Monday, December 28, 2015

Hello, Rudy!

2015 gets Wilder-- and Wilder... 

With Giselle Wolf in "The Long Christmas Dinner"
As our run of "A Wilder Christmas" progresses, audiences and critics alike are praising the production and it is extremely gratifying.  These two Thornton Wilder one acts are challenging pieces that not only break many theatrical conventions but also present powerful ideas that shake our habitual perceptions of life and living.  It's really inspiring to see the way people are being touched by our work.  As of this writing, the production has been extended through January 10!

"Miniature masterpieces, at once poetic and profound, and I doubt you’ll ever see either one done better."
~The Wall Street Journal

In an interesting turn of events, Santa brought me an early Christmas present in the form of my first role of 2016, ironically in a show based upon--yes--a play by Thornton Wilder!  "Hello, Dolly!," one of the most iconic and beloved classics of American musical theatre, is based on Wilder's "The Matchmaker."  Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida is producing "Hello Dolly!" and has invited me to play the delicious cameo part of Rudolph, the majordomo of the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant.  This is something of a full circle moment for me, as this time last year I was rehearsing "Crazy For You" at Riverside; I am delighted by the prospect of returning to beautiful sunny Vero and working again with one of my favorite directors, James Brennan, with whom this will be my fourth production.

David Hurst, center, as Rudolph in the film of "Hello, Dolly!"
My history with Jerry Herman has been a happy one.  I have done three productions of "La Cage Aux Folles"--twice as a Cagelle, and then as Albin, opposite Maxwell Caulfield at Ogunquit Playhouse.  I also played Lindsay Woolsey in "Mame," starring Louise Pitre, at Goodspeed Opera House.  "Hello, Dolly!" is arguably Herman's most beloved and well known show and Rudolph is one of the best cameo parts in the musical theatre repertoire.  The role was immortalized in the film version by David Hurst.  Hurst was a German-born actor and a Jew who escaped Nazi Germany as a child via the Kindertransport and settled in Ireland, where he became an actor; eventually he came to Broadway in the original production of "Camelot," playing Merlin opposite Richard Burton and Julie Andrews.  His turn as Rudolph in "Hello, Dolly!" is what he is best known for, and he's delightful in the part.

As always, I am inspired by the character men of the past and the traditions that make shows like "Hello, Dolly!" perennial classics that audiences love.  The show runs March 8-27 on Riverside's Stark Stage.  It will be fun to be a part of this show as a way to 'gallop' into the new year, as it were!  More on this, and other things simmering for 2016, to come.  Have a safe and happy New Year!

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