Category Archives: Openings

Yo Ho, We’re Off and Sailing

Last month I was back in the director’s chair with a fifth grade production of Treasure Island. The show was at Sunset Hill Elementary in Plymouth, MN (a suburb of Minneapolis) and I was actually co-directing with another theatre artist in town, Amy Abrigo.

The show was something that was handed off to me late in the game but of course I accepted with eagerness. While I’ve directed a bunch of community theatre and high school students, it had been a while since I’d been in charge of so many little ones. I had been a substitute teacher in Florida and experienced what a handful of second graders could be, but to be fair to all those fifth graders reading this, they’re not that bad. They are in a transitional age group where they are old enough to be “cool” and talk to you like an adult, but still young in that they have very little self-control, respect or understanding of the consequences their actions may have. In short, it was a mixed-bag of screaming and praising.

Image result for treasure island

While the rehearsal process lasted a few weeks, it was only for two short afternoons a week  where most of my time was spent herding cats and being a disciplinarian. The whole time I kept reassuring myself that “it will all come together in the end”, because I am no stranger to the way shows work out sometimes. However, while I knew at some point those kids would listen to me and memorize their lines, I wasn’t fool enough to think it would just happen on it’s own.

I did the kids, Amy and myself a favor and took a hatchet to the already short script. Being that Treasure Island a story we’re all kind of familiar with I said nuance-be-damned and essentially cut out anything that didn’t feature Jim Hawkins or Long John Silver. The show was a musical as well so that really helped bridge any gaps in the story. Even with those cuts, the show was just under forty minutes! Which flew by but was plenty, believe you me.

Of course my eternal optimism was rewarded in the end and the two performances went off without a hitch. The little bastards pulled it off and I was ultimately proud of them. I was even witness to some extremely humble moments when they would confide in me about how nervous they were to perform in front of their peers… it was very touching! It’s so funny working with kids that age because you really do want the best for them and think they are just the cutest, but damn do you want to wring their necks. I say all of this, of course, with tremendous love and I think anyone who has shared my shoes gets it 100%.

Finally, I would just like to include the cast list here (pictures will come at some point on my directing page) so one day one of those little munchkins can Google their name and read exactly what I thought of them. Also, here’s a song from the show that was the absolute bane of my existence.

Yo ho ho!

Sunset Hill Elementary
presents

TREASURE ISLAND
by
Kathryn Schultz Miller

Directed by
Vincent S. Hannam and Amy Abrigo

with
Will Kirven
Lilah Krauth
Amanda Michelsen
Colin Bissonette
Jaden St. Urbain
Emily Raiche
LeBraun Dewey
Kaelyn Hvidsten
Seth Aydinalp
Christina Nockel
Charlotte Thompson
Sam Hulst
Camryn Balloy
Myra Klumb
Tyler Jensen
Sebastian Lumitap
Nishanth Baddigam
Angelina Pyle
Raziah Loyd
Ivan Vasylchenko
Gia Wees
Sanaiia Montgomery
Soo-Jin Lee
Bergan Wolf
Gabe Wernimont
Ella Dando
Avery Mikolai

Technical Crew:
Noah Stephens, Jacob Behr, Thomas Theising,
Luke Schultz, Nadia Fessenmeir, Talia Eddy, Nate Lindblad

Technical Director/ Producer:
Julie Schottler

It’s a *Death* trap!

This past weekend I had the immense pleasure of opening Deathtrap at Theatre in the Round Players in Minneapolis. From the cast to the director and most certainly the script, it has been an all round joyful experience.

deathtrapplaybillWithout revealing too much, Deathtrap is a thriller that tells the story of a veteran playwright named Sidney, who’s a bit washed up and eager for inspiration. Inspiration then walks in, in the shape of Clifford- an eager young playwright and former student of Sidney’s. There’s so much more that ensues, but I’ll leave you with words like “diabolical”, “conniving”, “murder” and “thrilleritis malignis” – the fevered pursuit of the one-set five-character moneymaker. The play itself was just that, running on Broadway for four years and 1,809 performances. Good enough for fourth all time (when it comes to straight plays).

Now in Minneapolis in 2017, Theatre in the Round Players (TRP) has it’s own venerated distinction as one of oldest theatres in town, opening in 1953. Amazingly enough, in 65 seasons, Deathtrap has never been produced. A thousand other plays have, for sure, including a production of The Great White Hope in 1975 that starred Ernie Hudson and is still talked about in the theatre community here.

deathtrap-promotionalAside from working at TRP, the show itself has been great. My director, Shanan Custer and stage manager, Stacey Britt, have made the process a delight, as well as my stage companions Charles Numrich, Meri Golden, Tina Frederickson and Todd O’Dowd. Ira Levin, too, who is the playwright and mastermind behind the curtain. In addition to Deathtrap, Levin is stupid famous for works such as Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. If you know me, you know how much I love a good thriller and how much I relish the chance to play the genre on stage.

Part of Deathtrap‘s charm is that it references the famous stage thrillers of it’s day; shows like Sleuth, Angel Street and Dial “M” for Murder. I’ll admit that I was not familiar with those plays before, but I’ve loved the chance to revisit some of my favorite movies of that grisly ilk. Why I love playing in Deathtrap so much is because it’s the closest I can get to being in Misery or Psycho or The Silence of the Lambs. Of course now that Misery is itself a play maybe I can get even closer…

So without having said too much about the actual plot of Deathtrap, I hope I’ve still managed to paint an enticing picture nonetheless. If you love any of the aforementioned titles then by all means comes to Theatre in the Round. You’re guaranteed to jump, laugh and cover your ears!

Theatre in the Round Players
presents

DEATHTRAP
by
Ira Levin

Directed by
Shanan Custer

With
Charles Numrich Vincent Hannam
Tina Frederickson Meri Golden and Todd O’Dowd as “Porter”

February 17 – March 12, 2017

 

I Tell ya Chum, it’s Time to Come… Blow Your Horn

Originally published as: “Blow that Horn!”

Happy New Year from sunny Jacksonville, Florida where I’m currently employed at the Alhambra Theatre & Dining playing Buddy in Come Blow Your Horn.

It’s a gem of a comedy by Neil Simon and happens to be the first one he ever wrote, about two brothers desperately trying to escape the overbearing thumb of their businessman father. Buddy is the youngest of the two. He is an aspiring playwright who’s just turned twenty-one and wants nothing more than to emulate his older brother’s swinging, bachelor life. Of course the play is hilarious but it has the right amount of dramatic heart-to-hearts to keep it deeply engaging.

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In fact, that’s why I love Neil Simon and know when he’s on the money, boy is it a good night at the theatre. Since plays like Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple and Biloxi Blues are among my favorites, knowing that Come Blow Your Horn was first is a real treat. Within these lines you see the blue prints of what was to come – the arguments between Alan and Buddy scream Oscar and Felix, the relationship between Alan and his girlfriend Connie is basically that of Paul and Corrie, and there is even an offstage character named Felix Ungar! It’s all right there, blended into its own unique one-liners.

The play opens this week at the Alhambra Theatre & Dining, which happens to be the nation’s longest running professional dinner theatre, opening in 1967. The fact that I’m getting to play on a stage shared by Sid Caesar, Omar Sharif and Betty Grable (among many many others) is deeply inspiring. Additionally, since I am in Florida after all, my family and friends are able to see it and I’m able to relish a sense of homecoming. I’m incredibly thankful to be in the position I am now with the cast and crew of the Alhambra.

Tickets and Info: http://www.alhambrajax.com/show/come-blow-horn/

Playbill feature: http://www.playbill.com/article/booth-family-to-perform-together-for-alhambra-theatres-50th-anniversary

The Alhambra Theatre & Dining
presents

Come Blow Your Horn
by
Neil Simon

Directed
by
Tod Booth

with
Adam Kaster
Vincent Hannam
Tod Booth
Lisa Valdini
Jessica Booth
Abby Jaros

Neil Simon Theatre.jpg
The Neil Simon Theatre in NYC. Love this playwright! (Photo by Terrance Jackson)

A Tempest is A-Brewin’!

This summer I’ve been back in Maine at the Heartwood Regional Theater Company, rehearsing Shakespeare’s The Tempest. We open this Friday!

I get to play King Alonso of Naples of Milan, who with his nobleman, must battle storms, harpies and lingering melancholy while they search for Ferdinand – the young heir to the throne. Little does Alonso know that his old arch-rival, Prospero, is is full control of all these maladies.

The Tempest, 2016
Photo Credit: Jenny Mayher

Not only is the show truly delightful to be a part of – with all it’s heartbreak, love and fantasy – but it’s just great being back in Damariscotta so soon after Our Town! Griff Braley is directing again and this time the cast features so many old and dear faces: Diana Jurand, Jay Pastucha, Deirdre Manning, Jason Osorio and Patrick Sylvester! I wonder if so many UCF alums have ever been in a show together after college? Of course the cast is more stacked than that with Helena Farhi, Steve Shema, Steven Czajkowski, Jahmeel Powers and Sebastian LaPointe.

So here we are about to tell this magical story, the last of old Billy Shakes, while the sea beats on not eight miles from here, against the timeless rocks.

Clybourne Park

Happy Opening to the cast and crew of Clybourne Park at Yellow Tree Theatre!

Clybourne Park

This was an opportunity that came my way last summer in the midst of moving to Minneapolis and in the thick of Fringe and The Matchmaker (where I first worked with the wondrous Craig Johnson and Dan Hopman). I remember feeling like it was going to take a million years to get to February, but of course, the year went faster than I thought it would and here I am playing the role of “Kenneth”. I won’t say too much about the part, but it involves a very poignant scene in the play about a young man, a vet from Korea, who never got any breaks upon returning home and has run out of options.

The play itself is perfect in almost every way. I first read it in college when it was fresh off its 2011 Pulitzer Prize and 2012 Tony for Best Play and instantly falling in love with it. Then when I was in New York for the summer of 2012, I was able to catch the show on its original Broadway run (closing weekend no less!)

Clybourne-Park-Playbill-03-11Related to the events of A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park deftly navigates from sobering drama to gut-busting comedy quickly and un-apologetically.  It deals with race and gentrification in ways that leaves no one group spared from a not very PC joke, comment or observation. It is with little surprise then that I say this play is not for those without a sense of humor, but then again, it’s also for those who truly want to engage in a serous conversation about everyday race relations; not about riots and corrupt police, but about the way we handle ourselves in day-to-day interactions with those who are “different” from us. Indeed, these are very powerful subjects that are made easier to swallow by the comfort of laughter.

Clybourne Park runs now until March 6th and I would encourage anybody and everybody to see it! The already incredible script is made even stronger by the cast who never lets you go until the thrilling conclusion. Here’s some more specific info:

  • Directed by Craig Johnson and featuring Laura Esping, Patrick Coyle, Ashley Rose Montondo, Jason Peterson, Dan Hopman, Ricardo Beaird, Vincent Hannam and Joetta Wright.
  • 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Thu. Ends March 6.
  • Yellow Tree Threatre, 320 5th Av. SE., Osseo. $15-$25. 763-493-8733, yellowtreetheatre.com

Expedition: TERRA NOVA

“Message to the Public. The causes of the disaster are these.”

Terra Nova

So begins the play Terra Nova by Ted Tally, who actually took the ominous words from Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, whose expedition to the South Pole is actually what the play is based on.

That real-life adventure back in the winter of 1911-1912 concerned two famed explorers, the Englishman Scott and the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who raced each other to become the first men to the South Pole. Battling the brutal effects of the cold, exhaustion and starvation both teams managed to reach their destination with Amundsen the victor.

The South Pole
The Brits after having reached the Pole.

As legendary as this achievement is, however, it was the return back to the safety of base-camp that has grabbed a hold of imaginations ever since. Without spoiling the outcome (though I would argue a statute-of-limitations applies here), Terra Nova concerns itself with Scott’s British team. Though Amundsen appears quite frequently, it is more as a manifestation of Scott’s subconscious. Yes, the play powerfully depicts the grueling ordeal of these men, but that is played out against real psychological problems.

Indeed, I would describe this play as a psychological drama – an exploration into the natures and psyches of men willing to risk their lives for something so much bigger than themselves. Knowing, too, that Ted Tally happened to be the screenwriter behind The Silence of the Lambs, then this makes a huge amount of sense.

henry_bowersSo that’s the world of the play that I will be bringing to life this January with Hero Now Theatre. I will be playing the role of Henry Bowers, whose reputation was described as, “…cheerful, hopeful, and indomitable…”. In addition to such a riveting story, what it going to make this production so worthwhile is the unique way in which Hero Now Theatre is staging the play. Utilizing a giant tent (with some heating), the show invites the audience to see the play outdoors and asks you (and us actors) to immerse ourselves in the Antarctic landscape in which these men lived and worked.

I think it’s going to be nothing like anyone has ever experienced and I for one, am thrilled to be a part of it. Not to mention there will be warm libations available during intermission. So if you are “hero enough” to come on board, know that you may be a little cold but hardly disappointed as you watch the story of these indomitable humans materialize in front of your eyes.

Performance Dates are:

  • January 14, 15, 16, 2016, 7 p.m.
  • January 17, 2016, 4 p.m.

The location is:
Central Park, Saint Anthony Village, 3301 Silver Lake Road NE, Saint Anthony MN 55418

Featuring:
Peter Aitchison
Anna Olson
Peter Colburn
Corey DiNardo
Vincent Hannam
Aaron Ruder
Brian Coffin

For more info click here: http://heronowtheatre.org/terra-nova/

Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice

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Opening next month is a play I’ve been rehearsing for some weeks now called Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. Many of us know this avant-garde adaptation of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and rightly so. It is full on poetry-in-motion in the writing, characters and visuals called for. With that, you can also see why it’s a little hard to explain to mom and dad that I am playing a “Loud Stone” and that it’s actually a great character. All the parts are thanks to Ruhl’s tremendous ability to flesh out deep pathos with such bare minimalism.

Therefore, if you’ve got the weekend of December 2-5 (yes, one weekend only!) and wanna see something a little different from what you’re used to, swing on by the Southern Theater in Minneapolis!

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A-Stage presents Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis.

“I will always remember your melody! It will be imprinted on my heart like wax.” A re-imagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus, Eurydice tells the story from the perspective of his wife, Eurydice. After she dies on her wedding day, Eurydice arrives in the Underworld having lost the memories of her beloved, and of her life in the living world. Reuniting with her father, she struggles to remember and reconstruct the love she shared with Orpheus while rebuilding tender relationship she shared with her father. A haunting and beautiful love story, Eurydice explores what it means to experience loss, and considers love as a constant process of remembering.

Visit: www.astagempls.com

Performance Dates
December 2 | Preview Performance, 8:30pm
December 3, 4, 5 | 8:30pm

The Southern Theater
1420 South Washington Avenue
Minneapolis 55454

Tickets are $17 students//$20 adults
Purchase your tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2463797

Cast
Eurydice: Jayme Godding
Orpheus: Seth Kaltwasser
Father: Rob Thompson
Nasty Interesting Man/Child: Todd Hanson
Little Stone: Devin Hueffed
Big Stone: Rick Miller
Loud Stone: Vincent Hannam

Directed by: Rachel Brady
Music by: Jason Aylward
Set Design by: CC Keith
Lighting & Sound Design by: Christopher Gumpper
Costume Design by: Tamara Titsworth
Stage Managed by: Becca Charpentier