March 26, 2014 § 1 Comment
Anne’s story isn’t shared to make us feel miserable, and it’s not shared to make us feel fortunate or lucky or to make our trials and tribulations seem insignificant. Every struggle is real, and every struggle is relative. As she herself says, “What’s the point of thinking of misery when you’re already miserable? That’s stupid.” It is important to not misunderstand the purpose of spreading this amazing account. I am not portraying Anne so that teenagers today see how lucky they have it. Metropolis, my castmates, Kevin, and I are sharing her story to teach a lesson, to illustrate the danger of groupthink, to prevent anything similar from happening again. We are telling her story to make certain that history does not repeat itself.
We lost so much by letting evil win. Imagine what Anne’s brilliance, intuitiveness, passion, and optimism could have done for the world. Imagine where we might be if her life wasn’t cut short, if she had grown to her full potential and had unleashed her virtuosity on society.
Evil may have temporarily won, but it did not permanently prevail. Thanks to a miracle, Anne was still able to “go on living even after [her] death.” She still made her mark. The Nazis may have ended her life, but they didn’t end her spirit. It lives on through her writing and through actors like me, who are awarded the amazing opportunity to play her.
As you can imagine, this is a tall order. On one hand, Anne Frank is the easiest role an actor can play: never is an actor delivered a character’s inner thoughts on a silver platter. On the other hand, I have never been so petrified in my life. I need to do Anne justice. I need to convey how seriously frightening her life became in an instant. I need to tell her story in a way that will spur action, or more importantly reaction.
Herein lies the real challenge: effectively conveying the constant anxiety, the crippling fear, the severe loneliness, the intensifying frustration, and the courageous hope with which Anne lived every day. It is so easy to distance ourselves from the horrors that occurred 70 years ago. It is simple to pretend it will never happen again, to block our minds and our hearts from really feeling, really understanding that this actually happened. To real people. People with feelings. People with normal lives like ours. Innocent people. I have read thousands upon thousands of pages about Anne Frank, the 1940s, WWII, the Nazis, and Amsterdam. I ingested this information as facts, separated myself from it. It was not until I started watching videos that I began to feel. It is one thing to think and another to feel. This show consumes audience members and makes them feel. They will meet Anne, relate to her, and feel for her. They will realize that she was a normal teenager with normal hopes, desires, qualms, and dreams. That what happened to her could happen to them. This show will take Anne’s story from a tale to a reality. And that is why it needs to be done.
January 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
In preparation for their role in a play, actors put lots of careful thought and time into developing their character. But what if you were asked to develop not one, but 10 different characters for one play? Quite the challenge!
Thankfully for us, veteran Metropolis actor Andrew Pond and Metropolis newcomer Matthias Austin were up for the challenge for their roles in our upcoming production of Greater Tuna. They play 10 and 11 characters, respectively, for this spoof on small town life in Tuna, Texas. The photos below show them becoming just a few of their characters, using rehearsal costumes and props to help set the scene.
It’s amazing to watch these men put on different dialects, along with wigs, high heels, robes and more, to create so many unique characters. In one scene, Matthias enters as a young child, leaves, returns as a surly teen, leaves, and returns once more as a reporter.
Here’s the complete who’s who of Greater Tuna:
Andrew Pond plays: Thurston, Elmer, Bertha, Yippy, Leonard, Pearl, RR, Rev, Sheriff and Hank.
Matthias Austin plays: Arles, Didi, Harold, Petey, Jody, Stanley, Charlene, Chad, Phinas, Vera and Coach.
November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
Guest post from Christmas Carol cast member David Nadolski
Following the lead of one of the young ladies (Tess) who played Tiny Tim last year, I have decided to take up the mantle of the blog and occasionally report from inside the trenches as we build the beautiful final project that you have come to love over the years as A Christmas Carol.
First, my name is Dave Nadolski and I have the distinct honor of playing the role of Bob Cratchit for a second time this year. As you probably already know, this is a very different kind of show for Metropolis where we bond with our community online AND on stage, and I am convinced that you will be very pleased with what our new fearless Director Micky York brings to this year’s version of the show.
Last year, I was both touched and heartened by being able to experience what for many grade schoolers was their first ever brush with an activity that has become very special and central to the person I am today and the values I hold… the theatre. And it was SO FUN to see! Because with arts funding on the consistent decline and an educational push toward numbered test results which somehow translate to determining a student’s worth… now more than ever is THE time in a student’s life where they can experience something different, and it has been a beautiful experience to witness.
So whether it be your first interaction with these things they call “blogs”, your first interaction with theatre, or that A Christmas Carol simply holds a special place in your holiday tradition and your heart, on behalf of the cast and crew I would like to say welcome, and thank you for being an integral part of a tradition that we hold so dear.
David J. Nadolski
November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
Guest post from Christmas Carol cast member Martin Hughes
One question that I’m frequently asked as an actor is, “How do you remember all those lines?” Learning lines and dialogue can be a very difficult portion of any actor’s process, but most will be quick to point out how much more difficult everything else involved in acting (relating to your scene partner, playing a set of circumstances believably, being open and receptive to each moment, etc) can become when having to layer an accent on top of all of that. When I first learned that Hugh Laurie was British, I was blown away at how capably he was able to play Dr. Gregory House with such an authentic American accent; it wasn’t just that the character sounded believably American, but that he acted believably American, all the while being played by a non-native American.
These thoughts crossed my mind as we sat in rehearsal recently with our dialect coach, working to perfect the varying aspects of the dialects of our respective characters. As we progressed through rehearsal, it was truly incredible to hear my fellow actors begin to discover the voices of their characters. Certainly, the intentions and emotions with which they were playing their scenes were spot on, but, all of a sudden, they would discover a vowel sound that truly unlocks the sound of their character, and you could not only hear, but feel, that new energy in the process.
So, yes, learning lines is quite difficult, but having to learn an accent on top of that is a completely different animal. It’s this amazing attention to nuance that helps bring life to this cherished story, a life that we are happy to share, and cannot wait for you to share with us!
September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
Putting it Together
Hello all! My name is Timothy Sullivan and I am part of the cast of Route 66 which is currently playing at Metropolis. I was asked to contribute a few posts to this blog. Here is my first go.
A little about myself. I am a proud Wisconsinite from the small town of Amery, WI. I went to undergrad at Lawrence University and graduate school at Western Illinois University. I moved to Chicago last year and am fast falling love with the city. Enough about me though.
I want to talk a bit about our rehearsals. The wonderful thing about theater is the journey, from large to small companies, tends to start in a room with a few chairs and tape on the floor to show you how the stage is laid out. Rooms much like the room pictured here, which is where our production of Route 66 took form. You have an idea of the world that you will be inhabiting on the stage but what you have in tangible form in the beginning is your fellow cast members. This is key. You have each other with no set to distract you.
Starting in late July, we rehearsed in that room with each other Monday through Friday from 7:00-10:00pm. We did not see the set until the last week of rehearsal. The time together allowed us to build the chemistry and relationships that we needed to tell the story. One of the challenges of this show is that there is no script, just a collection of songs in a particular order. However, it is still a musical. So finding the arc of the story we wanted to tell and building our relationships was a critical part of the rehearsal process. Otherwise, why not just have a concert?
I hope you enjoy the result of our work! If you have any questions about Route 66 that you would like answered, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t promise I will answer every e-mail, but I will try to answer a few questions in future blog posts.
June 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
We asked the cast and director of Five Course Love to share some of their favorite moments about the show. These are just a piece of what they shared!
“I have to say that there are equal amounts of favorite moments onstage and off! It’s a whole other show backstage – changing costumes, wigs, getting roller skates on, untangling my phone cord… it’s a bundle of fun. One of my other favorite things Greg [Foster], Amanda [Bloom], Micky [York] and myself do before every show is we huddle together as a group, hug and pat each other on the back saying ‘got your back.’ It’s cool!” – Amy Malouf, actor
“There is a whole other show happening off stage. Holly (Assistant Stage Manager) and Rachel (Wardrobe Mistress) help me with a lot of my costume changes and one show we even had to switch out my microphone cord in the middle of the show, so there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. There are tons of favorite moments on stage, too. I love the phone cord section in Italy. One night, when I shushed Amy as she was choking, someone in the audience very clearly laughed and said something like, ‘Oh my god, she’s shushing her.’ Moments like that are always so much fun, but we’ve still got to stay in character and not get thrown by audience reaction. Germany might be the most fun for me. I have two songs where I get to go into the house and play with the audience. It’s always different and always a lot of fun.” – Amanda Bloom, actor
“When approaching a show, an actor needs to analyze his/her character, complete with a physical life and vocal sound. In most shows, one actor does this for one character. In Five Course Love, however, each of the three actors had to do this for five drastically different characters. As the director, it was the ‘drastically different’ part that required so much attention. Each rehearsal was spent working not just on music or dance or staging, but on characterization– how each of the 15 characters moved and sounded as they sang, danced and walked on stage. The attention to this part of the process is what makes seeing Five Course Love so enjoyable – as the show progresses, one becomes excited about who will show up next.” – Krista Hansen, director
The show runs through June 16, so you still have a chance to catch these and the many more memorable moments of Five Course Love
May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
Metropolis Properties Designer Maggie Neumayer had her work cut out for her with Five Course Love. Each of the musical’s five vignettes takes place in a different restaurant: a BBQ joint, an Italian bistro, a German schnitzel house, a Spanish cantina and a roadside diner. Rather than change out large set pieces, Five Course Love relies on props and set decorations to change the atmosphere for each scene.
Below is a link to the complete listing of props and set decorations for Five Course Love. Well, nearly complete – we had to keep a few items off the list so we don’t spoil all the surprises! Be sure to keep an eye out for all these elements when you come see the show – opening this Thursday, May 16 and running through June 16.