An interview with Sawyer Smith, playing Harlequin in Triumph of Love.

ImageQ:  What drew you to the role of Harlequin?

S:  I think I was drawn to Harlequin because of how outrageous he is allowed to be. Harlequins were employed by royalty to be funny and satirical, and they could get away with saying what we all want to say. So I really liked that. He also plays an Evil Baron. And I love witches.

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about your process as an actor? Where do you begin?

S:  I suppose it is different for every role. Triumph of Love has such a specific style, I really wanted to get a grasp on the tradition of commedia dell’arte, so I looked into the art form.

Q:  What are you most looking forward to about the production?

S:  I am most looking forward to playing with this amazing cast. We have some Chicago greats like Katherine Condit and Bill Chamberlain – it’s like watching a master class. And then we have some amazing new talent including Nathan Gardner and Elizabeth Telford, who are just starting to make their mark  here. And then there’s my two partners in crime, Meghan Murphy and Garrett Lutz that are so much fun to be on stage with. It’s really electric when all of the pieces are in place!

Q:  Would you compare your character to any “men/women of the 21st century,” fictional or not?

S:  I would say Harlequin is a little Jim Carey, he has to be very versatile – very “yes and.”

Q:  Where do you hail from?

S:  I am from Ottumwa, Iowa. Birthplace of Radar O’reilly, for any of you “M.A.S.H.” fans.

Q:  What’s your favorite color?

S:  Honestly my favorite color is grey. I think it makes my skin look really vibrant. (I am serious). 

Q:  What excites you the most about working at TMTC?

S:  I love that I get to explore so many aspects of my artistry with TMTC. I have gotten to explore a lot of myself through my work here. I got to explore dance when I assisted with choreography on The Pajama Game, I got to explore new music with The 48 Hour Musicals: Autokorrekt. And now with Triumph of Love, I get to explore clowning and this larger than life character. It’s such a gift.

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An interview with Garrett Lutz, playing Agis in Triumph of Love.

ImageQ:  What drew you to the role of Dimas?

G:  In the beginning, the idea that he’s not a very likeable character drew me to this role. I like figuring out why he’s unlikable and why he does what he does. Once I can find the reasoning behind his actions, the easier it is to be on his side and to perform with full conviction. It’s later on when the fun begins and you get to see his hard shell break down a little.

Q:  What are you most looking forward to about the production?

G:  Naturally I look forward to the moments in Act II when the dynamic duo and trio come out. Being the straight character of the comedy is difficult and never gets old – I absolutely love it.

Q:  Where do you hail from?

G:  Aurora, Illinois.

Q:  What’s your favorite color?

G:  Green (which I suppose works for the green thumb that Dimas has).

Q:  What excites you the most about working at TMTC?

G:  I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve worked with and the venue is very charming. I’ve always loved intimate spaces for performing.

An interview with Meghan Murphy, playing Corine in Triumph of Love.

photoQ:  You performed with us in the 2012 48 Hour Musicals – welcome back to TMTC! What inspired you to join us again?

M:  Working at TMTC always promises lots of laughs, great talent and a delicious environment to just play in. That’s what I like most about working here.

Q:  What drew you to your role?

M: I relate to Corine a lot. She’s tough, but has a big heart that she sometimes doesn’t know how to use correctly. She’s extremely loyal and loves a sharp “one-liner,” just like me.

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about your process as an actor? Where do you begin?

M:  I always start with the text. It’s all in there. Read the whole play. Read it out loud a bunch of different ways and try them all in rehearsal. The right choices will reveal themselves.

Q:  What about the production are you most looking forward to?

M:  I’m most looking forward to working with these gloriously talented people. Oh, and the Chipotle across the street.

Q:  What else are you working on currently?

M:  I have a Christmas show debuting this month called Big Red and the Boys: A New Home for the Holidays at Theater Wit. I also have my one woman show, Big Reds Cabaret, every second Thursday of the month at Mary’s Attic, and will be seen in Paramount Theatre’s production of RENT starting in March. Also, check out my soul band, Everybody Says Yes at EverybodySaysYes.com.

Q:  Where do you hail from?

M:  I’m from San Jose, California.

Q:  What’s your favorite color?

M:  Red. Duh.

Q:  What excites you the most about working at TMTC?

M: The intimate feel of the theatre. And again, the Chipotle.

An interview with Jim Beaudry, Director of Triumph of Love.

Q:  You last directed Lucky Stiff for us last December. Welcome back to TMTC! What inspired you to join us again?

J:  I loved the energy and atmosphere of TMTC. And the Chamber Musical Series is exciting, because you feel like you’re doing the impossible. But with the right cast and staff, you can pull off amazing things in a few hours of rehearsal time! I also appreciate that TMTC supports musical theatre works that are lesser-known.

Q:  What drew you to directing Triumph of Love?

J:  I think the love story is timeless, and the fact that these people’s lives get so tangled up because of the lies they tell for love is absolutely ridiculous–but also true to life. The score is a little gem with one great song after another. It needs to be heard and shared. And the script is witty and intellectual, but it’s not afraid of classic conventions of comedy.

I think a lot of theatre authors and directors fear classic conventions because they might be perceived as low brow or cheap. But there is a reason that kind of comedy has survived for thousands of years–it makes people feel great. The audience reaction at the first performance proved that. When it’s paired with a heartfelt story and a theme that makes you think, as one audience member told me, you get “The most completely entertaining and inspiring night at the theatre you’ll see in a long time.”

Q:  What is the beginning of your process when you start reading a script? Do you envision the characters? The setting? Both at once?

J:  I always start with my empathetic reaction to the characters. How do I understand them in the world of the play? Then I think about the audience and the world they live in everyday. I think a director’s job is to be the translating of the play for the audience. What is the connection between our world and the play? If we don’t answer that question, why do the play and ask people to come see it? We decided to keep the costumes for this play contemporary. I think the stylized language and classic farce structure are so much of another time and place, that keeping the characters looking like they might have walked in off the street makes the play feel more urgent and relatable. We see our family and friends in these characters, and we can laugh at them AND at ourselves.

Q:  What were the first steps you were inspired to take after reading Triumph of Love?

J:  Our first step was to find a cast with the comedic and dramatic acting chops to pull of these characters–and they also needed the voices to sing this demanding score. I’m grateful that everyone in the cast said yes, because they are some of the smartest, kindest, and most talented people with whom I’ve ever worked.

Q:  What do you hope audiences take away from TMTC’s Chamber Musical presentation of Triumph of Love?

J:  I hope they leave asking, “Why aren’t people producing Triumph of Love more?” And I hope they leave feeling like they’ve had an entertaining and thoughtful night of theatre.

An interview with Katherine Condit, playing Hesione in TMTC’s upcoming production of Triumph of Love.

ImageQ:  Welcome to TMTC! This is your first time performing with us – what inspired you to join us?

A:  When Jim Beaudry contacted me about Triumph of Love I was thrilled at the prospect of doing another challenging role under his wonderful direction.  Also, I have heard nothing but glowing things about the work being done at TMTC.

Q:  What drew you to your role? 

A:  I am always drawn to challenging roles.  Not only is the role of Hesione vocally exciting but she offers a wide range for an actor.  She is someone who rediscovers the part of herself that would risk love…even after all the time she thought she had to protect herself from it and put that possibility away forever. 

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about your process as an actor? Where do you begin?

A:  I’d say as an actor I work in stages.  I like to master the technical challenges of a role first.  Once that’s done I then explore the character’s inner world and create the history and circumstances of their lives that lead them to behave the way they do in the present moment.  It’s a combination of imagination work and finding a personal connection.

Q:  What about the production are you most looking forward to?

A:  I’m looking forward to working on a beautifully crafted show that isn’t often presented and creating a piece of exciting theatre with an ensemble of talented people.

Q:  Where do you hail from?

A:  I was born in Evanston, IL but grew up in San Diego, CA.  I spent my summers as a kid in Chicago visiting my Dad. I now live in Evanston, IL

Q:  What’s your favorite vacation spot?

A:  Favorite vacation spot…that’s hard to choose! I love London and New York.

Q:  What excites you the most about working at TMTC?

A:  What excites me most about working with TMTC is the opportunity to have yet another new adventure on the stage and being able to collaborate with a company that is committed to preserving and continually breathing life into the Musical Theatre art form that I love.

An interview with Bill Chamberlain, playing Hermocrates in TMTC’s upcoming production of Triumph of Love.

Image

Q:  You performed with us in The Baker’s Wife in Concert last season. Welcome back to TMTC! What inspired you to join us again?

A:  The experience with The Baker’s Wife was a challenge and a thrill!  We all pulled together and worked hard and the whole project was a delight!  I did not know Triumph of Love before I was contacted to audition—I love the music and it will be a great chance to perform this seldom done show.

Q:  What are you most looking forward to about the production?

 

A:  Learning a new character, singing great music and working with another fun cast.

Q:  What drew you to your role?

A:  Hermocrates is the classic left-brained philosopher who has lived his life in his head. Though, his awakening to “emotions,” suggests that it may not be too late for him to experience some.

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about your process as an actor? Where do you begin?

A:  I begin with the script and the score, reading the original play, and then working with whatever the other actors bring!

Q:  Where are you from?

A:  I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan but grew up in Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

Q:   What’s your favorite color?

A:  Blue, though I’m trying to expand my palette.

An interview with Nathan Gardner, playing Agis in Triumph of Love at TMTC.

ImageQ:  What are you most looking forward to about the production?

N:  Getting to do this show! I had a professor in college who liked it a lot, so I got to hear the music then. I think it’s hilarious, but also has a big beating heart at the center of it, and I’m so thrilled to get the chance to work on it. I’m also going to be working with some of my favorite people, and some new people about whom I’ve heard amazing things. Can’t wait!

Q:  What drew you to your role?

N:  Agis is a great character. I think Agis goes from having a childlike mentality in the beginning of the show, having been kept from the world and relating to it only by studying ideas of what it is, to growing up a little by the end. I believe he finds that watching his aunt’s and uncle’s emotional boundaries fall apart, and going through his own process of discovery about his emotions through his dealings with Princess Leonide teach him more about life than books ever did.

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about your process as an actor? Where do you begin?

N:  I always try to identify a character’s journey in a show; what makes them tick as they first enter, and how best to communicate every aspect of the character’s sensibility at that point, and then what it is about them that changes by the end. I also try to bring as much detail as I can to every character. Every person has contradictions and many aspects to their point of view, and so should every character. Agis may seem very naïve, but he’s not stupid by any means, just sheltered. The more moments I can find to show the wiser side of him alongside the erratic youthful side of him, the more interesting he becomes.

Q:  Would you compare your character to any “men/women of the 21st century,” fictional or not?

N:  Seclusion from anything is so rare these days, but I think the rationalizing of emotion to avoid it is a constant trap, no matter which century we’re in. Agis has done this all his life, and so have his aunt and uncle, and the undoing of these habits make for a lot of the comedy in Triumph of Love. A movie like The Social Network is full of people distilling emotion into a rational digital world. The Mark Zuckerberg character is portrayed as someone who is afraid of his own emotions, which partly motivates him to create a parallel emotional existence online. Agis’ lessons, however, are learned with a few more laughs!

Q:  Where do you hail from?

N:  Michigan, just outside of Detroit.

Q:  What’s your favorite color?

N:  It changes all the time.

Q:  What excites you the most about working at TMTC?

N:  I think the opportunities at TMTC are so unique. There are 48 Hour Musical works, fully-produced new works, concerts, and full productions of existing shows. It’s very exciting to work with a company that programs so much variety.