Auditions for “Pirates of Penzance!”

Pirates_poster2-1Pirates! Major-Generals! Mabel the Beautiful Daughter!  A bevy of lovely maidens and a gaggle of police of questionable courage! Bring the whole family to revel in this Gilbert and Sullivan favorite. This comic opera is so good it has been constantly produced by professional and community theaters since its debut in 1880. Yes, bring the whole family, but hold on to yer wee ones.

Open auditions by appointment will be held on Saturday, May 16 from 1 to 5 pm and Sunday, May 17 from 7 to 10 pm. Visit our auditions page here to request your appointment today. You may also call Production Manager Robin Jackson at (415) 507-9550 for more information.

You will be asked to prepare 16 bars of an uptempo Broadway song or any song in the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire. Choose songs that showcase personality and voice level. Please bring your sheet music already marked. No a capella or CD accompaniment. There will be a movement portion of the audition, so wear something you can move comfortably in.

Callbacks are by invitation only on Wednesday, May 20 from 7 to 10 pm. Rehearsals begin June 7th and will continue Sundays through Thursdays from 7 to 10 pm. Performances are Thursdays through Sundays July 15 through August 16, 2015. A $100 stipend will be provided.

Director James Dunn has directed for the Mountain Play, Ross Valley Players, and College of Marin, among others. His recent Ross Valley Players production of Journey’s End was a finalist for Overall Production and Ensemble (among several other nominations) in the 2014 Theatre Bay Area Awards.  The 2014 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle awarded the production Best Ensemble among many other awards and nominations.

Meet the Cast: Robyn Wiley

robinRobyn Wiley (Lizaveta) has appeared in many productions at Ross Valley Players, including Old Money, You Can’t Take It With You, Table Manners, Sabrina Fair, Blithe Spirit, Humble Boy, The Dresser, and Waltz of the Toreadors. For other Bay Area theaters, she’s performed in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Heaven Can Wait, Philadelphia Story, Rumors, The Dining Room, A Little Night Music, The Sound of Music, Love Letters, Play It Again, Sam, The Odd Couple, Born Yesterday, and Prelude to a Kiss. Robyn also has performed in independent films, industrials and commercials, and recorded commercial voice overs.

See A Month in the Country from March 13th through April 12, 2015.
Tickets HERE.

Director James Nelson on Desire

483185_807091355959_1784458529_n“You couldn’t ask for a better union of dramatists than Turgenev and Brian Friel. Turgenev’s play is one of the earliest examples of the Chekhovian theatre of mood (beating Chekhov himself by over forty years), where the dramatic action is largely internal, and the psychology of the characters is put under the knife in front of our eyes. Frustratingly, most playwrights who adapt the Russian plays into English fall short, translating the words but not the theatrical impact of the work. Brian Friel, however, is not most playwrights. He brings out the richness of mood and character in Turgenev’s play with remarkable sensitivity, poeticism, and humanity.

To me, this is a play about the destructive and incendiary nature of desire. There is a web of romantic pursuit that involves every one of the twelve characters, and we see offers, rejections, dismissals and evasions of love at every turn, providing a fiery contrast to the calm, polite setting of an isolated Russian country estate. Nothing reveals humanity to us like moments of unbridled, uncontrolled passion, and A Month in the Country comes alive in these moments.

A motif that we’ve used throughout the production is the physical gesture of the outstretched hand as the embodiment of the act of offering oneself to another. The gesture is very vulnerable, very human, and very simple, and we’ve experimented with it as a connective element to the show. Just as the characters offer themselves to each other, these actors are offering their story to you, extending their hands and asking that you come with us for a few hours in the country.”
-Director James Nelson, A Month in the Country

Click here to read more about the show, buy tickets, and to see the “Map of Desire.”

Meet director James Nelson at our Talk Back on Sunday, March 29th following the matinee.

In Depth: Kim Bromley

kimTell us about your character.
Anna: she’s my age, which is always nice.  She’s the matriarch and very much a controlling force in her universe.  And she’s wry.  I love the way she is written.

Anna is the one character in the play without a romantic link.  Her husband has been dead for 30 years.  So her “desire” is more about practical matters in the present moment/real world than those around her pursuing romance.  But her romantic past is still very much alive in her inner life, which fuels her understanding of the people around her.

Knowing that we all bring ourselves to the roles we play, is there a character’s experience that you connect with in particular?
Anna is at a place in life where she truly understands and accepts that the fairy tales we are told as children are just not so.  I very much relate to her pragmatism.

What is your greatest challenge with this show?
Understanding the heroine, Natalya.  Shannon’s portrayal of Natalya and her analysis of the character have helped me a great deal. And of course James’ vision.  His enthusiasm for all the characters is infectious.

What kind of research have you been doing to prepare for the role?
Reading the original Turgenev was very informative.  Also Russian history, manners and mores of 19th century Europe (although this play is grounded in present day speech patterns and even some mannerisms).  But the part where my character is stiff from sitting too long – that’s real for me.  No research required.  Ha!

What are you most excited about to share with the audience? 
A sense of wonder at how flawed and how wonderful humans are – at the same time.

A Month in the Country opens Friday, March 13 and runs through Sunday, April 12th. Buy tickets here.

 

In Depth: Mark Shepard

Untitled-7Tell us about your character.
Herr Schaaf tutors the young boy Kolya in German. I don’t think Herr Schaaf is much like me, at least I hope not. But that’s the fun of acting, playing a character that is very different from me.

What is your greatest challenge with this show?
Mastering a German accent.

James has talked about DESIRE as being a word that is intrinsic to the play. As you are going through rehearsals how have you approached this or come to see it in the play and your character?
Herr Schaaf’s “desire” is much more carnal than social. He’s a horny old goat.

What do you hope audience members come away from the show with? 
I hope they learn that times may change, but human nature does not. There are universal themes in this play that have nothing to so with the time and place in which the play is set.

What have been some of your favorite previous productions?
Arthur the police detective in the modern drama Jericho Road Improvement Association at the Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco. Birdboot in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound at Masquers Playhouse in Pt. Richmond. Patalone in the Commedia dell’arte The Servant of Two Masters at College of Marin. The Mayor of Whoville in Seussical The Musical with the Stapleton Theatre Company in San Anselmo.

A Month in the Country opens Friday, March 13 and runs through Sunday, April 12th. Buy tickets here.

In Depth: Ben Ortega

benTell us about your character.
Michel is an interesting person.  He’s conflicted between what he wants and what he can have.  He’s settled for whatever little happiness he can get by being around the fickle and unattainable Natalya.  He accepts the teasers, provocations and flirtations she uses on him, which sometimes are borderline cruel.

Knowing that we all bring ourselves to the roles we play, is there a character’s experience that you connect with in particular?
I guess I know what it is like being around someone I know I could never have.  It eventually becomes a painful pleasure, hard to give up.

James has talked about DESIRE as being a word that is intrinsic to the play. As you are going through rehearsals how have you approached this or come to see it in the play and your character?
Yes.  Michel’s plight is nothing if not desire for a woman he’s in love with but know will never be his.

What kind of research have you been doing to prepare for the role?
What I usually do when preparing for a role: trying to first find all the differences and similarities between me and the character I’m playing, and ultimately find out what moves him, what he’s looking for and how he’s going about getting it.

A Month in the Country opens Friday, March 13 and runs through Sunday, April 12th. Buy tickets here.

In Depth: Tom Hudgens

tomIs this your first Ross Valley Players show? 
 I previously appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird (2011), Greater Tuna (2012), Enchanted April (2013), and Journey’s End (2014).

What excites you most about this show?
This play in particular, and classic Russian drama in general, is wholly character-driven. Our characters’ emotions tell the play’s story more than external actions, so we feel an extra measure of responsibility as actors. It really is up to us to drive this play. The audience can’t rely on an exciting plot or funny jokes or any kind of spectacle to engage this play–all they have is the pathway of emotions of each of our characters, as they weave in and out. If we, the actors, can manage to show that pathway with emotional honesty, that’s where the play’s excitement, humor, and spectacle emerge.

Tell us about your character.
Arkady yearns to be a good guy; he has a big heart; but as the young heir to his dead father’s fortune and estate, he was terribly spoiled in his youth by his doting, widowed mother, and is a terribly self-absorbed adult, barely able to see beyond his own desires and fears. Not able to see or acknowledge his deficient role in Natalya’s need for love and connection, he can only sense something is vaguely wrong in his marriage. He loves her, but is wary of the hurt and confusion that love can bring about. He wonders why she is not happy, when he believes he has given her everything she wants. He has long turned to technology and gadgetry as a much more reliable source of satisfaction than love.

What kind of research have you been doing to prepare for the role? 
I look up any unfamiliar terms or concepts, and practice visualizing them. In this play, Arkady has just built a weir on a stream that runs close to the house. I had to look up “weir” and sufficiently familiarize myself with the term so that I could develop a mental picture–what it does, how it’s used and operated, the shape of its gates, the experience of building it with my team of workmen, the color, the materials, how it fits into the landscape, etc. When I say the word “weir” in the play, I bring up those visuals of it in my mind. And really, this goes for many of the character’s lines–to say it convincingly, I have to really see it in my mind. So research helps us accurately “storyboard” the flow of visuals that accompany our character’s lines. For this play, this is the most important kind of research, I think. I’ve read up on estate life in 1800s Russia, too, and the political and cultural movements going on there at that time, but this play is less about its historical context than it is about the emotional trajectories of its characters, that transcend time and place.

A Month in the Country opens Friday, March 13 and runs through Sunday, April 12th. Buy tickets here.