Tag Archives: plays

Return of Frankenstein!

Speaking of work that gets seen by hundreds upon hundreds of people (assuming you’ve read my previous post), my touring stage adaptation of Frankenstein is once again on the road for the Hampstead Stage Company.

Frankenstein2017-1.jpgAs you remember from last year, I was charged to write this play by my bestie Jay Pastucha (Artistic Director) as they were trying to integrate more material for high schools/ young adults. The feedback was really great and with that jolt of confident (and a bigger budget), Jay and I were inspired to revamp the script and add… wait for it… a third character! And what’s more, cast a woman! What an insane concept, right? 

Jokes aside, we found that to tell a one-act version of Frankenstein with two people, for children, was a little restricting in our own creativity. We resolved, therefore, to actually write in the character of Elizabeth, rather than have her represented by hard-to-hear voice overs. To use a monster metaphor, there is just so much more meat on the bones, with characters, intentions and scenes fleshed out to a point that I can comfortably be proud of as a playwright.

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Last year’s Frankenstein. Hampstead Stage Company. Directed by Austen Edwards with Robert Wright III and Patrick Sylvester.

Currently the show is being toured throughout New England and the Midwest, but not just to schools. Hampstead Stage is great in that they are willing to perform for anyone anywhere. Productions that I’m excited about were staged at the Heartwood Regional Theatre Company in Newcastle, Maine and FrankenFest in Indianapolis.

Praise to Jay and managing director, Anna Lynn Robbins, for believing in the show enough to take a risk on improving the show. In a world controlled by bottom lines, it is a beautiful thing to make art for art’s sake on such a scale. So if you’re looking for a short yet explosive adaptation of Frankenstein, let me know! I don’t know if it will hit the road again next year on tour, but it won’t be the last you’ll see of Victor and the Monster (oh, and Liz now too). 

Mae-Clarke-and-Boris-Karloff-in-Frankenstein
I’m afraid Elizabeth just can’t catch a break.

 

 

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Headed back to Almost, Maine

Almost is a town in northern Maine that most people haven’t heard of. I mean, it’s way north – hundreds of miles from any major point of civilization, where the moose and lonely-hearts roam. What the heck am I going there for? What the heck am I going back there for?

Well, because Almost doesn’t exist.

Wait. No. It does exist, but – oh, gosh…. lemme explain.

Almost, Maine is really Almost, Maine – a play by John Cariani. There, does that make more sense? I hope so, unless you don’t know what a play is and if that’s the case…

OK, so Almost, Maine is one of those whimsical, charming little gems of the theatre that is so popular that this is actually the third time I have performed in the piece. Not surprisingly, I’m even playing the same character as before. No other play holds such a distinction on my resume and when I heard the Paul Bunyan Playhouse was seeking actors, I was eager to go back.

Cast of Almost, Maine
The cast of my second stab at the play, with the Lanesboro Community Theater, co-directed with Tod Petersen. 
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My first Almost, Maine was an independent student production at the University of Central Florida.

What makes this production so different from the others, however, is the fact that it will be present by a cast of four, playing all the various residents of the town: Here’s the official synopsis via Dramatists Play Service:

“On a cold, clear, moonless night in the middle of winter, all is not quite what it seems in the remote, mythical town of Almost, Maine. As the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky above, Almost’s residents find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways. Knees are bruised. Hearts are broken. But the bruises heal, and the hearts mend—almost—in this delightful midwinter night’s dream.”

Due to the nature of the show, the cast can include as many as a dozen actors or as few as four. That’s why this time is unique, because now I’ve got the chance to relish several more of Cariani’s delightfully flawed characters. Along with, of course, my fellow actors Diana Jurand, Carol Foose and Nic Delcambre who are a joy to run around on stage with.

Another real treat is the venue of the show itself. While the Paul Bunyan Playhouse is the producing company, the space is in the historic Chief Theatre in downtown Bemidji. Opening in 1933, it was a classic Art Deco movie house before 1992 when it was renovated to serve as the home of the Playhouse. As for Bemidji, well, how can I not love the fact that I get to spend my July with Paul and Babe. So if you happen to find yourself in northwest Minnesota this month, come by and check us out. The show is directed by Jim Williams and runs July 19th-23rd and 26th-29th.

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You wouldn’t have guessed it, but these two are a couple of serious theatre junkies.

 

 

 

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)

Feed My Frankenstein

Super duper uber excited to share with the world that the fundraising campaign for my play, Frankenstein, is… wait for it… alive!

Okay, just had to get the puns out of the way there before you think that this adaptation is anything close to cheesy or corny. We’ve all seen those movies and cheap Halloween costumes so why would I create something even close to that? This adaptation is as true to the original novel as I could make it, keeping in line with all the themes of mortality, religion and self-being. Only one act, the classic story is told with two actors, who along with the whole creative team, are dedicated to keeping everything as grounded as possible.

Frank 1 for paper

As the playwright, though, I have to give all the credit to the Hampstead Stage Company who commissioned the piece and is producing it as part of their Young Adult series this fall. With a focus on middle and high schools, the play will be toured throughout New England at a theatre near you.

My friends at Hampstead have been working tirelessly to get the project off the ground and now as we’re about to start production, we come to the final stage of preparedness; raising the last amount of funds we need! I can go on and on about how important I think the mission of Hampstead is but fortunately, the Artistic Director and Company Manager have made a hand-dandy video that explains everything so much better than me.

Please take a look and consider donating to a company who really takes advantage of theatre to affect the lives of both young and old. Let me know too, if you would like to know more about either Frankenstein or Hampstead as a whole, because there is so much to this company than my little old play.

 

Looking for Summer Fun….?

Funbags

Coming this summer to the Minnesota Fringe Festival will be the world premiere of my play, Looking for Fun(Bags), from Up Top Theatre Company!!!

Friends, it has been more than two years since I first cooked up the idea for this play while driving to a rehearsal one night at UCF. My bud, Bryant Hernandez, was in the car with me and we were running late and I posed the question, “What if we tried to reconnect with a past girlfriend but all we really wanted was to just fulfill a certain fantasy that we never got the chance to.”

After we laughed about it, I said, “You know.. there’s a play in there.” Then we laughed some more. While I admit the initial joke was shallow and immature, it did spark an idea about  something that would evolve heart and meaning, with characters I wanted to flesh out and make people care about. Yes, the play is definitely rated R, but my aim is to use that in order to showcase the real struggles we have with relationships and sex these days: The misconceptions, our preconceived notions, and all the false-expectations that are constantly dished out to us through too many sources.

Of course on the other hand, it is also a good old fashioned sex-comedy about four people who have no idea what they are doing and shenanigans ensue.

Therefore, despite the fervent profanity and frank talks of sex, I really think it has a little bit for everyone. Except maybe children. No, definitely not children.

Looking for Fun(Bags) has given me a real playwright’s experience; watching the play evolve, the characters grow, and ultimately being able to share the story with so many people. I remember in Orlando at UCF, we staged a reading of the play and I thought that was the tops. We had a great cast and crew, sound effects, and an audience that really enjoyed the evening. And man, I gotta admit I was a little nervous. What would people think? My reputation! Well, my worries were unfounded because people not only loved it, but gave me extraordinary feedback on how to fine-tune the piece even more.

Now the culmination of that process is the Minnesota Fringe Festival in a land far from Central Florida, but still full of friends and warm-hearted audiences. This play has only ever been possible with those key ingredients and I am forever thankful.

If you want to know even more about the show and would like to consider a financial contribution please click here!

What: Looking for Fun(Bags) by Vincent S. Hannam presented by Up Top Theatre

Where: The Ritz Theater at the Minnesota Fringe Festival

When: 

7/30/15 8:30 PM
8/2/15 2:30 PM
8/7/15 4:00 PM
8/8/15 5:30 PM
8/9/15 7:00 PM

With: Philip Muehe (Director), Sarah Wolf (Stage Manager), Vincent Hannam (Brandon), Alyssa Brooke (Shirley), Mike Swan (Bud), Diana Jurand (Jackie)

The Wealhouse Night of 10 Minute Plays

Saturday January 24th, the Commonweal Theatre will be presenting an evening of original ten minute plays written, directed, and acted by the in-house talent of the company. The idea was born out of the desire to flex other artistic muscles that we don’t necessarily get to work on as much as others.

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Hence the night, which will be a culmination of six hours of rehearsal (for each show) and a short tech spread over the course of the week. Included in the programming is my play, U.S. Grant and Lincoln Log, which I have also directed. The night also features I died and went to heaven… written and performed by Tod Petersen, Five Dollars by Tom Willoughby and directed by Bailey Otto, The Brothers Two by Gary Danciu and directed by David Hennessey, The Server by Scott Dixon and directed by Megan K. Pence, and Rage at the Light by Harold N. Cropp and directed by Ana Hagedorn.

It’s been a very rewarding week of work and I know we’re ready to get these little beauties up on their feet- for one night only!