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Posts Tagged ‘“Sunday in the Park With George”’

On Saturday, November 27, 2010, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing cellist Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf, direct from the pit of “A Little Night Music.” What makes this interview so special to me is that I’ve known Mairi since I was 15, when we met at Buck’s Rock Camp in New Milford, CT, at which time her kindness and friendship meant a lot to a boy trying to find his way. It was quite exciting for me when we reconnected in 2002 as I saw her exit the stage door at “The Boy From Oz.” And now to be able add this kind of dynamic to our friendship is a real treat for me. Mairi has been a fixture in Broadway orchestra pits since her debut in “The Boy From Oz.” She has played in the orchestra pits of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “LoveMusik,” “Sunday In The Park With George,” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” and currently “A Little Night Music” which is running through January 9 at the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street, between Broadway & 8th Ave).

On Sunday, December 19 at 8:30pm at Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Corneila Street, Greenwich Village, NYC) you can catch Mairi playing cello in “Joni and Johannes” (the music of Joni Mitchell and Johannes Brahms) along with Simon Mulligan on piano, and Randy Landau on bass with special guest vocalists Jessica Molaskey (“A Man of No Importance,” “Parade,” “Tommy,” “Crazy For You,” “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” “Sunday In The Park With George,” etc) and Mary Beth Peil (“The Good Wife,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Nine,” “Sunday In The Park With George,” “Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”). For just $15 + one drink minimum, you will get a real opportunity to see accomplished musicians and performers live up close and personal! For reservations call 212-989-9319.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a cellist? It was my cello teacher in high school, Nancy Green, who I also went on to study with in college. I went to a music boarding high school, so I was away from home and lonely, and her style of teaching was so expressive. She taught us about the connection to every note, the vibrato, the tone, what you were trying to say, what the emotion was, what part of your body the note came from – were you trying to sound like an alto voice or a tenor? With all the different types of tones and voices, I often came up with a storyline to go with what I was playing. Discovering what I could do by holding one note on the cello was exciting, and cathartic. I often think about that time in my life when I play “Miller’s Son” here at “A Little Night Music” because that first “B” that you hold for a long time is like yeah, this is what I dug about cello when I was fifteen. I moved to the US for graduate school and had another phenomenal teacher, Judith Glyde, who gave me the confidence to go out and actually work. Then I started playing shows and it all made sense…that emotional story telling feel.

There’s a masterclass of Sondheim teaching “Later” that was filmed at my undergraduate school (some time in the 80s, I think). It’s odd to know that so many years after being there, I’d be trying to express the quality he’s talking to the singer about in “Later” and I’d be trying to bring that to “A Little Night Music.”

1a. What was your first Broadway show that you played here in NYC? “The Boy From Oz” although I moved here to play “The Last Five Years,” which I had played first in Chicago. Me: I had no idea that you played that show, I saw it quite a few times, but it was “Boy From Oz” that I saw you at the stage door and we reconnected. Mairi: Yeah, it’s an amazing community that we are in because we see each other again and again, even though it’s nerve-racking when the shows keep closing… but the energy keeps going!

2. Who’s the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Joni Mitchell, although even saying her name makes me a little breathless so I couldn’t imagine working with her! But that would be incredible. Me: You never know…whenever I ask this question I always put the person’s name in the tag so you never know who from Joni’s team might see this. Mairi: During that time in undergrad it was the music of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Sting that I listened to when I wasn’t practicing. It was such an aggressively competitive classical environment, that I spent my downtime listening to their music. I actually worked with Sting recently and got to tell him that without “Soul Cages” I don’t know that I would be a musician.

3. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? That’s hard because I really like this. I guess I’ve thought about law every now and then. I was in graduate school for a really, really, really long time and at some point in that process I realized I could have gotten a law degree…hahaha.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? So much…There was a line in “Cast Away,” which I thought was in the movie, “You never know what the tide is going to wash up tomorrow,” although I’m not sure he ever actually said that! The idea is that you’ve just got to have faith that something good is going to wash up tomorrow. This gig, “A Little Night Music” is a spectacular job and it’s hard not to get depressed that we have only 6 more weeks – to believe that there will be something just as great. You see where we are and how much space we have. It’s such an incredible environment, not to mention playing for Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch every day. I have a little TV screen on my stand so that I can follow Hunter (Ryan Herdlicka) when he’s playing the cello on stage. Plus it’s run for over a year and I’ve never had a show run that long. You just gotta hope that there will be something else!

5. What’s your proudest moment? Anytime I get to play with my husband. He’s a saxophone doubler. Me: Have you ever played a job together? Mairi: Yeah, he’s played here at “Night Music”. We haven’t had a show together, but we’ve played shows together when one of us has been subbing. Outside of shows, we’ve done various gigs together. It’s fun, ’cause he works in the ‘other side’ of the orchestra (reeds/brass), so I’ve gotten to know a lot of those guys through him.

6. Favorite place to rehearse on your own? Somewhere that is cushiony with carpeting and tons of pillows. Anything that soaks up the sounds so I can hear everything, so when I go and play, I won’t be surprised by any little sound. To be honest I don’t like to practice. It’s a necessary evil. There are some people who want to practice every day, but I never felt that way.

7. Favorite way to spend your day off? At home, sleeping, watching TV, knitting, eating, and hanging with my husband.

8. Favorite skin care product? Cetaphil and Shea Butter (in the winter). I sadly don’t use any of those fancy skin care items.

9. Favorite website? Facebook. I’m hooked on it. At this point I have friends all over the world and it’s pretty cool to be able to keep in touch with them so easily and see what they are up to.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman of course!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? I can be an archer (you know with a bow and arrow). Me: Like Geena Davis. Mairi: Sure, but I don’t know that I have her strength. Those bows are heavy and super tension-filled, and my elbow sticks out a bit so it’s tricky when the string comes back after you release the arrow…

12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Dreaming at all would be great. Last night I watched the PBS Sondheim Gala before I went to sleep and oh my gosh, they had those six incredible women come on stage in those stunning bright red gowns: Elaine Stritch, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, etc. One after another they stood up and sang and after watching that special I was wide awake until 5:30am. I’m looking at 2 shows today on 4 hours of sleep…haha

13. When one of the cast members are out during a show, how does that affect you as a musician in the show? It depends. Sometimes if there’s a different key, we’ll pull out a different part depending on their range, but as to the timing, it’s all up to the conductor because they are the ones leading and making those choices. The great thing about this show, particularly with Elaine Stritch, is that you get a different theatrical performance each time and I love that.

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When three time Tony Award nominee Kelli O’Hara sings, people listen! People listen so intently they are taken away from their daily lives to another world, a world of extraordinary talent, beauty and passion. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kelli after her triumphant opening night of her one woman show “Beyond the Ingenue” at Feinstein’s at the Regency (click here for my review).

From Oklahoma to New York City, Kelli O’Hara moved here to pursue her dream of becoming a performer and a performer she has become, in every sense of the word! Kelli made her Broadway debut in “Jekyll & Hyde” then going on to star in “Follies,” “Sweet Smell of Success,” and “Dracula.” Kelli earned her three Tony Award nominations in a row: her first nomination was for her performance in “The Light in the Piazza” co-starring Matthew Morrison, she received her second nomination for her performance in “The Pajama Game” co-starring Harry Connick Jr, and her third nomination was for her performance in “South Pacific,” co-starring Paulo Szot and Matthew Morrison.

In between “The Pajama Game” & “South Pacific,” Kelli made her Carnegie Hall debut in the NY Philharmonic production of “My Fair Lady” and released her debut album “Wonder in the World.” Kelli then went on to perform solo concerts at some of the biggest halls in New York and DC including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Town Hall, Cooper Union, Joe’s Pub, and Cafe Carlyle.

Off-Broadway and regionally, Kelli has been seen in “Sunday in the Park with George” (Reprise) “My Life With Albertine” (Playwright’s Horizons), and “Beauty” (La Jolla Playhouse). In addition to theatre, Kelli’s film and television credits include “The Dying Gaul,” “Alexander Hamilton,” “NUMB3RS,” “All My Children,” and the upcoming animated series “Car Talk.”

There are two chances now to catch Kelli live on stage: Now through October 30 at Feinstein’s at the Regency in her one woman show “Beyond the Ingenue” and then November 18-21 in “Bells Are Ringing” at Encores! For more on Kelli, be sure to visit http://www.kelliohara.com.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My voice teacher Florence Birdwell in Oklahoma. She’s pretty amazing. She was my mentor and inspired me to come here and do what I’m doing.

2. What’s the highest and lowest note you can sing? Well, I sang a high F above high C in “Magic Flute,” an opera. The lowest note I sing is probably F below middle C.

3. Who’s the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Mmmm…Hugh Jackman because I almost have worked with him a few times and it just hasn’t worked out yet. I would also love to work with Megan Mullally.

4. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? I would be a teacher. I love teaching. I teach, but not full time, just when I can. What do you teach? I teach musical theatre master classes.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? No one’s me. So I’m the only one who can do things the way I do them.  So be proud of it and sell it.

6. Favorite way to stay in shape? Jogging.

7. Favorite skin care product? Clinique Exfoliating scrub.

8. Favorite store to shop in? Anthropology for sure.

9. Favorite website? Etsy.com

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My husband, Greg Naughton.

12. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? I can imitate people’s walks almost perfectly.

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Cast of “Look Back In Anger”

According to press notes, “Look Back In Anger” is a ground-breaking story of a working class hero fighting for his wife’s love. Jimmy Porter is angry. Overeducated and underemployed, he is stuck in a dead-end job. His wife won’t talk to him. His best friend is always by her side. When her upper-crust friend shows up unexpectedly, Jimmy reaches the breaking point. Come see this savage tale of class conflict-battled in the bedroom.

“Look Back In Anger” plays at ATA’s Sargent Theatre (314 WEst 54th Street, 4th Floor) from October 13-30. Click here, for tickets!

Reesa Graham (Director)

In addition to being the director of “Look Back In Anger,” Reesa Graham is also the Seeing Place’s Literary Manager. Her New York directing credits include “Waiting for Lefty” (The Seeing Place), “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “Cymbeline” (BareShakespeare). Regionally her credits include “Woolgatherer,” “Oleanna,” “The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged,” and “Triptych” (Get the Gun Productions). Reesa has studied with as Jose Quintero, Marshall Mason, and the legendary Landford Wilson whom Reesa worked closely with at the Albee New Playwrights Festival.

1. Who inspired you to become a director? Wow – who inspired me to become a director?  That’s a longish answer. The reality is that when I was 6 years old, my mother took me to see a children’s theater production of Beauty and the Beast (my favorite fairy tale) and that was it. I knew at that moment I wanted to be the one who told the stories, like those people on stage, to become a character in a story and get to tell it – how amazing was that? And I really never looked back.  When I hit high school, I was still in theater, by that point I was involved in my school theater, a local children’s theater company, and a local adult theater company (yes, it’s true, at any given point in my high school career I was in 1-4 shows at a time) – but I was still acting. Then fate took over. I was extraordinarily lucky enough to be blessed with a high school director who never treated us as kids. We learned about Stanislavsky, and Chekhov and the Group theater, and…Blake Newman, who owned a local theater in Houston, always pushed us to be the best we could – and he saw in me something different than an actor.  He asked me to AD for him, so I did. Then something weird happened.  I fell into directing for a class project. And I HATED it – swore I would never do it again. But a few years later, a theater company I had worked with for many years came to me and said – our director just bailed – we have 2 choices, you either direct this show, or the show isn’t happening. So I did it.  And I never looked back.  From that point on I loved it! I got to tell the whole story, not just one piece of it. Overtime, I have been allowed to work with some AMAZING directors – Jose Quantro an Marshall Mason – as well as playwright Landford Wilson, and they have all agreed I am a director, not an actor – and today, I couldn’t agree more!

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Famous or not famous?  For famous – Gary Oldman or Eddie Izzard or David Tennant. I think all three men do amazing work, and they are all super smart! Just the kind of people I would LOVE to work with.  Beyond that – I have a weakness for new plays, and there are a ton of new playwright friends who’s work I would LOVE to put on, including Daryl Banner (who’s books are out on Amazon now), Jill Summerville and Michael Menedez. These are newnew playwrights who’s work I love!

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Marshall Mason once told me: “Don’t quit what your doing – the world needs us.” And Landford once said: “Move to NYC when your young and stupid enough to stay up all night, but old enough to not be taken advantage of.”  I think I hit that mark 🙂  Also, Journey once said “Don’t stop believing.”

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I actually had a pretty amazing dream the other night. I dreamed I was in rehearsals for a new Chekhov show with Stanislavsky directing. I had another once that was the same, but I was watching a Shakespeare rehearsal – I dream about theater a lot…

5. Do you have any rituals that you must do before a performance? How do you decompress after a show? Honestly, and people who know me well know this. I take a nap before rehearsals and performances. Not a long one, just 10-15 minutes. But I have to shut my brain down from my day and restart it focused on the show. The closer to go time I can do this, the better off I am – it means I’ve learned to sleep in rehearsal halls, theaters and dressing rooms 🙂

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent nobody knows about? Erm… no actually. I am pretty open. My best friend calls me the most open closed person she knows. Because I never hesitate to tell someone something that they have asked or something I think might help them. It means I have very few things in my life that no one knows about. And what little there is, facebook and twitter have taken away 🙂

7. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Neither really. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, and also, I don’t like Dunkin’ Donuts donuts. (I grew up in Texas where we have this AMAZING donut chain called Shipley’s. They are so much better than DD that I can’t even compare them!)

8. Favorite skin care product? Why do we get the boring question?  Ok, erm…I like smelly good stuffs – preferably things that make me want to eat myself – like vanilla or creme brulee or angel food cake…

9. Favorite website? Let’s see – either lolcats or facebook. I play the worlds most addicting and stupid facebook game called Egg Breaker, where I break eggs with hammers…It’s kind of a secret – but I LOVE it!

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman – duh, who doesn’t want an invisible plane?

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite meal? Wow, that’s loaded – what day is it? Let’s see – Sushi – or a good steak – or a nice salad – or hummus and pita – or…anyway you slice it though, it HAS to have a GREAT dessert after it!  I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth! 🙂

12. Favorite hobby? Irish Dance. I need to get back into it. I was, for many years, a competitive Irish Dancer. And I loved it!  Anytime I go back to visit Texas, I got back to my old school for a class. I need to find a school here! 🙂

Keenan Caldwell (Helena Charles)

Irene Award Nominee, Keenan Caldwell is a rising actress whose New York credits include “Does Anyone Know Sarah Paisner?” (Intravenous Theatre) and “Wild Dogs (Maieutic Theatre Works). Regionally, Keenan has been seen in “Sunday in the Park with George” and “South Pacific” (Heritage Rep), “Secret Garden” and “Outward Bound” (Dogwood Dell), “Waiting for the Parade” and “Cloud 9” (Helms Theatre-Irene Award Nominee), “Mystery of Edwin Drood” (Culbreath Theatre), “Nina in the Morning” and “And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little” (Virginia Theatre Lab), “Wit” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” (Spectrum Theatre).

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Mikhail Baryshnikov. When I was a little girl I believed with 100% certainty that I was going to be the greatest ballerina in the world when I grew up. It’s clearly still a work in progress.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Sheesh, only one?  Well, obviously Meryl Streep, but there are about a million runners-up.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Never be afraid to fail.” I struggle with that every minute of every day. Second-best advice: “Keenan, you really ought to buy an ice-cream maker.”

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep who would it be? Alexander Skarsgard. Easy.

5. Do you have any rituals that you must do before a performance? How do you decompress after a show? It absolutely depends on the day and the performance, although remembering to go to the bathroom is crucial. I stretch a lot, listen to music, and do some vocal warm-ups. If there’s a lot of time between curtain and my entrance, I have to work a little harder to stay focused and keep my energy up.

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? Hm. I really don’t think I do. Lame. Let’s go with “splitting the atom.”

7. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Starbucks. I don’t go often, but I usually get a decaf latte or cappuccino with an extra shot.

8. Favorite skin care product? Sunscreen. Although I have some perfume I bought when I went to Paris for the first time last year. That’s really the only product I use that has any sort of sentimental value.

9. Favorite website? gofugyourself.com. The King Arthur Flour website is also a good time.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman, dur.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite meal? Food I had in Paris with my sister: steak tartare, frites, salade lyonnaise, and ile flottante.

12. Favorite hobby? Baking and ballet. The one does not help the other.

Rick Delaney (Colonel Redfern)

Rick Delaney is also a rising actor who’s New York credits include “Tombstone,” “Comedy of Errors,” and “Merchant of Venice” (Inwood), “Scenes from the SI Ferry” and “Flies in the Snuffbox” (MITF), and “2 on the Aisle, 2 in a Van” (NYC Fringe, along with fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Natacia Diaz). Regionally, Rick has been seen in “The Price” (12 Miles West), “The Mystery of Irma Vep” and “Laramie Project Epilogue” (Dreamcatcher Rep), “Ruby Sunrise,” “Omnium Gatherum,” “Psycho Beach Party,” and “Fully Committed” (Theater Project).

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? My brother, although he has never been a performer himself. He worked on a play in high school and I admired him so much I wanted to do that too.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Cherry Jones, but I’d be terribly intimidated.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “At some point, all plays open”–which is another way of saying that, no matter how traumatic the rehearsal period, it is finite. Of course, I have since learned that, indeed, all plays do not open. But the second part of the advice is still true: “…and all plays close”.

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I can dream about anyone, so this really isn’t applicable. I frequently have movie dreams, with well defined plots. One was a musical. Some are in Black and White. One was a Silent Movie with Title cards. And I frequently have Guest Stars. I think my favorite was Ethel Waters in a ’40’s film noir set in the swamps of Louisiana. She sang a song in a juke joint.

5. Do you have any rituals that you must do before a performance? No regular rituals for all shows–but I warm-up differently, depending on the show. How do you decompress after a show? I always eat!

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? I can ask someone where the bathroom is in Dutch.

7. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? Dunkin’ Donuts. What do you order? Apple Fritter.

8. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer briefs.

9. Favorite website? Slate Magazine.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superman.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite meal? Thanksgiving Turkey and all the trimmings.

12. Favorite hobby? Sitting in a window, reading a book.

Adam Reich (Cliff Lewis)

Adam Reich is rising as well with such New York credits as “The Tempest” (The Public), “Fools In Love” (BAM Harvey Theater), “Miss Julie” (Cherry Lane), “High School Musical” (New World Stages), “Four Dogs and a Bone” (La Flamboyan), “The Secret of Our Souls (Minetta Lane), “La Ronde,” and “Two Gentlemen of Verona” (Manhattan Theatre Source), “Talk Therapy” (Abingdon), “Sheep’s Milk on the Boil” (Irish Arts), and “Waiting for Lefty” (The Seeing Place). For more on Adam, be sure to visit http://www.adamreich.net.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? I think I’ve been doing this so long, I can’t remember any one person being the sole source of inspiration. But my old teacher Dwight Protho gave me a tremendous amount of encouragement at an age and time when I really needed it.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Ingmar Bergman dammit!  But I guess if you want someone more alive, I suppose Liv Ullman will have to do.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Never give up!  Never surrender!”

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Dead loved ones.

5. Do you have any rituals that you must do before a performance? Relax in order to concentrate. How do you decompress after a show? Concentrate on relaxing.

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? Nothing particularly strange, but I do find each person’s talent to be unique and therefore unusual.

7. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Are you kidding? Starbucks! Dunkin’ Donuts is dry, nasty crap. At least on the West Coast, no one company has a donut monopoly, so the competing Mom-and-Pop companies make some decent donuts.

8. Boxers or Briefs? Boxers, briefs, and boxer briefs.

9. Favorite website? www.adamreich.net 🙂

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superduperman.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite meal? Breakfast.

12. Favorite hobby? Tending to my tropical fish.

Anna Marie Sell (Alison Porter)

From behind the curtain as The Seeing Place’s Associate Artistic Director to on stage entertaining, Anna Marie is a performer to watch. In New York, Anna has been seen in “Waiting for Lefty” and “The Credeaux” (The Seeing Place), “The Tamer Tamed” (Misfit Toys), “Timor Mortis” (Conflict of Interest), “Bathory: A New Musical” (D3 Productions), and “Merchant of Venice” (Inwood Shakespeare). Regional audiences have seen Anna in “Cyrano de Bergerac” (ASC), “Sound of Music” and “Pippin” (Cumberland Theater), “Hank Williams: Lost Highway,” “Nunsense Jamboree,” and “Shadow of the Raven” (Wayside), “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “Henry V,” and “Alice in Wonderland” (Barter).

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? I have no idea. I’m gonna say: my parents. They always have made me believe that I could do whatever I wanted, have shared stories and literature and art with me since I was a little girl – and they never complained about driving me to auditions and rehearsals. They still come see every show.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? I would really like to play a scene with my roommate Lilli. We’ve been in shows together, but somehow have never really gotten to act together.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “You are enough.” I still have trouble following it.

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My own personal masseuse.

5. Do you have any rituals you must do before a performance? I like to eat the greek yogurt from Starbucks before I get to the theater.Once I’m there, doing my hair & make up is actually a big part of getting ready for me – both physically and spiritually. I also like to have a minute to just hang out in the theater by myself before things get going. How do you decompress after a show? Afterward, my favorite way to decompress is with a glass of whiskey at a quiet bar.

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? No.

7. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Whichever is closer! Starbucks Anniversary Blend Coffee. Dunkin Donuts Double Chocolate or Cream-Filled Donuts.

8. Favorite skin care product? “One” Vanilla Almond Custard Lotion. It was a gift from my sister and it’s amazing.

9. Favorite website? Yahoo Maps.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superman.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite meal? Thanksgiving Dinner.

12. Favorite hobby? Learning to cook a multiple-dish dinner so that everything comes out at the same time.

Brandon Walker (Jimmy Porter)

Brandon Walker is an actor and the Founding Artistic Director of The Seeing Place Theater, a relatively new theatre company. According to their mission statement, The Seeing Place is a base for disciplined artists to develop theater they all want to believe in. They are working to create a pure ensemble, committed to forceful storytelling that discovers and expresses real behavior in this day and age. As an actor, Brandon has starred in “Waiting for Lefty,” “The Credeaux Canvas,” and “When We Have Gone Astray” (The Seeing Place), “West of the 5” (La Jolla Playhouse), “Androcles and the Lion” (Old Globe), “And A Nightingale Sang” (Barnstormers), “Moon for the Misbegotten” (North Coast Rep), “Christmas Carol” (Sierra Rep), “Two Gentleman of Verona” and “Playboy of the Western World” (New Village Arts), “Marat/Sade” (ion Theater), “Dog Act” (Moxie Theatre), “This Is Our Youth” (Life Out Loud), “Hamlet,” “Richard III,” and “Romeo and Juliet” (Poor Players).

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? In order:  Mrs. Grimes (my 5th grade teacher), Blair Hambuechen (my high school drama teacher), Christine Carr (my second high school drama teacher), Jonathan Sachs (an actor in San Diego, who didn’t care if he was upstaged), Eve Gross (my first heartbreak – tried way too hard to impress her), Richard Baird (my surrogate brother), Albert Finney, Alex Cahill (the best artist I know), The Ledford Family (a surrogate family of mine), Billy Crudup, Edward Norton, Hank Jordan (my passionate theater history teacher), Rachael Van Wormer (my Juliet and ex-girlfriend, who I competed with way too much), Matt Scott (an extremely talented actor in San Diego, who I idolized for a short time), Francis Gercke (my first acting teacher and the first person who I felt believed in my abilities – also, the best director ever), Cameron Folmar (the best Leontes I’ve ever seen), Erin Cronican (who thinks I’m good at Shakespeare), Kenneth Lonergan, Mark Ruffalo, Keith Reay (the best person I’ve ever known), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, Matt Daemon, David Gideon (my second acting teacher, and the only person who is harder on me than I am), Lee Strasberg (my teacher’s teacher), Marlon Brando, Aaron Calafato (the only person I’ve ever seen directly eye to eye with about art), James Dean, Pablo Picasso (for his curiosity), Dustin Hoffman, Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Stuhlbarg, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jessi Blue Gormezano (who will never know she inspired me to get off my ass), Jamie Owens (my crazy friend, who was the second person who I felt believed in my abilities), my family (who finally got the point that I might be doing this a while), Ian McKellan, John Gazzale (the most dedicated actor I’ve ever met), Robert Downey Jr., Heath Ledger, Joseph Mancuso (my good friend in acting class and our first two shows, who taught me how to learn), James McAvoy, Lillian Wright (who directed The Seeing Place’s first show, THE CREDEAUX CANVAS), Claudio Raygoza (a great director and visionary, who I burned my bridge with six years ago and took me back into his life), Patrick Stuart (just yesterday – see him in the RSC’s HAMLET), and Anna Marie Sell (every day).

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? David Gideon.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Live to the point of tears.” – Albert Camus

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Rachel McAdams.

5. Do you have any rituals you must do before a performance? I like to sit and do nothing for a few minutes while I drink coconut water. And then I sit in a hard chair and move my muscles very systematically from the top down in order to connect to them so that I can relax them as fully as I can. During this process, someone usually makes fun of me while I open my arms, make sound from my chest, and move the muscles I’m already using. Then I usually cry and somebody gets uncomfortable. And then I get involved in my creative work. Usually, that involves speaking out loud, which also freaks people out a bit. How do you decompress after a show? After a show, I drink.

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? I am a Foley Artist.

7. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Starbucks is passing, and I usually default to it out of laziness. Dunkin’ Donuts has the most disgusting food and coffee I’ve ever had, and I sometimes default to it out of even greater laziness. I always get the largest and darkest coffee they have.

8. Boxers or Briefs? Boxers. Briefs and boxer briefs sag in this really gross way. Or maybe I’m just that huge.

9. Favorite website? Google. That was a smart idea.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite meal? Mike’s Mess from Zachary’s in Santa Cruz. Or anything from Hash House A-Go-Go or La Hacienda in San Diego. Or anything from The Hotcake House in Portland. Or Crepes from Squat and Gobble in San Fransisco. Or a Croque Madame from Le Grainne Cafe in Chelsea.  But I always long for this artichoke heart sandwich that an ex-girlfriend (who was a novice chef) made for me one night. And then there are always Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwiches.

12. Favorite hobby? Chess. Or biking. Or guitar. Or air-drums.

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