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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

April 25, 2016

Meet Andrea Rausch, Starring as Bird Woman in “Mary Poppins”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:40 am

AndreaRausch

 

Q1: Tell us about your first memory of seeing “Mary Poppins” or reading the books?

I don’t remember reading the books, but I do remember being completely captivated by the movie! I would dance around singing the songs and always wanted to be the guy who sang “I Love to Laugh”, which unfortunately isn’t in the stage production.

 

Q2: What role do you play?   

In this production, I get to play the Bird Woman! I am so excited about this role! The Bird Woman is such a mysterious and mis-understood character. I look forward to getting to know her!

 

Q3: What was the funnest part of the rehearsal process for “Mary Poppins”? 

I am hooked on the entire process of every show. Watching everything come together during rehearsals is so great to watch. Choreography rehearsals are always fun too!

 

Q4: Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in Southern California. I grew up performing! It was always my dream to be a performer and it amazes me every day that I am living that dream! I have lived all over the country and even spent 3 years living in Japan with my husband and two sons.

 

Q5: How did you get involved in theatre?

I remember the first time I ever did a solo was in Middle School and I was hooked! I continued taking classes in school and after school programs and when I was 16 I asked my Mom if I could get an agent… I was hooked!

 

Q6: Where did you receive your theatre training?  

Toward the end of my Junior year of High School, I decided that I wanted to go to an acting conservatory. I did some research and decided to audition for The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I was accepted at the beginning of my Senior year and after graduation, I moved to LA to start school. I ended up being invited back for a second year and completing the program! It was an amazing experience and I gained priceless knowledge about performing and the industry.

 

Q7: Tell us about other theatre experiences?

I have had a wonderful opportunity to perform in multiple states and even in Japan. While living in Pensacola, FL, I had the pleasure of working at the Pensacola Little Theatre where I got to play Ado Annie in “Oklahoma”. That was one of my favs!

 

Q8: Are you excited about tap dancing in “Mary Poppins”?

Tapping… I’m excited about tapping… Wait… Never mind… Feeding the Birds… I’m excited about feeding the birds!

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” continues running April 21 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Featured: Andrea Rausch as Bird Woman in “Mary Poppins”.

 

 

 

 

April 18, 2016

Meet Letty Clay, Starring as Mrs. Corey in “Mary Poppins”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:11 pm

LettyHeadshot

 

Q1: What is your first memory of seeing “Mary Poppins”?

My very first memory of “Mary Poppins” was when I was in grade school, and movies were shown at the drive in, or because I was a California Kid and Disneyland/Hollywood were near, the local library received reels of the current Disney films. My older sisters or our Mom took me to the special screenings. That’s where I saw many Disney films, including “Mary Poppins”.

 

Q2: What role do you play?

I LOVE musicals, and being asked to portray Mrs. Corey has been a delight! I’m super excited about the pageantry of the costume, the Island accent I was encouraged to create for the character and just the shear spectacle of color that is taking place on stage during the infamous SUPER CAL number.

 

Q3: What was the funnest moment of the rehearsal process for “Mary Poppins”?

Charleston Stage rehearsals are usually a hoot from beginning to end. The wonky letters that spell out that fabulous word could easily get the cast into some questionable staging if not careful, where inadvertent spelling of questionable words worthy of censorship, and not meant to be seen by all audiences. The entire cast is comprised of a completely zany group, but I would have to say Andrea Rausch (Bird Woman) keeps me in stitches.

 

Q4: Where are you originally from?

The first 1/3rd of my life was spent in sunny Southern California. In many ways I am still a slightly brown “Valley Girl.” My parents then decided that migrating back East to their childhood home in Mississippi was a bright idea. I did my penance there, graduated high school, and put in a semester at a small community college. Then I made my escape by way of the military. Fast forward through my 20’s, and 30’s and I’ve been a 22+ year resident of Charleston, while raising one daughter and sending her off to college last Fall 2015. I try to travel as much as I can afford to, to visit with my “looks too young for 78-year-old” Mother, my oldest sister outside Dallas, TX, and my middle sister and younger brother, who are now new residents of Las Vegas, NV, my college daughter and all of my other extended family.

 

Q5: How did you get involved with theatre?

During middle school, my music teacher approached my mother and convinced her that I should receive voice lessons. All the time in both high school and college: music and performing were my escape, transporting me to places that looked nothing like “small town” MS. An error in scheduling kept me out of chorus during my Freshman year of high school, but that never happened again. My tuition and fees when I attended college were supplemented by a partial performing arts scholarship. Good times.

A genuine love of singing and music from childhood, and an early introduction to music and theater, led me to the shows and the roles that I’ve been blessed to have. I am super stoked about this part, especially now that I have a full circle understanding of the cliché that “There really are NO small parts… just small actors…”  I continue to learn something from everyone that I have the opportunity to be around, whether director, stage manager, music director, choreographer or fellow actors.

 

Q6: Tell us about other theatre experiences.

Back in 2012, a wonderful friend and theater mentor, Henry C. Middleton, graciously invited me to the “Porgy and Bess” audition, and then somehow convinced the panel to cast me in the ensemble. On the afternoon of our final Sunday matinee of “Porgy and Bess”, the beautiful opera written about Charleston, and performed for the very first time ever on the Dock Street Stage, we strolled down the sidewalk to a cast party. Henry implored me to continue with being involved with theater. One day in 2013, to my surprise I received an email informing me of the auditions for Charleston Stage’s “Gershwin at Folly”. My theater experiences really feel as if they have taken off to another level, just in the last 4 years, especially since becoming involved with Charleston Stage.

 

Q7: Do you get to fly in “Mary Poppins”?

No, but I’m excited for Resident Actors Nathan Burke (Bert) and Carin Lagerberg (Mary Poppins) who will be doing the tap dancing while flying, and the magnificently choreographed ensemble tap and dance numbers as a whole. What the director, designers, stage engineers, costumers, and crew are able to create is simply magic!

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” continues running April 21 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Featured Center Right: Letty Clay as Mrs. Corey in “Mary Poppins”.

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Featured: The cast of “Mary Poppins” perform “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight: The Magical Nursery Set for “Mary Poppins”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:31 am

From Preliminary Sketch to Finished Set

Design Notes from Julian Wiles
Scenic Designer of “Mary Poppins”

 

Folks often ask how we come up with the sets for Charleston Stage productions.  When we get the script we don’t get the sets or even the set designs for the scenery a show needs.  Sets and costumes for Charleston Stage are original and constructed in our own scene shops.

And all of the set designs and scenery for “Mary Poppins” were assigned to me.  I decided to start with the nursery.

In the original production of “Mary Poppins” on Broadway there were actually two sets for the children’s nursery— the nursery itself and a separate set for the rooftop.  With our limited space at the Dock Street Theatre, it seemed to me to make more sense to combine these two locales.  The result gives us an imaginative nursery with the rooftops above it.

I also thought it would be fun to have Michael’s side of the nursery based on a castle and Jane’s on a dollhouse.  From these basic ideas I started with a really rough pencil sketch which you can see below.

Sketch

From this sketch a scale “white model” was created by our production staff.  This is a simple, white cardboard scale model that helps us flesh out the design.  Next  director Marybeth Clark used this model to be sure all the staging she had in mind would work before we moved forward and began to build this set.

Model

Once we had approval from Marybeth, working drawings (blueprints) for the nursery were created and last December our shop staff went to work constructing all of the walls, rooftops and other scenic elements for this enchanting set.  After the walls and roof sections were complete, scenic charge artist Jessica Novo and scores of volunteers, including many of our TheatreWings High School Apprentices, went to work painting all the many details on the set.  To create more depth and a more realistic 3-D look, shading was added to details like the roof shingles and the brick chimneys. The result is this lovely nursery set.

Set

There are some magic tricks hidden here and there on this set, but I won’t give those away.

We hope you are pleased with the result, and remember the nursery set is only one of eight magical sets for “Mary Poppins”!

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” continues running April 21 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

April 15, 2016

Meet Becca Anderson, Starring as Winifred Banks in “Mary Poppins”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 10:17 am

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Q1: Tell us about your first memory of “Mary Poppins”.

I remember singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidicious” all the time as a little girl. Somehow, I remember the song more than Mary Poppins herself.

 

Q2: What role are you playing in “Mary Poppins”.

I’m playing the role of Mrs. Winifred Banks. She’s a little different in the musical than most know her to be from the movie. It’s a nice challenge because I’m often cast in strong roles, whether that be in character or mindset, but Mrs. Banks in this version is a little more timid. She wants to be a strong woman but also wants to do right by her husband. She is without a doubt loving, compassionate and feminine.

 

Q3: Where are you from?

I’m a Georgia Peach turned Northern Virginian turned South Carolinian. I know I’m not supposed to say I’m a Charlestonian… but 20 years has to count for something? I’m proud to call Charleston home.

 

Q4: How did you get involved in theatre?

I’ve always been a little dreamer and dipped my toes in everything. I first dipped my toes in the cold, year-round, 4:30am water as an all-star competitive swimmer and springboard diver (Junior Olympics – 50 meter breaststroke!). Soon, I was also a ballerina, and a baseball, basketball, soccer and tennis player. If my older brothers were doing it then I had to do it too. I found piano, music, voice and my mean go-cart racing skills on my family’s coattails. I think doing everything made me want to be everything. Acting allows me to explore all of those lives.

 

Q5: Where did you receive your theatre training?

I was one of 30 selected to attend the Drama program at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts the summer between my Junior and Senior years of High School. It was an intense 6 weeks of study under top professionals and educators. Everything points back to this moment. I even met one of my best friends and colleagues, David Lee Nelson, at SCGSA.  I went on to earn a BA at College of Charleston in French and Theatre, a Masters in Performing Arts at the Savannah College of Art & Design and studied Music Theatre at NYU.

 

Q6: Tell us about some of your favorite roles you’ve played.

So many! Little Edie in Grey Gardens is a role I’ll keep close to my heart always, Lady of the Lake in Spamalot allowed me to be the queen mermaid I always knew myself to be, Patsy in Always… Patsy Cline was an honor, Lulie in 5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche for taking me out of my comfort zone and for the laughter, Miss Janus in London Wallbecause of her strength, Hennie in Awake and Sing! for not being afraid to pursue her own happiness, Violet in 9 to 5 because it’s 9 to 5!!, Rachel in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson for allowing me to unleash my inner rocker, and last but not least, a role I’d like to play forever – Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein. Yeeessssss!!!!!!!!!

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” continues running April 15 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Becca Anderson as Winifred Banks in “Mary Poppins”.

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From left to right: Charleston Stage Performance Troupe Member Tyler Caplea as Michael Banks, Becca Anderson as Winifred Banks and Charleston Stage Performance Troupe Member Veruka Salomone as Jane Banks.

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From left to right: Guest Actor Patrick Tierney as George Banks, Becca Anderson as Winifred Banks and Charleston Stage Performance Troupe Member Veruka Salomone as Jane Banks.

April 11, 2016

Spotlight: Meet Jane and Michael Banks

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:14 pm
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From left to right: Charleston Stage Performance Troupe Member Tyler Caplea as Michael Banks, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Carin Lagerberg as Mary Poppins and Charleston Stage Performance Troupe Member Veruka Salomone as Jane Banks.

 

Q1: Tell us about your first memory of seeing “Mary Poppins”?

Veruka: I loved the tap dancing! When the chimney sweeps were dancing on the rooftops I was like, WOW!

Tyler: My favorite part of the movie has always been “Step in Time”. I saw the National Tour a few years ago and I loved how Bert tap-danced upside-down on the ceiling in this musical number.

 

Q2: Tell us about playing the role of Jane/Michael Banks.

Veruka: Jane is definitely a dream role. I am so excited to be a part of the magic in “Spoonful of Sugar” and to make the room clean up by itself!

Tyler: Ever since I heard Charleston Stage was doing “Mary Poppins”, I wanted the part of Michael Banks. I never thought I would get it though since this is my first year in Performance Troupe. I couldn’t believe it when I found out I got it. I had a performance at school that night and I remember telling my music teacher that I got the part of Michael and she went crazy. That was when I really realized what a big deal it was.

 

Q3: What was your favorite part of the rehearsal process of “Mary Poppins”?

Veruka: The best part of rehearsal besides the singing and dancing, was hanging out with the other cast members.

Tyler: The most fun thing for me so far was finding out that I got to do some tap-dancing in “Step in Time”.

 

Q4: Where are your from?

Veruka: I grew up in NYC and just moved to the Charleston area a year and a half ago.

Tyler: I was born and raised in Mount Pleasant, SC.

 

Q5: How did you get interested in theatre?

Veruka: My mom always listens to show tunes and brought me to see shows when I was still a toddler. I guess I always just loved theater and wanted to be a part of it.

Tyler: When I was little I loved dressing up in costumes, acting out the parts and putting on shows for people. When I was two and a half I became obsessed with hibachi chefs and imitated everything they did (see photo below). My mom and I would watch You Tube videos so I could learn new tricks. I had little wooden knives and food that I used to pretend. My grandfather even made me an onion volcano out of wood. That was all I played for almost a whole year. My parents had to get a new coffee table because I made so many marks on the old one with my knives. My mom said that I needed to be on the stage and that when I was old enough I had to start taking acting classes. As soon as I turned 5 she signed me up for drama at the rec department.

Tyler

 

Q6: What have been some of your favorite roles you’ve played?

Veruka: At French Woods, I had the role of Cinderella in “Cinderella” which was so much fun! But my first time on stage at the Dock Street Theatre as Minnie May in “Anne of Green Gables” was the most exciting. It was a small role, but I learned so much from the professional actors and it was exciting to be in a “real” theater.

Tyler: Michael Banks is by far my favorite role so far. I really liked playing Jafar in “Aladdin Jr.” last summer with Charleston Stage. The summer before I played JoJo in “Seussical Jr.” When I was 8, I played Tom in “There’s a Monster in My Closet” with Streamline Productions and Andrea Rausch, who is playing the bird lady in our “Mary Poppins”.

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” continues running April 14 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Featured: The cast of “Mary Poppins” performs “Supercal…”

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From left to right: Charleston Stage Performance Troupe Member Tyler Caplea as Michael Banks, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Carin Lagerberg as Mary Poppins, Charleston Stage Performance Troupe Member Veruka Salomone as Jane Banks and Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Nathan Burke as Bert.

 

 

 

April 7, 2016

Meet Patrick Tierney, Starring as Mr. Banks in “Mary Poppins”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 2:35 pm

PatrickTierney

 

Q1: Tell us about your first memory of seeing Mary Poppins.

I remember watching the movie quite a bit as a kid. I was obsessed with the “Spoon Full of Sugar” scene. I saw it for the first time on stage about a year and a half ago and absolutely was crying by the end. It’s a beautiful story.

 

Q2: What role do you play in Mary Poppins?

I play Mr. Banks. A role, I will admit, I didn’t quite feel right for at first. But after day one of blocking rehearsals, I thought “Oh I can absolutely do this!”. He is more stoic and reserved than I tend to be, so it has been fun tapping into a side of myself I rarely get to explore onstage.

 

Q3: What’s been the best part of returning to Charleston to perform?

Definitely working with friends and colleagues at Charleston Stage for the first time since I was a Resident Actor 8 years ago! This fun and trusting environment is just as I remember it!

 

Q4: Where are you from?

I grew up on the Southwest Side of Chicago and have been living in my own apartment on the Northside for 7 years. It is an incredible theatre town and I’m very proud to be living there as a working actor! And equally proud to be back in Charleston for these couple months.

 

Q5: What drew you to theatre and performing?

I saw Maury Yeston’s version of Phantom when I was 7 at the old Candlelight Dinner Playhouse on the Southside of Chicago. Ever since then- I’ve been hooked!

 

Q6: What was your theatre training?

I went to Western Illinois University and received my BFA in Musical Theatre. Right after that I was in Charleston for 10 months as a Resident Actor. I’ve always wanted to come back and work for Charleston Stage again, so this has been a dream!

 

Q7: What were some of your favorite roles you performed with Charleston Stage when you were a Resident Actor?

To this day Tick, Tick…Boom! And A Year with Frog and Toad with Charleston Stage remain two of my favorite theatrical experiences. They were perfect. And incredibly rewarding.

 

Q8: Do you get to fly in Mary Poppins?

I don’t get to fly! Unfortunately. Now THAT would be a dream.

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” runs April 8 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Featured Center Left: Guest Actor Patrick Tierney as Mr. Banks.

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Featured Left: Guest Actor Patrick Tierney as Mr. Banks.

 

 

 

 

April 4, 2016

Meet Carin Lagerberg, Starring as Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 12:52 pm

CarinLagerberg

 

Q1:  Tell us about your first memory of seeing/reading Mary Poppins.

The movie of Mary Poppins is one of my favorites. I don’t specifically remember the first time I saw it, but I do know that I was around four or five–I still have my first copy of it on VHS. I’ve watched it countless times since then, and it always brings me so much joy. Julie Andrews is one of my all-time favorite actresses.

I didn’t start reading the books until last summer after I found out that I had been cast as Mary. They are absolutely charming and give you a lot of insight into who Mary is that the movie doesn’t. She is a lot more vain and stern in the books, though the love and desire to help the Banks family is, of course, the same. P.L. Travers is a brilliantly creative writer who paints extremely vivid word pictures. Through Mary, she really expands the imaginations of Jane and Michael and awakens their desire for adventure, which is a much needed refreshment in our world today where technology does so much of our imagining and thinking for us.

 

Q2:  Is Mary a dream role for you?

Mary is most definitely a dream role for me. I remember seeing the Broadway musical in New York in high school and just being in awe of how such a beloved story had been created into this wonderful production. I’m so excited to bring the joy of Mary Poppins to the Charleston community. We say all the time in rehearsal how you just can’t help but to be happy when you watch it, and I can’t wait to spread that to other people as well.

 

Q3:  What’s been the funnest moment of rehearsal so far?

The best part of rehearsal has been watching everyone’s characters come to life. This cast is so talented, and it has been really fun and interesting to see the different ways that people interpret and add their own personalities to the characters. I also really love the dance in “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” It’s so zany and fun.

 

Q4:  Where are you from?

I grew up in Knoxville, TN. I am a southern girl through and through! Both of my parents are artistic: my mom is an amazing singer and choir director and my dad is a beautiful artist and photographer. I grew up going to choir concerts, plays and the symphony. I can remember many a Saturday afternoon spent listening to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast on NPR.

 

Q5:  How did you get involved in theatre?

I sang with the Knoxville Children’s Choir and Knoxville Opera Children’s Chorus all through elementary and middle school and then began doing more theatre at school and in the community when I was a little bit older. I had a wonderful theatre teacher in high school who really inspired me to pursue performing and teaching as a career. I received further theatre training from Samford University in Birmingham, AL, and graduated last May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre.

 

Q6:  Tell us about another role you’ve loved playing.

One of my favorite roles I played was Jane in the musical Jane Eyre at Samford. The music and story are beautiful, and I really connected with her on a personal level.

 

Q7:  Are you excited about flying?

I’m so excited to fly! I’ve wanted to fly on stage ever since I knew that that was possible, and I can’t wait to finally do it!

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” runs April 6 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Featured Center: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Carin Lagerberg as Mary Poppins.

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Featured Center: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Carin Lagerberg as Mary Poppins.

 

 

 

 

Spotlight: Gale Ray, Talented Painter and Volunteer

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 10:06 am

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Featured: Gale Ray painting the faux fireplace in the Banks’s house on Cherry Tree Lane.

 

Q1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you originally from and what is your involvement in the arts?

I’m from Meridian, MS, and have lived in Charleston for 19 years. Before coming to Charleston, I lived in Savannah for 8 years. I earned my MFA in Fiber Arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I taught at the college for 2 years then pursued a career as a fiber artist. I developed a fabric that was part clear and part solid which I painted and assembled in layers to create three dimensional tapestries. My focus was on creating man-made and natural passageways or portals. I exhibited and sold my work in high-end juried craft shows throughout the country namely the Smithsonian Craft Show, Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, American Craft Expo in Chicago, the Washington Craft Show and all the major American Craft Council craft shows.

In 2000 I changed direction studying faux painting with Nicola Vigini in San Antonio Texas and Faux Effects International in Vero Beach. My focus was on plaster finishes, Venetian plaster, mother of pearl plaster, glaze patinas, wood graining and furniture. One of my faux grained doors adorns the East Bay Street entry of the Edmondston-Alston Museum House.

Recently I have been concentrating on painting oil on canvas with a focus on Low-Country landscape. My style is minimal, color field painting with emphasis more on atmosphere than image. My paintings can be seen on line at www.galeray.net.

 

2) How long have you lived in Charleston and what do you enjoy most about Charleston?

I love living in Charleston with my partner of 27 years who is a professional violinist. I have a son who lives in Orlando with his wife and my 2 grandsons. I enjoy biking, yoga, going to the beach, doing yardwork and attending concerts. I love seafood, oyster roasts and going to Charleston’s wonderful array of fine restaurants. I enjoy getting from one place to another while experiencing expansive marsh views and subtle color changes. Charleston is a true inspiration for an artist.

 

3) How did you come across Charleston Stage and volunteering for the company?

My partner and I were walking down Warren Street one day several weeks ago and I was drawn into the studio as I watched a set being built. Josh Wetzstein, Charleston Stage’s Technical Director, greeted me and I said I would love to help paint. We exchanged info and here I am… having fun painting. I’m having a wonderful time helping paint the set for “Mary Poppins”.

Thank you to Josh Wetzstein for calling me and for Jessica Nova (Charleston Stage’s Shop Carpenter) for giving me directives on what needed to be painted. I have enjoyed hanging out with the cast and crew and all the other artists who help produce the show.

 

If you would like to learn more about the Backstage Volunteer Opportunities with Charleston Stage, click here.

 

 

 

March 31, 2016

Meet the Actor Behind the Iconic Role of Bert

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:31 am

Nathan_Burke_Headshot

 

Q1: How familiar were you with “Mary Poppins” before starting this rehearsal process?

I’ve definitely seen the movie before. But it’s been so long, I honestly don’t remember. But I saw the show on Broadway in 2007 and it was absolutely stunning. “Step In Time” is a particularly unforgettable number and I’ll probably remember seeing Bert’s proscenium walk for the rest of my life.

It’s also been very helpful to be able to peruse the collection of P.L. Travers’s stories that my fellow cast member Carin (Mary Poppins) has. It’s made piecing together backstories and motivation for Bert much easier and certainly enjoyable.

 

Q2: What’s it like playing the iconic role of Bert?

Bert is challenging for an actor like me, who feels more comfortable and effective in roles where the character is more subdued and possibly cerebral, as Bert is very extroverted and expressive; a true jack of all trades. That’s not to say he doesn’t have quite a lot going on underneath, but he’s certainly comfortable in his own skin and not afraid to lead a parade through the park or dance across the rooftops. It’s exciting and challenging because it forces me to be someone quite unlike myself, which I think is always valuable for a performer.

 

Q3: What’s been your favorite moment of this entire rehearsal process with “Mary Poppins”?

It’s probably a tie between the production numbers “Jolly Holiday” and “Step In Time”! Both of these numbers are so exciting to perform in! Though really any moment in the show where the ensemble is greatly involved and we get to re-rehearse, each time finding different ways to connect and play off of each other, is really, really fun, and I think what makes the show memorable.

 

Q4: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m a Texan, through and through. I was born in Midland, TX, home of oil and high school football, and moved to Keller, right outside of Ft. Worth, just before I turned six. Keller is where I grew up and the place I call home.

 

Q5: Where did you recently graduate from college?

I went to Ole Miss in Oxford, MS, and graduated in May 2015 with a BFA in Musical Theatre. I owe much of my development in performance, including my studying habits as an actor, my voice training, and my discovery of my love of tap (really the only sort of dance I think I do very well at all) to their wonderful theatre department and staff.

 

Q6: What are some of your favorite past roles you’ve played?

In high school, I got to play Bat Boy in “Bat Boy: The Musical”, and it’s the first role I played in a musical where I discovered what I wanted to do with my life, so it has a very fond place in my heart. I also played Clive Paget/John Jasper in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at Ole Miss which was a BLAST. He’s just so silly and dark. It’s a role I hope I get to play again.

Weirdly enough, I also really enjoy working with puppets. I was in a production of “Avenue Q” with Ghostlight Repertory Theatre, a student-run group on the Ole Miss campus, where I got to play Nicky, Trekkie Monster and a Bad Idea Bear, and lent a hand in helping construct the puppets. That’s a production I’m very proud to have been a part of. Also, getting to control the Audrey II puppets in “Little Shop of Horrors” for Charleston Stage this past fall was one of my favorite experiences.

 

Q7: Are you excited about flying, tap dancing upside down in “Mary Poppins”?

More than anything. I absolutely can’t wait. I’m also very much looking forward to seeing and hearing the crowd react. I’m hoping it’ll give them an experience they’ll never forget.

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” runs April 6 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Featured: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Nathan Burke as Bert.

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Featured Left to Right: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actors Carin Lagerberg as Mary Poppins and Nathan Burke as Bert.

 

 

 

March 4, 2016

“Shear Madness” Director Jesse Siak Trains In Washington, D.C.

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 2:40 pm

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Featured From Left to Right: Charleston Stage Director Jesse Siak with veteran Shear Madness Director Bob Lohrmann on the set of Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

This past November, Charleston Stage Director Jesse Siak spent 3 days in Washington, D.C., to “train” for directing Shear Madness this month. Even though much of Shear Madness is improvised (from time to time the audience votes on what happens next and actors have to react)— it requires enormous preparation. Leading the training was Bob Lohrmann who has performed every male role in the show and directed it for the Kennedy Center for over 30 years!

“When I first met Bob,” admitted Jesse, “I was intimidated. What does a 26-year-old director like me have to say to this guy who’s been a part of the Shear Madness family for longer than I’ve been alive? Then something great happened. Bob made me laugh. Then I made him laugh. We were thick as thieves from that point on, discussing the show’s logistics, tricks, improvisations, challenges and his greatest successes and even some things that had fallen flat. Each day I would wake up at my hotel, do some homework at breakfast then race to meet Bob at the theatre where we would talk for hours about this show that has been running non-stop in Washington and Boston for more than 30 years and has been produced around the world. I feel honored to be bringing this unique show to Charleston for the first time. After our talks, I’d race back to my hotel, grab some dinner and then head over to the Kennedy Center to see the show each night to see which choices the audience would make that night and how the cast would respond to them. Though the basic script is only 40 pages long there are an additional 130 pages of potential plot changes and endings depending on what choices the audiences makes (The audience votes throughout the evening on what happens next). Though it was scary to realize I would soon be directing this amazing show, I also realized that if you’re about to do something artistic and it doesn’t scare you at least a little, what’s the point? If someone like Bob had not taken some big chances on Shear Madness years ago, it would never have seen the light of day. Since its premiere in Boston in 1980, millions of patrons have laughed out loud and fallen in the aisles delighting in the hilarity of the show.”

Shear Madness opens next week for a three week run Mar. 11 – 27, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online at CharlestonStage.com.

 

 

 

 

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