Friday, September 30, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: An Extraordinary Definition

I've never seen Pippin.  My only exposure to this show was in high school (so very long ago).  I saw a musical review where "Corner of the Sky" was performed.  The song had quite an effect on me, especially at that time in my life.  "The world is my oyster, and my young life is filled with optimistic possibilities!  I think I'm meant to search for 'extraordinary', and goddamn it, I'm gonna find it!" I am now - older, cynical and downtrodden.  No, I kid...but I know what it feels like to wake up with doubt and lay my head down at night feeling beaten.  When cast as Catherine, I was filled with immediate anxiety, remembering the hope I felt when the play first made its impact on me, and now getting the chance to take a stab at it as the woman I've become.  Do I still feel like there's something special out there waiting for me?  How do I approach this adventure with the scars I've gained?  

I think what's so beautiful about this play is that every single character has a different definition of "extraordinary".  This isn't just of story of a boy finding his purpose.  Anyone could do that with a little determination.  But in this world of ours, and Pippin's, we come in contact with different folks everyday that shape, change and define who we are.  Even if our dreams remain intact, we never know who is going to turn the corner and possibly alter our outlook.  And what I love about our director's approach to this Pippin is that we aren't presenting one-dimensional musical theatre caricatures that dance some Fosse and sing some Schwartz.  Peter urges us to fill this world with complicated, confused, multi-faceted and imperfect human beings each searching for their own definition of "extraordinary", all the while effecting one another and navigating/educating/seducing/accompanying Pippin along his way.   The more complex our characters are, the more marvelous, passionate, and entertaining the journey will hopefully be to our corners of the sky.  That's our ambition, anyway...  

So far, my road as Catherine has been paved with a combination of frustration and surprising realizations.  I'm trying to embrace her/my flaws and always be aware of her/my wounds while I continue the search.  And I'm thrilled this is my first full experience with this play.  I wouldn't want to have created Catherine as the hopeful, young, optimist I used to be.  Where the heck is the fun in that?

-- Dana Tretta has been an actress in Chicago for the past 8 years.  She loves to pet and hug as many dogs as possible and attempt cooking with her friend, Bethany Thomas.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: My Artistic Transition

It's funny, because the corner of the sky I have discovered is different then where I thought it would be. That transition happened in college when I met my mentor - Linde Herman who was my professor.  I had always wanted to act, but it was through her that I gained a love and respect for the craft, and the art of being a teacher.  She directed the children's shows at our college and that’s where my love for that began - because whatever Linde did was gold in my eyes!    I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would have my very own theatre company- Li'l Buds, never mind a children's theatre company at that! And to have a performance career as well as having the privilege to pass on the craft (and love of the arts) to children and possibly future performers?  Well, that's a corner of the sky that was way higher than I was reaching for.

All actors have their dream roles and Pippin is a show I have always wanted to do. I never thought I would be Fastrada, though. I had only dreamed of being in the ensemble because I loved the music - and the Fosse!  It's such a challenge to take on roles were created by iconic performers like Chita Rivera.  However, the same story can be told in different ways by different people, and the process of finding my Fastrada has been influenced by the storytellers: Director, Peter Marston Sullivan and Choreographer, Brenda Didier. My sense of discovery continues to be influenced by the creative themes as well as my scene partners.  I still have a long way to go, but I can see my Fastrada in that corner of the sky.

Jenny Lamb (@ripskintinkle ) is a Chicago actress  co-founder and Artistic Director of Li'l Buds Theatre Company and a Teaching Artist at Second City. She will be playing the role of Fastrada in Pippin.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: A Part Worth Waiting For...

In 1981, The Grand Blanc High School escorted Theatre Department to a little road trip to the University of Detroit.  We were going to see a musical I had heard about but knew little about – Pippin .  And boy, did I like it.  I bought the LP (which I still have), the book of musical selections from the show (now completely tattered), and put it on my list of shows I simply had to do one day.

Thirty years later, the opportunity has finally arrived. Back then, I wanted to play the Leading Player or Pippin but I figured when the time came, I would probably play Charlemagne (Charles The Great).  Once a character actor, always a character actor I guess…

It is very interesting to play a character with such an illustrious and expansive history.  As an actor, I must carry that knowledge into rehearsals and see how the real history affects my work and the actors portraying my characters' family, the soldiers, and subjects.  Then, I must embrace the characters' good side (demanding excellent education for his children) and his bad side (the man liked war and all its spoils).  And finally, throw in some singing and dancing and make it all work - absolutely no pressure.

Of course, this production will give me the extra bonus of exploring the feminine side of Charles – I’d tell you more, but it’s a surprise.  This is a challenging prospect that you probably should not miss.

So my long wait is over to do this show.
I’m singing glorious music and playing a character bigger than life.
And I couldn’t be happier!

Won't you join us?
-- Michael Kingston
has been in Chicago for 20+ years and is pleased to be making his third appearance with Boho. Turn ons include: novels by Augusten Burroughs, total schlock on the SyFy Channel, and a good Maker's Mark Manhattan.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Welcome to Our 2011-2012 Season

Summer has officially come to an end in Chicago - and as everyone pulls out their sweaters in preparation for the change in season, the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble is anxiously awaiting the kick-off of their 2011-2012 Production Season at Theater Wit. The summer was an amazing assortment of activity for our company and board. After enjoying a wonderful run of Icarus, BoHo welcomed new friends along with some familiar faces to our Annual Benefit, the Skyview Soiree. Our attendees were able to enjoy good food, silent raffle items which were donated by local artists and a beautiful entertainment series from past shows. We also were invited to revive Big River for our friends at Theater on the Lake which played five performances to a spectacular group of Theater Lovers.  

And now, it’s time to focus on what’s next.
On behalf of the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, I want to say thank you for your constant support of Chicago’s theater community. We look forward to seeing you at the theater!


By Stephen Schwartz
Directed by Peter Marston Sullivan
October 14 - November 13, 2011

What does it mean to live an extraordinary life? This is the question that drives Pippin through the adventures of war, sex, politics and love -- all the while guided by the malicious hand of the Leading Player. While the Players strive to steer Pippin towards the perfect, theatrically tragic end of his story, Pippin begins to discover what it truly means to be extraordinary in our world.

By Moliere, Adapted by Ranjit Bolt
Directed by Peter Robel
January 13 – February 12, 2012

Moliere’s scandalous farce crackles with humor and wit in Ranjit Bolt’s modern-language adaptation. When the patriarch of a wealthy falls under the spell of Tartuffe, a con-man masquerading as a man of God, his family goes to hilarious lengths to show him the error of his ways. But it seems the cunning Tartuffe is always one step ahead of the game…   

The Rainmaker
By N. Richard Nash
Directed by Stephen Genovese
April 6 – May 6, 2012

Saddled to a failing cattle ranch in the Dust Bowl with a family of menfolk, Lizzy Curry has just about given up hope of finding love and escape. But when a charming trickster named Starbuck breezes into town promising to bring rain for $100, Lizzy’s father gives the man the last of the family’s savings, knowing that what he has to offer them, and Lizzy, is more than just rain. The Rainmaker is a classic American stale of the power of hope during hard times.

Floyd Collins
A musical by Tina Landau and Adam Guettel
Directed by Peter Marston Sullivan
June 15 – July 15, 2012

In January of 1925, celebrated Kentucky explorer Floyd Collins was searching for a cave system whose tourist draw would make his family rich. Instead, he became trapped in a narrow crawl-way 55 feet below ground. His family’s rescue attempts quickly create a national media circus, and rescue begins to take a backseat to profit. This true story features a musical style drawn from authentic bluegrass, folk, and Americana.