Wrapped my first full stage acting gig in ages just last night. I did a staged reading a couple months ago, and had a brief walk-on role in Richmond a few years back, plus a couple other events (like a stadium demo in DC with Robb Hunter), but really I haven’t done much by way of stage acting in the better part of a decade now. I was recruited into the Snowy Range Summer Theatre for two of the three shows they have this year, On Golden Pond, which just wrapped, and Mad Gravity, the third show that will close the season. It’s a semi-pro setup (a few equity contracts available) with a very accelerated rehearsal schedule – I think we had a week and a day to put up On Golden Pond, although the stars, Pete and Lynn Simpson, started earlier. They’re akin to Wyoming royalty, and it’s rare to find anyone who’s been doing theatre in Wyoming who doesn’t know them and/or their family. It was great working with them both, as well as getting to meet some of their clan who came to support them. They’re both past the age of their characters, in a play about getting old, and their ability to tackle those roles was impressive. The local public radio station did a nice piece on it a couple weeks ago, as we were rehearsing. We did get one review, in the student paper – actually a rarity in these parts, due largely I think to the typical one-week runs of shows – but frankly I think the writer (a student of mine and actor in my show last Fall) missed the point about a few things, including Norman’s character (who’s supposed to be a morbid, grumpy old man who’s hard to get along with – that’s the whole point), the what might be politely called ‘simple’ character of Charlie (who’s laugh, even at his own jokes, is also a plot point in the script), the pace of life of an older couple in their summer home, and the logistics of scene-change costume changes for someone born in 1930. There may also have been some bias in his comparisons, since his younger brother played the child (another role whose execution he objected to) in the Cheyenne production he mentions (which must have been cut, to be 90 minutes). To be fair though, we did have some technical issues the night he came. Regardless, I had fun losing the verbal sparring match every night with Pete as the curmudgeonly Norman, and also getting to know some of my peers in a different capacity; the cast also included one of our regular affiliate faculty and the music professor who directed Candide this Spring (for which I came in briefly to choreograph the fights), and the director was our regular costume designer. The crew for the season is a mix of students and recent graduates and a few outside hires, as well as our regular shop foreman and others.
A couple shots from backstage, while waiting to use my cellphone to call the cabin in the last scene.
The High School Institute also started up last week, so I’ve been giving a dozen rising Juniors a crash course in stage combat and to some degree acting. Turns out Pete Simpson Sr. was involved in the creation of that program, and his son (Pete Simpson Jr., a UWYO graduate and professional actor) was in the first class. I’ll have them for the next two weeks, about eight hours a week. Then as soon as that’s done we dive into Mad Gravity rehearsals, where I’ve got a larger role and will also be choreographing a few fights.
Actually had a nice burst of rental business this month, which puts me back in the black despite picking up a few new toys for the inventory. Somewhere in here I’m hoping to sneak in some re-organizing of the props storage space, as well as some other projects around the house. We’ll see how it goes, but if anyone is interested in converting old university surplus file cabinets into blank gun storage, I can probably share what I end up doing. The university props storage will be changing locations this summer or fall as well, so maybe I can try out a few ideas for them.
As a final shout-out; 21 hours to go on a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign for a blu-ray release of one of the first features I ever worked on, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. After their struggles with the initial distributor, I’m glad the good folks at Dead Gentlemen were able to get the rights back and start recouping some of their investment. I’m equally glad that their struggles with it didn’t prevent them from doing a number of awesome projects in the meantime, including the GAM3RS: Hands of Fate, JourneyQuest, and a number of other projects that were equally good but where I didn’t get to come and play with them. ;)