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JULY 12 – AUGUST 19, 2017 SHOW TIMES
Previews: July 12 & 13 at 7:30 PM Wed/Thu: 7:30 PM
Opening Night: July 14 at 8:00 PM Fri/Sat: 8:00 PM
Pay What You Can: July 19 at 7:30 PM Sat Mat: 2:00 PM
Length: 2 hours, including one 15 minute intermission
Age Rec: 12+, children under 5 are never admitted
The first show you were in was… Mayor of the Munchkin City in The Wizard of Oz in 6th Grade. I stayed after school with the intent of hanging out with a friend and painting sets, but we were told we all had to audition. So I got up and did a rendition of “Happy Birthday” thinking, “Cool, maybe I’ll get to be a flying monkey!” Later, waiting for my mom to pick me up, my friend and I were goofing around and I was playing with my voice, tightening my larynx to make munchkin type voices and the director comes over to me and says, “My gosh, how do you do that?” I shrugged and replied, “I just always could.” Next thing I know, I’m cast as the Munchkin Mayor and so my career began.
Favorite rehearsal snack? Sargento Protein Packs. Bought in bulk at Costco – little packs filled with cheese, nuts and dried cranberries.
Favorite role? Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.
Favorite thing about Seattle? My family is here, even though I didn’t grow up here. The closely knit community of performers. The ability to go in any direction and find a different climate.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for a role? Some may call it crazy. The purchase of my toupee was probably one of the greatest and craziest investments I have ever made.
What excited you most about this production? The opportunity to originate the role of Wentworth in a full production and really sink my teeth into something so deep and complex. Cayman Ilika is also one of my dearest friends and we’ve played opposite each other many times, so the joy of working with her again is such a treat.
Before taking on the role of the dashing Captain Wentworth, how familiar were you with the work of Jane Austen? Sadly, only passing familiarity. If you’ve never heard of titles like Pride and Prejudice and at least been familiar with the plot and period, that’s just silly. I gave myself a heck of crash course in prepping for the auditions and I’ve read Persuasion cover to cover several times since.
Having been involved with some of the revision process, did you have any influence on changes to the script or your character? I’m not sure if I’ve had any direct influence on the revisions. During the course of our table reads leading up to rehearsals, I’ve seen a marked increase in Wentworth’s character arch, musical numbers and overall presence. I’d like to think its because I’ve been doing well with the character so Harold and Chris keep giving me more to do.
If Captain Wentworth has a contemporary hero, who would it be? I keep trying to think of a superhero or a political figure who embodies Wentworth’s complexity and choices, but my mind keeps drifting to my Dad. He wears his heart on his sleeve, loves unconditionally, detests injustice, sees the good in everything and knows when to walk away from frustration and stay close to the things you desire.
Why did you decide to become an actor? Back in High School, I felt like I had finally found something I was good at! At first acting was just something I enjoyed doing and I found a group of people I enjoyed being with. When I finally discovered that it wasn’t just fun, that I was passionate about it, I wanted to do more, learn more, be more. And also opportunities started coming from it, I made a conscious decision “this is what I wanted to do with my life.” I haven’t looked back.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Move on like it never happened and be pleasantly surprised when it does.
What inspires you? My wife never ceases to amaze me. And cartoons. I love cartoons.
Anything else you’d like to say? I am grateful for what I’ve been given; for the people I know and have the opportunity, all the time, to work with; for our Seattle community of artists and artist SUPPORTERS. Never let someone tell you you can’t do something or let them put you in a box with a label. We all have something we’re good at, but that doesn’t mean that’s all you can do.
How long have you been dancing? I have been dancing since I was 6 years old, so a very, very long time…
Favorite dance step? This is an almost impossible question to answer! I suppose the “pony”, because it reminds me of A Charlie Brown Christmas when all of the kids bust into a dance party in the middle of rehearsal. We all need more spontaneous dance parties in life, right?
Favorite thing about Seattle? The green! After years of living in LA and NYC, I love coming home to all of the trees and fresh air. Mother Nature practically begs Seattle-ites to play outside (especially during the summer), and who am I to decline?
How did you get started in choreography? I attended Chapman University as a Dance major where I was required to take two courses in choreography to complete my degree. In class we explored movement invention, improvisation and choreographic form and storytelling. My training in college was incredible, though at the time I found choreography so overwhelming that I would find myself in tears of frustration at the end of almost every class. If I were to tell my college self that one day choreography would become my career path, I would have thought I was crazy!
Having been involved in some of the revision process, did you have any influence on changes made to the script or music? In what ways has choreography helped shape this adaptation? Choreography is used to heighten the emotion and draw attention to the subtext of the scene. In this production, it serves to both physically represent the deep connection between Anne and Captain Wentworth as well as represent the ridiculous constraints of the society in which Anne finds herself. Through staging, we get a deeper sense of the Regency Era society and connections between the characters. The choreography serves to show that which cannot be said.
As the first choreographer to stage Persuasion, Chris Jeffries, the composer, often looked to me for suggestions on how to build the appropriate dance sequence in the music. He took into account the staging I had planned and the length of music required and created entire dance sequences based on what I saw were the needs of this production. Needless to say, this collaboration has been such a gift and I feel like a very spoiled choreographer!
Etiquette played a huge role in how people of the Regency Era interacted, what were some general rules? An elegant deportment was crucial to any man or lady during this era. A person’s deportment was often an indication of his or her social class. Women were to avoid slouching and avoid any major waving of the hands and head, outbursts of laughter and major displays of emotion were strongly discouraged in public. Men were to maintain excellent posture and stand with feet turned out at the foot. A man was introduced to a woman, but never the other way around. Touch was kept to an extreme minimum between the sexes, a man could escort a lady by taking her hand in his arm. Grand balls provided men and women an opportunity to touch and talk in a way not permissible in any other setting, therefore dancing represented the height of propriety and passion.
What excites you most about this production? I am thrilled to be a part of the very first time this production will ever be staged! What freedom to explore the incredible possibilities of this beautiful piece! To be working on a world premiere musical is a dream come true! I am so grateful for this incredible cast, creative team and beautifully written script and score. Thank you Harold and Chris for trusting your work with us!
If you would like to purchase an advance copy, be informed of its release or attend the CD release party, email email@example.com.
Visit persuasionmusical.com for more information.
Cayman Ilika, Nick DeSantis & Matthew Posner in Persuasion at Taproot Theatre. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.
Jane Austen. Courtesy of the Jane Austen Society of North America. jasna.org
Jane Austen was born December 16, 1775 at Steventon Rectory in Hampshire, in the South of England, the seventh of eight children born to clergyman George Austen and his wife Cassandra. In her lifetime she completed six novels: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion.
Austen’s novels give us a glimpse of the lush and elegant lifestyles of the aristocracy during the Regency Period (1811 – 1820) in England. A distinct era within the Georgian Period (1713 – 1830) of British history, the Regency Period is defined by the creation of George, Prince of Wales, as Prince Regent in 1811, during the long illness and convalescence of King George III. George, Prince Regent would later ascend to the throne, upon the death of his father in 1820. As King George IV, he would continue to rule Britain until his own death in 1837.
George III’s long reign had been marred by frequent bouts of mental illness as well as many physical ailments, which warranted the change in governance. At the time of his death, he was England’s longest serving monarch; his 59 and half year reign has only been bested by Queen Victoria (nearly 64 years, 1837 – 1901) and Queen Elizabeth II (65 years and counting, 1952 – present).
George, Prince Regent, ruled Britain in place of his father, King George III, from 1811-1820, before becoming King George IV upon his father’s death.
During the Regency Period, England was entangled in the Napoleonic Wars and experiencing major domestic changes due to the Industrial Revolution. Despite the turbulent times, the selfish and flamboyant, George, Prince Regent showed little true interest in the affairs of state, deferring many responsibilities to his ministers and to Parliament. Instead, the Prince Regent, a man of fine tastes, lavished attention on the arts, creating a mini-renaissance period in British art, fashion and architecture that is quite distinct from the early Georgian periods. It was a period in which the upper classes of English society flourished, regaled with elegant parties, sophisticated dress and high manners.
Austen had begun writing in her youth, completing her first novella, Lady Susan, at age 19. Though she was able to sell the story to a publisher in 1803, it was never published during her lifetime. She repurchased the manuscript from the publisher the year before she died but it was not published until well after her death.
Her first novel to be published was Sense and Sensibility, in 1811. It was not credited to Austen by name, instead authorship for the book was credited as “By a Lady.” Pride and Prejudice, her second publication, was credited as “By the author of Sense and Sensibility.” It wasn’t until after her death, when Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published together, posthumously, that Austen was finally given credit for her work, in a biographical note written by her brother Henry.
Jane Austen died July 17, 1817, aged 41, from a disease that was unknown at the time and today is believed to have been Addison’s disease. She was buried at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire; her gravestone does not mention that she was a writer. Today she is recognized as one the most beloved authors of her time.
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