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Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

September 20, 2012

Meet Arielle Kook, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:12 pm

Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Arielle Kook

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I grew up Columbia, Maryland; Maadi, Egypt; and Herzliyya Petuach, Israel. As a child I did a lot of things at different times: cross country, soccer, cheerleading, dance, softball, gymnastics, piano, voice lessons, student council, reconciliation peace programs between Germans and Jews and Arabs and Israelis and Model United Nations. Even though many of my extra-curricular activities changed throughout the years and I moved schools often, I was always involved with theatre. It wasn’t until college though that I really focused on theatre more than anything else. I grew up singing at the piano with my mom and she really nurtured my love for musical theatre.

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: James Madison University in Virginia

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: I worked at Theatre by the Sea in Rhode Island. My favorite roles are Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone and Ado Annie in Oklahoma.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing Margot in Legally Blonde? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: I prepared for doing my role in Legally Blonde by reading the script and trying to find clues into who Margot was besides a dumb, pretty sorority girl. I wanted to figure out how she was different from Serena or Pilar because that would make her interesting (even though they are a trio that do a lot of movement together). I wanted to find the part of her that was in me and the part of her that wasn’t in me that I would have fun living in. I was excited for her comic bits and for getting to be a confident annoying sorority girl without thinking twice about how it may be perceived. I was excited to make her human and real.

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past three weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing Margot?
A: I look forward to shaking off the cheer “spirit” that Serena says Paulette needs, I look forward to giving ridiculous facial expressions during the beginning of Bend and Snap, I look forward to the exciting opportunity of being the first actor onstage for each show, and I look forward to the little exchanges and back stories I and the actors make with each other behind the forefront action of the last court room scene. It’s just so fun to play make believe and live in the world of Malibu, Greek Chorus, and Harvard every night. Who wouldn’t want to live there for 2 hours?!

 

Q: Please share with us your thoughts and experience so far on being a Resident Actor with Charleston Stage.
A: I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a challenge to teach. I think the most important thing is continuing to tell myself that I have good things to say and teach. Each age group is so different and needs a different kind of teacher and a different kind of lesson. I love people though, so it has been really fun to figure out what each group needs differently based on their skill level, age, and personalities. I am a person who often sits back and lets other people lead, not out of laziness, but just because I consider myself a “quieter” leader. In teaching, you can’t really be a quiet leader. I have had to learn how to implement my thoughts in the lessons and lead even if I am teaching with someone who in any other group situation, I would let them be the leader. As far as being a resident actor, I have really enjoyed that freedom to play in performance. I feel like this is a safe place for me to explore my art as a young actor and make bold choices. The rehearsal process for Legally Blonde was a blast. I am looking forward to doing so many different types of shows this season and growing as an actor as I adapt to each new challenge that comes my way! It’s a journey always. Never a dull moment.

 

Featured 2nd From Right: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Arielle Kook as Margot in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

Featured Front Center: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Arielle Kook as Margot in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

 

Costumer in Residence Barbara Young on Designing “Legally Blonde”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:10 pm

Costumes for a modern show are always more challenging than a period show because there is just so much more to consider. This show was especially so due to the numerous changes that Elle required and the great number of actors playing multiple roles. But even with all its drawbacks, it was great fun. Pink really isn’t my favorite color, but I have to say that we have some very neat pink outfits on stage. We are very proud of getting the costumes to work so well that the changes on stage are seamless and happen just as needed. Costumes for the Greek chorus were the biggest question because we didn’t want to do a faded look of the original costumes. It took a little extra time to decide on the right look but afterwards, the little pink outfits worked perfectly and everyone knows who they are in the show. The same thought was given to Carlos and Josh’s portrayal along with his costume bringing the house down. I have to say, the little pink suit Elle Woods wears in the Courtroom scene sure looks smart as do all those graduates.

 

The Greek Chorus and Guest Actor Vanessa Moyen as Elle Woods sing "So Much Better."

 

Guest Actor Vanessa Moyen as Elle Woods in her courtroom pink suit.

 

Center: Brooke Bazemore as Chutney being drilled by Guest Actor Vanessa Moyen as Elle Woods during the courtroom scene.

 

 

 

Meet Josh Harris, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:11 am

Featured Center: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Josh Harris.

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A:I grew up in Texas. There was a community theatre that would come into my elementary school and perform every month. The actors announced at the end of the performance about auditions for the next show with the theatre. I went, was cast in Charlottes Web and I knew I had found my home. That was 4th grade.

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I studied theatre at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

 

Q: What are some of your favorite roles?
A: Some of my favorite roles include, Thenardier in Les Miserables, Amos Hart in Chicago, Adolph in The Last Night Of Ballyhoo.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing the your roles in Legally Blonde? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: I play four different characters in Legally Blonde. The challenge was to make all of the characters completely different from one another.

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past three weeks… what do you look forward to each night performing?
A: I look forward to playing the prison guard each night. I also really enjoy watching the rest of the cast. I could watch Vanessa Moyen every night as Elle Woods. She is simply outstanding.

 

Q: Please share with us your thoughts and experience so far on being a Resident Actor with Charleston Stage.
A: Being a Resident Actor is an amazing experience. I think the thing I love most about my job is teaching and inspiring our students. It’s a thrill to teach them the art of theatre and then have them come see one of our shows and converse with them about the craft. It’s a beautiful part of this life.

 

Featured Center Back: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Josh Harris as the Prison Guard.

 

 

September 19, 2012

Meet Devon A.A. Norris, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:44 am

Devon Norris, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I was born in Louisville, KY, but have moved across the country a couple of times living in Colorado, Texas, and most recently Missouri. As far as activities that led me to the theatre and performing, I honestly was born into it.  I came out singing.  My mother swears to this day that I didn’t scream after being born I sang scales in my bassinette and the nurses would just listen.  And since then I’ve been onstage.  It also helps that my parents and my three brothers also do theatre too!!

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A:  Growing up in a very theatrical family I was exposed to theatre all the time, but I started really studying acting in 7th grade and continued through high school taking classes and doing productions locally and professionally around St. Louis. I then went on to study and get my BFA in Musical Theatre and BA in Speech/ Theatre Education from Lindenwood University.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: I’ve worked some in St. Louis with smaller and larger theatre companies: The MUNY, New Line Theatre, Citilites, St. Louis Shakespeare, Riverside Shakespeare, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and some others. But for the past two summers I worked out at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake, CO. I loved every moment there; it was like my second home!! I have been very fortunate to play some of my favorite roles while working with these amazing companies: Leaf Coneybear in …Spelling Bee, Danny in BABY!, Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, the Arbiter in CHESS.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing Emmett in Legally Blonde? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: Getting ready to play Emmett was fun. I saw a lot of similarities of myself in his character. So, I took some inspiration from my life and my passion for performing and translated it into understanding his passion for law and helping others, which I also find myself doing. Going through his background and really getting into his stressful and slightly misunderstood past was really exciting for me as an actor. While doing research and analyzing the movie I did notice that Emmett’s involvement with Elle is more established in the musical than in the movie originally, which I think is interesting. As for being excited about any particular part of the show, I was nervous yet so ready to dive into “Chip On My Shoulder” and “Legally Blonde” with my fellow actor Vanessa Moyen, not just because she is brilliant as Elle, but she is such a great scene partner. I totally feel safe and free when working with her!

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past three weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing your role?
A: I honestly look forward to seeing everyone backstage and just getting to know how their lives are going. We have become somewhat of a family. I have this ritual that I do at five till places with some of the cast where I link pinkies and kiss thumbs to wish them break a leg, it’s gotten to the point where if I don’t, I feel as though something is wrong and my performance is just not completely “on.”  But other then that I look forward to getting to watch and be apart of the “What You Want” number as a frat boy!!!

 

Q: Please share with us your thoughts and experience so far on being a Resident Actor with Charleston Stage.
A: Working with this company and these students has been fantastic so far. I loved being able to jump in and work on the SummerStage production of Alice In Wonderland. Those kids were great. They loved what they were doing and they were so willing to learn. It made my job as their teacher that much more exciting and rewarding. And now that I’m teaching classes weekly I get to experience that thrill again. I really love this company and I look forward to working and growing over the next several months!

 

From Left to Right: Guest Actor Vanessa Moyen as Elle Woods and Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Devon A.A. Norris as Emmett Forrest in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Devon A.A. Norris in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

 

 

September 18, 2012

Meet Scott Gibbs, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:15 am

Scott Gibbs, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I grew up in the southwest area of Houston, TX, better known as Sugar Land. I can remember in 5th grade writing and directing a comedy sketch along with my friends for the Talent Show. The sense of satisfaction I got from it absolutely solidified my desires to be a performer. I also remember being completely obsessed with Jim Carey’s Ace Venture: Pet Detective. That may have also had something to do with it.

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I studied Theatre Arts at Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, Louisiana.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: Previously, I’ve worked for the Texas Shakespeare Festival, Seaside Repertory Theatre, and the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. A few of my favorite past roles include Mr. Bungee from A New Brain, The Hare from Tortoise and the Hare, and Detective Fix from Around The World In Eighty Days.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing Warner in Legally Blonde? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: To prepare for Warner, I would practice perfecting his signature “smolder” look in the mirror while listening to a playlist of 90’s boy bands. My solo “Serious” was a challenge and exciting at the same time. Not being a trained singer, the song really helped me stretch and grow as an overall performer.

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past three weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing Warner?
A: I see the show differently every night. Each performance brings a new discovery about my character and a new opportunity to fill every single moment of the show with life and energy.

 

Q: Please share with us your thoughts and experience so far on being a Resident Actor with Charleston Stage.
A: I am continually reminded of what an amazing opportunity I have to work for Charleston Stage. From teaching the craft of theatre to young eager minds to performing on the historic Dock Street stage, this job is nothing short of amazing. I am so utterly thankful to be a Resident Actor at Charleston Stage.

 

From Left to Right: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Scott Gibbs as Warner Huntington III and Guest Actor Vanessa Moyen as Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

From Left to Right: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Scott Gibbs as Warner Huntington III and Guest Actor Vanessa Moyen as Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

 

 

September 17, 2012

Meet Lauren Monteleone, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 10:45 am

Lauren Monteleone, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A:I grew up in the suburbs of Hamilton, New Jersey. As far back as I can remember I took every type of dance class. There was a point, however, I decided I wanted to be a professional gymnast at age 6 so I stopped dancing. Two weeks later I was right back in dance class. I couldn’t stay away.

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I studied musical theatre at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: I have worked at Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre two summers in a row. Some of my favorite roles include Val in A Chorus Line, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, Bambi in Curtains and Bird Girl in Seussical.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing Serena in Legally Blonde? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: I was never in a sorority in college so I decided to call a friend from home who is currently in a sorority. She described how big of a deal it is to be in a sorority and how excited they are about events (such as engagements, birthdays, parties). My roommate (Arielle – who plays Margot) and I decided to talk like sorority girls for a week. We also sat in a small cafe in Mt. Pleasant just reading the script over and over. I was really excited about playing a cheerleader and experiencing their “spirit” since I was a band geek in high school (which was awesome). I think my biggest challenge with this show was keeping up my energy throughout. Serena, Margot and Pilar have the challenge of leading the “Greek Chorus” and making sure Elle is always thinking POSITIVE!

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past three weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing Serena?
A: I look forward to working with all the girls (Greek Chorus) and the audience really enjoying our performance of “Legally Blonde.”

 

Q: Please share with us your thoughts and experience so far on being a Resident Actor with Charleston Stage.
A: I have nothing but positive things to say about Charleston Stage Company. I have never worked with a company who is so passionate about what they do. They really want us to excel in the performances as well as teaching all of the kids. The most exciting part is performing at Dock Street Theatre, but the most fulfilling part is teaching the kids!

 

Featured Left Holding Bruiser: Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Lauren Monteleone as Serena in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

The cast performs "What You Want."

 

 

 

Meet Harrison Grant, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 10:44 am

Harrison Grant, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I spent most of my childhood in TItusville, Florida and most of the activities I took part in were sports. In middle school I joined the band, but I didn’t really get into theatre at all until my Junior year of high school. I was always interested ( I had a fascination with TV) but never pursued anything until later in school.

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I went to the University of Central Florida and just graduated from there with a BFA in Acting.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: I did some community theatre in my home town of Titusville, and I also took a part of Playfest! at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Most recently I worked as a dancer at The Lost Colony in Manteo, North Carolina. Some of my favorite past roles have been Benny in Rent and Kenickie in Grease, but my absolute favorite so far has been playing Antonio in Twelfth Night.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing Kyle (the UPS Guy) and your other multiple characters in Legally Blonde? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: The first thing I did was re-watch the movie so I could get the basic story line down. Other than that, I just spent a lot of quality time with the music and the soundtrack. The biggest challenge I faced was all the different kinds of dancing I had to learn. I had never worked with jump rope’s before, let alone done a Riverdance! All that aside, I was really excited to try a lot of new things and I have a blast with Kyle every night.

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past three weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing Kyle?
A: I really look forward to when the audience is first introduced to Kyle. He pretty much comes out of nowhere, but I feel that he brings a nice new element for Paulette to deal with.

 

Q: Please share with us your thoughts and experience so far on being a Resident Actor with Charleston Stage.
A: I’m having a blast working for Charleston Stage. I get to do something that involves acting pretty much every day which is way more than I thought I would be doing right out of college. Teaching is a new experience for me, but I’m enjoying it so far. It’s nice to know that these kids are getting some theatre or arts experience at a young age, and i’m glad that I get the chance to be a part of that.

 

Right: Charleston Stage's Professional Resident Actor Harrison Grant as Grandmaster Chad in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2012

Meet Beth Jones, Starring as Vivienne in “Legally Blonde the Musical”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:48 am

Beth Jones, Starring as Vivienne Kensington in "Legally Blonde the Musical"

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I grew up in Canton, Ohio. I went to a school of the arts from 4th grade on, so I always knew this was the path I wanted to take.

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I started out at Capital University and then moved to Kent State, both in Ohio.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: Most of my professional career has been in Orlando, FL. Including 7 years working for the Walt Disney World Resort. I must say, performing alongside Mickey and Minnie was pretty amazing.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing the role of Vivienne? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: I had seen the movie many times and was familiar with the character. I’d never played this mean or straight of a character before, so I was curious if I could come across as such. It actually came to me pretty easily, so it’s been fun playing the nemesis of perky Elle. Especially when Vanessa and I get along so well off stage.

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past two weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing Vivienne?
A: Every audience is different, so I love seeing what “this” audience will love or laugh at the most. But getting to perform with this fantastic cast has been such a treat. I look forward to all the excitement of live theater. There’s nothing else like it.

 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I’m currently pregnant with my husband’s and my first baby, so right now, my life pretty much consists of preparing for our little fella. Other than that, I love to find new ways to be creative, whether it’s with photography or updating my blog or YouTube channel. I’m basically having fun entertaining myself. (And anyone else who’s around.)

 

Right: Beth Jones as Vivienne Kensington in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

 

September 15, 2012

Meet Nat Jones: Starring as Professor Callahan in “Legally Blonde the Musical”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:12 am

Featured Left: Nat Jones as Professor Callahan in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts? Where did you study theatre?
A: I am a product of the great state of Maine. Clearly the soil produces better actors than it does potatoes. Just kidding. Kind of. I have never been fond of Maine potatoes. Lobsters are another thing.

Outside of occasional school productions growing up, including a couple of perfectly inane college video projects, I did not seriously pursue acting until I was married and had kids. I had always wanted to be an actor, though, and discovered early on that I had a distinct talent for impersonating people. I’m told I do a dead-on imitation of Richard Nixon, for example, and also of my wife Chris’s eccentric and dearly departed “Uncle Jimmy.” Which would be great if people actually remembered the former or that he did not look or sound like Frank Langella, and if the latter had ever attained celebrity outside of dysfunctional family gatherings.

With the exception of an acting course here and there, I have never formally “studied” theatre. I graduated from Colgate University (where, incidentally, I met Chris, my wife of now 36 years) with a B.A. in Social Relations, a combined discipline of sociology, anthropology and archaeology, which thoroughly prepared me for a lifelong career in marketing, advertising and graphic design. Getting back to theatre, though, and without meaning to blow my own horn, I have always been a fairly quick on the uptake and pretty intuitive with regard to scene study and character development. Maybe it’s something in the genes or something in the water, but acting is something that has always been second-nature to me. Having said that, I work extremely hard at it and have had the great good fortune to hone my craft by working with a great many talented actors and directors over the years.

 

Q: Where have you acted previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: I’ve been in Charleston for six years, in which time I have been amazingly blessed to work with a lot of different theatres. My first show here was Arsenic and Old Lace at Footlight Theatre. I figured if I wanted to get on the local radar screen, that would be a good place to start. I was cast not on the basis of anything on my résumé, but rather, I suspect, solely because of my hammy impersonation of Teddy Roosevelt. From there, I went immediately To Village Rep, where I played Shelly Levine in Glengarry, Gen Ross. Immediately following that, I was cast as the disturbed and disturbing man-child Michal in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman at Pure Theatre. Capturing these two roles so soon upon my arrival in Charleston was, in a word, a rush. Both roles required a lot of research and character deconstruction, and as such the process was emotionally exhausting, but immensely gratifying in the end.

Other roles I have particularly enjoyed, and grew as an actor from, are Lloyd Dallas in Noises Off, which I performed with the Montgomery Theatre Project in Pennsylvania, aged Tom Garrison in I Never Sang for my Father. The latter (also staged in Pennsylvania by a brilliant director friend of mine, Hal Holzer) was my first role playing a man far older than myself. Much of the characterization I took from my own father who died a month after I graduated from college. My dad was a highly intelligent brilliant, charming man (he was admitted to Harvard at age 16), but like Tom Garrison, was not always terrifically comfortable with the emotional demands of fatherhood, probably in no small part due to the fact that he never knew his own father, and so lacked the requisite skill set. I learned a lot about my father and myself during the run of that play, and I like to think of that production as a testimonial to his “humanness.”

Locally, other shows I am exceptionally proud of are Educating Rita, which I performed with Sheri Grace Midtown Productions a year ago, and Footlight’s second-stage production of The Weir, written by Conor McPherson. Both were directed by my extraordinarily talented and self-effacing friend, Jo Ellen Aspinwall. And, of course, I would be remiss not to mention three times over the course of four years taking on the iconic role of The Old Man (a.k.a, Ralphies’s dad) in Village Rep’s production of A Christmas Story.

A couple of years ago, after long ago privately swearing to myself that I would never again take a part in a musical, I accepted the role of Danny/Zeus in Village Rep’s production of Xanadu. I had frankly forgotten what a thrill it is to belt out a song on stage, and to do it more-or-less convincingly. I had people coming up to me after the show saying, “I knew you could act, but I didn’t know you could sing, too.” My usual response was, “I didn’t really know I could, either.” At any rate, my modest renaissance as a song-and-dance man (well, the “dance” part is arguable) led me to audition for and accept the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charleston Stage’s production of A Christmas Carol this past season. I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I did in that show (in a 30-pound flying truss, no less) or enjoy the fruits of my labor so much. Plus, I finally got to perform in the venerable Dock Street Theatre. Last spring I was fortunate to be cast as the eponymous wizard in The Wiz and was thus happily reunited with my Charleston Stage buds once again; and I have now segued from that performance to my current role as the lecherous Callahan in Legally Blonde.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing the role of Professor Callahan? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: My main motivation in any musical, first and foremost, is not to screw up. I wish I could say I always succeed in that aim, but that would be disingenuous. I think that’s the biggest challenge of any musical: it’s so much more than “just acting”; it is mind-numbingly time-consuming, even for a role such as mine, which thankfully involves no real dancing. It’s all timing, timing, timing, and it’s so easy to “derail the train” if you don’t stay in the moment and out of your head. As to what excited me about Callahan is that his character, while his persona is the insufferable, stereotypical lawyer type, offers up such an opportunity to have such a delightfully nasty bit of fun. “Blood in the Water” is the consummate lawyer joke. More than a few of my college friends went on to become attorneys, and every single one of them would crack a wry smile at Callahan, because they’ve all encountered guys like him. (Caveat: Note that I did not in any way say that my lawyer friends have turned out to be like him.) On the flip side, as despicable as he may be, I try to make him believable: he’s proud of what he does and he takes no prisoners. And while he may, ultimately want to take undue advantage of Elle Woods, I think he is uncharacteristically impressed by what he calls her “instincts.” In short, the challenge with Callahan, like Scrooge, is to not play him as a one-dimensional caricature.

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past two weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing Callahan?
A: I think it comes down to finding a another nuance or level to build into Callahan’s character, and continuing to smooth out my vocal performance. Above all, to gel with my cast mates, and have fun. This is a terrific ensemble show, and it never ceases to amaze me how many interlocking parts there are to it. Thanks to Marybeth, Cara, Sam and Chet, it is an extraordinarily well-oiled machine, and the audiences’ laughter and thunderous applause night after night just confirms that.

 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: What spare time? When I’m not working or performing, I like to play tennis. I’m not very good, but I’m trying to get better. My wife is a phenomenal player. I occasionally play her, and if I keep my cool (i.e., don’t throw my racquet and cuss like a sailor), I can sometimes take two or three games a set from her. Trouble is, theatre and work sometimes leave me very little time to work on my game outside of summer. My goal going forward is to not sacrifice the gains I’ve made and to play and practice regularly. It’s a good workout if nothing else.

I like to paint (watercolor is my medium of choice), but I am ashamed to say I have not done a lot of it lately. I also like to bike the back roads where I live and kayak on my creek and the nearby Wando. I can spend entire days sprawled on a beach reading a book. Fortunately, I live within minutes of some of the best beaches in the Southeast. I recently bought a keyboard and hope to overcome my musical inadequacies and teach myself to play something beyond “Ode to Joy.” Maybe Sam will give me lessons.

I also like to travel and Chris and I finally have gotten to that point in our lives when we can take the time (or rather make the time) to do it. We went to South Africa last January and had an absolutely fabulous experience. So much so that we would like to go back several more times to see what we missed the first time around. This coming January, our wanderlust bug will be further indulged when we set off on a three-week trip with friends to New Zealand. Needless to say, we are totally psyched!

 

Featured Center: Nat Jones as Professor Callahan in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

 

September 14, 2012

Meet Celeste Margot Riddle, Starring as Pilar in “Legally Blonde the Musical.”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 3:09 pm

Celeste Margot Riddle

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I grew up all over the south, my father is a pastor so we moved around quite a bit. Ever since a young age I’d sing in the church choruses and when I got a little older I’d audition for the musicals that each school had. That’s where this crazy obsession with theatre all began.

 

Q: Where did you study theatre?
A: I’m currently at the College of Charleston studying theatre performance and scenic design.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite roles?
A: I’ve worked at the College of Charleston and the Charleston Actor’s Studio with Sheri Grace Productions.

My absolute favorite role I’ve played is May from Last Train to Nibroc by Arlene Hutton. She was so challenging for me because it was a character that was so close in age and background. It forced me to find a different person within myself in order to play someone who grew up very similar to how I did.

 

Q: How did you prepare for playing the role of Pilar? Were there any challenges or things that you were excited about with taking on this character?
A: Preparing for a role is always an experience. For this role in particular I had to do a little bit of background story work. I had to figure out every relationship I had with all the girls in Delta Nu, especially Elle.  Everyone in this cast is so phenomenal and friendly so the actual friendships that are the foundation for the character came naturally.

I was a little nervous when I was offered the role because it is the most modern character I’ve ever had the opportunity to play. Plus, Pilar is super sassy. (Sassy is the last word anyone would use to describe me.) So I was very excited to try things that had a little bit more flare than I could pull off in everyday life.

 

Q: You’ve been in performances for the past two weeks… what do you look forward to each performance playing Pilar?
A: I always love the court room scene in the second act. It is my favourite because Lauren, Arielle and I get to play around with our characters while the trial is going on. We are snapping, dancing or trying to get Paulette’s attention in the craziest way possible. It gives us a little bit of time to show our vivaciousness compared to the composed law students. It offers a really neat dynamic to the environment. I think all three of us dive head first every night into our characters and truly enjoy watching Elle, played by Vanessa, win the case.  It’s always exciting to perform with those girls.

 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: Spare time, that’s a foreign concept for me. I tend to take advantage of any opportunity I can, so I keep pretty busy. But when I do get a little time I take my dog, Brother, out for a run. On on some Sundays that I don’t have a show some of my close friends and I all cook a whole lot of food and have “family” dinners. I look forward to those days because that’s when we all relax, laugh and enjoy each others company. Whether I’m running between meetings and rehearsals or designing a show I am always excited for whats to come!

 

Front Center: Celeste Margot Riddle as Pilar in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

Front Right: Celeste Margot Riddle as Pilar in "Legally Blonde the Musical."

 

 

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