Monday, March 28, 2011

Meeting the Spiderwoman.

Saturday March 26th, we finally got to meet THE SPIDERWOMAN. A spectator captured it on video with her digital camera... looks to be thrilling, no?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Emily Kate Hardy is the Spiderwoman.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A New “Sound” For A New Kiss Of the Spiderwoman

It is hard to believe it has been almost a decade since I was first introduced to the music of Kiss of the Spider Woman. I used to hear the original cast recording interspersed between equal parts Madonna and Bjork in an apartment I shared nine years ago. The man I lived with at the time said it was his favorite musical, and after hearing the recording of it week after week, I have to confess, it grew on me. I then had the opportunity to see the regional premiere of the work when it was performed in Dallas in 2003, and that began the emotional attachment I have had with the show ever since. It seemed it would be the only time I would ever experience a live version of Kiss.

I never imagined it would be a show I would one day be offered the chance to be a music director for. At that time, my experience was limited to mostly rock musicals and revues, and my work as a pianist/vocalist for jazz groups in the area. Then last year, I saw that Artes De La Rosa had a brochure announcing the show as part of its new season and I immediately contacted the director, Adam Adolfo, to see if there was a music director for the show yet. When he said they were accepting resumes, I sent mine as soon as I could. 3 months later, I was offered the opportunity that only seemed a dream 8 years ago.

Since the director knew that I had a background in composition and arranging, the possibility of a new sound for Kiss was always in the forefront of early discussions. This was going to be to be reinvention of Kiss. Not Chita, not Vanessa, but something new: grittier, dirtier, more brutal than previous productions. When I started seeing set sketches from Oliver, costume drawings from Justin, lighting designs from Matt, and hearing all sorts of what I interpreted “deconstructionist” ideas for staging from Adam, I immediately became attached to the idea of a Kiss that would have a more “unsettled” sound than I had heard before. Yes, our orchestra was going to be smaller to fit budget and space constraints, but I wanted to go a step further. Although I knew I was dealing with a primarily jazz show by the great Kander and Ebb, I really desired to put my stamp on it as a music director and bring a sense of “now” to it. And it was only helped along when Adam informed me he really wanted to do this show without mics and as few electronic sounds as possible.

I have made some bold decisions for this production. The standard jazz trio (piano, bass, drums) setting is still on stage, but as a keyboardist, I decided to add two more instruments I would play during the show: the toy piano and the melodica (a keyboard instrument the performer plays much like a woodwind instrument that sounds like a mix between an accordion and harmonica). Since much of this show dwells in the memory of the characters, I thought what better way to illustrate this than to use instruments that get labeled as toys, things from my own past. The toy piano and melodica literally follow the three main characters throughout the show. It made for a more difficult performing experience for me, but I felt the piano alone was not going to provide enough of that “new sound” I was going for.

The rest of the ensemble consists of trumpet, cello, and a percussionist playing anywhere from 5 to 15 instruments during the course of the show. The trumpet had to be a part since two very significant solos exist for the instrument. The cello was a decision I made after realizing no woodwind instrument had the range and depth I was looking for, and after deciding to play the melodica, I turned to my second favorite instrument, the cello, for inspiration. Indeed, much of the music the cello plays for this production has been rearranged, giving the cello a much more forward role in the ensemble then it would in a 24 member orchestra. The percussionist was a no-brainer to me in this show. Much of what makes Kiss unique, even in its original orchestration, comes from all the percussive sounds one hears throughout it. Plus, it allows for even more “toys”, the “sound of memory”, to have a more prominent place in the sound of the show.

I’ve even tampered a bit with the vocals. Two acappella men’s chorus sections have been added to this version. The chorus sounds a bit harsher, less polished. Even several of the songs for the leads are less about trying to sing all the notes correctly, but allow for moments of whispers, yells, even what could be interpreted as screams.

I have not changed any notes that exist in the show. The Kander score is still all intact. I’ve just switched and rearranged sections of it around, and quite literally, allowed audible holes to be heard in the ensemble to give it that feeling of something that may not be quite finished, providing an atmosphere of distress. My goal has been to support the visual and psychological world this show dwells within. It may be a bit uncomfortable and jarring to the ears at first, but my hope is that the audience will be able to settle into the sound much like they will have to settle (or be unsettled) with all the other elements going on around them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Woman With The Answers: The Art of Stage Management (In a Fierce Pair of Shoes!)

When I first accepted the position as Stage Manager for this show, instant regret followed by a long conversation with my inner voice debating if this was something I could “put up with” again. However, seeing the colossal ideas that were unveiled to me for scenic design, costumes, lighting and music, I know that I just signed on for something incredible!

As the Stage Manager for a production of this magnitude, you have to be prepared for anything and everything, be consistently informed with everything that the production team is doing as well as the actors. This ranges from extra pencils and highlighters during the blocking/staging process to keeping your production team and actors constantly informed of what is coming next and being at the directors “beck and call”. I was working on this blog beginning a few weeks ago and in that time, everything was fairly predictable. The past week has thrown us a couple of curve balls in which I did not expect; but with that it has kept me on my toes and I am even more prepared for this week. Armed with patience, versatility, chocolate and a great pair of shoes I am ready and actually incredibly excited for this week to begin.

The maintain harmony within a production of this grandeur requires the experience, knowledge and the patience of a bomb diffuser; especially when the title role is your sister and you have just added another level of stress to your job. (Sibling rivalry happens anywhere). I am so excited to see Emily Kate Hardy, my sister, take center stage in this phenomenal role.

From the start of the rehearsal process, as the Stage Manager not only do you become the director’s “right-arm” but you become the emissary between the director and everyone else involved in the production. You have all the information of the show from lighting sequences to an actor’s sore throat, the needs of the director combined with the needs of the actors, you become the beacon of knowledge for the show. Everyone comes to you for answers for everything, whether it’s about schedules, props, costumes, choreography, blocking or set pieces. You name it, and I only pray I know the answer. To date, this has been the most demanding show of my time, energy, patience and sanity, but seeing this show come to life has made it worth my while, to say the least.

We are less than two weeks from opening and usually this is the time that I get extremely stressed and cranky. For some odd reason, when I left the theatre the other night. I told Adam that I am really excited for this week. I got a funny look from him as if he thought I was nuts, but the actors and production team on this show are truly extraordinary people and I look forward to seeing them every day.

And just because I'm the most awesome stage manager ever to rock killer heels, I snapped a couple of pictures in rehearsal the other day...


Chorus Men Drew Sifford and Carl Ramsey with Spiderwoman Emily Kate Hardy


"Marta" Michelle Foard and "Molina" Jason Robert Villarreal


Chorus Member Ian Lewis and Spiderwoman Emily Kate Hardy

...bet you want to feel THE KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN now!

Friday, March 18, 2011

INSIDE ARTES DE LA ROSA with ZAK DACUS REYNOLDS


Inside Artes de la Rosa’s
KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN
with ZAK DACUS REYNOLDS

Today we spend a few minutes with 'the fierce' performer Zak Dacus Reynolds as he tells about his life in and out of the Theater!
• Born & Raised: Fort Worth, TX
• Education: Alumni of Arlington Heights High School, Kids Who Care Musical Theatre
• Zodiac Sign: Taurus
• Audition Monologue: Angels in America
• First Play/Musical You Ever Saw: Rent….I know, cliché.
• Must See TV Show: LOST LOST LOST. OMG….LOST
• Why you work in theatre: The people you work with; how much work you have to put into one rehearsal just to make 1 performance look fierce as hell
• First Role: Robin Starveling w/ Kids Who Care
• Pop Culture Guilty Pleasure: Britney Spears
• First Stage Kiss: Tony- West Side Story
• Pre Show Rituals: Clearing my mind about everything other than how awesome this show is gonna be
• Special Skills: BATON TWIRLING
• Worst Costume Ever: Aladdin
• Favorite Post Show Meal: Pancakes!
• Biggest On Stage Mishap: Singing the end of “Tonight” in West Side Story, not exactly finishing the word “night”….. “Toooooonni…..” and that’s about as far as I got with that.
• Best thing about Fort Worth & the North Side: Tortas and Adam Adolfo
• Skill/talent you wish you had or were better at: Being Fierce
• If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? Spring Awakening
• Broadway or screen star of the past you would most love to have performed with: Jay Johnson
• Favorite showtune of all time: I got life- Hair
• Some favorite plays/musicals: Spring Awakening, Next To Normal, Hair, In The Heights (sorry Adam), Godspell, Lots more.
• The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Spring Awakening Dress Tech
• Music that makes you cry, any genre: Jazz…Kurt Elling. Literally, cry.
• Most played song on your iPod: Woo Boost- Rusko
• MAC or PC?: MAC
• Most-visited websites: Am I allowed to talk about this?
• Last book you read: The Hunger Games
• Last good show you saw: Into the Woods
• Worst job you ever had: 3rd grade, folding papers at a library, turning them into apple shapes.
• Who would play you in the movie? Of course, Brad Pitt in Fight Club.
• Leading man role you've been dying to play: Mark in Rent
• Leading lady role you wish you could play: Elphaba in Wicked
• Three things you can't live without: Frostys, Friends, Entertainment
• Something about you that surprises people: Sincerity
• Career you would want if not a performer: Hotel/Restaurant Manager
• "I'll never understand why…" the neverending story ends

Thursday, March 17, 2011

INSIDE ADLR with CARL RAMSEY


Inside Artes de la Rosa’s
KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN
with Carl E. Ramsey, Jr.


Today we go Inside ADLR's KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN, with singer, dancer, and all around great guy, Carl E. Ramsey Jr.

• Born & Raised: Colorado City, TX/Greenville, SC
• Education: A.A. Western Texas College, B.A. Texas Wesleyan University
• Zodiac Sign: Libra
• Audition Song: Beethoven Day (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown).
• Audition Monologue: Giovanni from We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!
• First Play/Musical You Ever Saw: The Wizard of Oz
• Must See TV Show: True Blood
• Why you work in theatre: To change and inspire people the way theatre has changed and inspired me.
• First Role: the cow who jumped over the moon (a preschool play).
• Favorite Play: Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac
• Pop Culture Guilty Pleasure: Watching the Bravo channel.
• First Stage Kiss: A scene from Chekhov’s The Seagull.
• Pre Show Rituals: Breathing and praying.
• Special Skills: Playing piano and sewing.
• Any Theatre Superstitions: I always try to be on my best behavior, lest karma has her way during a performance.
• Worst Costume Ever: A bed sheet.
• Favorite Post Show Meal: Carbohydrates! Pizza, pasta, doughnuts…you name it!
• Best thing about Fort Worth & the North Side: Rose Marine Theatre!
• If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? I would love to watch any show starring Bernadette Peters.
• Broadway or screen star of the past you would most love to have performed with: Joan Crawford, please.
• Some favorite plays/musicals: Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, Shakespeare’s Henry 1V (parts 1 and 2), Into the Woods, Company, and Wicked.
• The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: The original cast of Wicked on Broadway.
• Music that makes you cry, any genre: some forms of vintage country.
• Most played song on your iPod: Another Winter in a Summer Town (Grey Gardens)
• MAC or PC?: PC for now, but I’m bound to convert soon!
• Most-visited websites: Facebook.
• Last book you read: Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt
• Last good show you saw: Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh
• Performer you would drop everything to go see: Did I mention Bernadette already?
• First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Reba McEntire cassette tape.
• Worst job you ever had: moving washing machines and dryers for minimum wage.
• Who would play you in the movie? Ryan Phillippe, or so I’ve been told.
• Leading man role you've been dying to play: Corny Collins, from Hairspray
• Leading lady role you wish you could play: Mama Rose, from Gypsy
• Three things you can't live without: My loved ones, my faith, and the honey butter chicken biscuit from Whataburger.
• Something about you that surprises people: People are surprised at how sociable I am once they get to know me. I usually come off as shy in the beginning.
• Career you would want if not a performer: Research biologist, or science teacher.
• "I'll never understand why…" ... I’ll never understand why there is intolerance in the world. We must all strive to walk in our neighbors shoes; that way, when we are tempted to become intolerant, we will only be mocking ourselves.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creating The Spider's Web...A Look Into Scenic Design

Today Artes de la Rosa takes a few minutes to blog with Scenic Designer Oliver Luke. You may remember Oliver’s STUNNING work from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and for Kiss of the Spiderwoman he is pulling out all the stops. Oliver, Lighting Designer Matt Wasson, and Costume Designer Justin Kailer, promise to bring you a visual world that is more then just escapism, it is a full on sensory overload! This is what Oliver has to say about his scenic creation...while sharing a couple early sketches with us...


In approaching this design I wanted to go outside of my norms of creating just a realistic world. I wanted to draw the audience in to this gritty, dirty, and dangerous world of the prisoners. The goal is to make the audience truly see the filth of these prisons and the life in them but also show how their true escape comes from the prisoners mind. The whole process started with lots of research into the show, into antiquated prisons and methods of torture. Looking at other interpretations of the show and prison life in movies and television shows (ie: movie version of Kiss of the Spiderwoman, The Shawshank Redemption, Oz, etc.)
After I had a firm idea of the path I wanted to take, I started with sketching ideas of how I would like the walls to feel and look of the prison.
Dilapidated, dirty, crumbling, great stress and neglect…this would act as a parallel to how the prisoners lives are lived as well. Once I had the ideas on paper, I then started thinking in another direction, about how our unlikely Molina viewed his world and how he escaped into his mind.
My interpretation was all about the character of the Spiderwoman herself and how she is Molina's escape and torment, so how could I work that into the design? His world becomes a fantasy so I needed to make the audience feel this as well. So I had the idea that as the prison crumbles around them it would break away into the fantasy of Aurora's world of the spider.
This is where I think my designs truly differ from other productions of Kiss of the Spiderwoman, most interpretations seem to be of a more literal world, I wanted it to be more than just that. I also wanted it to be visually stunning - a true feast for the eyes. Everywhere the audience looks they will see that Molina/Aurora's world starts to surround them.
The colors used in the set are lots of grays, some moldy greens, and rusty reds…again, very gritty and dirty broken bricks and concrete. As the walls crumble into fantasy we'll see blacks, purples, and shimmering heavily saturated light colors. The goal being the complete emersion into a surreal feeling for the audience with the juxtaposition of the two worlds…and the question remains the one Molina has already answered for himself, “Which world are you more comfortable in?”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Viva La Viesta!

On behalf of Artistic Director Adam Adolfo Yzaguirre, we'd like to congratulate all the women of VIESTA Yvonne Duque, Gabriela Lomónaco Mora, @Shawn Ewing, and everyone at V-Day Fort Worth for making Viesta such a BEAUTIFUL and JOYOUS celebration of women as we journey to a day when Violence Against Women is no longer a hope, but a reality!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Art & Heart: Finding Valentin

Today, Artes de la Rosa sits down with actor/singer and leading man, Keith J. Warren to discuss the very personal journey he's taking starring as Valentin in our production of Kander and Ebb's KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN.

As an actor, it’s been my personal experience that several pieces have stuck with me for a long time. I think Kiss of the Spider Woman has been one of those stories where I’ve seen many different sides of the spectrum in terms of love, life, relationships, and self awareness.


I first became familiar with the story after seeing the 1985 film starring William Hurt and Raul Julia. Both of which are actors whom I admire a great deal for their versatile abilities. The film was indeed a favorite of mine and upon my discovery of the musical version, I was very intrigued at how the piece was lavishly reborn in musical form. Even before I had seen the show actually produced on stage, I was able to see the story colorfully brought to life in my mind through the musical album, as performed by its original stars, Chita Rivera, Brent Carver, and Anthony Crivello.

The story itself is a love story a lot like that of the classic French faerie tale, Beauty and the Beast, where we have Valentin, a man who seems trapped inside himself with a deeper and tenderer soul than Molina experiences in the beginning of their relationship. The two of them discover, not only the unseen beauty within each other, but even more so within themselves, which they eventually embrace and, in turn, grow closer together as men, friends, and lovers.

Valentin has faced a lot of hardship in his life, but I think what makes his character the most interesting is that his heart is more open than the story lets on to begin with. This is a quality that I feel a lot of male actors tend to discard when playing similar roles, such as Billy Bigelow in Carousel. Another role I’ve portrayed and have come to love for a great deal of the same reasons. These are men who are given the guises of bellowing, arrogant jerks who seem to find pleasure in grunting about as the “alpha leading man”, as it were. But these men, particularly Valentin, have so much heart and endearment to them that just cannot be ignored. And very well shouldn’t be, otherwise they’re very shallow men, to say the least.

I think Valentin’s passion for his political cause, as well as his personal relationships, give his story an inspirational turn that most people don’t expect at first. The music constantly stirs me emotionally and even in the darker numbers, there are glimmers of hope, which leaves me wondering where Valentine and Molina’s story will go from there.

I feel that this show is not only a beautiful piece, but a great artistic challenge that allows you to bring a great story to life. What these men learn about each other and themselves, I feel, will really open people’s eyes in many ways. This is definitely not a show for those that have trouble with open minded ideals or willingness of acceptance. So, perhaps we can tell a story that will open some eyes and leave people with broadened perspectives of ideals that may not always be easy to embrace, but will have a positive outcome in the end.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kiss of the Spiderwoman

video

FIRST LOOK AT KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN

Here's your first look at KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN The Musical that opens March 31st at the Rose Marine Theater. Tickets now on Sale!


FEEL HER KISS - This Spring at the Rose Marine Theater
Kiss of the Spiderwoman: (Left tor Right; Emily Kate Hardy (The Spiderwoman), Keith J. Warren (Valentin), Jason Robert Villarreal (Molina).

Directed by Adam Adolfo
Photo by Shannon Atkinson