Saturday, December 1, 2012

Board Member Eric Goldman's Upcoming ACTIVities

Our board member, Eric Goldman, has a couple exciting things going on in the near future:

  1. He is providing production counsel services for the upcoming Broadway production of The Miss Firecracker Contest. So go out and support him!
  2. December 17th at 7pm he is part of a panel discussion on the state of the musical theater industry. Here's a synopsis in Eric's own words: 
Many, myself included, feel that the musical theatre industry is in crisis.  As budgets for Broadway musicals skyrocket, producers are increasingly presenting musical versions of existing properties such as films and television shows. Opportunities for new voices in the industry are few and far between.  TRU is hosting a panel which will discuss how to revitalize the musical theatre industry, and I am very excited to be a part of this discussion. The TRU panel will be presented December 17, 7:00 pm at the Players Theatre. See you all there!
Congratulations, Eric!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jason Emanuel in Marvell Rep Productions' "God of Vengeance"

Active Collaborator, Jason Emanuel, will be performing in "God of Vengeance" with Marvell Rep Productions (2012 Drama Desk Award Nominee) until October 28, 2012!

By Sholem Asch, translated by Joseph C. Landis
Directed by Lenny Leibowitz
TBG Theatre, 3rd Floor
312 West 36th Street
GOD OF VENGEANCE is a towering drama that centers on a brothel owner who dreams of striking a deal with God to keep his only daughter pure. Unbeknownst to him, she has struck up a friendship with one of "his girls." The play features the world's first onstage lesbian kiss; at its Broadway premiere in 1923, the producer and the entire cast were thrown in jail on charges of indecency.

Tickets and performance info at:

*If you're 25 years old or under, use the discount code "JASON" to get 50% off tickets.

Friday, June 8, 2012

CALL ME ADAM Interviews Nathaniel Shaw

Check out an interview with Adam Rothenberg, theater blogger at CALL ME ADAM. After seeing BODY LANGUAGE, he took some time to sit down and pick the brain of our leader Nathaniel Shaw and why he does what he does... and does it so well. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Get to Know the Cast of BODY LANGUAGE!

Our Associate Artistic Director, Sarah Shahinian, was able to snag some "fun facts" from the cast of BODY LANGUAGE (Lucy Owen, Jeb Kreager, Christian Campbell, Mary Jo Mecca, Tim Barker, and Daniel Damiano) in between the sound cues and stage lights of tech rehearsals. Here's some snippets of conversation from backstage:

SARAH: Who's your favorite cartoon character?
LUCY: Ren!!! (and Stimpy...)
JEB: Wile E. Coyote
MARY JO: Foghorn Leghorn!!! "I say, I say, I say..."
CHRISTIAN: Who's the chick from Roger Rabbit? (SARAH: You mean JESSICA Rabbit?) Jessica F***in' Rabbit! She was hot...
DANIEL: Homer Simpson
TIM: Fred Flinstone

SARAH: If you could have a conversation with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?
JEB: Babe Ruth.
MARY JO: My Dad.
DANIEL: My Grandfather... or Arthur Miller.
TIM: My Uncle George.
LUCY:  Leni Riefenstahl.
CHRISTIAN: Bill Hicks. He lived in my building way back and I wanna ask him if he installed that terrible carpet.

SARAH: What's your favorite midnight snack?
CHRISTIAN: I don't do that...
TIM: Popcorn.
LUCY: Chips. Duh. Any kind of chips.
JEB: Cereal.
MARY JO: I dunno... What can't I pass up? Swedish Fish.
DANIEL: Peanut Butter (SARAH: On..?) on a butter knife.

SARAH: What's your dream role?
MARY JO: Mamma Rose.
JEB: Lopakhin. The Cherry Orchard.
DANIEL: Thomas Stockman in Enemy of the People.
LUCY: Alma. Summer and Smoke.
CHRISTIAN: Jessica Rabbit. In the musical of Roger Rabbit. Producers, are you listening???
TIM: I haven't played it yet...

SARAH: Who is your hero?

DANIEL: John Cassavettes
MARY JO: My Mom.
TIM: My Dad.
JEB: Bill Hicks. And I answered before Christian.
LUCY: All the women in my life.
CHRISTIAN: L. Ron Hubbard... no no no Joseph Smith.... no no no Frank Abagnale, Jr... I just got a thing for con-men.

SARAH: What's your guilty pleasure?
MARY JO: No guilt, all pleasure.
DANIEL: "Forensic Files"... and "Snapped" on Oxygen...
CHRISTIAN: Pleasuring guiltily.
JEB: Clothes.
LUCY: Chips. (JEB: Chips can't be your answer for everything!)
TIM: "Dance Moms"

SARAH: If you could live in any time period of history, what would it be?

TIM: I'm pretty happy with right now.
LUCY: La Belle Epoque
JEB: I would've loved to been in college during the late 60s.
DANIEL: I would prefer the time when the music and the movies were better. So the 60s or 70s.
CHRISTIAN: The Roarin' 20s baby!!! Girls were just starting to loosen up, money was flowing, and I look great in a tux.
MARY JO: Oh, definitely the 1940s. (CHRISTIAN: Why, because of World War II?) No, because I'm built for it!

SARAH: Do you have any hidden talents?

JEB: Dialects.
DANIEL: Cooking.
TIM: My double jointed thumbs
LUCY: I make amazing salad dressing from scratch. I kill it.
CHRISTIAN: Subterfuge. (SARAH: What???) Exactly.
MARY JO: I just texted my childhood best friend and she responded "insight" (CHRISTIAN: That's a damn good friend!)

SARAH: Why should people come see BODY LANGUAGE?

JEB: Because people should see new plays. And this is a good one.
LUCY: Because it is dangerous and compassionate. It’s exciting and heartbreaking. I think.
CHRISTIAN: Because it was laugh-out-loud funny when I read it… but now I think Nathaniel [the director] is taking it in a different direction.
DANIEL: Because it's moving. And not the "bowel" sense.
MARY JO: To see Christian Campbell live and in the flesh. And I mean FLESH!
TIM: Because it’s a new playwright, and a new voice. A sista who’s got something to say. (MECCA: What??? She ain’t a sista - she’s Italian!)

BODY LANGUAGE begins this Friday, May 25th, at the WorkShop Theater, 312 36th St, 4th floor. Come spend some time with these fascinating folks... and see what their Body Language has to say!

Get Tickets Now!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

An Interview with BODY LANGUAGE playwright Jennie Contuzzi!

Hey Active Fans! We are currently in rehearsals for BODY LANGUAGE by Jennie Contuzzi, opening May 25th. If you wanna know more about the playwright, click here to check out a blog interview she recently did! And come check out the show May 25th - June 10th!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Active Staff Member, Rhyn McLemore, Stars in The Spitfire Grill

Rhyn McLemore is currently starring in "The Spitfire Grill" at Cape Fear Regional Theatre in North Carolina. The musical, with music and book by James Valcq and lyrics and book by Fred Alley is based on the film by Lee David Zlotoff.

Check out this great article about the production and Rhyn!

*Image courtesy of Andrew Craft of the Fay Observer.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

An Interview with John P. Keller, currently starring in THE VIOLET HOUR

We caught up with John P. Keller this past thursday after the show to ask him a few fun questions. Here's what we found out:

So what does the P. stand for?

If you were not an actor, what would you be?
Well, I originally went to college to become a veterinarian, but I got thrown on stage my freshman year. I really loved history and philosophy and psychology, and I realized that theater was all of that. And as much as I loved animals, I decided theater was a better world to be in.

What's your favorite food?
Buffalo chicken. Or really anything buffalo flavored...

Where are you from originally?
New Brunswick, NJ. And I ironically moved back there after college to go to grad school at Rutgers. I could see my childhood home from the loading dock of the theater!

What's your favorite band?
I'm a big fan of jazz from the 30s/40s/50s. My "go to" is Jimmy Scott. He's this amazing old-school vocalist.

If you didn't live in New York, where would you live?

What has your experience with Active Theater been like so far?
Well, I was introduced to the company through Cindi Rush (the casting director) at the auditions for this project in January. I didn't know much about the company, but they asked me to be a part of THE VIOLET HOUR and it's been great. It's not common where you find a company that seems to be quite as focused. Everyone has just been so wonderful to work with and such lovely human beings!

How are you similar or different from your character in the show "John Pace Seavering" (aside from the "John P. part!)?
I think John loves life and is in many ways an optimist. I think I'm an optimist in the same way and I understand his hesitation to make certain decisions and how scary some kinds of decisions can be. And sometimes you get stuck making those decisions. I can definitely relate to that.

Can you tell us a little bit about the time period the play is set in and how that affects your character?
The play takes place just after World War I but just before the "Roaring 20s". There's a sense
that the world is changing but it hasn't gotten there yet. John is the type of person who doesn't leave the pack... He kind of sits back and waits to see what's gonna happen. And I
think he is going to be utterly in love with the 20s and the social change that is coming, but he doesn't quite know what it's gonna look like yet. He's excited by the possibilities, but he's still very much scared by it.

Come see John P. Keller, currently starring in THE VIOLET HOUR on our mainstage until March 25th! Click here for tickets!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ben Bartolone, Active Company Manager, has BROADWAY DEBUT!

Ben Bartolone, Company Manager for The Active Theater, is onthe verge of his Broadway debut! The musical, for which he co-wrote the book, is called WEAKER PEOPLE: A DANGEROUS NOTION. The story focuses on bullying in our schools. ALL proceeds are going to OPERATION: RESPECT, an anti-bullying charity run by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame. Channel 7 News came to the first rehearsal, and you can see some of the footage here:

Weaker People: A Dangerous Notion debuts on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, March 19th, 2012. The Reception is at 7PM with an 8PM curtain.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Get to Know Heather Lee Harper

Heather Lee Harper is a founding member of The Active Theater's staff and is currently being featured on our mainstage as "Rosamund" in The Violet Hour. Read on for some fun facts about Heather:

How did you get involved with The Active Theater?
Nathaniel sent out an email expressing a dissatisfaction with the state of artistry and creativity in current theater as well as frustration in regards to the casting systems of New York. I have always wanted to create a theater company of my own and was inspired by everything he was saying so I attended the first meeting at Starbucks and have been on-board ever since.

What was your favorite non-Active theatrical experience?
On one of my first trips to NY while I was in college at ASU, I saw Felicia Rashaad in August Wilson's Gem Of The Ocean. It was a matinee and the student rush tickets were front row center. I was completely captured by the world and transported to another place. I couldn't take my eyes off her. The strength and radiance that shone through, the way she held her body and moved her hands, the tremble of her voice... the reality in which she was existing. When the show ended, I couldn't move for a moment; I was holding my breath. And I thought "That's what I want to do!"

What is your dream role?
Well... I'm playing one of the right now, actually! I'm in LOVE with The Violet Hour and this character. I don't have a dream role per se, but every opportunity I have to be onstage and fully envelop a role is my dream. I would love to take part in a process where everyone is working cohesively and is equally alive, where every part of the production thrives.

What is your favorite smell?
There are two smells that I could smell forever. The desert air after it rains and that crisp cool fresh almost nothingness of the first fall air in the Northeast. My favorites are the smell of someone I love (yup I am one of those girls who wears their guy's t-shirt to sleep in), lavender and tea tree oil, and warm chocolate preferably being baked for me to eat.

What cartoons were you obsessed with as a kid?
What cartoon was I NOT obsessed with as a kid! Umm if I had to narrow it down... the old Bugs Bunny cartoons especially with Elmer Fudd and with the big red monster, JEM and the Holograms, Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Rainbow Brite, She-Ra (and He-Man), Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, Transformers, and then when I was a little older all the Nikelodeon cartoons - Doug, AHHH Real Monsters, Rugrats, Hey Arnold. But my biggest obsessions are holiday cartoons: Charlie Brown Christmas, It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, The Garfield Halloween Special, The Chipmunk's Valentine's Day Special, Family Circus Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and of course all the claymation Christmas ones - Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, etc, etc, etc...

Come see Heather in The Violet Hour, now on our mainstage through March 25th!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sarah Shahinian's Solo Directing Debut!

Sarah Shahinian, our Associate Artistic Director, is about to start working on her first professional SOLO directing project: “RESPECT: A Musical Celebration of Women” at the Lyceum Theater in San Diego. Rehearsals begin March 19th, with the first performance on April 18th. Tickets are on sale through August, possibly longer! Sarah has done a lot of assistant directing, so this is a big step up for her, and she's loving every second of it so far. Being able to run auditions and treat actors the way she's always wanted to be treated. And she couldn't be more excited about her fabulous cast! Stay tuned for more updates about her directing adventures!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Meet our Founder and Artistic Director: Nathaniel Shaw

What are your theatrical/artistic goals and aspirations?
To elevate the Active Theater to being one of the most respected organizations in NYC for the development of new plays as well as a place our audiences go to seek out meaningful, thought-provoking theater.

What has been your favorite "Active" experience?
I would say the rise of the curtain (so to speak) on our production of Lee Blessing's Two Rooms, directed by Glory Kadigan. It was our 1st production in the Workshop Theater, and though is was still very early in our history, it was a solid step up in production design than what had come before. I felt like we were "making our mark" for the 1st time.

What has been your best theatrical experience (outside of Active - a play you saw, a show you did, a person you met, etc.)?
This may sound incredibly cheesy, and the WRONG answer for the Artistic Director of a "thought-provoking" NYC Theater company, but playing Curly in Oklahoma at the Fulton Theater is probably the most wonderful on-stage experience I've had! For all of you snickering, there is a reason that is considered a masterpiece. At the core, there is a beautiful play there in which every character is fighting as hard as they can, scratching and clawing, for the sake of a meaningful love.

If you could turn any movie or book into a stage adaptation, what would it be and how do you picture it on stage?
I'm curious about The Sun Also Rises... Is there a movie or that??? I don't even know... I'm not sure it would work on stage given the difficulty of turning Hemingway's thrift into dialogue. I do wish the powers that be would get it together and get a musical version of The Princess Bride together!

It's a sunny day in May in NYC. You aren't working. What are you doing?
If it's this coming May, I will probably be in rehearsal for Body Language for Active, but if not, in the park with my wonderful wife, Lisa, and throwing the frisbee around with my brother.