Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Posts tagged “orlando

Absurdity and Angst: A Glimpse at the Inspiration Behind “Vanya”


Photo features Benjamin Boucvalt (Spike), Philip Nolen (Vanya), Carol Halstead (Masha), and Anne Hering (Sonia).

Orlando Shakes will be opening Christopher Durang’s newest play, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Vanya) this April. The Tony Award-winning comedy is a humorous adaptation of themes found in Anton Chekhov’s work. While you don’t need to have read Chekhov to enjoy the production, a little familiarity with the legendary Russian playwright will add to the fun.


Anton Chekhov was born in Russia in 1860. His young life was anything but pleasant. His physically abusive father was declared bankrupt in 1876, but despite the family living in poverty, Chekhov managed to pay his way through school and gain admittance to the First Moscow State Medical University. Working as a medical doctor paid some of the family’s bills, but not enough, so Chekhov looked to writing as a supplement to his income. Sometimes writing under pseudonyms such as “Man without a Spleen,” Chekhov’s satirical writing style gained both popularity and criticism—the latter of which motivated the writer to pursue more artistically ambitious projects. (more…)


What Happens Here…Becomes Public

slider_periclesOrlando Shakes upcoming production of The Adventures of Pericles is presented in partnership with Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “Play on! 36 playwrights translate Shakespeare.” “Play on!” is a project that consists of 36 playwrights commissioned to translate 39 plays attributed to Shakespeare into contemporary modern English. This project has caused many raised eyebrows in theater and literary communities across the country, with the common thought being, “Why the #$&% would you need to modernize Shakespeare?”

In light of this controversial undertaking, John P. Keller, New York based actor taking on the lead role of Pericles in Orlando Shakes upcoming modern production, offered to document his involvement in the project in a series of blog posts.


John Keller

John P. Keller

I landed in this room a bit by accident. The kind of accidental series of events that lead a pre-med student to drift out of the science library and into the theater department green room at a small liberal arts college. Truthfully, I think if it were not for the green room I never would have found the theater in the first place. Perhaps I should not admit this, but my love of the theater did not begin as a particular desire to be on stage, but rather the magnetic pull towards the people of the theater.

Artists tend to talk a lot. Conversations—perhaps contrary to popular belief—are not restricted to any particular discipline, philosophical mandate, or body politic. The theater (or perhaps more literally, in my initial experience, the green room) was where the sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists, the historians, the literary geniuses, the scientists, the serious scholars, and the drifting goofballs met to discuss Rumi, Descartes, Shakespeare, Locke, Einstein, Mr. Rodgers, Big Bird, and Parker and Stone—all while exchanging recipes and fart jokes. It was this great sense of gathering that always gave me—the communal conversation—the seriousness of purpose without the over seriousness of self.

Recently, a hot topic lit up green rooms and theater gatherings across the country. The announcement by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that they would commission 36 living playwrights and dramaturges to translate 39 of the bard’s plays into contemporary English. (more…)

An Interview with Maude Gutman (AKA Anne Hering)

BakersfieldOST_2_hrOrlando Shakes favorite Anne Hering is back on the stage this Fall after recent appearances in Bad Dog, A Christmas Carol, Les Misérables, and many others. In Bakersfield Mist (playing October 14 – November 15, 2015), Anne plays Maude Gutman.

Fifty-something and in between jobs, Maude shells out her last few bucks on a thrift store painting which she’s convinced is an original Jackson Pollock worth millions. When Maude invites renowned art expert Lionel Percy (played by Steve Brady) to her trailer park home in Bakersfield to authenticate the painting, cultures and class attitudes collide. Stephen Sachs’ colorful new comic drama asks an important question: Who gets to decide what “art” is?

In a quick interview, Anne tells us how she and her character are alike–and very, very different.

OST: Describe Bakersfield Mist in three words.
AH: Art meets bartender.

OST: Name three ways that you and Maude Gutman are alike.
AH: We swear. We say what we feel. We believe in miracles.

OST: Name three ways that you and Maude Gutman are totally different.
AH: I don’t smoke (anymore). I don’t have children. I don’t like clown paintings.

OST: Have you discovered anything new about Maude, the play, or yourself while in the rehearsal process?
AH: I’ve learned that Maude is smarter than I thought. She re-calibrates her arguments quickly, so her wheels are always spinning.

OST: Was there anything you did to prepare for this role?
AH: I watched Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?, the documentary that helped inspire Stephen Sachs to write Bakersfield Mist.

BakersfieldOST_6_hrOST: This play features just two actors–very different from the huge casts of Les Miz and Nicholas Nickleby. What’s that been like in comparison?
AH: A totally different process. Bakersfield Mist has actually been way more work. But the performances will go really quickly.

OST: As Orlando Shakes’ Director of Education you plan our Children’s Series and Youth & Teen Classes. Bakersfield Mist is Rated R. How do you feel about having a job that lets you live in both worlds?
AH: Grateful!

OST: How did you get started in acting? How did you get started in education? And when did you discover mixing the two was your winning combination?
AH: I got into theater doing musicals in high school. My first job out of undergrad was teaching high school English. The first time I mixed the two was when I got this job eleven years ago!

Don’t miss Anne–or should we say “Maude”–in Bakersfield Mist opening this month! Tickets are available online or by calling the Box Office at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1.

Shakespearely yours,

Melissa Landy, Public Relations Coordinator

The Patriarch Triumphant: An Interview with Acting Veteran William “Bill” Metzo

Bill Metzo HeadshotBy now you’ve probably heard that the World Premiere dramedy Bad Dog by Jennifer Hoppe-House is playing in our Goldman Theater. If you need a refresher: Bad Dog follows the story of Molly Drexler, who after ten years of sobriety, tumbles off “the wagon” by driving a Prius through her house. As her opinionated family descends around her, Molly falls deeper into the hole she’s dug for herself.

In the middle of the drama is William “Bill” Metzo, an esteemed NYC actor who plays Molly’s father, Walter Drexler. Bill’s successful acting career boasts impressive credits including Broadway’s Café Crown, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Cyrano as well as National Tours of Annie, Guys and Dolls, and the Royal National Theatre’s production of Carousel. Additionally, he’s appeared Off-Broadway and in recurring TV roles, won Florida’s Carbonell Award for Best Actor (Marquis de Sade in Quills), and, as King Lear, lead the Utah Shakespeare Festival in their Tony Award winning season.

Isabella Ward, one of Orlando Shakes’ hard-working marketing interns, sat down with Bill to pick his brain about his career and his role in Bad Dog.

IW: What’s your Twitter pitch for Bad Dog?
BM: It’s a very funny play, timely… you might even see yourself in the characters!

IW:  Tell us a little about your character in Bad Dog.
BM: Walter is the patriarch of this dysfunctional family. He comes to fix things–though this is not the first time he’s come to straighten things out. He’s a successful business man.

Bill Metzo

Photo by Tony Firriolo

IW: How did you get your start?
BM: I read my first play, The Valiant, in my high school English class. I read the part of the criminal. In college I was in the drama club but received my BA in Economics. Back then, small schools didn’t have these theater programs like they do now.

IW: What’s the most challenging aspect of acting?
BM: Not to lie, but to be truthful.

IW: This is your third season working with Orlando Shakespeare Theater, after appearing as Polonius in Hamlet and Prospero in The Tempest. What sets Orlando Shakes apart from other theaters?
BM: Well it’s about the work. Jim [Helsinger] is a smart guy and the point of view in his productions have always been fascinating.

IW: You learned from the great Stella Adler and later went on to become an acting coach. What advice do you have for those aspiring actors out there?
BM: You have to really want it so badly. I have kids who ask me if they should go into the theater. If they ask me that, I say “no” because if they don’t know, they’ll be eaten up. There should be no doubt about their desire, because that is the big thing. The beginning is the absolute need to do it.

IW: If you could go back twenty years in your career, what is the advice you’d give yourself?
BM: Be more patient and accepting.

IW: What’s different about working in the theater vs. TV?
BM: The theater is there to uplift. When I studied with Stella we were the “chosen ones”. It was our duty and responsibility to make the world a better place. There is a vast difference between entertainment and art, and you have to know the difference. There’s a quote in Hamlet that goes “Now this overdone or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh a whole theatre of others”. You play to the one who knows and bring the other 1,499 people to that level. So you don’t play to the lowest common denominator. Theater is a very special place and should be like going to church.

IW: What’s your dream role?
BM:  I played [King] Lear ten years ago, but I’d like to do it again. I thought once that if I ever had to write a biography, I would entitle it Carrying Cordelia which I think is a nifty title because it would mean someone hired me to play Lear while I’m still strong enough to carry a woman and young enough to remember the lines. So, yes, I’d like to do Lear again.

IW: Favorite Shakespeare Play?
BM: I have a soft spot for Macbeth. But I think I’ve done 20 or 21 of the 36 plays Shakespeare wrote.

IW: Any closing remarks?
BM: The theater is the only profession I know that uses all of you. It demands your physicality, spirituality, intellect, and your emotional life. I don’t know any other profession that makes those demands.


Photo by Tony Firriolo features Suzanne O’Donnell, Anne Hering, Ginger Lee McDermott, William Metzo, Jennifer Bonner, & Gladys Rodriguez

Come see Bill and the rest of the Bad Dog cast before the show closes on Sunday, May 3. For tickets and information, click here.

Eat, shop, and #unselfie

Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday. I love the sinful food, the great company, and of course—the shopping! But as stores pack to the gills with sleep deprived shoppers on Black Friday, I find myself giving thanks for Cyber Monday. Skip the lines AND get great deals from the privacy and comfort of home? Sounds good to me.

Orlando Shakes is embracing Cyber Monday this year, offering a special deal to anyone looking for that perfect stocking stuffer for friends, clients, and loved ones!

top-gift (1)

CYBER MONDAY – Monday, December 1, 2014

For one day only, get 1/2 off Signature Series gift admissions for $23 (valued at $45). Gift admissions can be redeemed for tickets to any show in the Theater’s Signature Series and they never expire. Save big and give the unique gift of live theater this holiday season!

Three ways to purchase a Cyber Monday gift admission:
  1. Visit us online–The fastest and easiest way to save!
  2. Call the Box Office at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1*
  3. Stop by in person* 

*The Box Office will be open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Cyber Monday.

Offer valid only on December 1, 2014 from 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. Limit six (6) reduced price gift admissions per person. Not valid on previously purchased gift admissions. Gift admissions cannot be redeemed online. 

So we have a day for giving thanks and a day for getting deals, but what about a day for giving back? Enter Giving Tuesday! On Tuesday, December 2, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Now in its third year, this global celebration has started a new tradition of generosity—and coined the term “#unselfie”.


Orlando Shakes will celebrate Giving Tuesday in a big way. We’re kicking off our brand new power2give campaign! Stay tuned for details.

Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Giving Tuesday!

Shakespeare Yours,

Melissa Landy, Public Relations Coordinator

‘Les Mis’ Steps Off the Stage and Into the Community

Hey blog readers,

At this point in the run, many of you have probably already seen our current musical production, Les Misérables–maybe even more than once. We’ve enjoyed great success with this show, surpassing our ticket goals and completely selling out halfway through the run. (Stand by seating is still available. Click here for details.) As exciting as this is, what’s even more exciting is what has been happening when the actors step OFF the stage.

The themes of hunger, poverty, and grief in Les Mis have reminded us of the importance of giving back to the community. We’ve partnered with a few different organizations to do just that!

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (SHFBCF)
photo (25)Throughout the month of September, food banks across the country participated in Hunger Action Month by standing up for hunger relief and the 1 in 6 people in the US that struggle with hunger every day. Second Harvest supplied us with big red bins to collect non-perishable food items in the lobby prior to each performance. The response was tremendous! Thanks to YOU, our Les Mis actors and Theater staff will drop off over six bins worth of food to the food bank this week.

SHFBCF will distribute our donated goods to approximately 550 local nonprofit feeding programs throughout Central Florida. Last year, the organization distributed nearly 64 million pounds of grocery products – the equivalent of more than 53 million meals. To learn more about this great charity visit:

Christian Service Center of Central Florida
One partner program that receives food from Second Harvest is the Christian Service Center, which hosts the “Daily Bread” program 6 days a week, offering nourishing lunches to individuals in need–free of charge, with no questions asked. Last week, members of the Les Mis cast and crew and our Marketing Staff joined with other volunteers to prepare and serve meals to families and individuals at the Center’s Downtown Orlando location.

DailyBread_1This experience was eye-opening, to say the least. Each one of us present were moved and humbled, and plan to return to the Center for volunteer opportunities in the future. Want to get involved? Click here to see how! For more info

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA)
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s foremost industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. As HIV/AIDS is an issue that remains close to the theater community’s heart, the success of Les Mis created an important opportunity to show our support. Our audiences can contribute to this important organization by dropping their loose change in red buckets held by the actors as they exit the Theater. So far Orlando Shakes patrons have raised over $8,500–that’s HUGE!

In 2014, BC/EFA has awarded over $5.6 million to more than 450 HIV/AIDS and family service agencies across the country, including the Central Florida Haven of Hope Ministries in Orlando. You can also donate online at


Michael Hunsaker and Tim Quartier (photo by Tony Firriolo)

As Les Mis continues through October 12, we are reminded each night about the importance of charity. We see it when the Bishop gives the convict Jean Valjean a second chance and when a restored Valjean agrees to care for the dying Fantine’s child. Whether it’s volunteering or a simple act of kindness towards a stranger, I hope our audiences are inspired to look for opportunities to give back in their communities.

As Victor Hugo wrote, “To love another person is to see the face of God”.

Shakespearely Yours,

Melissa Landy, PR Coordinator

‘Pick-A-Tick’ Raffle (Open House 2014)

Screen shot 2014-07-21 at 4.00.29 PM

Last season’s 1st Annual Open House drew in over 500 familiar guests and new faces to the Theater. Our 26th Season Open House (on Saturday, August 23 from 11am – 2pm) promises to be even better. Festivities will include a backstage tour of the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, an opportunity to sit in on a rehearsal of the highly anticipated musical Les Miserables, photo opportunities with costumed characters, and free crafts for the little ones.

In addition, the Theater will host a “Pick-A-Tick” raffle featuring first-rate prizes like:

  • Orlando Shakes CYO 3 & 5 ticket packages ($200+ Value)
    • Free unlimited ticket exchanges within your chosen productions
    • $5 off additional single tickets for friends and family, including Les Misérables* (Offer not valid for senior matinees or preview performances)
    • Courtesy show reminders and parking alerts
    • Great seats at a great price – reserved for you before the general public
  • Orlando Museum of Art Dual/Family Membership ($80 Value)
    • Free year-round museum admission for two adults (and any children under 18)
    • Free admission to 1st Thursdays
    • E-newsletter subscription
    • 10% discount at OMA shop and educational programs
    • And much more!
  • Orlando Philharmonic Ticket Voucher ($80 Value)
    • 2 Silver Tickets to any one concert in the 2014-15 Super Series at Bob Carr Theater 
  • Theatre UCF Ticket Voucher ($40 Value)
    • 2 tickets to Baltimore Waltz (September 18 – October 4, 2014) in the Black Box
  • Mennello Museum of Art swag bag ($75+ Value)
    • Gift includes: Earl Cunningham canvas tote bag, magnet, set of 4 coasters, Painting an American Eden and The Collector’s Legacy books, and coffee mug
  • Orlando Shakes Bard Card 
    • Exclusive discounts at local restaurants and businesses including: Citrus Restaurant, Wolfie’s Pizza Mia, Hawker’s Restaurant, and more!
  • open houseDrink Vouchers at Harriett’s Bar
  • Commemorative 25th Anniversary Taming of the Shrew posters signed by the cast
  • Award-winning Magic Tree House books and JetBlue merchandise
  • Tickets to Orlando Shakes productions—including Les Mis!
  • And more!

RAFFLE RULES: “Pick-A-Tick” raffle participants must be present at Orlando Shakes’ Free Open House on August 23, 2014 between 11am and 2pm. Raffle participants may purchase 2 chances (for a $5 donation) or 5 chances (for a $10 donation). CASH ONLY. Chances will be pulled and prizes revealed at the time of cash donation. All proceeds benefit Orlando Shakespeare Theater programming. 

Want to save time at the door AND receive exclusive instructions on how to secure your spot on a building tour? RSVP for our 26th Season Open House today!