Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stephanie's Weekly Spotlight: On the Set of Circle Mirror Transformation

You still have four more chances to see Circle Mirror Transformation before we close our season on August 10th! If the charmingly humorous plot and appearances by guest artists aren't enough to convince you, perhaps the unique set design is.

Circle Mirror is performed in our studio theater, with a thrust seating arrangement. Such an intimate playing space can be both a blessing and a curse to directors and designers. How do you convey all that you want to with limited room?

"When set designer, Michaela Stein, and I first met in April, we decided that Circle Mirror Transformation takes place in a space designed and loved by Marty," says Director Virginia Smith of her collaboration with Stein. "Marty is the main teacher at the art center and she is committed to awakening the creative spirit of each person who enters her space. Because most of her students are children, we wanted to fill the space with art projects and supplies, bold colors, and an invitation to play. We wanted to make a safe space for these individuals to see themselves more clearly."

Circle Mirror stage
Special touches help to engage the audience, such as this community center bulletin board in the entrance way to the theater.

Fellow Assistant General Manager, Bryan Howard, and I channeled our inner child when we explored the set last week. 

You can join in on the fun here at Nebraska Rep by getting your tickets to one of these final Circle Mirror Transformation performances: 
July 30, 31 at 7:30pm
August 9 at 7:30pm
August 3 at 2:00pm

We'll see you there!

Virginia's Point of View: Welcomed Guests

Our Chicago company arrived on Friday morning and stayed until dinner time on Sunday. They came to see "the shows!" What dears! They bought two season tickets and gobbled up the season in one gulp; exactly as I had always hoped out-of-town folks would do.

They saw Circle Mirror Transformation on Friday night and were energized by the way Lauren (Kirstie Smith) blossomed from a closed teenager to an open and aware young adult. They loved the way the characters were revealed bit by bit. They were fascinated by Theresa (Melissa Lewis) and had numerous insights and questions that occupied more than one round of drinks at the Marz Bar.

On Saturday they visited Lincoln. She took a class at Lincoln Yoga and Doug took them to Pepe's for lunch. I was in a four hour rehearsal for Other Desert Cities. They saw Unnecessary Farce on Saturday night and came out of the show a little amazed by richness of the plot twists and funny bits. We sat at home and talked into the night.

Sunday we all slept in a little, but made it to the Old Cheney Market by 10 AM. What a great market! Had Kat's Beaver Tails and Veggie Quiche. Curtain at 2 PM for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. I went to see Mom, and Doug sat on the porch swing and dreamed. They were blown away by the show. We're all about the age of Vanya and acknowledge our love-hate relationship with modern technology and what all that entails. It's the fact of growing old and obsolete that really gets us though. He hugged me a long time. She said she had a lot of processing to do. Tears in all of our eyes. They were both moved by the play and encouraged by it. Time to grieve and time to look ahead. It's the transition where many of us find ourselves.

She sold a lucrative business recently and he retired as a psychologist several years ago. Two weeks ago they bought a home in Black Mountain, North Carolina and are wrapping up three decades in Chicago. Talk about transition. They came to see the shows because they are old friends who know how to honor transition. They came to see the last work I did as Artistic Director this decade and say, as each of the shows really does this season, "I see you." So many of you are saying the same things. Thanks, dear friends!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Feature Friday: Opening Night Fever Pt. 3

And with that, our entire season is open! On Wednesday night, the lobby became a crime scene for our opening night reception. The menu was composed of Eric's Cheesy Mozzarella Bites, Agent Frank's Mini Franks, Karen's "It's Getting Hot" Wings, Agent Dwyer's Donut Holes, and Mrs. Meekly's Sweet & Nutty Brownies. We certainly had fun with this one. Check out the pictures from opening night, and make sure you've got your tickets reserved for Unnecessary Farce--it's a riot!

Billie Dwyer's Donut Holes
Karen's "It's Getting Hot" Wings

We have so enjoyed having you at our opening night receptions this season. Thank you for attending. But, just because we've run out of receptions doesn't mean you've run out of chances to see our shows! There are still THREE show-packed weekends ahead. Do you have your tickets?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

NRT Excitement with Emma: Meet the Cast of Unnecessary Farce!

Our final show of the season, Unnecessary Farce, opened last night. You won't want to miss this hilarious farce with cops, crooks, and hijinks--oh my! Now let's meet the cast!

Joshua Waterstone (Eric Sheridan)
Joshua recently graduated from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film with a Masters of Fine Arts in Directing for Stage and Screen. He directed Middletown by Will Eno on the Howell Stage and the film Phoenix by Cory Soukup for his thesis productions. This is Joshua’s first season acting with Nebraska Repertory, but you may have seen him as Director of Audience Development and producer of Destinations in 2012 where he directed Ryan Kathman in One-Ham Manlet. This season Joshua will be directing a staged reading of Other Desert Cities with Destinations. Joshua has worked as an actor, director and teacher regionally with Great Plains Theatre Conference, Outpost 12 Studios (NE), PlayMakers Repertory, Carrboro Art Center (NC), The Alliance Theatre, Georgia Shakespeare, Push-Push Theatre, Georgia Ensemble, Serenbe Playhouse, Fly-By Theatre, O.T.C. Improv, and The Horizon Theatre (GA). Heartfelt thanks to Virginia Smith for the mentorship over the years, love always to Anya.

Katherine Nora LeRoy (Billie Dwyer)
Katherine hails from Pensacola, Florida and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you Virginia, Paul and Brad for another opportunity with the Nebraska Repertory Theatre. Some theatre credits: Good People, In the Next Room, You Can't Take it With You (BTE), The 13th of Paris, Amazing Grace (Horizon Theatre/Atlanta), The Ladies Man, Speech & Debate (Theatre in the Square), For Colored Girls, A Raisin in the Sun, The Colored Museum, Omnium Gatherum, Leading Ladies, and Pretty Fire. She earned her B.A. from FAMU and M.F.A. from U.N.L. ~Thanks to my family and friends for all the love and support. Special thanks to Tashiba, Carlos and Anges for being my biggest fans.

Lucy Myrtue (Karen Brown)
Lucy has recently received her B.A. as a graduate Performance Major from The Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. Her UNL credits include: the Widow in Taming of the Shrew, Joan in Joshua Waterstone’s production of Melancholy Play, Estela in Ian Borden’s production of Agravio, Helsa in The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, Lady Plymdale in Lady Windermere’s Fan, Sharla in Killer Joe, Virgil in The Inferno, Joan in Love Song, and Marianne in Tartuffe. Other credits within the community include: the Melodramas at Mahoney State Park and work with the Haymarket Theatre as the roles of Cynthia in The Maiden’s Prayer and Rosencrantz in Hamlet. Lucy is so thrilled to be playing Karen, as this is her first time performing with the Nebraska Repertory Theatre.

Jamie Ulmer (Agent Frank)
Jamie is excited to be making his Nebraska Repertory debut. Some of his previous productions in the area include Moonlight and Magnolias, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Foreigner, Moon Over Buffalo, and Crazy for You. Jamie is the Managing Artistic Director at Community Players in Beatrice and has directed over 95 productions including Les Misérables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Noises Off, Lend Me a Tenor, Proof, and Children of Eden. He is on the board of directors for several statewide arts organizations including Nebraska Association of Community Theatres and Nebraskans for the Arts.

Ian Borden (Todd)
Ian MacEachern Borden is glad to finally be able to fully embrace his Scottish heritage performing the role of Todd. Ian is an Assistant Professor with the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. Last year he directed The Tempest for Capitol Shakespeare in Bismarck, North Dakota, and adapted Ana Caro's Siglo de Oro play, Valor, Agravio, y Mujer as Agravio for the Carson School. Recent acting credits include The Three Musketeers for the Black Hills Playhouse, As You Like It for the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival, and Vino Veritas and Act a Lady for Nebraska Repertory Theatre. Fight Direction credits include Macbeth (an inspiration!) and Richard III for Pigeon Creek Shakespeare in Michigan, The Three Musketeers for the Carson School and the Black Hills Playhouse, Lord of the Flies for the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, and In My Daughter's Name for the Angels Theatre Company in Lincoln, Nebraska. Ian also founded the Lincoln Assassination Stage Combat Workshop, held annually at the Carson School. Finally, he would like to remind you that "if it's not Scottish, it's crap!"

David Landis (Mayor Meekly)
David is excited to be back on the Nebraska Rep stage! He is currently serving as the Director of Urban Development for the city of Lincoln. Before that, he was a Nebraska State Senator for 28 years. He lives in Lincoln with his lovely wife, Melody. Previous Nebraska Rep credits include Becky's New Car, M. Butterfly, Local Wonders, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. You may have seen him recently in Haymarket Theatre's production of Anne & Emmett as Otto Frank or in Flatwater Shakespeare's production of Cyrano de Bergerac as Count De Guiche. 

Carolyn Popp (Mary Meekly)
Carolyn is delighted to debut at Nebraska Rep in two great comedies. Recently she played Aunt Kate in The Cripple of Inishmaan at Centenary Stage, and the evil Queen in Cymbeline with Shakespeare in the Parking Lot - yes - an NYC parking lot. Carolyn participated as a voice of Gettysburg in the televised live stage celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg last summer. Other NYC credits include The Hired Man, Escape from Happiness, Fifth of July, Natural Affection, A Tale of Two Cities, The Seagull, and The Comedy of Errors. Regional credits include The Last Night of Ballyhoo, The Clean House, Our Town, 110 in the Shade, I Do! I Do!, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Miracle Worker, Broadway Bound, Harvey, Footloose, Cabaret, Defiance, An Inspector Calls, A Wonderful Life, Funny Girl, Carousel. You may also recall Carolyn as Stephen Colbert’s unsuspecting wife Claire Noblet in Comedy Central’s Strangers with Candy. Many thanks to a great company of actors, crew and creative team, and to my dear actor/husband David Sitler who makes our life on the road feel like home.

Unnecessary Farce opened last night, Wednesday, July 23! Tickets are $25 for adults, $12 for students, $22 for seniors. Call the Lied Center Ticket Office at 402.472.4747 to reserve your seats now!

Unnecessary Farce Performances
July 23, 24, 26 and August 2, 6, 7 at 7:30pm
August 10 at 2:00pm
Howell Theatre

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Humpday with Howard: Top Ten Reasons to See Unnecessary Farce

This evening the Nebraska Repertory Theatre opens its third and final show, Paul Slade Smith's Unnecessary Farce. Here's a list of the top ten reasons (in no particular order) why you need to see Farce:

10. The Costumes
Costume designer Nancy Konrardy is a seasoned professional from Dubuque, Iowa, whose costumes for General Hospital earned her two Daytime Drama Emmy awards for outstanding achievement in costume design. Farce's costumes are colorful and fun and even include some surprise tartan.

9. The Set

Darin Himmerich, who is the Scenic Designer and Technical Director at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, has designed a wonderful set complete with eight doors that is reminiscent of exactly the kind of motel where some seedy dealings might go down. 

8. An Equity Actor
Farce features one of our fabulous out-of-town Actors' Equity Association members, Carolyn Popp, who plays Mrs. Meekly, the mayor's wife.

7. The Director
Directing Unnecessary Farce is St. Louis native, Alan Knoll. You may have seen Alan during the past two Rep seasons on stage as Jeeves in Jeeves Intervenes, Phillippe in Heroes, Mr. Woodhouse in Emma and Dad in Making God Laugh. He's back again this year, not as an actor, but a director.

6. Cops and Crooks
Who doesn't like a good old cop 'n crook comedy? It's pleasure to watch new police officers Billie Dwyer (played by Katherine Nora LeRoy) and Eric Sheridan (played by Joshua Waterstone) try and prove to the chief that they're great at their jobs.

5. It's a Farce!
Featuring slapstick humor, a slew of rapidly slamming doors, and mistaken identity, Farce is a farce that will have you rolling on the floor laughing!

4. Television Theme Songs
Sound designer Michael Smith's pre-show and intermission music features some excellent and catchy television theme songs, both from today and from the past. And we're giving you an opportunity to win a prize: all you have to do is name at least ten of the theme songs played before the show begins and present your list to the house manager at intermission. If you name at least ten songs, you will have the choice to win a free beverage (glass of wine, beer, or soda) at intermission, or two free tickets to another Rep show this season!

3. Cupcakes and Refreshments 
Grab a drink from Meier's Cork 'n Bottle before show, or at intermission with a delicious cupcake from Le Cupcake! 

2. UNL Alumni Actors
The cast of Unnecessary Farce features three UNL alumni, David Landis (a JD Law graduate playing Mayor Meekly), Katherine Nora LeRoy (an MFA Acting graduate playing Billie Dwyer), Lucy Myrtue (a BA Theatre Performance graduate playing Karen Brown), and Joshua Waterstone (an MFA Directing for Stage and Screen graduate playing Eric Sheridan).

1. An Evening with the Nebraska Repertory Theatre is a Wonderful Night Out
With laughter, food, and drink, a night with the Nebraska Repertory Theatre is always sure to be excellent.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stephanie's Weekly Spotlight: Catching Up With Kristie

Although our last production, Unnecessary Farce, opens this Wednesday, our season is far from over. You still have eight more opportunities to see either of our other shows, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and Circle Mirror Transformation. And should you choose to see one (or both!), you will be introduced to the lovely Kristie Berger. 

Berger plays Masha in Vanya and Marty in Circle Mirror

Kristie is one of several guest artists in our company this season; she traveled here from Chicago. She has worked in such theaters as The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Touchstone, and Center Theater. She is no stranger to the Rep, however. She joined the company for the first time in 2005, where she played Grace in Bus Stop and Priscilla in Resident Alien. We are thrilled to have her with us again! Check out my interview with her below. We discuss the challenges of repertory theatre, and she gives advice to aspiring actors.

SK: What projects have you completed at home in Chicago since you were last with the Nebraska Rep?
KB: Hmm.....let's see. I did a couple of shows, a myriad of staged readings, worked in commercials, voiceovers, industrials, print ads, and did an independent film. I started my own business so I could work from home and have a flexible schedule so I can control the "feast or famine" part of being an actor.

SK: What do you do to prepare before going onstage?
KB: I'm going to answer that as if you mean before a curtain goes up as opposed to all the work I do preparing for a role. I'm anal about checking my props and walking the stage, so I make sure I walk every inch of the stage, open and close every door I go through, sit on every piece of furniture I sit on in the show, check my personal props and make sure everything is where it needs to be prop-wise. I make sure I stretch my body so I'm limber enough to move the way I want. I warm up vocally, usually starting with humming and then singing and hit all the notes I can hit. I like to dance a little to get the blood flowing and my energy up. I also try to yawn quite a bit before going on stage to open up my voice and chest and feel relaxed.

SK: What's the biggest challenge of performing in a repertory setting?
KB: Making sure you're giving 100% to each show, keeping your energy up and committing fully to every rehearsal. Being prepared for each show by knowing your lines, your blocking, and making sure you're the least of the director's problems. And for me, getting enough sleep is always an issue because I replay each scene in my head when I'm trying to go to sleep, trying to figure out how to make moments work that didn't seem to work in rehearsal or performance.

SK: What's the best thing about repertory theatre?
KB: There's no one best thing, but I love the challenge, especially this summer, of working on two such different roles. I love working with all the wonderfully talented and creative actors, directors, designers, stage managers, crew, and all of us coming together and creating this living, breathing show that we get to share with an audience who then adds the energy that makes it all come together. There's nothing like doing shows in rep. It's exciting, challenging, exhausting, exhilarating, and such a treat for an actor to be a part of.

SK: If you weren't an actress, what do you think you would be doing?
KB: I love photography and I would love to drive from coast to coast across the USA, taking side roads and state roads and taking pictures of people, places, and whatever caught my eye, so being a photojournalist is something that really appeals to me -- being a mixture of Margaret Bourke-White and Ansel Adams. At one time, I also thought I'd like to be a forest ranger because I love being outdoors.

SK: Could you share some advice for aspiring actors?
KB: Read and see plays, see movies, watch TV, listen to commercials on the radio, take classes, read books. Take care of yourself -- eat well, exercise, get enough sleep. Don't be on time to auditions or rehearsals -- be early. Be nice to everybody you meet along the way -- interns, production assistants, secretaries, crew. Everyone involved on the job or at an audition is important. This is a small community and word spreads fast about you. If you have to have a day job, try to think of other skills you have that are marketable so that you can support yourself the way you want to. Being an actor can be a difficult way of life. A good support group -- friends, family -- who believe in you who you can turn to when you need them is vital. Research the places where you want to work and the directors you want to work with. Knowledge is power. And don't be afraid to fail. That's the only way to succeed.

Don't miss your chance to see Kristie onstage! Get your tickets to the following performances:

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
August 1 and 8 at 7:30pm
July 27 at 2:00pm

Circle Mirror Transformation
July 25, 30, and 31 at 7:30pm
August 9 at 7:30pm
August 3 at 2:00pm

Monday, July 21, 2014

Virginia's Point of View: 2 Shows Open, 1 to Go

One of the little duties I set for myself during the course of the Rep is writing thank you notes to everyone in the company. I guess I'm a little like Vanya, in that I think for some reason it matters that I spend the time to put pen to paper. Everybody works so hard and invests so much in what they do, it just seems worthy of a little effort on my part. I don't mail them. I usually hand deliver them with a hug. I do it partly because it's what Mom taught me to do, and also, because I was told once that a young woman who worked for us between her senior year in high school and her first year in an out-of-town college took my note along to school as something she needed.

I think I've written 21 so far this year, but I've got 15 to deliver tomorrow, 20 on Wednesday, and the last 6 on the last weekend. That's a lot of hugs!

Today I'm also starting to work on Other Desert Cities. I need to read it several times to prepare for our rehearsals beginning after Unnecessary Farce opens on Wednesday. It's a lovely play that tests family loyalty, reminds us that what one remembers isn't always what's true, and speaks up for keeping secrets. I look forward to working with Kristie Berger, Carolyn Popp, Lawrence MacGowan and Eric Moyer as my daughter, sister, husband and son. It will also be fun to be directed by Joshua Waterstone. We've worked together on many projects since he arrived in Lincoln three years ago, but never as actor/director.

I'll see you in the lobby before the shows, and from the stage on July 29th in the Howell Theatre at 7:30pm!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Feature Friday: Opening Night Fever Pt. 2

Circle Mirror Transformation opened last night with a bang! As you have come to expect from Nebraska Rep, an opening night reception was held in our lobby following the performance. We took this week's theme fairly literally--all of the food was circular, and we did our best to don attire with circles, polka dots, or shiny sequins to honor the "circle mirror" motif. Here are some photos from the reception featuring actors, designers, company members, and the most important of all: you, our audience!

Make sure to join us for our final opening night reception for Unnecessary Farce, next Wednesday, July 23. The reception will follow the evening's performance and the reception is free with your ticket admission!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

NRT Excitement with Emma: Meet the Cast of Circle Mirror Transformation!

And we're off to Opening Night #2! Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker opens tonight in the Studio Theatre at the Temple Building. This dramedy tells the story of Marty, the instructor of an adult drama class, and her four students. Now, meet the cast of Circle Mirror Transformation!

Kristie Berger (Marty)
Kristie is thrilled to return to Nebraska Rep where she appeared as Grace in Bus Stop and Priscilla in Resident Alien. Other regional credits include Barbara Fordham in August: Osage County and Frankie in Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune (DayTony Award of Excellence, Guest Actor) at The Human Race Theatre in Dayton and the long-running national tour of The Odd Couple: Female Version starring Barbara Eden. Chicago credits include Jeanette in Last of the Red Hot Lovers at Illinois Theatre Center; The Vagina Monologues, Always…Patsy Cline, and The Odd Couple: Female Version at the Apollo Theater. Other theaters she has worked with include The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Equity Library Theater, City Lit, Lifeline, Strawdog, Mary-Arrchie, Touchstone, Center Theater, and Absolute. She also works in voice-overs, commercials, films, and industrial films and has appeared overseas at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland as Sissy in Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and as Little Mary in Stage Door. She has participated in countless staged readings, several productions, many classes, and numerous table reads at Chicago Dramatists, where she is an Associate Artist. Kristie is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.

Lawrence MacGowan (James)
Lawrence is happy to be joining NRT for the first time. Recent acting credits include the independent film Animals (Schiffli 2013), Chicago Fire (NBC), and roles in Blithe Spirit and Bus Stop with the Summer Studio Theatre at the University of Illinois. Other acting credits include Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, A Red Orchid Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and Victory Gardens. Regional credits include American Conservatory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis, Pennsylvania Center Stage, Peninsula Players, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Larry teaches acting at the Bilingual Acting Workshop in Paris, and was in the English language premiere of The Glory of Living at B.A.W. This fall, he begins as an assistant professor with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Eric Moyer (Schultz)
Eric is an actor, writer, producer, marketer and developer who calls Lincoln, Nebraska home. After graduating from UNL with a bachelor’s degree in theater, Eric moved to Los Angeles where he earned a number of bit parts in both film and television. Most notably, he played “Casey” on the short-lived sitcom Go Fish. Eric returned to Nebraska in 2006 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Marketing Communication and Advertising; not long after, he rekindled his love of acting as a hard-boiled detective in the film, Blood Rites. Subsequent feature film roles include: “Rev. Joseph Barnaby” in Remission, “Detective John Horwitz” in The Deciphering and supporting roles in the upcoming feature films, Nine Black Roses and Cheerleader Camp Massacre 2.This is Eric’s third season with the Nebraska Rep and second time working with Melissa Lewis whom he shared screen-time with in the award winning short film, “Grilled”.
Melissa Lewis (Theresa)
Melissa is excited to be back at the Rep for another season. She was last seen on the Rep stage in their 2011 production of 39 Steps. You may also have seen Melissa in other Lincoln productions with the Haymarket Theatre and Flatwater Shakespeare Company. Credits include Twelfth Night, Antony & Cleopatra, The Homecoming, Merry Wives of Windsor, Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and On The Verge. She has also done work with Angels Theatre Company, most recently appearing in What The Wind Taught Me. 

Kirstie Smith (Lauren)
Kirstie is a senior double major in Theatre Performance and Premed/Biology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her previous stage appearances at UNL include Leigh in Really Really, Agnés in Silence, and Kayleen in Gruesome Playground Injuries. Ms. Smith’s hobbies include procrastinating, constantly consuming caffeine, and video gaming. Kirstie is very humbled and excited to join the Nebraska Repertory Theatre this summer as Lauren in Circle Mirror Transformation and hopes you enjoy this season’s selections!

Circle Mirror Transformation opens tonight, Thursday, July 17! Tickets are $25 for adults, $12 for students, $22 for seniors. Call the Lied Center Ticket Office at 402.472.4747 to reserve your seats now!

Circle Mirror Transformation Performances
July 17, 18, 25, 30, 31 and August 9 at 7:30pm
August 3 at 2:00pm
Studio Theatre