Five Question Friday

Today’s interview is currently traveling around the US…on the national tour of The King and I! You’ve seen him in quite a lot in STL- let’s say hi to Spencer!

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Spencer Jones is making his national tour debut in The King and I. Regional: The Little Mermaid (Flounder), Beauty and The Beast (Chip), Tarzan (Young Tarzan) at the MUNY; South Pacific (Jerome) at the MUNY and St. Louis Stage; A Christmas Carol (Quartet, Matches Boy). Film: The Lipinski (Chang Lee), The Goddaughter (Bradley).

 

Q: What was your first theatre experience?

A: My first theatre experience was in 2012 when I was in the Youth Ensemble at The Muny.  The show was The King and I, starring Laura Michelle Kelly, so it’s awesome I have been cast in the same show again 5 years later with the same Anna!

Q: What is the best advice anyone has given you?

A: A few weeks ago we closed South Pacific at Stages, and after doing the show for a month I was sad to see it end.  During the closing party one of my cast mates told me, “There are no goodbyes in theatre!”  I know that’s really not advice, but it made me realize that I will always have these friends and we might work together again sometime.

Q: Tell us about a backstage mishap you lived through!

A: When I was doing a show a few years ago, a scene got really messed up because one of the actors accidentally recited lines from the wrong scene.   I didn’t break character or laugh because I’m super awesome hehe, and we were able to wing it and bring the scene back without really messing it up.  The next day an actor completely missed a cue and wasn’t on stage at all for a scene—I really learned how to ad lib that day!  I still laugh about how crazy that show was!

Q: What is your dream role/show?

A: I want to be in Matilda someday because it’s one of my favorite musicals that features kids with challenging choreography and dialogue.  Also, I want to be in Dear Evan Hansen, because who doesn’t want to be in Dear Evan Hansen?!

Q: What is your current TV guilty pleasure?

A: I’m not guilty at all about watching this show over and over and over again, but Stranger Things is my favorite show.  Oh yeah, I wanna be in that, too.

Thank you, Spencer- we can’t wait to see you when the tour comes to The Fox!

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

 

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Five Question Friday

After working with this guy, I knew he would be a great subject! Happy Friday from The Scene Shop 😉

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Patrick Blindauer is an actor and crossword constructor living in Ballwin. Previous projects include “The Wizard of Oz” (Variety Children’s Theatre), “42nd Street” (The Muny), “The World Begun” (Shakespeare in the Streets), “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (Upstream Theater), “The Runaway Cupcake” (OnSite Theatre Company), “The Boy Who Loved Monsters and the Girl Who Loved Peas” (Metro Theater Company), “The Little Prince” (COCA), and “Assassins” (The November Theater Company). On-screen, he was featured in 7 episodes of “Strangers With Candy” and had a speaking role in “A Beautiful Mind.” Patrick also takes care of his little girl, Magnolia, teaches magic at Great Circle, and makes puzzles for places like The New York Times and his website: patrickspuzzles.com.

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

A: I did school shows growing up, in which I sang “The Happy Wanderer” as Santa Claus and DJed an original oldies revue as the teacher-named Windy Blindy (Thanks, Mrs. Muglie!). I also performed magic as The Amazing Zac, with my dad acting as a clown and my roadie/assistant. My first real show was a community theatre production of “Oliver!” in which I played The Artful Dodger, my dad played Fagin, my sister was an orphan, and my mom did costumes (and went on as Old Sally one night, script tucked into her shawl).

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

A: One great piece of advice came from my buddy Jacob Knoll, who said of auditions: “Leave it in the room.” I have a tendency to second-guess my choices after an audition, but it’s much healthier to do your best and then try to forget about it. Easier said than done, I know.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

A: Not a mishap exactly, but once I worked at a summer stock company that had an unfortunate fly problem. Most of the season we just had to ignore them, but for “Dracula” I played Renfield and was actually able to use it by trying to eat them whenever they flew nearby.

Q: What is your dream role/show?

A: Tony in “West Side Story” was a dream role when I was younger, even though I wasn’t the right type (and didn’t know what typing was). George in “Sunday…” and Michael in “I Do, I Do” are roles I’d love to try some point.

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

A: Lately we’ve been watching “Ozark” and “Transparent,” and we’ll be starting the new season of “Stranger Things” as soon as possible.

 

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Five (but actually Four) Question Friday

Today we’re talking to Taylor Louderman,  St Louis area native, current Mean Girl and Broadway star!!

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TAYLOR LOUDERMAN just finished starring as Lauren opposite Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie in Kinky Boots on Broadway and joins Mean Girls The Musical this year with a book by Tina Fey. She was also seen on Broadway starring in Bring It On: The Musical, for which she received a Fred Astaire Award Nomination. Taylor starred opposite Allison Williams as Wendy in NBC’s Peter Pan Live, and is a series regular on Nick Jr.’s upcoming “Sunny Day.” She has also appeared on HBO’s “High Maintenance” and Pop TV’s “Nighcap.” Taylor has also starred in roles off-Broadway, at The MUNY and Paper Mill Playhouse. @taylizlou

 

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. We have to work hard so when the right opportunity presents itself we are ready! The trick is figuring out how to enjoy the work.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

Oh, I have had plenty of mishaps by my own doing. I have anxiety which manifests itself in stage fright sometimes so I’ll go up on lyrics every once in a while. But the day of the Lincoln Center Archive taping for Bring It On (the only time you’re allowed to tape a Bway Show) I fell flat on my face out of a cheerleading stunt for the button of Act I, which is when my character is supposed to be feeling empowered to catapult us into act II. Oops.

Q: What is your dream role/show?

My dream role is to create a role; one that doesn’t already exist. It is most fun, I think, to create from scratch. When you play a role on Broadway that has already been done, you usually have to follow a lot of what the original cast set.

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise! 😛

Thank you Taylor- can’t wait to see your Regina George!

 

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator…who forgot to send the first question to Taylor. Whoops. Sorry everybody!

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Five Question Friday

Here’s a new face to the STL/Rolla area theatre scene- hello Alex!!

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A.S. Freeman is the Artistic Director of Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla, MO where he recently directed On Golden Pond. He holds an MFA in Directing from Western Illinois University. Favorite directing credits include: Peter and the Starcatcher (WIU), The Tempest (Scioto Society, Inc), and When Johnny Comes Marching Home (off-off Broadway). Upcoming is directing The Sunset Limited at Bluff City in Hannibal. More info on Twitter @asfreeman.

 

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

I played Gilbert Blythe in a community theatre production of Anne of Green Gables. It was also my first experience with someone leaving a production and moving up in roles – I was originally cast as Moody McPherson, and when the guy playing Gilbert dropped out, I was the next man up. A very quick lesson in how saying “yes” as often as possible can lead to great things.

 

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

Be kind. At all levels, this industry is so small. No matter what market you’re working in, the difference in talent between people is so small, that it comes down to who people like to work with so much of the time. Being kind to everyone not only makes you the person everyone wants to work with, but I’m also a firm believer that whatever you put out into the world comes back to you many fold. I want kindness coming back to me.

 

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

I worked in outdoor drama for 9 summers, so most of my best mishap stories involve a horse or a thunderstorm…sometimes both. Nothing quite emphasizes the unpredictable nature of live theatre quite like working out in the elements or working with animals. But really, and this is going to make the costumers not want to work with me: I’m very skilled at ripping my pants on stage.

 

Q: What is your dream role/show?

As an actor, the dream right now is Hamlet. As a director, the dream is finding those shows that perfectly match up entertainment value, a powerful message, and that continue to surprise you each time you encounter them. Shows that are like Great Comet, Come From Away, and Violet all come to mind.

 

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

I have been binging The Black List lately. James Spader surprises me in almost every episode. I also love Gotham and have a lot of catching up to do.

 

Thank you Alex- looking forward to seeing what is next on your plate!

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Grace Austin is the head of the Theatre Department at East Central College. Here she is pictured with one of her biggest inspirations and her original 5QF, Will Bonfiglio.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Review: New Line Theatre’s Lizzie

by Rachel Lewis

Evoking a creepy chorus of children setting the scene in a melancholic horror flick, New Line’s staging of the off-kilter rock, or more appropriately, riot grrrl musical Lizzie, opens with the schoolyard rhyme that likely serves as the primary point of reference for most audience members toward the titular Victorian crime saga: “Lizzie Borden took an ax/ She gave her mother 40 whacks…” And it gets creepier, and more tongue-in-cheek, from there. Continue reading

Five Question Friday

Steve Isom and family are a force to be reckoned with around STL- and he’s here to share some wisdom with us today!

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Steve has been a St. Louis based equity actor for a couple dozen years. He’s performed at most of the theatres in town, but is most known for his work at Stages St. Louis where he has done 52 shows. His lovely wife Ellen and daughter Abigail are also in the biz. He once started a little thing called The Kevin Kline Awards, but we can talk about that later.

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

I liked puppets. Age nine, I was bored one summer and mom sees an audition to work puppets at this little church theatre. We went. The puppets were life-sized marionettes. I was too small to run them, but they needed voices for the puppets. It was a musical version of Jack and the Beanstalk. I was the voice of Jack. I can still sing you the Cow song. That little church theatre became the largest children’s theatre in the country, San Jose Children’s Musical Theatre. It was my home away from home.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

I’ll give you the worst instead: “If you can do anything else … for god’s sake DO IT.” That’s a load of crap. People who do theatre are smart, energetic people. Of course we can do other things! Follow your passion. Do what you love. Life is short.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

During 9 to 5 at Stages this year we had a power outage in the middle of Act 1. A generator blew up somewhere. We were told it was going to be a while before, so some of us went onstage with a guitar and started singing to the crowd. We, and the audience, used phones to provide some stage light. It was fun and rowdy. At one point during a song I yelled out at the crowd – “If we all just believe hard enough I’m sure we can get these lights back on!” – and boop! They instantly came on. It was so weird people thought it was some trick, but just a crazy coincidence.

Q: What is your dream role/show?

Sweeney Todd. I always wanted to play Sweeney. I may be getting too old. I’ll do anything in it though. Am I in my Judge Turpin years yet?

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

Im watching TURN right now. So good. I just watched a bunch of 30 Rock because it’s leaving Netflix. I relate to Jack Donaghy. Where’s my scotch?

Thank you Steve!!!

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Grace Austin is an STL based director and educator. Her picture was taken by Ann Aurbach of COCA while she was living out her dreams of being in Frozen.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

 

 

 

Five Question Friday

This guy has been one of my favorites for a long time…. hi Troyer!!
Troyer Coultas is a recent graduate of The Hartt School with a BFA in Music Theatre. He is currently in the ensemble of the National Tour of The Wizard of Oz. Troyer has had the privilege of working with Tony Nominated actors such as Terrence Mann as well as singing on a Broadway stage with Kristin Chenoweth. He had the pleasure of developing a lead role in a workshop of a new musical, ZM, by the Tony award winning writing team of Urinetwon, Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis at the Goodspeed Opera House. A few favorite theaters he has performed at are Hartford Stage, Connecticut Rep, Peterborough Players, and The Dutch Apple.

 

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

The summer after seventh grade I signed up for a summer camp that was doing High School Musical. The reason I wanted to start acting was because I wanted to be a famous actor (I had no idea how anything worked hahaha). We got to rehearsals and I ended up being Ryan, a rather large character, and had the time of my life. That’s when the theatre bug bit me. I was hooked and started being in as many productions as I could manage while taking voice and dance lessons.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

Everyone says it, “be kind to everyone in this business”. Music Theatre is such a small world where everyone knows everyone and you never know what other connections they might have that could help or hurt you. I have gotten half of my professional jobs because of connections. Yes, talent plays a role but the connection is what really pushes you to the front of the headshot pile. Everyone is talented in this business, there are tons of people who are more experienced than you, what is going to get you the job is having people want to work with you because of your personality and positive attitude.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

Oh man. I’v lived through more than I can count. One that still makes me smile was when I worked as a performer at Six Flags St. Louis. We did six shows a day for over two months so things went wrong all the time. We had this one show outside on the porch of the main theater every night and I had one of the solos. While I was rocking out downstage I noticed all of the audience started pointing and laughing at something behind me. I tried to act like nothing was happening so I didn’t look. Then I started hearing screams but I’m still performing my song to the audience. I went the whole rest of the show without really knowing what happened only to find out later that a skunk had been running across the stage through all of the dancers while I was singing. After causing a stir onstage he then ran into the lobby of the theater where my supervisors spent the rest of the show tying to get him out while not getting sprayed.

Q: What is your dream role/show?

I have two.

Jack in Into the Woods

Boq in Wicked

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

I watch a lot of Family Guy. Im about to have a LOT of time on the bus and planes during my 91 city tour though so I have a long list of shows to watch. Starting Game of Thrones is definitely a priority.

Thank you Troyer!! You are a joy to work with 🙂

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com