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!


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!