Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Posts tagged “theater

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…)


Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?


Teri Horton with her “Pollock”

“Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?” asked Teri Horton when an art teacher suggested her $5 thrift store find might be a priceless masterpiece. That question later became the title for the documentary that followed her quest to prove she’d discovered a long lost Pollock painting.

Stephen Sachs’ colorful new comic drama Bakersfield Mist (playing at Orlando Shakes from Oct. 14 – Nov. 15, 2015) introduces a set of lively fictional characters in an almost identical situation.

But back to Horton’s original question, who is Jackson Pollock? An American artist known for revolutionizing the abstract expressionist movement, Pollock developed a new method known as the “drip technique.” The style involved using household paint (as opposed to artist’s paint) and literally dripping and pouring it onto the canvas. His other tools included hardened brushes, sticks, basting syringes, and even his own hands. This technique marked the “drip period” (from 1947 to 1950) when the majority of his most famous works were created. Pollock prided himself in getting up close and personal with his artwork, and often spoke as if he were “in” his paintings.

“My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting,” said Jackson Pollock, in his publication My Painting.

014-jackson-pollock-the-red-listDespite his artistic fame and success, Pollock’s life was not picture perfect. He struggled with mental illness and modern historians theorize he may have been bipolar. He also suffered from alcoholism throughout his adult life. In 1956, Pollock caused the fatal car accident that killed him and one other passenger, although his mistress who was also in the car survived. Pollock was only 44. His wife, an artist named Lee Krasner, kept his legacy alive by opening their home, the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio, for public tours.

Wondering what happened to Ms. Horton and her painting? To this day she has been unable to prove that it is a true Pollock, yet she refuses to sell her piece for less than $50 million. Inspired in part by Horton’s story, Bakersfield Mist begs the important question: Who gets to define what “art” is?

Tickets to Bakersfield Mist are available online or by calling (407) 447-1700 ext. 1.

Article Contributors: Lexie Hoag and Melissa Landy

Sing-A-Long(side) SPAMALOT Stars!

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.43.56 PMLast year, Orlando Shakes surprised the community with a Les Miserables flash mob that’s been viewed by over 1 million fans on YouTube. This year, we want everyone to participate! Join us as we sing-a-long to “The Bright Side of Life” and record a promotional video for our upcoming production of Monty Python’s SPAMALOT.

WHEN: Saturday, August 29 at 12:00 p.m. noon
WHERE: On the lawn in Loch Haven Park between Mills Ave. and Princeton St.

You’ll get the chance to perform alongside professional actors, as we lead you through a brief vocal warm up, learn a beginner’s dance routine, and sing the final chorus of the song.

So now you’re wondering what Orlando Shakes actors will be performing right by your side. Keep an eye out for the familiar faces below!

Davis Gaines, Musical Theatre West

Davis Gaines, Musical Theatre West

Orlando native and Edgewater High School graduate, Davis Gaines (Javert in last season’s Les Misérables), returns as King Arthur. Best known for playing the title role in The Phantom of the Opera more than 2,000 times in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Gaines remains Los Angeles’ longest-running Phantom.

Raised in South Florida and a graduate of Florida State University, Michael Hunsaker (Jean Valjean in Les Miz) plays opposite Gaines once more in the role of Sir Dennis Galahad. Broadway and National Tour credits include Children of Eden, Chess, Chance and Chemistry, and Ragtime. Hunsaker is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Film Production from Full Sail University.

Dee Roscioli (The Lady of the Lake) is best known for ‘defying gravity’ in the Wicked First National Tour, as well as the Chicago, San Francisco, and Broadway productions. She holds the record for most appearances as Elphaba. Additional credits include Grizabella in the 2002-2003 Cats National Tour and as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd for Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

Local favorite T. Robert Pigott (The Big Bang and Into the Woods) will appear as Sir Robin. Other appearances include Caboose in the original cast of Starlight Express for Starlight Vegas Co. and Baby John in West Side Story for Austria’s Scala Musical Company.

Brad DePlanche (Henry V and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play) joins the cast as Patsy. He has acted in productions across the country including Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s Around the World in Eighty Days and The Three Musketeers for People’s Light.

Philip Nolen plays Sir Bedevere, following countless Orlando Shakes appearances including Nicholas Nickleby and The Big Bang. The local actor/singer has also been featured at Mad Cow Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the New York and Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festivals.

Chris Crawford takes on the roles of Prince Herbert/Historian, following his debut appearance as Fred in 2014’s A Christmas Carol. Other credits include Shakespeare Theatre Co.’s Edward II, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s The Producers, and Boeing Boeing with TheatreSquared.

And now the only star missing is YOU!

Planning to join in on the fun? RSVP to let us know!

A Study in the Art of the Understudy

Photo by Brittany Bly

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an understudy? The answer is most likely “No”. It’s always exciting to dream of being the star of the show, but the hardworking stand-in is often overlooked. They spend hours watching from the audience, memorizing lines so they can be ready to leap on stage at a moment’s notice–not an easy job! Marketing and PR Intern Lexie chats with Sara Costello, understudy for Princess Calliope in our current production of The Frog and the Princess, as well as an alumni of the Theater’s summer camp programming and an aspiring young actress.

LH: First off, how did you catch the “theater bug”?
SC: I was inspired to join in after I watching my older sisters on stage. I’d participated in community theater, but didn’t take it too seriously until my junior year of high school. That’s when I really started putting my all into roles. I always knew I liked to act, but I don’t think I really knew how to.

LH: What was the first role where it just liked clicked for you?
SC: In high school I played Tiresias in Oedipus Rex. It was the first time I felt like I got lost in a character.

Oedipus Rex, Colin Peterson

LH: What have been the major milestones thus far in your theater journey?
SC: A major moment was when I discovered the English Speaking Union Shakespeare Competition. (Up until that point I thought I was going to be a nutritionist!) The annual high school competition is designed to celebrate Shakespeare with school-wide competitions across all 50 states. I got the chance to compete at the national level at NYC’s Lincoln Center, and that was another big moment. Performing on a Broadway stage is exhilarating and it makes you want to come back.

LH:  Who have been your most influential mentors?
SC: My high school teacher, Ms. Elizabeth Horn, always encouraged me even when I didn’t think that I was anything special. Also my college theater professor, John DiDonna, has opened a lot of doors for me including casting me in Phantasmagoria. He’s the one who encouraged me to do more auditions at Orlando Shakes, which lead to an understudy opportunity and even this interview!

LH: What’s your favorite role so far?
SC: I recently played Hunger in Metamorphosis at Valencia College. That’s a really fun character because it’s not a person–it’s the embodiment of starvation. I got to latch onto people’s backs and crawl everywhere. I think I had two lines and they were “yes” and “yes”. My favorite roles are ones where I get to embody something new and leave an impression on the stage. Whatever that may be.


As You Like It, Landon St. Gordon

LH: Let’s talk about your experience working on Shakespeare with Heart.
SC: Shakespeare with Heart is a summer camp program where young actors get the opportunity to perform in a professional theater. I participated in Summer 2013’s As You Like It. I worked alongside students with and without special needs, but in this camp nobody’s different. After the two week rehearsal process, we performed a Shakespearean production in front of our friends, family, and the public. These kids just blow you out of the water!

LH: Being an understudy in The Frog and the Princess is your first professional theater credit. What’s the biggest difference between working in a professional vs. an educational setting?
SC: I’ve always taken theater seriously, whether that’s good or bad. While working on The Frog and the Princess, I finally get to be around a group of people who feel the same way. We all want to produce the best work possible.


      Phantasmagoria, Michael Moran

LH: What is the most important thing you’ve learned about being an understudy?
SC: I learned that it’s a lot of work, which is something I didn’t know going in. You have to put in extra time, because you don’t have the luxury of all those hours in rehearsal.

LH: What’s the best part of the experience so far?
SC: The relationships that I’ve developed with the rest of the understudies and the main cast. It surprised me in a good way, because I’m just so happy to feel like a part of the team.

LH: What’s the most challenging part?
SC: Time management. I’m working on Phantasmagoria at the same time, and I also work at a bakery. I’m learning to give each event in my life the time that it needs.

LH: How are you and Princess Calliope alike?
SC: We ramble. Especially when she sees Gerwyn, she’s star-struck. She just starts rambling because it’s love at first sight. And that’s me. I ramble!

LH: If you could give one piece of advice to a younger actor, what would it be?
SC: Some of the best audition advice I’ve gotten is go in confidently. It’s not scary when you’re sharing what you love to do. And if they’re moved by that, you might get the part. Or maybe they love you and you still don’t get the part. You just can’t take it personally.

IMG_20150312_172122Lexie Hoag is currently a Marketing and Public Relations Intern at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. After completing her AA at Valencia College, she plans to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She can often be found rereading books, snuggling her puppy, and haunting local theaters.

A Ribbitting Interview with a Princess

Shirilla_Kristin 2015You might remember the charming Kristin Shirilla from our production of Cinderella in 2012. This summer she’s back on the Goldman Stage once more as a completely different member of the royal court––Princess Calliope in The Frog and the Princess (playing through July 26, 2015).

Like many theater professionals, Kristin’s love of the arts started at a young age. “I would act out stories like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I’d play Goldilocks and my mom would have to play all three bears.” Her parents were very supportive of the arts, and took Kristin and her brother to see shows often. With her family’s encouragement, the Ohio native decided to study theater performance at Ohio University.

Following her college graduation, Kristin was on the hunt for a year-long acting internship. Another Ohio University grad told her about Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Acting/Education Internship program. “I really liked the focus on education,” said Kristin. “In high school, a local theater company would come and spend a week each year working on Shakespeare with us. Orlando Shakes’ internship offered that same kind of programming for the community.”

Since joining the Orlando Shakes family, Kristin has also appeared as Lydia/Mustard Seed in the repertory productions of Pride and Prejudice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as a dog and a little boy in Alexander Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move. (“Typecast, I guess.”) She also works full-time as a performer in Diagon Alley at Universal’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. “Basically, I’m a professional wizard and that’s pretty awesome.”

I sat down with Kristin to talk about acting, puppets, and smoochin’ frogs.


Kristin joking around with Cinderella co-stars Brandon Roberts & Alex Mrazek

ML: How is Princess Calliope different from Cinderella?
KS: Cinderella wasn’t a princess. She was a normal girl who had to figure out how to “princess it up”. Princess Calliope was born into royalty. She has to learn to let loose a little. I think falling in love inspires that.

ML: This is your fifth season with Orlando Shakes. What keeps you coming back?
KS: Orlando Shakes was my home for the first year I lived in Orlando. I met great friends and even my boyfriend here. The Theater has always welcomed me back––I’ve worked as a box office associate, an understudy for Snow White, etc. I’m happy to come back and do whatever I can to help.

ML: I’ve heard that you act alongside a few puppets in this show. What’s that been like?
KS: I’m pretty comfortable handling puppets because of my theme park experience. It’s challenging to remember to talk only to the puppet, not the puppeteer. But it’s important. It’s how we endow the puppet with a life of its own.

ML: What’s the best part about performing for young audiences and their families?
KS: Kids are tough. If you’re not 100% honest, they’re not going to be as engaged or give you the feedback that you need as an actor. You can tell the difference when performers talk down to children and when they treat them like adults. Adam Reilly (Prince Gerwyn in the show) is really great at that.


Kristin with her dog, Hulk

ML: When you’re not busy being a princess, what do you like to do for fun?
KS: I love playing with my two dogs, Hulk and Louise. I just bought a house in an area with alot of parks, so I’m excited to explore those. I also like to check out local farmers’ markets and try new food and beverages.

ML: Do you have a favorite line from the show?
KS: Prince Gerwyn’s line: “Couldn’t she have turned me into something cuter? Like a kitten? Princesses like kittens, I bet.”

ML: And finally, do you really have to kiss a frog?
KS: I guess you’ll just have to see the show to find out… Besides, I don’t kiss and tell.

Kristin and Adam Reilly. Photo by Tony Firriolo.

Don’t miss your chance to see Kristin and the rest of the gang in The Frog and the Princess, playing through July 26. Click here to purchase tickets now or call the Box Office at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1. Hop to it before we close the book on this hilarious fairytale!

Shakespearely yours,
Melissa Landy, Public Relations Coordinator

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”

keep-calm-and-don-t-say-macbeth-4“The Scottish Play” holds a special place in my heart because it was my original taste of good ol’ Billy Shakes. When I was seven, my mother, sister, and I performed the witches’ cauldron scene (Act IV, Scene I) with me appearing as Witch #2. Back then I obliviously said the “M word” with no fear, while I pranced about the living room and shouted these infamous incantations to the sky from my makeshift stage atop the coffee table. So when I heard The Young Company was doing a production of “The Bard’s Play” here at Orlando Shakes, my inner witch cackled with glee.

For those of you aren’t in the know about the many superstitions that plague the theater, the play Macbeth is cursed. Just saying the ill-fated name or even a line from the text inside a theater is said to bring great misfortune to the actors and their venue. The belief is thought to have originated from the very characters I innocently portrayed in my youth. The weird sisters’ speeches include spells that were believed to call on evil spirits. As witchcraft was still a common belief in Shakespeare’s time, you can see why audiences took this pretty seriously. The characters were actually incorporated to please King James I who considered himself an expert at detecting the dark arts (having written a book on the subject, Daemonologie, which strongly promotes the practice of witch hunting).  His beliefs led him to live in constant terror of witches plotting against him.

79729Along with the fear that was inspired by the witchcraft portrayed in the play, over the years people have gathered evidence that links tragedy with the show. “Mac B” has become associated with small misfortunes like technical malfunctions, poor ticket sales, and forgotten lines, as well as major calamities ending in injury and even death. Famous performers such as Constantine Stanislavski, Orson Welles, and Charlton Heston faced terrible tribulations in their lives during or after they appeared in this show. In the middle of a performance of “The Bard’s Play”, the Astor Place Riot broke out and left 120 injured and more than 30 dead. It is said that Abraham Lincoln read a speech from the cursed play aloud the night before his assassination.

IMG_1482Find yourself suffering from a sudden slip of the tongue? Not to fear–there is a counter curse! When someone mistakenly utters the name or a line from the play, you must say “Angels and ministers of grace defend us!”. Then the guilty party must simply exit the theater, turn around counter clockwise three times, spit on the ground, swear, and then knock on the door and beg to be let back in. Once you grant the offender admittance, they may re-enter the theater, knowing they’ll be safe from the dreaded Scottish curse.

Note: If you’d prefer a more logical (more dull, in my opinion) explanation of the curse, some claim that the dim lighting and multiple combat scenes in the play make the production more prone to accidents.

So now that you know the danger hidden in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, you can applaud the remarkable bravery of The Young Company as they prepare for their production of Macbeth this summer. There are three chances to catch this exciting performance: July 10 at 7:00 p.m., July 11 at 7:00 p.m., and July 12 at 2:00 p.m. General admission tickets are just $10 and can be purchased at the door. Hope to see you there!

IMG_20150312_172122Lexie Hoag is currently a Marketing and Public Relations Intern at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. After completing her AA at Valencia College, she plans to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She can often be found rereading books, snuggling her puppy, and haunting local theaters.

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.