Joe Keefe on Peter and the Starcatcher

June 29, 2017 § Leave a comment

Peter horizontal smallImagination – the ability to form new ideas within one’s own mind – is a quality sorely lacking in the world around us. We surrender our imaginations to numbing fillers like video games or reality television, wondering why we just watched the very thing we just watched – a bit like regretting the bowl of Cheetos we just inhaled.

Great theater, on the other hand, engages audiences on many levels – sensory and tactile, conscious and subconscious interactions – while rousing that underused talent that we’ve parked on the couch: our imaginations. Nowhere is that stirring quality of inspiration more apparent than in the wonderful show Peter and the Starcatcher.

A “prequel” to the classic tale Peter Pan, Peter and the Starcatcher kicks off as Molly, a young teen girl and precocious “starcatcher”, is sent on parallel secret missions by her father, Lord Aster. Molly and her father must protect precious star-stuff intended for her Majesty, Queen Victoria through trials across the ocean.

Pirates and plots, storms and high seas, comedy and intrigue abound as trunks are switched, boys are lost and found, a Captain gets a Hook and Peter becomes Pan. Imagination overflows as each moment unfolds from the prior one, a jumbling tumble of funny and fearsome tales.

Peter and the Starcatcher is the perfect conclusion to our 2016/17 season especially as it follows the hit musical HAIR. When we plan our seasons we strive to strike a balance of interests, subjects and tastes. In this case, we wanted to follow HAIR – a show noted for its adult and counter-culture themes – with a show that is more family-oriented, a show that grandparents can enjoy right along with the grandkids. Peter and the Starcatcher fits that bill perfectly.

Having said that, it should be noted that while “Peter” is certainly a family show, it is definitely not a “kid’s show” like Seussical or Cinderella. Similar to the classic Peter Pan, Peter and the Starcatcher appeals to adult audience members right along with the tween-agers and teens, awakening imaginations in anyone who has ever heard a tall tale or have been told a fabulous yarn.

Join us on the funny and fierce journey of Peter and the Starcatcher. Your imagination will be glad you did.

Joe Keefe – Metropolis Executive/Artistic Director

 

HAIR The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical

May 18, 2017 § Leave a comment

Political upheaval. Social unrest. Protests and flower power and race and activism. These themes were common to the 1960s and, to a considerable degree, they still echo through our society. While HAIR celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, it continues to be dynamically relevant, topically important and most of all, a touching tribute to hope and peace, love and freedom. I wish I could say this classic musical is merely nostalgic but its themes are more important now than ever.

Having offered those ideas, this show is even more important as a work of engaging, riveting entertainment. Young hippies searching for love and truth and connection, “adults” who try to protect young ones from a world no one understands and, always the music, the timeless lovely melodies, the powerfully magnificent songs and solos and orchestrations of HAIR resonate into music theater history.

HAIR is famous for many things including the moment – the hippie tribe shedding clothes – that changed legitimate theater forever. Certainly nudity is firmly rooted in many forms of theater, from the ancient Greeks through Burlesque and then today’s works of art, the human body has been celebrated and revealed in its many glories. And yes, we are adhering to the original script and interpretation – though I add that our depiction of the human body is done with reverence, taste and dramatic significance. It is an important moment and one we respect with all our collective power.

In the spirit of the age, our rendition of HAIR is notable for another attribute: our Director, Choreographer and Musical Director are female. Lauren Rawitz, Jen Cupani and Kailey Rockwell are dynamic, powerful artists at the peak of their capabilities. They provide talents and experience which have helped mold our young cast into a tribe of extraordinary strength and unity.

As you might gather, I dearly love this show for too many reasons to list. But perhaps the most important reason is that I grew up with this show. HAIR deeply affected this young, aspiring theater person at a formative time, a phase when the messages of love and hope and peace and music helped shape me and moved the world around us all.

Aquarius, Hair, Easy to Be Hard, Good Morning Starshine – these songs delivered by a powerhouse cast will carry you back to a time when peace and love were more important than money, power and ambition. I hope you love this HAIR as much as I do.

– Joe Keefe, Executive/Artistic Director

 

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Executive Director Joe Keefe on Playwright Tom Stoppard

January 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

“WORDS ARE SACRED. THEY DESERVE RESPECT. IF YOU GET THE RIGHT ONES, IN THE RIGHT ORDER, YOU CAN NUDGE THE WORLD A LITTLE.”

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This maxim springs from Tom Stoppard, Academy and Tony Award-winning playwright of our upcoming production Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and that principle is the fundamental motivation behind every great work of theater: understanding and shaping the world around us. Words are the currency of theater and, coincidentally, one of the things that separates man from beast. The ability to compose thoughts into words and turn words into actions is what makes man Man.

The interesting, sometimes astounding, use of words is what separates Mr. Stoppard from everyone else – he is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest wordsmiths in theater’s history. Even a brief glimpse at Mr. Stoppard’s credits demonstrate a mammoth talent: Shakespeare in Love, Arcadia, Brazil, The Real Inspector Hound and too many more to list.

We are unbelievably fortunate to present the brilliant play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead on the 50th anniversary of its star-making run. This breakthrough work re-imagines Shakespeare’s classic tale of Hamlet told through the comically anxious trials of two minor characters: what if you were dead and didn’t know it or couldn’t prove it? What if death is a boat traveling nowhere or what if life is simply a coin-flip activity of something other than death? And why does this traveling troupe of tragedians keep entering from nowhere at all?

Like Becket and Ionesco before him, Stoppard explores the specifics of existence through a void of uncertainty. Rosencrantz is committed to delivering a message for Hamlet even though that delivery may kill them both. Guildenstern argues they should flee. Confusion arises not just from the void they seem to have fallen into but also that neither one can fully tell himself from the other.

Full disclosure: this is one of my favorite plays and as a young struggling actor, I had the honor to portray the Lead Player. So if you see me in the back of the theater, my lips moving, I’m once again joining the troupe in their comical exhibitions.

Life, death, comedy, tragedy, and great words spoken in compelling, electrifying orders – Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is a wild experience of theater and one you should not miss.

It Really Is A Wonderful Life

December 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

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By Joe Keefe – Metropolis Executive/Artistic Director

The intriguing title of our latest show is It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Both elements – Wonderful Life and Radio Play – seem familiar to many people but they also bear a little explanation.

It’s a Wonderful Life is, of course, the classic story of George Bailey, a small-town dreamer and family man who faces financial ruin but unknowingly turns to his guardian angel for redemption. Through a miracle of faith, George is shown what the world would be without his presence and the alternative results are pretty darn bleak. Finding his value (and maybe his soul) through the good works he had already done, George is reborn into his new and wonderful world.

So what is a “radio play”? Yes, you would be correct to assume it’s a play on the radio but it’s also much, much more than words broadcast by actors. This form of drama evokes the primary mechanisms of stagecraft: imagination, fascination and, the fundamental component of all fiction, suspension of disbelief.

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In our Wonderful Life, you are immersed not only in the radio play but also the creation of the live show itself as the actors immediately transform from character to character, voice to voice with breathtaking speed. Our “Foley Table” Expert skillfully crafts live effects through the use of everyday items, blending noises and sounds the way an orchestra conductor crafts a great symphony.

This radio play is much more than simply hearing a story. You become part of the creation of the play as it weaves in front of you. George Bailey’s classic tale unfolds in a whole new way as you hear the characters come to life before your very ears. You see the interaction of the actors as they strive for each moment and you experience the urgent immediacy of every dramatic peak and valley.

Our Wonderful Life perfectly exemplifies our mission at Metropolis: a classic story told in an engaging, mesmerizing way. The first-rate cast, design and production merge into a seamless story that brings a smile while also producing a tear or two. Before the holidays come to a close, make sure to see and hear this truly Wonderful Life.

Director Kevin Wiczer’s Vision of It’s A Wonderful Life

November 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY wonderfullifelogo-medium

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. It’s a film that I grew up watching. When Metropolis was holding director interviews for the show, I had to jump at the chance.

My approach to this show had to be true to a radio play, with five actors standing at microphones creating voices for over fifty characters, but it also had to be fun to watch as an audience. A number of ideas came to mind to accomplish this. The first thing, was I wanted something visual that was going to change during scenes. Projections were discussed as the perfect way of accomplishing this. I won’t spoil what the projections are of, since that’s one of the magical elements of the show that I’d like to keep as a surprise.

Since the actors are aware of the audience, and know that they’re watching and participating, we wanted to keep the feeling of a large theater rather than giving it a feel of a small radio studio as well using a false proscenium that will be built. However, one of my favorite elements of doing a radio play is all of the fun Foley work behind the actors. Foley is the art of recreating sounds for radio and film, and is still used today. There are literally two tables full of different interesting Foley props for our Foley artist to “play with”. Each prop recreates a sound such as crickets, doors opening and closing, telephone rings, the tick-tock of a clock, running through snow, and wind for example. The idea is that you should be able to close your eyes and envision everything happen as you hear it.

The other important thing that the cast and I have worked hard on is pacing. It’s so important that there aren’t any long pauses in a radio play. The key was to keep it moving and constant, so we’ve worked very hard to make that happen. Along with the radio play there are also two commercials with singing and dancing which has been a lot of fun as well.

I hope that people will enjoy this show as much as we’ve had collaborating on it. We didn’t set out to recreate the movie; we set out to retell this classic in our own way. The amount of talent on that stage is impeccable, and I’m looking forward to audiences seeing it in action.

We hope to see you at the show!
Kevin Wiczer
Director

 

From Student – to Counselor – to “Young Frankenstein” Actor

September 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

Young Frankenstein cast member, Ryan Jozaitis shares his journey from Metropolis School of the Performing Arts student, to camp counselrjor, to main stage actor.

I remember the first time I stepped foot into Metropolis. It was to see a production of High
School Musical
in 2007. My camp counselor at the time, friend, and fellow Cubs fan, Mike Miserendino was in it and was playing “Ryan”. After seeing the show, I was so inspired and I had to get more involved. I heard that there was a workshop and a “meet the cast” event that I could attend. I of course signed up! The day of the workshop was the first time I got to be on the Metropolis stage. It was such an amazing feeling to be on the stage with the cast trying to dance, sing, and keep up with them.

In 2009, I heard there were auditions being held for the Metropolis High School Performance Experience production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which was my favorite musical at that time. I had to audition. After the audition, I got a phone call from Robin Hughes and found out I had been cast as “Benjamin”, the youngest brother. Little did I know, this wouldn’t be the last time I got a phone call from Robin. This was my first time performing on the Metropolis stage with my new friends and very supportive directors, Robin Hughes and assistant director Jeff Mazzuca. After Joseph…, I was hooked and had to come back every summer for the High School Performance Experience camp.

In the summer of 2011 I interviewed to become a camp counselor with Kate Schwarz, the camp director at the time, allowing me the opportunity to inspire 1 st -3 rd graders who were wanting to perform just like me. I began my early morning shifts with a bunch of loud and crazy young actors and actresses. Throughout the four years of working with my co-workers and these amazingly talented students, my love for the craft grew because I was constantly inspired by their ability to go out on stage and perform flawlessly. Well, maybe not flawlessly, but in their eyes it was the most exciting and fun moment of their lives, which they will never forget. Because of this and many other reasons, I was encouraged to eventually audition professionally.

Last summer, I was blessed to take the stage once again, this time professionally, in a production of Moon Over Buffalo with the new yet very accomplished Eclectic Full Contact Theatre Company. Throughout the duration of the show, I was able to experience a professional atmosphere and make long-lasting friends whom I will never forget. Whenever I leave Metropolis after a project, I always wonder when I will be back next. I am so happy to be back here to perform in Young Frankenstein with this immensely talented cast and crew.

Ring of Fire’s Sari Greenberg

August 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

I belieSari Greenberg Headshot 1 (1)ve theatre, in particular musical theatre, should fill you with joy.Sitting in a beautiful theatre space for a few hours, letting yourself enjoy, escape and maybe even hum along while people entertain you and make you feel a little happier when you leave than when you arrived, sounds pretty joyful to me. On a scale of going to the dentist and winning the lottery, theatre is right up there, but fills me with so much more hope, and happiness than money ever could.

My experience with “Ring of Fire,” from the initial audition, through the rehearsal process, and performing the show, has been an absolute joy. I have been a longtime country music enthusiast and was very excited for the opportunity to unite my two loves and perform in a “country musical.” One of the most important and encouraged direction the cast and I received from director Joe Keefe, associate director Robin Hughes and musical directors Nathan Brown and Dave Welker, was  to stay true to the authentic vibe, sound and world of this brilliant country music. Unlike the typical “bright Broadway” sound, the world we were creating with “Ring of Fire” was gritty, complex, dark, painful but also full of joy. We worked very hard to stay true to the world of Johnny Cash and June Carter and I am so proud to be a part of such an entertaining, and joyful theatrical experience.
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There is an incredible amount of joy I feel onstage when I see the smiling faces of audience members truly having a good time. One of the greatest pleasures you can have as a performer, is to connect with an audience member. The audience can give
you so much, feed your creative energy and support you to be bold and take risks. We have had such fantastic houses and a wonderfully wide range of people come see “Ring of Fire.” Theatre is for everyone and I could not be happier or more proud to be performing here at The Metropolis, a place where everyone feels comfortable to be who they are and enjoy themselves.

I am so grateful and thank my lucky stars everyday, when I walk into this theatre. I get to perform in a show that I absolutely love, with people who I admire, respect and think the world of, in a gorgeous space that feels like home. I am so grateful for all of the joy this show has given me and strive to share that joy with everyone who walks into our theatre.