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
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.”
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.
December 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
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.
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.
November 7, 2016 § Leave a comment
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY
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 counselor, 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.
August 19, 2016 § Leave a comment
July 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
Comedy is hard. That’s a truism that’s been stated by actors since Shakespeare tugged on his first pair of tights. The Greeks probably said it first, but nobody understood it. After all, it was all Greek to them. See? I told you comedy is hard.
Everyone says it, but very few people actually believe it. Everybody thinks they can tell a joke, or be a clown, or just flat out be funny. And usually, they fail. But people still believe that funny is easy. Why? Because when people who are good at it do it, it LOOKS easy. It seems as if everything just flows from them with no effort. But that’s not the case. Comedy takes effort. A LOT of effort. I should know. I’ve been working at it for over 30 years, ever since I discovered that if I made kids laugh, they were less likely to hit me. But seriously, folks, I have been a student of comedy since a very young age, and what I love most about comedy is its structure and fragility.
Why, Andrew, what do you mean? I’m assuming you’re asking that, otherwise I have no impetus to write the rest of this blog. Comedy obviously has structure, regardless of what some bad late night sketch shows may try to make you believe. There’s a rhythm, a melody, a tempo to comedy, just like there is to music. It’s all in the timing, as the saying goes. You watch a great comedian, a Robin Williams, for example, and his act seems to be a concert. You can groove to the comedy as if you were listening to really great jazz. Knowledge of that structure is paramount to understanding, and succeeding at, comedy. Without it, you’re a kid with no breath support spitting into a trumpet. The cat may think it’s found a new girlfriend, but nobody else is going to want to hear it.
But that structure is fragile. Ever hear someone tell a joke badly? Not a bad joke, but a good joke in a way that makes you not laugh? It’s so easy to go from killer joke to dying onstage. That sense of timing, the intuitive understanding of how to deliver comedy, it is like the barest of breaths. Breathe at the wrong moment, and you go from being Jonathan Winters to being Pauly Shore.
So obviously, since comedy is so hard, so fragile, so easy to screw up, I decided to write a show about it. Because hey, taking one’s own advice is so silly. Mostly because I wanted to get these ideas across to people, I wanted to remind them of the acts that came before us, the ones that underpinned what we laugh at today, and I wanted to hear a bunch of people sitting in a theatre laugh at me. Firstly, because I like having my ego stroked. But also because laughter, and comedy, has an amazing ability to soften hard truths and make things easier to take. And while “The History of Comedy” might not change the world, it will make your sides hurt. And if you’re not careful, you might just learn something.