Friday, April 4, 2014

An interview with Rick Pendzich!

Rick Pendzich returns to the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre stage in LEND ME A TENOR. His past MCT appearances include JEEVES INTERVENES, THE FOURTH WALL, BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS and HAY FEVER.

Tell us a bit about your character, Max:

To use Mr. Saunders' words, Max is the "factotum, gopher, and all-purpose dogsbody" for the Cleveland Grand Opera Company.  Basically, it's his job to do whatever Mr. Saunders tells him to do.  Max is quite suited for this job, because he's kind of a doormat.  Even though he has dreams of singing professionally and marrying his girlfriend, he doesn't have the confidence to make things happen for himself.

What are some of the benefits and challenges of performing in a farce/comedy?

The great part about this play is that it's so well-written.  Ken Ludwig writes in a way that not only gives you great dialogue and jokes, but almost gives you a built in rhythm that makes it all land.  This is also what makes it difficult; it's all so rhythmic.  If you space out for a second and drop the ball, you have to build the rhythm back up.

Anything fun you’d like to share with readers about LEND ME A TENOR, rehearsals, etc?

Everyone is hilarious, but I must say that I've probably laughed the most in my scenes with Drew Brhel.  We have similar senses of humor, so we crack each other up a lot.  When we can keep it together, though, it's a great thing.  Sometimes, I feel like we're two volleyball players setting the ball for one another, so the other one can spike it.  I must also say, singing the duet with Steve Koehler has been a joy.  It's such a sweet, pure moment in the show.

What are some of your favorite moments in theatre that made you who you are today?

I really learn something new from each show.  Sometimes it's about the craft; sometimes it's about life.  The cool thing about being an actor is that I get to go through a bunch of different situations (most of which, I would never have the chance to in real life) and take away a lesson.  From comedies to dramas, children's theatre to Shakespeare: they all leave you with something new.  The bonus is that I get to share that with a room full of people and other actors.

What do you like about being a theatre artist in Milwaukee?

I really feel that Milwaukee theatre is a community.  We see each other around all the time, and we all support each other.  Milwaukee audiences are part of it too.  We're all proud of our city's art scene and the local artists that contribute to it.  I love when people come from out-of-town and say, "I had no idea Milwaukee had so much going on."  It's such a blessing to be a part of that.

Thanks Rick! We can wait to see you and the rest of the cast April 10-27.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

An interview with MU student Hannah Klapperich-Mueller

Hannah Klapperich-Mueller
A junior at Marquette University, Milwaukee native Hannah Klapperich-Mueller is making her Milwaukee Chamber Theatre debut. MCT and MU are collaborating on this production of LEND ME A TENOR and Hannah is one of two Marquette students in the cast.

Tell us a bit about your character, Maggie:

Maggie is a young woman with a very vivid imagination and has spent her life in the upper crust of Cleveland's social circle. She's been more sheltered than she would have liked and wants to experience something rather more exciting. Cue global celebrity Tito Merelli, and her search for romance goes a little haywire.

LEND ME A TENOR is a collaboration with Marquette University and you are one of several current students and alumni involved with the show. Any thoughts you’d like to share about your experience as a MU student here at MCT?

Primarily, I just spend every day feeling really excited and lucky to be here. One of the first things I learned in any of my acting classes at Marquette was that watching your fellow actors in rehearsal is the best way to learn, and every moment of this rehearsal process has been a great opportunity to observe and learn from the other people who I'm onstage with. I feel really grateful to have this opportunity to work with so many actors I really admire, and to spend 6 days a week laughing with them.

What are some of the benefits and challenges of performing in a farce/comedy?

The greatest thing about this particular farce is that it has a very specific rhythm that sets up the humor for you. And the show is so funny that it makes every rehearsal zoom by. The biggest challenge is actually keeping a straight face whenever someone adds some brilliant new, humorous wrinkle.

Anything fun you’d like to share with readers about LEND ME A TENOR, rehearsals, etc.
One of my favorite parts of the rehearsals is something that will be lost when we're actually on the set-- to compensate for not having the doors, which are staples for the comedy, we've all been saying "Open" or "Close" or "Slam!" when necessary. Everyone has come up with a way to say these in character, and they've become some of the funniest lines.

What are some of your favorite moments in theatre that made you who you are today? ​

One of the clearest moments I had watching a show and actively thinking "This is going to change my life" was during my senior year of high school when I was on a class trip to the Broadway Theatre Center to see Jim DeVita's one man show IN ACTING SHAKESPEARE (at Renaissance Theaterworks). This was a time when I was really nervous about the prospect of college and studying theatre and the fear that I would fail. But I remember sitting in the Studio Theatre and starting to feel that those worries weren't as important as doing work that I really loved. I still have my program, and sometimes it serves as a good reminder of those same lessons.

We'll see Hannah and her fellow LEND ME A TENOR cast members, April 10-27 in the Cabot Theatre.

Insights from Linda Loving

Linda Loving
Linda Loving makes her MCT debut in LEND ME A TENOR. She recently returned to both her hometown of Milwaukee and her acting career! Here are a few more insights from Linda...

Tell us a bit about your character, Julia:

Julia Leverett, Chairman of the Cleveland Opera Guild, is an absolutely delicious character! She floats and fawns and fearlessly charges in and out of peoples' lives. She is used to "getting her way," whether through feminine wiles (even at sixty!) or blatant threats. Just when you think she has the personal power and style to run an entire industry...her flakiness and gullibility emerge. Over-the-top charming and exasperating, yet you can't help but love her. I do.

What are some of the benefits and challenges of performing in a farce/comedy?

Performing farce is such a beautiful challenge. Even the slamming doors become characters to reckon with! An actor has permission to "overdo" a tad in farce which is always fun. And OH - the timing! Challenges of electric, perfect timing - your mind can't wander for an instant! And I think actors have to trust each other and rely on one another in a very particular way in farce. This makes for a unique cast connection. In early rehearsals we could hardly get through the script, we were all laughing so hard at one another. Pure joy! 

What are some of your favorite moments in theatre that made you who you are today?

My favorite theatre moment was early in my career when I played Stella in "Streetcar." It was opening night and my parents were in the front row. When I came sliding down a winding staircase in blue light and a black slip (responding to Stanley's "STELLA!!!), I actually heard my mother gasp. She came to my dressing room afterwards saying "when I loaned you that black slip I assumed you were going to wear something OVER it!". Ah the surprise of theatre, of becoming someone else. I have been trying to "take people aback" ever since!

What do you like about being a theatre artist in Milwaukee?

Two years ago when I decided to return to my acting career, I was ready to move anywhere in the country. I considered several cities, but honestly Milwaukee won hands down. What a well kept secret Milwaukee is! I love all the various theatre groups and the generous spirit of the arts community here. Plus, I have ALWAYS loved the Milwaukee Brewers!!! Great to be "home"!

Thanks Linda! We can't wait to see you in TENOR, April 10-27.