“Mary, Mary”

mary maryWorking on this production has been an absolute delight. It’s a comedy from 1961 that looks at what happens when misunderstandings go unaddressed in marriages and close relationships. The characters and dialogue are cracklin’ good and whip smart.

The costume designer Ben Philipp works on the TV show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” so we got to get some great period costumes from their incredible stock at Steiner Studios by the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The role I’m playing is a fun challenge. It’s like an 80/20 mix of Noel Coward and Harold Pinter. It’s funny but does take some twists. The people I know who are familiar with the play say it is one of their favorites.

I play a book publisher caught between his ex-wife and his fiancée. Sort of an early Jack Lemmon kind of role. I get to say things like, “Well, let’s say it’s not prose. Actually, it’s not even punctuated. I get the feeling you waited until you were out of breath and then threw in a semicolon.”

The cast is really great. Shay Gines did a top-notch job of casting this.   is perfect for the roles they are playing and are tearing it up. When you can throw something out and someone gives it back to you on stage, that’s the closest thing to nirvana I know.

I do want to come clean about how when I first read this, I didn’t think it said anything about the topsy-turvy world in which we now live. But the more we dig into it, I can see how it’s about people navigating a lot of unexpected changes in a society on the brink of big transformations. Shay said that there were only 4.4 divorces out of every 1,000 people at that time. So to see the title character be so strong and self-reliant must have been an eye opener. In many ways, the script is ahead of its time.

Retro Productions’s Jean Kerr’s comedy “Mary, Mary” running May 3 to 18 at the Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street, between Lafayette and Bowery. Nearest subways: 6 to Bleecker, N/R to 8th Street, or B/D/F to Broadway Lafayette.

Directed by Shay Gines. Featuring Heather Cunningham, Desmond Dutcher, Chris Harcum, Meghan Jones, and Rob Neill. It runs about two hours with an intermissions. Tickets, which are already selling briskly, are $22 and $25. Buy tickets here.

Disinformation (a short film)

Got to see a cut of the short film “Disinformation” this weekend. It was written and directed by Timothy Judd. I play an intelligence agent who gets in hot water for revealing classified information. Marissa Carpio, pictured below, is the agent who comes to set me straight in it.

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We shot this on a chilly Friday in November in an underpass in the northern part of Riverside Park. It was threatening to rain that day so this helped keep the equipment dry.

We only spent a few hours at the location but my face got a chill. My suit in the picture is great for warmer weather. Marissa had the good sense to wear thermals under her outfit.

I haven’t done a chilly shoot like this since 2012. I forgot how the cold can go through your shoes. On this other shoot, it started before sunrise and went way after sunset. I was having trouble making plosive sounds that day because my lips gave up as icicles formed on my mouth.

Marissa and I had a good time cracking each other up between takes at rehearsal and while waiting between takes. I won’t give away the ending because this might go to film festivals. But it doesn’t work out so well for one of us.

Six Characters in Search of an Award

I had an incredible time working on Mariah MacCarthy‘s “Honors Students” at the Wild Project in the East Village over the last couple of months. I had the good fortune to work on several roles for a script that was equal parts brutal and beautiful.

All the members of the team on this project were a dream. Mariah and the director Leta Tremblay refer to one another as art wives and it was nice to be adopted by them! The rest of the cast (Thanh Ta, Olivia Levine, and Arielle Goldman) brought it every night. The design and production teams made this a top-notch and cohesive indie theater production. Special shout out to our stage manager Michelle Navis and house manager Cassy Lynch who made the show a home away from home each night.

Can you please vote for “Honors Students” for The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation Awards? Everyone working on this deserves high scores! And, I hate to ask, but it would mean a lot to me if you voted for me as Best Featured Actor. In all my dog years in NYC, I have never been a finalist–let alone a winner of an IT Award–for my work as an actor, solo performer, or playwright. 

honors students characters

Moments from the six characters I played in “Honors Students.”

I got to play six very different kinds of roles: an absent father, an arrested development waiter, a woke(ish) professor, a Buddhist nurse, a tough scary guy (possibly mob related), and an older blind woman. Through much of it, I felt like I had one foot in clown and the other in Pinter. I very much appreciated how Leta and others let me explore choices that brought the roles to life physically. When I first got the script for the audition, I was inspired to write monologues for the two roles coming up with a backstory for both of them. The dialogue and the scenes I had always had me peeling layers to the end of the run. 

One kind soul texted me, “You have a range like a MFer!” And to paraphrase our mighty playwright Mariah MacCarthy, “If you have a show that calls for one guy to play a bunch of parts in your show, get Chris Harcum.” 

The deadline to vote for us for the IT Awards at http://nyitawards.com/vote/ballota.asp is this Sunday, Nov. 18. Thank you!!

Photo by Kent Meister

From a session last summer for Kent Meister‘s We Are Stories: Faces of New York Indie Theater. Kent calls this an outtake. I call it one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken. I really don’t enjoy having my picture taken. But he is an incredible photographer who truly makes you feel like you are doing something easy and special at the same time. I love seeing all the pictures from this series and am very honored to have been part of it.

You can check out more of Kent’s work at www.kentmeisterphotography.com.

We Are Stories project by Kent Meister

photo by Kent Meister

Standards July 2001

Came across this image for a solo show I made back in the summer of 2001 called “Standards.” This was my third solo piece. I created and rehearsed it in under six weeks. I was intending to do one kind of show but everything changed when I witnessed my grandmother die from cancer.

I asked my brother Ben to draw an image for it. I said I’d like a remote control fighting another remote control and there should be something American about it. I love the little details he made in it. See if you can spot Waldo and Spidey. I retitled this in 2003 to “Gotham Standards” and performed it in Canada and FringeNYC.

As weaponized divisiveness seems to be the regular room temperature setting for the country these days, this image seems even more relevant. Happy 4th of July, everyone!

standards.jpg

Shaking the Room

 

I’m having a great time rehearsing excerpts from Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and Two Gentlemen of Verona for Boomerang Theater’s benefit on Monday night in the West Village. It’s called Shake the Room and goes up on Monday, July 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here. Audience members will call out the scenes from a list of titles like “My Best Friend’s Girlfriend” or “Just Get a Room Already,” and can give the actors style prompts like western, film noir, superhero movie, etc.

Brian Gillespie is directing my cohort of scenes and I am performing with Francesca Calo, Andy Ingalls and Katherine McLeod. The evening is hosted by Brian Silliman. Below is a picture with about half of the actors involved.

Boomerang Shake the Room

Top Row, left to right: David Arthur Bachrach, Francesca Calo, Devon Caraway
Center Row: Dottie Davis, Philip Emeott, Jack Halpin, Chris Harcum
Bottom Row: Jerome Harmann-Hardeman, Andy Ingalls, Amanda Jones, Katherine McLeod

 

Shake the Room

Katharine McLeod and I brainstorming in a rehearsal for “Shake the Room.” Photo by Andy Ingalls.

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#OldHeadshotDay

An old contact sheet from my first headshot session in NYC in 2005. This was just before everyone started using color pics as a standard. Headshots are a funny thing. They never truly capture what someone is like. I didn’t like any of these pictures and now I see so many good ones. I miss the black & white days.

headshots 2005

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