Backstage Blog

“The Whale Social Media Night” Top Tweets

Social Media Night allows audience members to  tweet during the performance. It’s an exciting way to share your thoughts on the show and get backstage information from cast and crew, live as it’s happening.  Check out below to see what Twitter loving audience and cast said about The Whale.  Don’t miss the next one on July 24 during Dogfight…it also happens to be combined with a pre-show Tequila Tasting event!

THE WHALE CAST TWEETS

Getting into character TweetElder Thomas before TweetElder Thomas after TweetPhil Johnson Tweet

SOCIAL MEDIA NIGHT FUN FACTS TWEETS

Shana Wride TweetThe Whale set TweetAbout Ellie TweetCygnet Elder Thomas TweetPadded suit TweetCharlie TweetThe Whale Stage Tweet

GIRLBOY PRE-SHOW CONCERT TWEETS

Most happening place TweetGirlBoy Tweet

 

Meet Charlie, Ellie, Liz, Elder Thomas, and Mary

We can all agree that the actor’s job is to bring a scripted character to life. To fully embody their role, they need to understand what makes that person tick.  We asked the actors of this smart and subversive drama to fill out a profile on their character, as well as for themselves. Let’s get to know them and see how it compares!

The Whale Charlie character profile

Charlie

Character Name: Charlie
Age: 47
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: Online English Teacher/ Tutor
Hobbies: Eating, working, eating, reading
Favorite Saying: “I’m Sorry”
Greatest Fear: Having not done a single thing right in his life

Andrew Oswald head-shot

Andrew Oswald

Actor Name: Andrew Oswald
Age: Come on, you never ask an actor their age
Hometown: Palos Verdes, CA
Occupation: Actor/ Director
Hobbies: Painting, drawing, gardening
Favorite Saying: “Seriously?”
Greatest Fear: Drowning

Ellie

Ellie

Character Name: Ellie
Age: 17
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: High School Student
Hobbies: Hate blogging, getting high, playing hooky
Favorite Saying: Sayings are for idiots
Greatest Fear: None of your f**king business

Erin McIntosh

Erin McIntosh

Actor Name: Erin McIntosh
Age: –
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: Actress
Hobbies: Reading poetry, laughing
Favorite Saying: “Think less, swim more.”
Greatest Fear: …I’m not actually sure

 

Liz

Liz

Character Name: Liz
Age: –
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: Postoperative Nurse at Gritman Medical Center
Hobbies: Playing Lotto Heaven and Angry Birds Epic on my Blackberry
Favorite Saying: “Everyone is bald underneath their hair.”

Judy Bauerlein

Judy Bauerlein

Actor Name: Judy Bauerlein
Age: –
Hometown: Ambler, PA
Occupation: Associate Professor of Theatre at CSUSM/Theatre Maker
Hobbies: All things 6 year old (Pokemon, Minecraft, Nerf, etc.)
Favorite Saying: “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” -Pema Chodron

Elder Thomas

Elder Thomas

Character Name: Elder Thomas
Age: 19
Hometown: Waterloo, IA
Occupation: Missionary
Hobbies: Spending time w/family & friends, community service, reading the Good Word!
Favorite Saying: “If you want to give light to others, you have to glow yourself.”
Greatest Fear: Failure

Craig Jorczak

Craig Jorczak

Actor Name: Craig Jorczak
Age: Not 19!
Hometown: Houston, TX
Occupation: Actor right now!
Hobbies: Going to the movies, visiting baseball stadiums (been to 29 out of 30!), general malaise
Favorite Saying: “Congratulations!”
Greatest Fear: Failure (I knew Elder and I had something in common!)

Mary

Mary

Character Name: Mary
Age: 42
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: Unemployed, single mother of Satan incarnate
Hobbies: Drinking, smoking
Favorite Saying: “Shut up, Ellie!”
Greatest Fear: Ellie and prohibition

Melissa Fernandes

Melissa Fernandes

Actor Name: Melissa Fernandes
Age: of a certain…..
Hometown: Carson City, NV
Occupation: Actor by night/ Recruiter by day- like Batman but without the gadgets
Hobbies: TV & movie addict, reading, music
Favorite Saying: “Go to bed!”  Oh wait, you said favorite, not the one I say the most. I’ll get back to you on that one.
Greatest Fear: Being alone and spiders. Being alone with spiders.

Catch The Whale now through June 14th!  Click here to buy tickets. 

Diving Beneath the Surface with Playwright Samuel D. Hunter

Samuel D. Hunter

Samuel D. Hunter

Cygnet Theatre literally ends Season 12 in a BIG way with the San Diego premiere of The Whale. Emerging playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s (The Few) big hearted and humorously touching play features a six hundred pound recluse whose issues from his past have brought him to a crisis in the present. This smart and subversive tale features sharp, provocative language and finds heart in challenging situations.  We had a chance to chat with Sam Hunter, one of the nation’s hottest new playwrights, about the play he thought no one would want to produce and his need to write “better.”

Have you had a chance to see any regional theatre productions of this show? What are your impressions?

I actually worked on the first four productions of the play, and it premiered regionally (at the Denver Center) before it came to New York.  So I saw it in Denver, Chicago, and Los Angeles.  It’s been amazing to me that this play has had the life that it’s had, when I first wrote it I remember thinking that no one would produce it at all.  The fact that it’s become my most produced play is astonishing to me.  I think the thing that’s been common to all the productions I’ve seen is probably something that’s true of all of my plays, that any value you get from it is the result of coming to the theater with an open mind and an open heart.  The play is very naked in a certain way. It’s not sexy or full of plot twists or stylistic gestures.  It’s really just about this man and the people surrounding him during the last days of his life in this unremarkable little one-bedroom apartment.

What are you working on these days?

I’m working on these two plays that are loosely interconnected, LEWISTON and CLARKSTON.  They’re set to premiere next season in two different theaters, and my thought is maybe someday a theater would be willing to do them both together, either in a single evening, or in rep.  I’m also working on a first draft of a new play tentatively called THE HARVEST about a group of young missionaries preparing to go on a mission in the Middle East.

You were one of the 2014 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant Award Winners, recognizing “exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future” and comes with an unrestricted stipend of $625,000.  How has your life and work been affected by the “genius” thing?

Ha, well, that sort of remains to be seen I guess.  I mean financially it’s just sort of hugely liberating, so much of being an artist up to this point for me was balancing my art with my economy, figuring out how to delicately monetize something without compromising it at all.  But now, at least for the next five years, I don’t have to think like that anymore.  And like many artists I imagine, I’ve dealt with a lot of self-doubt over the years, so something like this makes you think, “well maybe I’m not a total fraud…”

The other part, though, is suddenly you feel this different kind of pressure replacing the financial one.  I feel like I need to live up to something, what I’m not entirely sure. But, I will say that I feel the need to write better.  I need to really push myself to at least try to live up to this impossible expectation.

thewhale_email_cast_r Obviously, the play addresses challenging themes. How do you describe it? Have you heard a tagline you think really captures the show?

I mean when I sit down to write a play I’m never thinking about marketing, so it’s always interesting to discover later on what particular challenges a play presents.  I mean for my own part I don’t really think of the play as particularly challenging–essentially it’s just the simple story of a man trying to reconnect with a daughter.  It’s about a man who has an undying faith in his daughter’s capacity for empathy, and he has to reach her before his time runs out.

What would you want audiences to know about the show?

The only thing I’d say is that this is not a play about obesity.

San Diego audiences may be familiar with your work from the Old Globe production of  The Few. Were you here for that run? If so, what were some of your favorite things about San Diego?

I was!  I spent a good four weeks out there, the entire rehearsal process.  I had a great time.  Going to work every day in Balboa Park was a real gift.  So much good food, and I’m a big craft beer fan so it was great to visit some breweries.  And going to the beach on our days off in Coronado was pretty amazing.

The Whale begins previews on May 14. It opens on May 23 and runs through June 14. Buy your tickets today!

My Fair Lady: The Myth, The Play, The Musical (Part 1)

Part One:The Myth

In this three part series, our resident dramaturge Taylor Wycoff, walks us through the history of how My Fair Lady came to be. Before it became one of the most popular musicals of the century, it was a play.  And before it was a play, it was a myth…

As a dramaturge, when you’re tasked with a beloved classic like My Fair Lady, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details. Things like Covent Garden in early 20th century London, or English currency PRE-decimalization. But one thing I found absolutely delightful about working on this show was revisiting its roots. It’s common knowledge that the critically acclaimed musical is based on George Bernard Shaw’s famous play-turned-Academy-Award-winning movie, Pygmalion. What’s lesser known is that the roots of Shaw’s play actually date all the way back to ancient Greece with the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea.

Étienne Maurice Falconet: Pygmalion et Galatée

Étienne Maurice Falconet: Pygmalion et Galatée

So who was Pygmalion? And how did his story end up inspiring such a female-centric narrative? He is most familiar from Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses as the legendary sculptor from Cyprus (Pygmalion is the Greek version of the Phoenician royal name Pumayyaton), who fell in love with a statue he carved. As the story goes, Pygmalion was so sick of the imperfections of women that he sculpted the perfect woman out of ivory and fell in love with her. At the festival of Aphrodite, when it came time to play his part in the processional, Pygmalion stood before the altar and timidly said, “Ye If you gods can give all things, may I have as my wife, I pray”- he dared not say “the ivory maiden,” but said instead-“one like the ivory maiden.” Aphrodite, who was present at the festival, heard him and knew the thought he would have uttered.

Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786

Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786

Showing her favor, she caused the altar’s flame to flare up three times, shooting a long flame of fire into the still air. After the day’s festivities, when Pygmalion returned home and kissed his Galatea, as was his custom, he was startled by the warmth of her kiss, for Aphrodite had answered his prayers. Aphrodite further blessed the happiness and union of this couple with a child. Pygmalion and Galatea named the child Paphos, for which the city is still known until this day.

Check back next week to learn about George Bernard Shaw and how he adapted this myth into the more well known play of the same title!

A Marriage Made in Theatre Heaven

At Cygnet Theatre, we like to think of ourselves as one big happy family, but two of our My Fair Lady cast members took it a bit more seriously! Featured in multiple roles in the show are married couple Bryan Banville (Assassins) and Katie Whalley Banville (Company, Man of La Mancha). This is not the first time a married couple has taken the stage. The Norman Conquests featured Sandy & Danny Campbell, Bed and Sofa featured Lance Arthur Smith & Colleen Kollar Smith and Assassins included Manny & Melissa Fernandes.

We love Bryan and Katie’s “meet cute” theatre love story and wanted to share it – including the roles fellow cast members Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby played in their romance. A little late for Valentines Day, but very romantic nonetheless! Bryan tells us the tale….

How did you two meet?

I saw Katie in ion theatre’s production of Gypsy. In awe of her performance – and her legs – I asked Ralph Johnson, who was also in the production with her, and Justin Tuazon-Martin, who was in Cygnet’s production of Man of La Mancha with Katie and I, to be introduced. Ralph gave Katie my information, and we connected MONTHS later – due to my shyness – and finally had our first date where I showed up 45 minutes early and waited at the restaurant while Katie showed up 30 minutes early and waited in her car. Although it took a while for the second date to happen, delayed by car troubles, injuries, and plain old scheduling, we both showed up to our second date in the same, identical rental car… And the rest is theatre history.

Katie and Byran backstage in Man of La Mancha

Katie and Byran backstage in Man of La Mancha

 

When and where did you get married?

We were married at the beautiful and historical Lafayette Hotel in 2014. We had an amazing celebration marked with the love and support of our family, friends, and the wonderful members of the San Diego theater community. Sunny Haines (who often works backstage as a dresser at Cygnet) was our wedding planner, Kurt Norby provided all the music, David Brannen (choreographer of My Fair Lady) choreographed our first dance, Jen Wheeler-Khan (Stage Manager at the Playhouse and Old Globe) provided the wonderful decorations, Linda Libby read a beautiful passage during the ceremony, and the wonderful Ralph Johnson got ordained and married us!

The wedding ceremony performed by friend and Cygnet artist Ralph Johnson

The wedding ceremony performed by friend and Cygnet artist Ralph Johnson

What happens when two talented performers get married and share a first dance? Take a look here.

How many times have you worked together?

My Fair Lady will be our 7th production together since we met! Our first production as a couple was at Cygnet when we did Man of La Mancha together. We went on to perform in Mixtape for Lamb’s Players Theatre where we got to go to the 80’s prom every night together. Since we have been married we have done a total of 5 shows including My Fair Lady. Right after our wedding we started rehearsals for Passion at ion theatre and then spent the summer at Moonlight Theatre in Vista performing in Spamalot, Mary Poppins, and Catch Me If You Can - the last two, we got to be dance partners which was super fun!

Share your dream roles as a couple.

View More: http://brookealiceon.pass.us/bkwedding

The Newlyweds

This is an interesting question! We have discussed this a few times and have included some of them below:

1.) Jamie & Kathy in The Last Five Years. The music is so beautiful, and the story would be so challenging to tackle as a married couple!

2.) Millie & Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Wonderful show, and fun roles for us to play on our strengths!

3.) Baker & Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods. This would be for when we are a bit older, but it would be an absolute pleasure getting to dive into two characters that reflect our personalities so well!

4.) Edward & Sandra Bloom in Big Fish. Again this would be for when we are older, but it’s one of the most real and loving stories to be told about a couple, and the music is GREAT!

Catch them now through April 26th in My Fair Lady at Cygnet Theatre!

Katie, Bryan, and the cast of My Fair Lady, including Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby.

Katie, Bryan, and the cast of My Fair Lady, including Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby.

Virtual Peek Backstage @ Social Media Night

This January we held one of our traditional Cygneture events at the theatre for our patrons, bloggers, Twitter fans, and media. During a fun and engaging night at Sons of the Prophet, our staff, cast, and crew participated in live tweeting and provided some behind-the-scenes facts about the show as it progressed through the night.

Check out these fun facts and recaps from the night
and join us for the next one!

  1. As we were assembling the deer decoy, the office dog, Uli, wasn’t sure what to make of it.  At least we made the playwright, Stephen Karam, laugh.

Deer and Dog

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 1.49.15 PM

Assembling our final cast member, the deer decoy.

2. The actors took some awesome backstage photos. Dylan, who plays Charles, also participated in the first Social Media Night for  Spring Awakening. Do you see a pattern with Dylan?

Dylan&Dylan

  1. Close to home: The voiceovers in the show were actor Faeren Adams (Ensemble), who voiced the automated phone message at the bus station, and the sound designer’s mother, who is an actual nurse, voicing the overhead paging system in the hospital waiting room scene.

Photo by Daren Scott

  1. The image of St. Rafqa in the upstairs bedroom is a religious icon from the Maronite Oder of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lebanon.
_mg_3141 copy

Dylan Mulvaney, as Charles, with the image of St. Rafqa. Photo by Daren Scott

  1. Our Costume Designer (and also our Development Director) Veronica Murphy scored some lucky finds. One of the hardest things to locate in San Diego is a big bulky coat (since 60 degrees is near-freezing).  She searched everywhere for a coat for Gloria, played by Maggie Carney, with no luck. We got a last minute donation and it fit her perfectly!
_mg_3397 copy

Featured in this picture from left to right is Maggie Carney, Alex Hoeffler, Dylan Mulvaney, and Navarre Perry. Photo by Daren Scott

  1. In the last scene, Joseph is wearing a Nazareth Cross Country t-shirt, which was his high school team. It was given to us for free by the actual Nazareth High School Athletic Department in Pennsylvania.Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 3.13.25 PM
  2. Joseph’s character, Sons of the Prophet’s playwright Stephen Karam, grew up in Scranton, PA. and ran cross-country. He also lived down the street from an actual Douaihy family.

Alex and Stephen

  1. Double throwback fact: Two young Cygnet actors are currently playing Charles in different productions of Sons of the Prophet.  Dylan Mulvaney, who plays Charles at Cygnet, was last seen here at the theatre in Spring Awakening as Ernst. Braxton Molinaro was last seen at Cygnet Theatre in Assassins as John Wilkes Booth. He is currently playing Charles in a production at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood, CA.
Dylan_Braxton comparison photo

Dylan Mulvaney (left) with fellow actor Jacob Caltrider. Braxton Molinaro (center) with the cast of Assassins.

Join us for the next Social Media Nights for My Fair Lady (March 13) and The Whale (May 22).  You never know what you might learn about the show and its cast!

Behind-the-Scenes of A Christmas Carol

For every production at Cygnet Theatre, we hold special Designer Forums that take our patrons behind-the-scenes with the creative team.  Listen to the director of each show talk about how they prepare for a show, and get a glimpse into the process of set design, costumes, sound, & lighting.  Check out our latest forum for A Christmas Carol.

Want to attend the next one?  Make sure you’re on our e-blast list to get invitations and reminders.

Director’s Insight: 

Creating the Characters: Costumes & Wigs

The Stage: Set Design

Creative Puppetry

The Magic of Mixing Live & Recorded Sound Effects

Christmas Past and Present with Maggie Carney

It’s the time of year when Cygnet Theatre delights you with the timeless story of A Christmas Carol. We sat down with the some of the cast to find out what Christmas means to them.  Resident actor Maggie Carney shared with us her favorite holiday memories, past and present, in San Diego and in her hometown of East Troy, Wisconsin. 

Tell us about one of your favorite childhood holiday memories… 

Maggie (left) and her sister Kate playing in the snow behind their house in Milwaukee, WI in 1966.

I loved singing in the choir at Midnight Mass at St.Peter’s Church in East Troy, Wisconsin with my sisters, Kate and Aileen. We sang every year from about ages 8 to 12 (we are all a year apart in age). We would have to take a nap in the afternoon to make it through the program, which started at 10:30 pm and went to 1:00 am.  When we got home we were allowed to pick ONE present from under the tree to open. We also got to drink hot chocolate and eat christmas cookies…at one in the morning! A good family memory, indeed.

Maggie's father tossing her in the snow

Maggie’s father tossing her in the snow

How do you celebrate the holidays here in San Diego?

My husband Joe and I sleep in on Christmas morning. When Christmas Carols are blaring, we open gifts, drink coffee and eat pain au chocolat in our pjs, while our pup Grady opens his presents. The day is all about relaxation: calling parents, sisters and brothers, watching movies, reading books received for Christmas in front of the fireplace, baking a chicken, going for a walk in the ‘hood…just sharing the day together.

What is your favorite holiday show or movie?

My favorite holiday show is A Christmas Carol (1972 TV Special) featuring Richard Williams and Chuck Jones. I remember seeing it when I was little and being so scared!

See A Christmas Carol now through December 28. Purchase tickets at http://www.cygnettheatre.com/tickets/buynow.php

 

Behind the Scenes of TRUE WEST

We asked director Sean Murray how he and his team created some of the theater magic audiences and critics have been raving about on the set of True West by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Sam Shepard.

Q. The set really gets trashed after True West. Tell us about some of the props and how long it takes to put back together.

TrueWest-495Sean: Kudos go to our awesome stage crew. Jen Kozumplik and Trevor Frank take about an hour to clean it up and it’s especially daunting when we have a second show the same day.

While we’re on props, people have been asking why we chose Miller Lite.  Miller Lite did a reissue of their 1981 label for a retro marketing effort. We are using this period label and are recreating the paper carriers. Assistant Scenic Designer Chad Dellinger created the look of the packaging of the carrier from photos of vintage boxes and we glue the print outs onto regular carriers.

TrueWest-247

And of course, the toasters. I believe it’s about sixteen. And we destroy about a typewriter a week.                                                                                Q. We love the moody projections in True West. Tell us about your inspiration and process for creating those backdrops.

Sean: The images in True West are of various shots of LA. They all have tall rows of palm trees in the foregrounds. I began to see these tall trunks as suggestive of some kind of barrier that separated the brothers from the mountains and foothills in the distance. The desert and the foothills are a looming presence in the show, a place where man is more in touch with his more primal self, where the answers to unformed questions lie.

TrueWest-018

The characters in True West have a desire to reconnect with the desert that reflects their need to reconnect with what is true and authentic in themselves. There is also the opportunity to reconnect with the Old Man out there, their father, even if it’s only symbolic. The slides all try to convey a disorienting view of the suburban world that is LA and how disconnected it all is to the nature that surrounds it. Mountains obscured by smog, freeways that seem endless, rivers paved over by concrete, these are all the elements of a broken world of false promises and cracked dreams. People scurry about in these environments endlessly pursuing success and purpose, and in Shepard’s world, they are as disconnected as the ‘city coyotes’ that howl and prowl in the neighborhoods killing pets.

TrueWest-235

See True West in rep with Fool for Love at Cygnet Theatre.  Now showing through November 2nd.  Purchase tickets at http://www.cygnettheatre.com/tickets/buynow.php . Also make sure to visit rosettastone.com for promo codes and free coupons.

 

 

 

Sitting down with the Director

Artistic Director Sean Murray shares his thoughts on our upcoming Sam Shepard shows – Fool for Love & True West

Cygnet is continuing it’s tradition of plays performed in rotating repertory.  What’s different about this rep? 

This season we are focusing exclusively on the work of a single playwright. Each play stands on its own and you don’t need to see one to appreciate the other. However, when you are able to experience these two different plays side-by-side, one begins to recognize common themes between them.  Both plays explore a crisis of identity and betrayal. Characters in both shows experience an existential soul searching and a feeling that their lives are inauthentic. They also are pretty funny people as they grapple with essential issues such as disconnection, empty searching and a deep sense of betrayal.

Sean Murray directs Fool for Love

Sean Murray directs Fool for Love

When did you first become aware of Sam Shepard’s work?

I first became aware of Shepard’s work in the early 80s when I worked as an actor for the San Diego Repertory Theatre. At an early age, I was cast as Crow, the punk-rock-pirate from The Tooth of Crime. I worked there when they presented the San Diego premieres of True West and Fool for Love, again in the early 80s. Additionally, while I was in school at the North Carolina School of the Arts, I played Weston in Curse of the Starving Class, a show I later produced at Cygnet Theatre.

What are the challenges you face when staging True West?

Biting keys FFL

The set of True West

On a purely technical level, the script has the two brothers literally destroy the suburban kitchen that is the set. We have fifteen toasters, that all have to make real toast, a typewriter that is literally pounded into pulp by a golf club wielding character, the contents of kitchen cabinets thrown across the floor, a wall-phone that become a weapon after it is torn from the wall! The actual aftermath of all of this chaos has to be carefully considered.

The acting challenges are also vast. Each character goes on an existential journey from the quiet, tension-filled first scene to the all out chaotic war of the final scene. Pacing this progression is important. Finding the way into the levels of envy, threat and betrayal that these characters must portray is a frightening and exciting process for the actors.

May Eddie FFL

May and Eddie – Fool for Love

Fool for Love is both arduous and physically challenging. What’s your take on this play?

The biggest challenge we’ve experienced in getting into the depths of Fool for Love has been in determining what is true and what isn’t. The characters accuse each other of lying throughout the play. There is a layering in this play that conceals the actual truth that they are running from. Like Austin in True West, May is attempting to recreate herself anew. She is trying to escape what she was and forge a new self. The sudden reappearance of Eddie, like the reappearance of Lee in True West, forces a confrontation between one who wants to hold the other to who they have been, and the other who is trying to break with their past. As we explore what is actually happening between these characters, and we continue to raise their stakes in the play, that informs the level and veracity of the physical actions.

Can you share some of your thoughts about deciding to take on these plays? 

These two particular plays are rooted in a sort of realism. I say “sort of” because on the surface they take place in a kitchen or a motel. There are real props, etc. The character dialogue sounds like a realistic conversation on the surface. However, there is a very strong poetic quality to the language and imagery. Finding actors who can develop these characters to the marrow and handle the heightened poetic language is not always easy. In addition, when you are trying to cast actors who have to also be ‘right’ for not just one role but two different roles, this adds a new challenge.

Don’t miss Fool for Love and True West Sept. 24 – Nov.2.  

Buy your tickets now!