Twelfth Night, Second Post: Another Apology

Dear Friends,

 Today is the 28th of December.  Our first day of rehearsal was the 26th of December.  So I’m a little behind.  But I promise to catch up.  Because I’m two days late, I have two excuses:

1.  I needed one day to learn how to blog.

2.  Yesterday, 12/27, was my birthday.  I’m 33.  Which, as Managing Director Carrie Van Hallgren pointed out yesterday, is how old Jesus and Alexander the Great were when they died.  So this year I have to either save the world or conquer it.  No pressure.

Now that I’ve started talking about myself, I might as well continue:

I’m an actor in the cast of Twelfth Night, playing the role of Sebastian, one of the twins.  This is my third production with Milwaukee Shakespeare.  In 2004, I played both Dromios in The Comedy of Errors, and the following year I played the Shepherd’s Son in The Winter’s Tale.  I’m thrilled to be working with this company again.  I live in Wisconsin now, and Milwaukee Shakes played a big role in that decision.  It’s a neat story:

When I was cast in Comedy of Errors, I was living in New York.  I had recently graduated with an MFA in Acting from the Yale School of Drama, where I met, among other people, Susan Finque, who has directed numerous productions for Milwaukee Shakes: Comedy of Errors, Taming of the Shrew, and 2 Henry IV.  When we were both grad school students, I played Harlequin in her production of Changes of Heart, by Marivaux.*  Susan’s a wonderful director, and we collaborated so well together that one day, on a rehearsal break, we started daydreaming and brainstorming (daystorming and braindreaming?) about future projects.  I mentioned that I have a brother (Steve) who is a great actor, and we look alike– we’re not twins, but many people think we are– and I’ve always wanted to play twins with him in Comedy of Errors.   Susan remembered that, apparently, because a year later, after she had graduated, she called to tell me that she would be directing Comedy of Errors for Milwaukee Shakespeare, and asked if my brother and I were available to audition.  At that time, however, my brother’s wife Heather was pregnant with their first child (my godson Liam), so he was unavailable.  Consequently, Susan decided to let me play both Dromios, which remains, to this day, one of my favorite experiences as an actor.  Paula Suozzi (the Artistic Director) and Susan both wanted to keep my playing both roles a secret, and went so far as to provide a fake name for the actor playing the other Dromio.  The cast list in the program listed Dromio of Ephesus, played by Kevin Rich, and Dromio of Syracuse, played by Richard Kens, with my brother’s picture next to the made-up name, Richard Kens.**  I don’t know how many people we fooled, but after one production, a gentleman congratulated me for stepping in for Richard Kens halfway through the show, and asked me if Richard had gone to the hospital.  I assured him that Richard was fine.

I loved being a part of that production, and fell in love with Milwaukee.  A year later, I returned for A Winter’s Tale (and also The Jammer, directed by Jonathan West, with Bialystock & Bloom), and that time, I fell in love IN Milwaukee: I met my wife, Amber.  I was already considering a move to the Midwest, and meeting her sealed the deal.  We’re now happy homeowners in Kenosha, where I’m on the adjunct theatre faculty at Carthage College, and I’ve been working steadily on stages in both Milwaukee and Chicago.  I love living in Wisconsin.  Go Pack go!

There’s much more to share about being an actor in the Midwest, but I’ll save that for later.  I should really start talking about Twelfth Night now.  On to the next post…

  * A fun little tidbit: Jeff Withers, who played Hal in 1 Henry IV, played Trivelin in that production: http://www.yale.edu/opa/v31.n27/story10.html

** Here’s a link to the cast list, where you’ll find the fake actor, Richard Kens: http://www.milwaukeeshakespeare.com/comedyErrors/cast.lasso#


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