Amid set designer Ryan Barrow’s quaint, warmly-lit, Tudor-inspired cottages of 1595 London is a Renaissance rock star…and the ones he left behind. Company Theatre’sSomething Rotten has something new to say about something olde and what it truly takes to be remembered.
Slickly directed by Zoe Bradford with zealous musical direction by Steve Bass, Company Theatre presents lighthearted musical comedy Something Rotten through April 3 live and in person at the Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. The show is not recommended for young children and runs approximately two hours with a brief intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
The phrase, Something Rotten, calls to mind a number of references, but primarily this alludes to the one and only William Shakespeare, London’s resident celebrity. While music was prevalent in 1595, writers were the real stars of their time and Shakespeare, charismatically portrayed with plenty of ego, prowess, and smirking, flamboyant charm by Brad Reinking, was a legend. Surrounded by Shakespeare’s Bard Boys (watch their expressions as he speaks), Reinking’s stage presence is an eclectic cross between Prince and Elvis.
In the glow of stardom, there must be a few naysayers and no one does it better than Donnie Norton as cynical and struggling writer Nick Bottom who once worked with that famous Bard. Nick’s level of griping is prevalent in the catchy number, God,I Hate Shakespeare, but what makes the song particularly interesting it is also embodies relevant reasons some people do not care for Shakespeare’s writing. Norton as Nick Bottom is so good at the role that payoff is big when he finally shows a trace of optimism. Christopher Spencer also shines as idealistic, impressionable, and head-in-the-clouds Nigel, Nick’s little brother and fellow writer. Spencer’s best moments as Nigel is when he shows reason and aptitude, though his giddy chemistry with Emily Lambert as wide-eyed yet steadfast Portia is also wonderful to watch.
Something Rotten is often self aware and its irreverent brand of humor brought to mind the classic comedy of Mel Brooks in musicals such as in the Tony award-winning The Producersor Young Frankenstein. Sally Ashton Forrest’s notable choreography boasts some splashy and humorous dance sequences including tap dancing and even a glorious kick line.
Elizabeth Cole Sheehan’s gleaming, colorful, and historically-faithful costumes cross the pond between regal classical to edgy contemporary adorned in gold-embroidered velvet, puffed sleeves, and leather.
Something Rotten features some powerhouse vocals, especially from these forward-thinking leading ladies in jolly ol’ England. Emily Lambert as Portia lifted her soaring soprano vocals for the gospel-inspired, We See the Light and the sweet and cheeky duet, I Love the Way with Spencer’s Nigel. Melissa Carubia as spunky, confident, and loyal to a fault Bea is also ahead of her time, her dynamic vocal range on display for the groundbreaking number, Right Hand Man. With quirky comedic charms fueled by a mix of Catherine Tate and Jennifer Saunders, Janis Hudson is perfectly smashing as royally-dressed Lady Clapham.
With bright, inquisitive eyes and a mischievous and knowing grin, Christopher Hagberg is a scene stealer as Thomas Nostradamus who leads with Norton in the funniest and most brilliant number of the show, A Musical tailor-made for literary and musical lovers everywhere.
Company Theatre presents lighthearted musical comedy Something Rotten through April 3 live and in person at the Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. The show runs approximately two hours with a brief intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
Though I’m not a fan of The Crown, the intriguing Oscar-nominated Spencer is new on Hulu and I was too curious about the polarizing acting abilities of Kristen Stewart to miss this film. Not only does the film focus on the tension, the princess’s fragility, and her deteriorating marriage, but what is deemed a fable of a tragedy taught me a bit about the monarchy’s strict regime before heading out to see the Company Theatre’s production of The Audience.
Directed by Steve Dooner and the inspiration behind the Netflix’s hit drama The Crown, Company Theatre presents Peter Morgan’sThe Audience through Sunday, February 20 at Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. The show is 2 hours and 15 minutes including an intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
The Audience is named after an important room inside Buckingham Palace where Queen Elizabeth II discusses a wide range of topics with various Prime Ministers over the Years. As Queen, she must live up to certain standards to have these meetings on a certain day for a certain length of time and keeping discussions strictly to Cabinet, Parliament, and Current Affairs. Needless to say, conversations often take a turn in unexpected directions. The show delivers light and subtle humor throughout the production, but this is mostly a historical drama.
Carol Laing Stearns portrays the sharp and coolheaded English monarch with sophistication, grace, and underlying prowess (with her royal corgis in tow). She dryly describes herself as “a postage stamp with a pulse,” but we all know better. Stearns has a natural and likable presence, but also stoic and headstrong. She rarely lets her emotions get the better of her, even when she is commenting on it. It is interesting to see the quirks and tenacity, navigating her age progression well. However in a rare moment, thanks to the keen lighting design of Dean Palmer. Jr, the spotlight shines on Stearns in a moment of vulnerability, and it is difficult not be entirely moved by it.
Ryan Barrow’s elegant set is flanked with wall-to-wall gold trim, historical portraits, and a sparkling chandelier shining overhead. Charismatic Rama Rodriguez as Equerry acts as half narrator and half historian, sharing the relevance of this special room and its astute history. From a tartan skirt to the dapper suits on each Prime Minister to the very replica of Queen Elizabeth II’s white dress and royal sash symbolizing her position as the Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, costume designer Elizabeth Cole Sheehan has a meticulous eye for historically-accurate regal flair.
The depiction of Elizabeth II’s flashes of childhood is handled in a unique and insightful way though at first it can be a little confusing. Young Elizabeth, portrayed as a precocious and inquisitive old soul by Samantha LeBretton, struggles with her destiny and the separation of her public and private figure. Although she is unsure of her place exactly, she feigns surefootedness, but not without questions.
Chris DiOrio as Harold Wilson is the most sympathetic among the Prime Ministers while Julie Dennis as Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher comes in like a lion and remains one. The tension between Stearns and Dennis as a compelling Thatcher is quite thrilling to witness as two people with much in common can barely agree. DiOrio as Wilson thrives in the role, his strong Northern accent only accentuates his likability.
Among the many political, social, and personal topics addressed, the clash between royal rituals and traditions with modernization and talk of the end of the monarchy is always looming. However, The Audience presents a bigger picture and depicts just why Queen Elizabeth II’s, who just celebrated her Platinum Jubilee this month and is the longest reigning English monarch in history, secret to her longevity reaches far beyond her wit.
Company Theatre presents Peter Morgan’s The Audience through Sunday, February 20 at Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. The show is 2 hours and 15 minutes including an intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
Having read Victor Hugo’s epic novel Les Miserables, witnessed three film adaptations including a 1998 mediocre version starring Claire Danes as Cosette and Liam Neesen as Jean Valjean (without an Eponine), GBH’s 10th and 25th anniversary of Les Miserables in Concert as well as Les Miserables live onstage from Broadway to Lexus Broadway in Boston to right here a few years ago at the Company Theatre, the Academy of the Company Theatre’s Les Miserables School Edition features the youngest cast I’ve ever witnessed onstage. Les Miserables is a masterful show and a paramount redemption tale, but it does deal in underlying mature themes such as criminal injustices, swindling, prostitution, and war.
Set in 18th century France, Les Miserables is a brilliant tale about an escaped convict attempting to rebuild his life under the watchful eye of Inspector Javert. Life experience suggests that adults might have a firmer grasp on the show’s complicated and mature themes, but with exceptional Sal Garcia starring as Jean Valjean and a wise beyond their years cast, it is not difficult to imagine.
With a thick beard and an imposing figure, it is not much of a stretch of the imagination that Sal Garcia could take on the reigns of Jean Valjean. With a vocal range from a whispered lullaby to a powerful belt, Garcia’s vocal gymnastics take off from Soliloquy onward and especially for extraordinary solos, Bring Him Home and Who Am I. At just 16 years old, it is amazing to think his voice will only become more powerful and pliable in the years to come. Garcia as Valjean and Will Moon’s clear and distinct vocals as the Bishop of Digne combine for a moving performance in the musical’s most pivotal and iconic scene. Valjean’s encounters with Weston Hammond as mysterious Inspector Javert work well together to fuel the mounting tension between them. Hammond’s deep baritone and Garcia’s versatile vocals heighten each scene together.
Brianna Casey may look young, but her deep and rich vocals exude that maturity needed to take on Fantine’s complexities from a struggling mother to a woman haunted by visions of the past exhibited in the anguish of I Dreamed a Dream.
Elsa Hancock-Happ as Young Cosette is pitch perfect and adorable, but her distinct and reactive facial expressions with the Thenardiers are the most fun to watch. Jack Baumrind is a little scene stealer as Garouche, his sweet smile and streetwise antics outsmarting most everyone he encounters.
Tessa Beshere and Jackson Parker as the manipulative and amusing Thenardiers only seem to get better as the show progresses. With a cackling laugh, scheming Parker as Thenardier excels in the show’s darkest number, Dog Eat Dog with Garcia as Valjean and Dabady as Marius. The Thenardiers’ playful, dynamic chemistry and physical humor is at its best as they become the life of the party for Beggars at the Feast.
Usually I don’t care for the character of Cosette, but Katherine Dee changes my mind through her angelic, soaring soprano vocals and sweet chemistry with Gilbert Dabady as strong-willed and charming Marius. Dabady exhibits playful chemistry with a lovely Isabelle Assaf as Eponine. The trio creates beautiful harmonies for A Heart Full of Love and the collective cast’s harmonies are exceptional for One Day More.
Antoine Aoun is also memorable and charismatic as Enjolras, leader of a student revolution. Aoun builds excitement for the future with ABC Café and The People’s Song.
From subtle cobblestone streets to the finely detailed and massive barricade, Ryan’s Barrow’s set design strikes the contrasting tone of the elite and the poverty-stricken parts of France accentuated by Martine Assaf’s aesthetically pleasing costumes faithful to the musical’s vision. Dean Palmer Jr.’s impressive lighting is prominent throughout the production from an atmospheric glow to flickering street lamps to twinkling stars to illuminated lanterns most evident in a gorgeous display for Turning and the unique and stirring staging accentuates the resonating and timely number, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables led by Dabady who pays melancholic and poignant tribute to ghosts of the past.
Academy of the Company Theatre (ACT) presents Les Miserables School Edition continuing through Sunday, January 30 live and in person at the Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets.
In her good works, her loving and encouraging persona, and perhaps in a misbehaving microphone, Company Theatre’s beloved co-founder Jordie Saucerman’s presence was unmistakably felt in Jordie A Celebration of Life and Concert continuing through Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 PM. This dynamic tribute is held live onstage with no intermission at the Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. Click here for more information.
Though there are moments of tearful recollections, this thoughtful, Mardi Gras-inspired tribute brought more joy than sadness not unlike Jordie herself. She made an indelible mark not only in theatre and film, but her humor, drive, and generous nature made her an unforgettable presence in the lives she encountered, especially in children that often felt alone and misunderstood. Her discernment, treatment of others, and her endless bowls of chicken soup and treats allowed them to shine.
A large cast that included Academy of the Company Theatre (ACT) students paid warmhearted tribute to Jordie with hit Broadway tunes, pop and uplifting gospel songs, captivating dance numbers, and personal stories. Composed of present and former students that she fondly referred to as family and those whose lives she touched over her 49 years in the arts, needless to say the stage was full.
Some highlights included a poignant montage of film clips capturing Jordie’s wonderful life, including her telling first and final reflections. A stirring homily from Cathy Torrey and insightful, ballet-inspired choreography created by Jordie’s wife and Company Theatre choreographer Sally Forrest led in song by Paula Markowitz depict how beautiful she was inside and out.
The Company Theatre presents Jordie A Celebration of Life and Concert for one more show on Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information.
In Jordie’s memory, The Company Theatre has created The Jordie Saucerman Forever Fund. Click here to contribute to her legacy.
Just prior to the pandemic, an award-winning, intriguing production not only made its debut but closed in one night on the Company Theatre stage in Norwell, Massachusetts over a year ago. Onstage as the meaty role of Bruce, Company Theatre’s Director of Development Michael Hammond experienced that incredible and bittersweet night and what it meant to the cast of the musical memoir Fun Home. Click here for our full podcast conversation.
The Company Theatre is offering a chance to see Fun Home for the full run they had originally intended in October. Michael talks about his experience as Bruce, his favorite part of theatre, and a secret upcoming project.
Click here for Sleepless Critic’s Fun Home review and here for tickets and further information about the Company Theatre.
Sleepless Critic: So you’ve been in theatre since you were a kid and now that we have had the pandemic, what was your favorite part of the theatre before and was there a change in your favorite or what you miss the most when we had a break?
Michael Hammond: I think we take a lot for granted in life. We forget how much fun it is to sing with an orchestra or to perform on a beautiful set someone built. Ryan Barrow does amazing sets at Company Theatre and it’s thrilling to perform on one of his sets. It’s thrilling to perform with Steve Bass conducting an orchestra and thrilling to perform Sally Forrest’s choreography under Zoe Bradford’s direction.
I think we take that for granted in some ways and as much as I enjoy it and maybe as I got from show to show to show, I think I just liked performing specific roles for the experience of getting to know a new cast. I did a Christmas show at Company Theatre and just recharged my energy to be around such beautiful people and exciting kids and talent. You’re in a flow and you are doing shows and enjoying it.
You get what you get out of it, but when the pandemic was coming, I was doing Fun Home with an extremely talented cast. Riley Crockett was playing the youngest Alison. I was re-experiencing theatre through her eyes and she had never been on a big stage or performed with an orchestra which is shocking because she is so talented. She would ask me, ‘Are you nervous for your solo tonight?’ I would say, ‘I am a little.’ She would say, ‘Good, now you know how I feel.’ Ok, she needs a little more support and encouragement in that moment.
Then we were standing on top of a staircase and we were about to walk down for our first entrance and she said, ‘Michael, I’ve never performed on a set like this. This is a big deal.’ I said, ‘Yes, it is a big deal. You are right. This is a beautiful experience and you’re about to sing live with an orchestra for the first time in a big theatre on a beautiful set.’ It made me look at what we are doing and not take it for granted.
So we were fortunate to open and close Fun Home on the exact same night because the pandemic had really hit. That day everyone was cancelling their performances but we went on because we had a feeling this would be it. I’m so glad we did because it was one of the most exciting and electric experiences of my life. People were rebellious and excited. They knew this might be the last time they ever saw this show and Fun Home is not a super positive and happy experience.
SC: It is melancholy.
MH: Right, but the audience treated it like it was a rock concert!
SC: Yes, I was there to review your first and final performance. I felt so comfortable and wonderful and I had saw this show in Boston before. What I liked about watching this particular show is that you can make it so different every time you perform it. The parts can be portrayed very differently and you can do so much with the show. In a way, if you had to say goodbye to theatre for awhile, I felt like that was such a poignant thing to do in that moment.
MH: It was. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I think I ever had and it was just so bittersweet because it was the last show with Jordie. How thrilled and grateful am I that I got to have Jordie’s final show be Fun Home and I got to be a part of it. It was just such a fantastic experience and she loved the show. It was such a joy to go through that process with her.
SC: It is one of those shows that sneak up on you unexpectedly. You’re experiencing the show and you enjoy it, but once it’s over, it is really thought-provoking.
MH: I saw it on Broadway and loved it. I thought that I don’t necessarily need to see it again. It was beautiful and moving and I think of it like a beautiful film. You watch it and then you watch another film. When this opportunity came around to work on the show, I have such a great appreciation for it. I think it’s just one of the greatest things ever written where you’re dissecting and it personally and really in the trenches on it. It’s so much more brilliant than I realized.
SC: It has such multi-layered performances as well.
MH: I was thinking today that there were so many things about Bruce, I almost feel like I just left my body. I personally couldn’t be any part of this character because it just wasn’t anything like me. Sometimes I think about it and it feels really difficult to do it again because I remember it as ‘What did I even do?’ I feel like something else took over and performed the role for me.
SC: I don’t often see you play parts like that. Not to reveal anything, but your character is very complicated.
MH: Then to hear compliments like you should do roles like that more often is such a compliment because people think of me as a song, dance, and musical theatre man. Not that I shy away from roles like that, but it was very gratifying to play that part especially opposite such a talented cast. It’s unbelievable.
SC: I know you’ve written a few works with Jordie and Zoe over the years. Please tell us how that came about.
MH: I co-wrote Paragon Park the Musical with Zoe, Jordie, Sally, and Michael Joseph for the first production and Steve Bass for the second who worked on the music. I love amusement parks and I loved Paragon Park. I went there so many times in my life.
When I heard that Zoe and Jordie were thinking of writing a musical about Paragon Park, I selfishly just wanted to see it. I had no inkling that I would be involved or that they would want me involved. I just wanted to see that production so it got mentioned many times over the years and one summer I designed a poster Paragon Park the Musical coming summer of whatever year it was. It was a long time ago.
One day Zoe decided years after the poster even to start doing some research. She said, ‘Why don’t you come with me? We’ll get lunch.’ We went to the Hull Library which was incredible. They put us in a private room and provided us with access to microfiche, boxes of memorabilia, and photographs. They were so generous. It just snowballed from there. We just couldn’t stop. We were researching and loved what we found. It did not end up being the musical we thought we were going to write because the ideas we had in mind turned out to be completely not true. It all got shifted.
We thought maybe there was this seedy underbelly to the park and that once the park was closed, things happened at night. It was going to be dark and mysterious and then we find out from the park owners that ‘Oh no, we locked that place, sealed it like a drum at 11 pm, and went out for Chinese food.’ Nothing happened at the Park after hours. So much for that, but the Stone Family provided us with so much information that we were able to write a really interesting and factual musical. It was 80% true except for the love story we incorporated.
SC: Not only did you write it the first time around, but when it came back around, you got to star in it too.
MH: I did and it was a thrill! The nicest feeling about that show and being in it is to be putting on a costume and as I’m by myself getting dressed, I would hear people walk down the hallway singing the songs or they would say that they get to do that scene they love now. There was so much positivity and to realize we wrote a show that was really fun to perform. Some of the kids were in Ragtime and we used to make these funny backstage videos. So I said, ‘Why don’t we make videos during Paragon Park?’ They said, ‘Michael, you and Zoe wrote a show where there is no time to make videos. When would we do that?’ It was nice to know we had a hand in creating this really fun experience. It was quite thrilling to be able to perform something that I helped write.
SC: Please tell me about the projects you are working on now and upcoming projects.
MH: I’m devoting all my time to Company Theatre and Zoe and I thought, ‘Why not write another musical?’ It’s a completely different project from Paragon Park and we can’t quite announce yet what it is, but Zoe is incredibly inspired by this project.
Watching her, it’s almost like she is channeling something like I’ve never seen. She’s a beautiful artist and I’m obsessed with the way she draws and paints. So she just took out a magic marker and a gigantic pad of paper and drew what she saw in her head for the plot of this show and it was quite impressive to watch. Her ideas are flowing through her. It is unbelievable so we’re hoping that will probably be the summer of 2023.
Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts, is presenting Fun Home in October as well as devoting a night to their late co-founder, Jordie Saucerman, in November. Click here for more information and check back to find out about Company Theatre’s mystery original production.
Michael Hammond may change the way you look at life. Are you afraid of the audition? He’ll show you a way to succeed. Having a bad day? He’ll show you a way to lift your spirits. As the new Director of Development at the Company Theatre, a role he calls a lifelong dream, his positivity may help others the way Company Theatre has helped him since childhood.
The Company Theatre, located at 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts, joyously held their first indoor production since their absorbing musical, Fun Home early last year. Rock of Ages was an edgy and energetic rock jukebox musical that took place last month. See Rock of Ages review here and click here for Sleepless Critic’s full podcast.
Sleepless Critic: Please tell me what it was like to be back in the indoor setting for Rock of Ages.
Michael Hammond: It’s so fantastic. It’s emotional, exciting, and the energy in the air was just electric. You were there. You saw it. People were cheering and screaming.
The show starts with Sally Forrest’s voice doing her standard announcement which we are all accustomed to hearing. It was such a welcome back and to hear her voice and I think people cheered over her entire announcement. Just to be back inside, hear that familiar voice, and to know we’re about to see a really fun and exciting show was just great.
SC: I know this was the opening weekend for indoor theatre, but you did have some outdoor theatre experiences like Avenue Q before this show.
MH: Avenue Q was incredible. The kids were so talented. Their commitment to what they were doing and their characters were dynamic. It was Broadway-type quality coming out of these kids on the outdoor stage of the Company Theatre out back. We have had other things like Divas with a Twist and Donny Norton’s band,The New Band there. That’s been a really nice addition to the Company Theatre as well as now being back inside.
SC: So getting back to Rock of Ages, you had your opening weekend and you felt like everything went as smooth as can be?
MH: Absolutely! So many new people in this show and as is typical of the Company Theatre, they are already saying this is my new home. It’s this overwhelming feeling that you’re home and you found your family at the Company Theatre even if you did one show and you never come back, it still feels that way. I’ve been involved since I was 19 years old.
SC: I was going to say that you are familiar with that feeling.
MH: I’m very familiar with that feeling. I don’t know what my life would have been like without Company Theatre. I would have taken a completely different path.
SC: It’s hard to replicate the kind of friendly and welcoming atmosphere you have when you’re in theatre.
MH: Absolutely! Such a nice group of people too that do theatre especially the teens. They just stay out of trouble. They have a common goal they are working towards and they enjoy each other’s company and make lifelong friendships. I can’t say enough about it.
I’ve just seen so many kids, even this summer just come through the doors and they leave just completely changed and confident and more themselves. It’s just a beautiful thing to witness.
SC: When you said you had been with Company Theatre pretty much your whole life, you said it was a lifelong dream to do something like this as the Director of Development now. I’m really excited for you.
MH: Thank you! Like a lot of people during the pandemic, you start to question ‘Am I doing what I want with my life? Is this fulfilling and rewarding?’ Like many people, I came to the conclusion that what I was doing was not for me anymore.
It had run its course and I needed something new and Jordie Saucerman, one of the founding partners of the Company Theatre, had passed away and that really accelerated my thought process because her wake was attended by so many people. I thought ‘Look at all the lives that she touched.’ The impact that Jordie had on people is immeasurable. Even if I make just a little sliver of that impact on people, I would feel great about my life. That set the wheels turning.
I approached Zoe one day and said, ‘I will be your janitor. I basically don’t care what you have me do, if there is a spot for me here, I am coming.’ That seed was planted awhile ago and it sort of blossomed into Director of Development. I’m so excited to try new things and just give back what I got from this theatre.
SC: Not only that, but you have a similar positive way about you like Jordie had. Where do you get your positive outlook from? Where do you draw it from considering I’ve also seen videos of you on social media?
I’m not attempting to fill Jordie’s shoes in any way. That’s not a task that anyone could accomplish. She is a unique individual who I feel is still around in the atmosphere and in the joy of the theatre. If I’m upset or have a bad day, it makes me feel better to brighten someone else’s day. That is such a nice feeling to buy someone in line a coffee or just compliment someone or encourage someone to do something they didn’t think they could do. I live off of that. If I am having the worst day of my life and I do something nice for somebody, I instantly feel recharged. I think that’s how I basically go through life.
SC: I hear that from a lot of comedians as well. It makes them feel better to make someone else laugh even if they are upset or having issues.
MH: I tried standup comedy once. I did it more for the writing aspect, but I did perform. It was an interesting experience because you come out onstage and you look at a sea of faces who want you to succeed because if you succeed, they have a fantastic time. You have an overwhelming amount of support that you just want to hold onto and it was an incredible feeling.
SC: What did you did before this that you wanted to walk away from and join the Company Theatre?
MH: I was the station manager at a local cable television station. I was so grateful because it was also a non-profit. I probably learned so many skills that I could apply to this job I didn’t necessarily have before. Just the behind the scenes stuff, the QuickBooks, the budgets, and managing a non-profit was extremely helpful and then also applying my video experience to the job as well. Filming and creating events and learning special effects.
So all of that which at the time was a perfect job for me, but nine years later I felt like I needed a change and so I am going to apply what I learned there and bring it to the Company Theatre. We can offer acting for camera classes and improv for camera classes.
I’ve been on auditions and in commercials. We want to provide those skills to kids who like to act and be on camera. We want them to be able to go into an audition and know how to slay what they are going to be asked to do and be prepared for anything.
I actually started with a class over the summer. Some of the kids were auditioning so they got immediate training for those auditions. When they came back, they would tell the other students that they did just what Michael showed us. I asked if they felt more prepared. Did you do a better job with the audition? Their faces lit up and they said, ‘Absolutely!’ That was a nice thing.
We want to get in touch with the local casting agencies which we already have a good relationship. We want to create a talent database where you can see video auditions and we can send those out so we kind of want to be a bridge between the local movie and theatre scene. We’ll provide students with the training. They’ll have the skills to go out and nail professional auditions and maybe get cast in movies and commercials. We just really want everyone to have new and exciting opportunities to excel in a career in film and theatre if that is something that they are interested in.
SC: Let’s face it – the audition process is the most nerve-wracking and hardest part I think to convey right off the bat because in your head, you are saying,’ I know what I can do for you’ but then you get up there and it is not exactly what you picture.
MH: Having directed before, people come in and they are nervous. The reality is the casting company is nervous and they have roles to fill. So, the second you come in, put them at ease, and they know they have options, they feel better. I always say in my mind when I got into an audition, ‘Here I am! You can relax. I am going to be that person you need.’ I think it’s an interesting way to keep yourself calm to think I am exactly what you need instead of I hope I’m what you need.
SC: I never really thought of it like that.
MH: Think about it. You have a reputation. You have a project. You want to cast the right people because that makes you look good as well. If you find the right people not only are you confident about the project, but it brings excitement.
When I direct a show, I’m not very excited about it until I know who is in it and then I can tailor their performances to their talents. It is such a thrill to watch people blossom.
Please tell me about the projects you are working on now and upcoming projects.
I don’t think I’ll be directing anything for a little bit. I’ll probably take on some projects here and there. I definitely can’t leave that part behind. I’m really going to focus on the video classes. I’ll be working with Christie Reading. She is extremely talented with anything video related. So, I will be teaming up with her teaching improv for camera, acting for camera, and getting people ready for auditions.
We want to nurture and encourage that. That is kind of my goal. It’s to really push people to excel in any way that they can.
SC: You can’t forget about Boston Casting. How convenient is that! There are all kinds of films going on in the state.
MH: Exactly and literally a mile down the road they are making motion pictures. So how can we not be a part of that? They are working on the new Jon Hamm movie in Cohasset. I know Angela at Boston Casting who is an incredible woman and I don’t know how she does everything she does, but with all those films going on, eventually they will run out of actors.
We get casting notices all the time and I’m forwarding them off to everybody I know that I think fits. For example, I sent a buddy of mine a notice yesterday. They were looking for an actual butcher with acting experience and I happen to know a butcher with acting experience. I’m thinking he might get it.
SC: I know. Some of the requirements are so wild.
MH: It’s so specific, but every once in a while I’ll say, ‘Wait a minute, that is me.’
Company Theatre is offering theatre classes in the fall. Click here for the full schedule and upcoming events.
If you decide to visit Hollywood, California, stop by the Bourbon Room, a real bar and nightclub inspired by the legendary fictional bar and nightclub in jukebox musical Rock of Ages. The Bourbon Room opened last year in honor of the show’s 20th anniversary and if it contains half the wild antics of this edgy musical, it will be worth the trip.
The excitement was tangible as the Company Theatre prepared for their return to its signature indoor stage for the debut of Rock of Ages on Saturday, August 7. The crowd was pumped for an uproarious good time as the booming sounds of 80s hits enlivened the stage and nostalgia took over not only for hair bands and jelly bracelets, but for a live show in person and in glorious color.
Directed by Zoe Bradford, musically directed by Steve Bass, and choreographed by Sally Ashton Forrest, The Company Theatre presents Rock of Ages without an intermission through Sunday, August 22 at The Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. This show is not for young kids. Please note this show run has some rotating cast members. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Packed with colorful characters doused with a mix of rock raunchiness and self aware humor, Rock of Ages holds a mirror up to the era of excess and distinct self expression. Steering this club is Brad Reinking as Lonny, the Bourbon’s impulsive no-holds-barred co-owner, resident storyteller, and narrator. According to Company Theatre’s Director of Development Michael Hammond, Reinking improvised a portion of the dialogue with local references and contemporary quips the audience and not even the cast saw coming. Reinking shines as Lonny, his strong voice and penchant for dark humor work well in a script that never takes itself too seriously.
Part love story, part rebellion, and mostly musical, Rock of Ages is set in the 80s on the Sunset Strip where idealistic Sherrie (Emily Lambert) and guitar strumming dreamer Drew (Braden Misiaszek) long for stardom and are not sure where to start. They set their sights inside the fledgling Bourbon Room, an aging nightclub and bar in danger of being shut down unless someone takes action.
Performed by an intimate group of musicians led by Steve Bass, Rock of Ages is fueled by a wide range of 80’s hits that are clearly a trip down memory lane for some including Journey, Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner enhanced by Forrest’s intense choreography. Emily Lambert boasts powerful vocals as wide-eyed yet determined Sherrie and does a terrific job teaming up with Caitlin Ford as complex yet confident Justice in a powerful medley of Quarterflash’s Harden My Heart and Pat Benatar’s Shadows of the Night. Lambert also shines in a sweet yet intense rendition with Misiaszek for Extreme’s More than Words, Bad English’s To Be with You, and Warrant’s Heaven medley. Melissa Carubia as spunky and resourceful renegade Regina is all spirit and heart for Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take it and light and amusing rendition of Starship’s We Built this City and Styx’s Too Much Time on My Hands.
Shane Hennessey makes a big entrance as mysterious Stacy Jaxx (in a nod to another famous 80s rocker) to Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive. Ryan Barrow’s vibrant set design is on point especially one scene in a nightclub bathroom. It is easy to feel the grime watching that signature nightclub bathroom from the audience. Janis Hudson portrays compelling Denise Dupree with a tough façade, dry humor, and a Joan Jett vibe while Christopher Spencer offers some refreshing and sometimes goofy comic relief as Franz.
That is just a taste of the wide range of rock numbers in store. A jukebox rock musical, Rock of Ages is best enjoyed as an extended MTV music video at a time when music was mainly performed on MTV. The rock medleys have cheek and sass and in the real world oozing with serious drama (where to start) Rock of Ages is meant as pure entertainment and each fun loving character a representation of a lighter time. You may find yourself bobbing your head, singing along, or both to the catchy tunes you may or may not have lived through, but nonetheless have stood the test of time in their own vibrant way.
Prior to the Rock of Ages musical on opening night, Company Theatre offered a VIP pre-show that featured plenty of 80s nostalgia and delicious treats including Pop Rocks, shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers, vintage-style cupcakes, and a special Ecto Cooler cocktail.
The Company Theatre presents Rock of Ages without an intermission through Sunday, August 22 at The Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. Click here for more information, upcoming events, and tickets.
Ever wonder what the Mad Hatter would say if you were welcome to tea or imagining a nonsense word to get you out of a fix or how the guards paint the roses red?
This is just a glimpse into Company Theatre’s Wonderland: Alice’s Immersive Adventure, a magical, unique and most curious tour with some of Alice in Wonderland’s most iconic characters continuing through Saturday, May 1 at The Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, MA. Directed by Corey Cadigan, this family-friendly tour, based on the Academy of the Company Theatre’s Theatre Workshop, takes place entirely outdoors on Company Theatre’s surrounding grounds following Covid guidelines. Click here for more information.
Drawing inspiration from the famous Lewis Carroll tales such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its film adaptations, Wonderland: Alice’s Immersive Adventure with Alice as your guide, you follow the White Rabbit while interacting with some of Carroll’s most iconic characters on a wacky journey to defeat the Red Queen. The colorful characters’ costumes by John Crampton and the sets by Ryan Barrow are fun, detailed and imaginative featuring twinkling lights to guide your way and the enthusiastic, engaging cast make every tour a unique experience.
Each character may ask you questions and you may ask them according to the rules of Wonderland. At journey’s end, enjoy a tea party featuring cookies and other goodies.
The Company Theatre presents Wonderland: Alice’s Immersive Adventure through Saturday, May 1. Click here for more information, tickets, and how to support The Company Theatre.
The crowd roared. Even with a half-full Company Theatre crowd that adhered to Covid-19 requirements opening night on Friday, March 13th, this enthusiastic audience was more than ready to be taken away by what theatre does best. Company Theatre co-founder Zoe Bradford provided a special Fun Home introduction and mused, “Theatre has a way of helping you escape reality.”
Riley Crockett as Small Alison and Michael Hammond as Bruce Photo courtesy of Zoe Bradford/Company Theatre
Five-time Tony award-winning musical Fun Home explores different perceptions of reality within the Bechdel family. They wrestle with it, deny it, but ultimately, must come to terms with it. Based on the graphic novel memoir by Alison Bechdel and directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman, The Company Theatre presented musical Fun Home on Friday, March 13 at Company Theatre at 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts and plans for the show’s return when the theatre reopens. Click here for more information.
Under a softly lit, lattice rooftop, Fun Home takes an intimate look inside a family seemingly full of zeal and an antique Victorian house so tidy and flawless flanked with a fireplace, grand piano, and large casement windows, it neatly hides any cracks and crevices underneath. With elegant scenic design by Ryan Barrow and Zoe Bradford as well as rich, emotive lighting by Ethan R. Jones, The Company Theatre unveils this absorbing musical that lures the audience into the Bechdel family’s complicated world.
Aimee Doherty as Alison, Michael Hammond as Bruce, and Riley Crockett as Small Alison Photo courtesy of Zoe Bradford/Company Theatre
It’s funny what you recall in life. Memories can be tricky. As time goes by, perspective changes as a person grows, transforming a memory and gradually revealing details once never thought of or understood before. That lattice rooftop seals in cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s intimate memories as she writes her memoirs through her work, ruminating on her childhood and upbringing to find out what ultimately makes her feel like she is stuck in life. Alison uses cartoons because drawing as a child, she recalls, “I need real things to draw from because I don’t trust memory.”
With its share of comedic and uplifting moments, Alison looks back on her relationship with her enigmatic and intellectual father Bruce and her traveling and ill at ease mother, Helen. Alison is the only individual that outwardly transforms in this piece, thanks to the exceptional work of Riley Crockett as adorably precocious Small Alison, and Jaclyn Chylinski who is impressive as naïve, anxious, and excitable Medium Alison. Crockett performs an impeccable version of Ring of Keys and shines with Charlie Flaherty as Christian and Owen Veith as John in the darkly humorous title track, Fun Home. Melissa Carubia is smooth and charismatic as cool and collected Joan.
Riley Crockett as Small Alison, Charlie Flaherty as Christian, and Owen Veith as John Photo courtesy of Zoe Bradford/Company Theatre
With black rimmed glasses and short dark hair, IRNE award-winner Aimee Doherty slips into Alison’s façade, a mature, jaded and intellectually-driven individual. With a dark sense of humor, Doherty narrates this emotional journey evoking confusion, warmth, sorrow, and frustration in her fine features while building her strength in each new discovery.
Michael Hammond, in a tenacious performance, embodies the many sides of Alison’s father Bruce. With black rimmed glasses, dress pants, and a collared sweater, he is critical man with a refined intellect, and perpetually occupied to become an expert on most everything. Seemingly a friendly, strict, and hardworking family man, Bruce is also secretive and closed off. Each Alison does a brilliant job in portraying their wrought frustration in every moment they attempt to make a genuine connection to him, but especially in the bittersweet song, Telephone Wire. Hammond’s engaging and affecting vocals capture Bruce’s perplex feelings in each number, including the poignant song Pony Girl, and most notably his harrowing rendition of Edges of the World.
Amy Barker skillfully portrays Alison’s unassuming, overwhelmed, and misunderstood mother, Helen. Surrounded by outward perfection, she lives her life distancing herself from reality reflected in the heartrending and beautiful number Days and Days. Always putting others first, she is a repressed woman following the traditional values of her generation within the confines of her home.
The full cast of ‘Fun Home’ Photo courtesy of Zoe Bradford/Company Theatre
Led by and musically directed by Matthew Stern, the intimate, seven piece orchestra features a soothing, fiddle-laden soundtrack that is a combination of light, airy, and melancholy. From its opening song, It All Comes Back to the Flying Away finale, Jeanine Tesori’s captivating musical numbers hold a spectrum of rich, multi-faceted meaning. The catchy, Partridge Family-inspired song, Rainbow of Love is a particular highlight, enhanced by cheerful retro costumes and illustrating Small Alison’s hope of escape.
Company Theatre’s Fun Home is on hiatus and plans to return when the Company Theatre reopens. Click here for more information. Follow Company Theatre on Facebook for further updates.
Ice Dance International’s Executive Artistic Director and choreographer Douglas Webster reflected wistfully as he introduced what was likely Ice Dance International’s final performance on The Skating Club of Boston’s ice rink on Saturday, February 29. With a 100-year reputation of bringing everything from amateur to Olympic skaters to the ice, The Skating Club of Boston has been sold and will move to a much larger facility in Norwood, Massachusetts. During the week of Ice Dance International’s historic performance in Boston, WGBH’s Open Studios’ star Jared Bowen interviewed Ice Dance International’s exemplary ice dancers at WGBH and took to the ice with them for a stunt or two.
ICE DANCE INTERNATIONAL “IN FLIGHT: LIVE” TOUR 2020 FULL Cast Front Row: Laura Seal, Klabera Komini, Lara Shelton, Douglas Webster, Alissa Czisny, Kseniya Ponomaryova; Back Row: Ian Lorello, Neill Shelton, Rohene Ward, Collin Brubaker Not pictured: Adam Kaplan Photo credit to David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com
Ranging from searing romance to lighthearted fun to big band to catching the wind, Ice Dance International’s ‘In Flight: Live’ gave The Skating Club of Boston a proper send off with a sold out show at 1240 Soldiers Field Road in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ice Dance International, who holds residence at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, Massachusetts, is currently on a national tour through April 4. Click here for more information and tickets.
Neill Shelton and Kseniya Ponomaryova in ‘Till the End’ Choreographed by Douglas Webster
Ice Dancing is not competitive skating, but a unique artistic journey on ice. Not only did ‘In Flight’ feature captivating and extraordinary ice dancers that delivered more than their share of eye-popping stunts, but what was most impressive was how different each dance was from the other. Featuring dynamic choreography from Douglas Webster, Trey McIntyre, Stephanee Grosscup, and Benoit Richaud, Ice Dance International delivered a wide range of music from classical to contemporary including pop, hip hop, and ballads evoking stories of heartache, excitement, humor, and passion.
Just a few of the highlights included a stirring couples skate from Collin Brubaker and Kseniya Ponomaryova called ‘Till the End’ to the haunting ballad, Kissing You by Des’ree. A passionate and bittersweet performance, the pair seemed to float upon the ice as Collin dipped, spun, and lifted Kseniya. They joined together as one before he must let go. Another elegant performance was delivered by Klabera Komini and Neill Shelton called ‘In Space’ choreographed by Douglas Webster with music by Tom Yorke called Suspirium. To a luminous, piano-infused melody with a deeper meaning, the dancers skillfully glided together connected only by a sheer purple scarf.
Alissa Czisny and Rohene Ward delivered beautiful solo performances. Rohene was charming and humorous in a beard and suspenders in ‘Wind Dancer’ choreographed by Stephanee Grosscup while Alissa was a vision in blue skillfully keeping a precise, quick pace to Yo-Yo Ma’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major in ‘Primavera.’
Some lighter moments included a group skate with Collin Brubaker, Adam Kaplan, Ian Lorello, Laura Seal, and Lara Shelton to Ben Kweller and Parsonfield’s How It Should Be. In a dance appropriately called ‘A Blade of Sunshine,’ what looked like a freestyle, fun loving group skate in bright, rich colors culminated into a jaw dropping moment as one dancer dove underneath and through the group of moving dancers and landed on his feet. It’s only one example of the sensational stunts witnessed throughout the evening from daring lifts to high speed spins to impossible twists and turns.
Ice Dance International’s ‘In Flight: Live’ continues its 2020 national tour through Saturday, April 4, concluding in Aspen, Colorado. Click here for more information and tickets. For upcoming events and more, follow Ice Dance International on Facebook.