…this is teacher as puppeteer: pulling the strings of the student’s psyche, pushing them to the limit of feeling, then reeling the student back in with tired acting class tropes familiar to any actor who has endured an irresponsibly manipulative teacher…Read More
Are you still balancing your iPhone on a stack of books and strategically aiming lamps at your face? These are frustrations you can do away with with a little preparation and some serious hacks.Read More
As part of my ongoing investigation into actors and their spiritual health, I recently conducted a work-satisfaction survey of several dozen actors at various points in their careers, from those just starting out to long-term professionals. Some answers were surprising, many followed patterns you would expect, but the frequency of one answer, in particular, startled me. Of the approximately sixty actors surveyed, over 75% expressed frustration that their training and ability seemed to have little or no bearing on whether or not they got cast.Read More
My fear says: Don’t expect anything to come of this. Don’t be too showy about what you created. Don’t look too confident, too needy, too self-centered, or too anything, really.
My fear asks: What if someone doesn’t like it? What if it’s not good enough? What if someone else can do it better?Read More
…at a certain point, we all have to deal with the reality that we can’t control everything…we need to trust that casting directors are rarely interested in “perfect.” Perfect is boring. They’re looking for people.Read More
My community has been traumatized, and yet has dealt with the wounds of history, and the present. A Small Oak Tree Runs Red was birthed from my trauma. Even though the play focuses on an actual event that took place 100 years ago, I found it devastatingly beautiful and tragic to discover how I could so easily place my own fears, emotions and anger into the mouths of those victims.Read More
If I were to tally up all the money I’ve made as an actor since getting my M.F.A., my basic calculations total less than half of what I owe for my degree. This is with an Equity card that I’ve had for 15 years, and booking gigs on TV, in films, in commercials and onstage in a national tour.Read More
What if, after coming home from a not-so-great audition, or a mind-numbing temp job, or a workshop where that big director kept forgetting your name, you were to sit down to your own creation? A project all your own, where you called all the shots? Something that made you feel that you were cultivating your own career?Read More
Cameron Mackintosh once said, when he announced the closing of the original Broadway production of Les Miserables, “I have also realized that I can’t have a crack at the Tony for Best Revival until I close the first.” This after pointing out that he wanted to take the musical out on a high note, “with audiences once again fighting for tickets,” as he had with Cats and Miss Saigon. The only one of his big four that he doesn’t seem to have felt this way about is The Phantom of the Opera, which celebrated 30 years on Broadway this past January, and looks all set to way beyond. Phantom being my favorite musical, I have a smug pride that it is unlikely that any other Broadway production will dethrone it for the title of “longest running in history.” At the same time, though, I have to wonder what that “crack at the Tony for Best Revival” would look like.Read More
During my 30 years in New York City I had the opportunity to see the original Broadway productions of many plays and musicals. I have also had the unsettling experience of seeing many of those productions replicated elsewhere, without any credit given to the original director, choreographer or designers whose work has been copied. This creative plagiarism seems to have grown exponentially with increasingly easy access to bootleg videos of Broadway shows and the proliferation of YouTube.Read More
“Never work with animals or children.” While W.C. Field’s quip has become a comic cliché, there are plenty of directors who live by those words of presumed wisdom. I pontificated on the first subject in my column, “Sandy, Toto and Chowsie Walk into a Bar…”, so here I’ll address the second subject. “I just don’t like kids, period.” is a common mantra among certain directors. Some elaborate: “It’s too hard. They don’t have the experience, they’re slow, they throw off the rehearsal schedule, they don’t have any technique or discipline, they’re unpredictable and their parents are a pain in the ass.”Read More
“I had a very specific role in the show: to be the person who listened,” A Bronx Tale lyricist Glenn Slater told me. In listening, he discovered the voice of Belmont Avenue.
A Bronx Tale opened on Broadway in December 2016; and now after 500 plus performances (and a North American Tour just announced), the show is still going strong.
I recently caught up with Slater by phone to discuss the show’s success and the creative process of adapting Chazz Palminteri’s popular film “A Bronx Tale” to Broadway.Read More
It is no surprise that musical theatre writers over the years have gravitated to the theme of immigration. Many of Broadway’s earliest artists, like Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, and Cy Coleman, were either immigrants themselves or born to immigrants. My great-uncle Harold Katz, who wrote the musical Happy Hunting as Harold Karr, was the son of a man who, as a boy, fled Romania with his family under circumstances similar to those faced by the residents of Anatevka in Fiddler on the Roof. And where does Tevye take his family at the end of that musical? America. Specifically, “New York, America.” The von Trapp family from The Sound of Music is based on a real family that ended up in Vermont.Read More
Again and again the show places some of the deepest truisms of the characters into their own mouths. When Mary says, “It’s now or never, my fate is slipping past me,” or Pierre says “None of us are great men, we are just caught in the wave of history”, they are clearly aware of the essential truth that they ought to know but don’t — at least not yet. Tolstoy lets us know that these things may be true of Mary and Pierre, but neither of them would ever think it themselves, much less say it.Read More
It is easy to see why some can feel such disdain for certain critics. Theatre practitioners will spend large chunks of their lives pouring their hearts into something they care deeply about only to have a faceless writer sit behind their notepad to write down and publish all of the things that they have done wrong. Even someone on trial for murder has the opportunity to look their accuser in the eyes but we powerless theatre folk are left with nothing but the black and white words on a page or screen. Someone going online and publically sharing all of the things that they don’t like about you… isn’t that what we call cyberbullying? How different would reviews be if the critic had to present their opinions to the creative company who worked on a show?Read More
May I suggest, now that Hamilton: An American Musical’s place in the culture seems secure, that it may be time to look under the hood of this juggernaut long enough to learn how it works? A second look at the show seemed in order, but with the back row of its balcony selling for a cool $564 (base price, not scalper’s markup) I decided that Alexander Hamilton would not mind, and might even approve, if I foreswore the fiscal improvidence of shelling out that kind of money. Instead, I visited the Atlantic Record website for a free download of the libretto and opened my iTunes. The results were illuminating.Read More