Radio Interviews: Animal Crackers and The House That Jack Built

Listen to these interviews on KRCB Radio’s “Curtain Call” segment.

THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT

In this clip, host Charles Sepos chats with Director Craig Miller and actors Edward McCloud and Elizabeth Henry, as well as playwright Cecelia Tichi. They talk about the world premiere of her new play about Jack London, The House That Jack Built, running September 9th through 25th in the Studio Theatre.

Interview here: The House That Jack Built

ANIMAL CRACKERS

In this clip, host Charles Sepos chats with Director Craig Miller and actor Jeff Coté. They talk about the Marx Brothers’ musical comedy Animal Crackers, running August 19th through September 18th in the G.K. Hardt Theatre. In the last part of the clip, Director Craig Miller returns to preview the 2016 – 2017 season at 6th Street Playhouse.

Interview here: Animal Crackers 

To listen to other interviews of past productions, click here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/KRCBCurtainCall

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Animal Crackers highly recommended, receives great reviews!

Take a look at the reviews our season-opener Animal Crackers has received!

From David Templeton, KRCB and The Bohemian: 

“Hooray for Captain Spalding.

And hooray for the weird, wonderful, creatively imitative assemblage of actors who are currently bringing the Marx Brothers ‘Animal Crackers’ to retro-ridiculous life at the 6th Street Playhouse. Originally a long-running play on Broadway, ‘Animal Crackers’ is best known for the 1930 movie version, considered by many to be the finest example of the pun-filled, language-assaulting, physically offbeat comedy that the Brothers Marx made a career of. The play, with songs by George S. Kaufman, also gave the Brothers Marx a tune they would become inextricably associated with: the aforementioned, Hooray for Captain Spaulding, a goofy prog-pop extravaganza containing one of Groucho’s indelible signature lines, ‘Hello, I must be going.’

The 6th Street production uses the Broadway script, so if you know the movie well, prepare for a bunch of bits and songs that were cut from the show when it was adapted for the screen.

Jacinta Gorringe, Abbey Lee, David Yen, Lydia Revelos, and Erik Weiss. 6th Street Playhouse/Eric Chazankin

As Captain Spalding, played famously by Groucho, Jeff Coté gives an uncanny impersonation, from the painted mustache and active eyebrows to Groucho’s joyously twisty-turny dance moves. As the larcenous musician Emanuel Rivelli, aka Chico Marx, David Yen is delightful, blending mischievous enthusiasm with a confidently trouble-making underpinning of potential danger.

Watching Yen and Coté toss famously outrageous one-liners back and forth is one of the show’s chief pleasures.
“That’s a-not a flash, that’s a fish!”

Well, that’s in the show.

Also, expect a slightly sinister Harpo Marx, who, in the inventive, elastic-faced hands of actor Erik Weiss, is less an imitation of Harpo than a free interpretation of the goofily creepy Professor character he played in ‘Animal Crackers.’

Don’t expect Weiss to play the harp, though. In a conspicuously desperate and clunky homage to Harpo’s musicianship, director Craig Miller — who otherwise brings a parade of inventive ideas and cleverly inspired bits to the show – basically throws the brakes on the show as we in the audience watch Weiss, as Harpo, hanging out watching a movie of the real Harpo playing a tune.

That probably should have been cut.

On the other hand, Craig introduces a brilliant second act bit in which John Rathjen – absolutely superb in two supporting roles – steps out in his underwear to sing ‘Keep Your Undershirt On’ while putting on the costume of the marvelously droll butler Hives, nicely dueting with a similarly negligeed Jacinta Gorringe, as the marriage-minded matron Mrs. Rittenhouse.

Also excellent, in duel supporting roles, is Abbey Lee, quick-swapping outfits and wigs as Mrs. Rittenhouse’s hot-to-trot daughter Arrabella and as the scheming neighbor Mrs. Whitehead. Lee, along with the aforementioned Rathjen, commands some of the show’s best musical moments, supported by a fine onstage orchestra under the direction of Justin Pyne, and some nice choreography by Joey Favalora.

Unfortunately, many of the other voices in the cast often fail to soar or blend, unless, of course, one of the faux Mark Brothers is involved. To Tell the Truth, it’s hard to know whether Coté and Yen are singing well or not, because they sound so much like Groucho and Chico, and – like the rest of this overlong but frequently hilarious, beautifully and affectionately nostalgic show – are so stitch-in-the-side funny, nothing else really matters.”

From Suzanne and Greg Angeo, SFBATCC:

“It’s about time. A Roaring-Twenties Broadway musical madhouse called “Animal Crackers”, featuring the Marx brothers in all their insane and subversive glory, has now – after 88 years – arrived at 6th Street playhouse to help kick off its 11th season.

Better known for their movies from the 1930s and 40s, the iconic comedy team composed of brothers Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo first brought their carefully developed and crafted personas to the Broadway stage in the 1920s, after many years performing in vaudeville. Their first hit came to the Great White Way in 1924 when “I’ll Say She Is” was released on an unsuspecting world. It was followed by “The Cocoanuts” in 1925, and finally “Animal Crackers” in 1928. It was around then that Hollywood called. The film version of “Animal Crackers” was released in 1930 and was immediately a huge hit. The genius of the Marx brothers was maintaining the essence and integrity of their characters while using these characters as a springboard from which to improvise. And improvise they did, to the hair-pulling consternation of their directors and screenwriters. Cinema and comedy were never the same.

For each of the 6th Street actors playing the four Marx brothers on stage, it’s a performance on three levels: the actors are playing the Marx brothers, who are in turn playing their personas and who are, in turn, playing their roles in the musical. It’s a powerful leap through multiple hoops, and the result is a fun and very entertaining show. The plot revolves around a ritzy house party for an intrepid explorer, a stolen painting, much singing and dancing, and general craziness.

Each cast member plays two or three roles except for Jacinta Gorringe as the clueless stalwart society hostess Mrs Rittenhouse, who has her hands (and house) full. Gorringe proves during the show that she’s a real belter of jazzy tunes, belying her staid exterior.

Jeff Cote as Groucho (playing Captain Spaulding) is excellent in the role and tickled many a funny bone with his ad-libs to the audience, but hit some rough spots during an opening night performance with fluffed lines and a couple of flat jokes. The wild-child innocence of Harpo as played by Erik Weiss (as The Professor) is a pleasure to watch, and Weiss keeps the energy high and the horn-honks coming. There’s an especially nice touch with Weiss and a brief black-and-white film clip of the real-life Harpo playing the harp, sweetly done. Matthew Heredia as Zeppo (as Jamison) was especially good in a scene with Groucho, the famous “Hungadunga” letter exchange, which is so funny you could fall out of your seat. David Yen as Chico (playing Ravelli) had some great moments as well, but seems a bit laconic and half a beat off at times.

Abby Lee, Lydia Revelos. 6th Street Playhouse/Eric Chazankin

Abbey Lee and lydia Revelos own the stage own the stage whenever they appear as the scheming sisters Mrs Whitehead and Grace Carpenter. Lee in particular delivers a blazing song-and-dance performance in her roles as naughty Mrs Whitehead and winsome flapper Arabella Rittenhouse.

Direction by Craig Miller is clever and fluid, filled with sight gags and eccentric physical comedy. He hinted to us that there’s a bit of improv in there, as well. Overall, it’s a really good show, but could have been even better if pacing were a bit tighter. This will likely improve during the show’s run. Truly excellent Jazz-Age costumes by Gail Reine really make the show come to life.

“Animal Crackers” at 6th Street is a nice tribute to the Marx brothers, and should please not only those familiar with their unique form of comic anarchy and mayhem, but those who’ve never even heard of them. The Art Deco set and costumes, and some truly brilliant performances by the cast, make this a show well worth seeing.”

From Alexa Chipman, Imagination Lane Reviews:

“Animal Crackers is based on the Marx Brothers’ 1930 film, set at a prominent socialite’s elaborate house party. Eager to impress and dress down her rivals, Mrs. Rittenhouse brings in big game with Captain Spaulding, the African explorer, and an unveiling of Beaugard’s After the Hunt oil painting. The stage is set for a glittering masterpiece of entertaining, until a series of unfortunate incidents plunges the house into tragicomic chaos that only Marx Brothers shenanigans can instigate. It is not so much a musical as the singing is a natural extension of comedic rhythm woven throughout the story.

Jeff Coté captures Groucho’s poise and mannerisms flawlessly, although his execution of ad lib humor lacks the editing prowess and timing of the original actor. It is admirable to attempt infusing off the cuff humor, but many of the jokes fell flat and may have been better carefully scripted instead. His entrance is surprising and dramatic, capturing the spirit of the original while navigating our modern sensibilities of other cultures with more grace than carting the Captain out carried by Africans in native apparel. Famous scenes are reproduced with attention to detail, such as his conversation with Mrs. Rittenhouse (Jacinta Gorringe) regarding hunting. “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” Incidentally, Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont recreated the scene on the Hollywood Palace show in her final on screen appearance, a tribute to its longevity. Jacinta Gorringe takes to her role as society matron with alacrity, towering in majestic indignation at the increasing antics ruffling her house party. Their chemistry together is crackling, keeping pace with the Captain’s witty barbs.

From April George’s clever lighting design to a lovely 1930s set design by Joe Klug, Animal Crackers evokes the era without being enslaved to precise accuracy. The orchestra is strong, and participates in well-done comedic moments involving Harpo. Unfortunately they often overshadow the singing, rending lyrics into indecipherable buzzing underneath the orchestration.

Juggling the multiple role of innocent debutante with acerbic villainess, Abbey Lee alternates between a bubbly blonde doting on her handsome young beau and the vodka swigging crafty Mrs. Whitehead determined to take down anyone in her way. Partner in crime Grace Carpenter (Lydia Revelos) is a remarkable songstress despite a formidable pair of false buck teeth, belting out The Blues My Naughty Baby Gives to Me. Joseph Favalora’s remarkable choreography for the two of them had the audience roaring; a highlight of the production. Her alternate persona as nerdy Mary Stewart was equally engaging, paired with Matthew Herida’s hapless artist. David L. Yen ambles about with Emmanuel Ravelli’s signature ne’er-do-well charm, egging on the madness in a quiet unassuming way, with a memorable bit attempting to conduct the orchestra. The Professor (Erik Weiss) sweetly mimics Harpo’s absurd expressions, leading to hilarious misunderstandings.

Animal Crackers at 6th Street Playhouse is a madcap musical comedy and touching tribute to the Marx Brothers—an impressive opening to their new season. Join the zany cast of characters for an evening of acerbic one-liners, sentimental lovers, and genuine belly laughs.”

Animal Crackers runs through September 18 in the G.K. Hardt Theatre.

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Interview with Cast of “Anna in the Tropics”

This week I reached out to the actors of Anna in the Tropics because after reading this play by myself on a rainy afternoon at a downtown brewery, I was moved enough to experience a mini, yet profoundly personal, wave of unanticipated catharsis.

Nilo Cruz’s script invaded my brain like a nostalgic dream that insists on lingering with you for the entire day. Okay, maybe the beer had something to do with this feeling, but I am going to attribute most of the credit to the words of Cruz.

Photo by Eric Chazankin, Pictured: Armando Rey (Juan Julian), and Bronwen Shears (Conchita)

(For the precursor to this interview, please see this short post before you read on!)

Set in 1929 in Tampa (Ybor City), Florida, Nilo Cruz takes us to a classic Cuban­-American cigar factory where machines have yet to replace workers in a rapidly mechanizing industry. The arrival of a new lector, a well-­dressed and well­-spoken gentleman, is a cause for excitement and celebration, but when he begins to read aloud from Anna Karenina, he unwittingly becomes a catalyst in the lives of his avid listeners, for whom Tolstoy, the tropics, and the American dream prove a volatile combination.

I wanted to see what the actors thought after spending weeks immersed in this beautiful script and their archetypal, yet eerily complex, characters. This interview also allows you to get to know these artists, which as we all know can be such a rewarding aspect of community theatre!

Included in this interview are responses from the following actors:

Armando Rey* – Juan Julian, the lector
Dan Villalva, Santiago, the owner of the cigar factory
Jared Wright, Cheché
Kathleen Pizzo-St. John, Marela, Santiago’s daughter
Laura (La) Sottile, Ofelia, Santiago’s wife

Lito Briano, Palomo, Santiago's son-in-law

* member of Actor’s Equity

The abridged and compiled interview:

What has been the most rewarding or interesting experience during the rehearsal process so far?

Dan: It was actually reading for the part that sticks the most in my mind.  I read for the part of Santiago with La in a conference room at Marty’s work [Marty Pistone, the director], and although I had only received the script a few days before, we managed to pull off a very emotional scene between Santiago and Ofelia.

Armando: This is very interesting because, I don’t know if anyone has realized this but, I, Armando, am actually Juan Julian in real life right now. Here I am, this outsider that came to Santa Rosa to do this show, not knowing anyone, not knowing the town, but here I am, and I’ll stand in front of an audience to bring life to “pages of a book” and everyone has just opened their arms and welcomed me to their community and it feels amazing, just like Juan Julian feels. I just hope no real life Cheché comes into the picture.

La: Marty is extremely creative and intelligent. His eclectic approaches are future century, certainly at times I felt as if the form was solid in a particular blocking and then it would soon dissolve into a bewildering, yet enticing quicksand.

Jared: The artistic team have been wonderful and I’ve learned much about the Cuban culture of the 1920′s. We learned a bit about the cigar rolling process, the different roles and aspects of cigar factories, and we got to eat Cubano sandwiches, which were delicious. The play is very family-centric and we, the cast, have enjoyed becoming a family.

Can you talk about your relationship with your character?

Kathleen: Playing Marela has been great!! It is strange though because I strongly relate to her, so it’s been very enlightening to play upon her battles. She’s an idealistic young woman who sees everything through rose-colored glasses, and throughout the play she’s really trying to get the other characters to look past her naivety and take her seriously, which is easy for the older, more experienced, bit more cynical, characters to dismiss or take advantage of. But Marela is so strong in her push-back and protection of her beliefs and that’s admirable. I think the really difficult aspect of playing this part is that her struggles are so personal for me (and I think for any woman in her early twenties)(and really just anyone in their early twenties), wherein we just have all these beautiful expectations about life that can become so obscured through time.

Dan: This has been quite an adventure for me since I haven’t acted on the stage for over 30 years. But, I found that at my age many of the comic and tragic experiences in my life have helped me to reach for some sort of truth in the character of Santiago. Strangely enough, although I’ve spoken Spanish all my life, achieving a respectable Cuban accent is still one of my hardest  challenges.

La: 3 words:   My Grandmother, Survivor, Resolute

Lito: Palomo has been a lot of fun. He’s a complex, enigmatic and layered character whose narrative and arc is both enjoyably puzzling and tantalizing for the senses to wrap my body, mind and soul around.

Jared: Playing Cheché has been challenging and extremely enjoyable. Cheché is definitely more than just the antagonist of the story, he is a broken man with an enormous hole in his heart and soul. He is sad and angry and he displaces his aggression and does awful things not out of malice or hatred but out of inner pain and suffering.

Armando (who played Cheche, the antagonist, in a previous production) compares and contrasts his experiences with two polar charachters): It’s going from one extreme to the next. Juan Julian is more romantic, poetic, traditional, sensitive. Cheché is troubled, complicated, “in your face” eager to move forward with modern times.

It feels Like it’s a brand new show to me. My point of view and perspective as Juan Julian changes everything. Playing Cheché I embodied that character with its troubles, turbulence, and because of the nature of the character, the focus didn’t go into other character’s needs. Playing Juan Julian it changes. There is a special connection with all characters (including Cheché and Palomo) and is sensitive to their needs. Playing both sides gives me a whole new perspective. They all have one basic human need in common which is LOVE, and they’re all searching for it their own special way.

What theme(s) in the play speak(s) strongly to you?

Jared: The themes of the importance of family and of the complexities of love speak strongly to me.

Kathleen: All of them! Tradition vs. progress, cynicism vs. idealism. Male perspective vs. female perspective, especially in regards to love.

Lito: The theme of life imitating art is a classic theme that works its way in an ironic circumstance that’s enjoyable to unfold with the storytelling.

Dan: I hope audiences take away its timeless theme – that the real things of value –  love, family, friendship are what endure long after the money is gone.

Why do you think Anna in the Tropics is important to produce right now?

Dan: It’s important to produce because of the  conflicts and misconceptions regarding immigrants in the US today.

Jared: Anna In the Tropics was written in 2003 and it’s important because it deals with timeless human issues of love, passion, jealousy, loss, and family. It also touches nicely on how too much capitalism can be a hindrance to a society.

Lito: Anna in the Tropics is important because I appreciate how it portrays the Latin community in an intelligent and poetic light. It’s both intellectual and sensual. This play has a marvelous cohesion of these elements and to illustrate that on a Latin community makes this play unique and relevant.

Kathleen: It’s great to shine light on a fascinating piece of American History- Cuban immigrant workers and all that they brought from Cuba and donated to American culture. It’s so important that this play focuses on a minority group within America, because we need more of that! Also, I love that the women were written with such dominance and intelligence.

______________________

Anna in the Tropics runs from March 11th – 26th in the G.K. Hardt Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling 707-523-4185.

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Introducing “Anna in the Tropics”

There is a reason why Nilo Cruz’s Anna in the Tropics beat critically acclaimed plays like Edward Albee’s The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia, and Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out for the coveted Pulitzer Prize in 2003, despite it never appearing in New York – and when you come see it, you’ll see why too.

Set in 1929 in Tampa (Ybor City), Florida, Nilo Cruz takes us to a classic Cuban­-American cigar factory where machines have yet to replace workers in a rapidly mechanizing industry. The arrival of a new lector, Juan Julian, a well-­dressed and well­-spoken gentleman, is a cause for excitement and celebration, but when he begins to read aloud from Anna Karenina, he unwittingly becomes a catalyst in the lives of his avid listeners, for whom Tolstoy, the tropics, and the American dream prove a volatile combination.

Two elements that make Anna in the Tropics not only an exemplary play, but also a stunning piece of literature are Cruz’s poetry and his ability to tap into universal themes through passion and heightened drama.

“I already knew how beautiful and poetic this play was from the first time around,” says Armando Rey, a Los Angeles based professional film, television and theater actor, who is making his North Bay debut at 6th Street Playhouse. This is Armando’s second time acting in Anna in the Tropics. First cast as the antagonist Cheche (played in our production by Jared Wright), he now fills the shoes of the play’s romantic protagonist, the lector Juan Julian. Rey comments: “Now that I’m playing Juan Julian I get to experience the beautiful poetry in his dialog and his passion for romance and discovery. I already knew it was there of course [as Cheche], but this time around I get to taste it every time I speak as Juan Julian.”

A lector reads in a Cuban cigar factory

Moreover, Cruz’s exquisite poetry transcends decadent form to also encompass themes ubiquitous in nature. Despite the setting taking place in 1929 in a traditional Cuban cigar factory in Florida, these are themes and motifs we all identify with and experience, and better yet, seem grander – more passionate, and meld to form a sobering reminder of our own vulnerabilities.

Dan Villalva, returning to the stage to play Santiago after a 30 year acting hiatus writes: “I hope audiences take away its timeless theme – that the real things of value –  love, family, friendship are what endure long after the money is gone.”

Indeed, Cruz grapples with several dichotomies that lay just beneath the surface of our daily interactions. Kathleen Pizzo-St. John, who is also making her debut at 6th Street and who plays the young dreamer, Marela, notes a few of these conflicts:  “Tradition vs. progress, cynicism vs. idealism. Male perspective vs. female perspective, especially in regards to love.”

She adds: “But I think this play is important to produce because the lessons we learned from Tolstoy, who was so articulate in expressing both the beauty and ugliness of humanity and our relationships with one another, are reemphasized in a new way by Nilo Cruz. Essentially what I’m trying to say is that it is refreshing that this production doesn’t glamorize or demonize its characters and relationships – it just tells the truth.”

Photo by Eric Chazankin, Pictured: Armando Rey as Juan Julian and Bronwen Shears as Conchita

For a more complete inside interview with the actors check out our next blog scheduled to post on Thursday, March 10th! 

Anna in the Tropics runs March 11th – March 26th on the GK Hardt Stage. Tickets are available on our website or by calling 707-523-4185.

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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 | Comments Off

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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