Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Finding moments in the woods with the Baker's Wife, Alden Bowers Price

Alden Bowers Price (The Bakers Wife)
with Joshua Sherman (The Baker) in
Artes de la Rosa's Into the Woods
Today we venture into the woods with Alden Bowers Price. Alden is making her Artes de la Rosa debut in Into The Woods but is no stranger to Artistic Director Adam Adolfo having starred in Lee Blessing's poignant political drama, Two Rooms for him at Runway Theater.  A true star, Alden is making the iconic role of the Baker's Wife all her own!
We all know and love the stories of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood. They are familiar to us and stir memories, which in turn takes us to a place of joy, safety, and endless possibilities! These are stories that have stood the test of time because of their life lessons and seemingly magical "moments". Is it possible for any other story to seem as magical and moving as the ones listed above? I think so.

Alden Bowers Price talking with
director Adam Adolfo
I believe that the story of The Baker and The Baker’s Wife is equally if not more magical than the others because it is a story about two "real" people facing real struggles and sharing an incredibly vital lesson to all: Love and respect those close to you, exist to fulfill your dreams, fight for what you want, be content with what you have.

I’m going to be honest with you and say that I have actually struggled with coming to like The Baker’s Wife. It might sound odd to hear as most of us envision the original Broadway star Joanna Gleason tromping around the stage delivering each line with perfect comedic timing while making us feel that infidelity is acceptable so long as it is just a "peculiar passing moment".

Original Broadway "Bakers Wife"
Joanna Gleason
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Joanna Gleason! Her portrayal of The Baker’s Wife leaves me with a goofy grin on my face as I nod along to her songs. I just think it is easy to glaze over the real "moments" that take place. Like the way she is quick to be condescending and not afraid to talk down to her husband. Or the moment she compromises her morals by lying to a little boy saying beans carry magic when in reality she has no idea if they do. The way she finds something else to complain about (their house being too small) immediately after she got what she had always wanted; a child. Oh and let’s not forget the biggest one of all… infidelity.
Alden Bowers Price in TWO ROOMS directed
by Artes Artistic Director Adam Adolfo
I struggled for several days (*cough*weeks*cough*) in deciding what it was that made her likeable. What about her should make people pull for her and The Baker through their struggles? What makes people want her to succeed in obtaining her goal? I was working on her main solo, ‘Moments in the Woods’, last week when I had my personal "moment" in coming to love her. That moment where everything seemed so clear and seamlessly fit together. ‘Moments in the Woods’ is the song she sings right after her moment of selfish weakness. Wait, selfish…weakness… those are two of the most human qualities I’ve ever heard a character possessing. That’s when it hit me. She isn’t unlikeable… she is incredibly human. Then it hit me, she was feeling remorse. Finding her so human in that moment was so jarring that it immediately helped me find things/"moments" to love about her.

I love her strength and the fact that she doesn’t take "no" for an answer. I love the way she is so dedicated to her dream that she is not going to sit on the sideline and let someone else do the work for her. I love the moment in ‘It Takes Two’ when she falls back in love with her husband, The Baker, after a long battle through anger, resentment, and the embarrassment of not being able to have a child. I adore the fact that she is so proud of her husband when he succeeds in his own battles. I find it thrilling that she is captivated with their little "wish". I find her riveting in the way that she will protect others from the giant although she has no reason to feel so strongly for their safety.
"Behind the scenes" of the press photo shoot.
Yes, I even accept and appreciate the fact that she feels remorse for the horrible act she commits. I am so in love with the fact that at the end of the show, she is able to show her husband love and encouragement in assuring him that he was meant to be a father, that he can fill the voids for their little one that he is so fearful of, and that the two people she loves most in the entire world, her husband and their son, will never truly be alone.

Just know that when you meet The Baker’s Wife in our show, she will not be the typical one you encounter in most journeys into the woods! I hope people feel comfortable walking alongside her and ultimately fall even more in love with her than I have.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Baker is more than just bread... or so Joshua Sherman Tells Us.

Joshua Sherman
Twitter: @JShermanActor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/joshua.sherman.actor
Today we spend some moments in the woods with Joshua Sherman who is returning to the stage at the Rose Marine as the Baker. Many may remember Joshua for his show stopping vocal performance in IN THE HEIGHTS or his chilling take on Central American Military Politics in THE FIFTH SUN. In our production of INTO THE WOODS, Joshua shows us a tender side that has many people questioning the heroism under his submissive demeanor.

A Baker is more than just bread...
...Is he a hero or just a baker?

1. a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities
That is the definition of 'hero' word for word. So... feminist, don't be angry! Besides, you gals have heroine. The word. Not the drug... Well, that went downhill quickly; such is a hero's life.
Much like The Baker in Stephen Sondheim’s classical hit musical 'Into The Woods'. It seems like everything The Baker does in this high energy musical puts himself in harm’s way. Not only his physical well-being but within himself as well.

Joshua as The General in The Fifth Sun
It's hard to say if he is a hero or not. I mean, by definition listed above... he's not very heroic. He shows some courage but he is not idealized for it!  He has some achievements, and I say they are rather outstanding! But... he didn't reach his achievements alone. In fact, he wouldn't be able to do much alone!

And as for noble qualities... He's a baker! His father and mother, who died in a baking accident, were merely bakers before him. No nobility there.

By definition The Baker is no hero.

That being said; I believe he is a Hero. Just, not in the traditional sense. The Baker doesn't save the day. He doesn't fight off evil with his abilities to make cakes and pastries. (Which are very good, mind you.) He doesn't wear a spandex suit and don a cape and mask to gallivant around the woods or
Joshua Sherman & Lorens Portalatin starred as
Nina & Benny in Artes de la Rosa's In the Heights
village looking for crimes to solve! But what he does do is much more important. He chooses not to run away. He chooses to make his own happiness, to forge his own path in life surrounded by people he cares about, when things are at rock bottom. His super-strength comes not in the form of being able to lift  a tree from the ground but rather being able to pick himself up after being shattered completely; Gluing himself back together and filling in the missing pieces with reflections of what he's lost.... and then some! And we all know how difficult that can be sometimes.

This is the beauty of fairy tales. (Especially the Grimm Fairy Tales that Into The Woods is based on.) That there is evil in this world and sometimes, evil wins. Think about it; Snow White takes that bite. Little Red Ridinghood strays from her path. Jack steals from the giant. The big bad wolf destroys the houses of the first two piggies. But, with that in mind; if you just persevere, if you just keep on going through the woods and all of the bad, if you consciously make the choice to get your happily ever after… You’ll get it. It might not be what you had originally thought it to be. But it’ll be there. That’s what The Baker does.

He is a hero…he is the hero of his own life.

Alden Bowers Price and Joshua Sherman star in
February 21st - March 16th

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pushing the Reset Button on Cinderella: A Fairy Tale Princes gets a make over with Natalie Coca

Today we spend a few minutes with Natalie Coca who is returning to the Rose Marine Theater's stage after last years flawlessly delivered performance of Carla in the regional premiere of In the Heights! This season she takes the stage in a flashy pair of shoes as everyone's favorite princess, Cinderella.

"Not making a decision *is* making a decision." -?
"What good are dreams without action?" -?
I’ve always struggled to find a way to relate to Cinderella, probably because in the Disney version she was a whiney twig who clearly lacked self-worth and needed someone to save her. (First her fairy God mother swoops in, then her prince). It always pains me to see men and women who value themselves so little... but well that’s another story never mind. ;)
Fortunately for me, Sondheim designed this Cinderella to be a tad bit different. Though she struggles to make decisions, and ultimately doesn’t know what she wants, she is driven by an inherent understanding that her life is meant to be so much greater than it is. This Cinderella may not know where she’s going but she knows she’s gotta get the heck out of her stepmother’s house if anything’s going to change! With that being said, once she finally gets her "way out" she is then faced with a series of decisions and consequences she never dreamed she’d face. As the story develops we see that she’s frightened to make decisions, any decisions, for fear of making the wrong ones. In the beginning that drove me nuts! I couldn’t grasp my brain around why someone would just let life pass them by. But then I realized that in not making a decision (i.e. about standing up for herself, about opening up to the prince) she is putting her faith and ultimate decision-making powers in something greater than herself. What a concept. Be that faith in her mother’s guiding spirit, God, the Universe, Cinderella is a good person and knows that life will continue to unravel before her eyes whether or not she takes the lead. It will be liberating at times and painful at others but at least she’s living and it all started with a wish and an action. She could’ve said "I wish to go to the festival", gotten her golden slippers, and then chickened out, but she didn’t; she went. And with that first step she hit the reset button on her life and set it in motion.
The funny thing about this Cinderella is that she’s real, she’s scared of making the wrong choices and she’s longing for a life far different from the one she leads… In some ways I think we can all relate, but my question to you is, what are you gonna do about it?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"JUST JACK": A Moment with the youngest cast member, Jeremy Coca

Today we blog with Jeremy Coca. Affectionately deemed 'Baby Coca', Jeremy, as the youngest member of the professional acting company for Into the Woods, plays the dreamer Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk fame); but this is not Jeremy's first time on the Rose Marine stage. Most people will probably remember him from his wild antics in the youth ensemble of Artes de la Rosa's In The Heights, recently named "Best Show" (Non Equity) in John Garcia's THE COLUMN "Best of Issue."  Spend a moment with Jeremy and find out why Jack is so close to his heart.

Ask anyone who knows me well. I've been asking for a dog ever since I could remember. It started out just wanting a puppy. But then I settled for ANYTHING. My family has never owned any sort of pet. Most of my family is allergic to cats and my parents have always been reluctant to get a dog. I think that's why I've always felt so close to the role of Jack whose cow is his best friend. 
Jeremy backstage at
In the Heights with Pamela
Garcia Langton. The pair are
reunited as Mother & Son in
Into the Woods!
Jack has been one of my dream roles to play since I was in 4th grade when my sister, Natalie who plays Cinderella in this production, brought home the DVD from a teacher that had let her borrow it. I remember sitting there, watching the characters and stage come to life, and just seeing it all in amazement. 
So you can imagine my excitement when I not only received a callback for the role, but being offered the role! 
Words can not amount to the excitement I'm feeling. Even as I write this post! To top it all off? I get to share the stage again with my sister and for the first time in forever my brother, Anthony who plays Rapunzel's Prince, as well. 
This really is an incredible show. It says so much and its all so beautiful. Its not just the characters in the show that have their story. This brilliant cast and their backgrounds are just so beautiful and heart warming.
And the best part? 
Its so great, working with such a talented cast, and absorbing all that his being given. I just recently turned 17 and being cast in this show is the best birthday present I could have ever received. Being a high schooler and having this be a part of my life is just unbelievable. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Best of 2013!

2013 was an exciting year for Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts - full of art, creativity, family, and community! Of particular excitement were our theatre productions of Shakespeare's ROMEO & JULIET and The Tony Award Winning Musical, IN THE HEIGHTS. Yesterday, The 2013 "BEST OF" list was released and Artes de la Rosa received 19 "Bests" from 5 Theatre Critics including Editor & Senior Chief Theatre Critic John Garcia! We are so humbled by the outpour of love ADLR received and are so proud that our audiences have been apart of this amazing journey! 2014 looks to be just as an exciting year as musical, INTO THE WOODS just started rehearsals! Be on the look out for all the fun and excitement in the coming weeks as members of the cast of INTO THE WOODS blogs about their journey to "happily ever after..."

A list of all the recognitions from The Column follows:
JOHN GARCIA- Senior Chief Theater Critic/Editor/Founder Picks:


IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa  Theater). When I saw the national tour of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about Latinos living Washington Heights in New York, I was enthralled and  savored every moment of this musical. So when the rights were released for theater companies to mount this Tony Award winning musical, I thought to myself, “Oh dear. I smell major trouble here”. Because the fact is there aren’t that many Latino actors in the DFW area. Plus to stay true to the potpourri score of Cuban, rap, pop, and soul and bring it  to full vocal artistry, that’s another major issue I saw facing local theater companies. Director Adam Adolfo faced these challenges head  on and brought to the stage a sublime production. The choreography of hip hop, jazz, popping locking, and other elements of today’s genre of dance was executed with great finesse by this cast. The staging and direction never fell off its tracks as the evening went on. It was a very smart move by Adolfo in casting the role of “Benny” with a Caucasian actor (normally it is played by an African-American actor). This casting switch added much rich new subtext to the score and book involving the romance and racism involving this character. The stage was overflowing with resplendent performances, from the ensemble to the principals. And here’s the ironic part-I was not the one on my staff to actually review it. I simply went to go observe it at the invitation of the director.  But what impressed me the most was that Adolfo was able to find an armful of Latino actors to bring this musical to life. When I saw this musical way back in May, I posted on Artes de la Rosa’s face book page that this was one of the best musicals of the year that I had seen so far. Now I feel it was indeed the Best Non-equity musical of the 2013 season.

Joshua Sherman

Lorens Portalatin

Matt Ransdell Jr. as “Usnavi”, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theatre)

Joshua Sherman as “Benny”, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theatre)

Lorens Portalatin as “Nina”, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theatre)

Pilar Ortiz as “Abuela Claudia”, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theatre)


Adam Adolfo, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theater)

Elise Lavallee, Michael Sylvester Maegan Marie Stewart, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theater)

Matt Ransdell
Sarah Salazar, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theater)

Aaron Sanchez, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theatre)

Matt Ransdell, Jr., IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theatre)

The cast of IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theatre)- Kevin Acosta, Michael Alonzo, Austin Ray Beck, Jeremy Coca, Jordan Ghanbari, Benicka Janae Grant, Gina Gwozdz, Courtney Harris, Aigner Mathis, Darren McElroy, Addie Morales, Mark Quach, Rebekah Ruiz, Meagan Marie Stewart, Michael Sylvester, Rashad Turley

MARY L. CLARK: Assistant Editor in Chief/ Associate Theater Critic's Picks:
Michael Alonzo with choreographers Austin Ray Beck & Rebekah Ruiz

"Juliet" - Courtney Harris"
Michael Alonzo –Balthasar The Balladeer – Romeo Juliet – Artes de la Rosa. His stage presence, his spectacular tenor voice made Alonzo the play’s heartthrob, but his role as the narrator lent the important ominous flavor to the play.

Courtney Harris– Juliet – Romeo Juliet – Artes de la Rosa. Harris beautifully played all of Juliet’s emotions and showed the character’s realistic transition into womanhood.

Adam Adolfo– Director – Romeo Juliet – Artes de la Rosa. Adolfo’s staging was naturalistic, moving actors easily and quickly, and set changes without blackouts and fades.  Actors played characters with a more realistic air than most Shakespeare productions I’ve seen.

Austin Ray Beck and Rebekah Ruiz – Choreography – Romeo Juliet – Artes de la Rosa. While not highly difficult dance moves, Beck and Ruiz created work that made each dancer shine and every dance look spectacular.  Precision over flash was the order of the day and it was well worth the effort.

RICHARD S. BLAKE- Associate Theater Critic's Picks:
Lorens Portalatin as Apothecary/Dancer, ROMEO JULIET, (Artes de la Rosa)
As one of DFW’s most exciting up-and-coming young actresses, Ms. Portalatin commanded the stage in the show, yet never when the focus wasn’t on her.  It was a truly stunning performance and I’m sure we’ll see this rising star on some of the area’s largest stages very, very soon!

LK FLETCHER-Associate Theater Critic's Picks:

BEST DANCER: Michael Anthony Sylvester “In The Heights”, Artes de la Rosa

JOEL TAYLOR-Associate Theater Critic's Picks:

Adam Adolfo for In the Heights, Artes de la Rosa Theater

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: Elise Lavallee, Michael Sylvester Maegan Marie Stewart, IN THE HEIGHTS (Artes de la Rosa Theater)

To read the full article; follow this link: http://thecolumnawards.org/columnonline/articles-Best-of-theater-2013.asp