Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Journeyed forth to - LONDON!"

I head out to North Carolina Tuesday to start rehearsal for Midsummer with the Summer Youth Conservatory.  Am coming out a week early to hunker down with Joe and get many hours of planning in on NicNic.  Cast list just went up, and I’m chomping at the bit.  I believe the final cast that went up was “Casting Version 10.” The breakdown costumes sent back was color coded much like the homeland security codes at the airport.  Orange alert – character has one line for this change change. (Yup – should be fun!) Red alert – this actor plays two characters in this scene. (Oops, time to recast the Dotheboys Hall boys.)  As with traveling these days, there just doesn’t seem like any chance of seeing blue or green on the board. Fantastic cast and brilliant designers – I can’t wait.  Anne Bogart once said in a class in grad school that the director’s job is to strew rocks in the path of the artists around you. Overcoming obstacles is the road to great work.  I guess that means in one sense this job is easy.  6+ hours of play, 25 actors playing 150+ characters – we won’t be able to throw a rock without hitting a … rock.

The most exciting part of this whole thing is the opportunity to work with the entire company. This will be my sixth show on the Paul Green stage, but this one is special.  The large-scale shows I have done have been the most important and life altering.  I grew up in Minneapolis a block away from the Guthrie Theatre, and had worked there on and off for four years when we put Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V on together in rep.  It was an incredible exercise in company building, and I left those productions with lifelong friendships.  It is where I met Joe!   The chance here to work with pretty much everyone in the Center For Dramatic Art – guys like David Adamson whose office I’ve walked by a hundred times but never really met – excellent.

Need to be exceptionally productive in this pre-production phase. Among the tricky issues: which scenes can rehearse simultaneously?  How exactly does the set work?  Co-directing – GO.  We will keep as much open as possible, but if Joe is staging Ralph’s office in Part One, and I’m staging a scene in his office in Part Two, we’d better know where the door is before we begin…
Busy several months ahead.  In two months I get married, (hi Wallis!) in four months we’ll be in rehearsal, and in six months I’ll be back in Los Angeles and Nicholas will be running in Chapel Hill.  Here we go!

Nickleby Cast List & Read-Through

Cast list posted outside PlayMakers Rehearsal Hall (scroll down for readable version)

PlayMakers company members attended a two-day casting read-through in April. 

Several actors were still performing PRC's production of Pride and Prejudice, explaining the sideburns. Jeffrey Blair Cornell attended the read-through all day and became Mr. Bennet on the Paul Green stage at night. 

Vocal Coach Bonnie Raphael (in green) started each day of the read-through with a series of warm-ups.

Marianne Miller:         Kate Nickleby, Miss Ledrook

Alice Whitley:           1st Maid, Tilda, Milliner, Master P. Crummles, Wanda

Julie Fishell*:          Mrs. Nickleby, Mrs Grudden, Peg Sliderskew
DeDe Corvinus*:           Miss La Creevy, Rich Lady, Mrs. Crummles, Mrs. Squeers

Lenore Field:          Miss Knag, Mrs. Curdle, Mrs. Lenville, Mrs. Wititterly, 1st Customer

Joy Jones*:                    Mme Mantalini, Miss Snevellicci, 1st Waitress, Young Woman (2.3.4)

Flor de Liz Perez:        Hannah, Snawley Jr, Rich Daughter, Milliner, Ms. Bravassa, Walter, Mrs. Snawley

Allison Altman:           2nd Maid,  Fanny, Milliner, Miss Belvawney, Madeline Bray
Sarah Berk:                   Phib, Mobbs, Milliner, Fiancee, Infant Phenomenon, 2nd Waitress

Guest Artist (TBA):  Nicholas Nickleby
Derrick Ledbetter*:      Cobbey, Milliner, Crummles company, Verisopht, New Smike
John Brummer:          Muffin Boy #1, Jennings, Milliner, Mr. Scaley, Crummles Company, Mr. Pyke, Young Man (Frank)

Ray Dooley*:                  Ralph Nickleby, Crummles company
Kenneth P. Strong*:                  Newman Noggs, Crummles company, Handsaw
Jeffrey Blair Cornell*:  Coachman, Mr. Crummles, Ned Cheeryble, Proprietor  
Jason Powers:          Smike, Croupier
Scott Ripley*:          Flunkey, Mr. Squeers, Mr. Fluggers, Charles Cheeryble
Jimmy Kieffer*:          John Browdie, Mr Pailey, Mr. Curdle, Hawk
David McClutchey:      Jackson, Mr. Pupker, Mr. Lenville, Arthur Gride, Brooker
David Adamson*:          Footman, Old Lord, Col.Chowser, Mr. Wagstaff, Tim Linkinwater
Kahlil Gonzalez-Garcia:  Muffin Boy #2, Belling, Milliner, Mr. Tix, Mr. Bane, Mr. Pluck
Jeffrey Meanza*:          Mantalini, Young Wackford, Mr. Folair, Alphonse, 2nd Customer, Minister
Prince T. Bowie:          Officer #1 (1.1.2 & 2.3.3), Coates, Mr. Snawley, Mr Hetherington
Matthew Murphy:           Snawley Snr., Master Crummles, Mr. Wititterly, Angry Fellow, Walter Bray
Jeb Brinkley:                Officer #2 (1.1.2 & 2.3.3), William, Bolder, 1.2.13 - Flunky2, Landlord, Crummles Company, Wilbur

Note:  Brummer, Flor, Sarah and Kahlil are listed as Milliners and as characters who appear in Milliner scenes; in those scenes they will not be playing milliners.

Crummles Company:
Mr. Vincent Crummles (CAPULET) - Jeff C.
Master Crummles (taller) (BALTHAZAR) - Matt
Master Percy Crummles (JULIET’S LITTLE BR
OTHER) - AliceMrs. Crummles (LADY CAPULET) - DeDe
Mr. Bane who does the tenor lovers (PARIS) - Kahlil
Mr. Wagstaff who's our virtuous old gentleman (PRINCE) – David Adamson
Mr. Pailey who is country comical (WATCHMAN) - Jimmy
Mr. Fluggers who does the cloth (FRIAR LAWRENCE) - Scott
Mr. Hetherington, who swaggers (MERCUTIO) - Prince
Miss Bravassa ( BENVOLIO/BENVOLIA) - Flor
Miss Belvawney who does the pages in white hose; (PARIS’ PAGE) - Allison
Mr. Lenville – (TYBALT) - David McClutcheyMrs. Lenville (LADY MONTAGUE) - Lenore
The Infant Phenomenon (ROMEO’S LITTLE SISTER) - Sarah
Mr. Folair – (MONTAGUE) - Jeff M.
Mrs. Grudden, Stage Manager –(NURSE) - Julie F.
Miss Snevellicci – (JULIET) - Joy
Miss Ledrook who's our secondary romance (ROSALINE) - Marianne
Smike (APOTHECARY) - JasonNicholas (ROMEO) – Guest
PLEASE NOTE: OTHER 5 ACTORS ARE R+J EXTRAS (John B, Ray, Ken, Derrick and Jeb)
* Indicates members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Journey Begins...

Of the marvelous theatre experiences I’ve been given, the most extraordinary ones have been works of massive scale: Genet’s 5 ½ hour The Screens at the Guthrie, Shakespeare’s History Plays at the Guthrie (Richard II, Henry IV, Parts I and II, and Henry V), Angels in America at the Alley, etc… These are huge works that demand so much of the artists committed to them, and so much from the organization that produces them. We chose NICHOLAS NICKLEBY in order to test ourselves; to test ideas about company, ideas about collaboration, ideas about narrative storytelling, and ideas about community.

The play’s opening narration includes the lines:
Speculate. His wife advised him.
Think of your brother, Mr Nickleby, and speculate.
And Mr Nickleby did speculate,
But a mania prevailed,
A bubble burst,
Four stockbrokers took villa residences at Florence,
Four hundred nobodies were ruined,
And one of them was
Mr Nickleby.”

When David Edgar’s play appeared 30 years ago it was a window into a world that had passed from view. Producing the play now, in a time when people who have worked hard and well all their lives can wake-up to find their jobs and their savings are gone, that they have no health insurance, that they belong to a society which treats its poor with indifference or contempt, the piece feels entirely current. We are thrilled that David Edgar will be in residence with us for part of the rehearsal process, helping us to navigate his extraordinary play.
I am excited to co-direct the play with my colleague Tom Quaintance, to have every actor in our resident company in the piece, to work with our spectacular resident designers McKay Coble, Jan Chambers and Jade Bettin, our vocal and movement coaches Bonnie Raphael and Craig Turner, our stage managers Sarah Smiley and Chuck Bayang and all of our artisans and craftspeople who create the extraordinary physical world of the play through sets, costumes, props, lights and sound. 
We look forward to having you join us on this journey. Check back frequently to hear from the team about the process of putting it all together!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our First Post Coming Thursday June 18

Don't miss our first ever Nicholas Nickleby post tomorrow, June 18!