guvnors proved to be a monster of a show for the playhouse.

Corden himself has attested to one of the challenges that comes with this type of comedy. When asked if there was any part to this role that was so difficult that he was tempted to give it up he immediately stressed the physical comedy, which, if you have seen the show, know what I am talking about. He says: “My knees do! Five minutes before the show starts it’s like you’re looking at a hill, thinking, ‘I’ve got to run up this really fast.’ The minute you set off, though, it’s never tiring. It’s never anything other than the best fun I’ve ever had at work.” He also includes: “The guy’s on stage two minutes, and he falls over a chair, do you know what I mean?”

I spoke to Craig about his experience playing Francis, a role that requires immense bouts of physical comedy and improvisation, which proves strenuous on the brain and the body. The following is an abridged interview with our very own Minder, not exactly a Swiss watch, but our loveable clown nonetheless, Francis Henshall aka Craig Miller:

What has been the most rewarding part of playing Francis and what has been the most challenging?

I do have to say that by far and away the most rewarding part of playing Francis Henshall in our production of One Man, Two Guvnors here at 6th Street Playhouse has been the opportunity to be in a role that has the responsibility and joy to interact with the audience. I love the moments in the show when I get to look directly into the audience’s eyes and pull them into the action, as if they were a third major character in the play.

A close second in terms of my enjoyment, but also the most challenging aspect in portraying this character would be the amazing amount of physical comedy I am required to do! Clowning and my training in Commedia Del’ Arte  are tools that I don’t often get to exercise in my theatrical toolbox, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to do the majority of the physical comedy in the show. It is grueling and often times dangerous work, but when done right and safe, and the audience enjoys what you are doing – the mental preparation and physical sacrifice is worth it.

Do you have any sort of routine to prepare you before each show?

My preparation for Francis actually starts at my house, because I like to take a shower and brush my teeth right before I leave to come to the theater. Something about being clean; it’s physically almost like starting with a blank canvas, or a blank slate. It’s also a really good idea, because I sweat profusely throughout the entire show and I don’t want to smell like a horse while I’m acting next to my fellow cast members on stage. While I’m still at the house, I like to put on the soundtrack from the Broadway version and listen through some of the songs, which if you listen closely to the lyrics, have a lot to do with what has either just happened in the scene previous, or has everything to do with what’s about to happen in the next scene. It’s a nice abstract way for me to get in touch with the journey that I’m about to take once I get to the theater.

Once I arrive at the theater, the most important thing for me to do is to check in with all of my fellow cast members and crewmembers and say hello. This goes a long way to setting the tone for the rest of the evening. These are my comrades, my best friends, and the people that I will rely on for the rest of the evening to be my protector and also to protect. It is very much a family vibe in the cast and crew for this show, and it is very important to recognize and check in with the people who are just as responsible as I am for the success of the show every single evening. Some companies (like this one) like to do a formal full company warm-up, which I think creates a beautiful sense of ensemble and connection between the players. We are lead every single evening in an ensemble warm up by Larry Williams. It’s probably the thing I look forward to the most every night before I settle in to get into my character and into my costume.

After that, it’s taking a lot of deep breaths, finding my Zen place, listening to the tempo that’s happening on stage prior to my entrance, and most importantly listening for the energy that the audience is already sending back towards the stage before I step onto it.

How has James Corden inspired you?

For this role I truly did not want to be influenced by what James Corden had done. The only clip I have seen of James, and what everyone else in the country has probably seen, is this brilliant snippet in the show where Francis gets into the argument with himself, at the Tony awards two years ago. It was inspiration enough! He is truly a brilliant performer, and I am thrilled and honored to have the chance to share a role with him.

What is your favorite line?

I think my favorite line in the show is when the character Dolly asks Francis if he prefers eating, or making love, and his response, after a beat of serious weighing out of the philosophical conundrum, is: “That’s a tough one, isn’t it?”

 

It is, Francis, it really is.

Join us for our closing weekend!! Get your tickets now! Or call 707-523-4185×1

And get a special deal for Superbowl Sunday, $15 tickets with code SUPER!


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Posted in Season 2012-2013 | Leave a comment

David Templeton (North Bay Bohemian) gives A Christmas Carol rave review

“Turn of the Scrooge”

Rating (out of 5): ★★★★½

 

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Calling All “Star Seekers” – A “Stem to Steam” Contest

The 6th Street Playhouse has a mission to connect with our audience and with the community through performing arts and through education, and right now we have a fantastic opportunity to make this happen! This coming spring, we are hosting the Star Seeker Project. Through the month of April 2016, the Star Seekers will be transforming STEM to STEAM – brilliantly changing Science-Technology-Engineering-Math to include ART! This high profile event celebrating the work of women scientists will bring our community together like nothing else we’ve ever seen in Sonoma County.

Women in the sciences at the turn of the 19th century did not get much recognition for their work – a situation that continues to this day. Have you ever heard of Henrietta Swan Leavitt? Henrietta discovered the period-luminosity relationship which allowed astronomers to measure the distance between Earth and faraway galaxies. 6th Street Playhouse will be honoring Henrietta when Lauren Gunderson’s play Silent Sky opens on April 1st. When Silent Sky first opened at South Coast Rep in 2011, rave reviews called it “sheer magic” and that is just what we expect to happen at 6th Street this spring.

But that is not all – there is more!

So much more!Before the end of 2015, an invitation will be sent to all thirty-three middle schools in Sonoma County. We are inviting middle-school students to submit, by March 12th, art projects that are inspired by significant work done by women in the STEM fields.

Examples? Paint the dreams of Madame Curie! Choreograph a dance to illustrate Martha Coston engineering the signal flares still used today by the US Navy! Perform an original monologue about the creative process that Ada Lovelace used to write the very first computer program! These are just a few examples of possible projects.

Three submissions from each middle school may be entered into the Star Seeker competition to be judged by a select group of community leaders at an adjudication social, hosted by the Playhouse. Each of the three top winners will receive an award to honor their contribution, and seven others will get honorable mentions.

On April 1st we will host an artists’ reception and the opening of the art show. The winning art will all be prominently displayed at the Playhouse during the complete run of the play.

Even more exciting news: Lauren Gunderson, the playwright of Silent Sky, has generously agreed to come speak at a special playwright event where she will share her stories with the audience. Lauren is an award winning, nationally known playwright, screenwriter and short story author who has spoken nationally and internationally on the intersection of science and theatre. The New Yorker, reviewing her play commissioned by the San Francisco Playhouse said, “…beautifully written… brings the audience to tears.”

The month of April will be an exciting time at 6th Street and we hope you will join us in honoring the collaboration of science, art, and the often unsung heroines who gave and continue to give so much to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We honor them in the way we know best: through ART!

Jared Sakren – Executive Director
6th Street Playhouse

Contact Emily Winfield at (707) 527-7422 or silentstarseekers@gmail.com

Official Rules and Official Entry Forms available online here

 

 

 

 

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Harry Duke (Member SFBATCC) Gives “The Rocky Horror Show” Rave Review

Attending a performance of The Rocky Horror Show (running now at 6th Street Playhouse) is akin to attending a college Halloween house party – you’re going to be surrounded by young people in garish makeup and outlandish costumes playing music and singing songs while engaged in various acts of debauchery, broken up by the occasional visit from the old man next door. If you’re ok with that, fine, you’ll have a good time. If not, well, what did you expect? It’s a Halloween party!

Rocky303Ryan Severt, Amanda Morando, Nathan Mercier, Abbey Lee, Rob Broadhurst, Mark Bradbury, IzzyPeregrina, Ryan Whitlock

For those living on another planet, Richard O’Brien’s 1973 stage musical (upon which the 1975 cinematic cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show is based) is a decidedly warped retelling of the Frankenstein saga. Straight-laced Brad Majors (Mark Bradbury) and Janet Weiss (Abbey Lee) stumble into the demented lair of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter (Rob Broadhurst) who, with the assistance of his servants Riff Raff (Zack Howard) and Magenta (Amanda Morando), is about to unveil his latest creation – a gleaming muscleman name Rocky Horror (Nathan Mercier). Other characters enter (and exit) the scene and as various “couplings” take place, all hell breaks loose until the show concludes with what close examination reveals to be a rather bleak ending. For all the script’s exhortations to “don’t dream it, be it”, none of the characters end up in very good positions (so to speak.)

Rocky302Ryan Severt, Izzy Peregrina, Abbey Lee, Zac Schuman, Nathan Mercier

What’s often lost in all the madness and mayhem going on in this show is the quality of the score and lyrics, handled well in this production by Music Director Justin Pyne, the small “Rocky Horror Band” and the on-stage performers. O’Brien’s songs are clever, funny and often emotional. From the registry of sci-fi and horror films in the opening’s “Science Fiction Double Feature” to the infectious silliness of the “Time Warp” to the wistful longings of “I’m Going Home”, O’Brien has written a score that, because of its film success, never really got its due as a classic of modern musical theatre.

Rocky301Rob Broadhurst

The cast, under the direction of Craig Miller, is obviously having a blast with this show. They all, from leads to supporting characters to ensemble, have their moments. Among them, Broadhurst’s Frank ‘N’ Furter seems to owe as much to a late career Lucille Ball (or a drag queen impersonation thereof) as Tim Curry, and it works. Mark Bradbury brings Brad to life in all his awkward geekiness. Zac Schuman has fun with the dual roles of Eddie and Dr. Scott.

Potential attendees whose only familiarity with this show is via the film should be forewarned to leave the props at home – no rice, no toast, no squirt guns, no toilet paper, etc. Not that audience participation is discouraged (far from it), but that participation is limited to audience “call backs”. These “call backs” (where the audience responds, usually quite crudely, to a line spoken by a character) have grown exponentially since my first “Rocky Horror” experience way back in 1977, and the local flavor added to some is a nice touch. That being said, uninitiated audience members may soon grow weary of someone sitting behind them constantly shouting often-foul things into their ears. You have been warned.

Rocky304Zack Howard, Amanda Moreno

The Rocky Horror Show is about as far as you can get from traditional theatre. It is not a show where you can sit back in your seat and watch the proceedings unfold before you. It unfolds in front of you, bedside you, behind you, and above you. Like a good Halloween party, it’s colorful, brash, amusing, disturbing, weirdly sexual, occasionally gross, often crude, frequently tasteless and above all fun – but you have to be in the right mood to really enjoy it.

To assist in that mood, consider responsibly enjoying a few “adult” refreshments before the show. Hell, they even encourage you to enjoy them during the show (via their concession stand.) And don’t worry about the aforementioned bleak ending getting you down. The cast and musicians will have you “Time Warping” on the stage floor on your way out.

 

The Rocky Horror Show

extended through November 14

Thu/ Fri/ Sat @ 8pm, Sun @ 2pm

Special October 31 Halloween Night Performance @ 11:30pm

6th Street Playhouse
52 W 6th St
Santa Rosa, CA  95401

(707) 523-4185

www.6thstreetplayhouse.com                     

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Auditions for Anna in the Tropics

Auditions for Anna in the Tropics

6th Street Playhouse will be seeing adult actors, by appointment only, for roles in the upcoming production of Nilo Cruz’s Anna in the Tropics, directed by Marty Pistone.

Saturday, November 21, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm &

Sunday, November 22, 12:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Where:  Rehearsal Room at the 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Actors should prepare one dramatic monologue (classic, OK!). Anything along the lines of Tennessee Williams, Lorca or Chekhov is suggested. Please bring a headshot and resume to the audition.Actors may also be asked to do some cold reads from the script and/or come to a callback on Saturday, November 28th from 10am-6pm, and maybe the 29th if needed.To set up an audition appointment, please email paige@6thstreetplayhouse.com with your availability.

Rehearsals for this production will start on February 9th. The show opens March 11th and is scheduled to run through March 26th on the G.K. Hardt Stage.

All actors will receive a stipend. This is a non AEA production.

ALL ROLES AVAILABLE:

**We hope to honor this play and the ethnic backgrounds of the characters as much as possible in choosing our Actors; therefore actors who identify as Hispanic/Latino/Cuban are strongly encouraged to audition.

Santiago (Late Fifties) ‐ Santiago is the owner of the cigar factory and the patriarch in his world. Plagued by gambling troubles to protect and provide for his wife and two daughters as well as defend the nature of the Cuban tradition in his factory.

Cheche’ (Early Fortes) ‐ Santiago’s “long lost” half-brother who is more interested in modernizing the cigar factory than in stories told by the factory’s new lector. His bitterness, stemming from the fact that his wife left him is a danger to everyone in the play.

Ofelia (Fifties) – In Ofelia exists a rare combination of passion and common sense. As Santiago’s wife and matriarch of the factory, she keeps her family from falling apart with a strong and loving touch.

Marela (22) – The youngest child of Ofelia and Santiago. Marela is fresh-faced and innocent and allows herself to believe whole-heartedly in the romance of Anna Karenina. Her naiveté leaves her vulnerable, however, when she is around those who see the world in a darker way.

Conchita (32) ‐ Marela’s older sister finds new life through the lector and his readings of “Anna Karenina.” She recognizes the predicaments that Tolstoy’s characters face and regards the book as a way to gauge her own life.

Palomo (41) ‐ Conchita’s husband is a straightforward man whose machismo has made him take his wife for granted until she awakens jealousy within him.

Juan Julian (Thirty Eight) ‐ Juan Julian is the sensitive lector who captivates the dreamers in Santiago’s factory and who spreads his own passion for romance and language to those who will embrace it.

Eliades (45) – Local gamester, runs cockfights.

 

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Donating Mutual Funds or Stock — The Hidden Tax Benefit

Most donors know about the tax benefits of making donations to a qualified non-profit, such as 6th Street.  For example, if you’re in a 28% federal and 9% California tax bracket, a $5,000 contribution to the Playhouse can save you $1,850 in taxes.  However, I’m surprised by how many of my investment clients are unaware of the additional tax benefits of donating mutual funds or common stock.

Suppose you have a mutual fund that is currently worth five times what you paid for it (if you’re of a “certain age,” that’s not much of a stretch – I have several mutual funds in my portfolio that are worth almost 10 times what I paid).  If you sold $5,000 of that fund, you would report a gain of $4,000, and, depending on your income level, you might pay 20% in federal capital gains taxes, plus 4% investment income tax and 9% state income tax, totaling $1,320 in taxes.  If you donated $5,000 of that fund to the Playhouse, all of that tax burden disappears, and you get the same $5,000 deduction on your 2013 taxes as if you donated $5,000 in cash.  That means the $5,000 donation, less the tax savings of the deduction and the capital gains taxes, effectively costs you only $1,830!

How difficult is this donation to accomplish?  It depends on your advisor, broker, or mutual fund provider.  For many advisors and brokers, there is a standard form to complete, and it might take you 15 minutes or less to complete.  However, because many financial institutions get very busy near the end of the year, if you want to take advantage of the tax deductions for 2013, you should submit the paperwork by early December.

I need to add one qualification – every tax situation is different.  The numbers I used reflect my own tax analysis, but you might have other tax liabilities or credits that make the effective tax savings higher or lower for you.  If you use a tax accounting or investment advisory firm, you should consult them before assuming you will receive the same tax benefits.

Scott Lummer

Board President

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Cari Lynn Pace Member SFBATCC Gives “Millie” Rave Review!

Sassy “Thoroughly Modern Millie” Wows ‘Em!

By Cari Lynn Pace Member, SF Bay Area TheaterCritics Circle, Adjudicator for TheatreBayArea

It’s a classic story told in the time of 1922, when women were first entering the workforce and had dreams of self-propelled success.  Enthusiastic Millie arrives inNew York City, fresh from the farm and ready to take a big bite out of life, and hopefully find herself a rich husband.  Millie doesn’t give up her dreams, even when she’s mugged and left penniless.  She gets her hair stylishly bobbed, finds a job at a company headed by a handsome bachelor, and makes friends with the young actresses at her seedy hotel.  No one knows that her evil landlady abducts attractive women for export abroad.  Local favorite Daniela Innocenti Beem casts a hilarious turn as the snarky proprietress.  The plot is frothy, silly, and funny, and delighted audiences immediately when it opened on Broadway in 2002, winning six Tony awards.

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” bursts with songs, tap dancing, over-the-top characters, and yummy period costumes by Tracy Hinman Sigrist.  Director Craig A. Miller serves up this musical like a juicy bowl of fresh-cut fruit topped with whipped cream.  There are so many outstanding performances, starting with Rebekah Pearson in the title role and Anthony Guzman as the cavalier yet unemployed heartthrob.  It’s astonishing that Pearson, who fell and broke her wrist during rehearsal one week before opening night, can deliver such graceful gestures and keep her balance while singing and dancing in her arm cast.  She relates how she was getting her cast put on and urged the doctor “Could you please hurry it up?  I have to get back to rehearsal!”  That’s truly the “Millie” spunk!

Another standout performance includes Evan Attwood as Millie’s clueless boss.  He rattles off an amazing “Speed Test” that sparks spontaneous applause, particularly when Millie matches him word to word.  The music is from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Patter Song” but the lyrics are all cleverly new.  Attwood really outshines himself in Act II when he swoons to the charms of Millie’s dainty friend, Miss Dorothy, a blonde fromCaliforniacoyishly enacted by Nicole Thysell.  It’s all too delicious!

The office stenography pool (which flourished until the advent of voice recorders) offers a bounty of 1920′s beauties kept largely in line by Miss Flannery.  Of course Miss Flannery can’t keep these modern girls from tap dancing or doing theCharleston, although she might try.  Shari Hopkinson Cohen is perfectly cast as the cranky and domineering office manager.  You can tell she really relishes her curmudgeon role, and deservedly so.

The surprises keep coming:  Joseph Favalora and Natalie Herman play the Chinese henchmen who work as slaves to Innocenti Beem’s evil landlady.  They long to bring their mother toAmerica, they sing a derivation of the Al Jolson song “My Mammy” entirely in Chinese.  The superscreen above the stage flashes the translation and the audience just cracks up.  Neither Favalora (who also did the show’s choreography) nor Herman speak Chinese.  ”We recorded the song, played it slowly, then kept singing it faster until we had it right.”  Favalora laughs.  “One of my Asian friends who attended opening night said it sounded perfect.”

A generously talented cast completes the ensemble, with Tina Lloyd Meals conducting the orchestra, in this thoroughly delightful performance for all ages.

WHAT:  “Thoroughly Modern Millie” directed by Craig A. Miller, Musical Direction by Tina Lloyd Meals, Choreography by Joseph Favalora, based on the movie starring Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore

WHEN:  Now through May 25th

WHERE:  G.K. Hardt Theater,6th Street Playhouse,52 West Sixth Street,Santa Rosa,CA95401

COST:  $23 – $35

INFORMATION:  www.6thstreetplayhouse.com or (707) 523-4185

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2014-2015 General Auditions: Coming Home – An American Theatre Experience

General Auditions for the 2014-2015 Season:

Coming Home – An American Theatre Experience

6th Street Playhouse will be seeing adult and child actor/singers, by appointment only, for roles in the upcoming 2014-2015 Season of plays and musicals.

 Saturday, May 31st from 10 AM – 6PM

 Sunday, June 1st from 10 AM – 6PM

Both audition days will be held at The G.K. Hardt Theatre at 6th Street Playhouse, located at 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Acting Only?

Actors should prepare two contrasting monologues to present at the audition, not to exceed five minutes.

Acting & Singing?

Actor/Singers wishing to also be considered for the season musicals should prepare one comic monologue and thirty-two (32) bars from one Broadway style song – and also be prepared to possibly learn parts and sing cold from the show librettos at the audition. You may sing a song from one of the schedule shows in the season. An accompanist will be on hand for those singing.

Callbacks!

As a result of these auditions, actors will be asked to come to callback auditions throughout the season for specific roles, held at date/times TBD.

To set up an audition appointment, please have a time slot in mind and submit your audition request to: Natalie Herman, Interim Company Manager at Natalie@6thStreetPlayhouse.com

All acting positions are paid. Some AEA contracts will be offered.

Directors, Choreographers, Designers, Stage Managers, and all other artists should

submit cover letter and resume/portfolio via email above.

To see a listing of The Official 2014-2015 Season productions go to: www.6thStreetPlayhouse.com

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Auditions for Grease are being held at 6th St Playhouse

Auditions for Grease are being held at 6th St Playhouse

Sunday, April 6th, at 6:30 p.m in the Rehearsal Room – General Call*

Tuesday, April 8th, at 6:30 p.m in the Rehearsal Room – Call Back

Where: All audition days will be held at 6th Street Playhouse, located at 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Prepare: Actors should bring a headshot and resumé to the audition. Actors should prepare a two-minute comedic monologue and 32 bars of a Broadway song that is in the style of the show, or may sing a song from the show. For the dancing audition, actors should be warmed up and wearing proper clothing and footwear to move in a dance combination, which will be taught by the choreographer. Changing areas will be provided if needed.

Call Backs: Many actors will be asked to come to the call backs on April 8th. Actors who are called back will be notified either at the end of the Sunday audition, or via phone or email the morning of the call back.

Rehearsals/Performances: Rehearsals for this production will tentatively begin the week of April 28th, 2014. The production opens and runs June 13th – July 6th, 2014.

All adult acting positions are paid a $250.00 stipend.

Grease will be directed and choreographed by Staci Arriaga and music directed by Tina Lloyd Meals.

*To RSVP for the general audition on Sunday, April 6th, please contact:
Natalie Herman, Interim Company Manager
natalie@6thstreetplayhouse.com

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Auditions for Thoroughly Modern Millie – February 16–18

6th Street Playhouse will be seeing adult actors for Thoroughly Modern Millie.
When:
Sunday, February 16th, 2014 in the Rehearsal Room – General Call*

6:30 p.m General Singing/Acting & Dance Audition
Monday, February 17th, 2014 in Rehearsal Room – Call Back
6:30 p.m Advanced Dancing and Singing from Score
Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 in Studio Theatre – Call Back
7:00 p.m Cold Readings and Singing from the Score TBA
Where: All audition days will be held at 6th Street Playhouse, located at 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401Prepare: Actors should bring a headshot and resumé to the audition. Actors should prepare a two-minute comedic monologue and 32 bars of a Broadway song that is in the style of the show, or may sing a song from the show. For the dancing audition, actors should be warmed up and wearing proper clothing and footwear to move in a dance combination, which will be taught by the choreographer. Changing areas will be provided if needed.

PLEASE NOTE: All actors wishing to be seen for featured dance roles need to provide their own tap shoes or hard soled footwear that can create tap sounds.

Call Backs: Many actors will be asked to come to the call backs on February 17th and 18th. Actors who are called back will be notified either at the end of the Sunday audition, or via phone or email the morning of the call back.Rehearsals/Performances: Rehearsals for this production will tentatively begin the week of March 27th, 2014. The production opens and runs May 2nd – May 25th, 2014.

*To RSVP for the general audition on Sunday, February 16th, please contact:
Natalie Herman, Assistant to the Artistic Director
assistant@6thstreetplayhouse.com

All roles are open at this time
All adult acting positions are paid a $250.00 stipend.
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