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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.

Monday, September 16, 2013

3 Days Til 30 - Fundraising Event Coming Up

Today's blog post is dedicated to promoting a fund raising event that a friend of mine is participating in next weekend; The 2nd Annual iPads for Autism Fall Festival at Indian Acres Tree Farm in Medford, NJ is taking place on September 28th from 10:00 until 4:00. This fundraiser enables the school to provide the much needed technology to students with Autism. The iPad gives students a tool to learn and communicate more efficiently and effectively. This resource allows the student to achieve a more independent life style and creates responsibility for one self. This invaluable equipment allows students to make and follow their own daily schedules, communicate more fluently, and learn at a higher acquisition rate. More information can be found at the following website;

My friend Chrissy will be at the event as a vendor for Scentsy, the popular candle warmer company. All proceeds will go to the organization and if you can't be there in person, click the link below to shop and participate!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and check out the event on the 28th if you're free or shop online to contribute to the cause.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

4 Days Til 30 - Still So Many Questions

It's been 3 months since CHIKARA's "Anniversario: Never Compromise" and we are still left with more questions than answers, especially in the wake of this weekend where an Icarus-led rally in Philadelphia seems to have resurrected "MysteriumP" & the remaining members of the group GEKIDO stormed a Wrestling Is Intense show and forcefully demanded the promotion be shut down.

I still am having a hard time wrapping my head around everything. And I'm assuming that more than a few of you reading this have no clue what in the hell I'm talking about. Well, if you have some time to put aside for some reading, click that link below and consider yourself informed.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

5 Days Til 30 - An Incident At Work

I don't post often about work these days. Why would I? Most of it wouldn't be worth reading if I'm being honest. But this is something I just feel I needed to share.

Brief bit of background for those who don't know; I work as a tech at a pharmacy. One of the aspects of that job is we call insurance companies if there is an issue with a prescription that is causing it to not be covered. Today, we were working on a prescription for a patient and this issue popped up; the insurance company was claiming it was too soon to fill the medication citing it was filled earlier that day by our pharmacy. What likely happened was we had filled the same medication for another patient in the family and both profiles had the same birthday in our system. The patients, however, were not twins. The profile that was rejecting had a note highlighting what the actual birthday was, the incorrect birthday was in our system because it was possible that the insurance company may have had that date in their records and if the date was changed, the insurance wouldn't cover as a result. I know, it sounds stupid but I've run into that situation more times than I care to recall.

Anyway, I call the insurance provider's help desk number and after initially speaking to a customer service representative, I am told they need to transfer me to another department in order to resolve the issue and the hold time should be about 1 to 2 minutes. I say fine and wait to be transferred. 20 minutes pass and I'm still on hold. Nothing has happened. I hang up. Not long after that, the patient's mother returned looking to pick up the order. I explained the situation to her and said I would attempt to call again. Thankfully, the lady was very understanding about everything. I hate to say it, but that reaction is something of a rarity. So very often people become upset and confrontational when told their medications are not ready. And that gets very old after a while.

So after some time passed, I attempted to call again. Same exact thing happened; Initial representative tells me I need to be transferred, it should take 1-2 minutes, and it was once again a 20 minute hold time. I was less than thrilled, to say the least.

The pharmacist then suggested trying to change the patient's date of birth to what was noted as the correct date. Neither of us figured it would work since we were under the impression that the insurance company had the wrong date on file and it would continue to reject. But I went ahead and made the change anyway. Guess what happened. Go on, guess. Yeah, we got a paid claim. Again, I was kinda pissed. Don't get me wrong, I was glad we had finally resolved the issue. But I just wish we thought to try that earlier so I wouldn't have wasted close to 40 minutes on hold! 5 minutes later, the patient's mother called and I explained the situation to her but ultimately culminated in telling her we got everything resolved. She was thrilled.

So, yeah, that was the "big thrill" for today. Yeah, I got nothing. I don't really know how to end this post. See you tomorrow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

6 Days Til 30 - Making Progress

Day 16 of "Operation Mutton Chops". Now it's finally starting to look like something.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

7 Days Til 30 - One Week To Go

Man, time has really flown by these past 3 weeks. 1 more left! I wonder what the next 7 days will have in store for me

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

8 Days Til 30 - Always Remember, Never Forget

12 years ago, the world changed. I remember where I was when I heard; Sitting in English class my Senior year of high school when the principal's voice suddenly came over the P.A. system informing us of the planes hitting the towers of the World Trade Center. He instructed the teachers not to turn on any of the TVs in the classrooms and that we would be kept informed on any further developments.

It still feels very surreal to me each time I see a shot of the New York City skyline in something made before the year 2000 and I have to remind myself that it doesn't look like that any longer.

"All gave some. Some gave all." Take a moment today to remember all those who were effected by the events of September 11, 2001

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

9 Days Til 30 - I Love Wrestling Is

Wow, into the single digit days now! And once again, I'm plugging someone else I enjoy! "Wrestling Is" can be considered a spin-off group of CHIKARA Pro, my favorite indy wrestling company. And they post a multitude of videos on their channel every week. Sometimes it's promos for upcoming shows, original programming or even full matches from past events. Go check 'em out on YouTube and have some fun!

Monday, September 9, 2013

10 Days Til 30 - Daily Updating Is Difficult

Man, it's hard trying to come up with stuff to post on a daily basis. Not just purely in terms of coming up with content, but also finding the time to be able to post it during the day. Case in point, right now! As I type this it's 11:02 PM and Monday is almost over. I didn't have the time post anything earlier because I had work all day and then rehearsal right after I got off work. And that's the way the pattern is going to be the rest of the this week. Well, except for Friday when I have off. But for the next couple of days, it might be a bit of a scramble to get something typed up and posted online within the daily window.

And yet, there are others who do it seemingly effortlessly. And I think you should check them out!

TheTimTracker on YouTube

Videos posted by a guy named Tim and his wife Jen. They live in Florida and are definitely theme park aficionados. That being said, many of my favorite videos involve them at either of the Disney or Universal parks. But there are also videos not dealing with thrill rides, but about the minutia of daily life which are also entertaining. I encourage giving him a look;

Keith and the Girl

A daily podcast featuring comedian Kieth Malley and his ex-girlfriend Chemda. How best to describe this? Honestly, I don't think anything I say could accurately do it justice. It's something you must listen to and experience yourself in order to truly appreciate it. Bring an open mind, though. If you're really hung up on political correctness, you're likely going to be offended. And to that, I say "Good!";

The Preston and Steve Show on WMMR

"Wait a minute", I hear you say. "This doesn't count! It's a radio show. They have to do it everyday, it's their job". True. But that doesn't mean it doesn't belong on this list. And, they also have the show edited down into a daily podcast for people to listen to which is great if you don't live in the Philadelphia area or can't listen live for any other reason. Just sit back, relax, yell out "Gadzooks!" and enjoy the funny!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

11 Days Til 30 - Answer This

The sole question I received was this one from a former co-worker of mine.

Why does my medication cost so much, sir? And what is this thing that you call "a deductible"?

Don't worry, I've already scolded him for his insolence. But these questions are not uncommon ones, working in a retail pharmacy. The best answer I can give for both of these is "If you give your insurance provider a call, they can explain to you in better detail." Because we don't have the answers. We bill online, they send a price back to us and that's the extent of it. And as far as deductibles go... I dunno. I just work here, I don't claim to understand everything.

Thank you and good night.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

12 Days Til 30 - Building The Blu-Ray Co

A couple of months ago, I bought a Blu-Ray player on a whim. I also bought two movies to start out my library; The Rocky Horror Picture Show (big surprise) and Wreck-It Ralph, my favorite movie of last year. Tonight, I finally added a few more titles. Once again, on a whim.

I went to Target tonight hoping to find the ressurected monster cereals, Fruity Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute. I did, but that's not the point of this post. I picked up four of the greatest, quotable movies the 1980s ever gave us; Caddyshack, The Princess Bride, Spaceballs and Little Shop of Horrors. And yes, I consider Little Shop a quotable movie. I am a theatre nerd, after all.

Friday, September 6, 2013

13 Days Til 30 - I'm Exhausted

This has been such a long week. Pulling in extra hours at work, up early today to get my car fixed, and it's still not over yet. Really looking forward to being off on Sunday.

Not much else to say today. Just wanted to make a quick post for today. Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

14 Days Til 30 - 1 Week Later

It is now Day 8 of "Operation Mutton Chops".  They're starting to stubble in, so I'd call that progress. 6 weeks to go until we open.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

15 Days Til 30 - Intermission; A Plug For Someone Else

Well, we've made it to the halfway point of this project. Thanks for sticking with me thus far. For this post, I'm going to take a break from focusing on me and instead focus on another project that I am not associated with but I think is a great idea.

In this post you'll find a link to a Kickstarter campaign for a movie called "Rocky Horror Saved My Life", a fan-made documentary about The Rocky Horror Picture show, its fans, collectors and live shadowcast performers. The filmmakers plan to travel the country throughout 2014 to meet with and interview as many fans and performers as they can for this film which is slated to premiere in the fall of 2015 to celebrate the movie's 40th anniversary.

I think it sounds like a great project and it's one I'm definitely going to back. If you love Rocky Horror or independently produced documentaries, I think it would be worth your time to check out their page and pitch video. Link is included right down there for your clicking and viewing pleasure. Have a nice night!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

16 Days Til 30 - My Life In Theatre: Act 1, High School

Believe it or not, I wasn't always the theatre devotee that I am today. For a long time, I didn't think very much about theatre. Particularly musicals. I admit, I was kind of a cynical kid and thought musicals were stupid. People suddenly bursting into song and dance randomly out of nowhere, how absurd! Things changed pretty suddenly as I entered high school though.

First day of Freshman year, I quickly decided that being on the football team would not be the right path for me. So after returning my gear that morning, I went through the day wondering where it would take me. After lunch, I saw a flier on one of the bulletin boards outside a classroom. It has audition and production staff information application information for the Fall musical. Normally, I probably wouldn't have cared. However, something caught my eye. The show that Fall was "Damn Yankees". The previous year, my 8th grade class had gone to a local high school to see their annual Spring musical which was  "Damn Yankees". I really enjoyed the when I saw it at Camden Catholic and since I was familiar with the show, I decided to apply to be on the production staff. I applied for the position of Assistant Stage Manager and, much to my surprise, was chosen to be one of the ASMs. My time with the Cape & Sword Drama Society at St. Joe's Prep began this day!

During my time at the Prep, I severed as Assistant Stage Manager for four shows there; "Damn Yankees", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Little Shop of Horrors" and "The Music Man". I loved every second of my time there. I learned a lot from everyone involved with each passing show. I auditioned for "Midsummer..." and "Little Shop" but didn't get cast in either. Though why I auditioned for "Little Shop" I'm still not particularly sure about. I remained firmly a part of the production staff because most of the shows they did were musicals and I really didn't consider myself to be a singer by any stretch of the imagination. Not that it mattered all that much to me, I was just glad to be involved.

The summer after my Sophomore, my family moved from Cherry Hill, NJ to York, PA. Spring of my Junior year, I got involved in the theatre program at York Catholic High School by serving as the Assistant Stage Manager for their production of "The King & I". That semester, I also began my experience working on stage crew since that apparently went hand-in-hand with being on production staff. I have to be honest, I never really enjoyed stage crew work. I'm not a handy person or good with tools so I was always concerned I'd screw something up. To the best of my knowledge, I don't think that ever happened. So, yeah, good for me.

That summer, I took some classes at York Little Theatre. I don't remember the exact names of the classes, but I remember one was a class about improv and the others dealt with scene work. It was during this time that I became determined to branch out and hopefully start to act as well as work backstage.

Senior year, in the fall I finally made my debut on stage. The Senior Play that year was "M*A*S*H*" and I was cast in the role of Colonel Henry Blake, the commanding officer of the hospital who was played by McLean Stevenson on the TV show. My first appearance in the show had me entering wearing thermal underwear, boots and a winter hat. Got to admit, that's a hell of a first impression to make!

Not long after the Senior Play finished, I auditioned for a show at York Little Theatre for the first time. It was a play in the Children's Theatre Series called "The Trickster" by French playwright Moliere. I was cast as a gypsy/pirate named Andres who served as an antagonist in the second act. It was an interesting run, 10 performances over the course of two weekends. It was kind of draining since I wasn't used to doing two shows a day during Saturdays and Sundays, but - once again - I loved every second of it.

That Spring, I decided to step up and take the reins as Stage Manager for the musical that year which was "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". I didn't really do a whole lot during the rehearsal process aside from watch since the show is entirely sung through so there really weren't any line notes to give. Once Tech Week rolled around and I was actually calling cues as the show unfolded, I felt great! It was an incredible feeling to know I was the one controlling the show. I heard nothing but positive comments which was, as one would expect, a total ego boost.

As high school came to an end, it was time to start planning for college. I'd be starting at The University of Scranton as an English major that Fall. At the open house, I heard many great things about the English program and the Theatre program as well. I was ready to immerse myself in the world of college theatre and continue to improve my skills both on and off stage.

Monday, September 2, 2013

17 Days Til 30 - An Opportunity For Interactivity

So I had this idea. For the remainder of this week, you have the opportunity to ask me any questions you want. I'll answer them in a blog post here this coming Sunday. Feel free to post your questions here in the comments or send me a message on Facebook or E-mail me at

I'm looking forward to seeing the response I get for this. Have a good week, everyone!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

18 Days Til 30 - I Just Don't Understand

So I've been on this planet for almost 3 decades now. There are many mysteries of life that I still don't comprehend but there is one that baffles me over all of them. What is the big obsession with pumpkin flavored stuff?

Seriously. Why do people get so excited about it? Every year around this time I see people gleefully posting on Facebook and Twitter that they've found pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin muffins or any number of pumpkin flavored products. I honestly don't get it.

Maybe it's because I'm not a fan of pumpkin myself. Lots of people like pumpkin pie, that staple of dessert at Thanksgiving. I, however, don't like it. It's been several years since I've had it, but I didn't like it the first time I tried it. Personally, cheesecake is my preferred dessert of choice at Thanksgiving. And don't try to give me that "Why not try a pumpkin cheesecake?" nonsense. My mom tried that one year and it wasn't very well received at all.

Honestly, I'd appreciate it if anyone could explain to me why people lose their minds over pumpkin flavored foods and beverages. Who knows, maybe you'll even convince me to give it a try. Go ahead, I'm listening.