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!