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

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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