Harvey by Mary Chase at the Zach Theatre, directed by Dave Steakley, is a laughter-inducing good time. It centers around Elwood P. Dowd , a charming, generous and altogether very pleasant man who happens to have an invisible six-foot rabbit named Harvey as his best friend. Martin Burke’s comic performance is flawless, once again. Burke’s subtle gestures and affably earnest conversations with Harvey have you almost seeing the giant white rabbit yourself! Burke portrays Elwood’s genuinely friendly nature without out a single false note.
Elwood’s sister (Lauren Lane) and her daughter Myrtle Mae (Erin Barlow) have spent years of hiding the invisible and unseemly Harvey from society, and they decide the time has come to commit Elwood to a sanitarium. A mix-up confines the wrong person, and a happily unaware Elwood continues on his pleasant way with a smile in place.
Lane and Barlow as mother and daughter duo have you feeling the shame and hilarity of the situation simultaneously. Lauren Lane’s predicaments had the audience laughing all evening long – so much so that at times one had to strain to hear the dialogue. A week of preview performances should have been sufficient to adjust the timing – but perhaps the audience for the official opening night was particularly exuberant. I wished the ladies would have waited another beat before delivering their lines, but they definitely succeeded in keeping us amused.
Elwood’s gentle courtesy makes Nurse Kelly (Liz Beckham) feel appreciated and cherished even when the man she has her eyes set on, Dr. Sanderson (Jacob Trussell), treats her poorly. Elwood’s unwavering chivalry is refreshing, disarming and disconcerting to the other characters.
The Pulitzer-Prize-winning play from 1945, familiar to many from the Jimmy Stewart movie, poses a still relevant question about delusions, social propriety and responsibility. Is it right to lock up a friendly, generous and good-natured man who is harmlessly out of contact with reality as we conceive it? What’s the danger to us if he imagines he has a giant invisible rabbit as companion and best friend? People reject behavior they do not understand, so they instinctively move to counter it and exclude Elwood, even though he’s charismatic and kind.
Harvey the rabbit remains invisible, but his presence is palpable and apparent in the set design by Michael Raiford. Rabbit figures are to be found littered throughout the set. I was pleasantly surprised to detect a few rabbits in portraits on the walls of the sets, and I spent much of the intermission trying to find them all. The revolving stage was a quick and fun way to change between the two sets. The contrast between the warm library and the cold, almost empty environment of the sanitarium was stark – but it had no effect on the effervescent Elwood.
I recommend that you hop over to Zach Theatre to catch this performance of Harveybefore he disappears!
Dr. Rebecca Rossen has been named both the recipient of the 2013 Department of Theatre and Dance Teaching Excellence Award and the Lucia, Jack, and Melissa Gilbert Women’s and Gender Studies Teaching Excellence Award.
The Gilbert Award is a university-wide honor given to one faculty member with an outstanding record of undergraduate and/or graduate teaching in Women’s and Gender Studies courses. Dr. Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez, the 2012 Gilbert Award recipient and current award committee chair, shares “[Dr. Rossen’s] feminist pedagogy is represented by her commitment to help students in their journey toward becoming intelligent and imaginative artists, articular scholars and writers, and open and creative thinkers.”
Rossen is an assistant professor for the Department of Theatre and Dance’s Performance as Public Practice program, and a faculty affiliate in the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Department of American Studies. She is a dance historian, performance scholar, and choreographer whose research interests include modern and postmodern dance, stagings of identity in physical performance, and the relationship between research and practice. She is currently completing her first book, Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance (forthcoming with Oxford University Press).
The recognition of her outstanding teaching in multiple departments not only affirms the value of her work, but also recognizes the impact of the Department of Theatre and Dance and Performance as Public Practice across the Forty Acres and beyond.
Learn more about Dr. Rossen's work and her experience at UT.
Dr. Rebecca Rossen receiving the Gilbert Teaching Excellence Award (center) from Susan Heinzelman, director of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies (left) and Dr. Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez (right). Photo: Andrea Zarate
Broad, exhuberant, comedy-farce about the differences and similarities between old and young. Mistaken identities, magic elixers, young love; all in the stlye of commedia dell'arte!
Casting for all roles. This is the first production from this brand new company! Performances will be in July in the lounge theatre at the Josephine. Call or text Cindy Kinnear at 512-618-0378 to schedule an appointment for an audition. Or email at
Characters Needed: Arlecchino: Maestro of company and servant to Pantalone, can be played by male or female; Pedrolino: Servant to Tofano, male; Columbina: servant to Tofano, female; Franceschina: servant to Vittoria, female; Tofano Di Scaterelli: an old man who thinks he's dying; ; Pantalone Di Besignosi: another old man who thinks he's dying; Dr. Graziano: The learned physician, male; Lelio: a lover and student leader, male; Isabella: a lover, female; Flavio: a lover and poet, male; Vittoria: lover and long lost daughter of Pantalone, female; Antonio: a servant; Lucio: a servant; Capitano Spavento, an officer.
Be prepared to stick around to cold read on June 2nd
What would you do if Buster Keaton invaded your dreams? What would Buster Keaton do if you invaded his? Join us for a surreal journey into the unconscious with iconic screen legend, Buster Keaton.
Available Roles:Dreaming Girl: age 6-25, 2 Dreaming Girl Doubles: age 6-40,1-2 Buster Keaton doubles ages ranging from 20-65,1 Fatty Arbuckle: age 25-40, 1 Sigmund Freud: age 30-70,Ensemble of 2-4, consisting of many ages, types, and talents (Samuel Beckett lookalikes encouraged!).
Director Lou Garza will hold open auditions for the final 2012-2013 Season S.T.A.G.E., Inc. production, STUDS TURKEL'S THE GOOD WAR, a musical by David H Bell & Craig Carnelia. Auditions will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 26, 2013 at Krause House Theatre, 1300 Bulverde Road in Bulverde. Be prepared to sing at auditions. Bring sheet music, a CD, a cassette or sing a capella.
Eight male performers and a female performer are needed (all actors play multiple characters except Private Small). Role distribution:
MAN #1 (40's) MAN #2 (20-25) MAN #3 (30's) MAN #4 (20-25) MAN #5 (30's) MAN #6 (30's) MAN #7 (45-50) WOMAN (mid-30's) PRIVATE SMALL (African-American 30's-40's)
Don Quixote spends most of this comedy adventure re-telling the story of Moby Dick! See Sancho Panza (as Ishmael) and Ahab battle the white whale windmill! This solo adventure uses puppets, masks, old-timey stagecraft, physical comedy, and sea shanties to smash two literary epics into an hour of shameless antics!
Come see the Austin premiere of the show I'm taking up to 7 fringe festivals in Canada this Summer! Two nights only in the small space at SVT. This is my first go at this thing, so the paint is still a bit wet - I have another month for changes and fixes, so I'd love the feedback and support of my Austin community to make this play as good as it can be! Directed by my constant companion Steve Moore. This play takes place inside the belly of a whale! A castaway has been swallowed and driven mad by only having two books to read. It's an irreverent and silly one-man comedy about getting dragged along rock bottom and figuring out how to get out of the belly of the beast, told through masks, puppets and sea shanties. Zeb West studied physical theater, clown and mask-making at the Dell'Arte School in California, and is a member of Austin's Trouble Puppet Theater Company and Brooklyn's Alphabet Arts. Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/373628 How much: $10 General (higher price tickets available for those who want to help with the dream)
Austin actress and designer Jennymarie Jemison was interviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner of the Austin Chronicle for the All Over Creation blog, in connection with the Seattle showing of the film The Quiet Girl's Guide to Violence. Here are the Qs and As:
Austin Chronicle: Acting and graphic design aren't necessarily complementary skill sets, though you seem to have an instigating talent for both. How'd you choose to work in both areas?
Jennymarie Jemison: I always acted, all through high school – president of the thespians and all that – and then I was a National Merit Scholar. And, without really thinking about it, I decided I was gonna go to Southern Methodist University – because they have a bad-ass theatre program and it was just five hours away from my hometown in Arkansas. And most of my friends were going to the University of Arkansas, and I felt like I could go back and visit my friends, visit my parents, and still be at this bad-ass theatre school. But SMU was a school I did not belong in. I mean, my god. And I didn’t get into the theatre program. Long story about why I didn’t, but, um, I didn’t. And I couldn’t change schools, because once a National Merit Scholar designates the school they’re going to, they can’t change their mind. So I literally took out the course book and looked through it, trying to find some major, that wasn’t theatre, that I could live with. And I found the course description for the creative advertising track, and it seemed really interesting – and that was it. AC: And from there, right into the industry?
JJ: Before I graduated, I was at a video-game company as an advertising intern. And by the time I graduated, I was the art director. I worked there for a year, did the box for the game Max Payne, and I was hired at Rockstar Games. So I moved to New York City in 2001 – the day before September 11th. I’d never been there before, and I was sixteen blocks away from the World Trade Center. AC: Whoa. Jesus.
JJ: Yeah. [shakes her head] And I worked at Rockstar for three years. And I loved the work, and I loved the people I worked with. But the people that run that company? Are like the, I mean, I don’t even know if they’re human. They’re awful. It was soul-depleting to work there. I was in my early twenties, and I was like, “I don’t know if this is how I want to spend my youth, feeling like shit, and my best friend crying in the bathroom everyday.” It was horrible, just a very toxic workplace. So I left Rockstar and I was freelancing for Viacom and other tv networks, mostly Spike TV. And I didn’t know, like, how can I feel like I used to, when I was younger? I was only 25 and I was so burned out. And I was on the subway one day, and I saw a girl reading a script, and I thought, “Oh, yeah!” So I went to acting school – I went to Atlantic Theatre Company’s acting school that William H. Macy and David Mamet started, and it was great. AC: And so again: You went to school, you graduated, and then boom?
JJ: I got some interviews with two commercial agents, and they both agreed to send me out on one freelance audition to see what would happen. And that first one I went on, I was completely terrified and intimidated – I was all meek, and the casting agent was like, “Why are you here?” But on the second one, without an agent, I was like, “Okay, that is not gonna happen again.” And it was for one of those Radio Shack commercials, where people would sit in a red chair and talk straight to the camera, and I booked it. And then I was in three national commercials, and I got the letter from SAG saying “You’d better join right now or you’re not gonna work anymore.” But I was broke. And then I moved to Texas, a right-to-work state.
AC: You moved here because the Screen Actors Guild –
JJ: I didn’t move here just to avoid SAG. I know that sounds terrible.
AC: And presumably that's not why you stay in Austin.
JJ: What keeps me in Austin is the theatre and the film scene – it’s amazing. And the community, that's the best thing about Austin. There’s nothing like this anywhere else. And once you’re a part of it, it’s pretty hard to not be a part of it. Even if, because of Quiet Girl, there was, like, the cool fantasy realized – where you get the deal, you get the money, you get to go and act in it yourself and not be replaced by Aubrey Plaza or whatever, the whole thing – I would still never leave Austin.
AC: And what if something happened, some weird Twilight Zone twist, where you couldn't work as an actor ever again and had to focus exclusively on your graphic-design work? What would you do?
JJ: I’d probably get someone in town to teach me – someone like Joe Swec – about sign painting. Because I love the transformative effects of signage in towns. The hand-lettering and typography on buildings that slowly erodes and crumbles and becomes part of the fabric of the town itself – instead of just the vinyl crap that people put up because it’s cheap. There are artists who completely transform cities that way. I’d invest in myself to learn that skill. I love watching people who do that well, love seeing the relics of old advertising. That’s the way it really works, doing advertising for a living and art at the same time? That’s where I see there being a marriage of the two that makes me happy. And sometimes it’s just pure art.
Audition Notice for A LITTLE MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Developmental Workshop/Reading -Texas Musical Theatre Workshop at the University of Texas, Austin. Apply by May 27. Book, Music and Lyrics By: Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn; Directed and Choreographed by Janet Rosten.
The re-imagined Shakespeare classic takes place in the here-and-now at an outdoor rock concert and retains the iambic pentameter of the Bard, but with modernized language and a pop rock score.
The authors and composers, Valerie Vigoda (2009 winner of the ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, as well as a two-time winner of the Jonathan Larson Award for Excellence in Writing for the Theatre) and Brendan Milburn (from the band Groovelily), along with the stage director Janet Rosten (Artistic Director of Los Angeles Rock Opera Company) will be in residence at The Texas Musical Theatre Workshop on The University of Texas at Austin campus from June 10-29, 2013 to developed this new musical, with students and local actors playing all roles.
A staged reading open to the pubic will take place Thursday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the B. Iden Payne Theatre at The University of Texas at Austin. Rehearsals will be held at the Winship Drama Building (June 10 -26), Monday – Thursdays, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Sundays, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
If interested please email: 1) a headshot and resume, and 2) any conflicts with the rehearsal/performance schedule to
by Monday, May 27, 2013. Video with additional Information: http://youtu.be/N-UtlcUi20I
Auditionsfor the musical comedy Nunsense written by Dan Goggin, directed for the Gaslight-Baker Theatre by Steve Lawson, are being held Lockhart Wednesday 5/29/13 7 p.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday 6/1/13 3 p.m. - 5 p.m., and other times by appointment.
Five women (or four women and a very special guy) are needed. We want actors who can sing, singers who can act, and if you can throw in a couple of dance steps that would be even better! Age range about 20 - 60. Rue McClanahan played the Mother Superior in a TV version of the play.
For the audition - Be prepared to sing a minute or two. You choose your selection and you bring accompaniment, or you can sing acapella. You will also be given a few lines of script to perform. If you are not available for the above scheduled times, for an audition appointment and more information call 512-775-6541 or email