Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our Merry War continues...A review hits a blog and the understudies hit the stage on Friday...

A successful weekend down and one more to go.  We played to one Sold Out and two nearly Sold Out houses... three different, but exceptionally appreciative audiences.   Audience member, Joey Ahern, has given us his honest review of the performance  in his blog.

I could be critical of each of the performances...little, annoying bits which the actors never fixed or changed...pacing that was slightly 'off' here and there... but, of course, I am a perfectionist. True, there are issues I would change, but, I have to face reality and remember I am working in a tiny theatre, with limited resources and a cast with varying abilities and experience.  That is what I love about this show... the complete spectrum of all the artistic aspects this production covers.  

Friday's performance will feature our Understudies in the principal roles.  Of course, understudy performances always scare me... no they are not as rehearsed and all of them are of the less experienced portion of the cast, but they will indeed give you a good, if not different performance. 

One of the understudies, Jon Dowler, takes on the role of Claudio.  His stage experience is limited to his normal role of Watch #1 (which will be taken on by principal actor, Jared Mola in the understudy performance) and Ensemble in my last show, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT's DREAM.  Jon has been working very hard to build his performance, and I am sure will do well. 

 Also part of the understudy team, Jon Hung (Watch) takes on the role of Benedick in the US performance and Michelle Graham (normally in the role of Conrade) will do Beatrice.  Jon has really taken his position of an understudy seriously and has worked hard to prep for Friday, while Michelle has actually played the role of Beatrice in a previous production of MUCH ADO. 

Katie Paeg (normally Watch #3), will take on Hero in Friday's performance.  Should be an interesting little performance and an even more interesting weekend of performances, so don't miss this!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Welcome to our Wonderful world of Much Ado...

And, away we go...

Performances are underway and tickets can be purchased online.  Now, you might also want to take a look at the early promo for the show, created by Anthony Chiles...

We opened to a raucously appreciative  Sold Out crowd last night!  Due to my extreme Bipolar and OCD perfectionism, I am rarely happy with the final product... but, last night's performance (with only one scene problem) surprised and pleased even me.

The cast was on point through out most of the show, and finally some of the long standing notes and directorial comments were put into play, so things smoothed out into a nice, neat and fun little performance package

I have to admit, this has been a hard production journey for me to complete.  I was faced with numerous challenges from the start --  most concerning company issues like a VERY small budget and some inadequate 'help' from one of the company provided personnel.  In fact, because of this and in an effort to save money, most of the set pieces have been 'borrowed' from MIDSUMMER (except for the... uhm... 'fountain')

Of course, we had one problematic actor (not even a principal), who caused complaint and concern from every corner of the cast, so replacing him rather than bowing to his ultimatums and failing attempts to direct my show from his perspective, was an easy choice. 

Also, coming directly from another (overlapping) show, having only 5 and a half weeks of formal work rehearsals -- all of which were plagued by numerous actor conflicts & absences -- and healing a broken foot, had to have something to do with why this journey was so exhaustive for me.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure if my vision and concept could be realized at the end of it all.  I don't think I have questioned or feared the outcome of a show since... well, since some of the nightmare shows with my own company, namely Sleeping Beauty, As You Like It and the evil Rabbit show we did at one point.  But, this one exhausted and stressed me.

I always KNOW it will be alright in the end, constantly tell my cast to trust me (and most of them truly do) and can see the final 'painting', but this show... Uhm, no.  One minute the vision was there, the next it was a little cloudy.

However, starting at rehearsal 2 weeks ago, something changed...  The cast seemed lighter emotionally, less inhibited, more relaxed and it all began to fall together one piece at a time.

Every rehearsal saw massive changes to tiny moments and sections.  Even my flow and artistic view was less stifled and much more receptive to the new ideas which were randomly popping into my head...

The cast is packed with actors, many who have never done Shakespeare before, a few who have a resume packed with it, some who have never worked with a demanding, perfectionist, detail oriented director like myself before, but all who appreciate the ensemble and protective bond they have created.  They are all truly an ensemble group, who work together as an unbreakable team.

Though, there are still a few sections and moments that could have benefited with another week of focused clean up, this piece of Shakespearian art has been 'painted'... with just a few little endearing quirks to make it 'special.'  And, for what my cast gave me last night, I shall always be grateful.

I have never faced so many administrative (and venue / technical) challenges on a show before, but with all the issues working in this space and with this company entails, I am delighted with what my cast and production team have  given me.  They have pulled something unique out of this show and have truly given us a sparkling little production.

Now for a little look at what happens in our world of Much Ado...

 Hero and Claudio, with Beatrice at the masked ball

The 'Schoolgirl' Watch take note of some villainy

 Beatrice and Benedick in the 'church' scene


Claudio gets a 'talking to' from Antonia and Leonata

Don Pedro examines Benedick, as he talks of his ills
 Hero and Claudio seal their devotion to each other

Principal Cast includes (Top to bottom) Juliet Howard-Welch as Beatrice, Josh Katawick as Benedick, Jared Mola as Claudio, Elizabeth Dillard as Hero and Tony Copper as Don Pedro.



Until next time...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

'I wonder that you will still be talking... Nobody marks you...'

I realize it has been quite a while since my last post, but the actual task of directing the show has had me a little busy...

In addition to directing, the company has me performing a series of other paperwork and company tasks that are creeping up on me, while overwhelming the process.  While this show has been far more draining than I expected, we are well underway and move into partial runs next week.  Some scenes are flying along beautifully, while others are causing quizzical looks on my face and holes in my brain on a daily basis.  But, past experience reminds me that every show is different and challenges me in varying ways... and that it will all find it's feet eventually... perhaps, in a new way, so I know I have to be open and trust the new process I have to devise to resolve the challenges of this show.  One day, I will use it on another production.

It is time to start developing the interlude scenes and add the music to the show, as well as dealing with those naughty problem scenes that are causing many a sleepless night (or high school related nightmares...)  so that is what we will be working on through this week.  Much needs to be done and my focus will be on that.  The group scenes are my main concern, as they contain people who have been to rehearsal so irregularly. 


We are also still reveling in the 1920's setting and exploring the many changes that occurred in the world at that time.  The Titanic already sank 9 years earlier, women are making great headway in the world, skirts are rising, music is becoming a little more upbeat, if not risque at times, and women are really starting to come into their own.  Though the first world war is over, the Irish rebellion is gaining steam and starting to create warlike symptoms around the British Isles.  What an exciting and scary time to live....

Of course, we have had our share of drama... but, we have had more than our share of fun and amusement as the scenes are being developed and begin to grow.  Some scenes are stronger than others, with the group scenes needing the most work.  On the other hand, If I could remind one or two members my cast of one thing, it would be to trust that the vision will come together, but only if the few quit trying to change, question and alter every aspect of concept that is given to you.  If there are too many unimportant ideas thrown into the mix, the important things get lost.  We do not want that.  I won't allow that.   Shakespeare is universal and can be done in many settings and time periods... not just the one you have in mind.  I also want to remind everyone not to overthink the tasks given to you... these processes have been done scores of times before and do not require the drama or excuses given to make it more difficult than it actually is. I do love working in the educational and professional theatre arena, but this regional theatre thing is still somewhat new to me.  Now...  Cast and Creative Headshots will be posted soon ...  In the meantime, head over to facebook and LIKE the  MUCH ADO Facebook Page for more immediate information and details on the show.

Incidentally, all photos shown in this blog have been taken by Lisa Bernheim, who is playing Margaret and is also my Student Director.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And, we are off...

Readthrough down and character work begins tonight.  Was difficult to let go of the previous show and move on to the next, but 'needs must'... so on we go.

I have a solid and talented cast and look forward to working with them, getting to know them and sharing this beautiful text with them! 

Have numerous plans for this piece... away from the fast paced, sometimes cartoon portrayals in Midsummer... and on to a little more realistic, yet sophisticated humor.  My set will be representational and have it's own water feature and sculptures!

Can't wait to begin sharing all the details...

Monday, April 2, 2012

And, we have a confirmed cast!

The cast is confirmed, the paperwork and scripts are ready... All that is left to do now is get into rehearsal...


Scripts will be available for pick up at the Theater from Thursday April 12, during normal store opening times.  Also on this day, you will be sent, via e-mail, the following:
  • Contact List
  • Working Rehearsal Schedule (subject to adjustment)
  • Casting Agreement, to be signed and given to Lisa on the first rehearsal
 Please print out each of these items for your information.  The casting agreement must be completed and brought to the first rehearsal.

-Those who who have been cast from out of town, will have all these documents sent electronically after April 12.

-Those in the cast of MIDSUMMER will have scripts signed out to them the week of April 2. 


The first Table Read will be held on Monday, April 16 at 7pm at the theater.  Ensemble members are not required to attend.

Character rehearsals for Beatrice, Benedick, Claudio, Don Pedro, Understudies, Hero, Don John and Dogberry will begin on Wednesday, April 18 at 7pm.


Lisa Howard-Welch, Director
Kelly Bennington, Assistant Director
Susan Robert, Costume Designer
Lisa Bernheim, Student Director / Company Photographer
Juliet Howard-Welch, Production Stage Manager
Jacinda Bridger, Assistant Stage Manager
Patrick Taylor, Assistant Stage Manager
Prop Mistress, Lynn Brown


  • Don Pedro - Tony Copper
  • Benedick - Josh Katawick
  • Benedick U/S & Ensemble  - Jon Hung
  • Claudio - Jared Mola
  • Claudio U/S & Ensemble - Jon Dowler
  • Leonato - John Bukowski
  • Antonia - Cher Collins
  • Dogberry - Kathleen Day
  • Verges - James Michael Fazio
  • Beatrice/ PSM - Juliet Howard-Welch
  • Hero - Elizabeth Dillard
  • Hero U/S - Katie Paeg
  • Don John - Austin Smith
  • Conrade - Michelle Graham
  • Borachio - John Fredland
  • Ursula - Ofaname Eguaroje
  • Margaret / Photographer / Student Director- Lisa Bernheim
  • Balthasar/ ASM - Jacinda Bridger
  • Friar - Nathan Hudson
  • Sexton/ Media  - Anthony Chiles
  • Messenger/ ASM - Patrick Taylor 
  • Ensemble -Quillin Stocker
  • Ensemble - Danielle Schroeder

I still have yet to receive the following from some of the actors:
  1. Confirm the following contact information:  E-mail address, phone number (does your phone accept texts)
  2. Attach a head shot or head and shoulders photo (jpg), if not already provided
  3. Write a bio (500 words or less) detailing your past experience, training, hobbies, anything else you like.

The above information is due no later than Monday, April 9. 

'LIKE' Much Ado's Facebook Page
E-Mail Lisa

More to come soon!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

And, now for the list...

What an overwhelming turnout for auditions on Monday and Tuesday. We had so many talented people come, that we were not able to cast everyone.  Some of the decisions were very difficult, but I think we have come up with an amazing cast, who will work together beautifully.  Stage chemistry shall be amazing in this show!

Because so many people are anxious to hear, this will be a brief post, with only the cast list... For both Principal and Ensemble cast.  Script Pick-Up and first rehearsal information will follow in a post over the weekend. 

Now, with no further 'ADO'...


  • Don Pedro - Tony Copper
  • Benedick - Josh Katawick
  • Claudio - Jared Mola
  • Leonato - John Bukowski
  • Antonia - Cher Collins
  • Dogberry - Kathleen Day
  • Beatrice - Juliet Howard-Welch
  • Hero - Elizabeth Dillard


  • Don John - Austin Smith
  • Conrade - Michelle Graham
  • Borachio - John Fredland
  • Verges - James Michael Fazio
  • Ursula - Ofaname Eguaroje
  • Margaret - Lisa Bernheim
  • Balthasar - Jacinda Bridger
  • Friar - Nathan Hudson
  • Sexton  - Anthony Chiles
  • Messenger - Patrick Taylor
  • Hero U/S - Katie Paeg
  • Claudio U/S - Jon Dowler
  • Benedick U/S - John Hung


  • John Hung
  • Jon Dowler
  • Katie Paeg
  • Patrick Taylor
  • Olivia Hampton
  • Quillin Stocker
  • Danielle Schroeder
ALL ACTORS must accept or decline their role not later than 9pm, Saturday March 31,  by e-mailing the director.  Ensemble actors will be assigned roles throughout the show, such as WATCH, BOY, and others.  They will also be utilized in other ways during the production. These decisions will be made before blocking begins.

When you respond, please do the following:
  1. Whether or not you accept your role
  2. Confirm the following contact information:  E-mail address, phone number (does your phone accept texts)
  3. Attach a head shot or head and shoulders photo (jpg), if not already provided
  4. Write a bio (500 words or less) detailing your past experience, training, hobbies, anything else you like.
We are looking forward to an amazing show, so look for the followup post this weekend!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ready, Set, Audition...

Before we begin exploring the complexities of one of Shakespeare's later comedies, we must take on the process of auditioning actors for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. While, somewhat tedious, auditions are one of my favorite aspects of the production process. The concept and visual pictures I have been putting together for months, can now start to come to life.

Over the next few weeks, many of you will come to know MUCH ADO's characters quite intimately.  Of course, many actors and actresses will come in wanting one of the two most challenging, yet satisfying characters in all of Shakespeare (Beatrice and Benedick), but don't cut off your opportunities too quickly.  Many of the male characters will likely be converted to female and some of the other male characters are great challenges in their own right.  So many of Shakespeare's characters offer such fun and exhilarating development opportunities and if you truly want to do the show, you might not want to pass those up.  This is a show that will offer actors much to do and enjoy while becoming part of it!  For those who are unfamiliar with my plans for the characters, take a look:

Principal Cast will go into rehearsal the week of April 16.
Don Pedro -  M - 30’s to 40’s    
Beatrice - F - Early 30’s         
Benedick - M - 30’s to 40’s    
Hero - F - Late Teens to mid 20’s  
Claudio - M - 20’s                 
Leonato / a - M/F – 40’s to 60’s  
Antonio/a - M/F – 40’s to 50’s                
Dogberry - F – 30’s to 50’s   
Male and Female Understudy - We are casting one female and one male understudy to cover the principal roles. 
Featured Cast will go into rehearsal in May.  They will not be called to all rehearsals
Don John - M – 20’s to 30’s  
Conrade - M – 20’s to 30’s  
Borachio - M – 20’s to 30’s  
Verges - M/F  – 20’s +        
Ursula -F – 20’s to 30’s  
Margaret - F - 20’s
Ensemble Characters
Ensemble Cast will go into rehearsal in May.  They will not be called to all rehearsals
Friar Francis - M/F –30’s+
Balthasar - M/F – Teen  to 30’s  
Sexton - M/F – 20’s +
Messenger - M/F – Teen to 30’s  
Watch - F – Late teens to 20’s  
Musician and Singer - We are looking for at least one accomplished musician and / or singer to perform during most of the show.

 During this production period, we will be discovering as much as we can about the 1920 - 1924 time period... through costume and props, research and activities that help us find the characters and atmosphere we all want to convey to our audience.

While, I am lucky enough to be able to secure the talents of Kelly Bennington, a wonderfully organized Assistant Director; Juliet Howard-Welch, a professional Stage Manager (New Orleans Shakespeare Festival / Dayton Opera --- and Equity Membership Candidate); and Susan Robert, my highly detail oriented costumer and a director in her own right... I do not have the luxury of the highly talented Set Designer I was blessed with for my last two shows (Geoffrey Moss), but never fear,  I have a few ideas of my own and hopefully we shall muddle through.

With auditions just one week away, I am receiving many nervous questions from first time Shakespeare performers, as well as seasoned  actors.... Just remember, give your first and best audition.  I will always give you the opportunity to start again, if you need to and I am looking for what YOU can bring to the role -- not how Emma Thompson or Kenneth Branagh played them.  Strong, articulate voices, creative readings and a fun personality.  Be sure to visit the audition event page, check out earlier blogs or e-mail me with questions.  You can also request a pdf version of the audition form here.  Bring yourself!

See you all on March 26 or 27!