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Embrace and Celebrate Your “Sore Thumb” – An Interview with Paul Araujo of LESSON 443

by moxielicious

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Paul Araujo and Daniela Millan in LESSON 443 at MOXIE

When Paul Araujo’s character in Tatiana Suarez Pico’s LESSON 443, Manny, threatens to set everyone at his daughter’s school straight, she tells him it doesn’t matter. She sticks out like a sore thumb. The offending “thumb” is her accent. She’s ashamed of what makes her different. Manny doesn’t argue, not at first, he knows what sore means. He’s got his own pain and secrets. The deeply troubled and loving character of Manny has won over audiences and critics and that has a lot to do with Paul Araujo’s nuanced approach to the part in MOXIE Theatre’s production of LESSON 443. He shared his process and a lot about himself.

What attracted you to LESSON 443?

A great script with lots of depth and universal themes that can influence and be of impact to a wide variety of people.  Also a script, a story and character that I knew would be a great challenge and would benefit me as an actor and person.  Finally, working with an award winning Theatre company and a vibrant and talented cast and director!

What has been your greatest challenge in playing Manny?

 Coming across as stern and strict while being a loving and caring father and being very specific with everything I say and do. I’m not a father, but Dani made it easy by always being present and staying in the moment.  Also, revisiting old wounds and being reminded of my own past mistakes and guilt.  Lastly, by making sacrifices in my own life to be able to participate in this production and being in a mind frame that I can do whatever I set myself to do.

Manny is a father who cares deeply for his daughter. Are there relationships in your life that helped you prepare for your on stage relationship with Cari played by Daniela Millan?

I relied on the script by writing down everything others in the play, the playwright and my own character say about myself — lots of character analysis and questioning.  Thinking about my character constantly has also been helpful for my preparation.  Lastly, I thought of my own father (even feeling like I sounded like him at times) and my brother, who is a father of 2 girls and 2 boys.

Whether people reading this have seen LESSON 443 or are about to see it before it closes Sunday, it will come as a surprise for them to learn that you’re an amputee. You’re also an advocate for people working with disabilities. Would you share with our readers how, if at all, your disability has been a challenge in your career? What would you say to other actors with a disability who are considering embarking on a professional career?

My disability has definitely been a challenge as an actor and person.  As actors, our bodies are our instrument, which can affect the acting if there is pain or self-consciousness.  I have learned to refocus my energy by thinking of the good things about myself and by embracing my disability and not letting it stop me from doing what I love to do.  Theatre has been very therapeutic!  And to other people with disabilities: embrace and celebrate your differences — we are all unique and that’s what makes the world an beautiful and interesting place!

Paul is also a musician, a member of the Amigos Del Rep and an advocate for people working with disabilities at Goodwill Industries. Catch Paul in LESSON 443 before it closes Sunday May 24th at MOXIE. Tickets available at http://www.moxietheatre.com/lessson443 or call 858-598-7620

Sisters with Herself – Wendy Waddell on Playing Twins in LESSON 443

by moxielicious

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Daniela Millan and Wendy Waddell Photo by J.T. MacMillan

Wendy

Paul Araujo and Wendy Waddell Photo by Conor Mulligan

This isn’t Wendy Waddell’s first “dance” at MOXIE Theatre. She’s been working with MOXIE since our early days. Her role in LESSON 443, however, is a first of sorts. Waddell plays half the roles in the play, including one living character and one ghost who just happen to be twins. Waddell took time to discuss the unique experience of playing Maggie and Lottie in LESSON 443 by Tatiana Suarez-Pico, playing now through May 24, 2015 at MOXIE Theatre.

So, twins? That has to be a unique acting experience. Have you found it challenging?

The biggest challenge is trying to make each character their own. Lottie and Maggie are very different women, and I’ve been attempting to show those differences. I’m using different registers of my voice for each, the way they move, stand, do their hair, interact with Cari and Manny. It’s tricky, but I find that I’m able to feel the changes between the two each time I come on stage. I’m also trying to steer clear of any stereotypes with these particular women. And it’s taking me out of my comfort zone because I’m being very conscious of all my “go-to” facial expressions and body movements and trying not to rely on them.

The sisters are different from each other but do you have anything in common with either of them?

I can definitely relate to Maggie since I’m the mother of a young girl. Granted, my daughter is still only 4 and Cari is 14, but I feel the rapport between those two characters is extremely similar to the one I have with my own daughter.  It’s playful, loving, honest, critical and at times, painful. The “Mama Bear” that comes out in Maggie definitely resonates with me as well. I want to protect my daughter at all costs, but I also want her to fend for herself. It’s a tightrope I walk daily. With Lottie, I can relate to her flirtatious nature, since I’m that way myself. She also turns and runs from confrontation. I don’t necessarily do that, but I can relate to her wanting to put the past behind her and move on. I actually think that’s one of the more healthy attributes of Lottie. She tries not to dwell in the past. I’m learning to be better about that.

Will you tell us about playing a ghost?

Truth be told, I actually forget that Maggie is a ghost sometimes. She’s real to me. I love her and care about her and want her to be heard in this play, so I’m not trying to do anything “ghostly” with her. She’s also very real to Cari, and I live within her mind and confines, so if Cari doesn’t see her as a ghost, then I can’t be that way.

You mentioned being a mother. How has that real life experience affected your performance?

 As a mother, I find that I play a mom a lot more now. And when I do, it hits home in a way it never did prior to the birth of my own daughter. I usually wind up falling in love with the actors who play my child, and Dani (Daniela Millan) is no exception. She’s embodied Cari so completely and truthfully, that I feel like a mom to her, onstage and off. The reality that we are mortal and “you never have enough time with the people you love,” resonates so keenly with me. Every night, I get choked up at the end. It’s real to me. It’s painful, it’s freeing, it’s that mother/daughter bond that is indescribable. My love for my own daughter feeds into the love I feel towards Dani.

There are several “lessons” in LESSON 443. What do YOU hope the audience will take away with them?

I hope audiences walk away with some laughter and tears. I hope they are reminded to be good to each other.  I hope they are reminded of how we are all connected and how the actions of one affects many. And I hope they recognize the love that exists in this world we’ve created.

Catch Waddell as both Lottie and Maggie in LESSON 443 at MOXIE Theatre. Playing now – May 24, 2015. Tickets available at www.moxietheatre.com/lesson443 or call 858-598-7620

On Going Pro at 16 – An Interview with Actress Daniela Millan

by moxielicious

DSC_0024_editDaniela “Dani” Millan is 16. She really wants a Kawasaki Ninja zx-14r…in white. For those of you who, like myself,  know nothing about motorcycles, that’s a sport bike. A really fast one. That’s one of the first things MOXIE learned about Dani, aside from the fact that she is an actress. A really talented one. During a series of auditions for MOXIE’s next production, LESSON 443 by Tatiana Suarez-Pico, director Jennifer Eve Thorn knew she’d struck gold during Dani’s audition.

“We’d been searching high and low for an actress young enough to pass for 14, the age of the leading role in LESSON 443, but mature enough to handle the play. She needed to be bilingual, handle a dialect and be pretty fearless,” Thorn said. “I could tell by the way Dani handled her audition, that she had something special.”

Dani attends the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts where MOXIE has had great success finding young actors in the past (Jada Temple and Deja Fields from CRUMBS FROM THE TABLE OF JOY). Like her character in LESSON 443, Dani wasn’t born in the US, although she was raised here. She’s Colombian American and loves returning to Colombia to visit her family (especially when that involves riding motorcycles with her cousins.) She dances with Hispanic Art Theatre, studied at the Old Globe Theatre’s Summer Shakespeare Intensive program, practices mixed martial arts and speaks 3 languages, including Korean which she decided to begin teaching herself. Did we mention she’s talented?

In LESSON 443, Dani plays the rebellious and determined Carynne “Cari” Gonzalez. A punk 14 year old on the verge of her 15th birthday who speaks to the ghost of her mother who died when she was a baby. Cari is Mexican American and speaks with an accent, which she despises. Dani has had to learn an accent for the role but that has been less nerve wracking than taking on her first love scene. LESSON 443 contains an awkward, yet charming, teenage “first time” love scene.

“The actors are fully clothed and it’s fairly tame,” said director Jennifer Eve Thorn, “but it IS a real love scene and for both my teenage actors in the cast, it’ll be their first real one on stage. The fact that these teenagers are making big life decisions, whether they are right or wrong, is part of what drew me to the play as a director.”

When asked how her parents felt about it, Dani said

“My mother knows me. She knows my limits and she knows this is what I want to do, so she’s supporting me.”

To which we replied,

“What about your dad?”

“Well…he….well…he knows my mom said I could do it so…he’s supporting me too.”

Moxie-postcard-Lesson_0215-FRONTHa. Enough said. Daniela Millan may be her father’s little girl, but at MOXIE starting April 30th, she begins her professional career as one incredibly mature and talented young woman in a breakout leading role. Don’t miss her.

Tickets on sale now for LESSON 443 playing at MOXIE April 30-May 24, 2015 at www.moxieatheatre.com/lesson443 or call 858-598-7620

The Engineer Behind the Mask

by moxielicious

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Dana Byrne in JADE HEART. Photo by Daren Scott

A single mask has a thousand faces and the mask that actress Dana Byrne wears in MOXIE Theatre’s San Diego premiere of JADE HEART, playing now through August 10, 2014,  is no exception. The truth is that the actress gives the mask its faces and Dana Byrne has certainly filled the mask she wears as the character “China Mom.”  Dana also plays several other wonderful characters in JADE HEART, including the charming and wise Mu Chang. San Diego audiences may have seen her in the San Diego Choraleers’ Musical Concert Bye Bye Birdie as Kim in May and June 2014, but to many of our audiences she’s a new talent in San Diego. She took a moment between performances to let the MOXIE Blog interview her.

When did you first begin acting?

I loved acting since I was a young girl and was a pretty successful singer and dancer when I was a teenager. After that, due to culture and family influence, I did not continue acting, instead, I was perusing a career as an engineer.  After two of my children grew up, I returned to my beloved acting about 2 years ago.

How has the process been working on JADE HEART?

Delicia is a wonderful director, and it is a  joy when I feel I have made her directions into my real actions.  I am so happy to work with the talented cast and they are my inspirations. I am grateful that Jo Anne spent a lot of time helping with my diction, and when I hear my improved voice, it is full of joy. Having been working at Moxie Theatre will always be in my happiest memories.

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Dana Wing Lau and Dana Byrne in JADE HEART. Photo by Daren Scott

The under-representation of Asia-Americans on stage is something that has been coming more into focus in the public eye over last few years. Obviously for you, it’s an issue you were already aware of. How has working on JADE HEART been in light of those challenges you face as an Asian-American actress?

I appreciate that Will writes this wonderful play that displays Chinese culture, politics, and history. I appreciate that Moxie Theatre embraces this play by using Asian actors to tell the stories.  Asian actors had been under-represented for years and we are not generally considered for many plays. So this production means a lot.

What do you think audiences will enjoy most about JADE HEART?

I think Jade Heart tells a unique story in unique ways. It is a dramatic play with humor. One of my friends said she cried during the play because she felt pain and sorrow for Jade and her two moms and, at the same time, it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the humor in the play made her laugh.

Some people love the non-linear style of the play. One of my friends said the style of Jade Heart provides opportunities for the audience to think or guess what will happen next, and they continue to think when the play has ended.  

JADE HEART is playing now – August 10, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Tickets available at http://www.moxietheatre.com/jadeheart or call 858-598-7620

THAT was Jo Anne Glover?

by moxielicious

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Jo Anne Glover in “Mud Blue Sky” Promo Photo Shoot – by Daren Scott

Standing in the lobby after a performance of MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky by Marisa Wegrzyn, I overheard a long time patron say “They were all so good. Who was the blonde?” To which the house manager replied, “That was Jo Anne Glover, you know Jo Anne, she’s one of the founders of MOXIE.” The patron hesitated, “Well, of course I know Jo Anne, but…wait THAT was Jo Anne Glover?” It’s not  surprising that she was mistaken. Glover did grow six inches for the part, go blonde, construct a new strut and virtually reinvent herself as the sharp-tongued, single-minded and fairly selfish, “Sam”,  in Mud Blue Sky (see the image below). Here’s where you ask how she GREW. We can’t explain it but we promise you’ll agree that Sam is taller than the actress who plays her and it’s not the shoes.

Glover fans will tell you that transforming isn’t a new trick for the actress who works all over the city but this transformation is perhaps one of her most complete to date and it’s utterly convincing. 

“Moxie co-founder Jo Anne Glover gives a razor-edge performance as the manipulative and self-absorbed Sam.” -UT San Diego 

 

“Glover’s Sam is utterly convincing in her struggle to succeed in the dual worlds of motherhood and work.  She’s up for anything (and is randy to boot), and the internal fight is evident and riveting to watch” – San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (sdgln.com)

 

“Speaking of timing, Jo Anne Glover’s Sam is right on the button with hers. Both awed and amazed all at once her expressions are priceless..”-examiner.com

 

Glover took time before a performance to tell us about her experience in Mud Blue Sky and also took time to record a fabulous video interview about the character and play. Enjoy both and reserve your tickets for one of the two remaining performances of Mud Blue Sky on Saturday June 7 or Sunday June 8th! Click Here to Buy Tickets Now or call 858-598-7620

 

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Jo Anne Glover as Sam in Mud Blue Sky – Photo by Ash Arrow Photography

What shows have you done recently in San Diego that MOXIE audiences may have seen you in? 

Maple & Vine at Cygnet, Skinless at MOXIE.

How are you like your character in Mud Blue Sky? How are you different? 

I actually think she’s the most different from me than any character I’ve played in a while. She likes to party and talks a lot (I mean, I might talk a lot, but not as fast or as broadly as her).  She’s definitely an “acter”
not a thinker.

What have you learned during the rehearsal and production process for Mud Blue Sky?

I think I’ve learned a bit more about “just doing it” – allowing myself to say and do things I’d never personally do or say with abandon.

What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh? 

 If I say it’d ruin the surprise.

What made you want to be a part of this production? 

The script and the company involved.

What is most surprising to you about this play?  

The way it creeps into your heart and leaves you smiling.

 

It Takes a Strong Woman to Play Fragile

by moxielicious

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Melissa Fernandes in promotional photo shoot for Mud Blue Sky. Photo by Daren Scott

We can’t get enough of Melissa Fernandes. Who can? One of San Diego’s most loved actresses, Fernandes is known for bringing depth and humanity to every role she plays. Her loving portrayal of Angie, the recently fired, divorced and haunted, yet painfully cheerful, flight attendant in MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky, is no exception.

“Melissa Fernandes is fragile and tender as Angie” –UT San Diego

 

“Fernandes hides some deep sadness behind those eyes of Angie and at one point, delivers a heart-wrenching monologue that every actress of a certain age should be memorizing for their next audition. If you can come 50% close to what she delivered on stage, you’d be in the running for a call back.” -thedailyactor.com

 

“Fernandes makes it impossible not to empathize and wish Angie Well.” – San Diego Gay and Lesbian News

We caught up with her between performances to learn more one the most sought after talents in our thriving theatre community.

What would MOXIE audiences have seen you in recently in San Diego?  

Last year, I performed in Assassins, Company and A Christmas Carol at Cygnet Theatre. Next up is The Full Monty at New Village Arts.

How are you like your character, Angie,  in Mud Blue Sky? How are you different?

How am I like Angie? Well, I am awkward socially that is for sure! But I also have spent most of my life dealing with body image and physical standards that are almost too high to meet. It is a daily struggle for me. I knew taking this role would be uncomfortable for me because of how Angie is described. It is not easy hearing your character called fat every night. But, I think she proves to be much more than that- funny, flawed, human and very real. I love that about her. 

How am I different? Lots of ways, but you will have to come see the show to find out. 

Have you learned anything new during this rehearsal and production process?

I have loved, loved, loved working with Jen, Jo Anne, DeAnna and Tyler. I have learned so much just by watching them and watching them evolve with their characters. I try to make my mantra “Be Brave” whenever I go into rehearsal for a show. They made it very easy to be brave. Even when it was hard for me. 

What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh?

Lucky for me, the parts I find funniest, I am back stage so I get to laugh my ass off as much as I want. 

What made you want to be a part of this production?

I have been wanting to work with Moxie again for literally years now, ever since I last appeared in Drink Me. I love this group of artists and admire them so much. It is an amazing gift to be able to surround yourself with strong, confident, talented women. I didn’t care what I was doing, I just wanted to come back to Moxie. I am very grateful to this team. 

What is most surprising to you about this play?

The most surprising thing about this play for me, is the depth of the characters. It is very funny, but beyond that, it is heartfelt and very human. The need for human connection in our lives plays such a huge part in this show. It could be a very superficial comedy, but all of these characters have so much heart and some level of pain, it makes them all very complex and deceptively difficult to play. It is a real challenge. 

Don’t miss your chance to see Fernandes in MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky playing now June 8, 2014. Tickets available at www.moxietheatre.com/mudbluesky or call 858-598-7620

“Chalk One Up for Jones”

by moxielicious

That kid! Where did you find that kid? We’ve got news folks. That kid in Mud Blue Sky, he ain’t a kid. Maybe we shouldn’t give away our secret and really, it’s not much of a secret since he’s been on stage around San Diego quite a bit lately, but for many of our audiences, J. Tyler Jones is a new face. Whether or not they knew him before, the critics are in love.

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J. Tyler Jones in a promotional shoot for Mud Blue Sky. Photo by Daren Scott

“Making his debut at Moxie, Jones is the most adorably innocent pot dealer you’ll ever see… he, like the rest of this terrific cast, is funny and completely at ease…”-San Diego City Beat

“Chalk one up for Jones and his ability to hold his own with this trio of acting powerhouses. Jones’ Jonathan comes on as charming, confident, even hard-nosed…”-SDGLN.com

“J. Tyler Jones strikes a nice balance between a veneer of cool control and baffled innocence underneath.”-San Diego Reader”

A newcomer to San Diego, Jones has been seen mostly in dramatic roles locally, but his boyish, sweet-natured performance here showcases his versatility.”– UT San Diego

“Jones…an expressive and generous young artist, who conveys depth and naiveté simultaneously.”– San Diego Uptown News

MOXIE fell in love with J. Tyler Jones in an elevator.  Well, that statement is almost true. MOXIE first worked with him when he was cast in a play that took place in an elevator, Counterweight by Jennifer Barclay Newsham MOXIE’s co-production with the La Jolla Playhouse for the Without Walls Festival. He found his way off the elevator and into MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky and audiences and critics agree that he’s irresistible as the young pot dealer in Marisa Wegrzyn‘s hit comedy playing now at MOXIE Theatre. We caught up with him between shows to learn more about this kid who as it turns out, is a fully grown man who plays the hell out of his teenage role. 

What shows have you done recently in San Diego that MOXIE audience may have seen you in?

Most recently I was in Macbeth at Intrepid Shakespeare. Over the past year or so I also performed in Counterweight (as part of La Jolla Playhouse’s WoW Festival), Blackout on Battery Cliff (as part of Scripps Ranch Theatre’s Out on a Limb Festival), Accomplice: San Diego (in Little Italy as part of LJP’s WoW Series), and Punk Rock (ion). I also understudied and went on for three performances of Shakespeare’s R&J at Cygnet. I’ve done a number of staged readings in the past few months including Holy Name, which was done at Moxie; Tranquil, a part of LJP’s DNA Series; and The Island and Opposite Togetherness, both part of Playwright’s Project’s Plays by Young Writers Festival at The Old Globe.

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J. Tyler Jones and DeAnna Driscoll in Mud Blue Sky. Photo by Ash & Arrow Photography.

How are you like your character in Mud Blue Sky? How are you different?

 I’m playing someone who is almost ten years younger than me, so he’s pretty different in that sense. But in a lot of ways I think I was pretty similar to Jonathan in high school. I was kind of artsy (though I did theatre, I could never draw like he does), not entirely lacking in self-confidence, but pretty clueless when it came to girls.  I certainly didn’t gain the ability he has to go with the flow until I was out of college. That’s one of the really great things about Jonathan.  Sometimes he shows some immaturity, but he really is older than his years a lot of the time. Jonathan carries a lot more weight than I ever have had to. He’s dealt with loss and feeling responsibility for others to a much higher degree than my own experience.

What have you learned during the rehearsal and production process?

Being on stage with this group is like taking a master class in comedic timing, so that’s been a fantastic learning experience for me. But I’ve also had to learn to roll a joint, and that’s a pretty important life skill I was missing. I feel like I’ve filled a gap in my education from college.

What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh?

There are a lot, but probably the most difficult is when I rush out of the bathroom to answer my phone. I’m already laughing back stage because of what’going on leading up to it, and then that moment is just perfect. I always have to remind myself before going on to stop smiling.

What made you want to be a part of this production?

For one thing, it’s always great to work with a company that has a reputation for not pulling punches in their shows. But with this particular production, I just thought it seemed like a chance to do some really fun things on stage while also bringing to life a character that has so much going on underneath the surface. Before I even auditioned I was reading through the script and thinking, “Man, I really want to say those words…ooh, that moment would be really challenging…hey! I want to make a Sprite explode all over somebody!” That’s how I know a rehearsal process is going to be a fun time, when I get giddy about what I’m going to be doing just from reading the script.

What is most surprising to you about the play?

When I started reading the play for the first time I knew pretty quickly that it was going to be funny, but I didn’t realize how much heart it had. I think that’s one thing this play does incredibly well. It sneaks up on you with its messages. Things are moving along and everybody is laughing and having a good time and then suddenly you realize some of the things that these people are going through and you can’t believe you were laughing at them a moment before. It’beautiful.

 

Come see J. Tyler Jones in Mud Blue Sky playing now-June 8, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Tickets available at http://www.moxietheatre.com/mudbluesky or call 858-598-7620

Driscoll is Wickedly Acerbic and Consistently Funny

by moxielicious

Promo images of Driscoll for Mud Blue Sky by Daren Scott

Promo images of Driscoll for Mud Blue Sky by Daren Scott

That’s what the UT San Diego review of her performance in MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky says.DeAnna Driscoll has long been one of San Diego’s best actors, but rarely has she had a part as rich and multifaceted as Beth. Driscoll’s wickedly acerbic and consistently funny performance is the highlight of the show.”- UT SAN DIEGO

MOXIE can’t say they’re the least surprised by the outstanding press she’s receiving for her performance. After casting her in another Wegrzyn play, The Butcher of Baraboo which she also received rave reviews for, the company was eager to work with her again.  “We never auditioned for the role of Beth. I had worked on stage with DeAnna a few times and seen her work all over San Diego. When I read Mud Blue Sky I offered her the role immediately. She brings truth and humanity to every character she plays and it helps that she’s funny as hell,” says Mud Blue Sky director and MOXIE co-founder, Jennifer Eve Thorn.

MOXIE caught up with DeAnna Driscoll between the show and school. She’s also a teacher at High Tech Middle where she teaches drama and wins the hearts of her dedicated students.

When would San Diego audiences recently have seen you on stage before Mud Blue Sky?

I was last seen in the show, BETHANY at the Old Globe Theater. 

How are you like your character in Mud Blue Sky?

I love playing the character, Beth.  She is very different than I am in so many ways and it has been challenging. As an actor I am always seeking that challenge to take me to the next level of my work and not let me ‘sit back and ride it out’.  The character Beth does exactly that.  The funny part is, even though I thought she was so vastly different than me, there are some ways we are very much alike.  Beth likes her privacy, as do I.  She leads a busy life and is constantly dealing with people and their issues.  As a teacher, when not on stage acting, I am consistently dealing with student issues.  Like Beth, sometimes I want to be a ‘slam locker’.

What have you learned during the rehearsal/performance process of Mud Blue Sky?

Even though these characters look easy to portray on the page, once we dug into rehearsals I was reminded of the depth that Marissa Wegrzyn writes with.  None of the characters are simple minded, one dimensional, or easily portrayed.  Every single character goes through a metamorphosis in this one evening that the audience gets to witness unfold in front of them. 

Driscoll on stage in "Mud Blue Sky"  Photo by Ash & Arrow Photography

Driscoll on stage in “Mud Blue Sky” Photo by Ash & Arrow Photography

What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh?

There is more than one since Marissa’s comedy is smart and catches you a bit off guard.  One of the best is when JoAnne’s character asks me if I am having a stroke based on the physical gesture I make just previous to that line.  I see her face and I can hardly keep mine from cracking.  The other moment is when JoAnne’s character discovers that a porn movie is playing on my t.v. and I have to explain to her why it’s playing.  It’s all about the writing and then relies heavily on the comedic timing of the actors.

What made you want to be a part of this production?

Simple.  Being with the Moxie ladies once again.  It’s always a privilege working with a group of women who are as passionate about theater as I am.  I have had the honor of sharing the stage with Jennifer Eve Thorn in the past, but never the honor of being directed by her.  She gives freedom for the actors to go about their process, but at the same time asks tough questions and makes you work for those moments.  She doesn’t allow actors to do extraneous things with their work and I love a director with that trait.  I also love the fact that I am once again sharing the stage with Jo Anne Glover as well as having the new experience of working with Melissa Fernandes, whose work I have admired for years, and discovering the enormous natural talent that exists in Tyler Jones.  And, ever so important to any successful show is a stage manager that guides you with a firm, yet kind hand, and we have the honor of that being the lovely Brent Beavers.

What is most surprising to you about this play?

The humanity and layers in each character and the unfolding of their journey.  Trying to explain the show to people is difficult.  The good old question, “Oh, what is the show about?”  should be simple to answer, but with this show it isn’t and I love that!  Comedy looks easy to audience members and yet it’s the hardest thing for actors to do well, so it’s my favorite thing to be faced with on stage.  When in rehearsal and saying the lines over and over and over you can forget how sharp and funny the piece is.  Then you get it in front of an audience who is roaring with laughter and you go, ‘Oh yeah, this show is really damn funny!” 

See for yourself just how “damn funny” Mud Blue Sky is. Playing now through June 8, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Tickets available online at http://www.moxietheatre.com or over the phone at 858-598-7620

Sephus’ Godfrey “is a living ache”

by moxielicious

_mg_7590Godfrey Crump is a complex character. In the good old days he liked to party but after a particular batch of moonshine nearly blinded him and his wife past away leaving him with two daughters that are nearly women, he needed a new leaf to turn over and fast. That’s when he discovered Father Divine and the Peace Mission and moved his daughters from the country to Brooklyn…but then his hot communist sister-in-law shows up with temptation and magnetism so he…marries a white german immigrant who is almost a complete stranger. Did we mention it’s 1950? As we were saying, Godfrey is a complex character so MOXIE needed a versatile actor with a strong presence to play the deeply troubled Mr. Crump. In walks Vimel Sephus. As the press said, “Godfrey is a living ache. He’s all questions — presented in a burst of theatricality at Moxie — no answers. Vimel Sephus doesn’t break out as Godfrey. He breaks down another wall and once again shows his versatility as an actor.” -Jeff Smith, San Diego Reader. 

The MOXIE Blog caught up with Vimel between performances to ask a few questions.

How did you become an actor?

Storyville at the San Diego Rep 2010.  Before that I only did music.

Would the MOXIE audience have seen you in anything else in San Diego?

Cygnet, A Behanding in Spokane; Ion, In The Heat of The Night/Chad Deity

What do you think about the script?

Mystical, Historical, deep yet lighthearted

What’s your favorite moment of the play?

Marlene Dietrich’s special appearance.

What’s your favorite line you get to say?

“We don’t keep no liquor in this house.”

What part of the process has been challenging?

Learning about Father Divine and his doctrine.

What do you think audiences will enjoy about the production?

It’s like a soap opera with substance.

What have you learned since working on this production about yourself or the world around you?

Everyone is desperately searching for comfort and acceptance, and will go to virtually any length to get it; whether realized or not. The process of discovery is different for each individual. Through it all, an understanding that you’ll never FULLY understand the happenings of this world is gained.

Catch Vimel and the rest of the incredible CRUMBS ensemble before Crumbs from the Table of Joy closes on March 2, 2014. Click here to buy tickets now or call 858-598-7620

A Performance that Belies her Age

by moxielicious

Jada Temple as Ernestine Crump in CRUMBS. Photo by Daren Scott

Jada Temple as Ernestine Crump in CRUMBS. Photo by Daren Scott

To cast a teenager or not to cast a teenager? If you produce theatre, direct or run a casting department, you probably know the implications of that question. When a script calls for a teenage character, you have to weigh the lack of experience against the power of youthful energy that’s hard for a more mature actor to mimic. You can get away with casting an actor in their 20’s but is what you gain going to be worth what you lose? When MOXIE’s Artistic Director and the director of Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, began the search for the right young actresses, she considered going in both directions but after a round of auditions at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, she struck gold. Exactly the same age as her on stage character, but with a significantly more experience than your average teenager, Jada Temple seemed to step easily into the shoes of the lead character in MOXIE’s production of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy. As one member of the press said:

“But the true light in this show comes from Jada Temple. She carries the show and her Ernestine, with everything that is thrown at her, always manages to be hopeful and true. Temple is fantastic…In her show bio, she writes that she’s moving to New York in the fall. I have no doubt that good things are in her future.” -Lance Carter, http://www.dailyactor.com

Temple took time between performances to answer a few questions.

How did you become an actor?

Temple: My first introduction to theatre came in pre-school. I was enrolled at Valencia Park Elementary when it was a performing arts magnet and I was immersed in Shakespeare, and musicals at age 4. I instantaneously fell in love.

What do you think about the script for CRUMBS?

Temple: I think the script is a beautiful piece of writing that tells a story in a unique way. The integration of real life and fantasy makes a rather dim story lighthearted and humorous.

What’s your favorite moment of the play?

Temple: My favorite moment of the play is when Gerte arrives at the Crump household for the first time to meet Darling and Devout.

What’s your favorite line you get to say?

Temple: “Oh God, did she have to be German? If he had to have a white lady, why not a French lady?”

What part of the process has been challenging?

Temple: The most challenging part of the process was learning of my lines. I have never had to learn so many before in my life!

What do you think audiences will enjoy about the production?

Temple: I think audiences will enjoy the beauty of it all; the writing, and the story telling done by the actors in addition to the dancing, the music, the lights, the amazing set, and the realistic sounds.

What have you learned since working on this production about yourself or the world around you?

Temple: I have learned that I am truly capable of taking on roles much bigger than me. I have also learned that I have the mental capacity to memorize a bunch.

Temple graduates from high school this spring and moves to New York to pursue her career in theatre. Until then, she’s enjoying the accolades from her outstanding performance in CRUMBS. You can catch her on stage through March 2, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. www.moxietheatre.com/crumbs

 

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