Executive Director Charlie Beck on The Last Five Years

May 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am pleased to share my thoughts regarding the latest Metropolis Production of The Last 5 Years that begins previews on May 15 and opens on May 18 to run through June 15. As has been my pleasure as Executive Director I always catch our main stage productions during their final dress rehearsals so I can attest to the work we are doing.

In a word, I loved this show.

It brings all that is great about live theatre and does so showcasing all of the strengths of Metropolis. Our intimate space is so perfect for this show. Given that it is an intimate glimpse into the love between the principals; Cathy a struggling actress and Jamie a rising star writer. I cannot imagine seeing this show anywhere but in a place like Metropolis.

Resident Director; Lauren Rawitz brings the performers front and center often, indeed, even into the house so that you cannot help but feel the emotions that are being portrayed through the terrific score and music of the show. Matt Edmonds, as Jamie and a familiar face at Metropolis and, Elissa Newcorn, as Cathy and making her debut here, display such incredible vocal skills and acting talent that one wonders how long before either or both are snatched up by a Producer on Broadway. They are indeed that good. And, they tell the stories of their love from the falling into to the dissolution of with pure honesty and emotion. Anyone who has lived and loved will find something in the score that will resonate with them. Kleenex is highly recommended.

Even better, the staging, again orchestrated by Lauren Rawitz, and the team lead by our Production Manager Bill Franz makes the maximum use of our space. No orchestra pit? No problem, let’s put the orchestra on stage behind the actors. This works extremely well as the musicians become part of the story as well they should since it is all music from end to end. Seeing music director Charlotte Rivard-Hoster and cellist David Richardson put themselves physically into the music tells you that the orchestra is not just doing a gig but feeling the show as much as the actors.

No wing space to store and move a variety of set pieces, no fly system or trap doors to make things magically appear? No problem. The stage is strewn with moving boxes which herald both the idea of moving in at the start of a relationship and moving out at the end. Creating an interesting space to look at with many levels and nooks and crannies to stage the various scenes in the show. Very cleverly conceived and executed by scenic designer and tech director Kaitlin Donelon.

Joe Mohammed’s lighting scheme adds emotional elements moving between subtle starlight, blazing sunrise, searing spotlights and brooding darkness that all serve as great counterpoint to the action on stage and the story as it unfolds.

I could not be more proud of the work done here. Art at its best is moving and shines a light of truth on the subject matter helping us to see things in a way we may not have otherwise. As love goes it has always been one of my favorite of the human emotions. Yet, it is also one of the most nuanced and can be felt in incredible highs while love is in bloom and incredible lows when it fails and withdraws.  Author, lyricist and composer Jason Robert Brown has captured all of the shades of love in this story. Some will leave feeling blue after seeing it, others will leave feeling edified and informed, some will leave saying ‘yes, I can relate’, but no one should leave without feeling something.

There is simply too much good work going on here to do otherwise.

To all who are part of this creative effort I say…wow! What an amazing thing you have done.
Advertisements

Anne Frank Actress Jaclyn Holtzman on Playing the Iconic Role

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.

IMG_0696

Guest post from Christmas Carol cast member David Nadolski

December 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello!!! I wanted to take a quick moment to take you back stage with us for one last time. Today is Saturday, December 21st and I am backstage and just about to go into act 2!

This show has been wonderful, and so have the cast and crew. I am honored to know and work with all of them. And I am especially impressed with their professionalism. Yesterday, we had 8 hours between shows and all were able to let our hair down in downtown Arlington Heights. There we ate at Dunton House, caught a movie and when all was said and done, were able to come right back to the theatre and put on a show for a wonderful audience. It was great to see the dichotomy between the professional and personal worlds, along with how close we have become over the run.

And so this is the part where I let you in on a little actor secret: no matter how professional a cast and crew are, there is one universal fact when it comes to acting… the energy our audience brings is the key to an energetic performance. Whether it be applause after our dance numbers or the excitement of our student audiences when the lights go down; it’s YOU who are the secret key to our success.

So as we wind down the show and share it with you for one last weekend, I am brought to an appreciation of what the audience has given me and the rest of the cast… your support. Scrooge says it best at the end of the show, “Your presence is gift enough” (though I’d add that any donation to Tickets for Hope, Metropolis, etc. are much appreciated). But even more, your presence is a gift that keeps on giving. So with that said, thank you for your time and generosity. Thank you for your support and presence. And most of all, thank you for including us in what has become a very special holiday tradition for us all.

Best Wishes and Warm Regards,

David Nadolski

“Bob Cratchit”

 

An annual tradition

December 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Since 2002, each year at this time, Metropolis is proud to present our production of A Christmas Carol. Though we may reuse set pieces and costumes from year to year, each new director and cast bring about a refreshed telling of the holiday classic. This year, Metropolis presents an adaptation of A Christmas Carol written by our resident playwright Scott Woldman, with music by Micky York (who also directs this year). Scott and Micky put some extra time and care into the script this year, expanding and revising some scenes to make this year’s production even more delightful for our audiences. Here’s a quick look back at the last few years of A Christmas Carol at Metropolis with some photos.

Click here for more info, dates and show times for Metropolis’ production of A Christmas Carol, playing through December 24.

2007 Production

2007 Production

2008 Production

2008 Production

2009 Production

2009 Production

2010 Production

2010 Production

2011 Production

2011 Production

2012 Production

2012 Production

2013 Production

2013 Production

Q & A with Kelsey Kinney of Second City

December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kinney, Kelsey_2013_smMetropolis: Holidays in the Heights celebrates both the highs and lows of the holiday season. What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) things about this time of year?

Kelsey: There’s plenty to love about this time of year, but some of my seasonal favorites include singing Lou Monte’s “Dominick the Donkey” as loudly and as often as possible, blaming all of my recent weight gain on “the holidays,” and of course, scoring some free change when CTA do-gooders mistakenly equate my diligent coat-layering with homelessness.

Metropolis: Without giving too much away, what is your favorite sketch from Holidays in the Heights?

Kelsey: There’s a scene in act two that takes a look back on a very special Thanksgiving. It warms my heart and funny bone every time.

Metropolis: That famous New York sketch show has some pretty memorable holiday scenes as well. Are there any that stand out in your mind as favorites or that inspired you in any way?

Kelsey: Too many to choose from, but I have a very vivid memory of watching a holiday sketch of Eddie Murphy’s Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood. He was conning children into buying dolls with actual heads of cabbage in place of real heads. I never wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid so much in my life.

Metropolis: And, of course, what we all really want to know… egg nog or hot chocolate?

Kelsey: Hot schnapplate: 3 parts hot chocolate, 2 parts peppermint schnapps… Unless the holidays are really stressing you out; then your booze-pouring hand should know no bounds.

Catch Kelsey in The Second City’s Holidays in the Heights at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre – playing through December 31st. Click here for more info, show times and tickets.

 

Q & A with Eddie Mujica of Second City

December 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Mujica_Eddie_06.2013_smMetropolis: Holidays in the Heights celebrates both the highs and lows of the holiday season. What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) things about this time of year?

Eddie: Favorite: Holiday movies. I try to watch Home Alone and Jingle All The Way once a year. Also, flying back home to visit family and get away from the cold for a few days. Least favorite: Paying for said flight.

Metropolis: Without giving too much away, what is your favorite sketch from Holidays in the Heights?

Eddie: I love all of the audience interaction sketches, the ones we get to improvise each night. We sing an improvised “sexy” Christmas song that’s a ton of fun.

Metropolis: That famous New York sketch show has some pretty memorable holiday scenes as well. Are there any that stand out in your mind as favorites or that inspired you in any way?

Eddie: SNL’s got a ton of classics… Schweddy Balls; Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan singing “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”; “D*ck in a Box”… all so good.

Metropolis: And, of course, what we all really want to know… egg nog or hot chocolate?

Eddie: #teamhotchocolate

Catch Eddie in The Second City’s Holidays in the Heights at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre – playing through December 31st. Click here for more info, show times and tickets.

Guest Post from Route 66 actor Timothy Sullivan

September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

IMAG1621

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 timblogsroute66@gmail.com. I can’t promise I will answer every e-mail, but I will try to answer a few questions in future blog posts.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the In production category at Metropolis Insider.