Behind the Curtain

Official Blog of International City Theatre

Abigail 1702 Cast Announcement

March 20th, 2015

Cast of Abigail 1702

The next production of our 30th anniversary season is the West Coast Premiere of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Abigail/1702, an imagined sequel to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. This fascinating psychological thriller is directed by ICT’s Artistic Director/Producer, caryn desai. We are happy to announce the talented cast of this incredible production.

 

Jennifer Cannon will star as Abigail Williams after starring in My Fair Lady and Hamlet. Kevin Bailey, playing Paris and two other roles, was the original Scar in both the Broadway and Los Angeles casts of The Lion King and starred on Broadway opposite Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun. Ross Hellwig, cast to play John Brown, has starred on TV shows Numb3rs and Law & Order: SVU.

Performing multiple roles will be Michelle Holmes, who has won LA Drama Critics Circle Awards for The Crucible and Dreamgirls. Completing the cast will be Jace Febo, who has starred in Les Miserables. This cast will certainly make this show shine.

Abigail/1702 answers the question of what happened to Abigail Williams. It’s 1702, a decade after The Crucible‘s infamous seductress danced with the devil in Salem. Imagining the destiny of the immortal stage villain who cried “Witch!,” this thrilling next chapter finds Abigail living under an assumed name in a village far from Salem, trying to start afresh. But now her past is about to catch up with her.

Creating new works in theatre can be difficult. Having a cast like the one ICT has assembled for Abigail/1702 assures an extraordinary experience in the theatre.

Abigail/1702 runs April 29 – May 24. 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.

Have You Met Mickey Deans?

March 6th, 2015

Michael Rubenstone

Michael Rubenstone stars in International City Theatre’s current hit show End of the Rainbow, an Olivier Award-nominated play about the life and music of Judy Garland. Rubenstone shines as Garland’s fifth and last husband Mickey Deans. He was nice enough to give us some of his time to answer some questions about his role and the show. To see Michael in End of the Rainbow, please visit www.internationalcitytheatre.org for tickets.

1. Since this is your ICT debut, what has been your experience with our audiences so far?

As a newcomer to ICT, I am loving the audiences at ICT. They are tried and true theatre goers and theatre lovers and I’ve felt that every night.

2. You play Judy Garland’s 5th husband Mickey Deans. Being that he is the other character based on an actual person in the play, what did you learn from your research that aided your performance?

The character I play, Mickey Deans, was a regular guy, a blue collar kid from New Jersey. I am an east coaster, born and raised in Philadelphia, so I understood his sensibility right from the start. I read his book, Weep No More, My Lady, about his time with Judy, and I got the sense that he really loved her and wanted the best for her, and that’s what I tried to convey in my portrayal.

Gigi Bermingham & Michael Rubenstone in End of the Rainbow

Gigi Bermingham & Michael Rubenstone in End of the Rainbow

3. What do you hope audiences take away from seeing End of the Rainbow?

I hope people walk away from the play remembering the incredible impact Judy Garland had in the entertainment world, while at the same time recognizing the price she paid to give that gift to the world. To me the play is both a celebration as well as a warning.

4. As an actor who has done your fair share of theater, what do you love about acting on stage that you don’t get from doing television or film?

I’ve worked quite a bit in both theatre and television and to me there is nothing like live theatre. When I shoot a TV show I show up at 5 AM, no one knows who I am, I shoot my scenes sporadically over a day or two and then I’m done. The theatre allows you the opportunity and time to develop a character, develop a real relationship with your director and cast mates and when it’s showtime, anything can happen. It keeps you on your toes.

5. Since EOTR is biographical, who would you love to see a musical or play about?

I’m developing a piece right now about Marlon Brando so I’d like to see that when I’m done with it!

Brent Schindele Does It All

March 4th, 2015

Brent Schindele

Brent Schindele not only stars as Judy Garland’s friend and accompanist Anthony in End of the Rainbow at ICT, but he is also the show’s Musical Director. Needless to say he is a very busy man, but he was nice enough to answer some questions for us so please enjoy.

1. As someone who has performed at ICT before, what have been your experiences with ICT audiences?

I’m very impressed by ICT’s audience, because I think they’re coming to the theater for the best reasons: they just want to see good, interesting and often new stories told with high-quality talent and production value.  It seems increasingly that theater audiences have to be lured either by something already familiar, whether it’s based on a popular movie or starring a well-known “name”, or by something patently shocking or provocative.  I think ICT’s work is trying to steer down the middle – being thought-provoking without being abrasive, accessible without being pedestrian – and I applaud any audience that signs up for that.

2. You not only have a major role in the show, but are also acting as the show’s musical director as well. Is this the first time you have done such, and if so, what are the challenges in trying to balance the two jobs at the same time?

Actually, I’ve done this double duty numerous times now, in a number of shows that have required my character to play the piano.  I’d have to say that I’m an actor first, so I always approach any music based on whatever is needed dramatically in the context of the story and the characters’ relationships.  The play informs the music.  Though, of course, I have to laugh when directors (not my present one) make demands that betray a great underestimation of how music works – like, “You’ve memorized all your lines, can’t you memorize the whole score as well?” and “Can’t you keep playing the piano while you answer the phone and loosen your tie and open the window?”

Gigi Bermingham & Brent Schindele in End of the Rainbow

Gigi Bermingham & Brent Schindele in End of the Rainbow

3. You are obviously an accomplished musician. What is your background with regards to music and orchestration? 

It’s all been learned on the fly, by observing others and learning-by-doing.  I’m a self-taught pianist, and I’ve basically taken on a series of assignments that were too big for me, managed to survive them, and come out the other side stronger and wiser.

4. What do you hope audiences take away from seeing End of the Rainbow?

We’re trying to say some specific-but-universal things about love, art and perseverance.  I’d like to think that audiences are truly on the edges of their seats regarding the unorthodox love triangle between my character, Judy Garland and her fiancé – can she find emotional happiness, stability and fulfillment with either of us?  I’d hope that audiences would reflect anew on what art costs the people that make it — whether it’s celebrated people like Judy Garland or the average actor, painter or musician working in the trenches in virtual anonymity – we love to do what we do, can’t seem to live without it, and yet it exacts a toll on our lives.  And also audiences may be struck by the nature of addiction and the persistence it requires to overcome it – Judy Garland’s life is a cautionary tale, but instructive as well.

5. Since EOTR is biographical, who would you love to see a musical or play about?

That’s a good question.  I’d like to try my hand at portraying one of the stars of yesteryear, like Steve McQueen or Alan Ladd or Robert Redford.

Meet Our Judy

February 25th, 2015

Gigi Bermingham

 

Gigi Bermingham stars as Judy Garland in our production of End of the Rainbow, the Olivier Award-nominated play about the life and music of Judy Garland. She was nice enough to take some time during rehearsals to answer some questions for our ICT audience.

  1. Since you are no stranger to ICT, how was your experience the first time you performed here?

Amazing!  caryn is so welcoming and appreciative of the artists, the environment is beautiful, the staff excellent, and I worked with some fantastic artists, especially director Todd Nielsen.

  1. Are  you finding any challenges in trying to emulate an iconic character while also giving your own interpretation of the role? If so, what are they?

Yes of course.  Judy Garland was such a genius – it is intimidating to portray someone whose gift was so profound, and all I can do is to try and capture some essence of Judy while using my own abilities to convey the story.

  1. Gigi Bermingham as Judy Garland in END OF THE RAINBOW at ICTWhat do you hope audiences take away from seeing End of the Rainbow?

Compassion for a woman at the end of her life, a great artist who didn’t know how to manage her intense emotions, and whose life was twisted by drugs and stardom – and by the people who took advantage of her.

  1. What have you learned about Ms. Garland that you did not know before landing this role?

Everything!  I only knew about the Wizard of Oz!  I can’t believe I wasn’t familiar with this astonishing performer and all the movies she made and her own television shows and concerts and records.

  1. Since EOTR is biographical, what real figure would you love to see a play or musical about?

So many fascinating people in history – I don’t know – the Dalai Lama – George Harrison – Mother Theresa!

Gigi and the rest of the incredible End of the Rainbow cast can be seen on stage thru March 15th. We think you would be crazy to not see this incredible actress bring Judy Garland to life!

Celebrating 30 Years of Theatre

February 12th, 2015

2015 GalaIt has been 30 years in the making, but we are finally just one week away from raising the curtain on our 30th anniversary Gala celebration! Join the ICT board and staff as we celebrate our history and toast to our future. After all, we could not have done it without all of your gracious support. Details of our snazzy event are below.

Our Opening Night Gala will take place on Friday, February 20, 2015 and includes:

– Wine and Dinner Reception: 6:00-7:30 pm in our beautiful theatre lobby

– Recognition of past ICT Board Presidents

– A short talk, “More about Judy Garland” by the director John Henry Davis

– Reserved seats to End of the Rainbow: 8:00 pm curtain

And if that wasn’t enough, come join us  for our post-show opening night party with the cast and creative team.

We are so thrilled to have made it to such a milestone, and we believe that because of our wonderful audiences and donors we can sustain our success for many more years to come. This party is about all of us, so put on your best and join the celebration!

For more information , please visit www.internationalcitytheatre.org. To purchase tickets, please call Denis at 562-436-4610.

Ms. Garland, You and Your Sweetheart!

February 5th, 2015

End of the Rainbow press photo

(l to r) Brent Schindele, Gigi Bermingham and Michael Rubenstone in END OF THE RAINBOW

That special day is almost here, no not the Super Bowl, that was last Sunday. We are talking about the one day where being romantic, cheesy and thoughtful are encouraged and expensive dinners are accepted. Yes Valentine’s Day is almost here, and while our wonderful show End of the Rainbow will not be open yet, we still wanted to help those that are looking for something to do to celebrate this sweetheart holiday. So avoid the crowds and celebrate with ICT.

From now until Friday, February 13, at 6 pm, you can purchase two tickets to End of the Rainbow’s opening weekend — Feb 20-22 — for just $70. Since two tickets usually costs $96, we thought it would be great to help you celebrate and give your wallet a break. So grab that special someone and spend some time with Ms. Garland!

Use code VDAY when making your purchase for tickets and this Valentine’s offer is yours! To purchase tickets: call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 or visit www.internationalcitytheatre.org.

10 Fun Facts About Ms. Garland

January 23rd, 2015

Judy Garland

As we are about to begin rehearsals for End of the Rainbow, the Olivier Award-nominated play about the life and music of Judy Garland, we thought it would be fun to share some information about Judy Garland that you may not know, so here are 10 facts about the American icon to tickle your fancy.

End of the Rainbow1. When she wasn’t filming, Judy knitted a pink wool sweater for the newborn baby of an electrician on The Wizard of Oz. Shortly after making the movie, Judy began designing clothes for animals. Mickey Rooney placed an order for a hat for his parrot.

2. She appeared in 35 films. This includes cameos and uncredited roles.

3. She never won an Oscar, but was given an honorary Oscar for her role in The Wizard of Oz.

4. She stood just 4’11” tall.

5. Judy had many insecurities about her looks, and it did not help that her boss, MGM president Louie B. Mayer, used to refer to her as his “little hunchback.”

6. She was paid $500 for The Wizard of Oz.

Judy Garland on cover of Time magazine7.  Her real name was Ethel Gumm, and she changed her name to Judy because of a famous Hoagy Carmichael song she loved.

8. Her television variety show, The Judy Garland Show, was cancelled after just once season mainly because it was in direct competition with Bonanza — one of the longest running television shows of all time.

9. Had to wear removable caps to cover her crooked teeth and rubberized disks to reshape her nose.

10. Her funeral was attended by over 22,000 people, and was believed by many to be the main reason and inspiration for the Stonewall Riots.

ICT Creates its Own “Gym Membership”

January 15th, 2015

ICT at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center

As the new year begins, so do new resolutions. Perhaps the most common one is to be healthier and get in shape. And in order to do that people usually purchase gym memberships to achieve fitness and weight goals. Well ICT has decided to make a resolution of its own as we celebrate 30 years of making theatre: Make it easy to support and attend theatre! How are we doing that? Well we created the Playful Payment Plan Program to make it very easy to afford attending the theatre.

Playful Payment Plan Program

We are thrilled to announce our Playful Payment Plan Program

The program was created to make it simple to enjoy professional theatre all year by creating a payment plan to make it easier on your budget (similar to a gym membership). Many people handle their finances monthly, so big recreational purchases are limited. Twelve small payments of just $15 per month makes you an ICT subscriber and provides access to our entire 2015 season — five incredible productions that include three premieres, a contemporary August Wilson classic and our upcoming production about the life and music of Judy Garland. You can select any of ICT’s subscription packages and the cost will be just $15 per month.

A subscriber supports an entire season instead of just seeing one show and provides a financial foundation to produce new works and develop new voices. Subscribers are a vital cog in the development of American theatre. We here at ICT know the value of subscribers and created this program to make it more affordable to experience contemporary theatre at its best.

Playful Payment Plan Program

$15 per month brings you our entire 2015 season

Playwright David Mamet said “Theatre matters. It is where people have gone for centuries to hear the truth.” So do something special for yourself this year. Take a shared journey for your mind and your heart from the comfort of your reserved theatre seat. Join the Playful Payment Plan Program and unlike a gym membership, you can soothe your soul without having to sweat it out.

To purchase your ICT subscription, call 562-436-4610. For more information about ICT’s upcoming season, please visit www.internationalcitytheatre.org

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.

story
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

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