“The Enigma of a Modern Woman”

LAURA at Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre

I am very pleased to announce I’ve accepted the role of Mark McPherson in the upcoming production of Laura at Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre.  The play by Vera Caspary and George Sklar will come to life under the direction of Allen Walker.  Laura will open September 8 and run through September 24, 2017 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.

It’s August 1944 in New York City, and when detective Mark McPherson first falls in love with Laura Hunt, he knows he’s in love with a phantom – for Laura is dead, and he’s in charge of her murder investigation.

From her portrait, her letters, her personal effects, and from his contacts with the three men who loved her, Mark has created an image of a woman tantalizingly real. As the story progresses, Mark discovers lies, infidelities, and hidden identities, all leading him into a labyrinthine search for Laura’s killer.

Riddled with surprises, full of dynamic characters and rich, fast-moving dialogue, Laura is a thrilling mystery in the film noir style that will keep audiences guessing “whodunnit” right up to the final scene.

“…[a] story which is filled with mystery, murder, romance, comedy, and unrequited love.” ~MD Theatre Guide

“…a well-acted, entertaining suspense dramedy, particularly for those with a fondness for the fabulous ’40’s.” ~StageSceneLA

Visit www.thetart.org for ticket purchases and more information.  Use the code STEPHENS2 (all caps) for discounted tickets!

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Theater review: SHE LOVES ME

 – Ordinarily, going all the way to Budapest to see a good show would be too far to go.

But in the case of Stolen Shakespeare Guild’s current production of the musical She Loves Me, which is set in that East-European capital, the journey is more than worth it.

This 1963 musical by Joe Masteroff and Jerry Bock is based on one of the most frequently adopted pieces of literature in the 20th century. It began as the 1937 play Parfumerie by Miklós László, and served as the basis for three films: the romantic comedies The Shop Around the Corner(1940) and You’ve Got Mail (1998), and the musical, In the Good Old Summertime(1949).

But this more recent stage musical has proven to be one of the most enduring adaptations, having had a strong initial outing and a couple of revivals on Broadway, with still another slated for next year. Plus, it has been a frequent visitor to regional and community theaters since its debut.

Set in a shop dealing in perfumes and various female notions (of every type), She Loves Me tracks the halting romance between fellow employees Georg (Brad Stephens) and Amalia (Lauren Morgan). The pair fall for one another in the course of an anonymous correspondence, which was apparently one of the ways boys met girls in the story’s day. But, when they just happen to wind up working in the same perfumery, they develop a highly antagonistic relationship without knowing they are the people who so warmly call one another “dear friend” when putting pen to paper (something else people used to do).

Since the course of true love seldom runs smooth on the musical comedy stage, it takes them a few major misunderstandings and several delightful numbers to get their hearts in the right place. Their efforts in that direction receive little help from their fellow bath oil peddlers, all of whom have problems of their own.

So, given the durable track record of this story, it is no shock that the plot pulls you right along. But you may be surprised at the overall quality of all of the components of this production, which marks the debut of the highly-talented and widely-booked director Robin Armstrong with this company.

Just about everyone and everything in this show sparkles like fresh snowflakes. Stephens sings his role with gusto and a strong sense of character. Morgan, who is one of the founders of the company, lends a beautiful voice to her part that we too seldom hear in this company’s shows. Sarah Powell, as the shop girl Ilona, delivers her numbers in a manner that matches her striking and fiery red tresses.

The efforts of these leading characters are consistently equaled by the supporting players. Even the minor part of the head waiter at a restaurant where Georg and Amalia have an awkward rendezvous is delivered with great verve by Billy Betsill. Most of the other singers come through just as well. But Evan Faris, as the insecure clerk Sipos, needs to have more confidence in his voice and let it rip when his number is up.

Armstrong, who is admired for her work with madcap farces, does an excellent job in her maiden voyage with a musical. She brings a keen sense of comedy and motion to her staging that gloriously enlivens the material. And her vision of the piece is perfectly complemented by Karen Matheny’s inspired choreography. The bountiful fruits of their partnership is most apparent in the staging of A Romantic Atmosphere, one of the show’s best numbers in every regard, which also features the input of Kylie Frandsen for its tango moves.

The show’s set, by Morgan, her husband Jason Morgan and Keith Glenn, is almost a character unto itself. Its rolling parts are brilliant in their design and dazzling in their execution. The only knock is that the look is far too bare. The shop’s exterior, especially needs a sign, and the interior needs some wall decorations.

Also exceptional are the period costumes designed by Armstrong and Lauren Morgan (is there anything these women can’t do?) for this show set in 1937 before and through Christmas.

The primary shortcoming of the production is that it relies on a recorded score. But that fault is offset somewhat by the fact that we get to enjoy the show’s wonderful voices without amplification in the cozy confines of the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.

So, while there are just a few rough edges, there is a lot to love in this musical from a company far better-known for its works from the Bard and Jane Austen adaptations. Everything about this She Loves Me makes it easy to love it.

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HOPE & GRAVITY Column Nomination

The Column AwardsNominations for The Column Awards were announced recently and I am pleased to report I’ve been nominated Best Supporting Actor in a Play, Equity for my performance in last summer’s production of Hope & Gravity at Circle Theatre.  This is my second nomination in this category and my fifth nomination overall.  I am grateful to all Column voters for the recognition and congratulate all the nominees.

The Column Awards honors excellence in theater throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth theater community, both in Equity and Non-Equity theater companies.  This marks their 16th year uniting and celebrating the accomplishments of all artists who bring to life the art of theater.

Nominations are made by the over 22,000 readers who subscribe to The Column.  Practically everyone and anyone who is involved in DFW theater is a subscriber as well as those who love to attend and support this beautiful art.  Thus, those nominated have been chosen not only by the very peers with whom they work but also the very audiences for whom they perform.

The Column Awards is also a major fundraiser gala for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, a charity they have supported since year one.  They have raised & donated close to $70,000.00 to BC/EFA to date. The Column Awards is the only awards organization in the entire United States that donates all money raised (after expenses) from ticket sales of the gala to BC/EFA.  The Column Awards has been very honored to have been acknowledged by the national media, BC/EFA, Actor’s Equity Association, and the Broadway community for their fundraising efforts.

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Improv Dallas Performs This Weekend!

10430855_555952837868722_1469489094736451998_nThis weekend I’ll be performing with Wendy Pennington and my Improv Dallas comrades!  Come out this Saturday for some laughs and cocktails! Doors open at 6PM. We know you’ll need it after all that Turkey and Shopping!!! ONLY $10!! Following our show the Zach Bramhall Blues Band performs!!!

Improvisation, or improv, is a form of live theatre in which the plot, characters and dialogue of a game, scene or story are made up on the spot. We will take a suggestion from the audience to get started.

Improv is unique in that if you see a performance, that’s it… there will never be another show exactly like it ever done again. Improv is different every time.

AND… we have a couple of NEW Players added to our fabulous cast!  RSVP on Facebook for more info!

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They Think To Go Like Saints

Print vouchers for $2 off/ticket.

Print out a voucher for each ticket desired, present them at the theater and receive $2 off/ticket!

Rehearsals are well underway for my next project, The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller and a classic of American drama. Opening September 12th and running through the 28th, the production re-teams me with director Allen Walker (The Curious Savage, Hay Fever) and launches Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre’s second season. I will perform the role of John Proctor.

Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. When a farmer’s wife is falsely accused of witchcraft by her former serving girl, the threads of this Puritanical society begin to unravel. Class envy and long-held grudges erupt as it suddenly becomes fashionable for neighbor to accuse neighbor of trafficking with the Devil.  Can John Proctor save his wife’s life, along with his own good name, before the fires of bigotry and deceit consume their world? This gripping drama, which Arthur Miller wrote as a condemnation of McCarthyism in the 1950s, is still a timely parable for our contemporary society.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.thetart.org or by calling the box office at 682-231-0082.

UPDATE: You may also purchase tickets at the theater and receive a discount.  Simply print out as many ticket vouchers as needed and present them at the door for $2 off each ticket.  Vouchers are only valid at the box office and cannot be used for tickets purchased online.

Reviews of The Crucible:

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Big Improv Show Tuesday Night

Here’s the flyer for our next Improv Dallas Big Improv Show:

Improv Dallas Show 20140812

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/ImprovDallas!

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Playwright to Attend Performance

Brad Stephens in HOPE & GRAVITY

Brad Stephens in Circle Theatre’s HOPE & GRAVITY

Hope and Gravity playwright Michael Hollinger will attend the Saturday, July 12th evening performance at Circle Theatre with a “talk back” immediately following the show.  The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions about his newest work, a non-conventional play consisting of a series of interconnected one-acts presented out of chronological order.  The Circle Theatre production is only its second professional staging.

Since opening on June 21st, Hope and Gravity has enjoy a warm reception from audiences and critics alike.  Punch Shaw of the Star-Telegram praises the play for its “rich and funny” dialogue, noting “there are no weak performances.”  Nancy Churnin of the Dallas Morning News enjoys “Harry Parker’s smart direction”, while David Novinski of TheaterJones finds it “instantly likeable”.  Elaine Plybon of The Column Awards exclaims, “It is always refreshing to see a new play, but I found this one definitely worth seeing again and again.”

Just as an elevator starts and stops on random floors, nine different stories are connected by a simple twist of fate. This nonlinear play travels backward and forward in time as each character experiences the highs and lows of relationships and chance encounters. Their universal quest for life, love and happiness results in both comedy and tragedy. As the play draws to its inevitable closing, two strangers must decide whether or not to risk taking a momentous leap of faith.

Circle Theatre’s mission is the advocacy of contemporary plays rarely seen in Dallas/Fort Worth. Hope and Gravity will run June 19th through July 19th. Visit Circle Theatre’s website for showtimes and tickets!

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Immaculate Conception of The Big Picture

The cast of HOPE & GRAVITY Skype with playwright Michael Hollinger prior to rehearsal.

I am currently in rehearsals for Hope and Gravity, a new play by Michael Hollinger which will have its second professional staging at Circle Theatre.  The production reteams me with director Dr. Harry Parker who directed me in Company two years ago.  After meeting Hollinger via Skype during our first read-through, the cast and I have dug into rehearsals which have been full of discovery and laughs.  I’m anxious to see where we go next and excited to get the play on its feet and in front of an audience.

Just as an elevator starts and stops on random floors, nine different stories are connected by a simple twist of fate.  This nonlinear play travels backward and forward in time as each character experiences the highs and lows of relationships and chance encounters.  Their universal quest for life, love and happiness results in both comedy and tragedy.  As the play draws to its inevitable closing, two strangers must decide whether or not to risk taking a momentous leap of faith.

Circle Theatre’s mission is the advocacy of contemporary plays rarely seen in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Hope and Gravity will run June 19th through July 19th.  Visit Circle Theatre’s website for showtimes and tickets!

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T.A.R.T. and The CURIOUS SAVAGE

Poster – The CURIOUS SAVAGEI’m pleased to announce I have accepted an offer to perform in Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre‘s upcoming production of The Curious Savage.  Written by John Patrick, the second production of TART’s inaugural season is slated to be directed by Allen Walker and scheduled to run May 9 – 25, 2014.  I will play the part of Hannibal.

When Ethel Savage’s husband passes away shortly after the end of World War II, leaving her the family fortune of ten million dollars, she decides to create a memorial fund in his honor – a fund to help people make their foolish dreams come true.  Her grown step-children, however, have other plans for the money and commit Mrs. Savage to a sanitarium until she gives up her crazy scheme – unaware that she has already sold control of the family industries, converted the money into negotiable bonds, and buried them.  Hilarity ensues as Mrs. Savage sends them on wild goose chases to see how far they’ll go to make fools of themselves.  Meanwhile, the gentle patients of “The Cloisters” teach Mrs. Savage that the virtues of generosity and kindness have not entirely been lost in a world that at times seems only motivated by greed and dishonesty.

Visit www.thetart.org for further information and to purchase tickets.

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Best Actor in a Play, Equity

Best Actor Column Award 2014The 15th Annual Column Awards Gala was held Monday night at the Granville Arts Center in Garland, Texas.  Brad Stephens received the trophy for Best Actor in a Play, Equity for his performance as Alan Raleigh in Circle Theatre’s 2013 production of God of Carnage.  This is Stephens’ third Column Award victory.

Hosted by Executive Director/Producer and Founder John Garcia with guest hostess and Broadway star Rachel York, the event brought together the entire DFW theater community to honor excellence and celebrate the theatrical arts.

The Column Awards honors excellence in theater throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth theater community, both in Equity and Non-Equity theater companies.  This marks their 13th year uniting and celebrating the accomplishments of all artists who bring to life the art of theater.

Nominations are made by the over 22,000 readers who subscribe to The Column.  Practically everyone and anyone who is involved in DFW theater is a subscriber as well as those who love to attend and support this beautiful art.  Thus, those nominated have been chosen not only by the very peers with whom they work but also the very audiences for whom they perform.

The Column Awards is also a major fundraiser gala for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, a charity they have supported since year one.  They have raised & donated close to $70,000.00 to BC/EFA to date. The Column Awards is the only awards organization in the entire United States that donates all money raised (after expenses) from ticket sales of the gala to BC/EFA.  The Column Awards has been very honored to have been acknowledged by the national media, BC/EFA, Actor’s Equity Association, and the Broadway community for their fundraising efforts.

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