The Adventure Continues


TT in the Blue Mountains and Sheldy in New York.

Culture Shock.





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Freedom

The film I was working on almost two years ago, FREEDOM, has opened in Australia ahead of world wide release in 2015.
Directed by Peter Cousens and starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., the film deals with the smuggling to safety of a family of escaped slaves via the "underground railroad". I play a member of an acting troupe headed by Terrence Mann ("Pippin") and Diane Salinger ("Pee-Wee's Big Adventure").

Chookas to all concerned!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

From Playbill:

Theatre Under The Stars' Victor/Victoria Casts Its Victoria, Toddy, King Marchan, Norma Cassidy and More

By Andrew Gans
19 Aug 2014
Anastasia Barzee
Anastasia Barzee
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Casting has been announced for Theatre Under The Stars' upcoming production of Victor/Victoria, the Broadway musical based on the film of the same name, which will begin performances Sept. 16 at The Hobby Center’s Sarofim Hall.
Directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, the production will continue at the Houston venue through Sept. 28.
The cast will be led by Anastasia Barzee as Victoria Grant with Tony nominee Tony Sheldon as Toddy, Joey Sorge as King Marchan, Angel Reda as Norma Cassidy, Michael Brian Dunn as Henri Labisse, Jimmy Kieffer as Squash and Ron Wisniski as Andre Cassell with Brandon Bieber, Laura Cable, Courtney Chilton, Erin Chupinsky, Bernard Dotson, Rob Flebbe, Laura Henning, Kinsland Howell, Logan Keslar, Charis Leos, Leisa Mather, Ian Parmenter, Robbie Roby, Lucas Thompson and John Williford.
Written by film director Blake Edwards with music by Henry Mancini, Victor/Victoria, press notes state, is a "nod to 'classic Broadway' while humorously giving a funny look at the nature of love, gender perceptions and the battle of the sexes."
Joining Stafford on the creative team are musical director and conductor Thom Culcasi, sound designer Kit Bond and lighting designer Richard Winkler.

For ticket information visit TUTS.com or call (713) 558-TUTS (8887).


From Broadway World:

Anastasia Barzee and Tony Sheldon to Star in VICTOR/VICTORIA at TUTS This Fall

Anastasia Barzee and Tony Sheldon to Star in VICTOR/VICTORIA at TUTS This Fall

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) presents the disguise surprise musical comedy production of Victor/Victoria September 16 - 28 at The Hobby Center's Sarofim Hall.
Written by acclaimed film director Blake Edwards (Breakfast At Tiffany's, The Pink Panther) with music by Henry Mancini (Days of Wine and Roses, Peter Gunn), Victor/Victoria is a nod to "classic Broadway" while humorously giving a funny look at the nature of love, gender perceptions and the battle of the sexes. From the electrifying excitement of "Le Jazz Hot" to the contemplative "Crazy World," from the humor of "Chicago, Illinois" to the touching "Almost a Love Song," this truly classic musical has it all!

TUTS' production of Victor/Victoria stars Anastasia Barzee as Victoria Grant, an out-of-work singer whose life changes when she meets the flamboyant Toddy, played by Tony-nominated actor Tony Sheldon. With his help, she becomes "Victor", an overnight singing sensation in the nightclubs of Paris. However, success becomes hilariously complicated when she meets the love of her life, King Marchan, a macho Chicago gangster played by Joey Sorge. Adding her two cents to the couple's troubles is Marchan's ex-girlfriend, the ditzy Norma Cassidy, played by Angel Reda. Michael Brian Dunn appears as Henri Labisse, the owner of Club Chez Lui, Jimmy Kieffer appears as Squash, King Marchand's bodyguard and Ron Wisniski appears as Andre Cassell, the most successful talent agent in all of Paris.
Ensemble members include Brandon Bieber, Laura Cable, Courtney Chilton, Erin Chupinsky, Bernard Dotson, Rob Flebbe, Laura Henning, Kinsland Howell, Logan Keslar, Charis Leos, Leisa Mather, Ian Parmenter, Robbie Roby, Lucas Thompson and John Williford.

Leading the creative team is director and choreographer Richard Stafford, whose work was last seen at TUTS when he directed Camelot. Joining Stafford on the creative team is musical director and conductor Thom Culcasi, sound designer Kit Bond and lighting designer Richard Winkler.

Cover Girl

I grew up with Stanley Green's reference book THE WORLD OF MUSICAL COMEDY as my bible. I cannot believe what I'm seeing on the cover of this new book, released this month.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hark! We get a mention!

Cousens' film debut draws big names
PLOT LINES: Bernhard Forcher as James Newton and Cuba Gooding Jnr as Samuel (right).
PLOT LINES: Bernhard Forcher as James Newton and Cuba Gooding Jnr as Samuel (right).
Australian musical theatre star, Peter Cousens, has reinvented himself as a film director, and his debut feature is not a cheap slasher horror or gritty suburban crime thriller, but a big-budget drama tackling important social and historical issues, shot in the US with a big-name cast. Aspiring filmmakers should be jealous. I know I am.
Coming hot on the heels of Django Unchained and other slavery-themed productions, it is easy to dismiss Freedom as Twelve Years A Slave-Lite but Cousens' feature is a very different creature altogether.
Screenwriter Timothy A Chey runs two plot lines in parallel.
The first is set in 1856, following slave Samuel Woodward (Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jnr) and his family as they escape from a plantation in Richmond, Virginia and begin their dangerous journey to Canada on the Underground Railroad.
 Not far behind throughout their journey is slave hunter, Plimpton (William Sadler).
Almost 100 years earlier, we meet ship captain John Newton (Bernhard Forcher) who is struggling with his faith and conscience as he transports slaves, including Samuel's great grandfather, to the New World.
This reviewer found the second plot line to be the least effective.
 Although developing a human connection to his cargo through a series of incidents at sea, Newton's final expression of kindness is to pen the hymn, Amazing Grace, not save anybody from their hell-like future existence.
I suppose the song does provide Samuel and family some comfort and motivation a century later.
 It may also have helped my understanding of the film had I been aware that John Newton composed the iconic song.
 Pardon my ignorance, I assumed it was written by God.
Samuel's tale, on the other hand, is a gripping tale of escape and near recapture, and I was willing Gooding Jnr and co to get across the border throughout the whole 98-minute runtime.
Although not a musical, Freedom uses music, in particular singing, as a metaphor for the humanity that we all share.
I was moved by some of the numbers, sung in their entirety, such as the joyous singalong between the escapees and a troupe of theatre performers, including Australian musical theatre headliner Tony Sheldon.
 Less successful were a few songs, performed out of context, musical theatre style, especially Samuel's wife Vanessa (Sharon Leal) breaking into tune whilst walking inside a church.
The result was being snapped out of my engrossment and remembering that I was watching a film.
Freedom was shot on location in Connecticut. It looks beautiful, courtesy of cinematographer Dean Cundey (Back to the Future, Apollo 13).
The cast is wonderful.
I have no idea how Cousens' managed to enlist such a line-up for his first feature.
Cuba Gooding Jnr really delivers in his best performance in years as his Samuel struggles   between the choice of revenge or freedom.
William Sadler is capably menacing as a slave hunter with ethics.
Even one of my favourites, Terrence Mann (The Dresden Files, A Chorus Line) makes an appearance.
Peter Cousens has concocted a beautiful and haunting film which will appeal to a "Best Exotic Marigold" audience. Despite its religious undertones, which frankly did not bother a non-believer like me, Freedom still has plenty to say about slavery, an issue which is just as relevant now as it was in 1748 and 1856.
 
Freedom opens on Thursday.
peterayoung.com

Work and Play

Jeff McCarthy, our Henry Higgins, took a spill on Friday evening during the show and was forced to call out for the Saturday matinee so his standby Peter Thomson endured the actor's nightmare: playing a MASSIVE starring role in a classic, well known musical with minimal rehearsal.
Peter is not only a gifted and stylish performer but he is blessed with a photographic memory (essential as he is also covering me as Colonel Pickering). Peter stepped in and made Higgins his own without a hitch. He was hugely relieved when Jeff returned for the evening performance!
Some actors are surely made of sturdier stuff than others. TT has triumphantly done the standby gig on two big musicals but I think I would completely fall apart under the stress.
On the same day another MFL cast member, the delicious Cat Brindisi, commandeered the Guthrie Instagram account and snapped a few backstage selfies. Here, Mrs. Higgins' maid and Colonel Pickering are caught in flagrante delicto.

Another show currently playing at the Guthrie is the Christopher Durang comedy VANYA, SONYA, MASHA & SPIKE. Isabell Monk O'Connor, a veteran of 27 seasons at the Guthrie, plays Cassandra and always has her wig put on in the make-up room as I'm getting my moustache glued which she says is the high point of her evening. We discovered we have a very dear mutual friend in the beautiful New York based actress Kathryn Meisle (once my landlady on the Upper West Side) so we have happily bonded.

Another happy surprise was discovering that the National Tour of EVITA was playing in St. Paul starring Sean McLaughlin as Peron. Sean played Lancelot when I appeared in CAMELOT in Houston last year so we enjoyed a jolly catch up lunch and I heard all about his new baby boy.
I'll be returning to Theatre Under The Stars for a new project in Houston in two weeks time where I'll be reunited with several of the CAMELOT team so that will be exciting!

Murray's

We finally had lunch at a local institution, Murray's on 6th St.
I love the "Vegas" style exterior which stands in sharp contrast to the faceless modern office blocks around it.
TT had no qualms about relaxing on the yellow sofa on the sidewalk.
This is the famous poster in the cocktail bar in front of which visiting celebrities are photographed. The waitress offered to take our picture but we told her we know what we look like.
Although the restaurant has been a fixture since 1947 it has recently undergone a complete renovation. And very stylish it is, too.
The food is yummy and surprisingly reasonable. And the place was packed.
Sated of Katoomba.