The Edwin Booth Company Presents

UW-Whitewater’s faculty member Angela Iannone and theatre performance major Jake Lesh will be travelling to New York City for the staged reading of The Edwin Booth Company Presents. Iannone is not only the director of The Edwin Booth Company Presents but she also is the playwright. Lesh originated the role of Edwin Booth and will be portraying him again at the staged reading; the rest of the cast will be 17 New York City actors, most of whom are members of Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional stage actors. The staged reading will be in The Hampden/Booth library inside The Players Club in Gramercy Park, directly across from the bronze statue of Edwin Booth.  The Hampden/Booth library is a spectacular resource for anyone researching 19th and 20th century American Theatre. The Players Club also houses one of the finest collections of portraits of 19th and 20th century theatre artists that exists and has a bar and grill for members. Booth established The Players Club to be a private club for New York actors to gather and research. During his lifetime, Booth lived on the second floor of the building; his bedroom is still there, as he left it when he died in 1893.

Statue of Edwin Booth in Gramercy Park

“The university has been instrumental in helping me develop and promote the script itself, and the UW-Whitewater production was chosen to participate in the Region 3 finals of the American College Theatre Festival in January of 2012,” shares Angela Iannone. She also wanted to make note that several UW-Whitewater alums are being considered for roles, however there have been no final choices made.

Jake Lesh as Edwin Booth

I sat down with Jake Lesh to talk about this exciting adventure. This is what he had to say:

How does it feel to have originated Edwin for this now growing production?

Lesh: It’s been an absolute honor. Most professional actors go their whole lives without ever originating a role for a show that receives so much attention. To do something like this so early in my career is a great accomplishment and gives me hope that I am headed in the right direction. I’ve been blessed to have this awesome opportunity.

At the Players Club you will be performing with mostly Equity actors. What are your thoughts on this? Are you nervous or further inspired?

Lesh: To say that I am nervous would be an understatement, but of course I am inspired. I will finally get a chance to see accomplished actors in the professional environment. I can’t wait to just set back, observe, and learn as much as I possibly can from these people.

Have you ever been to New York?

Lesh: Last Summer I traveled with Angela Iannone to the Player’s Club so we could confirm the date for the upcoming performance. We saw everything, from Edwin’s Bedroom (untouched since his passing), the church that held his funeral service, Times Square, Broadway, Stonewall, just to name a few.

If asked, would you continue to play Edwin after this reading?

Lesh: Yes, without a moment’s hesitation.

The Department is extremely proud of Angela Iannone and Jake Lesh and wishes them all the best in this venture. They also are anticipating the workshopping of Iannone’s second play, the sequel to The Edwin Booth Company Presents; which is set to happen in Oregon.

For more information on The Edwin Booth Company Presents please visit its Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EdwinBoothCompanyPresents

For more information on The Players Club please visit their website: www.theplayersnyc.org

 

Where is your Shakespeare? Our’s is in the Love.

At 7:30 pm on November 27 and running until December 1 William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost opens at the Greenhill Center of the Arts’ Hicklin Studio Theatre. Love’s Labours Lost tells the story of the King of Navarre and how he and his three best friends, in order to better themselves, swear an oath to study, fast and not keep the company of women. It sounds like a good idea-until the beautiful Princess of France and her three lovely friends arrive. As tradition dictates, the men greet the women, and soon find it difficult to keep their oath. Suddenly, love is alive in the kingdom of Navarre, along with trickery, mistaken identities, and secret meetings. One of Shakespeare’s most fun and fanciful plays, Love’s Labours Lost explores loves is all of its different forms and the joy it adds to life!

This video link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2qetpkZAHY&feature=youtu.be) shows our promotions team sitting down with Jim Butchart, director of the UW-Whitewater Theatre/Dance Department’s upcoming production of Love’s Labours Lost to find out more about the production. Keep in mind the footage from rehearsal is from the early weeks and actors are still carrying scripts.

From Left to Right: Andrew Muwonge, Peter Brian Kelly, Rasell Holt, Cory Jefferson Hagen
and Adam O’Neil

I sat down with Andrew Muwonge who plays Lord Biron, friend to King Ferdinand, and Assistant Director Sarah Stokes to talk about the Love’s Labours Lost (LLL). Here is what Andrew had to say:

How would you describe your character?

Biron is someone who loves to have fun in life. He’s not into commitments or things that will require him to work hard, a bit of a player and a ladies man, and likes to take life one day at a time. Words are something that Biron is very good with; it’s very easy for him to twist people’s words or talk his way out of a situation. He’s a very convincing and smooth guy.

What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to cross with LLL?

The biggest hurdle was of course, the language. Shakespeare can already be difficult for some people to understand. A lot of this show is about language and how characters communicate and miscommunicate with each other. My character in particular is very good with words, so learning my lines and making sense of them to myself and to the audience has been the biggest challenge.

What has been the biggest reward with LLL?

The biggest reward is knowing that I can handle Shakespeare. It can be intimidating for an actor, especially someone like me who didn’t really have much experience before coming to college, but now that I know I can handle the language and understand it, it gives me confidence in all other types of shows.

These posters have sprung up on campus with you in different areas of the university. What was the motivation for that?

We needed to advertise the show, and Jake Lesh, who plays Boyet was in charge of the publicity for the show. He asked me if I was okay with dressing up in costume and taking pictures doing every day things around the university. I think the idea behind the “Where’s your Shakespeare?” is to get people to think about art everywhere. It was based off the advertising Milwaukee schools did with their arts immersion.

If there was one thing you could say to the public to persuade them to come see the show what would it be?

We’ve all worked very hard to make the show understandable to a modern audience. We haven’t changed the language but we say the words in a way that they make sense, as all Shakespeare should be spoken of course. Love is one of the main themes of the show and most of us can say we’ve been in love or have been affected by it one way or another. We see how it affects everyone in this play and I honestly think people will be able to relate if they gives it an honest chance. For those of you who know what it’s like to chase after someone, other have someone chase after you, I think you will especially enjoy this show

 

I talked specifically with Sarah about her role as Assistant Director.

Why did you want to Assistant Direct LLL?

I wanted to be the Assistant Director for LLL because I wanted the chance to be first involved in the show and second to get more of a well-rounded experience with a Shakespearean show. It’s the only Shakespeare show that the department has done since I started going here and will be the last since I graduate in May. I wanted to take the chance to study all the characters instead of just playing one, which is what I normally do as an actor; and I wanted the chance to watch all aspects of the show come together and feel as though I was a part of that.

Describe your basic duties.

It started in the summer when Jim Butchart, the director gave me the option to be his assistant director and told me to do research on the play and the period. I watched videos and read and re-read the play to get myself ready for rehearsals. I attended the production meetings which were about every week. I loved attending those because as an actor, you aren’t able to see the technical process of a show come together quite to that extent.

Why do shows like LLL have seminars?

I think having the seminar for LLL was beyond helpful and maybe even necessary. There was A LOT of work we had to get done and without those extra “rehearsals” in seminar, I feel that we would have felt pretty rushed. We spent most of seminar doing read-throughs of the play. All of the actors in the show came in with different Shakespearean experience levels, some with none and some with quite a bit. So it was a matter of getting everyone on the same page, even the Stage Management team. We also spent a good chunk of seminar time learning how to scan and translate the text which in a normal rehearsal process probably wouldn’t happen.

What has been your biggest challenge with LLL?

My biggest challenge was learning how to block a scene successfully. Jim allowed me to block a scene by myself which was great. I did however only have experience blocking and beyond that directing anything back in 2011 when I took the class called Directing 1 when I directed a 10 minute scene. It was kind of scary to be in charge of my own scene for LLL, but so much fun to direct something beyond anything I had attempted before.

What has been your biggest reward?

The biggest reward is to see something that I’ve helped to create and see it blossom in front of my eyes. It is amazing to see the amount of work and diligence that the actors in this Theatre Dept. put into their performances. They make it look so easy, even though I know it’s not just a walk in the park, especially for college students that are just starting their careers and maybe haven’t had a lot of time with Shakespeare before. Coming from the seat I’ve been sitting in as Assistant Director, I’ve seen every struggle, every surprise, and every success that this group of talented actors and designers have been through. Being a part of this show and seeing those moments is the best thing I can think of.

If there was one thing you would say to the public to get them to see the show what would it be?

This group of actors, coming from all levels of experience, have came together to provide such a great package to deliver to all audience members and I can’t wait to see people enjoy what we’ve worked so long and hard to create. The set as well is nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before. There is a pond on stage with actual water and you don’t see that every day! This show will provide 2 hours of laughs, love, and awe.

From Left to Right: Jennifer Samson, Jacob Lesh, Madison McCarthy, Stephanie Staszak,
and Hayley San Fillippo

Tickets for Love’s Labours Lost can be purchased Monday-Friday 9:30 am to 5:00 pm over the phone: 262-472-2222; in person at the Greenhill Center Box Office; or 24 hours a day online at http://tickets.uww.edu/. Prices are as follows: General Public: $10 Over 65: $8 Under 18: $5.50 UW-Whitewater Students w/valid ID: $4. 50     (update:  Tuesday – Friday’s performances are sold out – tickets may become available each night but it is not likely.  Purchase tickets ASAP to see this show on Saturday!)

Serena Sretenovich reporting from behind the curtain.

A Whole New World of Theatre

Every Fall UW-Whitewater’s Theatre/Dance Dept. puts on a children’s touring show. While the auditions are held the same semester as the performances, the process begins long before. Nine months before the tour leaves UW-Whitewater elementary schools are petitioned to become a stop for the show. They are sent letters explaining the show and what sort of moral lessons may be learned by it. Once the schools confirm they are interested to show the tour they are sent a study guide with everything from coloring pages to vocabulary and fill in the blank. The week before the tour is set to depart from UW-Whitewater the cast puts on a show at the University for local families and fellow students.

This season’s children’s tour is Aladdin:  the classic story of a young boy and his magic genie! When Aladdin is tricked into finding a magic lamp, he finds a genie inside, and soon is able to wish for anything he wants. However, his only real desire is to marry the Princess. Will Aladdin be able to use the power of his genie friend to impress the Sultan and win the heart of the Princess? Or will an evil magician destroy Aladdin’s plans and marry the princess himself?

There is a public performance with tickets available at the door in Arrowhead High School on Saturday Nov 3 at 1 or 3. Share in the magic of the lamp before it, like the genie, disappears in a puff of smoke!

 

Cast:
Mother. . . . . . . . . . .Stephanie Ruch
Sultana. . . . . . . . . . .Lauren Goggins
Amber. . . . . . . . . . .Jacqueline Boelkow
Sultan. . . . . . . . . . .Logan Bydalek
Magician. . . . . . . . . . .Kyle Higgins
Tareye. . . . . . . . . . .Paul Trentadue
Tiger Lily. . . . . . . . . . .Grace Felion
Princess. . . . . . . . . . .Leah Wasylik
Genie. . . . . . . . . . .Jacqueline Dunderdale
Aladdin. . . . . . . . . . .Tim Janikowski

Production Team:
Director: Skip Grover
Stage Manager: Alexi Strullmyer
Costume Designer: Julia Boarini
Lighting Designer: Sean Jensen
Set Designer: Eric Appleton
Sound Designer: Thad Kraus
Props: Krissy Fisher
Technical Director: Steve Chene

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!

Show number two of this year’s Summeround season is off-Broadway’s second longest running musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. We interviewed cast member Madison McCarthy and lighting designer Lexie Strullmyer to get an inside look on working with theatre in the round. Here’s what they had to say!

Madison McCarthy – Actress

How is it different performing in the round? Do you have a preference?

It is very different because you have an audience in every direction. It’s a lot harder than a proscenium but I think it’s a great experience, for the actors and the audience.

Favorite moment of the show?

My favorite moment of the show would have to be when Peter Brian Kelly and Zachary Kunde dress up as pizza hut delivery men and sing in a ridiculous Italian accent. We actually took the line “We Love-a dis guy name Ken.” and put it on the back of our shirts. It’s a great scene over all full of fun and chaos.

a scene from I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

Why should people come see I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change?

I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a great comedy. Filled with relationship issues such as first dates, weddings, babies, and falling in love. Everyone can   relate in some way to every part of the show. The acting and singing are fabulous and we have all really made the show over the top. That is what the show is all about after all. You learn so much about yourself and will be able to understand a little bit more about love in the process.

Lexie Strullmyer – Lighting Designer

What got you started in lighting design?

I started working on stage crew in high school, and I really liked (well…and still like) working as a light board operator. I worked really closely with our lighting designer and after a while I just started to like and understand the artistic side of lighting too. I started out helping him with small projects and designing for things like our acting class showcases. It’s something that has always felt natural to me and was fun too.

How do you create a lighting design? What’s your process?

 A design always starts with the script – what the script requires and what I picture while reading it. Next I discuss my ideas with the director and the other designers. It is important that everyone is on the same page so that all of the designs are successful. Once my idea is approved I begin to turn it into a usable design. This involves turning the picture in my head into lights for a scene on stage and requires a lot of visual research as well as some sketching/painting. Finally I create a light plot which physically makes the design work.

Were there any difficulties in designing for theatre in the round? How was your process different in designing for the round?

Designing in the round was a new challenge for me. Usually I would create a system of front light, down light, side light, etc. that makes a performer look good from the perspective of an audience member. In this case the audience is EVERYWHERE! The design process and actual design work the same. The difference is that I have to pay careful attention to how an actor will look from every angle.

 

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change runs in the Hicklin Studio Theatre,  July 17-21 at 7:30 PM and July 22 at 2:00 PM. Don’t miss out on this fantastic show!

Videos from “She Stoops to Conquer”

What makes this show unique?

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What is your favorite line?

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What is your role?

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Stay tuned for 2 more videos.  And don’t miss “She Stoops to Conquer” performing April 24 – 28 at 7:30 pm in Barnett Theatre, Greenhill Center of the Arts.  Tickets can be purchased online or by calling Ticket Services at 262-472-2222, Monday – Friday 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.  Find out more on Facebook

DanceScapes ’12 – Behind the Scenes

A Sung Epic Story about Lust and Love

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The Theatre/Dance Department and Department of Music is producing their tri-annual opera this semester,The Coronation of Poppea.  This opera’s theme, the power of love over mankind in all different forms and the power of lust is sure to capture your attention.  The opera will be performed February 26th at 2:00 p.m. and February 28th, March 1st, and March 3rd at 7:30 p.m.

This opera breaks down many misconceptions that people have about opera; being for the rich elite and in a different language.  These misconceptions were broken down by the director’s decisions. When approaching the production, stage director, Jim Butchart’s goal is to make it accessible and entertaining to the audience.  To accomplish this he, with the music director, Robert Gehrenbeck, chose to present it in English with the most modern translation available.  They also have used modern costumes but have given them Baroque touches to show that it takes place in that time period.  Even the instruments have a modern touch with the use of electric guitars.

The directors also choose to do this opera in particular because it breaks the other misconception that opera is always serious and/or boring.  This opera’s plot is all about lust.  “Lust for sex, lust for power, lust for knowledge, and even lust for death; making this opera very entertaining and even comical at points,” says Will Krieger.  These themes are easily relatable because it is human nature to have lust for people, objects, and intangible ideas as well.

So go out and see The Coronation of Poppea if you never have seen an opera before. It will be an opera that you will be able to follow along with, relate too, and have a couple of laughs

Dancescapes ’12 Entry

Take a look at Mackenzie Nilsen’s entry for Dancescapes ’12!

Dancer to Director

All of us in the Theatre/Dance department have to take classes that force us to step out of our comfort zone. For some it might be Acting One and for others it may be Contemporary Dance, for Kylee Flister (BFA Theatre Management and Promotions major with a Dance minor) it’s Directing. During this class students are asked to pick a short, roughly ten minute, scene to direct. Then the class holds two nights of open auditions in order to cast his/her scene. This semester the scenes will be presented December 4th and 6th at 7:00pm. Here is a look into Kylee’s scene.

 

What is your show and what is it about?

My show is called the Unwanted by Walter Wykes and is about a man who is trying to enter the dating world again after loosing his wife to suicide. It starts off with the male character, Dan approaching his date, Emma in his home. Things are going well before they get to the house but it changes because Dan cannot get his wife’s crude comments out of his head.

Why did you pick it?

I picked this play because, being a “new director” I wanted a play that embodied a full beginning, middle and end that would intrigue the audience and leave them questioning the motive of the main character. This is very present in this play because there is a constant question of “should I have sympathy for Dan or not”. Also, it touches on a very serious issue in today’s society, yet does so in a dark, humorous way.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge has been executing my ideas to the actors, mainly because I have never directed before and taking a vision and your head and putting it onstage is one thing, but putting it onstage well is where the challenge comes from.

What has been your directing process so far?

My directing process started out with a more lack-there-of, not intentionally but because I found it easier to let the actors play the character and move naturally during the scene, rather than try to explain what I want in my head. This worked well for the first few rehearsals when the actors were just becoming comfortable with the lines and the characters. Now that our scene is blocked and lines are memorized, I feel I can give more of a direction on where I want the play to go in the end. So I guess I gave more freedom in the beginning am now giving much more direction.

What have you learned about directing?

I have learned that I am not a director, nor do I intend to be but that its not an impossible thing to do. The key is having people that are willing to help and work with you to create a final product that we are all proud of.

Come support the student directors (and actors) December 4th and 6th! Admission is free so bring your friends!

World Premiere

The Edwin Booth Company Presents… written and directed by Angela Iannone has given students the opportunity to participate in a world premiere show. Click the link to watch the video The Edwin Booth Company Presents…