After a “Fest”ive summer, Lucy Apicello settles into a challenging role.

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After bouncing between rehearsals for the MITF and NY Fringe (making her feel like a reeeaaaallll working actor) Lucy Apicello commands the stage in Leaving Lannahassee, currently enjoying a celebrated run at New York’s American Theatre of Actors.

“I find frequent inspiration in my first love, which is music, and in my hometown of New York. Put the two together and you’ll get the artist who has inspired me since childhood, Barbara Streisand, the original Queen B. Part of my pre-show prep is to listen to Babs. And what I want most in my chosen profession is to consistently do good and rewarding work. Anyone can become recognizable and famous: I actually prefer it when people I’m meeting for the first time after a show say, “That was you?” Wow!”

And her famous last words… “See you at the call back!”

 

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The Women of Elsinore: Julia Boyes & Mickey Pantano

Nu•ance Theatre’s production of HAMLET is taking New York by storm. Previews are a few days away with opening Friday, January 28. Before the players arrive, we spoke with the Queen and Ophelia… Mickey Pantano & Julia Boyes. The Nordic Fella in the pictures is Jack Wink as HAMLET. 

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you? 

MICKEY: For me inspiration starts with the text, the written word that I will be speaking. So, in the beginning I spend an enormous amount of time exploring the words that I (as my character will be saying), as well as the words spoken to me. After all acting is primarily about listening and responding. Why? is always the first question. Why am I saying that? Why am I doing this? Then as my character begins to take shape, I am inspired by the sparks of emotional life that begin to show their face and I am curious as to where they will take me. I’m drawn to follow them and to explore. Imagination and curiosity are muses. John DeSotelle, our director, continually reminds us that imagination is one of an actor’s greatest tools, without it we have no springboard to fly from. In my personal life my muse is my partner in life, Scott, who puts up with the ridiculous hours, who runs lines with me, keeps the home fires burning and consistently reminds me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

JULIA: This is a remarkably difficult question. As it regards my “inspiration,” I think the work is my inspiration. There is so much truth and authenticity in the script. Trying to peel back the layers and get to the heart of it all drives me to do the work better. I’m inspired by my fellow cast members. They are a cast so talented that for a while, I was so intimidated! I think my work was definitely poorer while I was in my “intimidated” phase… so I had to take my adoration of my cast members and turn it into something workable. I’m so inspired by all of them. They are truly a group of people I LOVE to be around. Finally, I really prize my relationship with God, and I think he calls us to a standard of kindness and love, as well to a standard of excellence. So if I can cling to that, I will love my cast well and love doing the work well. So to be more concise: Shakespeare, the script, my beliefs, and my peers inspire me. (Although let’s be honest, these people are so much higher up than my peers. They are like royalty). Another thing that inspires me is my desire to be an agent of change in our society. Our world has the potential to be so lovely, but we are living in a time where there is immense division in almost every facet of life. Shakespeare was so acutely aware of the human condition. He had some sort of lens to see the brokenness and division the in which world has always existed. If I can be a conduit of any sort of truth, I want to be that. Ophelia is a character who begins the play full of hope that her love and devotion will be enough. She will be a devoted enough daughter to make her father and brother happy, and simultaneously show Hamlet all the love she has for him in the hopes that they will succeed together. She cannot do both. And her duty as a daughter overrides her desires as a human. It’s heartbreaking. Each character has his or her own arc that winds up being heartbreaking. If audiences really dig deep, they will see that their lives have similar conflicts. If an audience member walks away more aware of his jealousy due to what he saw Claudius go through, that leads to the potential that he will work through his jealousy, and not kill his brother (figuratively). As actors, all we can do it show people a mirror. It’s the audiences’ job to look at the mirror and figure out which button is mis-matched, or where their mascara is on their eyelid. They have to choose to fix it. But we can ask them to look. 

What do I want most in your chosen profession? 

MICKEY: Hmmmm, well it would be ridiculous for me to deny that I would love fame, success, applause etc. And having said that I will also be very happy if I can continue to work as an actress, developing characters and acting in good solid productions.

JULIA: This is such a weird question. There are surface-y answers. There are big goals and dreams. But I think at the end it boils down to this: I want to stay active, and I want to stay true.  I don’t want “down time” as an actor. I want to stay busy. I would eventually love to quit my day job because I am supporting myself with acting. But I will gratefully continue to work hard at my amazing day job as long as it supports me to act the way I am acting now. (And I do enjoy my day job, which is such a blessing). So to stay active as an actor means auditioning, writing my own work, taking classes, and continuing to play. I get really hard on myself that I forget that acting is supposed to be fun. 😉 And no matter what kinds of work I’m doing as an actor, I must remain steadfast to my sense of truth. I want to continue to get better as an actor. Not because I’ll ever be the “most talented” or the “greatest,” but because when you’re passionate about something, you push yourself to get to the greatest point that you can get to.  So I want to always be improving. I want to show up as an actor every single day, and give my all. “Hamlet” has been good for that. We have all had to show up and give our all every single day.  At the end of every week, I ask myself “Julia, how many days this week did you get to be an actor?” (Meaning, how many days did I put myself out there and get to act?) In seasons where I am auditioning and not actively a part of a production, the answer to that question might have been “one or two days.” But during this process, at the end of every week, I have gotten to be an actor pretty much every. single. day. It’s pretty great. 
 

Last words?

MICKEY: Do what you love, have no regrets and live your truth.

JULIA: Come see Hamlet! 🙂 

Nu•ance Theatre Company’s ambitious take on
William Shakespeare’s most enigmatic tale opens this month
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
directed by John DeSotelle
January 28 – February 25, 2017
The Main Stage of John DeSotelle Studio
300 West 43rd Street, Third Floor
New York City
Tickets: www.nuancetheatre.com

John DeSotelle and Nu•ance Theatre Company are employing medieval and renaissance theatrical techniques — with a 21st Century twist — to create a visually stunning production exploring the web of stories within this oft-examined work of brilliance.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:
PREVIEWING:
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26 @ 7:00 PM
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27 @ 7:00 PM

OPENING:
SATURDAY, JANUARY 28 @ 7:00 PM with special gala to follow

RUNNING:
SUNDAY, JANUARY 29 @ 3:00 PM; FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3 @ 7:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4 @ 7:00 PM; SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5 @ 3:00 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6 @ 7:00 PM; FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10 @ 7:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11 @ 7:00 PM; SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 @ 3:00 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16 @ 7:00 PM; FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17 @ 7:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 @ 1:00 PM; SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 @ 7:00 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19 @ 3:00 PM; THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23 @ 7:00 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24 @ 7:00 PM; SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25 @ 7:00 PM

Get an exclusive preview HERE:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hamlet-by-william-shakespeare#/

 

Seen from Behind the Scenes: Lauren Fischetti

Lauren Fischetti keeps the trains running on time!

The production manager of Nu•ance Theatre Company’s production of Hamlet has helped guide the production from infancy to the innovative amazing piece of work that opens Friday, January 28. Drama-Queens celebrates women-in-charge and spoke to this one in between getting the drawbridge to work!

What inspires you?
What inspires me the most when working on a piece or a show is the passion
that is expressed by those professionals I am working with. The excitement
in everyone’s eyes for what we love to do is truly inspirational. It
motivates me to work harder and believe in the power of people coming
together for a greater cause.

What do you want most in your chosen profession?
I want to be happy as a freelance artist and producer. I think that is the
most important thing to want. If you aren’t happy while you’re working on
a project, then why do it? I hope I get to work on pieces that make me
happy for the rest of my life.

Last words?
See Hamlet … See HAMLET … SEE HAMLET!!!

Nu•ance Theatre Company’s ambitious take on
William Shakespeare’s most enigmatic tale opens this month
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
directed by John DeSotelle
January 28 – February 25, 2017
The Main Stage of John DeSotelle Studio
300 West 43rd Street, Third Floor
New York City
Tickets: www.nuancetheatre.com

John DeSotelle and Nu•ance Theatre Company are employing medieval and renaissance theatrical techniques — with a 21st Century twist — to create a visually stunning production exploring the web of stories within this oft-examined work of brilliance.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:
PREVIEWING:
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26 @ 7:00 PM
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27 @ 7:00 PM

OPENING:
SATURDAY, JANUARY 28 @ 7:00 PM with special gala to follow

RUNNING:
SUNDAY, JANUARY 29 @ 3:00 PM; FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3 @ 7:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4 @ 7:00 PM; SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5 @ 3:00 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6 @ 7:00 PM; FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10 @ 7:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11 @ 7:00 PM; SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 @ 3:00 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16 @ 7:00 PM; FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17 @ 7:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 @ 1:00 PM; SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 @ 7:00 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19 @ 3:00 PM; THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23 @ 7:00 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24 @ 7:00 PM; SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25 @ 7:00 PM

Get an exclusive preview HERE:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hamlet-by-william-shakespeare#/

Have Mercy! Carol Beaugard “nurses” the role.

carol-beaugard-head-shotCarol Beaugard makes her fourth appearance at the American Theatre of Actors AND her fourth time working with director Laurence Schwartz, but her maiden voyage in a Navarra opus. She creates Nurse Mercy, who, to two mental patients, is exactly that … Mercy.

She appeared Off Broadway in “Jackie Mason, the Musical” last summer and – even more historic than Mason, she portrays Mary Todd Lincoln in ‘Monumental Mysteries’ this season on The Travel Channel.

So. Mrs. Lincoln, how is the play?

I’m inspired by nature and music. I find magic even in just walking down a street and seeing the tilt of a dog’s head, how snow rests on the branches of leaves and all forms of music, particularly traditional American music, classical music and world music.
What do you want most in your chosen profession?
I want the opportunity to work on a variety of roles, especially in roles that empower women, particularly minority women. I’m best known for comedy and I’d love to appear in a sitcom or film with women over 40 of diverse backgrounds as a focus. I also sing and was a professionally renowned bluegrass/country music radio DJ for years and am working on a script profiling one of the music’s pioneering women (more details coming after it’s copyrighted). I look forward to booking my first national tour, my first national commercial, getting my Equity and SAG cards and appearing on Broadway.
Last words?
Did you feed the cats?
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Liz arrives in NYC with LEAVING LANNAHASSEE

elizabeth-m-069-webElizabeth Meinders is making her New York stage debut in Lynn Navarra’s new play, LEAVING LANNAHASSEE. Photogenically speaking, you can currently see her in ad campaigns for everything from Vita Coco and Clarasonic to the Center for Prevention of Child Abuse. Movie credits include upcoming horror flick, Rock, Paper, Scissors. We wanted to get a few words of wisdom from her on the eve of her opening.  

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

My inspiration is people. I could people-watch for hours. Growing up my mom and I would people-watch while we were walking down the street or watching from restaurant windows, making up what they were saying or doing. I still do that walking down the streets today. Everyone lives in their own little world and it’s fascinating to try to figure out how those worlds work, as an actor.

What do you want most in your chosen profession?

I’m moved to laughter or tears pretty easily, and that’s no exception when it comes to watching movies or going to see theatre. My goal as an actor is to give that back-to give those moments full of emotion back to audiences. To give people an escape or to bring them together for one brief moment.

Last words?

Yikes. I plan to live forever…… Alright, but if I had to chose last words, they would be from this play. “What a day, buddy buddy. What a day.”

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Improv to Improve

Amy M. Frateo talks about the art of Improv with two trained Improv artists

Stanislavski, the father of the Method, stated “Acting is Re-acting.”
Yes, but what happens if the set falls down while you’re doing that. What then??

The skill of thinking – and subsequently acting – on your feet can make the difference between a good show and a great show. And can make the difference between a good actor and a great actor. Improv, which has gone from an acting class exercise to an industry that is still out there … big time.

Two companies – Artistic New Directions and the Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble combine the hair-trigger ingenuity of Improv with the structured journey you find in a play. The results have made both companies award-winners and power-players in the industry.

AND begins its 2017 Season at Theatre 54 on February 1 and IRTE on March 17 at The Producers Club. Both groups keep you in great theater through the spring.

deasy_nannette_3525_retNannette Deasy, AEA, is the founder and Artistic Director of IRTE, the Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble. She has performed at the The People Improv Theatre, UCB, Chicago City Limits, Gotham City Improv, Gotham Comedy Club, the Public Theatre, LaMama Etc., Ensemble Studio Theatre, and New York Theatre Workshop. She has been a member of numerous comedy groups and was the former AD of The Red Tie Mafia. She also regularly performs with comedy partner Graceann Dorse as one half of the comedy duo Double D.

“Improvisational training really does help make you a better actor as it forces you to to truly listen – not just to your scene partner’s words, but to tone and body language. Since there is no script, no pre-planned dialogue, movement or reaction, it’s difficult to anticipate what your scene partner will do next. This really helps train you to work moment-to-moment without rushing or, hopefully, forcing. Improvisation helps keep the actor’s work alive and present.”

1000582_10151922078294017_8866388_nIrene Carroll is an alumnus of Improvisation News Team & The Yes Show, and has a BA in Theatre from Catholic University.  She was the  Artistic Director for Gotham City Improv and is currently teaching improvisational theatre with Artistic New Directions (AND Theatre). Right now she is the producer/director/an improviser for one of The PIT’s most successful shows, “Gary Austin’s The Classroom.” You may also spot her in one of NYC longest running indie improv team, The Internet Disagrees or her amazing 3-prov team, 3.14 (pronounced pie.)

 

“Being skilled in improvisational acting is a blessing to help you create what is in the here and now.  As an actor, you must be able to be in the moment (even with a script you rehearsed a million times over). Understanding that, improvisation is beyond the lines/script, guiding the actor to become the character, and ultimately inspiring more believable choices. Truthfully, actors are improvising more then they comprehend. AND by studying the art of improvisation theater, they open a door to know how to make realistic choices for their scripted characters.”

ARTISTIC NEW DIRECTIONS rolls out another series of new and topical works in their Eclectic Evening of Shorts: BOXERS & BRIEFS Series. February 1 – 12 at Theatre 54, 244 West 54th Street, NYC, brings 10 new works and another on-the-spot installment of their ANDSemble Improvisation. Their season continues with Broadway’s Jeff McCarthy as KUNSTLER in Jeffrey Sweet‘s riveting play about the civil rights activist (February 17 – March 13 @ 59 East 59 Theatres, NYC) and they conclude with WITHOUT A NET: The company’s flagship presentation, April 26 – May 7.

and

Eclectic Evening of Shorts:
BOXERS & BRIEFS Series includes:

Ditmas by Glenn Alterman; directed by Katrin Hilbe
Civility & Respect by Margaret Geraghty; directed by Janice L. Goldberg
Freeway by Jennifer Rudin; directed by Terry Milner
Turn, Turn, Turn by Bara Swain; directed by Vincent Scott
Air B&B by Jeffrey Sweet; directed by Michael Learned
GPS-IV by Raphael Badagliacca; directed by Gene Santarelli
Wedding Bell Blues by Jenn Ficarra
Funeral for a Pet by Nicholas Herbert; directed by Kate German
40 Stat 76 by Arlene Hutton; directed by Alexandra Scordato
Accidents Long Past by Michael Sause & Stephen Thornton; directed by Scotty Watson
PLUS
ANDSemble Improv, directed by Scotty Watson

 

 

 

 

Lynn Navarra has arrived!

lynnnavarra-001Lynn Navarra is prolific and prophetic. Penning numerous plays, short stories and poems, she has received acclaim for stage works including The Sandman (rumor has that this will be revived later in the season), Vita Sackville West; The Man in the Pink Tower, Leaving Lannahassee, The Price; Maria Callas’ Final Day and Conversations with My Mother. Aside from her current extended sojourn at the venerable American Theater of Actors, she’s had works presented at The Manhattan Theatre Source, Workshop Theatre Company and The Neighborhood Playhouse. And her essay; Mirrors, won the Samhain Contest sponsored by Banshee Studios. Her works are topical and literate, so Drama-Queens jumped at the chance to get in her head for a few lines.

Her current work, Leaving Lannahassee, opens on January 18 at the ATA and tickets can now be purchased online by clicking HERE

Organized crime, mental illness …. heavy stuff. Where do you get your inspirations?

Inspirations come from many places – sometimes even in dreams. I generally find a subject I’m interested in and see what I can do with it. My main focus is always who my characters are and create situations that put them to the test. Once I know who they are, I can begin to see what they would do in a given set of circumstances, how they handle things. I think it was the great playwright Christian Friedrich Hebbel, who said “in a good play, everyone is right.” I believe that to be true because I think people are driven to do the right thing – even if it’s generally accepted as the wrong thing. It may not be what you or I would do but the key is understanding how they got there and how they come to the conclusion of how to get out or move on.  What always matters is what’s in the mind of the character, what motivates him or her to move forth the action of the play, what is the path they must take to see their way through the given predicaments put before them.  The Sandman was inspired by the fact my dad was a police officer in Manhattan and also worked construction on the side.  I have a strong nostalgia for New York City of the 1970’s and have always been interested in the historic crime wave of the Westies that ruled Hell’s Kitchen during that time. I created the circumstances that would throw the two together and although it was challenging, I enjoyed the journey it took me on in the best possible way. My cousin, Chazz Palminteri has also been a great inspiration to me for having witnessed a murder in his childhood and using that disturbing image to create his fantastic story A Bronx Tale. It demonstrates beautifully the level of understanding of characters and how each one deals with his plight.

 

What’s the message of the play?

The message of Leaving Lannahassee is twofold: that here again, everyone is seemingly doing what they think is right, but are they really?  It is an exploration of the mind and in this case doubly daunting for two of the characters because they are dealing with mental illness. My aim was also to send the message that not everything is cut and dry or black and white and what it seems to be. That outside forces and inner emotions combined with psychological elements can reap all kinds of havoc on an individual or individuals with this particular set of circumstances and the way in which they find their way out of them.   It comes down again to developing an understanding of the characters’ plights and their motivation for driving the action of the play.

Why did you become a playwright? Did you always want to work in the arts?

I started out, many years ago, wanting to become an actress and studied both at the Neighborhood Playhouse and HB Studio. And, although I have always written poetry and short stories, it was my acting education that taught me a great deal about dialogue. That is, the theatrical way of speaking – that each line drives forth the next one. That theatrical speech is created to push each line in a scene to move forward the next scene. It comes down to countless decisions and the goal is to keep the train on the track. For me, playwriting has given me my voice unlike other genres of writing that I’ve explored. Writing plays is where I feel most comfortable. I like the challenge of writing dialogue that expresses who the character is. I don’t always get it right but for me, the beauty is getting it as good and convincing as I know how.  I sometimes look at it as Evel Knievel, my childhood hero, setting up all those buses to jump over with his motorcycle.  Each bus for me is a scene that must be cleared to get to the next one and somehow it all has to make sense. Like Evel, I have crashed many times but like him too, I try to always get back up, without the broken bones, of course!

How has it been working at the formidable ATA?

The American Theatre of Actors is a godsend! For forty years, Mr. James Jennings has been working with actors and playwrights to produce plays and give them the exposure we all need. Mr. Jennings and his band of exceptional and multi-talented actors and directors have elevated my mind to the possibilities of the theatre. It is a generous, professional organization and yet it has the feeling of home. I have met so many wonderfully friendly and personable artists there and have enjoyed and learned something from each of them.

What’s after this?

That’s always the question, isn’t it? There are indeed a few things on the horizon! One of which is that I am currently revisiting a play I wrote about Maria Callas. I am interested in her both as the great opera star; La Callas but also, Maria, the woman – her story, her plight. Every character, real or fictional has a backstory and a plight that makes up his or her life. Some are more compelling than others. The external story of Maria Callas is well documented and known. Her internal story has been well analyzed and talked about. I’d like to explore the possibility, through historical fiction, of her revealing more, shedding more light with the goal to hopefully bring even more understanding to this phenomenal star and woman because all things are possible in the theatre.

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