Thursday, March 27, 2014

The End of My Brief Acting Career: How to Succeed... Heads for Final Weekend

So I am a few days away from ending my preoccupation with this once in a lifetime theater experience, so bear with me. Even though in the play, I've managed to do a bunch of video. Here is one I shot Sunday when I had to miss the performance due to a party but got there in time to shoot part of Act II. Here is the big number - missing me of course.

RTCBRotherMar 23 2014 from Rockaway Theatre Company.

And here is my column in this week's Wave - where I get to push the show to try to fill the place up -- still tiks for Friday and maybe a few left for Sat and Sun. -

Memo From The RTC: “How To Succeed…” Roars Into Final Weekend
By Norm Scott - The Wave, March 28, 2014

With rousing performances in front of full houses last Saturday and Sunday, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at the Post Theater in Fort Tilden, now heads
into the stretch with 3 performances remaining – Friday, Saturday at 8PM and Sunday at 3PM. By 6:30PM on Sunday I hope to be at the cast party in the theater munching on my favorite food of all time, pigs in the blanket. Maybe the yutes in the cast will have a post-party cast party – I might have to disguise myself as a 25 year old.

The performances get better with each show as people not only work out kinks but come up with creative ways of presenting tiny slivers of their individual performances. The other night Steve Ryan (Bratt) told David Risley (Bud Frump) as he was collecting on a bet, “Don’t you know there’s no gambling on company time,” and grabbed some of the money: not in the script but a funny rif. Steve has been such a help with little tips.

The Executive washroom - He believes in himself while we want to Get That Man

David is a remarkable comic actor and mainstay of the RTC for over a decade playing major roles in Boeing Boeing, a brilliant Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened… and countless other roles. As a cast member, I had the honor of watching David up close as Felix in The Odd Couple, my only other acting experience. No one does the classic sad sack like David. The Bud Frump role was a much coveted one by other actors and David pulls it off with perfection.

Pirate girls

Katherine Robinson - Rosemary
The reputation of the RTC as a superb operation has attracted talent from the entire metropolitan area - from Brooklyn, Queens and even Harlem. To accommodate people, roles often have to be shared. Thus the female lead (Rosemary), is shared by two amazing talents. The breathtaking Katherine Robinson is in 6 performances. She has been in a number of RTC productions. (I first noticed her as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.) As we were greeting the departing audience after the show Friday night, a guy walking out said to her, “I wanted to be the one to marry you.” “Who wouldn’t,” I said? My young cousin who came to the show the next night said the same thing. I sadly informed him Katherine was already married - to the very talented Bill Hartery, currently appearing in The Producers in New Hampshire. They did the great Beatles song Getting Better in Rockaway Café: The Comeback. RTC newcomer, Devra Seidel, takes on the Rosemary role in the other performances and is a perfect ingénue with loads of musical talent . Not only can she act and sing, she is also a professional pianist. When she is not Rosemary she goes back to the secretarial pool, which does a rip-roaring tap dance to open Act II. (Video:

I only made it to the evening performances last weekend, as I had a 70th birthday to attend on Sunday afternoon, where I was on the younger end of the crowd and suffering sticker shock after having spent so much time working with a cast where I was 2 and 3 times older than almost everyone else.

L to R: John Panepento, Cliff Hesse, Joe Hagopian (playing me), Steve Ryan
I was replaced for the Sunday matinee with fellow cast member and Brooklynite Joseph Hagopian who spent weeks studying how to deliver my 4 lines while trying to look and sound 45 years older. Luckily Joe doesn’t need makeup to accomplish that feat. At the end of the big “Brotherhood of Man” number, Joe and I have to clasp arms and raise a fist. In my absence, the dexterous Joe managed the remarkable feat of shaking hands with himself while raising both fists.

Needless to say, the almost 40-member cast is a fun group – becoming a family over the months of rehearsals but really solidifying once the play opened. There will be the joy of a job well done on the afternoon of the final performance as most go on to future projects. But this particular group will never be together again and that is a sad fact of the theater. As a first experience for me, the process if disengagement will not be easy. Hopefully, joining chief set builder, designer and carpenter Tony Homsey and his crew Monday morning in taking apart the set will provide closure. Soon after we will begin building the set for the May opening of Moon Over Buffalo, already in rehearsals with a number of our cast members playing roles.

RTC videographer Jim Peithman, who runs VIDEOINVISION, a video and editing firm based in Belle Harbor, posted a 3-minute highlight of the show on you tube:

While RTC brings out the best of Norm’s nature, he is not so kind to the ed deformers on his blog,

The great tap number opens Act II
Greeting the audience as they depart

Morris Woodruff and Emily Stonebridge - Channel 5 news at 10pm
Cast members Dante Rei and Paivi Kankaro take on fantasy roles in the parking lot.

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