Many Cooks, Many Laughs

Cast of TOO MANY COOKS at Circle Theatre, running October 17 – November 16, 2013.With two weekends left in its run, Circle Theatre’s hilarious production of Too Many Cooks is enjoying sold-out performances, uproarious laughter, and standing ovations.  Strong word-of-mouth and stellar reviews are driving ticket sales.  Seats for the remaining eight performances are going fast.  The show takes its final bow Saturday, November 16, 2013.

“If you could bottle this kind of comedy, I’d take a case,” raves TheatreJones critic Jan Farrington.  Mary L. Clark, Associate Critic for John Garcia’s The Column Online, recommends the farce as “a great example of its theatrical genre and a splendid way to watch eight actors finely adept at their craft.”  Clark finds favor in every cast member .  Of Brad Stephens, she writes:

“Always pulling his uniform into place, Stephens made [Constable] Effing the forthright, upstanding, tee totaling officer he is supposed to be. In a farce such as Too Many Cooks, that kind of character only leads to hilarity and Stephens brought it in style.”

For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.circletheatre.com or call the box office at 1-817-877-3040. You may also go in person to the Circle Theatre box office at 230 W. 4th Street, between Houston and Throckmorton, in downtown Fort Worth.  Tickets range from $20 – $35 depending on the day of performance. Senior, student, military, KERA, Press Pass, S.T.A.G.E. and group discounts are available.

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Voice Over Demo Online!

Brad Stephens Records VO ReelMy new voice over demo went live today at LambertStudios.net.

On Wednesday, I met with fellow actor, sound engineer and studio owner David H.M. Lambert (currently performing with me in Too Many Cooks at Circle Theatre) to record the demo and had the pleasure of receiving direction from the lovely Anne Lockhart.  Together, we cut eight spots in a couple of hours and produced a demo with which I’m quite pleased.  I cannot express enough my gratitude for their help.  In my opinion, Lambert studios is the best value in DFW for voice actors in need of a demo reel.

You can hear my sixty second reel below or head over to Lambert Studios website and hear the whole kit and caboodle!

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TRUE TALES Opens Dallas VideoFest

A wonderfully entertaining and insightful documentary in which I had the pleasure of performing will open Dallas VideoFest next week.

Just two days after Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a little-known Dallas strip club operator named Jack Ruby murders Oswald on live television.  Why did he do it?  Despite decades of theories and speculation, the question has never been satisfactorily answered.  Until now.

Shunning the press for nearly 50 years, Tammi True—a top-billed stripper in Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club—is finally ready to reveal the answers.  AMS Pictures presents True Tales, an original docudrama exploring the bizarre world of 1960s Dallas burlesque through the eyes of its preeminent entertainer.  Featuring dramatic re-creations shot on actual locations, True Tales immerses you into the events that led to one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th Century.

Slated to premier on the opening night of Dallas VideoFest 26, the film centers on Nancy Myers, aka “Tammi True,” with a preshow performance by Ruby R-E-V-U-E, Texas’ Premier Burlesque and Variety Show.  Tammi True will do a Q&A after the film.  True Tales delves into Myers’ life as a headlining act at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club in the early 1960s.  To celebrate, the Video Association of Dallas invites patrons to come dressed in their best early 1960s/“Mad Men” attire.  Dallas VideoFest’s opening night documentary feature will now screen at the South Side Music Hall Gilley’s Dallas, 1135 S Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75215.

And if you go, watch closely!  You may catch me from time to time coaxing Tammi into the burlesque business.

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TOO MANY COOKS Rehearsals Begin

TOO MANY COOKS at Circle TheatreI’m very excited to announce I have accepted a role in Circle Theatre’s upcoming production of Too Many Cooks.

Written by Douglas E. Hughes and Marsha Kash, the comedic play begins rehearsals tonight with DFW’s “Queen of Farce” Robin Armstrong directing the mayhem.  I will be playing the role of Hamilton X. Effing, a Dudley Do-Right type, Constable for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

It’s 1932 in Niagara Falls, Canada, where the rum-running business is at its peak. In the aftermath of the Crash, Irving Bubbalowe and his daughter, Honey, have risked everything they have to open a new gourmet restaurant. When their star – the renowned singing chef François LaPlouffe – fails to appear, tonight’s grand opening is suddenly placed in jeopardy. However, when unemployed chef Frank Plunkett wanders in looking for work, Honey persuades him to masquerade as the missing LaPlouffe. The beleaguered Bubbalowe, meanwhile, also has to contend with Chicago gangster Alfonse Feghetti and his sidekick who have come looking for an illegal shipment of booze that, unbeknownst to Bubbalowe, has found its way into his basement. In addition, Bubbalowe has to keep at bay the hot-blooded Immigration officer Veronica Snook, on the trail of the vanished chef, as well as a suspicious teetotalling Mountie who is ready to arrest Bubbalowe for both murder and bootlegging. Madness ensues and Bubbalowe and the others create a hornet’s nest of fabricated stories and identities as they try valiantly to save the restaurant – and themselves – from both the gangsters and the law.

Circle Theatre’s mission is the advocacy of contemporary plays rarely seen in Dallas/Fort Worth.  Too Many Cooks will run October 17th through November 16th.  Visit Circle Theatre’s website for showtimes and tickets!

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ONCE IS ENOUGH Trailer Unveiled

ONCE IS ENOUGH StillOver the past couple of months while I was sporting a beard as Baron Skanskorg in Undermain Theatre’s production of Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata, I was privileged to work with independent filmmaker Paul Csige on his new film, Once is Enough, a comedy/fantasy about finding one’s way in modern America.  The production wrapped principle photography last week and Paul wasted no time in cutting together a trailer in time for the wrap party hosted yesterday.  Here is a peak at good things to come:

The film follows John Everman, recently divorced and reluctant to start over. On a beer run, John’s car suddenly breaks down in front of a warehouse run by Bob, an out-of-work Wizard.  John sees an opportunity to get his old life back by trying out new ones.  Bob gives John new lives and he’s swept away on adventures as other people but will they give him the life he truly wants?

In addition to the trailer, an extended clip featuring snippets of all the actors involved with the production was shown as well.  I was quite delighted to find so many actors I know and with whom I have worked involved in this film.

Once is Enough is scheduled to complete post by the end of summer 2013.

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The Dirt: A Reading Of The Ghost Sonata’s Tricky Third Scene

Undermain Blog

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(Hermes ingeniui)

Scene Three of August Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata is famously difficult and has bedeviled artists and audiences since the play’s inception in 1907.  What follows is a little probing on my part into the role dirt plays in this final scene, which may help to illuminate some of its meanings.

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STUDENT: What more?
YOUNG LADY: To sweep up after her, dust after her, light the stove because she only puts in the wood!  To open the damper, dry the glasses, reset the table, fetch the bottles, open the windows and air out the room, remake my bed, scour the water carafe when it’s green with algae, buy matches and soap which we’re always out of, clean the lamps and trim the wicks so they won’t smoke and fill them when we have guests so they won’t go out…

STUDENT: Sing!

YOUNG LADY: Wait! – First the…

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Architecture and Theater Set Design

re-blogged from Stephen B. Chambers Architects, Inc.

Ghost Sonata takes place in a mystical dream world through which mortals wander before reaching the kingdom of death in afterlife (Scenic Painter: Linda Noland)

The GHOST SONATA takes place in a mystical dream world through which mortals wander before reaching the kingdom of death in afterlife.
(Scenic Painter: Linda Noland)

As a boy, I was thrilled with an invitation to ride with my friend, Jimmy Wolf, to the Texas State Fair on Elementary School Fair Day. His father had a workshop/studio on the fairgrounds in what later became the Women’s Museum. Jimmy and I could just ride through the gates of the fair with his dad, no tickets necessary. Little did I know that when the day was over, I would be more fascinated with the studio and shop of Peter Wolf, the renowned theater set designer, than the fair itself. The old painted sets from South Pacific, Oklahoma, and others were stored in his immense workspace. His craftsmen were busy preparing sets for productions that I could only imagine.

Revelations of the characters' past lives form the action of the play and themes relate mainly to secrets, illusions, disappointments and tragedies of life.

Revelations of the characters’ past lives form the action of the play and themes relate mainly to secrets, illusions, disappointments and tragedies of life.

Like other Dallasites, my first introduction to theater was through the Dallas Summer Musicals. Up close, these sets looked like cartoons. It was hard for me to understand how billboard-sized illustrations could appear to be so realistic during the musicals. What magic transformed the two-dimensional flats into a South Pacific island in WWII, another place and time? This experience may not have had an influence on my career in architecture. But, I certainly see the connection today between my architectural practice and the design of theater sets.

I was reminded of this youthful amazement when I saw the sets for The Ghost Sonata, an upcoming play by August Strindberg at the Undermain Theatre. Stephen B. Chambers Architects, Inc. is a sponsor of the Theatre and our Marketing Director, Stephanie Chambers, is on the Board of the Undermain. We read in the newsletter that Strindberg’s Chamber Play will have phenomenal set design. I was curious to walk through the set and see what it might be like. I grabbed my camera and headed downtown to the theatre’s home under Main St. in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas.

Paintings on the floor assist the audience in the suspension of reality, catapulting them into the dream-logic of the play.

Paintings on the floor assist the audience in the suspension of reality, catapulting them into the dream-logic of the play.

Artistic Director Katherine Owen graciously greeted and led me on an impromptu tour of the set. The architecture of the scenery for The Ghost Sonata drew me in immediately and opened the door into Strindberg’s world, a surrealistic setting far removed from downtown Dallas. This creative theater company makes their basement locale of structural columns and low ceilings suddenly disappear in innovative tales through the immensely talented assemblage of set, lighting, costume designers, directors, and actors and top-notch construction team.

The themes in Ghost Sonata relate mainly to secrets, illusions, disappointments and tragedies of lifePaintings on the floor assist the audience in the suspension of reality, catapulting them into the dream-logic of the playI know little of the art, science or history of stage set and lighting design, but deeply feel its relationship to architecture. In many ways, the theatrical scene designer is much like a conventional architect. The designer must make real what only exists in his/her imagination and provide the vision in a graphic form for use in building the sets. Both architects and set designers use a flat page of two-dimensional construction drawings to communicate what the three-dimensional structures will be. Set design has a similar ability to elicit specific emotions and create mood with the use of perspective, space, scale, light, color, detail and proportion. It helps to define the characters and propel the ideas of the playwright. There is a language in theater scenic art that signals sophisticated clues to the viewer. Through its subtext it telegraphs context, location, relationships, time, mood and space.

The GHOST SONATA Set DetailDifferent from architecture, scenic designers must knowingly create environments that have a brief lifespan, are moveable, do not require the same rigor in construction, and are generally viewed from only one direction. Theater sets do not need to have complete integrity in the structures that they are meant to depict. Stage design and lighting create the illusion of three-dimensionality and can manipulate time and place. Audiences will not walk around and through rooms to experience the massing, proportion, mood and emotions its spaces create. The set designers develop a world for the play, which becomes a real construction project, ultimately introducing their imagined world to the audience. The skill of the lighting designers, directors, actors, and costumers complete the transformation.

The GHOST SONATA SetThough written in 1907, Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata is highly unusual modern theater in many regards. The relatively swift three-scene structure is based on sonata form, rather than traditional theater construction. It creates an atmosphere by repeating various themes, rather than developing a story through conventional portrayals of character and a linear plot. The Undermain’s interpretation and production of this play will, no doubt, thrill serious Dallas theater followers. But, the sets and lighting for this production, for me, stand alone as compelling art.

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Undermain Blog

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Paul Walsh is Professor Of Dramaturgy And Dramatic Criticism at Yale School Of Drama.  He is also author of a new translation of August Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata, which Undermain will be performing from April 13 to May 11.  Several weeks ago, he was kind enough to answer some of my questions about translating this notoriously rich and difficult modern masterpiece.  What follows is the full text of our interview — previously available in truncated form in the Undermain Newsletter.

Stephen Foglia: Just to orient ourselves, how did you come to translate Ghost Sonata? And what prepared you for the task?

Paul Walsh: Many years ago, when studying for my master’s degree at the University of Minnesota, I became fascinated with Strindberg. He is after all a fascinating character. And with the help of a professor in the Scandinavian department there (the great Strindberg scholar Göran Stockenström)…

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Here’s a great read about my upcoming project, The Ghost Sonata at Undermain Theatre running April 13 – May 11, 2013.

Undermain Blog

Ghost Sonata Promo_20130314_0121 TOUCHED UP

Following up last week’s post on given circumstances as an element of play analysis, I’d like to turn my attention to the play Undermain is currently rehearsing – August Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata.

Ghost Sonata is a highly unusual play in many regards.  The relatively swift three-scene structure is based on sonata form rather than traditional theatrical acts.  Identifying a clear protagonist is tricky: the character driving the action only appears in two of the three scenes, and the hero (/audience surrogate) is hardly present for more.  The dream-logic of the play makes the very rules of the world difficult to pin down.  When it comes to given circumstances, Ghost Sonata also explores an extreme end of the spectrum.

As I mentioned previously, some plays offer very little concrete information regarding given circumstances.  Beckett and Pinter, for example, tend to be elusive.  Most plays dole out a small amount of…

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Delicious CARNAGE

Mark Fickert (Michael), Lisa Fairchild (Veronica), Leah Layman (Annette), and Brad Stephens (Alan) in GOD OF CARNAGE

God of Carnage enters the fourth weekend of its very successful run at Circle Theatre in downtown Fort Worth this evening.  Garnering standing ovations from sold-out crowds, the production runs two more weekends, closing February 23rd.  Directed by Robin Armstrong, the critical praise for this show is almost as sweet as the cupcakes inspired by it.

A playground altercation between eleven-year-old boys brings together two sets of Brooklyn parents for a meeting to resolve the matter. At first, diplomatic niceties are observed, but as the meeting progresses, and the rum flows, tensions emerge and the gloves come off, leaving the couples with more than just their liberal principles in tatters.

Punch Shaw of DFW.com proclaims, “This production has absolutely everything going for it: fine script, great acting and outstanding direction.”  While some critics are divided on their appreciation for the Tony and Laurence Olivier award-winning script by Yasmina Reza, all have found favor with the cast.  “The play takes place in a singular, nonstop scene of constantly shifting action. And to that end, this cast acquits themselves impressively,” writes Kris Noteboom of Theater Jones.  Jimmy Fowler of Fort Worth Weekly lauds the play as “exceedingly well cast”.  And Kristy Blackmon of John Garcia’s The Column exclaims, “Armstrong and her cast do a respectable job with the material.”  Blackmon also states:

“In particular, [Brad] Stephens as Alan gives a commendable performance. It isn’t easy to make an audience both like and detest a character at the same time, but Stephens pulls it off. Though he is easily the most obnoxious character in the play, he is also the most honest. And [Leah] Layman’s sense of comedic timing is to be admired. More physical comedy is required of Annette than any other character, and she holds nothing back. Her final tantrum was perfectly over the top and had the audience roaring.”

The play was a success in its original language, French, and its Christopher Hampton English-translated productions have been equally praised in in both London and New York. The London production was widely acclaimed, receiving the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Play of the year. The Broadway production closed on June 6, 2010 playing 24 previews and 452 regular performances. It is the third-longest running play of the 2000s and won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Play.

GOD OF CARNAGE CupcakesLocated in historic Sundance Square, Circle Theatre’s production has inspired a gourmet creation by neighboring business The Original Cupcakery.  The bakery’s God of Carnage cupcakes feature vanilla pound cake topped with spiced apple & pear compote with a ring of ginger buttercream.  The delicious concoction has been selling very well and will continue to be offered throughout the rest of the production’s run.

God of Carnage runs through February 23rd, 2013. Circle Theatre produces contemporary plays rarely seen in the DFW community and is committed to presenting professional, innovative theatre in an intimate setting.  For reservations and tickets, call the box office at 817-877-3040 or visit the Circle Theatre website.

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