Desperately Seeking the Exit All-Star Reading

I had the great pleasure to perform this weekend with a very talented line up of David Carl, Coco Cohn, Carl Andress, Kevin R. Free, and Frank Vlastnik in a reading of Peter Michael Marino‘s Desperately Seeking the Exit this weekend in the Unofficial Upper East Side EdFest.

This piece holds a special meaning to me. It was the first show Aimee and I saw at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012. We got to meet Pete after the show and he has becomes one of my closest friends. He is a truly talented and caring artist and person.

I went on to see this show four more times back here in NYC. More than any show in which I was not directly working. Why? Because it is a tremendous story of almost making it on London’s West End with a musical adaptation of the film Desperately Seeking Susan and the music of Blondie. What happens is really heartbreaking but ultimately is the story of turning a big loss into something positive. It is a reminder to keep going.

Funnily enough, while I am a big fan of ’80s pop culture, I have never seen that movie. I didn’t think I needed to back in the day. The video for Madonna’s “Into the Groove” was on permanent rotation on MTV.

We had a packed crowd at Ryan’s Daughter. It felt like being in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where only maybe three of 300+ venues are actual theater spaces.  I like doing theater in non-traditional spaces. Peter performed the opening and closing bits of the piece. I was the last of the other actors to perform in the roster that night, which was a little nerve-wracking. Also, I had the more emotional section of the piece. It was sort of like when bands plays covers of bands being inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. You want to honor the music but bring your own style to it.

I got some solid laughs and I think I was successful at painting the images of what happened with Pete’s words. I did try to infuse a line reading I thought would get a laugh and it didn’t. Fortunately, Pete was there to make an ad lib. “Oh, that was the joke you added?” In the course of the night, that worked out even better.

Gotta say, it’s nice to be called a “star.” (I think I am least in terms of being a star in this list.) And it’s nice to do something that’s SOLD OUT! It takes the stress out of doing it because you know what you’ll have in terms of audience and prep for that.

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One-Minute Play Festival #1MPF

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I’m really looking forward to seeing this tomorrow night. I’m one of the 80 playwrights involved in this festival this week. It’s truly a celebration of the many voices in downtown NYC theater.

My evening includes the playwrights Sarah Shaefer, Duncan Pflaster, Elisabeth Ng, Rachael Jenison, Tyler Rivenbark, Bixby Elliot, Amina Henry, Katherine Clark Gray, James Carter, Susan Bernfield, Edmond Malin, Monica Bauer, Jessica Luck, Tim Errickson, Ian Allen, Judith Leora, Stacey R. Rose, Dominic Colon, Maurice Decaul, Paula Pizzi-Black, Migdalia Cruz, Nat Cassidy, Lindsay Joy, Guadalis Del Carmen, David Lawson, Scott Casper, Robin Rothstein, Georgina Escobar, Jona Tarlin, Isaac Rathbone, Kari Bentley-Quinn, Nico Grelli, and Ryan M. Fogarty.

The directors are Ana Margineau, Ben Randle, Christine Zagrobelny, Dina Vovsi, Hondo Weiss-Richmond, Jesse Edward Rosboow, Maggie Cino, Patrice Miller, and Philip Emeott. There are also many talented actors giving their all in these espresso shots of theater.

It’s Jan. 23 and 24, 2018 at 8pm at the New Ohio Theatre at 154 Christopher Street. Tickets are $20. http://newohiotheatre.org/oneminuteplays2018.htm

Is studying acting important anymore?

Hilary Howard wrote a piece in the New York Times about the shrinking number of acting studios in NYC. They have been impacted by an outrageous real estate market, the changing focus of actors wanting to make it big instead of learning the craft of acting, and the surge of university departments.

The long and short is that the studios that seem to be surviving the best are ones affiliated with universities where tuition can be over $50,000 per year. The studios that haven’t folded are facing huge rents. Some are letting go large chunks of their spaces.

The real estate in New York has already devastated many smaller theater spaces. You can see a list of them on the League of Independent Theater’s Lost Spaces page. I am furious that Google is going to force out Atlantic’s Acting Studio from its building by charging commercial rent.

Really, Google, are you hurting that badly for money?

I hope the mayor and the city council will look into this. New York isn’t New York without great theater. Theater isn’t great without actors with serious training and chops. This training needs to be accessible to people across the spectrum and not just the wealthy or the ones willing to take on three decades worth of debt.

Theater used to be the entertainment for the working class. Now it’s by the rich and for the richer. That’s a real shame.

European vacation

Aimee and I went on a belated honeymoon. Paris to several cities in Belgium to Amsterdam and back to Paris. We took a ton of pictures. Here’s one I took of us in Amsterdam. I was over-confident about the weather when packing and had to get the hat, scarf, and jacket over there at a place called C&A. I overpacked other clothes.

amsterdam selfie

TOSOS and Street Theater

Tonight is the final performance for this run of Doric Wilson’s “Street Theater” presented by The Other Side of Silence at the Eagle. 12 performances in 15 nights. We are over-sold. It’s been an incredible whirlwind experience jumping on board with this project. The life and history of the play written by someone who was at the Stonewall all 3 days of the riot was palpable. I have rarely been part of a play that was such an event. Some plays have a special meaning for people but this was something extra.

It was incredibly kind of Kathleen Warnock to suggest I audition for the part and so great that the director Mark Finley and producer Barry Childs could see me play the undercover vice cop. From the moment I got the script, I knew this was going to be an experience that required me to push past my fear and to bring it.

10 of the 14 actors returned to roles they had played previously. From my first rehearsal, I could see the difference. No one was searching for how to play their parts or trying to understand what the play was saying. The roles were already in their bodies. Russell Jordan took me under his wings early on and helped me find my way with this. He warned me that many people know this show and frequently with mouth your lines along with you. Mark could feed you your lines without looking at the script during rehearsals. Chris Weikel, who did a tremendous job with making subtle choices with the costumes, also stepped in during a rehearsal and knew most of the lines and blocking.

street theatre cast

The 2017 cast of Street Theater

Michael Lynch has been playing Boom Boom since the first production of this play in the early 80s. Watching him with Chris Anderson as Ceil has been a nightly master class in timing and ease. They are so funny together. The delight I feel is like watching the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man. They are indelible characters. I also get to watch Jeremy Lawrence and Tim Abrams do a scene each night that is hilarious to watch but really tragic when you think about it. Doric put so many shifts in it, it’s like watching a repertory play season in 7 minutes.

Jasmyn May Abuarab, Christopher Borg, Josh Kenney, Desmond Dutcher, T. Thompson, Ben Strothmann, Patrick Porter, Gabe Morales, and Sarah Smithson are all wonderful people on and off stage. A cast of 14 and no egos in sight!! I wish the run was longer so I could get to know them all better. If you get the chance to work with TOSOS or anyone involved in this production, do it. They are all so nice and very, very talented.

tim abrams cupcakes

Tim Abrams made cupcakes. This cast did the most baking I’ve ever experienced for any show I’ve done. 

Our playing space is about 3 feet wide and 30 feet long with audience on both sides. This keep you on your toes. The final scene requires we all be onstage. I quickly grew to enjoy playing in this space. It’s alive and it keeps you fresh. You can’t phone a single moment in or the audience would know. The staff at the Eagle were just great to us. Really helpful and supportive. You can tell a show works when the techies laugh and react at a show. A show rocks when the bouncers and bartenders are enraptured.

A couple people mentioned that I had become jacked since “Martin Denton, Martin Denton.” I was a little worried about this since I read the play and knew I needed to be the tough guy so I hit the gym a bunch and did push ups on my off days. Truth be told everyone working at the Eagle is more ripped than me by a mile but there are all so nice to me. I guess I did pretty well with the show because a couple of the bartenders would buy my drinks after the show. One person said I broke her heart a little because she didn’t like seeing me be the bad guy. It was great fun playing a bad guy. I haven’t really played one since 2003. Not sure what that says. Aimee came to the show 4 times. She said it was a little hard for her to see me be mean at the end of the play.

Most nights after the show I was able to quickly get to the Hudson River Greenway to bike from Chelsea up to Harlem along the river. Some night the wind pushed hard against me. Extensions of the hurricanes, I’m sure. Made me think how there is a connection between all of us and sometimes you have to push your way through forces going against you. Sometimes you have to to do it for others who can’t.

Very few people or bikes were on that path at that hour. The gentle splashing of the river. The implausible beauty of New Jersey in silhouette. The boats docked around 79th. The whooshing of the cars on the West Side Highway. A moon hanging over Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. A peaceful end to a great night each night.