I’ve been trying for a couple years now to get work in commercials, industrial films, and other local film and video projects. So far it’s been all auditions and no work, except for one photo shoot and some background work. Maybe things are turning around, though. This past Monday I had my first speaking part (one line!) in an industrial film – an educational video made by the Philadelphia Reserve Bank. And today I got a call-back for a commercial that shoots later this month. The start of a trend? I hope so!

 

I said I’d post more frequent updates, didn’t I? Well, at least this time only three months have passed since the last post, compared to six months the time before.

The Hovey Summer Shorts were great fun. I got the rare opportunity to do a dramatic (rather than comedic) piece as well as a comedy that gave me the opportunity to create some "bits" that weren’t in the script. (Unbeknownst to me, the writer of the comedy was in the audience for one of the performances. Fortunately, he liked the bits I added. Or at least he was polite enough to say so.)

I have a busy fall. Next up for me is She Loves Me at the Woodland Theatre Company, a show from the composer and lyricist who did Fiddler on the Roof and based on the same source material as You’ve Got Mail. I’m looking forward to reuniting with director Doug Hodge, who did such a great job with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum last year. She Loves Me has four performances over Columbus Day weekend. After that, I’ll be appearing in the Fiddlehead Theatre Company’s production of one of my favorite shows, The Pirates of Penzance. I was lucky enough to have seen the Broadway production of Pirates with Kevin Kline, Rex Smith, Linda Ronstadt, Estelle Parsons, George Rose, and Tony Azito and I’ve been in love with it ever since. As a sophomore in college, I played the Pirate King and stole as much from Kevin Kline’s performance as I could. In the Fiddlehead production I’ll be playing the Sergeant of Police, who sits out the first act but has two great numbers in the second. I’m looking forward to acting once again with my friend Maya Murphy, who I met doing FishNet-NetWorks.Net back in 2009.

I learned a lot from the reading of Right Ho, Jeeves in June. Most importantly, I learned that it was too long. Most of the material worked, but you can’t have a light British comedy of manners that runs over two hours. You just can’t. So I have to cut and cut and try it again. My cast and director were great and I hope to work with all of them again.

I’ve also made a big decision this summer: I’m going to quit my day job. I’ve been running my own information technology consulting company for the last 11+ years, and I’ve decided that it’s time for a change. I need to spend my time on more creative endeavors. I have a couple of ideas for what comes next that I’m not quite yet ready to share. Stay tuned!

 

Wow, over six months since my last entry. Whoops! It’s been an extremely busy time for me in all aspects of my professional and personal lives. Some of the highlights included:

  • A very successful run of Alarms and Excursions at the Hovey Players in Waltham last January.
  • An enormously successful run of Blackadder II:Live at Theater on Fire in Charlestown in April. I played five different characters in this recreation of six episodes of the British sitcom. It was the first time I show I was in got reviewed by the Boston Globe, and they even mentioned me by name (“very funny, despite dropping a few lines”). Well, that’s what you get when the reviewer comes on opening night.
  • An upcoming reading of my first evening-length play, Right Ho, Jeeves. It’s part of the Second Annual Three Rings Reading Series and will take place on June 3 at the Boston Center for the Arts in Boston’s South End.
  • Getting cast in two pieces that are part of the Summer Shorts festival, back at the Hovey Players in Waltham. The festival funs July 7 – 16.

I’ll try to be a good boy and post more frequent updates going forward.

 

I’ve been cast in Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions, to be produced by the Hovey Players in Waltham, Mass., from January 14-29, 2011. We’ve had one week of rehearsals so far and I think it’s going to be a fun show. When I was 15, I saw Frayn’s Noises Off in London’s West End and nearly fell out of my chair laughing. While Alarms and Excursions might not be quite up to that standard, it’s similarly full of quick-paced banter, physical comedy, and people making a cock-up of everything they touch. I’m in three of the seven short plays that make up the evening, and I get to do both British and German accents. Fun!

 

Tonight’s the dress rehearsal for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. It’s pretty amazing what we’ve been able to pull together in only a month with just 9 hours of rehearsal a week. Kudos to director Doug Hodge, who plots a sure course and runs a tight ship. I’ll miss the show when it’s done. All this running around on stage has been great exercise!

 

Auditioning for stage plays and auditioning for commercials are about as similar as teeing off with a driver and making a putt. And right now, I think my commercial audition skills might be even worse than my golf game.

I just finished a callback for a thirty-second commercial in which I was to play a football fan with a Boston accent. There were two characters with speaking lines in the commercial and they called us in three at a time. We rotated through the parts and sometimes did two takes, so I did the scene five or six times for a total of 2-3 minutes of on-camera time. In that short time span, I think I managed to make all of the following mistakes:

  • During the ad-lib before the lines started, I was in character but didn’t have a specific action in mind. As a result, I don’t think I did anything interesting or memorable.
  • When I delivered a line talking about the product, I don’t think I smiled. I might have come across as excited about the product, but not happy.
  • One one of the two takes when I had a line, I stumbled on a couple of words. They were small stumbles, but if you only have a couple dozen words to say, you probably ought to get them perfect.

I’m not quite sure how to improve my commercial auditioning skills. It’s a very challenging task. You often don’t get the lines until minutes before your slot, you generally have no opportunity to rehearse with the people you’re auditioning with, you never have the opportunity to rehearse with the people who are feeding you lines from off camera, and you rarely get feedback or a second chance.

Maybe one simply gets better with more experience. I hope so.

 

On August 1, I’m auditioning for Christopher Durang’s Durang Durang, to be produced by Bad Habit Productions this fall. Wish me luck.

 

I’m not supposed to blog about it, so all I can say is that I spent the day working as a background actor in a major motion picture that’s been shooting in and around Boston this summer. It was a lot of fun and it was terribly boring — but worth doing again!

 

I’ve been cast as Hysterium in Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Woodland Theatre Company in Sherborn, Mass. The show has only three performances, September 24 – 26. It’ll be my first musical since 1988. Hope I remember how to sing.

 

I did the StageSource audtions today. I played George, the lawyer, in Constance Congdon’s Losing Father’s Body, and Herbie, the father, in Donald Margulies’s The Loman Family Picnic. The audition has already led to one part, which is a good sign.

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