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The Liar: Featuring Michael Ooms

As part of our Meet the Cast of The Liar Blog Series, let us introduce you to Michael Ooms:

ooms-michael-color

ROLE: Philiste, Alcippe’s friend

DESCRIPTIVE LINES ABOUT PHILISTE IN THE PLAY:

(Said by Alcippe to his friend Dorante)

You know Philiste? The beau monde’s favorite beau?

(Dorante’s reply)

The man they call the Baron Comme Il Faut?
We know each other from Poitiers.

 

Michael Ooms with JuCoby Johnson and Sha' Cage in a rehearsal. (Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Michael Ooms with JuCoby Johnson and Sha’ Cage in a rehearsal.
(Photograph by Connie Shaver)

CAST QUESTION:

This play will be visually and verbally stunning.  Every cast member, including you, must do “verbal acrobatics” with challenging wordplay and perfect timing with not just delivery but also comebacks.  As an actor, how do you get to the point that you can deliver such lines as if with ease?

This is a great question.  In order to pull a thing like this off, a multitude of facets need to fall into sync.  In my mind, there are two truly important elements: hard work and honesty.  As a cast, we work tirelessly to find the rhythm and truth of a piece.  While understanding the title of the play, The Liar, we all have to find our truths within it.  A lie is only as good as the belief it inspires.  And that’s what we work towards.  The belief in these words to inspire something.   Fact or fiction, the words must deliver the story that we as a cast are so graced to have been given.  David Ives has a great mind for so many things.  Among the grandest are language, truth and comradery (in my humble opinion).  Our ultimate goal has been to respect his work and bring it to life, as one.  And that’s the real trick.  To find the key together and unlock the thing.  From where I’m standing, this box is open; and it’s hilarious.

CAST BACKGROUND:

Park Square Debut Representative Theatre Classical Actors Ensemble: Doctor Faustus; Savage Umbrella: These Are the Men; Swandive: Five Flights; Pioneer Place: Tuesdays with Maurie; Gonzo Group Theatre: Long Day’s Journey into Night; NightPath: Our Town Film Mighty Ducks; Mighty Ducks 2 Training Classical Actors Ensemble: Company Member; Gonzo Group Theatre: Founding Company Member Upcoming Projects Savage Umbrella: The Awakening

 

Michael Ooms with his actor-parents Richard Ooms and Claudia Wilkens who have also delighted audiences on the Park Square stages Photograph by Connie Shaver

Michael Ooms with his actor-parents Richard Ooms and Claudia Wilkens,who have also delighted audiences on  Park Square stages
Photograph by Connie Shaver

Area Premiere of The Liar – Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage – Ends Oct 2

The Liar: Featuring Rex Isom Jr.

As part of our Meet the Cast of The Liar Blog Series, let us introduce you to Rex Isom Jr.:

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ROLE: Geronte, Dorante’s father

DESCRIPTIVE LINES ABOUT GERONTE IN THE PLAY:

(Said by Dorante)

My friends, here’s to my dad, without whose virtue
I’d not have known how fraudulence can hurt you!

CAST QUESTION:

As I understand, you have a strong background in improvisational comedy.  How do you plan (or do you plan) on drawing from that skill as Geronte, even though it is a scripted play?

For a scripted play, I believe that improvisation helps the actor with the technical aspects of presenting the character. Since improv really relies on the actor being a good listener and observer, having those skills during a scripted and blocked performance provides the actor with a sort of “behind the scenes” backbone. You are more aware of the overall construct, and thus you can aid more in those “bump in the road” moments, like when a line might be dropped by another actor or a prop falls on stage. You can help out in a much more natural way and stay in character since improv is also about maintaining your character in every way throughout the scene–emotionally, physically and mentally.

Some might think improv makes it harder to maintain the precision of a scripted work. On the contrary, it helps me fortify that precision by keeping me attuned to the whole play and all its parts, not just my part.

CAST BACKGROUND:

Park Square Debut Representative Theatre Stevie Ray’s Improv Cabaret Show; New Native Theatre: The Meeting; Penumbra Theatre: Black Eagles; History Theatre: To Kill a Mockingbird; Brave New Workshop: Jesse Goes to Hollywood; Guthrie Theater: The Darker Face of the Earth Film Public Domain, Thin Ice Training B.S., Theatre Arts, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Awards/Other Most Outstanding Creative Programming Award, 2009 & 2011, CTV15, Roseville, MN Upcoming Projects History Theatre: The Highwaymen

Rex Isom Jr. with Sha' Cage in a rehearsal. (Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Rex Isom Jr. with Sha’ Cage in a rehearsal.
(Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Area Premiere of The Liar – Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage – September 9 to October 2

The Liar: Featuring Shanan Custer

As part of our Meet the Cast of The Liar Blog Series, let us introduce you to Shanan Custer:

custer-shanan-color

ROLES: Sabine, puritanical servant to Clarice; Isabelle, vivacious servant to Lucrece

DESCRIPTIVE LINES ABOUT SABINE IN THE PLAY:

Said by Philiste to his friend Alcippe:

. . . . I love her strictness.
She’s adamant as truth, she’s hard to rattle,
And on a picnic–expert with a paddle.

DESCRIPTIVE LINES ABOUT ISABELLE IN THE PLAY:

Said by Dorante’s servant, Cliton, about Isabelle:

I too submit me to the moon! Ah, Isabelle,
Sweet Isabelle, who really truly is a belle!
I’d find more rhymes if only she were visabelle.
Is it not risibelle how most invisabelle.
The indivisibelle Isabelle … is?

CAST QUESTION:

You have successfully played poignantly funny characters in the past, which takes great skill.  How will you approach the more directly hilarious task of playing twin sisters?

For me, there is very little difference in approaching these two styles of comedy. Trying to be funny has never been my approach because I’m not sure how to do that exactly.

It’s Acting 101 really: be in the moment, listen, be truthful and don’t be afraid to look silly or vulnerable or ugly or ridiculous. Above all, take care of the people around you; otherwise, you have no scene. There’s a great quote in the book Truth in Comedy about how, if you treat everyone around you like a genius, they will be. There are many ways to interpret this piece of advice; but, for me, the most important layer is to stop thinking about myself and just pour that energy into others and the scene. I can’t wait to play with this cast!

CAST BACKGROUND:

Park Square Calendar Girls; 2 Sugars, Room for Cream; Dead Man’s Cell Phone Representative Theatre Interact Theater: Hell is Empty and ALL the Devils are Here; Casting Spells Productions: Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune; Workhaus Collective: The Mill; Theatre Pro Rata: Emilie: Le Marquis du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight; 2016 MN Fringe Festival: Sometimes There’s Wine Training M.A., Theater History, Theory and Criticism, University of Maryland, College Park Awards/Other Ivey Award 2013 (Ensemble, 2 Sugars, Room for Cream) Upcoming Projects Park Square: Theatre Pro Rata (at Park Square): Up: The Man in the Flying Chair

Shanan Custer with Zach Curtis in a rehearsal. (Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Shanan Custer with Zach Curtis in a rehearsal.
(Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Area Premiere of The Liar - Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage – September 9 to October 2

The Liar: Featuring Sara Richardson

Sara RichardsonAs part of our Meet the Cast of The Liar Blog Series, let us introduce you to Sara Richardson:

ROLE: Lucrece, Clarice’s best friend

DESCRIPTION LINES OF LUCRECE IN THE PLAY:

I’m deserving of a first-class mate
As other women. Yet I stand and wait.
Because I’m silent–all right, call it nervous–
Most men just never see beneath my surface.

CAST QUESTION:

What aspect of playing Lucrece will most challenge you?

Lucrece is quiet at first, which can be challenging; but David Ives gives us a lot of fun clues about her later in the script to build upon. Fun friendship rivalries, colorful descriptions comparing her unflatteringly to sea creatures, a clear bookish bent and self-professed as ‘nervous,’ we are given a lot to play with in terms of character. These hints allowed us to find ways of showing her more ill at ease qualities in action–always fun in a farce, especially one with such playfully designed elements (thanks designers Eli, Abbee, Rebecca and director Doug!)! A challenge in a farce is also always to find the honesty in the midst of the absurd so finding Lucrece’s real sense of longing and unrequited love deep down, before making it laughable, is important.

It is a gift to get to play someone who experiences such terribly awkward moments and has to live through them in front of everyone–painfully, earnestly and repeatedly. I love it!

CAST BACKGROUND:

Park Square Debut Representative Theatre Jungle Theater: The Night Alive; Mu Performing Arts: You for Me for You; Pillsbury House Theatre: Buzzer; Torch Theater: Boeing Boeing; Theatre Novi Most: Rehearsing Failure; Gremlin Theatre/Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival: A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur Film Rough Tender; Per Bianca (Cannes shorts 2011) Training Ècole Jacques Lecoq Other Sara-Richardson.com

Shanan Custer, Sara Richardson, India Gurley and Sha' Cage in a rehearsal. (Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Shanan Custer, Sara Richardson, India Gurley and Sha’ Cage in a rehearsal.
(Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Area Premiere of The Liar - Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage – September 9 to October 2

 

The Liar: Featuring JuCoby Johnson

As part of our Meet the Cast of The Liar Blog Series, let us introduce you to JuCoby Johnson:

johnson-jucoby-color

ROLES: Alcippe, Clarice’s secret fiancé

DESCRIPTIVE LINES ABOUT ALCIPPE IN THE PLAY:

(Said by Clarice about Alcippe)

So let him spew. My lover’s lava’s nothing new.
Two years now we’ve been secretly engaged–
And he’s the one who’s chronically enraged?
Oh, very well.

CAST QUESTION:

You have done a lot of Shakespeare.  How difficult is the wordplay in The Liar in comparison?  (For example, you have one line that starts with:  “O faithless, fickle, fraudulent play.”)

The wordplay in The Liar is very similar to that used in Shakespeare. I would say that the biggest similarity is the speed in which the language has to go in order for the jokes to land. If you can get the language to be fast and light while still holding onto the clarity, you’ve won half the battle. Within that lies the biggest difficulty. If it’s all fast and light, but lacking in clarity, the audience gets sick of it very quickly. You have to find a way to tell the story clearly and crisply at a faster pace than may seem comfortable. It takes a lot of trust in your fellow actors and a strong familiarity with the text.

CAST BACKGROUND:

Park Square Debut Representative Theatre Ten Thousand Things: Dear World; Mu Performing Arts: You for Me for You; New Epic Theater: The Normal Heart; Great River Shakespeare Festival: As You Like It Training B.F.A., Acting, University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program Upcoming Projects Ten Thousand Things: Pericles; Theater Latté Da: Six Degrees of Separation

JuCoby Johnson with Sha' Cage in a rehearsal. (Photograph by Connie Shaver)

JuCoby Johnson with Sha’ Cage in a rehearsal.
(Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Area Premiere of The Liar – Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage – September 9 to October 2

The Liar: Featuring Sha’ Cage

As part of our Meet the Cast of The Liar Blog Series, let us introduce you to Sha’ Cage:

 cage-sha-2016-color

ROLE: Dorante, a young man just arrived in Paris

DESCRIPTIVE LINES ABOUT DORANTE IN THE PLAY:

Said to Dorante by his servant Cliton:

No disrespect. Is there a molecule
Of truth in anything that stems from there?
(Points to Dorante’s mouth.)
‘Cause you lie anytime and anywhere!

CAST QUESTION:

What attracted you to the role of Dorante, a constant liar?

I’m often drawn to roles that seem incredibly difficult, things that I’ve never tried, characters that move me or characters that are a bit insane. So what does that say about me, you ask? Dorante has a bit of all these elements rolled into one. I’m still trying to get into his psyche, but he’s absolutely playful and fun.  He really can’t help but tell lies.

As someone who loves a good lie–although horrible at telling one and getting away with it, I must admit that I’m utterly and thoroughly intrigued!

The other day, my son asked me, ” Mom, what if you make a mistake and tell the truth?”

I said, “I’ll just pretend it was my twin brother.”

He got a kick out of that lie.

I’m thrilled to step into Dorante’s shoes and onto this fast-paced journey of discovery, twists and turns.

CAST BACKGROUND:

Park Square Mary T. and Lizzy K. Representative Theatre Ten Thousand Things: Henry IV; Penumbra Theatre: Ballad of Emmett Till; GuthrieTheater: Clybourne Park; Mixed Blood Theatre: Ruined; Frank Theatre: Venus, F*cking A Film New Neighbors, Cry About a Nickel, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Radio, Midnight, Joe’s Somebody, Factotum Awards/Other Regional Emmy; Ivey Award; McKnight Fellowship; Distinguished Fox/TCG Fellowship; Named one of the Leading Artists of her generation by Insight; Named a Changemaker by Women’s Press; City Pages Best Solo Performer (Frank Theatre: Grounded); Star Tribune 2014 Mover and Maker; Mpls St. Paul Magazine Power Couple of the Year 2015 (with artistic partner EG Bailey) Upcoming Projects Co-curating a film festival in Sweden (October); Intermedia Arts: a work in progress of her solo work Say Her Name (Nov 29); touring her show in 2017 (nationally and abroad).

Sha' Cage with Rex Isom Jr. in a rehearsal. (Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Sha’ Cage with Rex Isom Jr. in a rehearsal.
(Photograph by Connie Shaver)

Area Premiere of The Liar - Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage – September 9 to October 2

Two Stages, Sheer Fun

For many Minnesotan families such as mine, Labor Day marks the end of summer. There is a nervous excitement in our household as another school year begins. What will it bring into our lives? Surely, loads of laughter, tears; much clarity, but just as many misunderstandings; personal highs, and emotional lows. Life is like that–filled with drama, comedy and everything in between.

Excitement also runs high at Park Square Theatre as we begin our 2016-2017 season. This coming week, both our stages will be crazy-busy with marvelous, energetic fun. Park Square presents the area premiere of David Ives’ The Liar on the Proscenium Stage from September 9 to October 2; while Joe Chvala and the Flying Foot Forum complete their run of Passing Through Pig’s Eye from September 7 to 11, a roving performance that starts and ends at the Boss Thrust Stage.

Mounting the production of The Liar has been incredible fun for those who can’t wait to bring it to you live on stage. This summer, I have connected with many of the show’s actors and designers for glimpses of the mischievous world that they plan to entangle us in–a world of intricate wordplay, deceptive scenery, twisty plot and fast-paced humor. In the spirit of the show, individuals also shared their own funny stories about lying. (Be sure to read past blog posts and future ones about The Liar.) Everyone’s enthusiasm has been infectious, and I cannot wait to see this play.

The Liar in Dress Rehearsal

Last week, I brought my entire family to see Passing Through Pig’s Eye. We came not knowing much beyond the fact that we would learn some Saint Paul history but were absolutely WOWed by the inventive dance numbers and often gut-busting humor. All I can say is, “Go see it NOW before you can’t!” In my mind’s eye, I can still see those “crazy legs” of the loose-limbed gangster, tap dancing away in bright red shoes, and the hilarious image of a stage full of dancers holding dodge balls. I can still feel the adrenaline rush of watching anything-goes street dancing, followed by Joe Chvala and longtime Forum member Karla Grotting “dust up the floor” like those movie greats, Astaire and Rogers or Kelly and Reynolds. What hit my whole family hardest about the performance that night was the sheer joy of the dancers on the stage and on the street, having so much fun doing what they love most.

Passing Through Pigs Eye

The end of summer doesn’t mark the end of fun, just anticipation for more to come. Consider coming down to Park Square Theatre soon to share in the fun–our fun, your fun, sheer fun!

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