Interview with Julia Katz
The Capital Fringe Festival is about to close and I can’t believe I have not really talked about it! I slack. (If you don’t know what the Fringe Festival is see my last blog post). Well anyway, today I sat down with my friend, Julia Katz, in Greenberry’s Coffee Co. (a “happening” spot in McLean of the Northern V.A.). Julia is approaching the end of the run of the show she created and directed called The Freshman 15/life in transition. It is being performed as a part of the Capital Fringe Festival.
Hannah Menchhoff: The Freshman 15/life in transition is a collection of interviews from your classmates at various universities throughout the country about their first year of college. Where did you get the idea to do this show?
Julia Katz: Well I took a class, spring of 2011, called Gender and Performance. One of the artists that we studied was Anna Deavare-Smith, she pioneered the documentary theater genre, and made it her own. I was really inspired by her and how her work had focused on capturing both multiple perspectives and true perspectives of any given event. [For this show] I wanted to look at an event that I had access to, which was the college experience and examine that through multiple lenses. I also love using story-telling as the basis for grounding my work. I think storytelling is a really powerful and magical ancient art form that is also really empowering.   
HM: How exactly did you create the script? You had the interviews and then what?
JK: I have hours of tape and I carry a tape recorder everywhere. I have this real attachment to keeping it with me and pulling it out when I felt it was appropriate. I actually caught some of the best moments when I would hear what someone would say and ask them if they minded it being recorded on tape. I also had more formalized interviews, like at a coffee shop. Mostly, I had these very uniform almost research questions. Almost all of the interviews were 15 to 20 minutes long. And then afterwards, I would go home and transcribe and for a while, I would transcribe whole interviews, but as it came down to the wire and I need to write a first draft, I only transcribed parts that were most relevant. Then I took the best of those things, I looked at it all, I took my favorite quotes and categorized them in these weird ways and then made a first draft. It was awful. I took it to the cast and we took it scene by scene and edited it. We would also spend parts of rehearsal doing storytelling exercises and improve and would incorporate our stories into them. Then overtime we made some great changes. I feel this way the ensemble could own the piece.
HM: How long did the process take you from interviews until this point at the Fringe Festival?
JK: April 2011 [is when it started]. So weird [the show has] been my baby for so long! [Laughs] And like I really love the metaphor of art and it being your baby. Opening night it was born and suddenly I didn’t have control over it anymore. It was so weird. It really works with pregnancy because you incubate it for so long. I have been with this baby for so long and I birthed it and what I do? Need to move on and go to the next piece.
You need to add a disclaimer: that I realize how pretentious I sound and that I actually know nothing about art.
HM: How would you say the process went as a whole of being both a playwright and a director?
JK: It was really intimidating going into it because I have never done anything like this before. I have been you know given a specific role in my time in theater my whole life. I have been doing educational theater, so high school and college theater where the show was going to go up. [My work didn’t affect that.] To be in control of this process, you know if I don’t do my work the show won’t go up. That was a sobering realization. Actually, doing production and rehearsals was a lot less stressful than I thought. [It was so] mostly because I invested in two fantastic stage managers, Debroah Cline and Callie Towler (and they are my life and I don’t know what I would do without them), and because there were a lot of things that just luckily ended up working out in the end. My stage manager and I set out production goals about 6 weeks before opening, and I think we met them all. That was surprising to me. My previous experiences in theater have always been so high stress. There was always major crises’ happening. The one major crisis that happened was handled. The actors weathered it. I just want people to enjoy themselves and I don’t want them to hate me. I just want them to feel positively about this work.
HM: What do you hope theater-goers get out of this play?
JK: I want them to recognize, I think the unique challenge of going to college in the millennial generation, which is kind of this mandated experience that seems like a one size fits all solution for young people these days. Older generations didn’t have this as such an oppressive force. On the other hand, there is definitely a universality to anyone who has gone through college, as this tumultuous, liberating period. So I just want people to recognize that they had this sort of experience, this pathos. I want them to laugh. I’ve had several audience members say to me that any one of those characters [in the piece] are like someone they met in college. I think we’ve been very successful at capturing several different perspectives and experiences and leave it open as a montage to keep people questioning.
HM: You have a blog that you have been updating along the way about rehearsals and posts along those lines. Since the show started you have been adding confessionals. Could you just explain this and the idea behind it?
JK: So the confessionals. I love to do theater that has community based responses. The Freshman 15 is a traditional theater piece, a fourth wall show, where the actors perform for the audience. I wanted to engage the audience more in a way that seems genuine. So we put these questions on slips of paper onto each seat of the audience—and we put a different one for each show—and post the answers on the blog. And then we also have a slip that has the blog’s web address. Then the audience can go and look at what they wrote, the stories people share, and different perspectives on being young.
HM: What is it like working with the Fringe?
JK: Capital Fringe does a lot. I am incredibly grateful to have been around the organization as an audience member (Julia has also been to the Fringe Festival in Scotland), writing reviews, now directing. The Fringe gives you a huge amount of publicity, a space to work with—I love our space—, they give you the freedom to create something artistically that might suck. An ordinary producing environment is safe. As a result a lot of great artistic work is left behind because artists can’t take the risk. The Fringe allows awful weird stuff but also really great weird stuff. The point is that they give you the chance to do that.
HM: Are you done with this show or is there more life to The Freshmen 15/life in transition?
JK: I mean I’m not promising that I’ll never ever pick up the script again and that I’ll never do anything with it. I think it’s lived a pretty solid life. It’s something I’m happy with and has given me a lot and hopefully the cast has gotten something from it. This is not something I’m going to focus on for the next five years, it has been an exploration and I think it’s done. I am really lucky that I have been able to do this so young and still have time to mess up and throw it away and start again. If the opportunity were to arise, I would definitely change things, but I don’t think I will too much with it.
I do have a number of other projects coming up. I am in the beginning stages of the show Blinded which will be showing at VA-Tech from February 28 to March 2. And that is a work I can see myself investing years in it, but I don’t know yet. I still don’t know anything. That is my mindset that I am 20 years old and I don’t know anything yet.

If you are interested in seeing The Freshman 15 it is running through this Sunday, July 29. I really recommend it. It is dynamic, avant-garde, and thoughtful. I am not just saying this either. It is really something worth seeing.

Check out the show’s blog: http://thefreshman15lifeintransition.wordpress.com/
Capital Fringe website: http://capfringe.org/index.html

Interview with Julia Katz

The Capital Fringe Festival is about to close and I can’t believe I have not really talked about it! I slack. (If you don’t know what the Fringe Festival is see my last blog post). Well anyway, today I sat down with my friend, Julia Katz, in Greenberry’s Coffee Co. (a “happening” spot in McLean of the Northern V.A.). Julia is approaching the end of the run of the show she created and directed called The Freshman 15/life in transition. It is being performed as a part of the Capital Fringe Festival.

Hannah Menchhoff: The Freshman 15/life in transition is a collection of interviews from your classmates at various universities throughout the country about their first year of college. Where did you get the idea to do this show?

Julia Katz: Well I took a class, spring of 2011, called Gender and Performance. One of the artists that we studied was Anna Deavare-Smith, she pioneered the documentary theater genre, and made it her own. I was really inspired by her and how her work had focused on capturing both multiple perspectives and true perspectives of any given event. [For this show] I wanted to look at an event that I had access to, which was the college experience and examine that through multiple lenses. I also love using story-telling as the basis for grounding my work. I think storytelling is a really powerful and magical ancient art form that is also really empowering.  

HM: How exactly did you create the script? You had the interviews and then what?

JK: I have hours of tape and I carry a tape recorder everywhere. I have this real attachment to keeping it with me and pulling it out when I felt it was appropriate. I actually caught some of the best moments when I would hear what someone would say and ask them if they minded it being recorded on tape. I also had more formalized interviews, like at a coffee shop. Mostly, I had these very uniform almost research questions. Almost all of the interviews were 15 to 20 minutes long. And then afterwards, I would go home and transcribe and for a while, I would transcribe whole interviews, but as it came down to the wire and I need to write a first draft, I only transcribed parts that were most relevant. Then I took the best of those things, I looked at it all, I took my favorite quotes and categorized them in these weird ways and then made a first draft. It was awful. I took it to the cast and we took it scene by scene and edited it. We would also spend parts of rehearsal doing storytelling exercises and improve and would incorporate our stories into them. Then overtime we made some great changes. I feel this way the ensemble could own the piece.

HM: How long did the process take you from interviews until this point at the Fringe Festival?

JK: April 2011 [is when it started]. So weird [the show has] been my baby for so long! [Laughs] And like I really love the metaphor of art and it being your baby. Opening night it was born and suddenly I didn’t have control over it anymore. It was so weird. It really works with pregnancy because you incubate it for so long. I have been with this baby for so long and I birthed it and what I do? Need to move on and go to the next piece.

You need to add a disclaimer: that I realize how pretentious I sound and that I actually know nothing about art.

HM: How would you say the process went as a whole of being both a playwright and a director?

JK: It was really intimidating going into it because I have never done anything like this before. I have been you know given a specific role in my time in theater my whole life. I have been doing educational theater, so high school and college theater where the show was going to go up. [My work didn’t affect that.] To be in control of this process, you know if I don’t do my work the show won’t go up. That was a sobering realization. Actually, doing production and rehearsals was a lot less stressful than I thought. [It was so] mostly because I invested in two fantastic stage managers, Debroah Cline and Callie Towler (and they are my life and I don’t know what I would do without them), and because there were a lot of things that just luckily ended up working out in the end. My stage manager and I set out production goals about 6 weeks before opening, and I think we met them all. That was surprising to me. My previous experiences in theater have always been so high stress. There was always major crises’ happening. The one major crisis that happened was handled. The actors weathered it. I just want people to enjoy themselves and I don’t want them to hate me. I just want them to feel positively about this work.

HM: What do you hope theater-goers get out of this play?

JK: I want them to recognize, I think the unique challenge of going to college in the millennial generation, which is kind of this mandated experience that seems like a one size fits all solution for young people these days. Older generations didn’t have this as such an oppressive force. On the other hand, there is definitely a universality to anyone who has gone through college, as this tumultuous, liberating period. So I just want people to recognize that they had this sort of experience, this pathos. I want them to laugh. I’ve had several audience members say to me that any one of those characters [in the piece] are like someone they met in college. I think we’ve been very successful at capturing several different perspectives and experiences and leave it open as a montage to keep people questioning.

HM: You have a blog that you have been updating along the way about rehearsals and posts along those lines. Since the show started you have been adding confessionals. Could you just explain this and the idea behind it?

JK: So the confessionals. I love to do theater that has community based responses. The Freshman 15 is a traditional theater piece, a fourth wall show, where the actors perform for the audience. I wanted to engage the audience more in a way that seems genuine. So we put these questions on slips of paper onto each seat of the audience—and we put a different one for each show—and post the answers on the blog. And then we also have a slip that has the blog’s web address. Then the audience can go and look at what they wrote, the stories people share, and different perspectives on being young.

HM: What is it like working with the Fringe?

JK: Capital Fringe does a lot. I am incredibly grateful to have been around the organization as an audience member (Julia has also been to the Fringe Festival in Scotland), writing reviews, now directing. The Fringe gives you a huge amount of publicity, a space to work with—I love our space—, they give you the freedom to create something artistically that might suck. An ordinary producing environment is safe. As a result a lot of great artistic work is left behind because artists can’t take the risk. The Fringe allows awful weird stuff but also really great weird stuff. The point is that they give you the chance to do that.

HM: Are you done with this show or is there more life to The Freshmen 15/life in transition?

JK: I mean I’m not promising that I’ll never ever pick up the script again and that I’ll never do anything with it. I think it’s lived a pretty solid life. It’s something I’m happy with and has given me a lot and hopefully the cast has gotten something from it. This is not something I’m going to focus on for the next five years, it has been an exploration and I think it’s done. I am really lucky that I have been able to do this so young and still have time to mess up and throw it away and start again. If the opportunity were to arise, I would definitely change things, but I don’t think I will too much with it.

I do have a number of other projects coming up. I am in the beginning stages of the show Blinded which will be showing at VA-Tech from February 28 to March 2. And that is a work I can see myself investing years in it, but I don’t know yet. I still don’t know anything. That is my mindset that I am 20 years old and I don’t know anything yet.

If you are interested in seeing The Freshman 15 it is running through this Sunday, July 29. I really recommend it. It is dynamic, avant-garde, and thoughtful. I am not just saying this either. It is really something worth seeing.

Check out the show’s blog: http://thefreshman15lifeintransition.wordpress.com/

Capital Fringe website: http://capfringe.org/index.html

I wouldn’t call myself a lucky person in the least. I am not one of those people who stumble upon dollar bills and definitely not one of those people who win radio contests (One Direction or Justin Bieber/Carly Rae Jepsen anybody?). It just doesn’t happen. However, with this internship at the 1st Stage, I practically struck gold. I walked into the theater once and they asked me to assistant stage manage Flora the Red Menace. I walk in a week or so after that run is over and I am asked to STAGE MANAGE the children’s show The Prince and the Troubadour. Of course I am happy and excited to do it. I mean realistically I don’t know how many other professional shows I am going to stage manage in the immediate future. However, I am also freaking out. The difference (I believe) between stage managing at the 1st Stage and most other theaters is at the 1st Stage the stage manager also runs the lighting and sound for the show. This may be obvious based on past posts, but let me emphasize the fact that I have zero experience stage managing, running lights, and running sound. Clearly I am qualified for this job. Anyway, I was pacing around the theater asking my boss and the director, “Are you sure you want me to do this?” I believe the director may have been a bit nervous with me, but he and my boss agreed that I would learn. In fact, this is the point of the internship: to learn. I was still skeptical because I don’t really trust myself and the show was going to premier in three days.

After only two runs of the show, pacing, stressful thoughts, and fast talking, here is to the anticlimactic ending: I learned! One point for experience. Thank goodness. There were only a couple of times between the opening weekend and this weekend where that bitch of a light board decided to stop working. And only one call to the sound expert asking why the sound wasn’t working—well this might seem silly but are the speakers on?.. Oh. Thus far, a success.

The only aspect we would like to gain is a bigger audience; here is the part where I am going to talk this show up. The Prince and the Troubadour was produced by the Virginia Children’s Theater Company and written by Rex Daugherty and Doug Wilder and directed by Rex Daugherty. The cast includes Doug Wilder as the Prince, Bradley Smith as the Troubadour, Julia Fanning as the Princess, and Marta Kotzian as the Witch. Because I hate writing summaries this one is provided by the 1st Stage: “Children will be captivated by the hilarious adventures of a misfit Prince attempting to rescue his ne’er-do-well friend, the Troubadour, from the clutches of a witch who wishes to have him ‘FOR DINNER’! To save his friend, the Prince teams up with Princess Mary, the martial arts extraordinaire, to overcome bandits, trolls, and bad-hair days to reach the tower where the witch holds the Troubadour captive and is busy making dinner reservations.” Honestly, this is the cutest show and is absolutely hilarious both for kids and adults, kind of like Sponge Bob or Phineas and Ferb. The acting is great, the script and music is clever, and I must say the lighting and sound is spot on… most times. Might I also point out that an accordion is used.

The Prince and the Troubadour runs at the 1st Stage Theater until July 29, 2012 on Saturdays and Sundays at 12pm and 2pm.

Website: http://1ststagespringhill.org/onstage.html

Also, on a side note the Capital Fringe Festival starts this week from July 12 to July 29 and I am volunteering at the box office (can you say free tshirt?)! For those of you who don’t know anything about the Fringe Festival it is (according to their website) “…the only major unjuried, self-producing, open-access Festival in the Washington, DC area and occurs in July each year. The Fringe Festival provides all artists, whether new or established, a venue to express and develop their talents and artistic visions in total freedom.”

Come check both The Prince and the Troubadour and the Fringe Festival out. Specifically I am going to do my best to attend (although I don’t think I am allowed to show biases as a volunteer) the freshman 15/life in transition, The Every Fringe Show You Want To See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show, The Confines of Flattery, The Brontes, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Check out the Fringe’s website: http://capfringe.org/

I wouldn’t call myself a lucky person in the least. I am not one of those people who stumble upon dollar bills and definitely not one of those people who win radio contests (One Direction or Justin Bieber/Carly Rae Jepsen anybody?). It just doesn’t happen. However, with this internship at the 1st Stage, I practically struck gold. I walked into the theater once and they asked me to assistant stage manage Flora the Red Menace. I walk in a week or so after that run is over and I am asked to STAGE MANAGE the children’s show The Prince and the Troubadour. Of course I am happy and excited to do it. I mean realistically I don’t know how many other professional shows I am going to stage manage in the immediate future. However, I am also freaking out. The difference (I believe) between stage managing at the 1st Stage and most other theaters is at the 1st Stage the stage manager also runs the lighting and sound for the show. This may be obvious based on past posts, but let me emphasize the fact that I have zero experience stage managing, running lights, and running sound. Clearly I am qualified for this job. Anyway, I was pacing around the theater asking my boss and the director, “Are you sure you want me to do this?” I believe the director may have been a bit nervous with me, but he and my boss agreed that I would learn. In fact, this is the point of the internship: to learn. I was still skeptical because I don’t really trust myself and the show was going to premier in three days.

After only two runs of the show, pacing, stressful thoughts, and fast talking, here is to the anticlimactic ending: I learned! One point for experience. Thank goodness. There were only a couple of times between the opening weekend and this weekend where that bitch of a light board decided to stop working. And only one call to the sound expert asking why the sound wasn’t working—well this might seem silly but are the speakers on?.. Oh. Thus far, a success.

The only aspect we would like to gain is a bigger audience; here is the part where I am going to talk this show up. The Prince and the Troubadour was produced by the Virginia Children’s Theater Company and written by Rex Daugherty and Doug Wilder and directed by Rex Daugherty. The cast includes Doug Wilder as the Prince, Bradley Smith as the Troubadour, Julia Fanning as the Princess, and Marta Kotzian as the Witch. Because I hate writing summaries this one is provided by the 1st Stage: “Children will be captivated by the hilarious adventures of a misfit Prince attempting to rescue his ne’er-do-well friend, the Troubadour, from the clutches of a witch who wishes to have him ‘FOR DINNER’! To save his friend, the Prince teams up with Princess Mary, the martial arts extraordinaire, to overcome bandits, trolls, and bad-hair days to reach the tower where the witch holds the Troubadour captive and is busy making dinner reservations.” Honestly, this is the cutest show and is absolutely hilarious both for kids and adults, kind of like Sponge Bob or Phineas and Ferb. The acting is great, the script and music is clever, and I must say the lighting and sound is spot on… most times. Might I also point out that an accordion is used.

The Prince and the Troubadour runs at the 1st Stage Theater until July 29, 2012 on Saturdays and Sundays at 12pm and 2pm.

Website: http://1ststagespringhill.org/onstage.html

Also, on a side note the Capital Fringe Festival starts this week from July 12 to July 29 and I am volunteering at the box office (can you say free tshirt?)! For those of you who don’t know anything about the Fringe Festival it is (according to their website) “…the only major unjuried, self-producing, open-access Festival in the Washington, DC area and occurs in July each year. The Fringe Festival provides all artists, whether new or established, a venue to express and develop their talents and artistic visions in total freedom.”

Come check both The Prince and the Troubadour and the Fringe Festival out. Specifically I am going to do my best to attend (although I don’t think I am allowed to show biases as a volunteer) the freshman 15/life in transition, The Every Fringe Show You Want To See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show, The Confines of Flattery, The Brontes, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Check out the Fringe’s website: http://capfringe.org/

Interview with Mary Beth Luckenbaugh

Hannah: How did you come to audition at the 1st Stage? Mary Beth: I belong to the Actor’s Center which is an awesome online group that provides all sorts of services for actors including an audition hotline. I actually auditioned for another show at 1st Stage called Parfumerie which I was not cast in but found on the Actor’s Center hotline. My headshot and resume were on file so I was invited to audition for Flora.

H: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects/scenes of doing this musical? MB: I loved getting to play so many wildly different roles. I played 6 of the 25 roles. It was really a lot of fun to find a different voice and physicality for each of them. As for my least favorite, probably standing frozen in the picket line mainly because by that point my feet start hurting!

H: Do you feel like there is something your main character Elsa wishes she could say throughout the play that she can’t? MB: I think it would be easy to fall into the trap of playing Elsa as dumb, insecure, and unable to stand up for herself. I always saw her as a woman who has tremendous interpersonal intelligence. She understands people. It’s not that she lets Flora walk all over her; it’s more that she allows Flora to make her own mistakes and then supports her as she works them out. I actually think that Elsa is one of the characters in the play who is most secure with her own voice.

H: Elsa is an aspiring fashion designer. Do you feel like if she were a real person, she would be any good at the job? What kind of clothes do you feel like she would create? MB: Oh no! She is TERRIBLE! Watch close and you’ll see Elsa prick her finger on her needle multiple times. Plus she’s the one who made that abysmal brown dress with the velour ruffles that Flora steals for her interview. I think what’s charming about Elsa is that she really has no idea how talentless she is. She just keeps going because she loves it so much.

H: You and the cast have a great dynamic and chemistry. Is it rare that everyone gets along so well? What is it that you feel brings you all together? MB: I wouldn’t say it’s rare but it definitely doesn’t happen all the time. I think the thing that’s great about this cast is that we’re all so different that we balance each other out.

H: What is your theater history in the DC area? What are some of your favorite moments/plays you have done? MB: I went to Catholic University for musical theatre. I’m still working on getting my foot in the door but have been blessed to work with Keegan Theatre, Adventure Theatre, and the American Century Theatre along with 1st Stage. My all time favorite role is probably Rona Lisa Peretti in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which I did at CUA my senior year. H: What projects do you have coming up? MB: I’m doing Marathon 33 at the American Century Theatre and James Joyce’s The Dead at Quotidian Theatre.

Interview with Mary Beth Luckenbaugh

Hannah: How did you come to audition at the 1st Stage?
Mary Beth: I belong to the Actor’s Center which is an awesome online group that provides all sorts of services for actors including an audition hotline. I actually auditioned for another show at 1st Stage called Parfumerie which I was not cast in but found on the Actor’s Center hotline. My headshot and resume were on file so I was invited to audition for Flora.

H: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects/scenes of doing this musical?
MB: I loved getting to play so many wildly different roles. I played 6 of the 25 roles. It was really a lot of fun to find a different voice and physicality for each of them. As for my least favorite, probably standing frozen in the picket line mainly because by that point my feet start hurting!

H: Do you feel like there is something your main character Elsa wishes she could say throughout the play that she can’t?
MB: I think it would be easy to fall into the trap of playing Elsa as dumb, insecure, and unable to stand up for herself. I always saw her as a woman who has tremendous interpersonal intelligence. She understands people. It’s not that she lets Flora walk all over her; it’s more that she allows Flora to make her own mistakes and then supports her as she works them out. I actually think that Elsa is one of the characters in the play who is most secure with her own voice.

H: Elsa is an aspiring fashion designer. Do you feel like if she were a real person, she would be any good at the job? What kind of clothes do you feel like she would create?
MB: Oh no! She is TERRIBLE! Watch close and you’ll see Elsa prick her finger on her needle multiple times. Plus she’s the one who made that abysmal brown dress with the velour ruffles that Flora steals for her interview. I think what’s charming about Elsa is that she really has no idea how talentless she is. She just keeps going because she loves it so much.

H: You and the cast have a great dynamic and chemistry. Is it rare that everyone gets along so well? What is it that you feel brings you all together?
MB: I wouldn’t say it’s rare but it definitely doesn’t happen all the time. I think the thing that’s great about this cast is that we’re all so different that we balance each other out.

H: What is your theater history in the DC area? What are some of your favorite moments/plays you have done?
MB: I went to Catholic University for musical theatre. I’m still working on getting my foot in the door but have been blessed to work with Keegan Theatre, Adventure Theatre, and the American Century Theatre along with 1st Stage. My all time favorite role is probably Rona Lisa Peretti in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which I did at CUA my senior year.

H: What projects do you have coming up?
MB: I’m doing Marathon 33 at the American Century Theatre and James Joyce’s The Dead at Quotidian Theatre.

Just released today is the single take music video for Slow Club’s song “Beginners" and it is starring one of my (and many’s) favorite British celebrity Dan Radcliffe. I say Dan plays a rather convincing drunken and emotional mess. My other thought is what part of the entertainment industry will Dan invade next?
Also, take a look at Rupert Grint in Ed Sheeran’s music video for the song “Lego House" from last November if you have not already.

Just released today is the single take music video for Slow Club’s song “Beginners" and it is starring one of my (and many’s) favorite British celebrity Dan Radcliffe. I say Dan plays a rather convincing drunken and emotional mess. My other thought is what part of the entertainment industry will Dan invade next?

Also, take a look at Rupert Grint in Ed Sheeran’s music video for the song “Lego House" from last November if you have not already.

No More Apples.

If you saw Flora you would get that reference, but if not I am probably judging you.

Thank goodness for you, readers no longer have to read about Flora the Red Menace. At least until after I write this post. The final performance was last night (June 17th) and we had almost a full house for the matinee, which is pretty darn awesome. It always helps to end the show with a bang.

Any who, being the assistant stage manager or really whatever I was has made me realize one thing: I really like acting. It’s not that I don’t like working backstage; if someone asks me to do it again I would totally do it. Working backstage is just different. Because I have acted and enjoy it there is that shallow part of me that really just admittedly likes being in the spotlight and creating a new character. This sounds awful and I don’t mean that I am a complete attention whore. Just a little bit.    

Like I have mentioned before I am really lucky to have been able to work with such a talented cast of people. By watching and hearing them perform I have learned a lot about how to be a better actor. Also, seeing all of the fun and clever choreography in this show has made me want to really try to get back into dancing. I definitely need a ton of practice if I ever want to do a musical again, but maybe I can learn? We shall see. I am also really glad that our stage manager was just so relaxed but got done what needed to be done. I had very little backstage experience so coming in I was intimidated but it was fine. All I had to do was what I was told to do and now I have a better understanding of the function of a stage manager. So fantastic.

Working back stage for Flora was definitely a lucky and timely opportunity for me. If I had waited another day to start my internship I would have been cleaning the costume closet backstage the whole summer, so yeah as bored as I may have been on occasion this was much better. By a long shot.

Even though this show is done my internship is not done yet. I think I am helping with the upcoming children’s show at the 1st Stage, which is The Prince and the Troubadour. It will be performed by the Virginia Children’s Theater Company. So more exciting experiences hopefully! Also, I will be volunteering at the Capital Fringe Festival in July, which means free tickets and a free tshirt (let’s be real, the tshirt is why I am doing this). Basically my summer is shaping up to be very theatrical.

As for the next couple of blog posts I am still waiting on actor interviews so hopefully I will be able to post some more soon. Tomorrow I am seeing an early screening of HBO’s newest show The Newsroom. It airs Sunday, June 24 at 10PM. I will let y’all how it is. It is actually very exciting because it is written by Aaron Sorkin, writer of The Social Network and Moneyball. I am expecting high quality however I kind of hope I don’t like it too much because I don’t have HBO. Sigh—first world problems.

With that I finish this random blog post and say good bye to Flora and Communism.

No More Apples.

If you saw Flora you would get that reference, but if not I am probably judging you.

Thank goodness for you, readers no longer have to read about Flora the Red Menace. At least until after I write this post. The final performance was last night (June 17th) and we had almost a full house for the matinee, which is pretty darn awesome. It always helps to end the show with a bang.

Any who, being the assistant stage manager or really whatever I was has made me realize one thing: I really like acting. It’s not that I don’t like working backstage; if someone asks me to do it again I would totally do it. Working backstage is just different. Because I have acted and enjoy it there is that shallow part of me that really just admittedly likes being in the spotlight and creating a new character. This sounds awful and I don’t mean that I am a complete attention whore. Just a little bit.    

Like I have mentioned before I am really lucky to have been able to work with such a talented cast of people. By watching and hearing them perform I have learned a lot about how to be a better actor. Also, seeing all of the fun and clever choreography in this show has made me want to really try to get back into dancing. I definitely need a ton of practice if I ever want to do a musical again, but maybe I can learn? We shall see. I am also really glad that our stage manager was just so relaxed but got done what needed to be done. I had very little backstage experience so coming in I was intimidated but it was fine. All I had to do was what I was told to do and now I have a better understanding of the function of a stage manager. So fantastic.

Working back stage for Flora was definitely a lucky and timely opportunity for me. If I had waited another day to start my internship I would have been cleaning the costume closet backstage the whole summer, so yeah as bored as I may have been on occasion this was much better. By a long shot.

Even though this show is done my internship is not done yet. I think I am helping with the upcoming children’s show at the 1st Stage, which is The Prince and the Troubadour. It will be performed by the Virginia Children’s Theater Company. So more exciting experiences hopefully! Also, I will be volunteering at the Capital Fringe Festival in July, which means free tickets and a free tshirt (let’s be real, the tshirt is why I am doing this). Basically my summer is shaping up to be very theatrical.

As for the next couple of blog posts I am still waiting on actor interviews so hopefully I will be able to post some more soon. Tomorrow I am seeing an early screening of HBO’s newest show The Newsroom. It airs Sunday, June 24 at 10PM. I will let y’all how it is. It is actually very exciting because it is written by Aaron Sorkin, writer of The Social Network and Moneyball. I am expecting high quality however I kind of hope I don’t like it too much because I don’t have HBO. Sigh—first world problems.

With that I finish this random blog post and say good bye to Flora and Communism.

Dani Stroller as Flora (left) and Joshua Dick as Harry (right).
Interview with Joshua Dick

Hannah: You play the character Harry who tries to get Flora to join the Communist party, but it doesn’t really work out. What do you think Harry could have done differently to keep Flora red?
Josh: I honestly don’t think Harry could of or should have done anything differently. That’s the meaning behind Harry and Flora’s relationship. They are both attracted to the passion the other has for their fellow man, but ultimately, their respective routes to make the world a better place got in each other’s way. That was going to happen no matter what Harry did.
H: Harry has a stutter. Did you have to try to learn a proper way to stutter or were the places to stutter in the script?
J: There are stutters in the script, some of which I followed, but mostly I just did my best to adopt a stutter myself. I also looked for ways to make the stutter speak to the audience about Harry’s current state. In more confident moments, the stutter doesn’t appear as much.
H: What was the audition and rehearsal process like for Flora?
J: The audition consisted of a song and a dance call, then a callback with sides from the script and a dance call for some (not me, which was probably best for all involved). We began rehearsing music once a week in March, then got into the swing of 4-5 rehearsals a week in April for about 3 hours each day.
H: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects/scenes of doing this musical?
J: I am a huge fan of Kander and Ebb, so I do love the music quite a lot. I like that even in softer, quieter, slower musical moments, there is still a great deal of energy to these songs. My least favorite aspect is that, in my opinion, the script could go through another round of cuts and still tell the same story. Certain scenes and songs, though not bad, are just unnecessary. This is a great story, and I think there might be a better way to tell it.
H: You and the cast have a great dynamic and chemistry. Is it rare that everyone gets along so well? What is it that you feel brings you all together?
J: There’s nothing like a cast full of people who work well together. And it certainly doesn’t happen all the time. In my experience, the shows that I say I had the best time doing rarely have anything to do with the onstage product, but with the chemistry I found with my fellow actors, both on and off stage. Chemistry is a weird thing; sometimes it’s there and sometimes it just isn’t, no matter how hard to you want to be. I’m honored to know the people involved with Flora, and it will be a shame when we have to go our separate ways.
H: What is your theater history in the DC area? What are some of your favorite moments/plays you have done?
J: I went to school at American University for musical theatre. I’ve been in DC about 6 years and have worked at about a dozen professional theatres and been involved in about 50 productions (counting college). 1st Stage has been particularly good to me; Flora is my fifth production with them. Favorite shows would include The Wild Party at AU, Don’t Dress for Dinner at 1st Stage, and understudying twice at Signature Theatre, going on for Sweeney Todd and watching George Hearn and Chita Rivera work in The Visit.
H: What projects do you have coming up?
J: I am directing and performing in The Every Fringe Show You Want to See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show at the Capital Fringe Festival this summer. (It’s a spoof of the Fringe. It’s quite raunchy. Don’t bring the kids.) I’m also assistant directing a production of Urinetown with the Theatre Lab. Also, keep an eye out for Confab, a 12-episode sitcom webseries I am in that will debut sometime this summer.
H: So why should people come and see the 1st Stage’s production of Flora the Red Menace?
J: Flora the Red Menace is a never-done musical, so if you are a fan of musical theatre, you must see it. For those who don’t fall into that category, it is a fantastic and unique story told by talented young actors who give their all every show.
Thanks again Josh and for everyone else remember this weekend is your last chance to see the show!

Dani Stroller as Flora (left) and Joshua Dick as Harry (right).

Interview with Joshua Dick

Hannah: You play the character Harry who tries to get Flora to join the Communist party, but it doesn’t really work out. What do you think Harry could have done differently to keep Flora red?

Josh: I honestly don’t think Harry could of or should have done anything differently. That’s the meaning behind Harry and Flora’s relationship. They are both attracted to the passion the other has for their fellow man, but ultimately, their respective routes to make the world a better place got in each other’s way. That was going to happen no matter what Harry did.

H: Harry has a stutter. Did you have to try to learn a proper way to stutter or were the places to stutter in the script?

J: There are stutters in the script, some of which I followed, but mostly I just did my best to adopt a stutter myself. I also looked for ways to make the stutter speak to the audience about Harry’s current state. In more confident moments, the stutter doesn’t appear as much.

H: What was the audition and rehearsal process like for Flora?

J: The audition consisted of a song and a dance call, then a callback with sides from the script and a dance call for some (not me, which was probably best for all involved). We began rehearsing music once a week in March, then got into the swing of 4-5 rehearsals a week in April for about 3 hours each day.

H: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects/scenes of doing this musical?

J: I am a huge fan of Kander and Ebb, so I do love the music quite a lot. I like that even in softer, quieter, slower musical moments, there is still a great deal of energy to these songs. My least favorite aspect is that, in my opinion, the script could go through another round of cuts and still tell the same story. Certain scenes and songs, though not bad, are just unnecessary. This is a great story, and I think there might be a better way to tell it.

H: You and the cast have a great dynamic and chemistry. Is it rare that everyone gets along so well? What is it that you feel brings you all together?

J: There’s nothing like a cast full of people who work well together. And it certainly doesn’t happen all the time. In my experience, the shows that I say I had the best time doing rarely have anything to do with the onstage product, but with the chemistry I found with my fellow actors, both on and off stage. Chemistry is a weird thing; sometimes it’s there and sometimes it just isn’t, no matter how hard to you want to be. I’m honored to know the people involved with Flora, and it will be a shame when we have to go our separate ways.

H: What is your theater history in the DC area? What are some of your favorite moments/plays you have done?

J: I went to school at American University for musical theatre. I’ve been in DC about 6 years and have worked at about a dozen professional theatres and been involved in about 50 productions (counting college). 1st Stage has been particularly good to me; Flora is my fifth production with them. Favorite shows would include The Wild Party at AU, Don’t Dress for Dinner at 1st Stage, and understudying twice at Signature Theatre, going on for Sweeney Todd and watching George Hearn and Chita Rivera work in The Visit.

H: What projects do you have coming up?

J: I am directing and performing in The Every Fringe Show You Want to See in One Fringe Show Fringe Show at the Capital Fringe Festival this summer. (It’s a spoof of the Fringe. It’s quite raunchy. Don’t bring the kids.) I’m also assistant directing a production of Urinetown with the Theatre Lab. Also, keep an eye out for Confab, a 12-episode sitcom webseries I am in that will debut sometime this summer.

H: So why should people come and see the 1st Stage’s production of Flora the Red Menace?

J: Flora the Red Menace is a never-done musical, so if you are a fan of musical theatre, you must see it. For those who don’t fall into that category, it is a fantastic and unique story told by talented young actors who give their all every show.

Thanks again Josh and for everyone else remember this weekend is your last chance to see the show!

Top 10 Reasons to see Flora the Red Menace

10. It is only $15 for students and $30 for everyone else!

9. We have an awesome stage manager and a pretty great assistant stage manager (yeah… that’s me).

8. The theater is in a cool space that is modern and industrial. So if you have never been to the 1st Stage it is an experience.

7. The set is pretty “tight”.

6. This is a historic production! This is the first time the musical has been staged since 1987 and with brand new musical composition thanks to the genius music director.

5. Some pretty funny moments and a couple of great puns.

4. The orchestra is fantastic.

3. Two words: tap dancing.

2. Flora has an amazing cast who really make this show work.

1. It is something different to do with your time. It gives you a chance to be cultured.

Keep checking my blog if you are interested in reading actor interviews!

Top 10 Reasons to see Flora the Red Menace

10. It is only $15 for students and $30 for everyone else!

9. We have an awesome stage manager and a pretty great assistant stage manager (yeah… that’s me).

8. The theater is in a cool space that is modern and industrial. So if you have never been to the 1st Stage it is an experience.

7. The set is pretty “tight”.

6. This is a historic production! This is the first time the musical has been staged since 1987 and with brand new musical composition thanks to the genius music director.

5. Some pretty funny moments and a couple of great puns.

4. The orchestra is fantastic.

3. Two words: tap dancing.

2. Flora has an amazing cast who really make this show work.

1. It is something different to do with your time. It gives you a chance to be cultured.

Keep checking my blog if you are interested in reading actor interviews!

(This photo demonstrates what I do backstage).
Flora Week 3 (June 1-June 3)

I cannot imagine how I forgot to do this. My week was basically characterized by me watching The Walking Dead and Modern Family. I don’t know if I matters since I have nothing exceptional to say. Realistically you don’t want me to go on about all of the aspects of the show that went right. Well, let me tell you that it was a successful weekend… Assuming I am recalling this information correctly. It already feels like ages ago and I can’t quite remember.

I will say though that the lack of disasters is both good and bad for me. It’s good because I do something other than sitting on my behind for two and a half hours. It’s bad for the obvious reason that something bad happened.

Anyway I won’t keep going on and on about my enormous power and responsibility as the assistant stage manager (yeah I have a title!). I do like this job though. It might not be the most exciting but it is definitely a start and gets me out of the house, which my mom appreciates.

Keep a look out though this week for another few posts. I will have the fourth week report and… wait for it… interviews with the actors! Woot!

(This photo demonstrates what I do backstage).

Flora Week 3 (June 1-June 3)

I cannot imagine how I forgot to do this. My week was basically characterized by me watching The Walking Dead and Modern Family. I don’t know if I matters since I have nothing exceptional to say. Realistically you don’t want me to go on about all of the aspects of the show that went right. Well, let me tell you that it was a successful weekend… Assuming I am recalling this information correctly. It already feels like ages ago and I can’t quite remember.

I will say though that the lack of disasters is both good and bad for me. It’s good because I do something other than sitting on my behind for two and a half hours. It’s bad for the obvious reason that something bad happened.

Anyway I won’t keep going on and on about my enormous power and responsibility as the assistant stage manager (yeah I have a title!). I do like this job though. It might not be the most exciting but it is definitely a start and gets me out of the house, which my mom appreciates.

Keep a look out though this week for another few posts. I will have the fourth week report and… wait for it… interviews with the actors! Woot!

(Source: )

The show must go on… but really
Internship: Week 2
You know the saying, “the show must go on”? I realized last weekend that it could not be truer. I mean I really had no idea how much theaters follow that saying. In the short time span of 24 hours, which was three performances of Flora the Red Menace, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. Yet each show went on as scheduled.

                On Saturday night, the cast and crew regrouped after a break and the main actress, Dani Stroller, who plays Flora mentioned that she felt odd. One of those feelings where you can’t decide if you are hungry or getting sick. Not thinking much of it she ate a snack and she went to warm up her voice with the rest of the cast. Everyone got into places and the show began. About 45 minutes into Act 1, Dani asked me if I could text our stage manager Colleen because apparently Dani had been throwing up since before the show started. My thoughts: Oh man. What the hell am I supposed to do about this? Dani doesn’t have an understudy so apparently she had to keep performing. I was feeling so badly for her and I was frustrated because I knew there wasn’t anything I could do that would really help. I got a bucket, coke, ginger ale, and water and hoped for the best. Anyway, Dani finished Act 1 and Colleen commented that it did not look like she was sick. As a matter of fact, she was doing a great job performing. This, I was obviously impressed by. I mean if it had been me I probably would have overdramatically crawled onto the floor and into a ball. Then I was struck again by a comment Dani made during intermission. She was upset, saying that she had a high fever, just the she was feeling awful, then she said “How am I supposed to perform the rest of the show feeling this way?” And anyone who was listening responded, “The way you have been.” Dani’s ability to pull through regardless of how she felt was absolutely amazing. I have no idea if there was a possibility of cancelling the musical that night and refunding tickets, but I feel like that idea didn’t even cross her mind. The show must go on. Dani acted regardless.

                The next day, we had another two shows: the Sunday matinee and evening performance. For the Sunday matinee, everything seemed to be going fine. Then about a half an hour into the play, I received a text message from Colleen saying that the lights on stage pulsed. If the actors asked me about it just to tell them that she realized it but was not concerned as of yet (this will become important later). A couple of minutes later, Josh Dick (the actor who plays the Communist romantic interest, Harry) came backstage threw his prop onto the table and went in to the dressing room in a bit of a huff. Clearly upset. I was thinking he must have just made a mistake onstage and was mad at himself. Next thing I knew, I received another text from Colleen stating, “Oh shoot. What about Josh?” So I rush over to him and I say something along the lines of, “Are you okay? I have no idea what happened but Colleen wanted me to check.” Well apparently, Josh was choking on a cheese ball on stage. When he was supposed to start singing one of his songs, he couldn’t and luckily Dani noticed so covered for him by starting to sing until he could recover. Basically, we were in the process of potentially losing an actor, but the show continued. Thank goodness, I guess.

                Then finally the last show of the weekend came along. Everyone was tired, but everyone was feeling fine. No problems. Mary Beth Luckenbaugh, who plays Elsa one of Flora’s struggling artist friends, decided that we should do some “boot camp” exercises to give everyone a bit of energy. I guess that is kind of an irrelevant detail, but whatever. Anywho, we start the show and about eight minutes in Colleen sends me a text saying, “my light board crapped out.” Basically the lights were going to stay the same until they could be fixed. At least the light board decided to freeze with the lights on (I try to be positive occasionally). There was this major problem and just several little mess ups in the first act. All of the issues that occurred in the last few shows were beginning to feel unreal. Although my favorite had to be when I was helping Kelsey Meiklejohn (who plays another friend of Flora, Maggie and the secretary) change clothes, she said something along the lines of, oh crap the audience just saw me starting to undress… Oops. Because the lights didn’t go off and Kelsey has to change very quickly, this was definitely a possibility. The first act ended and Colleen was able to get the light board working during intermission. Nothing else could go wrong, right? There was only one hour left of the show, everything will be great. Hahaha. Nope. Well in the last thirty minutes of the play it started to rain. Hard. The problem was because of the way the building of the theater is set, the rain was extremely loud inside the theater as it pounded on the roof. I thought the air conditioner was about to explode it was that loud. The actors could barely hear each other and I am not sure how well the audience could hear the remainder of the musical. At this point, the whole cast and I were all just laughing hysterically. What kind of show is this? We couldn’t stop it just felt ridiculous. The whole weekend was a slight disaster. Nevertheless, the actors continued acting without their lighting cues and even though the rain was beating on the ceiling. Each show continued relatively well. Because we are clearly very lucky, as the actors took their bows of that last show, the rain let up and the lights went down as if nothing went wrong.

The show must go on really has a whole new meaning to me.   



 

                    

The show must go on… but really

Internship: Week 2

You know the saying, “the show must go on”? I realized last weekend that it could not be truer. I mean I really had no idea how much theaters follow that saying. In the short time span of 24 hours, which was three performances of Flora the Red Menace, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. Yet each show went on as scheduled.

                On Saturday night, the cast and crew regrouped after a break and the main actress, Dani Stroller, who plays Flora mentioned that she felt odd. One of those feelings where you can’t decide if you are hungry or getting sick. Not thinking much of it she ate a snack and she went to warm up her voice with the rest of the cast. Everyone got into places and the show began. About 45 minutes into Act 1, Dani asked me if I could text our stage manager Colleen because apparently Dani had been throwing up since before the show started. My thoughts: Oh man. What the hell am I supposed to do about this? Dani doesn’t have an understudy so apparently she had to keep performing. I was feeling so badly for her and I was frustrated because I knew there wasn’t anything I could do that would really help. I got a bucket, coke, ginger ale, and water and hoped for the best. Anyway, Dani finished Act 1 and Colleen commented that it did not look like she was sick. As a matter of fact, she was doing a great job performing. This, I was obviously impressed by. I mean if it had been me I probably would have overdramatically crawled onto the floor and into a ball. Then I was struck again by a comment Dani made during intermission. She was upset, saying that she had a high fever, just the she was feeling awful, then she said “How am I supposed to perform the rest of the show feeling this way?” And anyone who was listening responded, “The way you have been.” Dani’s ability to pull through regardless of how she felt was absolutely amazing. I have no idea if there was a possibility of cancelling the musical that night and refunding tickets, but I feel like that idea didn’t even cross her mind. The show must go on. Dani acted regardless.

                The next day, we had another two shows: the Sunday matinee and evening performance. For the Sunday matinee, everything seemed to be going fine. Then about a half an hour into the play, I received a text message from Colleen saying that the lights on stage pulsed. If the actors asked me about it just to tell them that she realized it but was not concerned as of yet (this will become important later). A couple of minutes later, Josh Dick (the actor who plays the Communist romantic interest, Harry) came backstage threw his prop onto the table and went in to the dressing room in a bit of a huff. Clearly upset. I was thinking he must have just made a mistake onstage and was mad at himself. Next thing I knew, I received another text from Colleen stating, “Oh shoot. What about Josh?” So I rush over to him and I say something along the lines of, “Are you okay? I have no idea what happened but Colleen wanted me to check.” Well apparently, Josh was choking on a cheese ball on stage. When he was supposed to start singing one of his songs, he couldn’t and luckily Dani noticed so covered for him by starting to sing until he could recover. Basically, we were in the process of potentially losing an actor, but the show continued. Thank goodness, I guess.

                Then finally the last show of the weekend came along. Everyone was tired, but everyone was feeling fine. No problems. Mary Beth Luckenbaugh, who plays Elsa one of Flora’s struggling artist friends, decided that we should do some “boot camp” exercises to give everyone a bit of energy. I guess that is kind of an irrelevant detail, but whatever. Anywho, we start the show and about eight minutes in Colleen sends me a text saying, “my light board crapped out.” Basically the lights were going to stay the same until they could be fixed. At least the light board decided to freeze with the lights on (I try to be positive occasionally). There was this major problem and just several little mess ups in the first act. All of the issues that occurred in the last few shows were beginning to feel unreal. Although my favorite had to be when I was helping Kelsey Meiklejohn (who plays another friend of Flora, Maggie and the secretary) change clothes, she said something along the lines of, oh crap the audience just saw me starting to undress… Oops. Because the lights didn’t go off and Kelsey has to change very quickly, this was definitely a possibility. The first act ended and Colleen was able to get the light board working during intermission. Nothing else could go wrong, right? There was only one hour left of the show, everything will be great. Hahaha. Nope. Well in the last thirty minutes of the play it started to rain. Hard. The problem was because of the way the building of the theater is set, the rain was extremely loud inside the theater as it pounded on the roof. I thought the air conditioner was about to explode it was that loud. The actors could barely hear each other and I am not sure how well the audience could hear the remainder of the musical. At this point, the whole cast and I were all just laughing hysterically. What kind of show is this? We couldn’t stop it just felt ridiculous. The whole weekend was a slight disaster. Nevertheless, the actors continued acting without their lighting cues and even though the rain was beating on the ceiling. Each show continued relatively well. Because we are clearly very lucky, as the actors took their bows of that last show, the rain let up and the lights went down as if nothing went wrong.

The show must go on really has a whole new meaning to me.   

 

                    

Flora the Red Menace, among other things

                I have many things to say and I am not totally sure where I am going with this yet… So try to keep up? No, I suppose I should say: I will try to be as clear as possible.

                I guess I will go back in time and start at last Tuesday (May 15th). It was 11AM and I had just turned in my two final papers of the semester and had all of my finals completed. I was sitting in my room packing when I remembered that I needed to make a phone call to Mark Krikstan. Who is Mark Krikstan you might ask. Well Mark is one of the founders and the Artistic Director of the 1st Stage Theater in Tysons Corner, Virginia. I had talked to him a few weeks earlier and he offered me a summer internship at the theater, however it was not until that Tuesday morning that I had any idea when I would be starting. Our conversation went something like this… Me: I am moving out of Mason today. Mark: Oh great, well can you start tomorrow? We are opening the show Flora the Red Menace this week and the stage manager could really use some extra help. Me: YES!… *Hang up* Talk about jumping into something.

                Before I talk about the internship, let me talk about the 1st Stage. It is a great, small, theater that opened its first season about four years ago. Mark Krikstan was actually a theater teacher at a local high school who “retired.” By retired he actually meant giving himself more work to do. Mark along with the other founders wanted to create a professional theater in the Fairfax County area because at the time there were only two other companies. I fell in love with the space and the theater after seeing The Glass Menagerie about a year ago. Then I went and saw the endearing play Almost, Maine. I unfortunately did not get to see Side Man play that finished its run a couple of weeks ago, but it was critically acclaimed. It was also reviewed by well-known papers like The Wall Street Journal. Basically, I am saying the 1st Stage is very up and coming and is a wonderful theater to have the opportunity to work with.

                Wednesday night came around and I made my way to the theater. I still had no idea what I would be doing. When I got there I was told to do odd jobs and I was eventually told to watch the rehearsal of Flora to get a feel for the show. I felt this sense of tension over the subject of the play and as I sat waiting for the rehearsal to begin something felt off. There were sounds of frustration from the director, stage manager, and choreographer. The head of lighting was cranky because he had not slept and still had to design the lighting cues (and I was thinking… The show opens in two days and you are not done yet?). Then I was looking at the set wondering if it still needed completion or it was supposed to look that way (thankfully it was the former). You can imagine that I was also thinking, oh goodness this show has too many problems, no wonder everyone is so stressed. Much to my relief, I decided it really was quite good and there were just a few kinks that needed to be worked out, but nothing major. If nothing else the acting, singing, and dancing (especially the tap dancing!) were amazing. I immediately knew there is a lot I can learn from these actors. As for the issues with the play, they don’t really impact me and well it is not necessary to go into them.

                When the director, Susan Devine, called for a break half way through the rehearsal I introduced myself to her and the stage manager, Colleen Stock. I was told that there was no one who would be backstage during the show. My job would be to be present at each show to be back there to pick up the pieces if there are any catastrophes. Because I am almost always in a state of confusion, I agreed, I was just thrilled to be there, but really I had no idea what I was agreeing to. Susan had me stick around at the end of the play so I could be introduced to the cast. My thoughts at that moment: Oh no. I am literally being thrown into this show two days before it opens; the actors are going to think I am this annoying college girl. I will just be in the way. I have no tech experience so I do not even know what I am doing. I have no idea what it is like to work with real non-high school actors. I have not even worked with college actors yet. Great. Cool. Yay. When I met them they all seemed glad that I was there, but this was kind of public, no one was going to fulfill the actor stereotype yet.

                Thursday night, I returned to the 1st Stage and talked to Colleen. She told me to go put glow tape everywhere and to reintroduce myself to the actors and ask them what they would need from me. I found out that my main job would be to help a couple of the actors with their quick-changes. And no one seemed to hate my presence! Whoot. They seemed really happy to have me there as a matter of fact. After some drama with props being misplaced I learned my second job: keeping track of the props. Score. But really. No sarcasm. I had another job that is slightly helpful! Realistically for most of the show I read or get angry at a Rubik’s cube. Nonetheless, I would say my first two nights as an intern were a success.

As questionable as it may have initially seemed, this production of Flora is really great. Admittedly, it is kind of an odd play. I have wondered what the playwright, David Thompson, was thinking when he wrote certain scenes. I guess it would also help if I explained the musical. Flora the Red Menace is focuses on Flora (Dani Stroller) and her “family” who are poor artists trying to make a living in New York City in the 1930s. Flora is introduced to Harry (Joshua Dick), who introduces her to the world of Communism. That is basically the play in a nutshell. It is not the most plot filled play ever written. However it is really funny and the choreography and blocking are very creative and clever. The music is another fantastic reason to see the show. The musical director, Paul Nasto, is basically a genius. He wrote a completely new score for the show that is absolutely incredible. Also, each actor really captures the essence of his or her character and brings this fantastic energy and vibrancy to the play. If you like over-the-top characters you should really come see Flora.

Opening weekend ended up being a success. There were only a couple of clothing disasters- thank goodness. One guy liked the musical so much on Friday night that he came back Saturday night with flowers for each actor and made a donation to the theater. Apparently, this was also the only musical he has ever liked.

I am just truly excited for the next few weeks and honored to have the opportunity to work in this production. Everyone has been so nice to me and I am really grateful for being able to work with such a kind and talented group of people.


If you would like to watch Flora the Red Menace here is the link to the 1st Stage website: http://1ststagespringhill.org/

There are five shows a weekend. Friday and Saturday night at 8PM. Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 2PM. Sunday night at 7PM. It runs until June 17th.

If you want to say hello to an unknown blogger after the show, I will be backstage probably sitting on a sofa in the dark.

Also, if you are interested read this interview with Paul Nasto: http://dctheatrescene.com/2012/05/18/paul-nasto-new-sound-for-flora-the-red-menace/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DcTheatreScene+%28DC+Theatre+Scene%29

 

Flora the Red Menace, among other things

                I have many things to say and I am not totally sure where I am going with this yet… So try to keep up? No, I suppose I should say: I will try to be as clear as possible.

                I guess I will go back in time and start at last Tuesday (May 15th). It was 11AM and I had just turned in my two final papers of the semester and had all of my finals completed. I was sitting in my room packing when I remembered that I needed to make a phone call to Mark Krikstan. Who is Mark Krikstan you might ask. Well Mark is one of the founders and the Artistic Director of the 1st Stage Theater in Tysons Corner, Virginia. I had talked to him a few weeks earlier and he offered me a summer internship at the theater, however it was not until that Tuesday morning that I had any idea when I would be starting. Our conversation went something like this… Me: I am moving out of Mason today. Mark: Oh great, well can you start tomorrow? We are opening the show Flora the Red Menace this week and the stage manager could really use some extra help. Me: YES!… *Hang up* Talk about jumping into something.

                Before I talk about the internship, let me talk about the 1st Stage. It is a great, small, theater that opened its first season about four years ago. Mark Krikstan was actually a theater teacher at a local high school who “retired.” By retired he actually meant giving himself more work to do. Mark along with the other founders wanted to create a professional theater in the Fairfax County area because at the time there were only two other companies. I fell in love with the space and the theater after seeing The Glass Menagerie about a year ago. Then I went and saw the endearing play Almost, Maine. I unfortunately did not get to see Side Man play that finished its run a couple of weeks ago, but it was critically acclaimed. It was also reviewed by well-known papers like The Wall Street Journal. Basically, I am saying the 1st Stage is very up and coming and is a wonderful theater to have the opportunity to work with.

                Wednesday night came around and I made my way to the theater. I still had no idea what I would be doing. When I got there I was told to do odd jobs and I was eventually told to watch the rehearsal of Flora to get a feel for the show. I felt this sense of tension over the subject of the play and as I sat waiting for the rehearsal to begin something felt off. There were sounds of frustration from the director, stage manager, and choreographer. The head of lighting was cranky because he had not slept and still had to design the lighting cues (and I was thinking… The show opens in two days and you are not done yet?). Then I was looking at the set wondering if it still needed completion or it was supposed to look that way (thankfully it was the former). You can imagine that I was also thinking, oh goodness this show has too many problems, no wonder everyone is so stressed. Much to my relief, I decided it really was quite good and there were just a few kinks that needed to be worked out, but nothing major. If nothing else the acting, singing, and dancing (especially the tap dancing!) were amazing. I immediately knew there is a lot I can learn from these actors. As for the issues with the play, they don’t really impact me and well it is not necessary to go into them.

                When the director, Susan Devine, called for a break half way through the rehearsal I introduced myself to her and the stage manager, Colleen Stock. I was told that there was no one who would be backstage during the show. My job would be to be present at each show to be back there to pick up the pieces if there are any catastrophes. Because I am almost always in a state of confusion, I agreed, I was just thrilled to be there, but really I had no idea what I was agreeing to. Susan had me stick around at the end of the play so I could be introduced to the cast. My thoughts at that moment: Oh no. I am literally being thrown into this show two days before it opens; the actors are going to think I am this annoying college girl. I will just be in the way. I have no tech experience so I do not even know what I am doing. I have no idea what it is like to work with real non-high school actors. I have not even worked with college actors yet. Great. Cool. Yay. When I met them they all seemed glad that I was there, but this was kind of public, no one was going to fulfill the actor stereotype yet.

                Thursday night, I returned to the 1st Stage and talked to Colleen. She told me to go put glow tape everywhere and to reintroduce myself to the actors and ask them what they would need from me. I found out that my main job would be to help a couple of the actors with their quick-changes. And no one seemed to hate my presence! Whoot. They seemed really happy to have me there as a matter of fact. After some drama with props being misplaced I learned my second job: keeping track of the props. Score. But really. No sarcasm. I had another job that is slightly helpful! Realistically for most of the show I read or get angry at a Rubik’s cube. Nonetheless, I would say my first two nights as an intern were a success.

As questionable as it may have initially seemed, this production of Flora is really great. Admittedly, it is kind of an odd play. I have wondered what the playwright, David Thompson, was thinking when he wrote certain scenes. I guess it would also help if I explained the musical. Flora the Red Menace is focuses on Flora (Dani Stroller) and her “family” who are poor artists trying to make a living in New York City in the 1930s. Flora is introduced to Harry (Joshua Dick), who introduces her to the world of Communism. That is basically the play in a nutshell. It is not the most plot filled play ever written. However it is really funny and the choreography and blocking are very creative and clever. The music is another fantastic reason to see the show. The musical director, Paul Nasto, is basically a genius. He wrote a completely new score for the show that is absolutely incredible. Also, each actor really captures the essence of his or her character and brings this fantastic energy and vibrancy to the play. If you like over-the-top characters you should really come see Flora.

Opening weekend ended up being a success. There were only a couple of clothing disasters- thank goodness. One guy liked the musical so much on Friday night that he came back Saturday night with flowers for each actor and made a donation to the theater. Apparently, this was also the only musical he has ever liked.

I am just truly excited for the next few weeks and honored to have the opportunity to work in this production. Everyone has been so nice to me and I am really grateful for being able to work with such a kind and talented group of people.

If you would like to watch Flora the Red Menace here is the link to the 1st Stage website: http://1ststagespringhill.org/

There are five shows a weekend. Friday and Saturday night at 8PM. Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 2PM. Sunday night at 7PM. It runs until June 17th.

If you want to say hello to an unknown blogger after the show, I will be backstage probably sitting on a sofa in the dark.

Also, if you are interested read this interview with Paul Nasto: http://dctheatrescene.com/2012/05/18/paul-nasto-new-sound-for-flora-the-red-menace/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DcTheatreScene+%28DC+Theatre+Scene%29