Colorado Springs

Amadeus: Weeks Three through Six

Project Role: Actor
Location: Colorado Springs

READ PART 1 HERE
READ PART 2 HERE
THIS IS PART 3

I'm a little (a lot) behind on this post. I had planned on writing weekly entries on my incredible experience playing Amadeus at THEATREWORKS in Colorado Springs, but time got away from me. I regret that now, as there was so much packed into each week, and now I'm far enough out that most of the day to day details have blurred together. So, I'll do my best at a brief overview, if for no other reason than to preserve what I can for my own sake.

WEEK 3

 Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Our final week dedicated entirely to rehearsals, week three started with two lovely days off, in which I got some work for other projects done as well as visited the jaw-dropping Garden of the Gods with Dana. Our friendship is maybe the coolest thing I got to take from this entire experience, and it was great to see the sights with her.

 Mark and I at KCME

Mark and I at KCME

On Tuesday, Mark and I did little publicity work via a radio interview at local classical/jazz station KCME. Thanks to our host Keith Simon for sending the audio over; you can listen to the segment below.

 Kyle, pre-tech

Kyle, pre-tech

We got back to rehearsing on Wednesday, and had two 10 out of 12 tech days that weekend, then we all came home and fell over dead. Moving from our rehearsal space into the theatre itself and witnessing the incredible design elements, though, was hugely revitalizing.

 

 

In the weirdest piece of happenstance, an orchestra was performing a biographical overview of Mozart's life and work in the theatre right next to ours at the Ent Center. Dana and ran from tech during one of our ten minute breaks and slipped inside, in costume, to check it out.

WEEK 4

During our day off on Monday, our director Kyle and his wife Emily came by the house. Mark and I piled into the car with the two of them and had a great time cruising around the mountains and enjoying the scenery.

Tuesday and Wednesday we had our dress rehearsals, and Wednesday night some gorgeous production photos were taken. You can see a full gallery here.

 Production photos credit: Isaiah Downing 

Production photos credit: Isaiah Downing 

Technically our opening was Thursday, but the overall feeling amongst the cast was that that was a "soft" open. The true bolt of energy hit on Friday. What a ride that was. I wish I could recapture it, but knowing I can't makes it more special. I leaned into the part without reservation that night, and my entire experience was taken to the next level. I think that goes for most of the cast, really. We were off and running.

WEEK 5

 My mom, grandma, and I at Balanced Rock

My mom, grandma, and I at Balanced Rock

Early in the week my mom and grandma flew in to see the show, and we spent a bunch of time on either end of the performance exploring the area. It was a lot of fun and extremely sweet of both of them to come all the way out. Later in the week I was surprised by another visit from one of my oldest friends, Christopher Sauer, who drove in all the way from KC without warning! Having loved ones appear in audiences otherwise composed of strangers truly meant the world to me.

Prior to some performances, an excellent quartet performed Mozart in the lobby! I came out once to show ‘em what’s what.

WEEK 6

By now, I won't lie, I was tired. Real tired. This role was turning out to be the most exhausting I'd ever done. The mania of it, the physicality of it, the vocal hugeness, the overall constant state of being at a "10." It was a lot. Don't get me wrong; I loved every minute of it, but I was finding that my plans of exploration during the day were usually dropped in exchange for naps and TV to conserve my energy.

My friend and writing partner Brian Huther flew in toward the end of the week, which provided a ton of fun as well as a hearty shot in the arm.

 I did manage to get out of bed on one of the last days and check out some awesome ancient cliff-dwellings in town.

I did manage to get out of bed on one of the last days and check out some awesome ancient cliff-dwellings in town.

The final lap came at closing weekend. Like the weekend before it, this stretch contained four performances in the span of 48 hours; Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 4:00 and 7:30, Sunday at 2:00. By the time we'd ended that, I was both very ready for a break, and downright heartbroken to say goodbye.


I could write pages and pages about my gratitude to everyone involved, my love for this play, the journey of tackling this role, etc. Our crowds were full and consistently appreciative and enthusiastic. Our crew was dedicated and ready to go. The cast was a blast. And of course, I can't bring this to a close without thanking Kyle Hatley, and all of THEATREWORKS, one more time for bringing me in to do this. This turned out to be a dream role I didn't even know I had. And - no joke - it's now my mission to do it again before I age out. What an enormous gift this was. What a wonderful experience. I don't know what more to say than this:

Thank you.

(Just a few unforgettable views from the cast house I stayed in)

Amadeus: Week Two

Project role: Actor
Location: Colorado Springs

READ PART 1 HERE
THIS IS PART 2
READ PART 3 HERE

 Checkin' out the Fortepiano 

Checkin' out the Fortepiano 

If you're uninitiated with this project, check out the week one blog entry here.

A couple days ago we finished up our second week of rehearsals for Amadeus, and as I write this we're coming to the end of two days off. Week two was a doozy. We worked our way all the way through ACT II and wrapped up with our first full run on Sunday, which I'm happy to say went very well!

For the Mozart role, the first act is devoted mainly to impish mania and unrestrained outbursts. In other words, it's mostly just fun. He's still playful and beaming with arrogance. The second act, however, is where the waters get choppy. Now you're navigating through a constant onslaught of crippling defeats, which produce fury, horror, grief, madness, and eventually, death. It's a pretty big challenge, but it's a rewarding one, and I hope to do it some amount of justice.

 Mark loves working with me!

Mark loves working with me!

I think the day from this week that's going to stick with me was when we first blocked out the ending. Well, Mozart's ending. On that particular day we had a LOT to get through - something like 20 pages - so there wasn't much time to stop and smell the roses. The result of this was Dana and I running through Mozart's death sequence several times amidst some surrounding logistical work.

 

What amazed me was that even though we were just kind of sorting through it, we were both WRECKED by the time it was over. Constanze pleads with her husband to stay alive while Mozart himself, hardly registering her, desperately attempts to finish his own Requiem in his mind. A selection from that piece plays throughout the scene, and it is achingly beautiful. Lying on that table, floating through that incredible piece, is already one of the coolest moments I've had as a performer, and we're just getting started.

Next comes tech week. It's going to be a lot of hard work. I feel ready. And unprepared. How do shows always manage to do that?

IMG_20180414_135035-01.jpeg

Let Me Get This Straight - Pilot Episode

Project role: Improviser
Location: Recorded in Colorado Springs / KC

Today my buddy Ryan Hruza and I released a pilot/concept episode of a podcast we're calling "Let Me Get This Straight."

Ryan and I have known and worked with each other for a few years now, originally connecting through The KC Improv Company. The idea for the podcast came about when when were both in Chicago this January performing a musical. Almost all of our off-stage conversations were riff-sessions of some kind, and we kept finding ourselves in these patterns where he'd say something intentionally dense or misguided, I'd play straight man and get him to elaborate, then slowly we'd weave up some elaborate, ridiculous concept. That, basically, is the show.

My previous experience in improv-based comedy is the podcast For Serious - a Friend Dog Studios venture with Brian Huther and Seth Macchi. Technically we never quit that show, it's just been on an extended hiatus. The reason for that isn't a lack of love for the program - I personally am head over heels for it - it's just that it's a concept that takes extensive post-production time (10-20 hours per episode, usually) and we just sort of ran low on resources.

This concept, however, is the sort of thing that can be recorded in about 20 minutes and edited in about an hour, so the pressure is very low, and we can just sort of feel it out for now. The pilot is a proof-of-concept, recorded on decent mics from Ryan and I's current residences in KC and Colorado Springs, respectively.

Let me know what you think! We'd love to make more.

Amadeus: Week One

Project role: Actor
Location: Colorado Springs

THIS IS PART 1
READ PART 2 HERE
READ PART 3 HERE

Something I've been gleefully and nervously anticipating for the past couple of months is finally underway. My friend and fellow KC expatriate Kyle Hatley called me unexpectedly a while back to offer me the role of Mozart in an upcoming production of Amadeus by Peter Shaffer. The show is at THEATREWORKS in Colorado Springs where I'd be housed and well taken care of, he said.

Once I'd picked my jaw up off the floor and said yes, he went to check on some Equity stuff to make sure the whole thing would be union compliant, and I basically didn't breathe until a couple days later when he called back with the confirmation.

  Pikes Peak after a day of snow, as seen from the theatre.

Pikes Peak after a day of snow, as seen from the theatre.

So, here we are. In a gorgeous mountain town with an incredible new performing arts center, rehearsing one of my favorite plays. Depending on how you look at it, Mozart is either a sort of co-lead or secondary lead. The story centers around him, but it is told through the eyes of fellow Vienna composer Antonio Saliere, a part played here by KC acting great Mark Robbins, who is making us all look bad. Seriously, I don't remember the last time I saw an actor come in so thoroughly and perfectly prepped for such a massively demanding role.

  Table read at the first rehearsal on Tuesday.

Table read at the first rehearsal on Tuesday.

My wife Constanze is played by the fantasticly talented Dana Omar, a fellow Chicago-based actor. The three of us are all currently living in the (top-notch) cast house provided by the theatre, and I consider myself immensely lucky to be working with and seeing them both on a regular basis. The rest of the cast are local actors (listed below!) whom I've just had the pleasure of meeting in the last few days, and I'm constantly being wowed by their hard work and incredible skill. I've got some hardcore impostor syndrome goin' on right now, this is a hell of a group to be accepted into.

There's so, so much I could write about, so I'll try to keep my thoughts organized and split this into multiple entries as the process goes on. At the moment we've just finished week one, and I've been spending the day getting some rest. We covered the first act at a breakneck pace this week in Kyle's capable and energetic hands. I am having an absolute blast. Mozart (as depicted here, and, probably in reality) is a capricious, spoiled, ego-maniacal, eccentric, fiery, silly, genius little man-child. He gets the whole spectrum of emotional experience in his arc, and it's honestly difficult to find a choice that's "too weird" when playing around with him. Not that that's gonna stop me from trying.

  Definitely a painting and not a hastily taken selfie during a promotional shoot.

Definitely a painting and not a hastily taken selfie during a promotional shoot.

The main difficulty I've had thus far is just the sheer volume of possible avenues to pursue. Dozens if not hundreds of books have been written about the guy, a full playlist of his recorded music is over TWO WEEKS long, and a google search for "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart" turns up just shy of 2 million results. And none of that is to even mention the storied history of the play (/film) itself. It's an embarrassment of riches, but, unfortunately, there's only so much time before that curtain opens, so I've had to be choosy about what to focus on, and what to explore, both onstage and off.

Tomorrow, we dive into ACT II, which is where things really start to fall apart for Amadeus. It's gonna be a challenge for sure, but I'm so, so grateful to be surrounded by a director, crew, and cast that are so generous, so encouraging, and so thoroughly capable. I'm literally figuratively pinching myself; I don't know how I got so damn lucky.

The full team for the show is listed below. If you're in the area or would like to be (it's beautiful here, come take an affordable little vacation!) check out the website for tickets and more info. 



CAST:
Mark Robbins - Antonio Salieri
Ben Auxier - Wolfgang A. Mozart
Dana Omar - Constanze Weber
Jennifer DeDominici - Joseph II
Bob Morsch - Johann K. Von Strack
David Hastings - Count Orsini-Rosenberg
Tom Paradise - Baron Van Swieten
Monica J. Thompson - Katherina Cavalieri/Ens.
Erica Erickson - Teresa Salieri/Ens.
Kara Carroll - Salieri’s Cook/Ens.
Hossein Forouzandeh - Salieri’s Valet/Ens.
Marisa D. Hebert - Venticelli I
Sammie Joe Kinnett - Venticelli II
Omid Harrison - Major Domo/Priest
Steve Wallace - Bonno

ARTISTIC TEAM:
Kyle Hatley - Director
Jack Magaw - Scenic Designer
Maggie Armendariz - Asst. Scenic Designer
Stephanie Bradley - Costume Designer
Amanda Zieve - Lighting Designer
Joseph Concha - Sound Designer
Kristen Wickersheim - Stage Manager
Lauren Duggin - Props Master
Alex Williams - Asst. Stage Manager

(READ WEEK 2's BLOG ENTRY HERE)

Gann Asphalt & Concrete Ad

Project role: Actor
Location: Recorded in Chicago, Animated in Colorado Springs

A few weeks ago my friend Jeremiah England invited me to send over a VO audition for some character work he needed on a client's project. His company, Sound & Shadow, based out of Colorado Springs / Denver, produces a variety of videos for clientele.

I play both "Pothole" and "Sidewalk" in the animated spot, which was fun and easy to contribute. I simply recorded the audio using a basic rig at my apartment in Chicago and sent it over, going back and forth a few times for notes and redirects. 

In the weirdest coincidence, as I type this I'm actually in Colorado Springs myself for something utterly unrelated (much more on that soon.) Ya never know where the next gig will come from!

Thanks to everyone at Sound & Shadow for having me on!