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From the Angel’s Mouth: An Insider’s Look at TAAC’s production of Angels in America

January 1, 2014

Angels in America opens in two days. Angels in America opens in two days.

ANGELS OPENS IN TWO DAYS.

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If you can’t tell, we’re excited! This whirlwind production is our first step into the 2014 Season, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be bringing Tony Kushner’s masterpiece back to Sacramento. TAAC originally produced Angels in our first home, the Royer Park Arts Center of Roseville. Now, with the Blue Box Theater at our disposal, we’re ready to bring you something

more immersive, more immediate, and more surreal.

 

We sat down with the Angel herself (Robin Southworth) to discuss her role, the play,

and the complexities of divine power.

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What does Angels in America mean to you?

It is a rare, rare day as an actor when you get to play a role in a Tony AND Pulitzer winning play.

 

What was running through your head as you auditioned?

I was completely blown away by the number and the talent of the people who auditioned. It certainly didn’t make David Garrison’s job as director easy. It didn’t make my job as an auditioner easy. I focused on bringing what makes me unique to the readings and to enjoy working with those I was reading with.

 

What were your first thoughts when you were cast? About the show, your character, etc.

My first thought was a little ‘nekkid’ happy dance inside my head.

Oh, okay – It was a ginormous production number with a full orchestra, tap dancing, ostrich fans, feather boas, and Busby Berkley choreography!

 

What challenges have you faced with this production?

Angels presented several new challenges to me. First, the whole play is seven hours long! So long, it is broken up into two parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. Sustaining characters over two plays is something I’ve not done before.

Second, we had an unusually long period between casting and the first rehearsal. Two months. Two months of living with this script in isolation, on my own. Terrifying!

Third, we lost two actors during those two months and had to recast their roles. That was an amazingly stressful thing. I’m so grateful David Garrison and TAAC allowed the cast to be part of the casting. We read with the auditioners and gave feedback on what we experienced onstage with them. Because we had such input, this show now feels more like an ensemble than it did before. An ensemble! That’s exciting!

 

What has been a moment of victory or excitement for you in the rehearsal process thus far?

One of my characters (the actor playing the Angel plays multiple roles) speaks a few lines in Hebrew. I came to the conclusion that, in previous lives, I never spoke Hebrew because wrapping my lips and tongue around those sounds was difficult. I finally found a video (Thank GOD for YouTube!) with a scholar speaking the Angel’s words. The first time I said them out loud in rehearsal, I spat the first line of Hebrew out and three actors in the house said, “What? What is she saying? What was that? Was that a line?” If the actors who know the lines are surprised, it is a victory.

 

What does your character mean to the show?

Um…title character? Hellooo?

 

Give your character an archetype.

The Angel is the Enigma. Emily (Prior’s nurse) is the Healer.

 

Describe your relationship with another character.

The Angel’s relationship with Prior is simultaneously intimate, sexual, non-sexual, loving, hateful, and profound. It’s such a complex relationship that it is difficult to articulate.

 

What is your goal within this production?

Honestly, I don’t want to trip on my Angel gown. A clutzy Angel? Unthinkable!

 

What do you want to make audience members experience?

I’d like, with the rest of the cast, to take the audience on a journey. That journey is theirs to take and unique to them. Whatever they experience, I hope they enjoy the journey as much as we enjoy taking them on it.

 

At the end of Millennium Approaches, the Angel makes quite an entrance! How do you feel about it?

The Angel is so untraditional looking, and so untraditionally (yet amazingly) lit, you can’t help but be a bit stunned. As an actor, I am stunned, sitting at the makeup table creating her, making up her face and hair, putting on her gown.

I hope that the Millennium audiences are intrigued by their glimpse of the Angel, and that they will come back for Perestroika to see exactly what she has to say!

 

Part One: Millennium Approaches opens this Thursday, January 2nd, at 8pm.

With an electrified cast, a set that can only be described as unreal, and open arms,

we welcome you to Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.

 

 Part One Millennium Approaches: January 2,3,4,5,9,10,11,12,16,17,18
Part Two Perestroika: January 30,31, February 1,2,6,7,8,9,13,14,15
Thursday-Saturday 8pm and Sundays 7pm
*Mature Content Warning

Tickets available @ http://taacangels.bpt.me/

 

Inside A Doll’s House

November 30, 2013

Last year, the holiday season at TAAC brought you Quills, the story of

one man who refused to be controlled.

This year, we’ve gone to the (North) polar opposite.

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Alex Quinonez plays Nora

Dollhouse follows Nora, a young wife, mother of two, spender of money, and lover of macaroons, as the carefully constructed latticework of her entire world comes crashing down around her.

Born, raised, and trained to be a proper wife, she has spent her entire life within the tight confines of her father’s will and her wife’s expectations. “She convinces herself that she wants what everyone tells her she does,” writes Alex Quinonez (Nora).

Dollhouse will take place in an unfinished house, as Nora and her wife, Torvald (Lauren Wolf), work to add the finishing touches to their marriage, their family, and their social standing. As Nora has never had much freedom, we’ve given her the lightboard and free reign to stage the show as she pleases. With this highly stylized set and the leading lady at the helm of the show,

Ibsen’s classic will draw you in like never before.

“Nora has been told her whole life to settle down in the perfect, little home with the perfect, little family, so she does just that.” But when a man from her past threatens to tear down the sanctity of her marriage, Nora is left with two choices.

Put her faith in the woman she’s been taught to love, or learn how to grow.

Dollhouse opens December 12th @8PM, and continues through December 21st@ 8PM, with Sunday shows @7PM. Please note our theater is very small. To ensure yourself a spot, we suggest you purchase tickets for $10 plus a small service charge at brownpapertickets.com Box office will open 1/2 hour before scheduled showtime for will-call pick up and sales of remaining tickets. The theater is located on the corner of Oxford St. & Lea Way in Sacramento 95815.

Midsummer Nightmare: Parasol Talks with Oberon and Mrs. Whesker

October 22, 2013

With opening night of Midsummer less than two weeks away, we here at Parasol feel that a few introductions are in order. So, we’ve captured the leader of the rebel forces, Fairy King Oberon (Tony Hutto), and invited the wife of our esteemed leader, Mrs. Whesker (Sandy Phillips). We sat down with them in the Parasol Torture Chamber to discuss the play.

Photography by David Blue Garrison

Photography by David Blue Garrison

So, how does it feel to be part of a series in its fifth installment?

Sandy:  I have been a part of two other Midsummer’s and I have always had so much fun playing the characters. I have played two other women who were markedly different from Mrs. Whesker.  I love the Midsummer Series!

Oberon was still bound and gagged, so he was unable to comment on this question.

What has been your greatest challenge in the Midsummer 5 process?

Sandy: You would think that the short rehearsal time would be the most challenging thing, but it has had the opposite effect. The cast has pulled together and put together an amazingly entertaining show.

Tony: With a show like Midsummer, the whole process has been in flux from the start. It’s been a lot like a film set. You get a scene the day you get to rehearsal and at the end of the night, the scene has moved from the beginning to the end and another scene has been deleted altogether. Which is both the difficult part of the process and also the most fun. The story has evolved throughout the process, and the end result is fabulous.

Do you think that people who haven’t seen any previous Midsummer’s will enjoy the show?

Tony: I haven’t seen any of the other Midsummers, and I totally understand what’s going on. These characters are already established yes, but that makes the show easier to jump into.

Sandy: I absolutely believe that they will have a wonderful time and understand everything.

What has been your favorite part of the whole Midsummer process?

Sandy:  I love the cast, and the rehearsal process has been so much fun. It is almost more fun rehearsing than actually performing. I can’t wait for the audience to see this show and enjoy it as much as we have.

Tony: The cast is amazing. I’ve had such a blast coming in, saying this crazy stuff and doing these ridiculous things with these amazing people.

Why should people come see this production? 

Sandy: For the pure, unadulterated fun and silliness of the show.  It is like nothing else you will ever see.

Tony: Because you’ll have a great time. This isn’t going to be intense like Lear, you’ll be able to laugh and not uncomfortably.  It’s a really nice change of pace, and because you want to see Cameron be Snookie again…because that’s just funny.

Midsummer Nightmare 5 opens October 31st @8PM, and continues through November 9th @8PM, with Sunday shows @7PM. Please note our theater is very small. To ensure yourself a spot, we suggest you purchase tickets for $10 plus a small service charge at brownpapertickets.com. The theater is located on the corner of Oxford St. & Lea Way in Sacramento 95815.

Midsummer Nightmare 5: Welcome to Parasol

October 19, 2013

Welcome to Parasol. Please put on your Gore-O-Vision Goggles.
No, there are no zombies.
That’s not a zombie eating your foot.
…just sign the check.

midsummer poster ciara

midsummer poster sean

TAAC is proud to invite you back to the world of Midsummer Nightmare!

This year, you’re in the show! As we shepherd you and your fellow Parasol fundraiser-attendees through this universe of zombies, fairies, and government shutdowns (suspend your disbelief on that last one), we’ll be demolishing the fourth wall and putting you in danger, every step of the way.

With a front-row splash zone, complementary Gore-O-Vision Goggles, and a chance to take a crack at the monsters lurking in the depths of Parasol, this is the most interactive Midsummer yet!

So, buckle in, hold on tight, and let the government, Miley, and undead jokes fly!

And remember, there are probably definitely maybe likely-ly no zombies in this auditorium currently.
Ish.

Midsummer Nightmare 5 opens October 31st @8PM, and continues through November 9th @8PM, with Sunday shows @7PM. Please note our theater is very small. To ensure yourself a spot, we suggest you purchase tickets for $10 plus a small service charge at brownpapertickets.com. The theater is located on the corner of Oxford St. & Lea Way in Sacramento 95815.

Kimberly Akimbo: The Woman Behind the Girl

September 11, 2013

With Kimberly Akimbo opening in two weeks, we’ve got a lot of characters to meet! Naturally, we figured we’d start with Kim!

Oddly enough, her parents disagreed with our decision. More on them later. 

In the play, Kim faces all of the “sitcom challenges” we expect of an average sixteen year-old girl. She has homework, some of her classmates don’t like her, her parents are embarrassing, but when you factor in that she has the body of a seventy year-old woman, things get a bit more complicated.

We sat down with Hazel Stream (Kimberly Levaco) to talk about the show, the script, and the Kim.

 

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Photography by David Garrison

What were your thoughts the first time you read Kimberly Akimbo?
That is was a simple play about a teenage girl in an older body and the problems it caused in her life.
 
What were your first impressions of your character?
That she was smart and funny, probably an ‘A’ student from a somewhat “typical” dysfunctional family (Because most families are dysfunctional in one way or another — mine was!)
 
Have you changed your mind? How has your understanding of the show or your character grown?
Absolutely! The play is NOT simple; the characters, are NOT simple (particularly Kim) and the relationships are NOT simple!
 
 
The play is multi-layered and complex and provides thought-provoking insight into the ways in which people, friends, and family members behave and interact.
 
What has been your favorite part of the entire process so far?
The work-shopping, learning about the various characters, particularly Kimberly and how she relates to the world and her insane family.
 
What has been a challenge in the process?
Lines! Illness! Did I mention lines?  And actually getting the nuances, or trying to remember the nuances in speech (often monosyllabic!) and thought pattern of a teenager that will convey the richness and complexity and integrity that is Kim.
 
How do you plan to overcome it?
By working closely with my fellow actors, studying the characters more closely and channeling Molly Ringwald.
 
What have you learned from your character, or what do you think your character can teach the audience?
Compassion, sadness, giving, love but most particularly joy. And, most importantly, learning to live every moment as if it were your very last.
 
What makes Kimberly Akimbo a must-see?
Kimberly Akimbo is not a blockbuster, not a play that is larger than life — it doesn’t even have a fog machine; but it ain’t The Sound of Music either; it’s an entertaining “little” play with profound meaning that has some laughs and some thought provoking moments that can be taken away and savored and discussed among audience members and friends. And that’s what I plan on doing — discussing it with my friends who come to see all of us … over a glass of champagne or two.
Because that’s what I think the magic of live performance is all about.
 
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Kimberly Akimbo opens September 26th @8PM, and continues through October 12th @ 8PM, with Sunday shows @7PM. Please note our theater is very small. To ensure yourself a spot, we suggest you purchase tickets for $15 plus a small service charge atbrownpapertickets.com $10 until September 15th. And Fridays always $10. Box office will open 1/2 hour before scheduled showtime for will-call pick up and sales of remaining tickets. The theater is located on the corner of Oxford St. & Lea Way in Sacramento 95815.

 

LEAR: A Sight To Behold.

August 14, 2013

ImageOpening weekend of LEAR has brought many positive and exuberant reactions from our audiences. We caught up with Bob Nannini who plays Gloucester in the current production. He had a few things to say about his character and some of the physicality he endures as an actor and as his character. 

 

Some of what he says, you’ll need to SEE to believe! 

 

TAAC: You’re a father in real life, what impact has that had on your character?

 

Bob: Yes, a father who has a daughter, too. It’s been very easy to picture my daughter in the emotional scenes with my character’s daughters. Not that I would ever want to be in Gloucester’s position in real life, but the emotions he feels, the loss, the regret, the despair are easy to acquire just by knowing that’s how I would feel exactly were I to face those with my real daughter. Damn Shakespere.

 TAAC: How do you feel each night before the combat scene?

 

Bob: Extremely tense. Although it’s been nicely choreographed, there’s still an element of great suspense for me each night. I want to make sure the screams and my reaction to the violence are as realistic as possible, or at least as reasonable as possible being that (thankfully) actual instances of this violence are not too common.

 TAAC: You are blindfolded for the second part of the show. Describe that experience.

 

Bob: Being dependent on someone else for movement and positioning helps so much for me to identify further with what’s happened to Gloucester. The idea of not being able to see, both physically and emotionally prior to the violence, makes the blindfold such an important part of change that Gloucester goes through after the violence.

 TAAC: What is your favorite line in the play and why?

 

Bob: There are a few lines I enjoy saying as Gloucester. But the one that has the most impact for me is “As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods; they kill us for their sport.” To me, that line encompasses all of Gloucester’s despair and helplessness and resentment for what’s happened to him, what he has allowed to happen with his children and what he has been blind to throughout his life and times.

 TAAC: Why should people come and see Lear?

 

Bob: The largeness of this production. The theater sits 38, but the production is huge! In concept, in vision, and most importantly in talent. This cast is second to none; every person has committed their heart and soul to their roles and to bringing life to these characters. Come and get lost in this wonderful, though heart rending story. You will not be sorry!

 

TAAC: What have you learned through this experience?

 

Bob: To let go. Director David Garrison is very big on actors leaving their fears and insecurities at the stage door. He works hard to have his actors trust each other and experience all the emotions each role brings to the stage. I appreciate his pushing me to try and reach that point in this production. I hope it turned out well. Maybe I’ve learned to like Shakespeare a bit more.

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Lear opens August 8th @8PM, and continues through the 24th @ 8PM, with Sunday shows @7PM. Please note, our theater is very small. To ensure yourself a seat, purchase tickets for $15 plus a small service charge at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/429182.

Fridays always $10. Box office will open 1/2 hour before scheduled showtime for will-call pick up and sales of remaining tickets. The theater is located on the corner of Oxford St. & Lea Way in Sacramento 95815.

 

LEAR: The Queen

August 1, 2013

Lear opens in one week.  Adrienne Sher is playing Queen Lear.  

We couldn’t resist one last interview.

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Photography by David Blue Garrison

Read on to see her thoughts on theatre, 

Shakespeare, and her debut TAAC performance!

When did you first read Lear? What was it like for you?

I would have been 12 or 13. I LOVED Romeo and Juliet, which is why I read the rest of them. The Tempest, Macbeth, Hamlet, Much Ado, Twelfth Night were favorites. The usual suspects. Lear has only been speaking to me for the past three years or so. I started thinking about a woman in the role. Then that woman became me. I started to see it as a zen journey from blindness to seeing, one of the central images in the play. So in fact, it’s the only Shakespearean script I’ve thought about for the past few years. Weird, huh?

Did you ever think that you would be playing Lear?

I had been thinking about it recently. I didn’t expect another director to consider it! I’d thought about, sometime in the future, the distant future, finding the right director and putting it together myself. I actually came into the auditions expecting to read for Goneril, Gloucester and Kent.

What were your worries about the character?

What weren’t my worries? Line load, emotional damage, time constraints, working with new people, working in the summer heat! (my friends know this about me.) It’s a big scary project. I was looking for a big scary project. For a life changing challenge.

How have you overcome them?

Hard work, trust, and a great deal of selfless assistance from loved ones (thank you, Tom) have helped tremendously. I think “overcome” is too strong a word. Like I said, it’s scary.

What has the experience been like for you?

Fast, scary, exhausting, fun.

How do you identify with Lear? What parts of yourself do you see in her?

Placing too much importance on expectations, which always leads to disappointment. Ego. Some self pity. A strong need to be loved. Bossiness, for sure. In that regard I AM the Queen! It’s actually kind of fun to act out on them. On stage.

I think Lear lacks empathy, which I find harder to identify with. She’s infantile and she throws tantrums, but, of course, NOT having those qualities helps me later in the show. Every role is a mixture of the familiar and the observed.

Lear famously loses her mind over the course of the play; how did you tackle something like that?

Still working on it. I think it has to do with thinking you know what reality is. Thinking that things are black and white, and then encountering things, events, behavior, that don’t coincide with your beliefs or philosophy. Lear lacks flexibility. The challenges to her belief system break her. And out of that come better understanding, greater mental and emotional flexibility, empathy and acceptance.

What about this production, this character, this cast has changed or affected you as an actor, a person, a mother?

Ask me when we close. I certainly think it has revitalized me. Shaken me up. I think it will help me as a director. I’d gotten pretty removed from what the actor goes through, and I think it’s important to stay in touch with the danger of that journey if you’re going to work with actors. Acting brings out insecurities and self-doubt faster than any other activity. Also, it’s really jacked up my sleeping patterns.

What do you have to say to people on the fence about seeing this show?

While you’re trying to decide, other people are buying the rest of the tickets. Don’t miss out.

It’s a helluva ride.

Lear opens August 8th @8PM, and continues through the 24th @ 8PM, with Sunday shows @7PM. Please note, our theater is very small. To ensure yourself a seat, purchase tickets for $15 plus a small service charge at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/429182.

Fridays always $10. Box office will open 1/2 hour before scheduled showtime for will-call pick up and sales of remaining tickets. The theater is located on the corner of Oxford St. & Lea Way in Sacramento 95815.

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