Thursday, February 28, 2008

Man of La Mancha at the Walnut Street Theatre Fall of 2007

When I was six teen years old I used to go down town to the Walnut Street Theatre and sneak into the lobby and watch their shows on the moniter. At the time I was with Peace Theatre and had already decided I was going to pursue acting as a profession. While I was standing in the lobby one night I was watching "The Good Bye Girl". I remember thinking that I would perform on that stage one day. I knew I had the talent. I remember thinking that the actors on that stage weren't better than me. I knew I could perform on that stage and hold my own even though at that point in my career I had never performed in front of an audience of the caliber. Not even close! But I was confident. Eleven years later I got my chance. There are several major theatre companies in Philadelphia. The Arden Theatre, The Wilma Theatre, The Prince Music Theatre, Peaple's Light and Theatre Company which is in Malvern and Freedom Theatre. The Walnut is the largest and the most prominant by far. I had auditioned for all the other major theatre companies before and most of the time I got many call backs but I never landed a role with any of them. I did understudy at the Arden in 2001 for Baby Case but that is understudying. So when Kate Galvin, the Casting Director at the Walnut Street Theatre called me in July of 2007 after seeing my TAGP audition to audition for The Man of La Mancha, I wasn't overly excited. At this point in my career I don't get excited about auditions. I don't care if I get the role because I can't control it. The only thing I care about is that I do well and that I am prepared. I can control that. I went to the audition on August 10th and I sang Younger Than Spring Time from South Pacific. Then Kate Galvin asked me to sing another song. I've been doing this a long time so I am allways prepared to sing two or three songs even though they only ask you to sing one when you schedule an audition most of the time. It went well. Kate told me after the audition that she might have a role for me in the show. I knew rehearsals started in 2 and a half weeks so the role had to be a very small one. I was okay with that. Two days later I recieved a call from Jessica Doheny the company manager at the Walnut and I was offered the role of a prinsoner and an inquisitioner and I had to understudy the Duke and Governor. Two principal roles in the show! Show basically I had two learn four roles! I was very excited about the oppurtunity. Finally I had have been called up from the minors! I now know how career minor league base ball players feel when they get called up! They are paid professionals but they never got that chance to shine in the big leagues. Even if they are at the end of the bench. I was at the end of the bench but happy to get called up! I remember feeling anxious going to the first rehearsal. I was nervous about how I would be recieved. Were the actors going to be stuck up snobs? Most of whom have Broadway and television credits. I was relieved when I got there and everybody was so nice and welcoming. I never felt like an outsider. I actually saw a familiar face. Danielle Herbert who plays Fermina was in Peace Theatre with me in 1997! She is extremly talented and she was great to work with. As we went through the reahearsal process I found it challenging to learn four roles. I got my roles down quickly but trying to learn two other roles with lines and blocking and music that I wasn't performing in during the show but was understudying was difficult. The way the Walnut did the understudy assignments was interestering. Everyone in the cast except Paul Schoeffler who plays the lead role of Cervantes, understudys someone else. I even had an under study. An actor named Brian Curtas. So if someone gets sick and can't perform it causes a chain reaction! I had to worry about three actors getting sick! I felt stressed but I knew I could do it. At understudy rehearsals I impressed the music director Edward Reichert and the rest of the cast with my voice and my grasp of the music so quickly. I did get a scare toward the end of the run. Paul was sick and wasn't sure if he could perform one night. Bruce Winant who plays the Duke understudied Paul and I understudied Bruce! It was crazy! When Lori, the stage manager, called me one afternoon and told me I might be going on my heart was racing! I was so excited! I was so prepared! I knew the role well enough to act and sing with out thinking about it and being in the moment. This was the chance I had waited for since I was sixteen! It wasn't to be however. Paul felt better in the 12th hour and the show went on. At the theatre that night I joked with Paul to take a show off and fake being sick. We both laughed. Two months after the show had closed I got a call from Danielle Herbert. Her voice was cracking on the phone when she told me she had some bad news. Jorge Maldonado who played Pedro in the show died suddenly of an anuerism at the age of 30! My heart fell in to my stomach! I was shocked! He was young and strong and very talented. I had just saw him at Peter Pan opening at the Walnut a month earlier. His partner Steve Pacek who played one of the muluteers in the show said later that he had no previous medical conditions that any one knew about. It was truly devasting! The Arden Theatre held a memorial for him on the 28th of December 2007. Most of the Man of La Mancha cast was there. Steve asked people to share a story about Jorge and I told the story when we did a school matinee all the high school girls were screaming when he took his bow at the end of the show. I joked with him back stage that if they only knew he was gay! Everyone laughed. He was a very nice and welcoming person with a good heart and was truly very shocking to hear he had died so suddenly. I went home that night and hugged my little girls a little tighter. Tomorrow is not promised. I loved my experience at the Walnut. I was anxious to see what was in store for me next....

1 comment:

*FaLanYa* said...

Tomorrow isn't promised that's for sure...that's why I like the phrase: "Today is a gift" because you never know what the next day will bring and each day we have is not owed us.

What is your next gig? I love reading about your acting!! I started singing way before you did and look at you...getting paid for it and doing very well. I am so proud of you and love you very much!!
Kiss all your girls for me...see you soon <3