Saturday, October 26, 2019

Birthday Reflections

Taking stock of what I have and what I haven't...
What do I find?
The things I've got will keep me satisfied.
Checking up on what I have and what I haven't...
What do I find?
A healthy balance on the credit side.
~Irving Berlin

Another birthday is here and I find myself in the midst of that awkward, silent time that precedes the start of a new gig.  In less than a week, I will go to Vermont and spend the holidays playing wonderful Max Detweiler in "The Sound of Music."  It's a return to a role I love; to New England, where I spent the first half of my life... and most importantly, it places me two hours' drive from my Mom--which means we get to do Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah, and Christmas together, and even see in 2020.  Blessings.

I have been doing a look back over this 54th year of my life and it's been a time of some real struggle--financially, professionally, personally-- but also a period of growth and achievement, highlighted by a new trend of diversification in my work.

Writing


 Big Apple Film Festival Award
A year ago, the Big Apple Film Festival awarded me Third Place Winner in their Short Screenplay Competition for my script, "T."  This intense, surreal story of addiction also won Best Short Screenplay in the HollywoodJust4Shorts Competition.  My feature screenplay, "The Girl in Green," placed in the top 10% in the coveted Academy Nicholl Fellowship Competition and finished as quarterfinalist in the WeScreenplay Feature Competition.




Television and Commercials


Last fall, I made my primetime TV debut in a tiny part on "Law & Order: SVU."  It felt like a huge achievement to finally join the "Law & Order" family--a rite of passage for a New York actor.  Since then, I have appeared in an episode of the HBO blockbuster "Succession."  Other interesting opportunities have come my way, including a super fun commercial shoot for the moonshine brand, Saint Luna--as the hipster bartender, I found myself featured as part of the branding for the company!

Coaching and Teaching

My private coaching business has been growing by leaps and bounds and in the best way possible: by word of mouth.  My talented and successful clients have been very generous, sending referrals my way and helping to build my business.  In the past year my clients have booked Broadway, national tours, television and film roles.  I've had amazing opportunities to work with folks like Zachary James on his Metropolitan Opera debut in "Akhnaten" and Josh Raff on his one man show, "Love-Love."


Coaching young stars at Goodspeed Musicals
Goodspeed Musicals invited me back to lead a master class in audition technique for young people.  Always great to return to East Haddam, where Goodspeed continues to set the standard for musical theatre production and education.  

I also launched a new venture with my teaching partner, Andrew Parks--a professional intensive for musical theatre performers called Rep Book Excellence.  This new approach to the selection and performance of audition repertoire had a great first round of classes and we are looking forward to bringing it back in 2020.





Cabaret


Returning to the world of cabaret as a director has been enormously gratifying and creatively exciting.  Crafting and directing Sierra Rein's solo debut act, "Running in Place," in collaboration with musical director Bill Zeffiro was a joy, and Sierra swept the awards this past year, winning both the Bistro Award and the MAC Award.  This spring, my dear friend Goldie Dver made her comeback after a ten year absence from cabaret with the show we created together, "Back in Mama's Arms."  The piece, an inspiring story of survival and optimism, has been universally embraced by the cabaret community and press and Goldie has confidently reclaimed her place on the cabaret scene.

New Works

Readings and workshops of new plays and musicals are something I try to be a part of as often as I can--one never knows what piece will go on to have a life.  I am fortunate that writers and directors have invited me to the party a few times this past year.

In January, Bill Zeffiro asked me to be in a reading of his musical "Houdini Among the Spirits," with stars Robert Cuccioli and Nick Wyman.  This summer I had a great feature in the reading of the immersive speakeasy musical "Whisper Darkly," co-written and directed by talented DJ Salisbury; and wonderful playwright Gordon Penn invited me to read the bombastic comic lead of President Juraslob in his play "Black Garden" at the Roundabout.

Theatre

Two wonderful regional theatre productions highlighted this 54th year of my life and my 29th year in show business.  I escaped the winter and returned to one my favorite companies, Riverside Theatre, to play the delicious cameo of Hungarian charlatan Zoltan Karpathy in "My Fair Lady."  Superb production directed by Jimmy Brennan and starring husband and wife Higgins and Eliza Jimmy and Kristin Beth Ludwig.


Drag antics with Max Falls and Brandon Curry 
With a week's turnaround following my time in Vero Beach, I flew off to TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Arkansas to play drag diva Miss Tracy Mills in Matthew Lopez's "The Legend of Georgia McBride."  A play with such heart, directed with heart by Bruce Warren--and a company of such lovely actors with whom I became fast friends. We are slated to remount our production in 2020 at Virginia Stage Company.

Looking back, it's been quite a year and I feel really grateful, even while I struggle to make the bills, and line up work in a business that is precarious even in its best moments. I've been pretty much single for 13 years and I wonder if love will ever find me again.  Getting older makes one think about things like stability, savings, retirement... but in this business, to quote a song lyric by friend and collaborator Bill Zeffiro: "I'll retire when I'm dead."  Welcome 55th year--let's see what you have in store...





Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Second Chances

Mea culpa, dear friends.
As can often happen in life... life intervened, and the past few months since I closed "The Legend of Georgia McBride" in Arkansas have been, well, challenging--on personal and professional fronts. 

Fortunately, the show business gods have smiled, and I will have the good fortune of seeing out 2019 not only doing the work I love--but doing a role I love.  

I think all actors have a list of dream parts--a list we often keep close and secret, for fear of either jinxing ourselves, or wanting those plum roles too much; in a profession full of rejection, the chances of those parts passing us by are all too likely.  I have been luckier than most, and have been given some ultimate dream parts to play.  But to play one more than once?

As Max, with Jacquelynne Fontaine as Elsa
Well, for the first time in my nearly 30 year career, lightning has struck twice!  I will be spending the holidays in Vermont playing the delicious role of Max in "The Sound of Music" at Northern Stage.  I had the good fortune of playing dear "Uncle Max" at North Shore Music Theatre in 2013--my first role at my hometown theatre, and my first production of many with brilliant director Jimmy Brennan. For my work, I was nominated for the IRNE Award, and I have to say it was one of my favorite shows to date.

Max Detweiler is a splendid flight of Oscar Hammerstein's fancy, placed in the midst of the true story of the Von Trapp Family.  Loosely based on a real life family friend--a clergyman and choral group promoter--Max serves many purposes in the plot of "The Sound of Music."  He is the urbane and witty friend of the Captain and confident to his love interest, the Baroness Elsa Schrader; he also provides the crucial connection for Maria and the singing Von Trapp children to the folk festival which serves as their way out when the family must escape the Nazis. 

Richard Haydn as Max and Eleanor Parker as Elsa
Max also serves another purpose--one lost in the film version of the musical which removed most of the politics of pre-fascist Austria and, along with them, Max's two songs: "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way To Stop It."  The latter is a stinging indictment of the complacency and self-interest that allows fascist regimes to take root and thrive.  Max, whose interests are purely mercenary, nevertheless works with the Nazis--until he is faced with the reality that his good friends are under threat from his fascist friends.  That realization provides an immensely satisfying dramatic transition for an actor and I look forward to assaying it again.

Claude Rains


As always, I am inspired by great actors and great performances of the past.  For Max, I have always thought of Claude Rains and his rascally performance as Louis in "Casablanca."  Charming, unscrupulous, unapologetically venal-- nevertheless, when it really counts, Louis does the right thing and begins his "beautiful friendship" with Rick, fighting the Nazi menace.

As Solange in "The Maids"
It's rather fun to note that Northern Stage, in the little town of White River Junction, Vermont, produces in its beautiful new venue, the Barrette Center for the Arts, on the site of what once was the Briggs Opera House.  In the early 1990s, I spent a Fall in this little whistle stop town, doing an ambitious rep of Joe Orton's "What the Butler Saw" with Jean Genet's "The Maids" as part of White River Theatre Festival--I think it was their one full season ever!  Northern Stage has become an artistic force, and the area has come a long way since that far away Autumn.  I am looking forward to seeing what it has become, and to being part of bringing the "hills alive" once more with "The Sound of Music," which plays at Northern Stage November 20 through January 5.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Little Theatre That Could--and Did

There is pretty strong characters down there in Arkansas. You can't redeem 'em, you just join 'em. ~Will Rogers

The finale of "The Legend of Georgia McBride"
Hello again, from Fayetteville, AR where we are halfway through the third week of our five week run with "The Legend of Georgia McBride."  When I booked this gig, the common reaction from friends up north was: "A drag play? IN ARKANSAS?" 

This incredulity is understandable given what most of us know about Arkansas.  But most of us don't know Fayetteville.  Like Austin, TX or Asheville, NC, Fayetteville is an oasis of liberalism and culture in a rabidly "red" state.  Home to the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!), this town is the hub of all things NWA (Northwest Arkansas).  Here, folks are proud to be inclusive, broad minded... different.  People are friendly, welcoming, easy to get to know, and the town virtually hums with contentment.

In this environment, the arts thrive... and for the past 14 years, TheatreSquared has brought challenging, vibrant theatre to its black box home at Nadine Baum Studios, part of Walton Arts Center.  And the audience has embraced it with incredible enthusiasm and support--you feel it from the stage.  It's an audience that's vocal, excited and genuinely proud to be there.  For an actor, what could be better?

Design of the new T2--it looks just like this!! AMAZING
Given the support Fayetteville has given TheatreSquared, it's probably not surprising that they are almost near completion of their 50,000 square foot state of the art home, with two performance spaces, rehearsal studios, offices and a beautiful gathering space in its airy, modern, ground floor lobby.  Additionally, they've built eight gorgeous apartments for visiting artists (and lucky us--we are the first actors to occupy the new housing).  I wish you could see what they've created and feel the excitement building here toward the grand opening. Check out all the gorgeous images and ambitious plans at the T2 website. The theatre industry should take note of the work TheatreSquared is doing--and it WILL.  I for one would be thrilled to return here.

Meanwhile, my love affair with Fayetteville continues, as we bring the sequins and the joy to TheatreSquared's founding venue.  This town is rich with whimsical and interesting local businesses, fantastic food and drink, live music and culture, the best used bookstore EVER (Dickson Street Books) and my favorite farmer's market of all time every week.  Not to mention the stunning art museum Crystal Bridges just a stone's throw from Fayetteville. But one doesn't fall in love with a town without falling for its people.  I walk around this place with no eyebrows and lavender nail polish in my off-hours and I am accepted and welcomed.  I've made friends with local business owners and staff members at T2 and their loved ones... and man, what a team at the theatre--led by the generous and openhearted Artistic Director, Bob Ford, and Executive Director Martin Miller.  

The girls of Cleo's! Tracy, Georgia, Rexy.
And to top it all off... I am in love with my fellow actors on this show.  It is a rare thing for a group to come together as strangers and a month later be close and affectionate friends. We relish our time on stage so much; but more, we spend our free time together too-- just enjoying the hell out of each other.  I am so grateful for this experience and I know the joy we all feel being here at TheatreSquared, in this life affirming play, as the theatre moves on to its exciting next chapter--is felt by each and every person who comes to see "The Legend of Georgia McBride." 

Don't miss out!  Be one of those lucky people--and join us before we close on June 2.


Friday, April 26, 2019

Forward in High Heels

Drag is a protest. Drag is a raised fist inside a sequined glove. Drag is a lot of things, baby, but drag is not for sissies.
~Matthew Lopez, "The Legend of Georgia McBride"

With Maxwell Caulfield in "La Cage Aux Folles"
The last time I performed in drag was 12 years ago.  I was lucky enough to be cast as Albin in "La Cage Aux Folles"--a last minute replacement--at Ogunquit Playhouse.  It was my debut with the company and my third production of the show, and I played opposite handsome Maxwell Caulfield (best known as "Cool Rider" in Grease 2). Having recently graduated from the Academy for Classical Acting, a drag role was not something I expected to tackle at that time... but the show led to my getting seen for, and cast as, Sir Robin in the First National Tour of "Spamalot" and changed my life forever.



That return to heels and bugle beads was a big deal for me.  Six years earlier, I had publicly retired my drag act as Marlene Dietrich with a gala performance on what would have been the siren's 100th birthday.  After eight years of impersonating Dietrich and Lauren Bacall... a MAC Award and Bistro Award... and numerous great drag parts in shows like "The Mystery of Irma Vep" and "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom," I felt I had hit a dead end.  Female impersonation was something I chose to do to prove my versatility and transformational talents... and I couldn't seem to get away from it.  A definitive break was required.  Many of my fans and colleagues were shocked, some even felt betrayed.  How could I just drop it and move on...?

In order to GROW.




And so, 12 years since I raised my fist in a lavender glove and sang "I Am What I Am," here I am again, donning wigs and lashes and enduring the aches and pains of corseting and high heels... to bring to life Miss Tracy Mills, the wise and magical "fairy godmother" who teaches young Elvis impersonator Casey not only how to be a "woman," but also how to be a better man--in Matthew Lopez's comedy with heart, "The Legend of Georgia McBride."

I was not prepared for how challenging this drag role would be, nor how intensely it would touch my mind and heart.  Lopez brings such reverence and appreciation to the art of drag in this play, and to the history of drag performers and their important role in the Gay Rights Movement.  Drag performers have been on the front lines of the cultural war against LGBTQ people for decades, centuries.  Challenging our limited notions of gender and championing the voices of the marginalized, drag is now mainstream, with the success of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Lopez has created in Miss Tracy and her alter ego Bobby someone of great optimism and wisdom... a survivor who indeed, in the words of Jerry Herman, faces life "with a little guts and lots of glitter."  It is an honor to play her and I have been filled with so many emotions since beginning this process three weeks ago.  I am reminded of how empowering it can be to transform so completely and submerge myself into a character.  I am reminded of how challenging this kind of performance is physically!  But mostly, I am reminded of the legacy of drag and female impersonation that I was a beneficiary of, and through my work, that I helped to perpetuate and pass on.  It truly is a received tradition, and I would never have achieved what I did as a female impersonator had it not been for the artists who generously offered me advice and guidance and who were great examples for me---artists like Craig Russell and Jimmy James... the great drag queens I worked with while in the world famous La Cage Revue, like Angel Sheridan and Jesse Volt.

I am dedicating my Miss Tracy to the performer who took me under his wing when I was just starting in drag, creating my act as Lauren Bacall.  His name was Randy Allen, and in the early 90s he was one of our top drag performers, who went mainstream with his spot-on and hilarious show, "P.S. Bette Davis" (the "p.s." standing for "post stroke").  Randy was a finely trained actor who was also a superb makeup artist.  He transformed himself into a wizened, cranky old Bette with such finesse and artfulness.  I saw Randy perform at the Crown and Anchor in Provincetown when I was there doing my act at The Post Office Cafe.  He blew me away with his mimicry, his physical work, his writing and his makeup artistry.  Randy returned the favor and came to see my show... afterward he offered to help me perfect my look and invited me to his dressing room where he not only taught me makeup techniques I still use today... but also instilled in me a sense of responsibility--to the lady I am impersonating, but also to the audience--bringing them something of quality and nuance that strives to be more than a burlesque sketch of a woman, but a living, breathing female being.

Randy changed everything for me... and he did it generously, selflessly, because he saw my talent and potential, and, like nearly all the great drag artists I've gotten to know--from Charles Busch to John Epperson--because he believed that if we all did the best work we could as drag performers--it would be good for all of us and for the art form itself.  I shall never forget Randy.  At the end of his life, cut short tragically by AIDS, Randy starred Off-Broadway in a two person play called "Me and Jezebel" based on a true story about an elderly Bette Davis.  To promote the show, they held a Bette Davis lookalike contest at The Ballroom in New York and Randy asked me to participate.  The press coverage was amazing. Not only did we get the first page of the New York Times Styles section, but CNN featured the publicity stunt.  See this video clip and you may recognize me in a sensible suit and pillbox hat (I won the contest by the way).

As the play went into production, Randy was declining rapidly and he called me and asked me to come and be his understudy in the event he was too ill to perform.  I did... and sadly, Randy passed away before the show even opened.  I was honored to know him and to have had his confidence.

It is this confidence that Miss Tracy Mills passes along to young, straight, fledgling drag artist Casey in our play. Not only the confidence to be a great performer, but the confidence to be true to himself, to be a person of integrity and honesty, of commitment and love.  Our director Bruce Warren has mined out of what could be a campy drag comedy a strong, powerful message of love and acceptance which will move the audiences here at Theatre Squared as much as the spectacular drag looks of Bryce Huey Turgeon (Haus of D'Lee) dazzle their eyes.

"The Legend of Georgia McBride" runs May 1 through June 2 at Theatre Squared in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Visit the website for tickets and more information.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

I Said I'd Make a Woman, and Indeed I Did

Sometimes there's an odd cosmic confluence that happens along the creative path... themes seem to emerge and seemingly unrelated projects start resonating with each other in, well, magical ways.

As Karpathy, with James Ludwig as Higgins
I've spent a glorious six weeks in beautiful Vero Beach, doing my "drive-by" cameo as Hungarian swindler Zoltan Karpathy in "My Fair Lady" here at Riverside Theatre.

As we head toward closing, I've already begun the memorizing and preparatory work for my next role: drag veteran Miss Tracy Mills in Matthew Lopez's "The Legend of Georgia McBride."  As I've dug deep into the play it's become clear: I am about to play a drag Henry Higgins!



Wendy Hiller as Eliza and Leslie Howard as Higgins



"My Fair Lady" is definitely one of the ultimate makeover stories:  Higgins picks up grubby flower girl Eliza and, through the power of speech therapy, transforms her into a "duchess."  But, of course, the transformation is more than superficial... the true Eliza emerges: confident, independent, her "own woman."




In "The Legend of Georgia McBride," down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator Casey finds himself thrown, by circumstance, into a whole new world: the glittering world of drag.  The story of a straight man who discovers he's got a real talent for female impersonation is a fascinating journey, and Casey's guide and mentor is Miss Tracy.  She's an elegant, scrappy queen who has been there, done that, and who literally pushes Casey on to his new career as "Georgia."

Along the way, Tracy teaches Casey how to lip-sync, how to dress, walk, move, and shine as a woman--much the same way Higgins teaches Eliza the elegant graces and rounded tones of great lady.  And like Higgins and Eliza, Casey and Tracy find themselves at a crossroads where student and teacher confront a major life lesson.  Casey's has to confront his own homophobia and embrace the feminine strength within him; and Tracy is his drag "Yoda," challenging him to get out of his own way and be the man he knows he can be.



I am loving marinating in the wonderful thematic overlaps of these two pieces--one, a classic story over a hundred years old; the other a contemporary tale that tussles with our own prejudices and limitations.  Miss Tracy even says at one point, "By George, he's got it!"

"The Legend of Georgia McBride" plays May 1 through June 2 at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Join us for the fabulous!


Sunday, January 20, 2019

That Hairy Hound from Budapest

Those who follow my blog or my Facebook know that I have a passion for acting as my own dramaturge with each role I assay, and adore researching the origins of my character--and, in the case of revivals--the actors who played the role before me.  Not only does this research provide context for, and texture to my performance, it also gives me a greater appreciation for the originating
creative talents that collaborated on the piece at hand.

This February, I return to one of my favorite theaters in one of my favorite spots: Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida, to play the delicious cameo role of Zoltan Karpathy in one of the greatest of all musicals, "My Fair Lady."  This top notch regional theatre, lovingly supported by an enthusiastic snowbird community, brings beautiful productions to the stage each season.  My debut there was as another Hungarian, impresario Bela Zangler in "Crazy For You," directed by the wonderful James Brennan; I returned two seasons later to play headwaiter Rudolph Reisenweber in "Hello, Dolly!," also directed by Jimmy.   

I have long been a lover of the works of George Bernard Shaw, and "Pygmalion," upon which "My Fair Lady" is based, is one of my favorites of his plays.  I also adore the film version, produced in 1938 with the participation of Shaw, who won the Oscar for his screenplay.  The film starred Leslie Howard and the incomparable Wendy Hiller, who was Shaw's choice for the role of Eliza Doolittle. Alan Jay Lerner's book for the musical is based upon the "Pygmalion" screenplay, which is why Zoltan Karpathy--who is not in the original play--appears in "My Fair Lady."

The reason audiences of the original play never met Karpathy is that the scene at the Embassy Ball, where Eliza dazzles high society with her poise and elocution, was only added to "Pygmalion" for the 1938 film.  There's some fun dramaturgy behind how this character came to be.

Hungarian-born Gabriel Pascal, who was also a long time friend of Shaw's, was the producer of many of the great writer's plays, including "Pygmalion," which was a huge international hit.  After failing to persuade Shaw in the '30s to allow a musical adaptation of the play (!), he did convince him to collaborate on the film version.  The movie medium allowed for much more freedom of location, and the Embassy Ball sequence was added--along with Karpathy.  I can't help but see this Hungarian fop as an in-joke between Shaw and Pascal!

Shaw wrote the part specially for actor Esmé Percy.  Trained as an actor by the divine Sarah Bernhardt, Percy had been a big star of the English stage and something of a matinee idol, and had originated several of Shaw's leading men.  He even played Henry Higgins at one point, opposite the original Eliza Doolittle Mrs. Patrick Campbell.

Esmé Percy 
By the 1930s, Percy had lost his good looks (as well as an eye, in an accident involving a Great Dane--he had a glass one for the rest of his life) and had become an established character man on the screen.  For him, the delectable Karpathy (originally "Count Aristide Karpathy") was created.  The character is a former student of Professor Higgins, who took his knowledge of phonetics and languages to the courts of Europe, making it his business to unmask social climbers and aristocratic frauds.  He of course poses a big threat to Higgins and his "Galatea," Eliza... but ultimately, he concludes that her English is so good she has to be foreign born; and her manners so impeccable he concludes she is a Hungarian princess in disguise!

Theodore Bikel as Karpathy

The part of Karpathy (now with the first name of Zoltan) in "My Fair Lady" on Broadway was played by Christopher Hewett, best known for his brilliant portrayal of Roger DeBris in the original film of Mel Brooks' "The Producers."  When the musical was brought to the screen by legendary director George Cukor, the part was played by Theodore Bikel.  Bikel was another stage leading man who had become a character actor.  He was the original Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music."  Bikel was a guitarist and folk singer and the song "Edelweiss" (incidentally the last song Oscar Hammerstein wrote) was composed for him, to maximize on these talents.  By the time "My Fair Lady" came along, he had become known for his virtuosity with dialects--on screen he played German, Russian, French--even a redneck sheriff from the deep South.  Who better to prance through the Hungarian affectations of Karpathy?

I take pride in having evolved into something of a "chameleon" and I enjoy submerging myself into delicious characters with crazy dialect challenges.  Karpathy is another great cameo to add to the pantheon of characters I've been fortunate to play.  Oh, let's face it! I am incredibly blessed not only to work with Jimmy Brennan again, and to do this great musical, but to return to the genteel and sunny environs of Vero Beach once more in the dead of a New York winter.  "My Fair Lady" runs March 12-31. For tickets, and more information, visit the Riverside Theatre website.


Monday, December 31, 2018

My End of the Year Letter 2018

2018: Feast or Famine
It's that time again: the time to reflect back on the year past, take stock and set new goals for the year to come.

The first thing to celebrate, I suppose, is having survived year two of the Trump presidency.  We are still here!  I can't deny that, like many Americans, I find his oppressive omnipresence stressful and exhausting.  Sleep does not come easily these days.

At the same time, I see all the chaos in our government and the tension in our society as a spur to create what good I can, and to continue to pursue my goals and dreams.  In addition to generating more theatre work, I continue to branch out into other areas: writing, directing, coaching and teaching, and TV and film.

My Year in "England"

Looking at the season past, I realized that every show I did this year was set in England (with a detour to Neverland!).  



As Feste, with the company of "Twelfth Night"

I enjoyed a Florida winter happily immersed in the challenging rep season at Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, where I played Mr. Fennyman in "Shakespeare in Love" and Feste in "Twelfth Night."  The latter was a landmark production: the first EVER American professional production of a Shakespeare play with an all-male cast performing original Elizabethan stage practices and in original pronunciation!  We were blessed to be instructed and coached in the Elizabethan dialect by acknowledged master David Crystal and dialectician Paul Meier.  I also got to sing my Feste songs with a consort playing Elizabethan instruments.  What a thrill, and a rare opportunity to perform Shakespeare as it might have been done 400 years ago.  Audiences adored it.


As Captain Hook, "Peter Pan," NSMT
Summer brought me another of my ultimate dream roles: the dual part of Mr. Darling and Captain Hook in the classic musical, "Peter Pan."  Director Bob Richard and choreographer Diane Laurenson gave me complete freedom to chew the scenery apart as this hammy, flamboyant and delicious ultimate villain.  I was also so fortunate to work opposite a young woman who is destined for stardom: Elena Ricardo as Peter.  North Shore Music Theatre mounted a truly unique and magical production and it will forever be one of my favorite things I've done.


Greeting the audience at the Folger Theatre with the T-Punks
In the midst of our brief run of "Peter Pan," crazy me flew down on a day off and performed my seventh Bootleg Shakespeare with my brilliant friends of Taffety Punk Theatre Company.  This was the third play in the War of the Roses saga, "Henry VI, Part 3" and I again took on the role of Warwick.  In this play, Warwick is the driving force, and memorizing 300 lines of Shakespeare while learning Captain Hook was a test of the old brain cells.  But, as always, Bootleg was terrifying, exhilarating and unforgettable.  I love going to DC and throwing myself headlong into this one day theatrical stunt.


I returned to New York in time for busy audition season.  Many appointments and callbacks but nothing clicked... until I was invited to take part in a first full production of a zany new musical, "The Wrong Box," as part of Theatre for the New City's annual Dream Up Festival.  The show, an English black comedy based on a Robert Lewis Stevenson novella, and written by clever Kit Goldstein Grant, was one of those grass roots, micro-budget, fast and furious labors of love, and I got to play a handful of silly characters.  It's always a pleasure to be a part of the development of new work and contribute to its growth.

The "Write Stuff"

Screenwriting has become an exciting and creatively fulfilling path for me, and this year one of my scripts was honored with an award.  "T," my 10 page short script about a man coping with addiction, was recognized as Third Place Winner at the Big Apple Film Festival here in New York.  Attending the festival screenings and events and receiving my award was a huge boost to my writer's ego!  "T" is now in the ScreenCraft Fund grant competition, and it is my hope that I will win the money to produce the film!

My other two scripts--my feature, "The Girl in Green," and my short, "In Helen's Room," are entered in multiple competitions and my producing partners at Changing Film are working diligently with me to get them in front of production companies and potential talent to move the projects forward in 2019.  To check out my log lines and synopses, visit my FilmFreeway profile.

"SVU and Me"

As a theatre actor, it can be difficult to break into film and TV.  The catch-22? You can't get an audition for film and TV without footage of you acting in film and TV... but you can't get the footage without the film or TV project!  This year, by good fortune and the efforts of my agents at Avalon Artists Group, I auditioned for a speaking role on "Law & Order: SVU" and BOOKED IT! I played Oscar, an intellectual at a book signing, in the teaser opening of Episode 10 of the 20th season, entitled "Alta Kockers."  What a thrill to work on that set and to see myself on TV, on a show of which I am a genuine fan.  This small appearance, and my scene in the indie film "Till We Meet Again," now comprise my demo reel, which I hope will bring more opportunities in the new year.


I also got to do some commercial shoots and concept videos this year for various products and creative ventures.  These have been great fun, and I am excited to do more. I've become defined as a "Silver Fox" and wear the label proudly!

Director/Mentor/Coach

Directing the debut solo act of the wondrous Sierra Rein, "Running in Place," was one of the highlights of the year.  Sierra KILLED IT in her two engagements this year at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, garnering glowing press and a nomination for a Broadway World Award.  The show will have a reprise performance at Don't Tell Mama on March 6, just in time for MAC Award voting.  Don't miss it!

Sierra's musical director Bill Zeffiro and I have become a really strong creative team and we are collaborating with my dear friend, Goldie Dver, on her comeback cabaret.  Goldie is a brilliant singer with whom I have done numerous projects, including our MAC Award winning show, "Crazy World: Songs of Leslie Bricusse."  Look for Goldie's show in late spring/early summer 2019.

I continue to coach auditions for talented actors, who've booked everything from Broadway to TV to film projects this year with my input and mentorship.  I love working with actors and bringing out their best!  Visit my Facebook Coaching Page for more info and to book a session! 

The Year Ahead

2019 will start with a reading of a new musical, "Houdini Among the Spirits," with music by Bill Zeffiro, starring Bob Cuccioli as Houdini and Nick Wyman as Arthur Conan Doyle. 

In February I fly south to Vero Beach, Florida and one of my favorite venues, Riverside Theatre, to play the Hungarian charlatan Zoltan Karpathy in "My Fair Lady."  This will be my third production at Riverside, and my sixth collaboration with brilliant director Jimmy Brennan.

After that, I will play drag diva Miss Tracy Mills in Matthew Lopez's "The Legend of Georgia McBride" at Theatre Squared in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Bruce Warren, with whom I performed years back at the York Theatre Company in "The Road to Qatar!" is directing this play about an Elvis impersonator who transforms into a drag sensation.

There is nothing for an actor quite as empowering as starting a new year knowing that there's work booked!  Wishing you and yours a powerful 2019 full of opportunity!