Twas the night before opening and all through the theater, not a creature was stirring…wait a minute. This was the last dress rehearsal; everyone in the place was stirring; the lights were shining; the sound was at full volume; and, chaos ensued. There’s no calm moment for anyone, but it’s theater so it’s normal and gets everyone energized.
Before we close our last Writer’s Block blog and end show rehearsals, I wanted to share some of the favorite lines of the cast. You’ll have to see the show, though, to know why they’re favorites – can’t give too much away before opening night.
Conrad: “You could get eaten by a bear.”
Bernie: "Maybe he's not the Conrad we thought he was."
The Torkelsons: “Them.”
Madge: “She was probably really good at it, 'cause they gave her an ‘A’.”
Bernie: "So if we don't smoke it, what do we do with it?”
Summer: "It looks like someone chewed up a whole box of crayola crayons and vomited them all over the place!"
Conrad: "I'm bald!"
Karen: "Isn't Cleveland the same as extinction?"
Bernie: "Oh yeah, I feel great!"
Madge: “Are we gonna do it now? While he's in the privy?”
Ralph: "Yeah, keep writin.”
Bernie: "The pleasure is yours."
Conrad: "WHYYYYYYY would I do that?!?"
Madge: “That's yer idea? Kind of stupid ain't it?”
That’s a wrap for this show. Curtains!
The Director, Dave Joseph, started planning the character roles before auditions even started. He thought about what type of personality was needed to bring each part to life. It’s usually an intense process, and this was no different. Then came auditions and so many people came that were so good that it threw that whole thought process out the window, which is a director’s best, worst nightmare.
In the end, Dave says it came down to the chemistry and stage presence with one another that helped him decide. He’ll let you as the audience be the judge of that chemistry, but I can guarantee that the whole cast is hilarious together.
The development for each actor to ‘become’ their character began at the start of rehearsals. It was easier for some in this show than others. Here’s what some of the cast had to say on it.
Travis Narry found a little of himself in his character, Conrad Baker. Some of his actions and sarcastic comments as Conrad are really what and how Travis would say something, which makes the character that much more believable. He describes his character as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which leads to some unfortunate misunderstandings.
Madge Torkelson (Amy Ellefson) describes her character as being “blindly devoted to her man and his conspiracies. She’s big hearted and practical. She cares deeply about the people in her life unless they reject or hurt her. Then, watch out because she'll shoot you where ya ain't got vital organs or give away yer man cave.” Now, she hasn’t admitted to any similarities to her character so I guess you’ll just have to see the show to find out if she was able to ‘get into character.’
Eric Armstrong took longer to ‘become’ Bernie Lebowitz since Eric and Bernie are pretty much opposites. He’s excited by the challenge to re-invent himself as Bernie in this play and has experimented with each scene during rehearsals. Eric admits to only one commonality between them-that they both like to read, but Eric suspects that they have somewhat different tastes in literature.
Then, there’s also Summer Breeze played by Jessica Kowach. She describes Summer as a super happy, Irish hippie, tree hugging, flower child that just wants everyone to love everyone else. Jessica is a wannabe hippie and definitely fills the happy part of that description so these two have had a connection from the start.
In the end, whether these actors are similar or different than their counterpart characters, they’ve worked tirelessly these past couple months to bring this show to life. Soon, you’ll get to see just how ‘in character’ they can be so make sure you get your tickets now and join us this weekend for the show.
So I’ll let you in on a secret about the show…it’s a comedy. And, I don’t mean just any ordinary make you chuckle kind of comedy. I mean a laugh out loud, hold your stomach muscles, rip-roaring comedy. And that’s direct from the cast. They’ve worked tirelessly to make this a show to remember, and I think they’ll succeed.
This motley crew of kooky characters was willing to share their favorite scenes and memories with you so here’s a peak into what you can look forward to…
The egotistical, New York Editor, Bernie Lebowitz (Eric Armstrong) plays his womanizing role to perfection often bringing laughs during rehearsals even to Eric himself. Bernie's fumbled attempt at getting close to Conrad’s wife, Karen (Ruthy Stapleton), reveals the depths that Bernie is willing to sink to, and his attire at the time (or lack thereof) make the situation all the more interesting.
Ralph Torkelson (Devin Phillis) and his wife, Madge (Amy Ellefson), keep the Thanksgiving festivities…ummm…shall we say a gun-toting good time. Some of their favorite experiences were when Madge found out Ralph has sensitive collar bones after they have a passionate reunion. There’s also the scene where Madge produces ‘snot’ on command. Or, there’s the fact that they break nearly all ‘firearm safety’ rules. And, trust me, that’s just the beginning of funny scenes with these two.
This cast also came up with their own language and labeled scenes by unique titles. For instance, there’s susceptical and subscepticle. (And, no that’s no typo. They’re new additions to this cast’s language.) There’s a hug and tug scene that is a favorite of everyone’s. Travis Narry, who plays Conrad Baker, now refers to people who are being jerks as being of the ‘O’Hara Clan’ because of this show. Oh, and let’s not forget the ASSistant.
Now, before we give too much away, I have one final fun rehearsal moment to share. It has to do with the first time the “Winnebenago Warrior” costume was donned and involved a furry tail and dancing. Guess you’ll just have to see the show to figure that clue out.
Writer's Block - Director's Chair
Opening night of our next production is upon us so that means lots of fun, great entertainment, and more blogs from backstage with the director and actors. To start, let’s find out what Writer’s Block is all about.
Every writer has experienced writer’s block on any given project, and that’s just what Conrad Baker (Travis Narry) is experiencing while his book deadline is fast approaching. Unfortunately for him, chaos ensues when the cabin he’s retreated to fills with unique ‘characters’ that further distract him. Director, Dave Joseph, describes it as ‘what can go wrong, does.’
From the beginning, Dave’s been greatly impressed with the talent that came for auditions and even more so with the cast’s chemistry together. As a first-time director, he’s enjoyed watching the evolution of each character and the whole show. While he won’t admit to a FAVORITE scene, he’s enjoyed, “watching how many things that were funny, stayed funny and constantly discovering new things to laugh at. '...one final tug!!!"
This show was written by R-ACT’s own, Larry Spinnenweber, and Dave previously saw it as an audience member. He enjoyed the show then and says, “I think ours may play out a little more chaotic and edgy. It's all part of the essence of THEATRE!!! There are no 'wrong ways'... just someone else's interpretation.” He’s looking forward to opening night and aims to give the audience “a memorable night with some great people exercising their talents.”
One thing he knows for sure, everyone has worked hard to put on a great production, and it’s truly been a team effort. “I was fortunate enough to have an INCREDIBLE CAST and a FANTASTIC ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (my wife Amy). She is definitely the more cerebral one of us... my vision would fall horribly short if it weren't for her planning and focus!!! Between her and the cast making this show what it is, the rest was easy.”