finding our voice

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!

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No snowflake cliches

November 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

From our 2012 production of A Christmas Carol

From our 2012 production of A Christmas Carol

Guest post from A Christmas Carol director Micky York

This is my seventh Metropolis Christmas Carol. And even though each one has been different (If I were the type to use obvious holiday cliches, I might have compared each production to a snowflake. Luckily, I’m not like that.), it’s hard to not say, “This is how we did it last year” or “Once, we did it this way.” That’s just the way it is with a show that has become such an annual tradition.

For the last two years, we’ve worked with a new adaptation by resident playwright, Scott Woldman. I was heavily involved with the development of the script, as composer and music director, for those first two new productions. During those years, we on the production team were really able to experiment and try out new things and see what worked—and what didn’t. Scenes or bits of staging were reworked. Songs that were in the first production didn’t make it in the following year. (Actually, there are a few new songs this year too, but that’s just because no one is around to tell me not to do it.) The luxury of having Woldman around is that we can say “Hey, I’d like to add this bit of action or change around this bit of dialogue…can you make that happen?” and he’ll make a random idea fit into the framework of the story.

With any production, a director attempts to bring in something new, to put their own spin on things. And—don’t worry—I’m definitely doing that. But we also know the importance of tradition in a story like A Christmas Carol. So we’ve gone back to the original text and added some great new moments to the script. The moment Scrooge realizes it’s Christmas morning is a big one, and I hope those audience members who love that scene will be pleased to see it again.

And speaking of tradition, I’m still trying to figure out how I can bring these chickens back from 2009. Stay tuned.

Guest Post from Route 66 actor Timothy Sullivan

September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

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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.

Chickens

November 23, 2009 § 2 Comments

A character in the opening and closing numbers of the show is selling chickens on the street. I’ve been having doubts about the chickens looking real from the audience. After spacing rehearsal, several people tried working the prop in order to sell me on the chickens. I documented:

Micky tries to sell me on the chickens

 

Kristen tries to sell me on the chickens

 

Holly tries to sell me on the chickens


Music Rehearsal

November 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Music rehearsal, led by Music Director Kenny McMullen.

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