Monday, April 7, 2014

"Laughter on the 23rd Floor" Opens at Flat Rock Playhouse!

"James Beaman as Milt shines… Although each gets to stand out, the show’s strength lies in togetherness, when the jokes skip from actor to actor like a smooth stone on a placid lake, and ripples of laughter dispel the sadness in our lives, including the loss in February of Sid Caesar, one great funnyman who continues to teach us about laughter and love."

After a joyous two week rehearsal period, we opened this Neil Simon classic to enthusiastic audiences here at Flat Rock Playhouse.  I have to say this is one of the most uniformly talented and lovely casts I have ever been a part of and the result is a show that is a true ensemble effort.  The credit, of course, for the assembling of this terrific group of comedians goes to our director Michael Kostroff.  

In this first professional directing effort, Michael has already proven his considerable gifts. He is a born leader, inspiring great work by bringing encouragement, appreciation and kindness to his keen eye for detail and mastery of what is funny.  Michael is an accomplished actor, having proven himself with his extensive stage work and his unforgettable stint on HBO's "The Wire."  I was already a fan before I landed this job, but now that I have been directed by Michael, my respect and admiration for him is magnified thousandfold.

One of the special things for me about this production is that I am playing the role Michael himself played a couple times, including in a production at San Jose Rep, where he met his wife, Jenny.  This just makes it all the more meaningful to me that Michael entrusted me with the part of Milt.  I am having such fun with this sardonic jokester, a truly authentic New York character, through whom I get moments of brilliant hilarity and touching pathos.  

Spring has sprung here in this lovely part of North Carolina and when I am not performing on our stunning set in the playhouse, I have been hiking in the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site park.  It's such a gorgeous place.  There have also been jaunts to nearby Asheville, a funky and welcoming little city with great food and lots of fun shops and galleries.  Two more weeks of fun in this show, and I plan to savor every moment!

In the midst of this gig, I am also making plans for my highly anticipated engagement at Cape Playhouse, where I will play my dream role of John Adams in "1776" later this summer.  As part of the journey, I am going to be doing a video blog which will capture the process of researching, preparing, rehearsing and performing this iconic character. has invited me to be a guest blogger as well!  Looking forward to sharing the adventure with you all!