“Once Upon a Rom Com: The Bill Pullman Story,” a play written by Brian Work, is currently running at Chicago’s
Gorilla Tango Theatre on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm through October 31st.

Once Upon a Rom Com

It’s official! Brian’s play, “Once Upon a Rom Com: The Bill Pullman Story,” is opening on September 5, 2012 at Gorilla Tango Theatre in Chicago! The play, which will run on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm through October 31, will be produced by Katie Johnston-Smith as a part of Gorilla Tango’s parody play series and will be directed by Neal Fischer.

Synopsis:
After making a career out of playing the “other guy” in numerous nineties romantic comedies, American actor extraordinaire Bill Pullman has sunk into a deep depression, believing he will never find true love. It will take the help of a fairy godfather in the form of the one and only Jeff Goldblum to pull him back together and save the girl of his dreams from a devious and wicked French lover. This is a real man’s fairy tale for the hopeless romantic in all of us!

My friends Katie Johnston-Smith and Chris Gorton wrote a musical based on Full House, Attend the Tale of Danny Tanner, that will be running at Gorilla Tango Theatre in Chicago on Wednesdays from May 9-June 27. It’s a musical reminiscent of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and promises to be a really fun show.

I did the promotional photos for the show. I’ve posted them below, and you can also see the full gallery on the Brian Work Photography Facebook Page. Check them out and go reserve your tickets now!

Attend the Tale of Danny Tanner

New photos over on the Brian Work Photography Facebook page from The Wonderful Adventures of Brer Rabbit at Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre from August 2010.

The Wonderful Adventures of Brer Rabbit (Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre)

I was recently asked for a list of audition advice from a student in the Audition Techniques class at my old stomping grounds, Valdosta State University. I decided to post them here as well, in the hopes that it may be helpful to some other actors out there.

These notes are more from my experience casting my feature film Uncommon Law than from my experiences as an actor. Several of these notes apply specifically to the submission process, before you even walk in the door (while sifting through hundreds of submissions, I was amazed at how much of an opinion I developed based solely on who actually followed instructions.)

  • If the casting notice asks you to send a preferred audition time, please do so, even if it’s just to say you have no preference (this is fine with me, because it tells me I can put you wherever is slow.) If you don’t make any mention of it, I’m going to fill slots with those who followed instructions first.
  • It’s one thing to say which role you’re interested in, but you don’t need to tell me what types of roles you’re normally cast as. I’ll see it on your resume, your headshot, and in your audition.
  • Get professional headshots! Even if you can’t afford a $500 package, you can still get quality headshots affordably. And believe me, it makes a much better impression than sending a photo taken with a camera phone (yes, I had people submit selfies as headshots.)
  • On that same note, get headshots that look like you! I want to know what you’re going to look like when you walk in the room. If your headshot makes you look like an ingenue, I expect an ingenue when I call you in. If you’re a character actor, embrace it! I did.
  • Format that resume! Looking at a resume makes it clear pretty quick who knows what a professional acting resume looks like. Basic format aside, it should never be longer than one page. Also, save your resume as a PDF file when emailing it. That way you can be sure it will preserve your formatting and be read on any computer.
  • A cover letter makes all the difference in the world. I don’t need your life story, but something short, professional, and targeted (specific to my project) does make an impression. Sending a blank email that only includes your headshot & resume makes an impression, too, but the impression is that you’re submitting to everything under the sun without actually reading the casting notice.
  • When submitting through email, name the files for your headshot and resume “Your Name Headshot” and “Your Name Resume,” or even just “Your Name.” I save these to my computer for future reference, and would rather not have to rename all of them from DSCF_001829. I don’t hold this against anyone, it just makes my life simpler.
  • Be prepared! If you are sent sides in advance, READ THEM. I don’t expect you to be off book; in fact, I’d prefer that you weren’t because I don’t want you focusing on remembering the words. But read through the sides and be familiar with them. If you aren’t given the sides in advance, show up early so you can familiarize yourself with them.
  • Make a definite choice for your reading. Even if it’s not what I’m looking for, I want to see that you’ve put some thought into it. It’s easier to direct someone who’s made a choice than someone who’s playing it safe.
  • If you don’t understand something, whether it’s a line or a direction, please ask. I want you to have the best audition possible, and don’t want you to flounder because you’re confused.
  • If you ask to improvise off the script, you’d better be able to improvise. Don’t get thrown off because the reader improvises along with you, and it doesn’t go in exactly the direction you’d imagined in your head. Also, if the reason you want to improvise is because the written lines aren’t things you would personally say in that particular situation, you may want to keep that to yourself.
  • Be friendly & personable! If I like you, I’m much more likely to want to work with you. This factors in more than you may think.
  • That guy in the lobby who signed you in? No, you aren’t paranoid. He is listening in on everything being said.
  • If for whatever reason you can’t make it to the audition, call or send an email saying so. Yes, I keep a list of people who no show on me without notice. No, they won’t be getting an audition slot in the future.

Brian has completed principal photography on his feature film, Uncommon Law, and is now in post-production editing the movie. He has also moved to Chicago, where he is currently taking improv at iO and writing a pair of plays for Gorilla Tango Theatre.

When I got my season subscription to the Alliance this year and was picking which shows I wanted to see, I skimmed right past Bring It On: The Musical. It’s just that a musical based on a cheerleading movie didn’t really sell me. It’s not because I’m a stuffy theatre-goer or anything; I mean come on, I’ve filmed shorts with lawn gnomes & guys practically having sex with hats. It just didn’t catch my interest. But in the last few weeks, a few of my friends have been raving about it, and when Christen said she was interested in seeing it, I figured what the hey.

Turns out, this musical based on a cheerleading movie was pretty damned awesome.

The show’s run at the Alliance is its world premiere, so I’m told there have been some tweaks and such over the weeks. The book and the music are both incredibly solid. It’s really funny, the characters get some nice development, and the songs are really catchy. My only complaint with the script itself is its use of numerous cheap jokes (YouTube, Craigslist, iPhone, etc) that won’t still play ten years from now, and will only serve to date the show. I think the real basis for that complaint lies in the fact that the script didn’t NEED cheap jokes tossed in to make it funny. It’s hilarious without them, and the best moments are the ones that come more naturally.

The cast is fantastic. Amanda Lea LaVergne is perfect in the lead as Campbell; the girl’s a serious triple threat, and has the sort of personality that leaps right off the stage. Hell, all of the primary characters are great. Of particular note, Ryann Redmond, Gregory Haney, Jon Rua, Adrienne Warren, and Kelly Felthaus shined like crazy. On the cheering side of things, Lauren Whitt was a total badass and must have balls the size of grapefruits to do some of the spots she did.

Technically, the show was awesome. They had four giant LCD screens that could be lowered and moved around the stage, providing scenery, windows, video chats, ambiance, or whatever else they needed. The set was minimal, but they made great use of what they had (namely the lockers that could be repositioned for various purposes.) The lighting design by Jason Lyons was REALLY cool and spot on, adding a hell of a lot to the whole production.

Didn’t expect to be saying this, but I’ll be damned. Bring It On: The Musical brought it.

Bring It On. Photo by Greg Mooney of Broadway.com

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

So the new Spider-Man musical has been all over the news in the last week. Seems like the budget has ballooned to $65 million, and the first preview performance was littered with problems, including five stoppages that left the actors suspended above the audience. I’m not so concerned by that, seeing as it’s a preview performance a month ahead of opening, and there are bound to be issues with all the technical wizardry that goes into a production like this.

I’m more concerned by reports that the musical itself isn’t that good. I’m still not too keen on the fact that they’re supposedly revamping the history of a beloved comic book character; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it for the sake of doing something different. The plot of Spider-Man, regardless of the medium it’s portrayed in, shouldn’t be a convoluted affair. It’s Spider-Man. We all know it. We all love it. Just putting it on Broadway in a musical form is enough to make it different. But as long as “Turn Off the Dark” doesn’t feature a dance sequence with an emo Tobey Maguire, it’ll automatically be better than Spider-Man 3.

I’m sad that some of the original cast had to drop out because of the delays. I would have liked to have seen Alan Cumming as the Green Goblin & Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Jane. Still, I like the idea of Reeve Carney as Peter Parker. His band, Carney, does some good music, and although I haven’t seen him act, I can’t wait to see him in Julie Taymor’s film adaptation of The Tempest when it comes out next week.

Even though I’m not expecting it to be the greatest musical ever, I still want to trek to New York to see it. If nothing else, I think it’ll be a fun show, and one that you’d have to experience on Broadway. I don’t see it going on national tours, and any regional productions would have to be drastically toned down in order to be possible.

Here’s a 60 Minutes special on the upcoming show. I gotta say, it looks really cool, and it’s got me pretty excited.

This Friday I open “Christmas Belles” at the Rosewater Theatre in Roswell, GA. It’s a fun show about all hell breaking loose at a church in Texas on Christmas Eve. I play Justin Waverly, the interim pastor who’s trying desperately to propose to one of the daughters. I’m really enjoying the role. It’s interesting because it’s a character role, which is what I usually play, but it’s also the ingenue, which is new to me. It’s fun playing a character who talks in a strange voice and also gets a full on makeout scene.

The show runs Thursdays through Sundays from November 26-December 18. If you’re in the Atlanta area, come check it out!