Hot on the heels of a return engagement of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) (which I sadly forgot to blog about before it happened), is the next show I’m doing: Little Shop of Horrors. I don’t think the show needs any introduction. I’m playing Mr. Mushnik (the shop owner) and details of the show are on the poster (here) and the link (above).
Where do I begin? How do I attempt to capture (let alone encompass) what I am feeling right now? I’m currently running sound for Swamp Meadow’s Children’s Theatre production of Annie Jr. During the big song and dance number, NYC, someone shouts “Keep it down out there” (or something to that effect) and all I can think of every time I hear it is Robin Williams from, Reality, What a Concept, and his bit:
And Now, a New York Echo:
“Shut the fuck up!”
We were just about to start the penultimate run through (the show opens Wednesday) when my wife texted me the news. My heart sank. I sat there staring at the mixing board trying to form thoughts in my head. All I could think was, “No. No. No. NO! Do NOT let this be true!”
I was about 9 when Mork first showed up in an episode of Happy Days. I remember loving that episode and the character and was overjoyed when I heard they were spinning him out into his own show. I watched every episode of Mork and Mindy and loved every minute of it. When I was in fourth grade, probably a year or two into Mork and Mindy’s run on TV, I did my first play. It was because of Robin. He showed me that I could take this crazy energy I had, this need to entertain my mother’s and sisters’ friends, my friends, my teachers (ok, maybe more drive my teachers crazy) and I could get onto a stage and harness that power for good. I act today because of Robin. In fact, so much of who I am comes from the influence of Robin, Steve Martin, Firesign Theater, Monty Python and more. But Robin was there first. And he was a blazing star to me.
I don’t generally get upset at celebrity deaths. But a few have really hit me hard. Carl Sagan and Jimmy Stewart, to name two, did hit me hard. But this is the cruelest cut of all. I will always love Robin for the laughs and also for his more heartfelt moments. The Fisher King has always been one of my favorite movies for his inspired performance. And I haven’t seen Good Morning, Vietnam recently enough and need to watch it again.
I wanted to write this last night when it was fresh in my mind but I was just unable to get the words out. Even now, it is hard and I find myself tearing up. I’ll leave this here and just say that the world is a far better place because Robin was in it and rather than be sad he is gone, I will focus on celebrating what he has left us to enjoy and that I am very much the person I am today because of him. Thank you, Robin and rest in peace.
This October, I’ll be starring in Swamp Meadow Community Theatre’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as Randle Patrick McMurphy. This I’d my first leading role since I played The Boy in The Fantasticks in high school.
Come one! Come all! Dracula is being performed by the Swamp Meadow Community Theatre starting this weekend with yours truly as the blood sucking fiend himself!
Be frightened at the blood curdling horror!
Be amazed by the fantastic action!
Be floored by my hair-dye job!
Oct 30 at 2:00PM and 7:00PM
Oct. 31 Halloween at 8:00 pm
Nov 5, 6, at 7:00 PM
And Nov 7 at 2:00 PM
Captain Isaac Paine Auditorium
160 Foster Center Rd. Foster RI
(At the intersection of Rt 6 and Rt 94)
$10 Adults $5 Students & Seniors (Family pricing $30 max)
Box Office 401-397-6671 or @ swampmeadow.org
See the official web page for more details.
I auditioned for the next Swamp Meadow Community Theater production, Dracula, last Friday. I read for Dracula, Van Helsing, Jack Seward, and thought about reading for Quincy Morris or possibly Renfield. I decided to avoid Renfield as I was concerned about getting locked into being a character actor. Henry was a blast in The Fantasticks but I am more interested in playing a fully formed character rather than someone who is more caricature than character. I figured I was best for Van Helsing given my physique and that I have dutch relatives I could call on the phone to get the accent down. I read Dracula on a lark but not really expecting to get it.
I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call that I was cast as Dracula. I have been getting more excited by the day since I found out. Dracula is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Henry. While both demand attention, they do is in completely different ways. Henry demands people look at him, demands the spotlight (literally), and goes out of his way to emphasize his age or frailty to get attention. Dracula commands attention by sheer power of personality. He has a palpable strength, an underlying malice, and radiates power. When he is in a room (or on the stage) all eyes are on him because you can’t help but look at him. He does nothing specific to call attention to himself and yet he gets that attention. He is also, in the words of the director, a thug. He’s a warrior, a strategist and tactician, and conniving. He takes what he wants but can be subtle when necessary. He’s going to be a fascinating character to get to know and I can’t wait to start rehearsals and get to know the rest of the cast.
Until then, I am reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula (for the first time!) and getting to know Dracula through his words. The play is inspired by the book rather than being an adaptation and the character will not necessarily be the same. But it’s a good place to start. I also want to re-read The HIstorian though not for character research so much as because it was just such a great book. And I am walking every day now. While the director doesn’t need or want the thin-as-a-rail stereotype and prefers a broader-shouldered figure, I am feel that I have some work to do to get my body where I want it for this role.
This all reminds me of when I was in High School. I had had a long run of playing comic relief parts. When Oklahoma came up my junior year, I read for Will Parker assuming that that was the role I would be getting. The director asked me to read Jud Fry and I did to humor her. But she cast me in that role saying that there was something chilling in the way I read it. It ended up being one of the best experiences I had as a young actor (the best being playing Matt in the Fantasticks at about the same time).
We’ve completed the first of two weekends of The Fantasticks and the show has been going very well! I was worried in the middle of last week — our Wednesday rehearsal wasn’t confidence building — but by Thursday it all fell together and the subsequent three performances were really good! Come on out and see us this weekend, our final weekend!
After 25 years, I have finally fulfilled a longtime dream of mine: to get back on the stage and do a play again! In a few short weeks I will be appearing in the Swamp Meadow Community Theater’s production of The Fantasticks. This is one of my all time favorite shows. I performed in it in high school as Matt, the male lead. Now I am playing Henry Albertson, an old actor, quite theatrical and vainglorious for his supposed glory days and lost youth. Every time I have seen this show (and I have seen it many times over the years) Henry has always stolen the show so, as you would expect, I am having a ball with the part. You can reserve your tickets at the Swamp Meadow Box Office and show dates are May 21, 22, 28 and 29 @ 7:00 pm and May 23 and 30 @ 2:00pm at the Isaac Paine School in Foster, RI.
I have been regularly photographing rehearsals (any that I am in are courtesy of my son who came to a rehearsal) and just having so much fun. The cast is great and the show promises to be, if you forgive the pun, fantastic.