Behind the Curtain

Official Blog of International City Theatre

The Secret Diary of an ICT Summer Intern: Why Stage Actors are the Best Actors

August 18th, 2014

You already know who this is, don't you?

You already know who this is, don’t you?

When you ask someone to name an actor or actress, 99.9% of the time they will name a movie or television actor. But society is forgetting about one very important type of actor: the stage actor! Stage actors are frequently overlooked, but for numerous reasons, they deserve our attention and respect – perhaps even more than movie or TV actors.

The fact that most people cannot name a single stage actor is one of the reasons why these actors deserve so much credit. Actors of the live theatre aren’t doing it for the fame – they get little attention from what they do. Stage actors can earn a modest few hundred dollars a week, while their television counterparts can receive a few hundred THOUSAND dollars per EPISODE (despite the fact that stage actors are typically the most trained out of stage, film, and TV actors).

Be careful, they're watching

Be careful, they’re watching

A lot of plays require the actors to engage with the live audience, an element that is usually not present in film or TV. Also, the idea of “just doing another take” does not exist in live theatre. If the actors mess up, they can’t erase their mistakes. They have one shot to get it right, and if they don’t, the whole audience is their witness. Because of this, it is a lot easier for an audience to judge stage actors than film and TV actors, whose mistakes are cut out of the movies and the shows. Not only is it easier to judge their mistakes; it is also a lot easier to compare them to other actors. Many of the same plays are produced by different theatres, so stage actors must always bring their “A” game unless they want to be written off as a worse actor than their counterpart in the same play at another theatre.

The lowest-paid actor in this photo earns $60,000 per episode

The lowest-paid actor in this photo earns $60,000 per episode

The live theatre is the real deal – no grand paychecks or paparazzi-ridden attention. Stage actors brave the audience armed with nothing but their talent and their passion for what they do. Their worth is determined not by money or fame, but solely by their reputation. If they can make one person in the audience feel something through their performance, then their mission is complete. The purpose of acting for stage actors is to serve the art and the people who care to experience it, nothing more and nothing less. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty awesome.

- Milena

The Secret Diary of an ICT Summer Intern: The Man Behind Former Attorney General Francis Biddle

August 13th, 2014

Skeleton ClosetICT’s upcoming play Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass is her personal account of working as a young secretary to the aging Francis Biddle, former Attorney General to FDR. Although Biddle’s accomplishments are impressive (he graduated from Harvard, became Attorney General, and was Chief Justice of the Nuremberg Trials), they are not what make Biddle an especially intriguing character. Instead, it is Biddle’s expression of raw human nature that shows how even the most successful and seemingly untouchable human beings have skeletons in their closets.

Glass tells the Courant, “This was about a man who was dealing with his impending death, and what was occupying him had nothing to do with his accomplishments.” In his old age, Biddle was forced to come to terms with himself not as a former Attorney General or Chief Justice, but simply as a human being. biddleHe became frustrated and acted out in anger because he was unable to do certain things like walk without limping or remember specific information, so he would compensate by priding himself on his Harvard-level smarts to avoid doubts of his capability. As an elderly man, Biddle was haunted by the loss of one of his sons and the fact that he never had the chance to know his own father. Biddle’s involvement in the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II ate at him, developing a guilt-ridden grief within him that would never dissipate. The title of “Harvard Grad” or “Attorney General” didn’t mean much to him anymore. It was the pain of losing a son, the ache of never knowing his father, and the shame of promoting the mistreatment of thousands of American citizens that lingered with him in his last days.

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Although a man of many achievements, Francis Biddle cannot be simply dismissed as a distant historical figure. The personal touch of Trying shows that he, like all of us, has things that haunt him. Watching Biddle, as successful and respected as he is, battle his ghosts reminds us that each and every one of us has a deeper story.

Our ghosts – so different, yet inherently the same – are what define us.

- Milena

The Secret Diary of an ICT Summer Intern: Audience Etiquette

July 23rd, 2014

Hey Angelina!

Hey Angelina!

Back in the day, people used to dress up for the theatre like celebrities today dress up for award shows – evening gowns, tuxedos, the whole shebang. People were all about manners and class. Nowadays, life is so much more relaxed. People wear pajamas to the grocery store, and they text while they’re having dinner with other people. Although life has definitely changed, theatre has maintained its professionalism and high esteem, making audience etiquette at the theatre still very necessary.

Audience etiquette encompasses many different areas, but these are the main things to keep in mind:

- Nowadays, you can usually dress a bit more casually to the theatre. (That does not mean a baggy shirt and shorts!) Don’t wear hats – they can obstruct the view of the person behind you. Guys, wear your nicer shoes, not your sandals. The main thing to remember about appearance is to be clean, nice, and neat. Take a shower, do something nice with your hair, and put some effort into picking out a decent outfit!

- To ensure a good start to your (and everyone else’s) theatre experience, make sure to get there at least 15 minutes early to account for any unexpected delays such as trouble parking or a long line at the box office.

phone-cinemaCell phones – turn them off! Don’t text: the light beaming from your cell phone is just as distracting as a ringtone going off in the middle of a performance. It distracts not only the people around you, but also the actors who are then hindered from giving you their best performance. No one gets their money’s worth if the actors can’t focus.

- DO NOT TALK DURING THE SHOW. It’s disruptive and rude to both the audience and the actors. Save the conversations for after the show.

- As far as food and drink, crunching on a sandwich and chips while a character is delivering an emotional monologue is not a good mix. Eat before the show or during intermission.

bunny

- Clapping is appropriate in between acts or sets, and standing ovations are reserved for only the best performances. Don’t feel pressured into giving a standing ovation just because other people are doing it.

- Getting up during the show is very distracting. Use the restroom before the show starts or during intermission.

- Don’t leave early, which means don’t leave during curtain call. Curtain call is a part of the performance for which the actors have rehearsed, and it is only fair that you give them the same respect that they gave you through their dedication to give you the best performance possible.

The main thing to remember about etiquette at the theater is to sit down, be quiet, and focus on the show. Theatre patrons can spend upwards of $50 on a ticket, and in return they expect a quality performance. Also, your actions affect how the actors perform, so disruptions can actually diminish the show’s quality. The theatre requires your best behavior, but in return you receive the gift of true art. So be quiet, be respectful, and enjoy the show!

- Milena

The Secret Diary of an ICT Summer Intern: Why Young People Should Go to the Theatre

July 16th, 2014

Theatre is inarguably dominated by an older crowd. One may wonder why, but it becomes pretty obvious when you ask one question: how exactly do young people spend their free time nowadays? Electronic dance music, music festivals, parties, Facebook, texting, and TV – this is the mainstream lifestyle of today’s youth (of which I myself am guilty). Young people have become obsessed with technology and overrun with laziness.baby They have grown used to instant gratification – answers, information, and even conversations at the touch of a button – to the point where young people feel more comfortable talking through a computer screen than directly to a human being. This wasn’t even an issue twenty years ago, but technology has taken over our world with a vengeance. With human interaction shifting towards technology, young people learn less about themselves, others, and life in general. With a computer that is capable of giving us all of the facts we will ever need to know and more, we focus less on ourselves and our identities as human beings; we focus less on the things that a computer can’t tell us.

zombiesTheatre is in-your-face. The actors are real people who you can reach out and touch; they can see you and speak to you directly. Unlike a movie, you can’t just sit there passively and watch a two-dimensional screen. The people in front of you are real, having a conversation just like you witness other people’s conversations throughout an ordinary day. Although you may not be speaking, you are a part of the conversation; you are a part of that environment. Theatre brings human interaction away from emotionless technology and back to the people. It wakes us up from our robotic slumber and brings us back together.

coachellaSome may argue that theatre is too expensive for a young person to afford. If you really think about it, how much do teenagers spend on events? The incredibly popular Coachella alone is $400, while usually the cheapest concerts average out at about $10 each. Going out to the movie theater is anywhere from $10 to $20 each time. So why not spend that money and go see a live play? Watching real people move and talk is a lot more engaging than watching a screen for two hours.

So with some of that money you’re saving for all of these mainstream events, try something new, step away from technology, and take your friends to the theatre. Because well, why not?

- Milena

The Secret Diary of an ICT Summer Intern: Other Desert Cities

July 8th, 2014

Hey guys! It is now the middle of my second week at ICT, and as promised, I have much more to talk about. For this week, I want to narrow my discussion to ICT’s production of Other Desert Cities and why you should see it before it closes!

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Everyone at ICT was talking about this play, and I was curious as to what all the buzz was about. I saw the play this past Friday, and I can honestly say that what it left me with was completely unexpected. Before I saw the show, I was looking forward to seeing it because of its comedic storyline. I thought that watching the play would make me laugh and I would walk away entertained, but nothing more. Wrong! The play started off with funny remarks from family member to family member, but the minute I got used to the comedy – the stereotypical idea of a “dysfunctional, crazy family” – the story began to really dig deep into the most real and raw moments that can exist between a family.

Along with this play’s incredible storyline, Other Desert Cities has a little bit of something for everyone. Couples will enjoy the interesting dynamics of Brooke’s parents’ relationship, while young adults can relate to Brooke’s process of finding herself and learning to make big decisions on her own. Also, this play allows the audience to see the situation from the perspectives of parents trying to protect their family and of a daughter trying to become her own person. So take your parents to see the play – allow them to see your side of the story, and allow yourself to see theirs.

thatsdeep

Not only does Other Desert Cities show a family in its most candid form, it also has some incredible twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. (I’m not telling what they are – you’ll have to go see the show yourself to find out what happens!) So seriously, for the perfect balance between light humor and deep meaning, go see Other Desert Cities!

- Milena

The Secret Diary of an ICT Summer Intern

June 25th, 2014

International City Theatre is excited to introduce Milena Tonis, our Summer Marketing & Development Intern. She will working with us this summer thru the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Internship program.

Hello theatre buffs! My name is Milena (Mee-leh-nuh) and I am ICT’s new summer marketing and development intern. I was born and raised in Sacramento, but I transferred to Cal Poly Pomona as a music major this past fall. I’ve been singing since I was seven, and I was a snare drummer in my high school’s drum line for two-and-a-half years.

Milena and her drumline friends

Me in action in the back with the cowboy hat on

I’m half Serbian and half Greek, and I’ve been in both cultures’ traditional dance groups and performed as the lead singer of a Serbian folk band. (I don’t speak Serbian, but fortunately I know how to make it sound like I do!) I have been at ICT for a week now, and on my first day, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pretty nervous, especially because I started work a week later than ICT’s other summer intern Kaitlyn – I felt like the only newbie! I tend to be introverted, and when I’m placed in a new environment, I feel more comfortable observing than talking at first. So when I walked through the door, I was expecting to just do my work to the best of my ability and not really talk to anyone too much.

Milena in the latest Greek fashion

Me in Greek garb at a dance competition

But I got a really nice surprise – everyone at ICT is so friendly and approachable! Kaitlyn showed me around the office, and although I still felt like the only real newbie, I felt comfortable with going to her if I had any questions. On Thursday, everyone surprised development associate Mindy with cake, flowers, and a gift for her birthday. We all sang “Happy Birthday” and then ate cake and talked in the conference room for a little while. I’ve realized in the week that I’ve been here at ICT that it isn’t just about running the theatre, it’s also about valuing the people who run it. The people at ICT really care about each other and support each other, and I am thankful to be working in such a positive environment. Milenaimage1But, there is still much more to be said – it IS only my first week! Tune back in every week for a new post by me about what’s new with ICT. In the meantime, if you like music, check out my version of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” here:   Enjoy! – Milena

Meet The Other Desert Cities Cast

April 28th, 2014

DesertCities_StraightTalkt

It’s no secret that Los Angeles is the mecca of acting talent, but people think this is true solely in the film industry. It’s also true for theatre, so when the opportunity to star in a Pulitzer Prize finalist play arrives, casting is difficult. International City Theatre, known for its first-rate casts, recently experienced this when casting Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz, and this cast is as talented as they come. Nicholas Hormann will star as family patriarch Lyman Wyeth. He’s starred in nine Broadway productions and has appeared at practically every major regional theater in the country. Playing his wife Polly is Suzanne Ford. She’s recently appeared on television shows The Mindy Project and Grey’s Anatomy. The Wyeths’ daughter Brooke will be played by Ann Noble, who starred in The Crucible at the Antaeus Theater, earning an LA Weekly Award nomination. Trip Wyeth will be played by Blake Anthony Edwards, who has appeared in Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Completing the cast is familiar face Eileen T’Kaye, who starred last season at ICT in Dead Man’s Cell Phone. In Other Desert Cities, the manicured life of an actor-turned-politician and his impeccable wife is upset when relatives arrive at their Palm Springs home for the holidays — including daughter Brooke who’s publishing a tell-all memoir. With Brooke’s parents trying to cling to their country-club social status, the family must come to grips with its family secret. Other Desert Cities was a Broadway hit show (five Tony Award nominations) and also a Pulitzer Prize finalist. With a cast like this, International City Theatre is sure to receive similar acclaim. Other Desert Cities runs June 4 through 29. All performances are at International City Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. For tickets, call 562-436-4610 or visit www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.

Spend Your Valentine’s Day with Cole Porter

February 11th, 2014

Let's Misbehave

Jennifer Shelton, Lindsey Alley, Marc Ginsburg & Brian Baker
Photo Credit: Suzanne Mapes

It’s that time of year again for all those hopeless romantics to indulge their loved ones with flowers, chocolates and fancy dinners. Thankfully, International City Theatre’s new musical Let’s Misbehave is running and it has something going for it that no expensive dinner does. That something is Cole Porter.

Let’s Misbehave is a critically acclaimed new musical featuring the music of Porter – an American composer who wrote some of the most recognized love songs ever penned. Go online and listen to “Night and Day,” “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love),” and “You’d be so Nice to Come Home to” and you will quickly see why many of Porter’s songs are chosen for a wedding couple’s first dance. In addition to seeing this beautifully romantic show, you will also receive personalized seating in the theatre, a rose and chocolates for your loved one.

Let’s Misbehave features over 30 Cole Porter songs: “Anything Goes,” “De-Lovely,” “Friendship,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and more. Late one night three single friends make a pact to fall in love by the Fourth of July. Soon it becomes clear that the two lovely ladies have each set their heart on the same leading man.

At this point you are probably wondering how expensive such a lovely evening would cost you, right? The answer is just $96. Let Mr. Porter help you make your loved one feel special this Valentine’s Day. No one knows better than him.

The Valentine’s Day package is available only on February 14. To purchase, use code CUPID when buying over the phone or online. Let’s Misbehave runs through February 16. All performances are held at International City Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. For tickets, call 562-436-4610 or visit www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.

Meet the Cast of Let’s Misbehave

December 12th, 2013

Let's Misbehave Cast

As they prepare for their upcoming 29th season in 2014, International City Theatre is very happy to announce the cast of their season opener – Let’s Misbehave. This California premiere of a new book musical featuring the music of Cole Porter has a seasoned cast that will be lighting up the stage during the show’s four-week run.

Playing Dorothy will be the very talented Lindsey Alley. Many people will remember Lindsey from her years acting alongside Brittney Spears and Ryan Gosling on The Mickey Mouse Club TV show. She has since gone on to co-star on How I Met Your Mother as well as on Broadway in Hollywood Arms. Marc Ginsburg will play Walter, and he is more than up to the task. He was a part of the national tour of Oliver! and just starred as Artie Green in Musical Theatre West’s Sunset Boulevard. ICT veteran Jennifer Shelton completes the cast as Alice. She was part of the first national tour of Ragtime, and most recently starred at ICT in Master Class. These true triple threats will have no problem entertaining audiences.

Let’s Misbehave features the classic songs of song master extraordinaire Cole Porter. This elegant production features over 30 Cole Porter songs: Anything Goes, De-Lovely, Friendship, I Get a Kick Out of You, Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love), and the title song. Late one night in the glamorous 1930′s, three single friends make a pact to fall in love by the Fourth of July. Soon it becomes clear that the two lovely ladies have each set their heart on the same leading man.

Let’s Misbehave runs January 22 – February 16. All performances are held at International City Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. For tickets, call 562-436-4610 or visit www.InternationalCityTheatre.org.

A Free Play for Families!

October 23rd, 2013

nicetrunk

In an effort to introduce children to the incredible world of theatre, International City Theatre is proud to announce their next Free Saturday Family Theatre Series performance! For those unfamiliar with this outreach program (ICT conducts six outreach programs in addition to their main stage productions), it is an opportunity for children to experience the magic of the performing arts for free. Everyone is welcome – bring your kids, bring your neighbors, bring your neighbors’ kids!

In theme with the holiday season, this upcoming production will focus on scary stories. The free performance of We Tell Scary Stories will take place Saturday, November 2, at 11 a.m., and will be presented by We Tell Stories.

This program of scary stories is taken from classic literature and cultural folktales for the Autumn season.  With an odd trunk full of costumes and props, these stories are more fun than spooky and involve the WE TELL STORIES trademark style with plenty of audience participation.

The performance will not exceed one hour in duration. While attendance is free, reservations should be made through ICT. Space is limited. Parking in adjacent city-owned parking structure is $10.

International City Theatre believes in the power of theatre and its ability to educate and entertain while creating a sense of community and fostering understanding. Introduce your children to the exciting world of theatre and enjoy a day at ICT!  This production is made possible in part by the generous support of the Josephine Gumbiner Foundation.

To make your reservation, please call Amanda at 562.495.4595, ext. 10 or email her at ict@ictlongbeach.org. Visit www.InternationalCityTheatre.org for more information.

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