Intern-al affairs - strike

If you are an avid reader of the site, you may be familiar with a feature that we like to call ‘The Evolution of a Set,’ in which we show you pictures of sets currently under construction by our masterful technical directors and volunteers. In the segment, we normally take a picture a day, or at every significant milestone, until the stage is ready for our actors to perform, and make it all worthwhile. But, some of you may wonder, what happens to the set when it is no longer needed? Does it remain as it is, as a reminder of achievements past? Does it erode away, like a mighty battlement after time has taken its luster? Or, perhaps, does it mysteriously vanish one day, with mom assuring us that the set has gone to a nice farm upstate, where it’s got lots of wide open spaces to run free with all the other sets of productions past?

Sadly for the set, we are neither sentimental nor subtle in our methods.

This is Strike.

At the end of a set’s life, in this case, on June the 15th, 2013, immediately after the last patrons depart from the amazingly successful Lyric Arts production of ‘Barefoot in the Park,’ a highly-skilled team of volunteers, whom I shall henceforth refer to as ‘The Strike Force,’ descends upon the stage, with hammers in hand, and fire in their hearts, to relentlessly assail the stage until not a single timber remains standing.

Our strike for Barefoot went off beautifully, and we're now in full production mode for Hairspray. We'd like to extend a special thank you to every volunteer that came and helped us out, either during the show or for strike. Without you, our theater wouldn't be half as vibrant and fun as it is today. Your support keeps us alive, and we love having you in the Lyric Arts family.

If you want to get involved in future strikes, or as a volunteer in general, contact our Front of House Manager, Matt McNabb, at volunteer@lyricarts.org.

STRIKE! Help us get ready for Hairspray!

Attention Volunteers! We are looking for help getting our stage ready for Hairspray! Come meet our awesome new Tech Director Karen Tait, and help us tear down the set of Barefoot in the Park from 10:30 PM to Midnight on  Saturday, June 15th and from Noon to 6:00 PM on Father’s day, June 16th. Complimentary pizza will be available to all volunteers on Sunday the 16th, and a handyman dad will love the opportunity to work with his family.

Our work environment will be kid-friendly, although closed-toe shoes are required, and work gloves are encouraged. It will be a fun place to learn about proper tool usage and safety, and an opportunity to blow off steam with a little bit of old-fashioned demolition.

Register to volunteer at http://www.lyricarts.org/get-involved/online-volunteer-registration and get in touch with Matt McNabb, our volunteer coordinator, by calling (763)-433-2510 (Extension 106) or via e-mail at volunteer@lyricarts.org to learn more about the process.

Thanks in advance! Hope to see you there.

 

Review: Opposites Attract

PatDowdellOpposites Attractby Pat Dowdell

Matt McNabb's sixth directorial production is also his sixth hit show!  Quite an accomplishment for any director, but he has done it again.  On opening night, Barefoot in the Park received a standing ovation from a crowd that were kept laughing and engrossed in this adult comedy throughout the three act, two intermission production.

Barefoot in the Park takes place in the 1960's, my personal "coming of age" decade.   The stage design reminded me of the bygone era of princess phones, knee high socks, pill box hats, percolator coffee pots and beaded doorways.  By the little chuckles heard from the audience, many of them were reminded of that era, too. Even the lines, "Arthur Murray Dance Studio" and "Bossa Nova" emitted "ahs" from others in the audience who lived through that time as well.

Barefoot is a highly energetic and physically demanding play, performed by six actors with perfect timing.  The four main characters form a unique mix of seasoned and well accomplished talent:  two of them are real life husband and wife while the other two bring their skill to Lyric Arts for their debut performances.  It was comical watching the clash of conservative vs. liberal personalities. There were no dull moments from start to finish as the pace kept the audience listening , laughing and wanting more.

Lying under the obvious humor of the show, Barefoot in the Park has another layer. Through humor and some touching moments, it shows the coming together of different lives and lifestyles and the conflicts that can happen when opposites attract.  Clearly, the play makes the argument that if we can break through our personal paradigms of how life should be and embrace the idea that, through love, change can be a wonderful thing, we ultimately can find more joy in our lives.

As the director said in the playbill, "I also saw a little of myself in each of the characters."  I'm a bit stunned by pieces of that revelation, but am opened to it more than ever.  That is the greatest compliment I can give to Neil Simon's insight when he wrote this play.  Change doesn't have to hurt if it begins with acceptance.  Everything becomes easier after that.

A Little Bit About Pat: Pat is a native Anoka resident and a recently retired teacher.  Pat taught at Anoka High School for 25 years.  In her spare time, Pat volunteers at Lyric Arts doing a variety of jobs.

Meet Kelly Houlehan Performing in Barefoot in the Park

Headshot_KellyHoulehan135x135Meet KELLY HOULEHAN, who is  performing as Corie Bratter in  Barefoot in the Park. Read on to learn about the rehearsal process, how she’s developing her character, and why you should take a chance on this show! LA: Where are you originally from?

KH: I grew up in Edina, MN, graduating from Edina High School in 2007. I went to college at Nebraska Wesleyan University, getting a performance degree in Theater, and from there headed back to Minneapolis to act!

LA:  Why did this particular play interest you?

KH: I think it’s exciting anytime you see a Neil Simon show get put up because you know you’re guaranteed to see some amazing comedy. Specifically, I love the romantic comedy element of Barefoot in the Park. Corie and Paul are so absolutely in love and that makes every aspect of their relationship endearing and fun, even the arguments, because they have that foundation underneath it all.

LA:  For those that are unfamiliar with Barefoot in the Park can you tell us about the show?

KH: Barefoot in the Park is the story of two newlyweds, Paul and Corie, who are just moving into their first apartment together after being married. The story follows them as they try to navigate what day to day married life is like, especially when they have different perspectives on life, with Corie loving adventure and impulse and Paul loving plans and order. A big point of contention is when Corie sets up her mother, who is a lot more like Paul, on a blind date with the strange man who lives above their apartment. Chaos and hilarity ensue!

LA: Talk about the character that you play in Barefoot in the Park.  How have you developed this character?

KH: I play Corie, the free-spirited new wife in the show, and she has been an absolute blast to get into. She is so impulsive, so when I’m playing her I just have to follow all her rabbit trail thoughts and just get as excited about life and being married to Paul and setting up her mother on a blind date as she does. Corie has inspired me to be less uptight in my own life and look at what’s exciting about a situation instead of what might be challenging.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

KH: This cast is unbelievable! This is the smallest cast I’ve ever worked with, so we’re really getting a chance to know each other and develop some really fun and complex relationships between our characters. I love watching Patti and Tom work together, as Brendan and I are trying explore this dynamic of what it’s like to be married, they really model what married life really looks like and how to make it work, since they’ve been married for 31 years! For all of us, the characters are very over the top and it’s been fun to see everyone’s characters grow from the first read through to now.

LA: Even though Barefoot in the Park was written in the 1960’s how will today’s audience relate to the show?

KH: I think people will really relate to Paul and Corie’s naivety as they start their married life together and relate to their young love. Their lack of practical knowledge is so charming! It does matter what time period you’re in- love is always exciting and never easy, but worth the challenges!

LA: What is your favorite Neil Simon piece of work and why?

KH: I honestly think Barefoot is my favorite Neil Simon piece, but if that’s off the table, I love the Odd Couple! Probably because Felix and Oscar remind me of Paul and Corie- opposites who share an apartment and have to figure out who to cram two big personalities into a small space and make it work. I love when Felix puts the apron on and cooks for the date scene!

LA: What is your favorite aspect of performing at Lyric Arts?

KH: I think the northern suburbs are so lucky to have such a vivacious, active theatre in the area producing so many different kinds of shows. My favorite part of working at Lyric Arts is the community. The artistic staff, designers and volunteers clearly care so much about Lyric Arts and our show, and work so hard to make it the very best it can be!

LA: What is your favorite theater, movie, and TV comedy?

KH: This one’s hard! Theater comedy: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Movie comedy: School of Rock. TV comedy: Arrested Development.

LA: Sum up Barefoot in the Park in 3 words?

KH: Love. Chaos. Knichi.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

KH: Well, the basics are that I’m 23 and spend my days working in Youth Ministry and my nights and weekends acting. The fun stuff is that I love Coke Zero, High School Musical, manatees, Batman and anything that makes me laugh so hard I snort.

Meet Brendan Veerman who is Performing in "Barefoot in the Park"

Headshot_BrendanVeerman135x135Meet BRENDAN VEERMAN, who is  performing as Paul Bratter in  Barefoot in the Park. Read on to learn about the rehearsal process, how he’s developing his character, and why you should take a chance on this show! LA: Where are you originally from?

BV: I grew up in Chaska, MN.

LA: Why did this particular play interest you?

BV: I absolutely love Barefoot in the Park. It's been one of my favorites for quite some time. Whenever I talk about the show I honestly can’t help but grin like an idiot. It’s sheer fun – to watch and to perform. The characters are vivid and completely endearing. It’s hilarious, touching, and just great entertainment. When I saw that Lyric Arts was doing it, I knew I had to audition. I’ve wanted to play Paul for many years, so this is a dream come true for me.

LA: For those that are unfamiliar with Barefoot in the Park can you tell us about the show?

BV: Barefoot in the Park is about Paul and Corie Bratter, a pair of newlyweds fresh off their honeymoon. They move into their new apartment, which is awful in about every conceivable way, and experience all the wild ups and downs of married life in a very short period of time.

LA: Talk about the character that you play in Barefoot in the Park. How have you developed this character?

BV: I play Paul Bratter, a freshly minted husband and lawyer. He is very neat, non-impulsive, and cautious about everything he does. He also has an incredibly dry wit and penchant for sarcasm. However, he's definitely head over heels in love with Corie. I have quite a lot of zingers in the show, so it's been interesting finding the right balance between sarcasm and sincerity. Without giving anything away, there is also a development for Paul in Act 3 that affects my physicality. I have been doing a lot of research for it – watching a lot of YouTube and various scenes from movies to help me accurately depict what occurs. (Sorry – that's just a giant tease isn't it? Hmm... well I suppose you'll just have to see the show then!)

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

BV: Honestly, our entire cast is really talented. Cheesy but true. However, I find that Patti McCarthy gives me the giggles more than anyone else. Patti plays Ethel Banks, Paul’s mother-in-law. Every time I turn around, she’s getting funnier and funnier. There are also a couple of moments in the show that are genuinely sweet and heart-warming, which Patti completely knocks out of the park.

LA: Even though Barefoot in the Park was written in the 1960’s how will today’s audience relate to the show?

BV: I think that absolutely everyone will see some of themselves in these characters. They're so well written that you can't help but love them and root for them. And even though the outside factors may have changed, the heart of the show hasn't. The core relationships, their dynamics, and the conflicts that arise as a result are really timeless. Neil Simon has also imbued the show with genuine wisdom regarding relationships, both married or otherwise, that is just as applicable now as it was in the 60s.

LA: What is your favorite Neil Simon piece of work and why?

BV: Neil Simon is of course a legendary playwright, and I’ve enjoyed everything of his that I’ve seen or read thus far, but Barefoot in the Park is definitely my favorite. His book for Sweet Charity is fun. I also really enjoy Star Spangled Girl.

LA: What is your favorite aspect of performing at Lyric Arts?

BV: This is actually my first show with Lyric Arts! It's been a real treat. I think my favorite part has been the cast and production team. This is easily the smallest cast I've ever been a part of and everyone is just plain fun to be around. Also, the Lyric Arts slogan “big city theater, small town charm” really is completely true. There is a dedication to produce excellent theater, but Lyric Arts never lets the show overwhelm the people involved. As an actor, there's a tremendous amount of support and creative freedom.

LA: What is your favorite theater, movie, and TV comedy?

BV: Favorite movie comedy is definitely Clue. Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Eileen Brennan… just… perfection. As for TV, I’m a HUGE fan of Pushing Daisies. If you haven’t seen it, drop what you’re doing right now and find both seasons on DVD. It’s endlessly clever, romantic, visually arresting, sharply written, macabre in a humorous way, and sports an eclectic, excellent cast. As for theater, I’m not sure I can pick a single favorite. I love Noises Off, Twelfth Night, and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. She Loves Me and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown are both delightful. I also tend to enjoy darker comedies, like Little Shop of Horrors, Urinetown, and Sweeney Todd (although that's more dark than comedy). I tend to be indecisive...can't you tell?

LA: Sum up Barefoot in the Park in 3 words?

BV: Love. Hilarity. Knichi.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

BV: I'm 25 years old, currently residing in Minnetonka, MN. I graduated from Bethel University where I studied Media Communications and Theatre. I now work as a Box Office Representative at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. I had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in November. My favorite color is orange. My car's name is Ridley. My favorite Muppets are Animal and Beaker. And it's been a lifelong dream of mine to swim with dolphins. (Don't judge.)