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Friday, August 7, 2015

CHIKARA King Of Trios 2015 Pairings I Want To See

As of this writing, we are 4 weeks away from the biggest professional wrestling weekend of the year. I am of course referring to CHIKARA's King Of Trios tournament, a 3-day long single elimination 16-team tournament. All the competing teams have been announced and I will list them right now.

The Battleborn - Kevin Condron, "Juke Joint" Lucas Calhoun & Missile Assault Man
Crown & Court - Princess Kimber Lee & Los Ice Creams
The Arcane Horde - Oleg The Usurper & The Batiri (Obariyon and Kodama)
The Nightmare Warriors - Hallowicked, Frightmare & Silver Ant
The Battle Hive - Amasis, Fire Ant & Worker Ant
THE BDK - Jakob Hammermeier, Nokken & Solider Ant
The Gentleman's Club - Chuck Taylor, Drew Gulak & The Swamp Monster
The United Nations - Juan Francisco de Coronado, The Proloteriat Boar & Mr Azerbaijan
The Snake Pit - Ophidian, Shynron, Eddie Kingston
Dasher's Dugout - Dasher Hatfield, Mr Touchdown & Icarus
The Devastation Corporation - Max Smashmaster, Blaster McMassive & Flex Rumblecrunch
The bWo - The Blue Meanie, Big Stevie Cool & Hollywood Nova
Team AAA - Fenix, Drago & Aerostar
Team ATTACK! - Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews & "Flash" Morgan Webster
Team Fight Club PRO - MK McKinnan, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate
The Bullet Club - AJ Styles & The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson)

First round matches are going to be announced next week. But before CHIKARA posts the first match, I want to name off some pairings I'd love to see at some point during the weekend. Ready? Here we go!

The Bullet Club vs. The bWo: The current "Indy darling" stable against arguably the first cult favorite "Indy" stable.

The Bullet Club vs. The Devastation Corporation: Dev Corp beating the ever living crap out of The Young Bucks? Yes, please!

The Battleborn vs. Crown & Court: Los Ice Creams are easily one of the most fun-loving team on the CHIKARA roster. Kevin Condron, not so much. The juxtaposition could make for some entertaining moments.

The Battleborn vs. The Battle Hive: Even though he is now Missile Assault Man, I'm sure the issues between the former member of The Colony Xtreme Force and Fire & Worker Ant have not subsided.

The Battleborn vs. Dasher's Dugout: Condron has been a thorn in the side of each member of Dasher's Dugout so far this year. A victory for one side or the other during Trios would greatly advance the storyline.

Crown & Court vs. The Arcane Horde: A princess faces off against a Viking-esque warrior. The rest writes itself.

Crown & Court vs. The Gentleman's Club: It's always entertaining to watch a Rudo underestimate and condescend towards Princess Kimber Lee and then very swiftly get their comeuppance. No doubt we'd see that from Chuck Taylor during this match. Also, I think The Swamp Monster becoming smitten with Kimber Lee would be very entertaining as well.

Crown & Court vs. The United Nations: Similar situation to the above; foreign Rudos patronize the Princess because she is a woman and then quickly come to regret it.

Crown & Court vs. The Devastation Corporation: After attempting to sabotage Princess Kimber Lee & Jervis Cottonbelly from arriving for their Campeonatos de Parejas Title match on time (while they did arrive in the nick of time, Lee & Jervis lost the match), I'm sure Sidney Bakabella would love nothing more than to see his boys take Kimber Lee and the Ice Creams out of the tournament on the way to becoming two-times King Of Trios champions.

Crown & Court vs. The bWo: This has the potential to be a great comedy match! I just want to see some dancing between Los Ice Creams and The Blue Meanie.

The Arcane Horde vs. The Devastation Corporation: This could be the moment where Oleg no longer feels indebted to the "Legitimate Pro Wrasslin Contract" that Sidney Bakabella lords over him and finally breaks away.

Team Fight Club Pro vs. Team ATTACK!: Two British teams facing each other. Goodness ensues.

The Nightmare Warriors vs. The Battle Hive: The Colony explodes!

The Nightmare Warriors vs. The BDK: Apparently at a recent event, Jakob Hammermier joined Hallowicked and Frightmare in praying to Nazmaldun after a match. Also, it's apparent that Hallowicked and Frightmare are acting the way they are due to The Eye of Tyr which I believe is now in Hammermier's possession. Storyline advancement out the wazoo.

 The Nightmare Warrior's vs. Dasher's Dugout: Hallowicked defeated Icarus earlier in the year to become the new Grand Champion. Last month, Hallowicked successfully defended the title against Dasher Hatfield. Neither of those two men can be happy about those blemishes on their records, so a victory in King Of Trios could be seen as a measure of redemption.

The Battle Hive vs. The BDK: Fire Ant and Worker Ant are still not happy about the fact that Soldier Ant has aligned himself with The BDK. Though whether or not it is of his own volition is still up for debate. Perhaps the two Technico ants can beat some sense into their former compatriot during the tournament.

The Battle Hive vs. The Snake Pit: The Osirian Portal explode! Again!

The Battle Hive vs. The bWo: Dance off between Amasis and The Blue Meanie! I demand it!

Team AAA vs. The Snake Pit: Ophidian and Shynron against three amazing high-flying luchadores. How could it miss?

The bWo vs. The Devastation Corporation: nWo rip-off versus a Demolition./Road Warriors "rip-off". Need I say more?

The bWo vs. The United Nations: The two members of The Bloc Party on the team would be in awe of The bWo because they just learned about ECW in their native countries.

The bWo vs. The BDK: Three initials. Both beginning with the letter "B". ...Yeah, I got nothing.

The BDK vs. Dasher's Dugout: The rivalry between these six is ever-long. So let's do another match at King Of Trios. Always great to watch.

The Devastation Corporation vs. Dasher's Dugout: A rematch from the finals of last year's King Of Trios.

All sorts of possibilities for match ups exist! I honestly think that no matter whom is paired up in what position, it's going to be an amazing weekend! I can not wait.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Podcasts Coming In May

First off, I'm bringing back the "It This Gonna Suck?" concept for May. Every Sunday in the month of May I will post on either Facebook or Twitter asking for a number between 1 and whatever number is the last one in my Netflix queue. Whatever item that corresponds with in the queue, I will watch and review on the podcast. If it's a movie, I'll watch the full movie and discuss it. If it's a TV show, I'll watch the next full episode of that show in my queue and discuss it. And at the end of the episode I'll be able to answer the question "Is this gonna suck?" With the subjects being picked on Sunday, the corresponding episode will be uploaded the following Saturday.

Also on tap for "This Is Gonna Suck", I plan on looking at the 2015 feature film adaptation of "Cymbeline" which I've heard was absolutely awful. I plan on releasing this episode to coincide with opening night of the production of "Cymbeline" I am involved in near the end of the month. And even though I haven't seen the movie yet, I know the production I'm in is leaps and bounds better than the movie.

I'm planning on at least one episode of "Everything Is Fantastic" and maybe one of "Witty Banter in May as well. Also, the pilot episodes of the wrestling and video game music podcasts I previously mentioned will be coming soon also. Likely in June after the production of "Cymbeline" I'm in closes. Keep an eye out.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 16, 2014

In Defense Of The Ensemble

A couple of months ago, I was having a conversation with some friends during intermission of a show at York Little Theatre. The topic of upcoming auditions came up over the course of the conversation and we mentioned the possibility of auditioning for a show that was coming up. "There aren't a whole lot of big roles for guys in that show", my one friend said. I wasn't overly familiar with the show, but decided I might audition all the same. The hypothetical lack of "big roles" didn't really deter me. In fact, I wouldn't have been looking for a big role any way. I would gladly take any role.

Now don't get me wrong, if I were to ever audition for a show and was offered a pretty substantial role I would gladly accept it. But I'm equally happy to be told, "You're in the ensemble" and then potentially play a multitude of characters. When it comes to theatre, I'm of the mindset of just being happy to be involved regardless of the role. But I have known people in my time from high school through present day who have no interest in being involved if they aren't a lead. Now I know there are people who have logistical reasons for only being willing to accept certain roles such as travel distance from their home to the theatre or other such time and location based constraints. That's perfectly fine, I can understand that. But for those that do so for reasons of ego and feel that "ensemble roles are beneath them", my mind just can't process that.

I guess maybe it's because I feel I know my limitations. I've never really considered myself to be a strong singer. And as far as dancing, I'm lucky if I'm capable to walk in anything that resembles a rhythm. Also, I know I don't look like what many would consider the typical leading man. But you know what? I'm fine with that. As a friend put it to me this past weekend, "You're a character actor". There's always a place for the character actor in the acting world!

Let me close out this post with another story. Last summer after another show at YLT, I went out to Arooga's with a couple of friends of mine. I don't recall exactly how it came up, but I guess the topic of conversation drifted towards auditions and casting and the like. This sort of thing does happen when theatre people gather though. So my friend Rachel posits this hypothetical situation to me; "Suppose York Little Theatre was to do 'Phantom of the Opera' one year. Would you audition for Raoul?" Now for those who may not be familiar with "Phantom", Raoul is the secondary male lead and the romantic interest of Christine, the female lead. I said no and, if I were lucky,  I figured at highest I'd be cast as either one of the two opera house owners or, more than likely, I'd be in the ensemble. She thought this was a completely reasonable response. Of course I followed this up by saying that it was equally likely that I'd be watching this particular production from the audience because, let's be honest, you need some serious vocal skills to do "Phantom" regardless of the role. And if I felt that discretion was the better part of valor on this occasion, I would pass on the audition and eagerly await opening night for the show.

Although, I've often thought "Nothing ventured, nothing gained". Life has a way of surprising you, much like it did to me when I was cast as part of the quartet in "The Music Man". So, I guess it's all a matter of seeing what comes up. I'm looking forward to seeing the upcoming season schedules and seeing what potential rehearsal options will await me. Leading role? Ensemble part? I'll take whatever I'm offered because I love being on stage and I look forward to being back on it again!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

MAGFest 12; What A Weekend!

So last weekend, I started the year off by spending four days in National Harbor, Maryland at The Gaylord National Hotel and Resort for MAGFest. For those who may not know, MAGFest is a weekend long event celebrating music, gaming of all forms and general pop cultural goodness. There are panels to attend, concerts to rock out at and games as far as the eye can see. It would be impossible for me to cover everything that happened so I'm going to hit some highlights in this blog.

- Holy Hell, was the registration line long. I got there around 4 PM after checking in and I still think I waited about 90 minutes before I got my badge. It was totally worth it though! Wouldn't have traded a single second. As I waited in line I got a call from Kate, one of my roommates for the weekend. We'd been friends online for I'd say probably close to 5 years now and this would be the first time we'd met in person. Not a bad venue for it, if you ask me. Anyway, she asked me to come find her in the line and give her a room key after I got my badge. So after getting my badge, I backtracked the line and found her at the end of what was still a really long line, though it was shorter than when I had joined it initially. After finding her and passing off a key, Kate asked me if I'd take her suitcase up to the room. Well, it certainly seemed more sensible than having her pull it with her as the line moved slowly forward. So I returned to the room, charged my phone and eventually Kate and Adam - our other roommate for the weekend - arrived at the room and took some time to just relax and decompress now that we were all finally here and had all our necessary MAGFest identifications.

- I got to meet "The Cinema Snob" Brad Jones after the Internet Movie Reviewer panel. Nice guy and shorter than I thought he would be.

- Bit Brigade was performing Thursday night and I definitely wanted to check out their set. Bit Brigade's gimmick is thus, one guy plays a speed run of a video game and the band plays the background music live. This year saw the performance of a new game, The Legend of Zelda! Now you might be wondering how that would work since the music of this early NES-era game is pretty much limited to the Overworld theme and the Dungeon theme. Well the twist was they played music from various games in the series going from the original The Legend of Zelda all the way to Nintendo 64's  Ocarina of Time. It was amazing!

- Midnight saw the return of "Audition for The World's Worst Movie". Basic premise, Tom "hesanevilgenius" White writes up a script for what would be an awful movie. MAGFest guests and randomly drawn audience members have to perform the scenes without corpsing, laughing or otherwise breaking character. If the person fails, they are out of the scene. Audience members who survive have a chance to win a signed DVD of a bad movie. Highlight of this year's event, someone cosplaying as a Yip Yip alien from Sesame Street was randomly drawn to participate. And they performed the scene completely in character! Needless to say, they won their scene. I wasn't called upon to perform, but it was fun to watch all the same.

- I got back to the room after 2:00 AM and Kate returned not too long after.We decided to look for Adam first heading to the main concert room where MAGProm was wrapping up. And yes, the name is exactly what you'd expect, a Prom happening at MAGFest. He was nowhere to be seen so we decided to check the game room next, particularly the pinball area. Once again, no sign of Adam. So after that we wandered over to where the Rock Band set up was and played a couple of songs with other attendees up at that late hour. As this was going on, we heard frequent snippets of classical music and the sound of explosions behind us. Our curiosity was peaked so we decided to check it out. It was a game called Johan Sebastian Joust. Every player was given a Playstation Move controller to hold and the object of the game is to move with the tempo of the music playing while attempting to hold your controller as still as possible while trying to jostle the other players so their controllers go off balance and thus eliminate them. We watched a few rounds before deciding to dive in ourselves and try it. I didn't fare too well but Kate... she was like a pro at this game! In fact, I'm fairly certain she spent some time each day at the Joust area, for want of a better term. Watching and playing J.S. Joust was easily some of the most fun I had at MAGFest this year. The fact that Kate and I were there from about 2:30 until almost 4:30 in the morning watching and playing should be enough to attest to that fact. Check out this video to see J.S. Joust in action and get a better idea of what I'm talking about. Bonus info: You can see Kate in this video; she joins the game around the 3:48 mark, the girl wearing the tan 9th Doctor's outfit dress and the white cat ears.

- Friday began with running on very little sleep. I blame the bottle of Bawlz Root Beer I had the previous evening. I'm not used to consuming hyper-caffeinated beverages so I guess it hit me pretty heavily. Oh well, on to the JonTron panel! Jon was very entertaining answering questions, cracking joke and he sang a snippet of "Con te partirĂ²". It was glorious! So glad he wasn't struck with the "con flu" again this year.

- I had planned to go see the Game Grumps panel that afternoon, but I wasn't feeling too well. So I decided to head back to the room and lay down for a bit. After taking a nap for a couple of hours, I was ready to take on the rest of the evening. On the agenda, seeing The Megas and This Place Is Haunted in concert that night. The Megas' set was fantastic! Having missed seeing them last year, I was glad to finally catch them this year. They specialize in covers of music from the Mega Man series of games. They didn't play "Don't Mess With Magnetman" which is easily my favorite song of theirs, but they did play some new songs from their upcoming album called "History Repeating: Red" so I guess that's a fair trade.

- This Place Is Haunted took the stage after The Megas and also blew me away. They started their set with a cover of the old HBO ident. You know the one. They covered a multitude of video game and movie theme pieces and rocked the hell out of every one of them. Interesting to note, one of the songs they played was the theme from the NES video game Silver Surfer. And funnily enough, the video they had playing in the background was footage of a no death run of the game - even though it is one of the hardest games to play in the NES' history. So kudos to whoever played that for the footage.

- Friday night's late night event was The 2nd Annual MAGFest Pub Quiz. I got to participate this year. Our team captain was The Rap Critic and we were Team Big Baby Jesuses. Overall, we tied for 11th with - if memory serves me - 3 other teams. Not too shabby out of a field of about 40 teams!

- Saturday began with a panel with the guys from "Continue?" and was followed by a meet & greet with them. They were quite taken with my CHIKARA track jacket and t-shirt mentioning that they were good friends with CHIKARA personality Billy Kumohara. So hearing them mark about about CHIKARA was a definite highlight of the day for me.

- I had a brief encounter with JonTron after Continue's panel. I got to shake his hand and compliment him on his videos. I also got to ask a question I was planning on asking if I were picked at his panel; if he could adapt any Broadway musical into a video game, what musical would it be and what type of game would it be? So, who do we see about making "Les Miserables: The Video Game" a reality?

- Saturday afternoon was devoted to seeing bands on the Second Stage. Canada's missingNO, a jazz band, and Baltimore's Rare Candy, a keyboard heavy prog band, were the ones I watched that afternoon. I saw Rare Candy on the Main Stage last year and really enjoyed them so it was good seeing them again.

- I decided to check out the vendor area some more on Saturday afternoon and talked to some of the members of The Megas, This Place Is Haunted and missingNO complementing them on their sets that weekend. I also stopped by brentalfloss' table and had a brief conversation about Les Miserables with him telling him he made a better Javert than Russel Crowe did. While there I picked up a copy of The Megas' "History Repeating: Blue" and a copy of  Starbomb's debut album as well. Good stuff!

- Linkara's Atop The 4th Wall Live! returned to MAGFest again, this time in a midnight slot. He riffed on a strange Donkey Kong comic from the early 80s and gave us a look at the first episode for 2014 which was the conclusion of Marville. Very funny and entertaining as always.

- Sunday was the final day of MAGFest and there were many fewer events scheduled this day in comparison to last year. But that was OK by me since the only event I was really interested in that day was the Internet Personality Meet & Greet. I brought a copy of the book So Bad, It's Good which I got for Christmas to have signed since many of the folks at the Meet & Greet specialized in reviewing bad movies. Most importantly, I wanted to get the signature of Allison Pregler a.k.a. Obscurus Lupa since she wrote the forward to the book. The first person I approached to sign was my friend Jess, better know as Lady Spaz from the video series "Fool's Gold". I crashed with her and her roommates at last year's MAGFest and now, here we were, a year later and she was on the other end of the guest/attendee spectrum. Way to make it, my friend! :)

In all, it was a fantastic weekend. There was so much more I wish I could've seen and done, but there are never enough hours in the day. I'm eagerly looking forward to MAGFest 13 coming January 2015. Who else is going next year?

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Music of "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

Before we get started here, a quick disclaimer. This is not going to be an academic look at the subject matter. Nor will this be from a musician's point of view. I'm not in the academic field and I sure as hell am not a musician either. And since I'm not a musician, there may well be times where I incorrectly use musical terminology or don't even use any proper terminology since, honestly, that's not in my sphere of reference. This is going to be me, shamelessly being a fanboy about one of my favorite film scores of all time. If that doesn't appeal to you, best to back out now.

Having said that, I'll go right ahead and state the obvious; I love The Nightmare Before Christmas! It easily one of my favorite movies. Not just a Christmas movie. Not just a Halloween movie. A movie that's perfect for watching any time of the year.

But I'm not here to talk about the movie today. While it is visually a masterpiece, I want to focus on the musical score for the film which was composed by one of my favorite composers, Danny Elfman. Now just a quick bit of background for those who may not be familiar. Danny Elfman is an American composer who served as lead singer and songwriter for the rock group Oingo Boingo in the late 70's through mid 90's. In 1985, director Tim Burton reached out to Elfman and asked him to write the score for his first feature film, Pee Wee's Big Adventure. And the rest, as they say, is history. Elfman has scored all of Tim Burton's films since then except for two, Ed Wood  and Sweeney Todd.

One of the biggest reasons that Elfman's music works so well with Burton's films, in my opinion at least, is the fact they both can switch tonal gears in a second. Things can go from quirky and whimsical to dark and brooding in the blink of an eye. Not to mention the occasional juxtaposition of these two tones as well. Take for example "Kidnap The Sandy Claws", an upbeat song in which a trio of trick-or-treaters gleefully sing about how they play to capture Santa Claus and then subject him to all kinds of torture afterward. And a prime example of tonal shift; after the Town Meeting scene, we see a montage of Jack conducting all sorts of scientific experiments in an effort to understand Christmas. Near the end of this montage, Sally, a rag doll-esque creation of the resident mad scientist, picks up up a dead flower which transforms into a beautifully trimmed Christmas tree in her hands. And then, just as quickly, it bursts into flames and burns up. The music that underscores this moment is so fitting; very soft strings, chimes and a slight accordion accompany Sally is she walks away from Jack's house and picks up the flower. As it transforms into the tree the strings become louder and some high brass enters the piece, culminating in a trumpet flourish. This quickly gives way to bass drums, low brass and mournful sounding bells as the tree goes up in flames. The piece concludes with the low notes of a cello as Sally looks on, shocked at what she had just witnessed.
To better hear what I mean, follow this link and listen from the 4:40 mark until the end of the video. It is superb!

In 2008 to help commemorate the movie's 15th Anniversary, Walt Disney Records released Nightmare Revisited. Nightmare Revisited was a cover album of the score to The Nightmare Before Christmas. 18 artists contributed their own unique takes on the music from the movie with Danny Elfman serving as narrator for the Opening and Closing tracks which appeared on the original soundtrack - originally done by Patrick Stewart, no less - but not in the movie itself. To say it's an eclectic mix of musicians would be an understatement. The fact that both Marilyn Manson and Korn are contributors to an album put by the Walt Disney Company would be enough to make most people's heads spin! But the album is nearly perfect in my opinion. The Plain White Ts do an amazing job with "Jack's Lament", Rise Against gives us a kick ass version of "Making Christmas" and you can't help but smirk a little when you hear Jonathon Davis sing "Kidnap The Sandy Claws". And the instrumental covers are great as well. The "Jack And Sally Montage" piece I mentioned earlier is covered by The Vitamin String Quartet and it sounds absolutely beautiful! And the duo Rodrigo y Gabriela turn "Oogie Boogie's Song" into a Latin guitar flavored instrumental cover.

Now you'll notice I said the album is almost perfect. There's one track on this album which I think is the worst song I have ever heard. It's the cover of "Jack Obsession" done by Sparklehorse. The vocals are terrible and the arrangement is garbage. And this particularly pissed me off because "Jack's Obsession" is my favorite song in the entire movie. There's a playlist here on YouTube that collects the entire tribute album together. If you're a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas and haven't heard anything from this album yet, I definitely recommend you give it a lesson. But skip over the Sparklehorse song. It's the audio equivalent of expecting some nice present and upon opening the box you find a shrunken head waiting for you instead.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

1 Day Til 30 - My Life In Theatre: Act 3, Post-College

After I graduated from the University of Scranton, there was a period of 5 years which we'll refer to as "The Dark Times". During this time, I wasn't involved in theatre at all. This was mostly due to the fact that I was working pretty consistently in the evening. I still went to see shows when the opportunity presented itself, but I wasn't involved in a show at any point. I did audition for a couple of shows during this time, but nothing ever came of it. But this all changed when August of 2011 rolled around. I read that York Little Theatre was holding auditions for "The Music Man" the week before Labor Day. Just on a whim, I decided to go and audition after I got home from work that afternoon. I figured it would be worth a shot since it was another show I was familiar with. I was hoping for one of the non-singing roles, like the Mayor or Charlie Cowell, the rival salesman. And if I didn't get either of those, I figured I'd probably be cast in the Ensemble. Imagine my surprise when a couple of days later I was contacted by the music director who said he wanted to try and meet up with the members of the Barbershop Quartet before the first rehearsal. Wait, what?!? I'm part of the Barbershop Quartet? I don't even read music! For the longest time, I kept wondering if maybe they had made some sort of mistake with this casting decision. But as we got closer to opening night, my confidence grew and I felt more and more at ease with things. I was finally back on stage after so long, and it felt great!

After "The Music Man" closed, I quickly auditioned for the next show in the season which was a farce called "Leading Ladies" written by Tony Award winning playwright Ken Ludwig who, believe it or not, is from York, PA. And the show also took place in York as well. How d'you like that? The only bad part of working on this show was I got incredibly sick the second weekend. That was unpleasant in and of itself. But add to the fact that my character did a lot of yelling in the show, my voice was pretty much shot by the time we closed. Despite this, it felt good to do a play again.

A few weeks after "Leading Ladies" closed, I got a call from my friend Chelsea who I had met through being in "Leading Ladies". She was directed a production of "The Taming of the Shrew" for a group in Dover called OrangeMite Studios and they needed a few more guys to round out their cast and asked me if I would be interested. Well, of course I jumped at the chance to be involved! It was another new experience for me since the performance space was a converted barn, so this was my first time working an outdoor venue. So far, that was the first and only time I've done a show for OrangeMite. But I look forward to hopefully being involved in another show sometime soon.

I spent most of the summer preparing for my next audition, the South Central PA premiere of "Avenue Q" at York Little Theatre. I love Avenue Q! I was lucky enough to see it twice while it was on Broadway and think it's one of the most original pieces of theatre even written in the last decade. I was determined to be involved in this show. I chose the song "I Believe" from the musical "The Book of Mormon" as my audition piece and drilled that song constantly for close to three months leading up to the auditions. All my efforts were worth it as I was cast as The Newcomer and also served as an additional puppeteer for the show. In all, I helped operate four different puppets over the course of the show. It was definitely a challenge, but I loved every minute of it!

As 2012 started, I went to the other side of the stage and served as Stage Manager for York Little Theatre's production of "Godspell". It was my first time working as SM for YLT and also working as SM since graduating from college close to six years earlier. Again, it was a challenging experience since it was, once again, a step up in responsibilities from college to community theatre. But in the long run, I enjoyed my time working on the show and will gladly Stage Manage a show at York Little Theatre again. It'll depend on finding the right show though, so we'll see when this will be.

Most recently, I had worked on "The Producers" at York Little Theatre over the summer. I was in the Ensemble for this show and played a wide variety of characters ranging from a blind violinist (who, by the way, got to utter the line "It's good to be the king!"), a horrible auditioner and former British Prime Minister William Churchill. Talk about range, am I right?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm currently in rehearsals for York Little Theatre's production of "The Rocky Horror Show". I'm so glad to be a part of this show and am loving every second I'm involved. It's interesting because, with the exception of a couple of people, I've worked with everyone else involved in the show before. I know this is going to be a great production when everything comes together. I can't wait until we open!

Well, there you have it. Looking back, it's hard to believe that theatre was such a non-entity for most of the first half of my life. I'm glad I finally embraced it and have striven to be as involved as I can these last 15 years. Theatre has proven to be an invaluable resource in my life, I honestly believe that anyone that has to work retail or in the customer service industry should take some basic theatre courses.

The most important thing I've been able to take away from all my time involved in theatre is the many friendships that I have developed as a result. A lot of the people I have met in theatre are some of my closest friends to this day. The people you meet through theatre can be close to you as family since you spend so much time with them over the course of several months. I wouldn't have traded any of my time with any of them for anything. So for that, I say thank you to everyone I've ever known through the theatre. Thank you for being there for me and helping me become the man I am today.

And thank you to everyone who stuck with me through this "30 Days Til 30" project. We made it! Now, I look forward to a nice, relaxing day tomorrow as I celebrate. Thanks for reading! See you around!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2 Days Til 30 - My Life In Theatre: Act 2, College

August 2002, I'm now officially a college Freshman enrolled at the University of Scranton. Not long after arriving on move-in day, I learn about auditions for the first show of the year being produced by The University Players, the academic theatre program's group. The show is William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". This is perfect! I was familiar with the show since I worked on it when I was a Freshman in high school. So I went in and auditioned the first night, got a callback a couple of nights later and was finally cast as Snug/The Lion, one of the "mechanicals" who perform the play-within-the-play that happens near the end of the show. Not long after that, I was cast in the second show of the year called "The Foreigner" where I played a character named Ellard, a "slow" but kind-hearted Southern kid. I think it could easily be called my most memorable role since people would bring it up to me continuously for years afterwards. It's nice to know I made an impact.

Sophomore year was the time for me to expand my horizons. The first show that year was "The Fantasticks", a musical. And even though I still didn't consider myself much of a singer, I decided to audition all the same because it was another show I was familiar with having seen a production of it while in high school. There are two characters in the show who are aging actors and don't do a whole lot of singing, so I figured I'd be good for one of those roles. Lo and behold, I was eventually cast as Mortimer, an old actor who specialized in death scenes. It was a great comedic role. Plus I got to dress as a pirate in Act 2. So that's always nice. The next show I was cast in was "Our Country's Good", a play about a group of Royal Marines and convicts at a penal colony in New South Wales. It was the first dramatic role I had ever played and was an interesting change of pace from all the comedic character work I had done in past shows. A few months later, I would be involved in the biggest challenge I'd ever faced in theatre up to that point. Notices were posted, "Audition for The 24-Hour Musical!" What could this mean? Basically the task was to audition, cast, rehearse and perform a musical all in the span of 24 hours. And as an added wrinkle, no one outside of the people organizing the show were told what it was until casting had concluded. Eventually, I became Erronius in the one night production of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum". It was a very interesting 24 hours with plenty of entertainment happened both on and off stage during the late night hours. The production itself was filmed along with plenty of behind the scenes and off-stage footage. Unfortunately, that footage has been lost to time but I'll always have the memories of that first night, and following morning and the performance.

Fall semester of my Junior year was a very difficult time for me. My parents had split up the week before my 21st birthday in mid-September, a few weeks later my girlfriend of two years broke up with me and about a month later was dismissed from the University for potentially being "a danger to herself and others". Yeah, heavy stuff. Thankfully, I had theatre and the University Players to help me through this tough time. Funny thing though, the shows I was involved in during this time dealt with some pretty heavy subject matter. "Dead Man Walking: The School Project" was an adaptation of the critically acclaimed book and movie of the same name produced exclusively for use in the context of academic theatre. We were actually the first University to put on the show. A high school in California performed the show first a couple weeks before we opened so they had distinction of being the first school to perform it. I was part of the ensemble playing a variety of characters, including a prison guard who yells the titular line. Right after the show closed, it was right into the next one, "The House of Bernarda Alba"; A really uplifting play about a widow who forces her five daughters to live in seclusion with her following the death of her husband and it ends with one of the daughters hanging herself. Yeah, not a lighthearted romp. For this show, I worked as the Assistant Stage Manager for the first time in my college theatre career. Spring semester rolled around and I was back on stage in "Madmen and Specialists", a play about the aftermath of the Nigerian civil war. Needless to say, the cultural context and impact was somewhat lost on us being a bunch white kids going to school in Northeast Pennsylvania. If there's anything notable to be said about this show, it's the first time I've been killed on stage. So there's that. The year closed out with "Strange Snow" and once again I was Assistant Stage Manager. So, here it was. Three-quarters of the way through my college years and I had gained plenty of experience both on stage and on production staff. What would Senior year bring? Read on.

Fall semester of Senior year ran the gamut of plays starting with Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit", followed by Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" and finally Bertold Brecht's "The Caucasian Chalk Circle". A classic comedy to a classic drama to a look into the world of epic theatre. These shows came one right after the other in quick succession, so it was a very busy semester to say the least. It also was the last time I appeared onstage in a show at the Royal Theatre. My final show at the University of Scranton was a return to the position of Stage Manager for the University Players' production of "Urinetown: The Musical" in April. I felt like I had much more responsibility working on this show than I did on "...Dreamcoat" back in high school. Of course, that's seems to be a fairly obvious observation given the jump from high school to college theatre and the change in scope between the two environments.

I graduated from the University of Scranton in May of 2006 with a Bachelor's Degree in English and a minor in Theatre. I am eternally grateful for the time I spent with the University Players and the theatre program as a whole. It helped me grow as an actor, a stage manager and - most importantly - as a person.

But my story is not over yet. Come back tomorrow for the final act.