Monday, October 29, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 12 - by Kyle Sorrell (Tucker)

Alright folks, WE ARE OPEN !!!

This is the most fun i've had onstage in a while!
Compared to most tech rehearsals, the proccess of the
last week was smoooooth sailing - thanks to the great
April Smith heading up a team of the most capable and
delightful group of designers, technicians and actors
in the valley. And I'm not just saying that because I
want to work here again and again, I mean it! As an
actor, there are times you look around at the project
you're in and go, "Why did I get into this line of
audiences have been warm and giving and it just makes
us want to give more back. It reminds us that the
theatre is the most unique and interactive form of art
you can indulge in.

Ok.. bla bla bla, praise praise praise, the point of
this BLOG is THIS ...If you are reading this and
thinking, "Hmm...I dunno if I'll have a chance to see
this show or not." or you are on the fence at all, GET

Whatever you're excuse is - we got the answer:

Mother-in law's in town?? Bring her. She'll love it!

Too much homework?? You gotta take a break some time
so laugh it up & you'll feel refreshed and be more
productive later.

Gotta wash your hair? Leave it dirty. The theatre's
dark anyway and no one's looking.

You're cat's sick? Give her a pat and some catnip and
get your butt to the theatre.

I promise you will feel as lucky as I do to be there
that night. You will laugh a LOT and choke up a
little, just like I do. You will feel the raw and
active direction of Ron May, the the poignant wit of
Richard Dresser, the sweet nostalgia of Ben Monrad's
sound design, the contagious energy of a superb cast,
and the joy of Actors Theatre.

(I know, kinda nice to write your own reviews, huh?
Well, come and see it and you can post your own!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 11 - by Joseph Kremer (Spud)

Friday October 26, 2007 9:39am

I am freaking out. This is probably the most stressed out I have ever been in my life. I'm sitting here in my philosophy class at ASU and I am not concentrating at all, whatsoever. How can I when this is PREVIEW NIGHT BABY! We are SO gonna rock the stage tonight and we will all live forever in ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN! What makes me so damn sure? Come see the show and findout baby. A little Uber-confident? I don't think so. I've seen the show. I like it. You will too.

I absolutely love my job. This is the kind of job that people dream about doing and believe me, I am taking full advantage of it. The other day I walked by a row of cubicles and told all the losers in them that they need to QUIT THEIR DAY JOBS and WORK ON THEIR CRAFT! QUIT YOUR DAY JOB! hahaha! What a bunch of dopes!hahahaha! LOOK AT ME! I'M WEARING FLIP FLOPS! JEALOUS? HELL YEAH YOU ARE! WELP, GOTTA GO TO WORK! HAHAHA! Okay, I'm just kidding, I didn't do that. Not everyone has sufficient mental illness to become an actor, but lucky for me I fit the bill. My therapist told me so. I love you all, I'm so glad you're here reading this. I have an absolute whirlwind of emotion going oninside of me right now and I cannot WAIT to get on that stage. The initial personal crisis I had when I walked into stage west and saw that set (which looks like it should be on the cover of AMERICAN THEATRE magazine) and into my dressing room that I share with GENE and KYLE (which is a dream of many girls I know) is now gone. I am feeling so GOOD about this show because it is so professionally done and constructed. My lines are learned. My costume is magnificent. My friends are here. I love my job.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 10 - by Chris Wood - Actors Theatre's fearless and brilliant Technical Director

The Stage is quiet. The set complete. No more construction. No notes to finish. The time in the process has come when I let go of this show and concentrate on the next. I received the preliminary plans this morning and its construction is to start soon. But as I am locking up the tools for the night I am overcome by a strange feeling. A sort of emptiness. There is no next Actors Theatre show for me. There are no more time lines and deadlines, no meetings and planning, no ordering of materials or watching budgets. For the first time in eight years there is no next show. I only received the plans this morning because my name has not been removed from the scene shop email macro button. Another person will be dealing with all the things that has filled my professional life all these years. Actors Theatre will go on, just not with me.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with me I have had the pleasure of being Actors Theatre's Technical Director for many a moon now. What do I do you ask? The short answer is that when you watch our shows, anything that does not move (actors) or is electrical (lights) is my responsibility either in planing or construction. Much like a Director takes the Playwright's words and gives them life, I take the Set Designer's vision and make it a reality. I have joked before that the Audience only sees Matthew's labors three or four shows a season, but they see mine every show making me, as they say, “the hardest working man in show business”.

In my Tenure at Actors Theatre we have tried to bring you a wide variety of things scenically. Some have been successful (I still remember the audible gasp from the woman seated in front of me when the curtain rose on the set from The Archbishop's Ceiling), some have been a challenge (just how do you build a $30,000 revolving door for Lobby Hero with only $200), and some just flat out did not work (you never saw the giant spaceship and levitating grass in Border Town, they were cut the day before opening). No matter what the outcome was however I always enjoyed answering the question “Can I do it?”. I like to think that in the end the answer was always yes.

So why am I leaving you ask? Well after much consideration, I have decided to return to the land of my youth in Oregon to reconnect with my family. But as I prepare to go, I realize more and more that I am leaving behind another family. My Actors Theatre Family. Little did I realize the opportunities I would have and people I would meet, as I drove that old moving truck through the painted desert and into town in 1999. I have had the pleasure to work with so many talented and gifted people in this organization, from directors to office managers and everyone in between. To be honest, someplace deep inside me is a dark desire that when I leave all hell will break loose and the company will come to a grinding halt. That will not be the case however, as you would be hard pressed to find a finer group of caring and passionate individuals anywhere else. The shows will go on without me.

Along with the staff of Actors Theatre there is another important member of this wonderful family. You. The patrons who support Actors Theatre. Just like a family, sometimes we disagree on things (not every show can be a musical or comedy) but you have always been there when we have been in need. I thank you. I am confident that with your support Actors Theatre will continue on for a good long while.

I wish I did not have to leave this wonderful extended family. I wish I could some how bend the laws of time and space so I could live in Oregon but commute to Phoenix. But I am just a guy who is good with a hammer and saw, I think a sci-fi teleporter is a bit out of my league. Maybe I could do it in about 20 years if I took some quantum physics night classes. Who knows. Well it is getting late and these boxes are not packing themselves. As Shakespeare said “all the world is a stage”, so I had better get back to preparing for my venue change.

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 10 - by Lindsey Marlin (Jodi)


All right, people...the blog war is ON. How many can we collectively post, huh? HUH?
Kudos to Joe's MADLIBS blog. That took me back...

To like, last week.

God, I'm pathetic.

Go '80's!

Anyway, we start tech tonight and I really can't wait. This is my Actors Theatre debut, so this is my first official night in Stage West.

It's a beautiful space, with its three tiers and intimate setting, and it will be a lot of fun to finally see the completed set within it. I'm looking forward to a possible tangible version of the "Slam, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" as well (see my previous post)!

So, that's all for now. Updates post-tech.


The "Slam, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" be damned! Sorry, Gene. It's looking really sturdy, that door frame. Furthermore, the entire set looks lovely and our upwardly mobile little family even has "granite" countertops! And sconces! Very nice sconces, I might add (Go Kim!). We nearly completed the initial tech of Act I tonight, so in 4.5 hours, I think we made pretty good time. It's so fascinating, this theatre thing. All these people contributing to the "whole" of mounting a production. I mean, the teamwork, the unity, the's just so humbling, in my opinion. In a world where so much crap is occurring on a regular basis, where so much crap is occurring in the macrocosm, it's really nice to see the OPPOSITE occurring in this microcosm. God, I love theatre.

Anyway, this is way too deep and I've got to head to bed.

Until later,
Lindsey Marlin
Actor/Voiceover Artist

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 9 - by Katie McFadzen (Annie)

Oh, the pressure! To blog or not to blog...I'm the only one in the cast who hasn't yet so here I clever...quick...say something smart, interesting and funny...uh...drawing a blank...and...I've... got...nothing. Except a whole lot of ellipses. I can say I'm thoroughly enjoying this experience. It's thrilling to finally work with Ron May and fabulous to get to work with April again after so many years. A talented team, indeed. As an actor who often works with the same group of actors over and over (an amazing group of actors, I might add), it's good to get out of my comfort zone and work in the rehearsal hall with new-to-me actors. Observation is the best way for an actor to learn and I'm learning things every day. It's been fun to watch Kyle, who often plays the hottie hunk type, dive head first into his awkward and socially inept character. The process of watching Joe dig deep and find his inner sleaze has been truly valuable. In addition to being a very funny, kind, and supportive performer, Gene has proven to be a master of "propography" (the ability to navigate the movement of many props while still speaking) and the "frosted mini-beat" (just taking a tiny little moment for a look or a breath before moving on to the next idea). I can't imagine Lindsay was ever the rebellious teen she has turned into in this show...she reminds me a bit of myself at that age. I can still hear my dad saying "you have a rotten disposition, Kathrine." I'm better now. My favorite thing, I think, is Richard Dresser's ability to put words together. Things like "existential paralysis" and "soul-crushingly dull" come to mind. Wanna hear more cool word pairings? Come to the show! And bring your friends! The only reason you're reading this is because you already support Actors Theatre or you're in the cast (or because my mom sent you the link). So turn some other people on to this great company...if you tell two people then they'll tell two people and so on and so on...(remember that commercial, crap, just dated myself).

Love, Katie

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 8 - by Kyle Sorrell (Tucker)


It’s 12:52pm and It’s all "gooooooooood." (ed note: that joke will make sense after you see the show :) )

I have now completely immersed myself in this "actor" culture and I think they have accepted me as one of their own. All except the bearded one they call "Joe." There is something not quite right about this one. He’s looking at me a bit funny today, and is no doubt hung over as usual.

After the scene’s goals are met, we break into a conversation contemplating the shapes and sizes of various types of potatoes.

Observers of The Pursuit of Happiness are asked the question, "How did we all get here?" So I pose these difficult questions to the Magic 8 Ball:

How did Katie get to be so funny? (I think she’s coming down with Tourrette’s)

How did Gene get so "goooood." (He really come’s alive with a tazer in his hand.)

How did Lindsey get to be so perfect? (I think she actually got a line note yesterday)

…and just how did Joe get to be so……...tall?

The world may never know. But l am eagerly awaiting my final initiation into the group on opening night. It’s called "cast bonding" and I can only hope it’s not too painful, and that I will finally feel the pleasures of the elusive "coolio" I am promised (see yesterday's blog about "coolio".)

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 7 - by Gene Ganssle (Neil)

Happiness 10/22

We're about to go into tech and I am having a blast.
This is has turned out to be one of the funnier productions I've worked on.
Now, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow was funny, but on this show I'm actually dealing with a challenge that hasn't arisen for me for over 10 years:
breaking up during a scene.
I've worked with both Kyle (Tucker) and Joe (Spud) before, and they are doing such great work that it still makes me laugh. I have been gradually winning the fight -- most decent actors do, but I really think Kyle is now having fun seeing if he can still "get me".
I know he'll get to audiences.


Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 6 - by Joseph Kremer (Spud) Blog-o-rama part deux)

Saturday October 20, 2007 12:03pm

Well hello. Here i am in rehearsal and i'm not going to lie to you people. I'm a little hungover. I think i can totally 'act' like i'm not hungover, but it's not going to be easy.

Our Artistic Director Matthew is coming to see our little run thru today and i really think it's important to at least look like i know what i'm doing. See? This job isn't that different from most other jobs, except of course construction :)

We're "working" some scenes right now. "Working" is the technical theatre term for "working on the scenes to make them a little crisper". Right now the one i'm watching is looking pretty crispy. fabulicious. I woke up this morning at 10:17am and had a bowl ofCorn Pops. i wanted something that wasn't too rich orfast foodish, so that seemed to fit the bill. Oh yespeople, I can tell you're jealous of the glamour. Just picture me sitting on the couch with a bowl of Corn Pops, hung-over hair sticking up on the top of my head with my dog Kramer starting at me with a look of disappointment. kind of like everybody looks at my character spud in the show. you'll see. my scene is coming up. gotta go.

Saturday October 20, 2007 12:40pm

Ok, I'm back. Well that went pretty well. i think ihave them all fooled about me being hungover. I don't think they suspect a thing, thank God. (ed. note from ron - the director: he fooled no one.) Ah...the glamour of this business that we call "show."Kyle's giving me strange looks today. i think he's getting into character. Oh God, wait till you see this guy on stage. he is so damn funny. Ok, back to work.

Saturday October 20, 2007 7:16pm rehearsal is now over and i am at my house getting ready to start some homework for school. I'm sitting here at my computer desk wearing a t-shirt and jeans writing this blog mainly because it provides me with a wonderful and fully justified implement of procrastination. So here's what happened at the rest of rehearsal:

We had two more people come and see our little run-thru today. One of them was our "prop master" which is a technical theatre term for "the person in charge of things that we use on stage during the performance." The other one was a girl that works at the Herberger and helps us backstage during the run. I'm not sure with what but I'm very eager to find out. It did go quite well though. There were some things that i was sure Ron was going to give me some notes on, but he didn't. i hope it wasn't because he was sleeping while i was doing my scenes. (ed. note from ron - the director - i wasn't.) nah! Anywho, everyone did really really good. I really wish could tell you about the story a little bit so icould talk about which scenes i like the best, but everyone at Actors Theatre is afraid that i'll giveaway too much information about the plot and ruin the story. I guess i can understand that, it just makes ithard to discuss the show if i have to describe things like, "we were working the scene where Gene _____ me in the ______ and so i had to _____ on the stage, but i keep _____ on my _____ so I had to ask April for a_______."

You see what I mean? it's very difficult. I feel like i work for the CIA and can't tell my spouse how my day was at work.

wife: "How was your day honey?"

CIA agent: "Well, I was _____ the hell out of this______ when finally he started telling us where_____Bin _____ was. Then Agent ______ came in and told me about how when we get ready to _______ Iran we have to make sure that _______ is out of the country before the poisonous ___ starts to kill everyone."

wife: "Well that's nice dear."

CIA agent: "Damn it's hard to talk to you about my day. Well, i'm off to Cambodia."

wife: "Goodbye dear. Have a nice trip. Bring me backsome hash."

You see what I mean?

Okay, this has gone on long enough.

I have to dohomework.

much love!

I'll write more tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 5 - by Kyle Sorrell (Tucker)


(To be read in the voice of Will Shatner...)

Tuckers log, star date 10.18.07, 6pm. It’s been two and a half weeks now since we landed on planet "Pursuit of Happiness" and everyone seems to be adjusting nicely to the strange environment we call "the rehearsal hall." The inhabitants of this creative atmosphere call themselves "actors" and seem to live off of mainly skittles and coffee. They have peculiar rituals like speaking to themselves in the hallway, or pretending to be in love, and tirelessly repeating bits off dialog they call "scenes."

The fearless leader of this entertaining clan is called "Ron" and he offers insight on how to extract the most interesting and humorous ways to perform their rituals. When pleased with their work, he rewards them with the promise of something called "coolio!" but I have not yet seen him produce such a thing. I must probe further to find out exactly what this "coolio" is. I suspect it’s some kind of sweet carbonated beverage.

I admit the strange energy of planet "Happiness" is contagious and I often find myself erupting into laughter while watching these specimens at play.

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 4 - by Lindsey Marlin (Jodi)

Hello! This is Lindsey Marlin, and I play Jodi in The Pursuit of Happiness. Ron asked us to blog, so here's my first installment.

Enjoy, ruminate, go and get some snack food.

We are officially one week away from opening and three days away from the start of tech. Are we ready? Sure we are! Granted, we are still working out some of the minutiae (I love this word), but that is to be expected. One thing I love about all of this pre-tech stuff is the notes. Lots o' notes. Notes occur during tech, too, but pre-tech notes seem to be a little more juicy. So, we just keep playing with new things and seeing where that gets us. It's a funny show. It'll be great to have an audience.
As for the rehearsal process, the entire thing has been nothing short of wonderful. First off, behind the rehearsal table, you have the dynamic duo of April and Ron. April is our fearless stage manager or stage LEADER, as Katie likes to say, and Ron is our brilliant director.

The amount of insight pouring forth from this table is seriously palpable. I mean, it's scary. In a good way, of course, but it's so nice to know that you're being both challenged and taken good care of.

Now, I'm not sure if I should be ending sentences with "of," something about that is striking me as B- work, but I'm going to let it slide for the sake of blog-dom. But I digress. As I was saying, Ron is so insightful, it's scary, April is so on-the-ball, it's scary, and Joe is just scary. HAHAHA. Kidding. Only when he's teaching us things that we never wanted to learn (man-toe?). Or did we :)? Kyle and Gene share with us the highs and lows of real estate, and Katie brings us laughs, stories of Childsplay, and Skittles. Rehearsal is a little like home! We've created an amazingly talented little 6-week family!

So...let's talk happiness. It's a good word: Happiness. It's not as good a word as sphygmomanometer (bonus points if you actually know what this is), but it’s close. Contrary to Jodi, perhaps, I think that happiness is something we actually have to pursue everyday, and I think this is because it is ultimately so elusive. If you don't choose it, if you don't go searching for it, you're not going to find it, I think, with any regularity. You may find it on occasion, "happy accidents" as it were, but it's going to be difficult. Very difficult. Especially if you're negative a lot! Like me :)! Well, I’m Italian. Not that all Italians are negative. But I'm working on it, the happiness part, and thus the daily pursuance!

So...the things that make me happy?

Well, there's the usual fare: my family, friends, and dogs. But as far as other, more esoteric things that make me happy, let's break out the bullet list...
-The fact that my February birthday is no longer freezing since I now live in the Southwest
-Heroes, on NBC, Mondays at 8PM
-The "clicky" thing that locks and unlocks my car doors
-OSU Football (Go Buckeyes!)
-Gene Ganssle's patented, "Slam, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle," hand gesture as he slams the imaginary front door and imitates the most likely still moving door frame of our set...
And I'll stop there. :)

Come and see the show. It'll make you happy.


Lindsey Marlin

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 3 - by Gene Ganssle (Neil)

"Happiness" rehearsal 10/19/07

If you wanted to peek inside my head right now, you would find I have a lot in common with "Tuck". (Tucker - the character in the show)

There's always a lot of strangely mixed feelings as I move into tech. rehearsal with a show.
Don't get me wrong: this show is very funny and very wonderful, thanks to great scripting, casting and direction.
But it's the challenge of making everything come together.
Last night I was trying to balance all of the specific work with all of the notes and changes, along with three pages of line notes (April hears ALL) and incorporate it all into the run.
All I can say is I'll need to run it some more. But we are very close to having another unique and wonderful Actor's Theatre show. That's the reason, despite all I've just said, I love working here!
Come and see why for yourself.
Gene Ganssle

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 2 - "Gauntlet o' Blogs" by Joseph Kremer (Spud)

October 19, 2007 2:05pm

Well here we are, exactly one week before opening. My name is Joe Kremer and I am an actor in The Pursuit ofHappiness. We are just now beginning a "stumble thru"which is a technical theatre term to describe a"stumbling through the whole show". Ha. It's really neat to see the whole show come to fruition. It never ceases to amaze me how these "shows" which is a technical theatre term to describe "the show", come together. I am getting ready to begin my first scene. Am I nervous? Nah...I know my lines. I got my costume. I got my props. We made tremendous strides in the rehearsal last night and I made a breakthough in a scene that was certainly my weakest one. That's a feeling that is very hard to explain, this feeling of "making a breakthrough". But now I'm going to try and tell you how it feels: Try not going to the bathroom for like three days. And then finally the next morning, go. That's about it.

Ok, my scene is getting close. talk to ya in a bit!

October 19, 2007 2:47pm

Okay, all done. My Act I scenes are now done and I'm feeling pretty good about them. I'm watching the rest of Act I now and it is very entertaining. This is the stuff that's entertaining to me, watching the whole Act I and seeing all the things that we've changed and added since the first day. If you've never done a play before this process is very intriguing. It's one of the reasons that stage acting is so addicting, why actors quit their day jobs, why actors leave their spouses and try to do this full time. Ummm...but I digress. When you see a play on stage it is certainly not the same play that was being rehearsed in the first week. Really incredible to watch. Right now Kyle (Sorrell - playing Tucker) is cracking me up in his scene. I usually don't laugh out loud during rehearsals, but I can't help myself with this one. I love this rehearsa ltoday, it's going very well so far. For those of you that don't know how our schedule is, let me break it down for you:

- We arrive at the Herberger at about 2pm and start rehearsing until about 6pm or so.

- Then we break for dinner for an hour and come back at 7 and rehearse some more.

The other day Ron asked me how it was on our side (as an actor) working for eight hours.

I thought about it for a second and said it wasn't hard at all...rehearsing for eight hours is not like working across the street at a consruction job for eight hours. Believe me, I know, I've worked those jobs. When you do what you enjoy doing the time you spend doing it doesn't feel like work. For me rehearsal is always over too soon. That's what I really meant tosay.

More later.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blogette: the set.

ha. rhyming things make me happy, too. ron again. posting a color rendering of Kimb Williamson's gorgeous set. (click on the image and you can see it full size!)

and this is just a drawing.

wait 'til you see what it REALLY looks like :)

you'll be happy. very happy. so get your tickets already!

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 1 - Ron May

i suppose leading by example is never a bad thing. and if i really want the cast and design team to blog...guess i better start. and seeing as i don't have rehearsal this afternoon, i really don't have any excuse.
for those of you unfamiliar with our blog, my name is ron may - i'm the director of The Pursuit of Happiness - the 2nd play in Richard Dresser's comedic trilogy riffing on "Happiness in America".

rehearsals thus far have been nothing short of a blast. i can honestly say i don't think i have laughed this hard in rehearsals in like...ever. seriously feels like putting the 'play' back into the idea of doing a 'play'. i'm sure a lot of that has to do with how close to home a lot of this play hits. lord knows going into 'theatre' my family tried to be supportive - but always wanted to know why i wasn't going to law school. (insert retching noises here...not that there's anything wrong with going to law school, but...for me, the idea resonated as soundly as tin foil on a filling.)

i remember everybody seemed to know better than i did what i should be doing. and i can't say i didn't often wonder if they were right. i certainly don't NOW, but theatre is as big a gamble to try and get into as i guess i can see where they were coming from.

ah, hindsight.

there's been a lot of very cerebral ruminating in the process about 'what does happiness mean?'...'what IS happiness'...

it's sad that my responses tend to come off a bit more flip than most.

while there's truth that my friendships, my relationship and my cat make me happy...few things rival the unbridled schoolgirl GLEE i get from stupid things...

- like the fact that project runway is coming back to tv in a month.

- amercia's funniest home videos. which is beyond weird. i used to hate this show more than i hated paying bills. now...i can't get enough it. show me a grandmother losing her dentures in a bagel or someone (especially a kid) walking headfirst into a glass door? i'm putty.

- the giddy anticipation i have for the film version of sweeney todd. christmas can't come soon enough.

- saturdays. because saturday nights are the nights i don't 'watch what i eat.' and i should own stock in del taco as a result.

- cake!!! we fat kids love our cake. don't judge.

- people farting in public at wildly inappropriate moments. (not that there are sanctioned 'appropriate' moments to rip one, but...)

- overheard in new york. one of the hands down funniest websites ever ever.

- the comic i put in this blog. name a few. (and keeping the NC-17 answers out of the work blog.)

the question also comes up of "if you're UNhappy...what would make you happy?"


come see the show.

you'll see me smile so hard you'll think i had work done.

and by the time the show's'll be smiling so hard everyone will think YOU've had work done.

or took a lot of prozac. give or take.

hope to see you at the theatre!

You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation.
– Bette Davis