Check it out! It’s my first guest blogger! Allow me to be a little self-indulgent for a moment and share a review of The Understudy, courtesy of my dear friend, Courtney Romano. True, it’s not exactly what you’d call an unbiased opinion; nonetheless, I thought it would be nice to share. And be sure to visit Courtney’s blog for some amazingly inspiring and articulate thoughts about life, wellness, and creativity.Now I pass you off to Court…
Two disclaimers first: I personally adore every person who worked on this show, and I don’t write reviews. So why should you even keep reading? Well, that’s a good question; I can’t answer that. But why should you have seen The Understudy at The Secret Theatre this past May? Those answers I got.
This team of artistic comrades poured themselves entirely through this play. Not into it. They passed through. Theresa Rebeck wrote this funny, accurate, heartbreaking, soulful, discouraging, uplifting piece of theatre. She distilled this daily battle we call “trying to be an actor” and crafted a living organism for the stage. Now, it could have been very easy to stage the simple ideas, the easy laughs, and the common sense relationships in a piece that’s already full. They could have capped off her words nicely with a kind performance. A polite, engaging, sincere performance.
Or they could meet it with their own fullness. And that’s what they did.
Actors Becca Schneider, Brian Byus, and Craig Hanson met the play with both sophisticated containment and fantastical carbonation. They took a painfully accurate portrayal of modern show business and allowed the structure of Rebeck’s words to be their edges. Their borders. Their landmarks. But then they lived. They allowed the truthiness of her words to inflict them. They opened their real world wounds and let the pretend world seep so deep.
Now listen, I know I’m biased. I told you earlier – I love everyone involved, and I don’t write reviews (I leave that to the pros). But I know what it’s like to be transformed from sitting in a dark room and watching people tell a story. From every angle – direction, design, crew, and company – everyone’s hearts were wrapped up in these words. Does loving the work that much always make good theatre? Not a chance. But when you pair that love with indisputably smart artists, you watch a transformation. They passed through the play, letting it marinate in their bones. They stepped into and out of Rebeck’s words, letting us get close enough to the play’s damage and relief so we felt like we were right next to them the whole time. They loved through the play, and so for a little under two hours, we too felt a whole lot of love.
I don’t know much about much, but this I know – The Understudy at The Secret Theatre told a story worth telling in a way worth telling it.
The Understudy Written by Theresa Rebeck, Directed by Jenn Haltman
The Secret Theatre Photo Credit: Jeff Schneider Photography Pictured: Craig Hanson
First, let me say: please excuse my absence these past couple of weeks. I have shows to share with you and drafts piling up, but we are very much closing in on the opening of The Understudy. Hence, my brain capacity is at its max. So allow me to stray from a typical review for the moment to simply say hello and share a few tidbits.
Have you seen the Annie trailer yet? There’s this one with song and dance and another one I saw in theatres that pretends it’s not a musical at all. You gotta admit – that’s smart marketing to get some other folks in the seats. What are your thoughts on the cast? Mainly Cameron Diaz and Electro? I’m trying not to have any pre-conceived notions. It’s coming out this Christmas along with Into the Woods. Much to discuss. We’ll check back in about the latter though once there’s a real trailer released.
Tony nominations were announced on April 29th, which means we are quickly approaching one of my favorite days of the year (aka Tony night). What did you think of the nominations? Any snubs that really bothered you? Poor Daniel Radcliffe; that’s three snubs for him now. I was particularly excited that Outside Mullingar got recognized, and all of the Twelfth Night nominations made me quite happy. I’m eager to see what happens with some of those intense competition categories.
I’m seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch on July 1st! Just a heads-up: it is POPULAR, and it’s only going to get crazier once it starts collecting Tony Awards on June 8th. So if you have any interest in seeing it and/or NPH, get your tickets now. When Matt and I went to the box office last week to buy ours, they were already sold out through the end of June.
Here are the reviews that will be coming your way soon: Murder for Two, Mothers and Sons, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and perhaps another Spotlight on TV!
And lastly, a brief moment of self-promotion if I may: The Understudy is one week away! Performances are at The Secret Theatre from Wed, May 28 through Sun, June 1. It was officially announced on Theatremania today! Get your tickets here, and enter the code KAFKA by this Friday at midnight for discounted tickets. I’m so excited about this production and incredibly proud of everything we have accomplished in such a short time. I love this play, and I think you will, too. Hope to see you there.
The Understudy Written by Theresa Rebeck, Directed by Jenn Haltman
The Secret Theatre, May 28 – June 1 Photo Credit: Jeff Schneider Photography Pictured: Brian Byus and Becca Schneider
Forgive me for a moment of self-promotion. As you know from an earlier post, I am producing and appearing in a production of The Understudy, a play by Theresa Rebeck. It will go up at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, Queens from May 28-June 1.
I am so incredibly excited about this project. Last week we launched our official fundraising campaign! We’ve already reached 40% of our goal, and this morning we added brand new Limited Edition Perks including jewelry, fragrances, financial consulting, a cooking class, and theatre tickets! Check it out on Indiegogo here.
So a couple of days ago, I got to have my first experience on a film set! Okay, so maybe it was just a few of us in a theatre with my dad’s video equipment, but it still was pretty darn legit if I do say so myself.
Want more details? Knew you would! Right now I’m working on a production of Theresa Rebeck’s The Understudy. I’m acting in it alongside two amazingly talented and hilarious friends of mine, Brian Byus and Craig Hanson. I’m also lead producer, and on Tuesday we got together to film the teaser for the show. The play goes up May 28 through June 1 at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, NY, but we’re starting to get the word out now because our fundraiser goes live in March!
With the help of my lovely parents, our director Jenn Haltman, and New York Theatre Workshop, we shot the video at the 4th Street Theatre downtown. And it was such a hoot. Here are some of the things I learned:
that I could make fake blood and pretend to be a make-up artist in order to ready Brian’s character Jake for his blockbuster action film
that one can hold up a shower curtain on a rod in front of work lights to create the right effect
that Craig doing bad performance art is one of the funniest things in the world
what B-roll is and why you need it
that Brian can run really fast down 4th street with a cab chasing him
that my dad’s love for the show 24 provides great inspiration for some classic action film shots
that rehearsals are going to be so much fun come April (but let’s be honest, I knew that already)
Now it’s on to editing and narrowing all this great footage down to just a few minutes. Finalized video coming soon!
Be sure to stay tuned for more info about The Understudy. And I just created our Twitter account @UnderstudyNYC, so follow us here!