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Entries in Actor (138)

Friday
Sep232016

Call Answered: Conference Call: John Ahlin and Christopher Patrick Mullen: ChipandGus at The Fringe Encore Series at SoHo Playhouse

Christopher Patrick Mullen and John Ahlin, Photo Credit: William SelbyI love ping pong. I grew up playing ping pong with my family. What fun times we had playing against each other. I've never forgotten those nights! As an adult, my ping pong days are still with me, whether playing with friends or family. 

When I found out there was a play that took place over a game of ping pong, I grabbed my racquet and joined in. It was me against John Ahlin and Christopher Patrick Mullen, the playwrights/actors who wrote/star in the hit FringeNYC show ChipandGus, oddball acquaintances meet once a month to play ping pong. But on this funny, sad, and surprising night, something will change their relationship forever. A fast, furious, smart comedy with balls, now coming back in The Fringe Encore Series (both NYC & Edinburgh).

It was a constant back and forth, but in the end I triumphed with this ball-busting, insightful interview about this funny & heartfelt show! With just 4 performances left, ChipandGus plays in The Fringe Encore Series (both NYC & Endinburgh) at The SoHo Playhouse Friday, 9/23 at 9pm, Sunday, 9/25 at 5pm, Thursday, 9/29 at 7pm, and Saturday 10/1 at 7pm. Click here for tickets!

1. After a nearly sold-out run this past summer in the NYC Fringe Festival, this September/October, your show ChipandGus is making a return in The Fringe Encore series at the SoHo Playhouse. What excites you about this return engagement? 

John Ahlin: There are myriad excitements. The play is so fun to do, and the audience reaction is so rich and immediate that it is a basic joy to just get to do it again. It is exciting to get to have even more people see it; some who were away, some who couldn’t get tickets during our sold-out Fringe performances and people who have heard the positive buzz about the show.  

Christopher Patrick Mullen: With over 200 shows in the NY Fringe, it's easy to feel insignificant, but to be among 14 shows singled out from the throng is exciting indeed!

2. What did you learn from this summer's run that will inform this return engagement?

John Ahlin: As writers, directors and performers of the piece we get a ton of information from the audience reactions. So much so, it is hard to process it all, but Chris and I will sit down and pore over the script, reliving each moment and when needed, tweak or improve. The most important thing I think we learned from the audiences is where the flows of energy are in the play, where we must keep up action and where we want the good silences, where people are rapt.

Christopher Patrick Mullen: I learned: if you can get through an opening performance of a physical, 90 minute play on the hottest night of the summer (97 degrees) with the AC out (easily 100 degree plus - under the close stage lighting) with signs of heat exhaustion in what becomes navy seal training as much as a play -- and the audience sticks it out, hanging on every word -- you're doing something right. Whew.

Christopher Patrick Mullen and John Ahlin in "ChipandGus"3. ChipandGus is about oddball acquaintances who meet once a month to play ping pong. But on this funny, sad, and surprising night, something will change their relationship forever. What made you want to structure this show over a game of ping pong?  

Christopher Patrick Mullen: That's a question for John. It was his idea. For some reason he singled me out as the right person to help him make the idea into a play. :)

John Ahlin: I thought up the idea of having ping pong part of a play one day when I was just horsing around in a rec room during a Shakespeare festival, and I hit an amazing shot, just like I did when I was young and really good at ping pong. I turned and showboated to an imaginary crowd, but a genuine thought struck me; "It feels very theatrical to stand at the end of a ping pong table, would ping pong work on stage?" Well the idea grew and grew in my mind until I finally started to make it happen. But the thing was I never knew if ping pong would work on stage, or would it be too distracting, until we got something up in front of an audience. It turned out that the ping pong actually drew people in, made them focus and listen, and the results were far more fantastic than I could have imagined. And what started out as the idea of doing ping pong onstage turned into a play, a moving, hilarious play about two guys.

Christopher Patrick Mullen and John Ahlin in "ChipandGus", Photo Credit: William Selby4. In ChipandGus, buried secrets are revealed throughout the show. What is one buried secret each of you are harboring that you would like to reveal now?

John Ahlin: I’m sure I have many secrets, but actually, this play has helped me with a truly buried secret I’ve harbored all these years. There is one thing in the play that is for me completely autobiographical. I may be skirting this question by only revealing that one of the secrets in the play is true without revealing what the secret is, but it is a way for me, as a human, to go back in time and relive something, and somehow try to make sense of it after all this time. It was something that goes beyond a play; one of those fundamental life things that people have to deal with. And that, to me, is what art is; abstracting out pieces of life so they can be examined on their own. So one of my deepest buried secrets is right there, on full display, in ChipandGus.

Christopher Patrick Mullen: I wouldn't say mine is a "buried" secret, but it's one I've never told John: Gus, as played by John, has always reminded me very much of my best friend (school mate) Gerald.

5. ChipandGus also learn that their lives are more entwined than they ever imagined. How are your lives more entwined than you both initially thought when you met?

Christopher Patrick Mullen: When we started work on this creation we were little more than acquainted. I've described ChipandGus as a story about two guys who are best friends but they don't know it yet. Has life imitated art here? Ask my friend John.

John Ahlin: Well, being co-writer and co-performer shoves you into intimate proximity for long stretches of time. And our process includes knowledge of each other’s sleep schedules, knowing when to call each other, accounting for dentist appointments and trying to figure out rehearsal time when we are often in different cities working as actors. It’s something you don’t think about when beginning a project, but there is a certain kind of "couple-hood" to close collaboration.

Christopher Patrick Mullen in "ChipandGus", Photo Credit: William Selby6. Since the night is funny, sad, and surprising, can you describe a night that was funny, sad, and surprising? (3 separate nights should be described).

Christopher Patrick Mullen: 

Funny: John shows me a title page with the two of us listed as authors (before we'd gotten past a page or two of actual dialogue).

Sad: Too many nights to mention, some regrets but all fuel for good comedy.

Surprising: The first night volleying with dialogue in front of a riveted audience: "IT COULD WORK!"

John Ahlin: Well, since I equivocated on question 4 I will answer this question to the letter: 3 Nights, one funny, one sad and one surprising.

Funny: One night as a kid my best friend and I played a hundred games of ping pong in a row, and we got so giddy in our hot basement that when he stood on a stool to open the high, small basement window, you know the kind in a well below the level of the lawn, he screamed in terror and fell backwards off the stool onto the table collapsing it. I rushed to his aid only to find him laughing uncontrollably. When he finally composed himself he told me that as he went to the window to open it, he saw someone outside coming to grab him. Only after he fell on the table did he realize it was his own reflection. That got me laughing and we didn’t stop laughing for 20 minutes.

Sad: Late one night I was driving home from work in a resort in the mountains when I passed by an accident scene; a motorcycle had crashed into a wall. I saw the crumpled remains of the motorcycle and it was the bike a good friend of mine owned. I pulled over and asked a trooper about it and he said the victim had been taken to the hospital but it didn’t look too good. I spent the whole night sure my dear friend was dead but it turned out it was not his bike, he was perfectly fine, but a night of grieving, even if it is false, surely changes your outlook on life.

Surprising: The first time I stayed up all night was on an Island in Lake Winnipesaukee during a rowboat camping trip at summer camp. I was surprised at how the dynamics of a night worked, the subtle changes of wind and weather, the magnificence of the Milky Way, the different kinds of darkness, and the gradual coming of the most welcome dawn. It surprised me that night can be as amazing as day.

John Ahlin in "ChipandGus", Photo Credit: William Selby7. With the show being set against a game of ping pong in which a ball gets hit with paddles back and forth over a net until one person scores a point. What is an event in your life that went back and forth, like a ping pong ball, but eventually moved forward after a point was either lost or achieved? 

John Ahlin: A career in the theatre is a lot like ping pong…you keep trying to score but it just keeps getting hit back at you. Every now and then you’ll get a good shot through, but just as often you lose a point. But the thing to keep in mind is you learn more about yourself from the points scored on you. Getting ChipandGus up and running has been a long back and forth, but at last we are scoring some points.

Christopher Patrick Mullen: Ping pong is actually a perfect metaphor, not only for the ChipandGus relationship, but also for the collaborative writing process. Yes, perfect.

8. How did you two come to work together? What is the best part about working together and what is the most challenging part? 

John Ahlin: I had heard of Chris and his acting skill from working at several theaters he also worked at, and once we were working at the same Shakespeare festival but in different plays, but I overheard him in the dressing room talking about ping pong and I invited myself into the conversation and we decided to hit the ball. Once I realized he had both the acting chops and ping pong "chops" I broached the idea of the ping pong play. And the whole project took off. It has been pure pleasure working with him, and the best part is the joy of true collaboration. We discuss and try out and change. It is creative bliss. The biggest challenge is that the play takes on a life of its own, and it will become a partner of its own creation. We’ll often have amazing ideas but the play will tell us that those particular ideas don’t quite fit in this play. The play is the thing, the final arbiter of all creative choices.

Christopher Patrick Mullen: The best part about us working together is that most, if not all, of the aforesaid ping pong (writing) ends in agreement. We're incredibly well matched. John chose his creative partner (me) to foster his preposterous idea. He seemed to think I was his guy. Instinct, I guess. I went along because I admired his work onstage...and table tennis was an old flame of mine.

Christopher Patrick Mullen and John Ahlin in "ChipandGus", Photo Credit: William Selby9. With so many shows to choose from in The Fringe Encore series, why should people come see ChipandGus?

Christopher Patrick Mullen: No one has ever attempted anything quite like this before; it is without precedent. It is nerve-racking, fun drama.

John Ahlin: A short answer is the show will surprise you in hilarious and profound ways. You will take your seat having absolutely no idea what to expect. What I noticed during the whole fantastic FringeNYC experience, when you are one of 200 shows, and also with the Encore Series when you are one of 21 shows which are also the Best of both the New York Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, there is a tendency on everyone’s part to classify and label what kind of show each is; what genre it is; what category it fits into. We like to label ChipandGus in the broadest possible way: A play, a surprising play or simply; two actors, one ping pong table, and the most revealing night of two men’s lives. Labels are limits. We like to think this play will appeal to everyone for countless reasons. 

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day?

John Ahlin: I would love to improve my use of time by 1% each day. The great Moss Hart once said the only real enemies in theatre are "time and energy." To use time ever so slightly more efficiently each day (One Percent Better) would slowly open up doors you never knew existed. And ironically, one of my first thoughts when this play started to come to life, was "It would be good for me, fitness wise, to play ping pong as much as possible."

Christopher Patrick Mullen: I want to become one percent less nocturnal every day. It's a problem.

More on John and Christopher:

John AhlinJohn Ahlin:

John Ahlin acting credits on Broadway include; Waiting for Godot, Journey’s End (2007 Tony Award Best Revival), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo’ Time, Whoopee! and Macbeth. Off-Broadway John portrayed "Orson Welles" in Orson’s Shadow at The Barrow Street Theatre. Regional credits: The Shakespeare Theatre in DC, The Guthrie, The Kennedy Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Center Stage, St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Old Globe Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Studio Arena, McCarter Theatre, Syracuse Stage, George Street Playhouse, and Goodspeed. TV credits include Law and Order: SVU, Late Night with David Letterman, Third Watch, The Education of Max Bickford, and the Coen Brothers’ movie Inside Llewyn Davis. As a playwright, John has had his award-winning play Gray Area, receive highly acclaimed productions in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Off-Broadway. And 3 new plays are in the docket: My Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories, Howe and Hummel, and Mama Sapiens, about the mother of us all. www.JohnAhlin.com

Christopher Patrick MullenChristopher Patrick Mullen:

Christopher Patrick Mullen is a graduate of DeSales University and a member of the company of resident artists comprising People’s Light. Credits include: West Side Story (1st National Tour); The Runner Stumbles (Off-Broadway revival); The Whaleship Essex (Vineyard Playhouse); When You Comin Back, Red Ryder? (Retro Productions); Metamorphoses, A Little Night Music, Candide, Assassins, Macbeth, and The Stinky Cheeseman (Arden Theatre Co); 26 productions with The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival including Pericles, Henry VIII, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, Charley’s Aunt, Hamlet, The Glass Menagerie, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and Macbeth; Amadeus (Hedgerow Theatre); The Pavilion (Chester Theatre Co); The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre). His ongoing relationship with People’s Light began in 1989. People’s Light credits include: The Winter’s Tale, Mr Hart & Mr Brown, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Gossamer, King Lear, Twelfth Night, Splittin the Raft, The Crucible, The Miser, Sleeping Beauty, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, and Wind In The Willows. Guest appearances on Law and Order

Wednesday
Sep212016

Call Answered: James Aronson: Eleganté...A Mostly True Story at TADA! Youth Theater

James AronsonI really enjoy a good love story! And when that story is based on truth, it's even more enjoyable for me to watch, which is why, when playwright James Aronson was presented to me as an interview, I boiled my pasta and ate my knish while talking to James about his semi-autobiographical show, Eleganté...A Mostly True Story about an Italian Catholic guy from Brooklyn who met a Long Island Jewish Princess & what happened when they fell in love. To hear about the events that inspired this show were terrific as well learning James' secret to his successful marriage which includes some rocky times!

Eleganté...A Mostly True Story will play at TADA! Youth Theater in NYC (15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor) through September 25! Click here for tickets!

1. This September you are premiering your first full-length play Eleganté...A Mostly True Story at TADA! What made now the right time to premiere this show? It wasn't so much of September 2016 being the appropriate time to premiere the show, it was that I had exhausted all other avenues of getting the show produced. In other words, I submitted it to playhouses and producers and so on and wasn't able to get anyone to help me out with producing the show. So, after a fundraising campaign and a fundraising dinner, I finally had the funds and focus to produce the show myself. As far as the time of the year goes, I think the fall is a good time to premiere the new show. People are away in the summer and people don't want to go out in the winter.

Cast of "Eleganté"2. Why did you want to debut your play at TADA!? How does their theatre structure line up with yours? The TADA! Youth Theater fit the format of the play as far as being able to move set pieces on and off stage. I always had a rather simple vision of sets as far as all the scenes being done with set pieces rather than full sets. Because of this, the stage requires ample wing space to store set pieces while not being used. The Tada! Youth Theater fit that criteria, also I wanted 99 seats which the theater has, and they were very reasonable with their pricing.

3. Eleganté is a quirky cute play about an Italian Catholic guy from Brooklyn who met a Long Island Jewish Princess & what happened when they fell in love. This is story is based upon the real life meeting of you and your wife Marcy. When you think back to the day Marcy first walked into your family's restaurant, what are some of the first thoughts that went through your head? Did you immediately get a feeling in your Z Cavariccis? My character "Vincent," actually discusses what he thinks about "Marcy" with the two other waiters in the restaurant during one of the shows opening scenes. The comments he made are pretty much the exact same thoughts I had when Marcy walked through the door that first time. I thought she looked older. She was so confident and had an air of class about her that I didn't know if I would be able to keep up with. In other words, I thought maybe she looked out of my league. I wasn't wearing Cavariccis when we met, I was wearing my waiters outfit. I did, however, wear a pair of them on our first date and she hated them.

Cast of "Eleganté"4. Was there ever a time during those early years of your relationship when you truly thought, because of your differences in backgrounds, this wasn't going to work? If so, what made you stick it out? Although the households we grew up in were quite different, our families values we're very much the same. We both realized early on that we really thought very similarly, so unlike the play, our family backgrounds never really were an issue.

5. Like your character in the show, neither one of you were quite sure where you were going in life. How did you find your direction? What was that moment like? Actually, Marcy had a very definite direction for a life. And I, although not settled in my career, knew that I wanted to be an actor. This again differs  from my character "Vincent" in the show. He is definitely a little less sure of himself than I was. And a little sweeter of a person as well.

The a-ha moment in our relationship really came when I moved to California. When Marcy and I started getting serious a few months after we met, I told her that I had plans to move to California at the end of the year. We both figured that would be the end of our relationship. I think as far as love goes, lightning really struck us both once I actually moved and we realized we didn't want to be without each other.

6. What did you learn about yourself and your relationship with Marcy from writing this show? From my perspective, our relationship has really become stronger through the experience of producing the show more than me actually writing it. Marcy has been amazing in helping me produce the show. She has done all the costumes and picked up many of the loose ends. She has done everything from paint the wine glasses for the stage to help me direct the actors while I'm on stage doing my scenes. This whole experience has been incredibly time-consuming and exhausting as you can well imagine. It is amazing to know that she has my back when I need her. Sometimes in a long marriage one needs to be reminded that the two of you are a team and you can count on each other for...whatever.

7. What was the easiest part to write and what was the most challenging? The easiest parts to write were absolutely the ones that were completely true. Some of the conversations are even word for word as I remember them. The more difficult parts were of course having to create a linear story with a beginning, middle, and end. Also, weaving in fiction with the true events was a bit challenging.

Cast of "Eleganté"8. As you have been rehearsing and starting performances, what has it been like to watch other people play out the characters based on the real life people you knew? Has there been a moment when you forgot the actor and just saw the real life person? It has definitely been touching at times. Especially since Marcy's mother just passed away in May. Some of those scenes between "Marcy" and her parents have been very bittersweet to watch. We both almost came to tears at one point. I wouldn't say I've ever gotten totally lost in any of the actor's portrayal of their real life character. But, there have been times when a few of the real people and the people on stage kind of morphed together so to speak.

9. What do you feel your secret has been to keeping your marriage in tact? We are both individuals and lead our own lives. I believe it's incredibly important for a couple to give each other space. Each person has to feel comfortable being alone and comfortable with themselves and not just feel they are part of a couple. Marcy and I both have very strong identities. This can sometimes make our relationship rocky but in the end I think we are stronger couple because we are two strong individuals.

10. The play takes place during the 1990s when neon was big. Neon is a color that's very bright and can be seen in any light, even the dark. When, in your life, are you at your brightest? That's easy. I am at my brightest when I'm entertaining people.

James AronsonMore on James:

James Aronson is a graduate of the American Musical & Dramatic Academy located in New York City. Over the years, he has appeared in numerous stage productions both in New York & on Long Island, as well as a number of independent films & TV shows. James is an actor, writer, musician & has completed works in several different genres. Along with writing & performing original works as a musician, he has penned 5 children's books & two graphic novels. Elegante'...A Mostly True Story is his first full length play. James considers this work to be the one closest to his heart as it is the true story of how he & his wife Marcy met. 

Saturday
Sep102016

Call Answered: Half the Cast of Marina Tempelsman & Nicco Aeed's "Room 4" at The PIT

Nicco Aeed and Marina Tempelsman, Photo Credit: David BluvbandThis past February I was introduced to Marina Tempelsman and Nicco Aeed when their show Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told in the Dark debuted at The PIT in NYC as part of their six-month residency. Now, one of their other shows, Room 4 has been expanded to a full length show and given an extended run. I'm so excited to have had the chance to speak with half the cast of Room 4 to get their perspective on this important, funny, and informative show!

Room 4 is a new comedy about race and time loops. The Academy Awards has a race problem. It’s big. But the four black actors in Room 4 aren’t particularly concerned with that, because they have a much bigger problem at hand. They’ve just realized they’re stuck in a time loop, auditioning for the same "Drug Dealer #2" role over and over. What once felt like a messedup metaphor has become a literal existential nightmare. Get them out of there.

Room 4 will play NYC's The PIT (123 East 24th Street, by Lexington Avenue) September 9 at 9:30pm, September 11 at 7pm, September 16 at 8pm, September 18 at 7pm, September 22 at 8pm, September 30 at 8pm, and October 2 at 5pm and October 7 at 7pm. Click here for tickets! 

1. This fall you are part of Marina & Nicco's new play Room 4, comedy about four black actors caught in a time loop as they audition for the same "Drug Dealer #2" role over and over. What made you want to be part of this show?

Anthony Franqui: Honestly, I do it for young actors of color. When I started out, I kind of knew what casting was like anecdotally through my professors and mentors back in school, but that didn’t really prepare me for what that form of exclusion really was in the industry.

Eric Lockley: I enjoy exploring the performance of blackness and what that means. In what ways is blackness performed? Who performs it? These questions really get me excited, so the opportunity to play with fellow actors and to pose the questions to an audience in a funny, perhaps uncomfortable way, was all I needed to get on board.

Tristan Griffin: The script. When I read it, I thought it was really funny. But when we had our first table read, I was really on board. Everyone’s voices came out and it got me even more excited. I write as well, and I know how hard it can be, especially if it’s a comedy. Hats off to Nicco and Marina for writing this.

Richard Armstead: First and foremost, I wanted to be part of Room 4 because Marina & Nicco are amazing writers who thought of me for the role. I've worked with them at Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre with the Livia Scott Sketch Program, as well as MURDER! a live reading of a radio playbacks previously at the People's Improv Theater. They do exquisite work and it's always a privilege to help their vision come to life. The real treat though is that, while they've often provided me with material that has allowed me to stretch my acting vision, this piece hits very close to home as it makes a statement in addressing the adversity facing myself and fellow performers of color.

Anthony Franqui, Photo Credit: Craig Hanson2. What do you relate to most about your character and what are your main differences?

Anthony Franqui: I relate mostly to my character’s sense of daring. "Allen" is really willing to fully commit outside of his comfort zone if he is intrigued enough. I think the main difference with him is that he is very skeptical about interracial love, wherein I don’t see it as that much of a hinderance nowadays.

Eric Lockley: I’m not as outspoken as "Greg," but I do have a passion for "togetherness" and believing that we can get more accomplished together rather than apart.

Tristan Griffin: "Charles" is a little cocky, and has a great deal of selfish pride about himself. But once confronted, his vulnerability comes out. I have those moments a lot. As a matter of fact, I don’t even get the chance to be selfish. Whenever I try to, the universe slaps me in the face with a delayed subway train or a notification from my bank account.

Richard Armstead: At times characters I've been asked to play are one note caricatures based on stereotype. As a 6 foot 5 inch 300 pound black man I'm often asked to play imposing figures (bouncers, gangsters, security guards). Often these characters lack dynamics and are written based on an outside understanding of the world from which these characters are supposed to have come. My job as an actor is to produce a fully formed character with wants and needs. It's frustrating and tougher to do so when those directing you can't tell you any more about your character than,"You're intimidating, black, and a disagreeable character." You're asked to be more "urban" or "street." One of the characters I play is pretty much an embodiment of this idea. In actuality I'm definitely NOT this character. I've always kind of been the exception to the rule. I'm large and can be intimidating when I'd like to be, but usually I'm a jovial and approachable individual. In school I'd rather be on a stage than a football field or basketball court. Summers, I wasn't in the streets earning cred, I was in the woods earning merit badges.

Eric Lockley, Photo Credit: Christine Jean Chambers3. In this show, all four actors are caught in a time loop. When has your life felt like you were stuck in a time loop and how did you get out of it?

Anthony Franqui: It mostly came from my day job stuff. I worked as a real estate agent and I felt like in that industry there was a need to perform. A need to show up for a customer and pretend like my daily slate was clean, when the truth of the matter was I was just like them with good days and bad days.

Tristan Griffin: I’m in that loop now. Life’s obstacles happen everyday. Well, mainly Monday through Friday between 9am and 6pm. That’s pretty much when the loop starts for me. I usually get out of it Friday at 8pm, if I’m lucky.

Richard Armstead: I've had several points in time when I just feel stuck, like every day is the same in and out and I'm not advancing anywhere on my life's path. I think the key is to change up your routine and work in new things while letting some of the unwanted or unnecessary activities fall by the wayside.

4. It's amazing that in 2016, this type-casting is still an issue. What has been an audition you've been called in for and when you got there, you realized, it was for another type-casted role? Did you continue with the audition or leave?

Tristan Griffin: Not sure if this answers the question, but I have auditioned for various gang members/drug dealer roles and always thought "I’m not getting this. Why was I even sent out for this?" Then as moments pass in the audition room, I think "What if I do get this? I know how to act." Then when the audition’s over, I think "Yeah, I didn’t get that."

Anthony Franqui: I kind of agree with Tristan. A lot of my submissions go toward a drug dealer, pot head or criminal of some sort and when I get there I really feel conflicted in my desire to even get the role. Most of the time I just think, "Daydream in the audition room as to what made them want to see me in the first place. Was it my scar/name??"

Richard Armstead: I auditioned for a role for a popular series on a premium channel. The show itself at the time had one very clever black character and eventually had another. It was phasing on in and the other out, but never seemed to have two intelligent black men in the storyline at the same time. I knew that the character would not have genius tendencies, but as I was given notes in front of the camera I realized that not only was this character unintelligent, but he was actually written as a simpleton. I continued with the the audition, but tried less and less for the role as it wasn't a character I was particularly interested in playing. I guess you could say I threw the audition.

Tristan Griffin, Photo Credit: Ari Scott5. How do you think this show will help break down more walls in relation to colorblind casting?

Anthony Franqui: It’s funny because I think about the situation with Colin Kaepernick’s protests. Agree or not with his opinion, the most important thing to do is talk about these issues and to have conversations. The platform of this play is comedy but it evokes that conversation of what the entertainment industry lacks in terms of diversity.

Richard Armstead: Room 4 does a good job of educating the audience to the issues from the perspective of actors who are constantly getting pigeonholed into the same types of role. I hope those who make decisions about mainstream casting will open themselves to casting diverse actors in roles they didn't initially imagine as such. I also hope it will encourage the creation of characters who are people of color (P.O.C.) who are not stereotypes, but are relatable for the reality of the person they are portraying. We're written as disenfranchised sidekicks, there for the protagonist to save. Even when we're written as a protagonist, we are often written as the anti-hero. I hope for roles that are relatable to the audience due to the human elements and struggles in the piece.

6. A lot of strides in colorblind casting have been made, but there is still a ways to go. From your personal experience, why do you think it's still hard for casting directors and others to see an African American actor in the same role as a white actor?

Anthony Franqui: I personally don’t like the words colorblind casting. I think that it has some inherent erasure behind it. What we should be striving for metaphorically is adding ingredients to the pot or rather adding new dishes to the menu, not dumbing it down so no one’s tastes are offended.

Eric Lockley: We’ve just got to get more people of color in positions of power to force a paradigm shift. Casting Directors are a cog in the wheel - a necessary cog with significant power, but ultimately we need Producers and Studio Executives to want to cast Black people as Jedis and Princes.

Richard Armstead: Truthfully I think it's all about the experiences we have in our own lives and the lives of those around us that enable us to sympathize or empathize with the character being portrayed. When a casting director doesn't come from a diverse community or immerse themselves in the experiences of those outside of their regular social circles, they fall back on what they know from what society has presented to them. Even if a casting director themselves can see a P.O.C. in the role, you've still got to make it past other decision makers who could veto the casting directors' choice before a final decision is made. As people we need to reach out to know and understand people whose background and cultures are different from our own. I think it all comes down to relatability.

Richard Armstead, Photo Credit: Gregory Uzelac7. What has been your most embarrassing audition?

Anthony Franqui: So I’m not exactly what the role was for, but it was a SAG short film I remember. The role was about a guy who was raped I believe. Anyway, whatever the role was, it was dark, because I remember when I arrived to the audition spot it was in a cafe in Tribeca. When I asked the person there about the listing they literally sent me to a dark closet in the basement and that’s where I did my read for another guy. So weird, but it made me cognizant of the creepiness that female actors face frequently.

Richard Armstead: I waited on line all night one time for an open call for a Broadway show once, it was wet and chilly. By the time I got in to sing, my voice was a wreck and I was kind of delirious from being up all night. I sang the wrong words and sounded like hell. NOBODY got called back.

8. What advice can you give to other African American actors who are just starting out?

Eric Lockley: Don’t be afraid to create your own lane. There is no one path to success, but if you continuously empower yourself by creating your own work and developing material with friends, then you never feel like you HAVE to wait to do what you love. Others can choose to put you in a box, but you’ve always got the option to break outside of it - recognize your own power and use it!

Tristan Griffin: Just focus on you. Build your own craft and listen to your own voice. And when you’re ready to bring your talents out to the world, someone will indeed notice you.

Anthony Franqui: Yeah, Eric and Tristan hit the nail on the head. Create, create, create. We didn’t get into this because we needed permission/approval/acceptance. It is a deep impulse and that is your gift to the world. Also, do yourself a favor and surround yourself with as many writers, directors, and producers as you can that share and challenge your vision.

Richard Armstead: I guess my advice would be to trust your gut and use your time wisely. Audition for projects that you feel are worth of your effort. Be prepared to address uncomfortable situations in a clear and concise manner, it's ok to be offended, but it's most important to be able to vocalize what offends you and where it comes from. Look at those times as teachable moments not only for yourself, but also for the artists you're working with.

Cast of "Room 4" rehearsing9. What is a role you wish you could have been seen for, but wasn't considered for because of the color of your skin?

Eric Lockley: I’m looking forward to playing "Spider-man" and/or "The Riddler" in the superhero world one day. I’d be thrilled to play any superheros or villains but it’d be really awesome to play one that has traditionally been "white."

Richard Armstead: I've never "known" that I didn't get a role in particular because of my skin color. I do think size is a contributing factor as well. That being said, I'd love to play "Seymour" in Little Shop of Horrors or Sweeney Todd. I guess when I think about it, I gave up on my dream of being "Spider-man" or "Luke Skywalker" a long time ago.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day?

Anthony Franqui: Finding moments to slow down and be.

Tristan Griffin: Spending more time in nature.

Richard Armstead: I think right now that would apply to writing for myself. I'd like to be better at creating characters and writing down ideas for scripts out of my own head.

More on Anthony:

Anthony is a native Harlemite who has been performing since age 12. He received his BA in Theatre from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. He has worked in the NY Fringe Festival. His film work has also been displayed in the Big Apple Film Festival. He is excited to be working with Marina and Nicco on the second run of Room 4.

More on Eric:

Eric Lockley is a Harlem-based writer, actor, filmmaker and producer and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. As an actor Eric has been on both stage and screen, featured in plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Marcus Gardley and Idris Goodwin, and in film and TV featured on HBO, BET and MTV. Eric also writes and performs solo work. Notable shows are Last Laugh, which explores the neurosis of black performers based on Sammy Davis Jr. & Stepin Fetchit, and Asking For More, which encourages healthy nutrition and fitness habits in young people. Eric flexes his comedy skills performing with sketch comedy group BoogieManja monthly at The People’s Improv Theater. As a producer Eric produces theatre with his two Harlem-based organizations The Movement Theatre Company [TMTC] and Harlem9 [H9]. In 2015 Eric produced and wrote The Jump, a short film he’s also a featured actor in that is about a boy’s complicated relationship with the water. The Jump is premiering at film festivals throughout the country in 2016.

More on Tristan:

Born in the small town of Rome, Georgia, Tristan enjoyed making his family, friends and teachers laugh. Whether it was pretending to be "Kermit the Frog" or Jim Carrey’s "Fire Marshall Bill" character from In Living Color, Tristan always had a knack for comedy. Tristan got his degree in Film and Television at the Savannah College of Art and Design then made his way to the Big Apple (New York City for the uncultured) where he studied improv and sketch comedy writing at the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Tristan is now a member of the sketch comedy team The Charlies who were winners of the Arena Sketch League Competition in 2011 and performed at Chicago’s Sketchfest 2012. He also performs monthly at the Stand Up NY with the sketch comedy group Uptown Girl.

More on Richard:

Richard "Big Rich" Armstead is an actor from New Jersey. In addition to The PIT, he performs at various other venues including Reckless Theater and Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre. Through the years Richard has been involved in many plays and musicals, but working on Room 4 has been a uniquely exhilarating experience for him as a performer. Love to the cast and crew who are all ballers on the stage and in the sheets.

Saturday
Sep102016

Call Answered: Michael Longoria: Broadway Brick By Brick

Michael Longoria, Photo Credit: Peter HurleyI have been a fan of Michael Longoria's since I saw him in the Tony Award winning musical Jersey Boys when he took over the role of "Frankie Valli." The sound I heard come out of Michael's mouth during that show was unbelievable! Michael hits all the right notes! After Jersey Boys, I continued to enjoy Michael's vocal talents as he, and original Jersey Boys cast members Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, and J. Robert Spencer formed "The Midtown Men," touring the country singing hits of the 60s. 

When I heard Michael was releasing his debut album, Broadway Brick By Brick, I first thought, "It's about time," followed by "I have to talk to him about this milestone." As luck would have it, Michael was more than happy to take me through each layer of brick as well as the cement that holds Broadway Brick By Brick together.

Broadway Brick By Brick is available now at iTunes, Amazon, and Broadway Records. To continue the celebration of his album's release, Michael will be returning to Joe's Pub on Sunday, September 18 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Michael be sure to visit http://www.michaellongoria.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

1. This past spring you released your debut solo recording, Broadway Brick By Brick, which is an album of Broadway's biggest musical numbers. What made now the right time to release a solo album? It's been a project I've been wanting to do since I was playing "Frankie Valli" in Jersey Boys. An all Broadway album, orchestrated like a musical, telling my story through the Broadway songs that inspired me to pursue a life on stage. I started out as a young Mariachi singer in Los Angeles California, but once I saw West Side Story on television as a boy, I knew my calling was to be in musicals. My album arranger, John McDaniel and co-producer Jeffrey Lesser were both in the same creative mind space that I was, ready to climb the mountain that would become Broadway Brick By Brick.

2. You have really made this album your own by adding a bit of your Latin roots to some of the songs, like "Maria" and "The Sound of Music." How did you decide which songs would work better than others with a bit of Latin flavor in them? They say you can never go home once you leave, and for many, we can't physically go home, but can we go there sonically? Sometimes you can hear an old song and it takes you back to the place where you first heard it. I grew up in the Pomona Valley of Southern California, surrounded by green hills and the music of my Mother who sang in Spanish. I wanted my version of "The Sound Of Music" to be full of that time when I was a boy surrounded by Latin culture and sounds of my Mother's Mariachi music. Since the album is a chronological telling of my journey to the Broadway stage from the world of Latin culture, I wanted the sounds in the orchestrations to tell that journey of cultural development as well.

Michael Longoria, Photo Credit: Kevin Alvey3. I read in your Metrosource interview that all these songs you have recorded for Broadway Brick By Brick represent life milestones. Some of them were from times you were alone and struggling and some of them gave you strength and helped you get up and try something again. I want you to take us through what every song means, but then we wouldn't have time for any other questions. So, I'm going to choose my favorite songs and ask if you could tell us what was happening in your life at that time of the song and how the song helped you. "Being Alive," "Home," "The Impossible Dream," and "Corner of the Sky." 

Being Alive:

First of all Sondheim is a genius...this is a song I always felt connected to, but never knew why. But as I matured into an adult I understood the message more. I got some love and heartbreak under my belt and I realized what that song was saying to me: That for years I was afraid to let anyone too close. I came to New York City alone at the age of 17. I had to leave everything behind and never look back. And though being alone is safe and pushing love or people away is the easy way out, that not really living. The experience of being alive means nothing without allowing yourself to experience it with others.

Home:

I started the album with this song to represent who I was before I started the journey of recording Broadway Brick By Brick. And end the album with "Over The Rainbow" to show the completion of that journey. I also wanted to paint a connection to the character of "Dorothy" from The Wizard of Oz/The Wiz. A youth lost in a new land after a crazy storm. New York City was a lot like OZ to me when I first got here.

Michael Longoria, Photo Credit: Kevin GarciaThe Impossible Dream:

This song represents my first dream which was to go to NYU and study musical theatre. I was accepted to NYU's Tisch Scool of the Arts around the same time that I had came out to my parents. Going to college for musical theatre wasn't something they were ready to accept or understand. The thought of pursuing a life on Broadway became this dream that seemed Impossible. Most of the time our biggest achievements are the ones everyone else deems impossible.

Corner of the Sky:

This song takes me back to my time as a singing waiter in Times Square at the famous Ellen's Stardust Diner. I had just graduated NYU and my survival job was crooning Broadway showtunes and serving "Blue Suede" burgers. This song always got me nice tips and I auditioned to get the job with my rendition of the Pippin classic. I wanted the recording to capture that youth and excitement of starting your life right out of college with a world of possibilities at your fingertips.

4. I'm sure there are so many more songs than these twelve that represent your journey. How do you feel these twelve songs work together to represent this story? The album really is a story...if you read the liner notes before you listen to each tune, you almost forget where these songs come from. I was drawn primarily to the lyrics and story of each song as stand alone pieces. I chose songs that fit into the story I wanted to tell. The primary goal for me as an artist was to connect with people through song and tell my story doing it. I hope people leave with a true sense of who I am after listening to Broadway Brick By Brick.

J. Robert Spencer, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard, and Christian Hoff in "Jersey Boys", Photo Credit: Joan Marcus5. You moved to NYC when you were just 17 years old. What made you, at that age, say, it's time for me to go to NY? What were those first few days like? I had no other choice. I knew I had to board that plane and give it a shot. I was accepted to NYU so I had a bit of a buffer. But it was terrifying non-the-less. I grew up really quickly that year.

6. Now, when you look back on those early days, what do you think about? What are most proud of? What was the hardest part during those first few years? If could do it all again, would you move to NYC at 17 or would you wait? I'm just happy it worked out and I was able to graduate NYU. The hardest part was paying for it. Scholarship and student loans only covered so much. So I had many work study jobs that took up most of my time. It was tough balancing scene rehearsal with work study jobs.

7. It's been over 10 years that you, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, and J. Robert Spencer have been performing together. First, as the stars of Broadway's Jersey Boys, then and still as "The Midtown Men." What are the top three funniest things to happen to you while working together, whether it be on stage or off? The first one happened when I was playing "Pesci"...I had lost my Grandmother during the run of Jersey Boys and I started to lose a lot of weight. My pants started to sag...well on my first entrance I had to run on and I totally did a home run slide to Christian who couldn't keep a straight face to me sliding on my droopy pants. The guys and I are pretty funny individually so together we have a lot of laughs.

Michael Longoria performing at Joe's Pub, Photo Credit: Magda KatzOne time when I was playing "Frankie Valli"...during the big sit down mafia scene where we are supposed to be really serious...one of the mafia guys played by a musician had really loud gas...and none of us could keep from breaking character and laughing...

The best jokes came from me and Titus Burgess when we would be in the wings.

8. After a sold-out CD release concert this past May, on September 18, you are returning to Joe's Pub, to continue the celebration. What are you looking forward to most about this concert? What does your live show feature that one can not get from just listening to your CD? Well before was really scary because it was my first one man show...but now that I've done it a few times here and in Los Angeles...I know the nature of the show and the arc and I'm going to be more relaxed this time. When you come to the live show, these songs that you know and maybe grew up with (if you are a musical theatre lover), all of a sudden morph into telling my life story. You almost forget where these well known classics come from. You also get the stories behind my choosing them for this piece.

9. For this next question, I'm going to choose a few songs you've recorded and phrase the question around that song title. One song you've recorded on this album is "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." Who is somebody you can't take your eyes off of? Trying to focus my eyes these days on my career. So I'm keeping my eye out for new projects. Trying to find the right agent. Would love to work on a new musical from the ground up again. Those are the best and most memorable experiences.

Michael Longoria performing at Joe's Pub, Photo Credit: Magda Katz9a. You also recorded "Being Alive." When do you feel the most alive in your life? I feel most alive when I'm on stage giving life to a song or character. The connection that comes from the relationship you make in one night's performance with strangers in the audience is magic.

9b. Who in your life, would you dedicate "As If We Never Said Goodbye" to? "As If We Never Said Goodbye" is about my return to the stage after becoming an NYU grad and having my singing waiter survival job and booking Hairspray on Broadway. It was an amazing Broadway Debut!

9c. If you went "Over The Rainbow," what do you think you would find? "Over The Rainbow"...I think I'd find me Lucky Charms! But seriously, the song has always been inspirational. Judy Garland taught us all how to sing didn't she? So to have her song on my album makes me feel very connected to her life as a stage performer. And I wanted to have my own take on the song. 

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I want to be more open to new friendships and artistic collaborations. I tend to keep to myself but there are so many great and talented people out there.

Michael Longoria, Photo Credit: Peter HurleyMore on Michael:

Michael Longoria is best known for his star turn on Broadway as "Frankie Valli" in the Tony Award Winning Musical Jersey Boys. Currently starring in The Midtown Men concert tour, and Meet The Midtown Men, a documentary for public television, Michael has been crooning across the world in a 60s rock concert celebrating the era. Michael trained at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, followed by New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he was a scholarship student, earning a BFA in drama. Michael made his Broadway debut in the smash hit Tony award winning musical Hairspray, later creating the role of "Joey Pesci" in the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys. He has appeared on television as the lead vocalist for Cirque du Soleil on America's Got Talent: Season 9 Finale, Broadway Under The Stars: A Tribute To Harold Prince, Opening Ceremonies at The U.S. Open, the documentary film One Night Stand, and as an animated character on Dora the Explorer. As a headlining solo concert artist, Michael has appeared at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City, co-staring with SNL’s Joe Piscopo in That’s Life!. Internationally Michael appeared in West Side Story at Teatro alla Scala in Milan and A Chorus Line in Munich. As a singer-songwriter, Michael has been performing his original songs at Joe’s Pub, The Cutting Room, CB’s Gallery, and Caroline’s on Broadway.

Wednesday
Aug312016

Call Answered: Eric Millegan: From FOX TV's "Bones" to Musical Theatre and More

Eric MilleganEric Millegan as "Zack Addy" on FOX TV's "Bones"I love a versatile actor, one that has worked in film, television, and theatre. What I love more is an actor, whom after being on a hit show, still comes back to the stage. This is just one reason I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to interview Bones' Eric Millegan. It was great geeking out with him on musical theatre, getting to the bare essentials of his time on FOX TV's hit show Bones as well as learning about his struggles and how he hopes to improve his life by one percent better everyday!

Eric's latest film, Lady Peacock is currently available on Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. Also, in the interview below, Eric has some "Bone" chilling news to share!

For more on Eric follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. You have been performing since you were seven years old. What or what inspired you to become a performer? I really don't know. I've enjoyed singing for as long as I can remember. When I was very young, I asked my Mom if I could be an professional actor when I grew up and she said yes.

Eric Millegan and Estelle Parsons in "Harold & Maude: The Musical" at Paper Mill PlayhouseEric Millegan in his very first show "Amahl & the Night Visitors" at Eugene Opera2. You have such a rich history in theatre and have moved into film/television. What do you like about working in each medium? Like I said, I love singing so obviously, I love doing musicals. Unlike film and TV, you get immediate feedback from the audience so that's fun but I also really love TV and film. You get to create something natural and real. You really dive into the role. It's also fun to work intensely on a scene and once you nail it, it's over, you move onto the next scene. And there's always something new, unlike theatre where you're doing the same thing over and over again.

3. One show you starred in as a child was Oliver. The most famous part of the show (at least in my mind) is when "Oliver" asks for more food, saying, "Please sir, may I have some more?" To which "Mr. Bumble" replies "MORE??" When was there a time in your life when you wanted more of something and someone responded with a similar tone of "MORE?" as if they felt you weren't entitled to more. I've always wanted more acting jobs but they're not easy to come by. There is A LOT of rejection.

4. Another show you have starred in several times is The Most Happy Fella. When do you say to yourself, this moment or this time spent with makes me "The Most Happy Fella"? I love love love The Most Happy Fella. So many great songs of so many different styles. I played "Herman" in college and then I was "Clem" at St Louis Rep and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. It's fun singing "Standing on the Corner." Great song. When I'm working on Bones, I feel very grateful to get to work on such a great show. That certainly makes me a most happy fella.

Eric Millegan and the cast of FOX TV's "Bones"Emily Deschanel and Eric Millegan on FOX TV's "Bones"5. For five years, you starred on FOX's hit series Bones as "Zack Addy." What did you relate to most about "Zack"? What is one quality about "Zack" that you wish you had, but don't? Well "Zack" is obviously very smart and I used to be smart when I was younger. I skipped the 7th grade and went on to be Valedictorian in high school but I don't feel very smart nowadays. It's weird and hard to explain. But I've always been good at playing smart people and those are often the kind of roles I go up for. I'm not sure there is any quality about "Zack" that I wish I had. I'm pretty happy with who I am.

6. What were your top three funniest moments on the set of Bones?

1) There are two games we used to play on the set. One is "Who's working?" Sometimes, it seems that everyone is waiting around for something to get done before we shoot the next take. So we look around to find who is working. The other is "Who's sleeping?" It can be fun to see if you can find anyone on the set who is sleeping.

2) Emily Deschanel and I used to sing on the set and one day we got a little out of control singing songs from Annie and we sort of got in trouble. The 1st AD came over to us and said "We love it when you sing. We love it. But we need you to not sing."

3) Emily and I always laugh when we look back at a certain scene where I had to do this little dance while she said her line because of the way the camera was moving. I had to step to my right and back and then forward and back. And it's a very serious scene and it was sort of ridiculous. We look back on that and laugh about it all the time.

Eric Millegan and the cast of FOX TV's "Bones"Eric Millegan7. As a result of being on Bones you have traveled all over to Paris Manga, San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, Collectormania Milton Keynes (UK), LA Times Festival of Books, Wonder Con (Anaheim), and Space City Comic Con (Houston). What is it like to attend these events and meet your fans? I love love love it. Being paid to travel and meet with fans who love you is obviously a great experience. And I've made some good friends along the way.

8. There is talk that you might be returning to Bones for the 12th and final season. Can you reveal to fans if that comeback is happening and if so, what's it like to know that so many people have begged and pleaded for your return? Yes, I am returning for the 12th season. In fact, I have already shot episode 1 and Emily directed. It's a great episode. I think the fans are going to love it. The fans' support throughout the years has been overwhelming to me. Making money and acting is great of course, but honestly, when I found out I was coming back to the show, I was most happy for the fans. They deserve to see "Zack" again.

Eric MilleganEric Millegan as "Zack Addy" on FOX TV's "Bones"9. What has been the best part about being an actor? What has been the most challenging? First and foremost, it's the work itself. I really love acting and when I get a chance to do it, it's wonderful. It's also great to have people come up to you on the street and tell you how much they've enjoyed your work. The most challenging thing about being an actor is finding work. It's not easy. I'd love to do another series when Bones is done but it's very competitive and it's hard to book those jobs. I have a great manager and great agents and great publicists so I look forward to working with them to find that next project.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Oh wow. I think the thing I need and want to focus on more is my writing. I have a play and a screenplay in the works (I've written two other screenplays) but I've gotten lazy. They're really good projects and I need to get back on track and put in the work in to get them done.

Eric MilleganMore on Eric:

Eric Millegan began his musical theatre career at age 7, in the 1981 Eugene Opera production of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. He continued with the company in several other productions, including Madame Butterfly, La Bohème, Carmen, and Hansel and Gretel. Through his childhood, he appeared in productions of Oliver (twice), Annie, The Wizard of Oz, The King & I, Camelot, Bye Bye Birdie (twice), Snoopy, West Side Story, Cabaret, The Imaginary Invalid, Leader of the Pack, The Music Man (twice), Hello Dolly, HMS Pinafore, Iolanthe, The Mikado, Gypsy, A Christmas Carol (three times) and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.

At The University of Michigan, Eric performed in Pal Joey, Brigadoon, Quilt: A Musical Celebration, The Most Happy Fella, Sunday in the Park with George, and 42nd Street. He also worked two summers at the Forestburgh Playhouse, appearing in Evita, Fiddler on the Roof, Camelot (again), Jesus Christ Superstar, and Promises Promises.

Upon graduation from Michigan, he moved directly to NYC where he made his Off-Broadway debut in Schoolhouse Rock Live! at the Atlantic Theater. He followed that up with an Off-Broadway production of The Imaginary Invalid, a show he had done at Interlochen in his youth. He got his Equity card playing "Doc" in Garland Wright's production of Babes In Arms at the Guthrie Theater and as an understudy for the role of "Gus," went on once performing opposite a relatively unknown Kristin Chenoweth. Eric followed this up with roles in The Most Happy Fella (yet again) in a joint production at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park & the Repertory Theater of St. Louis and Big River (as the "Young Fool") at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

In 1998, he played "Kim McAfee" in Bye Bye Birdie: In Concert with an All Male Cast! in NYC. Then he went to Myrtle Beach, SC to play several roles including a dancing polar bear in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Immediately, in early 1999, he was the "mistress" of ceremonies in Broadway La Cage at the Hilton in Atlantic City, NJ. A few months later, he was cast as "Peter Pan" and "Hercules" in musicals on Disney Cruise Line but he quit during rehearsals. When he got back to NYC, he went to an open call for the 2000 Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar and was cast to play an apostle and to understudy Simon, a role he got to play 5 times.

With his career in high gear, he was cast to sing the famous "Aquarius" solo in the Encores production of Hair at City Center in 2001. He also began to work onscreen, guest starring in Law & Order: Criminal Intent's first season and Sidney Lumet's acclaimed series 100 Centre Street. His big screen debut came in his performance as "Ed Simone" in On Line which made its world premiere at the 2002 Sundance International Film Festival. Later, in 2002, he returned to his opera roots and played the role of "Older Brother" in the New York premiere of Jake Heggie's opera Dead Man Walking starring Joyce DiDonato at Lincoln Center. In the summer of 2003, he was cast to play a delivery boy on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. He was in one scene acting alongside Larry David, Mel Brooks, and David Schwimmer but it was cut in the editing room and never seen. His name still appears in the credits of that episode which has caused confusion for some of his fans. Throughout this time, he helped shape new works of musical theater, playing lead roles in workshops and readings of Mask, Spring Awakening, With Glee and Altar Boyz to name a few.

In summer 2004, he landed the biggest break of his career being cast as "Harold" opposite Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons' "Maude" in the world premiere of Tom Jones and Joseph Thalken's Harold & Maude: The Musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in January 2005. After that closed, he moved to Los Angeles. Three weeks later, he was cast to play "Zack Addy" on the FOX TV show Bones. In 2006, he returned to Eugene, Oregon, to play "Frederic" in Eugene Opera's production of The Pirates of Penzance co-starring Christiane Noll and Richard White.. In July 2013, he brought his critically acclaimed cabaret show to the Wildish Theater in Springfield, Oregon. Eric's most recent film Lady Peacock is currently available to be seen on Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. Eric has an international fan following. He has appeared and signed autographs at Paris Manga, San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, Collectormania Milton Keynes (UK), LA Times Festival of Books, Wonder Con (Anaheim), and Space City Comic Con (Houston). His voice over work includes spots for Hotels.com and the 2014 GMC Sierra.