Sunday, September 26, 2010

Who What When & Where: Boston's 2010-11 Season Shuffle

The 2010-2011 theater season is shaping up to be the most exciting Boston's past, present, and future.

Grab your iPhones, your blackberries, your organizers, or your keyboards, and kiss old habits goodbye. This season is going to be about where you're going, what you're seeing, and when the curtains rise.
The addition of Arts/Emerson and it's schedule, presenting international artists at a variety of venues; the ART's use of multiple locations; collaborations among the Huntington T
heatre, SpeakEasy Stage and the fringe-y Company One; the presentations of double-header productions at the Lyric Stage and Actors' Shakespeare Project.
These are some of the theatrical events that will keep audiences on the run this fall and winter, and set the pace for the rest of the season and the future of Boston theater.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This Is The Week That Is

Arts events around the world with a connection to Boston (and/or me)

Is it just me, or does this week hold for all of us events that will shape the future of the Arts and Media, locally, nationally, and internationally?
Here are my picks for some of the events that have long gestated and will now spring forth, shaping and affecting my world.

Wednesday September 22

Bus Stop at the Huntington Theatre, Boston
Tonight's opening of Willian Inge's Bus Stop , featuring Norton Sustained Excellence Award winner Karen MacDonald, the uber-talented and locally controversial Will Lebow, and BU graduate and up-and-coming actor Noah Bean, marks a continuation of renewed interest in American playwright William Inge. It promises to rescue the single set, three-act play from it's identity as a motion picture vehicle starring Marilyn Monroe. Directed by former Huntington Artistic Director Nicholas Martin, through Sunday, Oct. 17.

The Divine Sister, by Charles Busch, at the Soho Playhouse, NYC

Following a sold-out Off-off Broadway run last spring, playwright/actor Charles Busch (my personal muse) stars as Mother Superior in a return to the genre parody campy comedies of his early Theater-In-Limbo beginnings. (Note: Throughout the mid-90's I directed sell-out Boston premieres of his plays Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, it's companion piece, Sleeping Beauty, or Coma, and the Frankie and Annette inspired Psycho Beach Party).
Featuring Obie winner Julie Halston (my co-muse), Allison Fraser, and Jennifer Van Dyck. Open-ended run.

The Whole Truth
, ABC TV, premiering on television sets nationwide

Okay, "it's only TV", but the series features "The Rise And Rise" of MA native Stephanie Lemelin, model/actress/producer and animal rights advocate, as series star Rob Morrow's assistant Rhoda. (I cast Stephanie in her first film, the beautifully written and produced short Late Summer by UCLA grad David Ottenhouse, also starring Sheila Stasack, Robert Walsh, and Gus Kelley. A former intern fo Lynda St. James of The Cameo Agency, Stephanie also served a stint as a Kevin Fennessy Casting intern.)

Thursday September 23

Death And The Powers: The Robot's Opera World Premiere at L'Opera de Monaco

Composed by Todd Machover with a libretto and lyrics by Robert Pinsky, this is the opera world introduction of a co-production of the ART, MIT's New Media Lab, Opera Futurum and the Chicago Opera Theater, in association with Opera Boston. (See my previous entry, "The Robots and Me". DATP will have it's American Premiere at the Cutler Majestic in March).

American Gothic by Tennessee Williams, World Premiere produced by Beau Jest Moving Theatre at the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, Provincetown, MA

Boston-based Beau Jest, founded by Artistic Director Davis Robinson (currently on the faculty of Bowdoin College in Maine) and winners of the 1995 Boston Theater Critics Circle Award and the 2010 Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award, presents it's second World Premiere Williams play in as many years, following the success of The Remarkable Rooming House of Madame LeMonde. With Robinson and Lisa Tucker, co-founding member of Beau Jest. Through Sept. 26.

Fräulein Maria, Arts Emerson at the Cutler Majestic, Boston

The exciting new entry to Boston's Performing Arts scene, Arts Emerson's inaugural presentation features Boston dancer/choreographer David Parker (son of the late writer Robert Parker and philanthropist/Arts mainstay Joan Parker) as Liesl Von Trapp in Doug Elkins' modern dance production, performed to the score of the movie The Sound of Music. Classic Rogers and Hammerstein songs collide with hip-hop, and Elkins dances the role of Maria.
One week only.

My Generation ABC TV, premiering on television sets nationwide.
Another personal Boston connection marks the "big three" network debut of Casting Director David Rapaport. (David's introduction to casting began as an Emerson College KFC intern. Subsequently, I hired David as a Casting Assistant. He went on to intern with the great, late, Mali Finn, becoming a Casting Associate then striking out with casting partner Lindsay Kroeger, and then on his own as David Rapaport Casting. My pride is showing.)

Thursday, September 23 through Sunday September 26

Arts Emerson, Emerson College at the Paramount Center, Boston

Emerson College's Arts Emerson is "throwing open open the doors to our spectacular home, the Paramount Center, a cornerstone in the revitalization of downtown Boston".
An exciting four day introduction to the gorgeous reimagined Paramount Mainstage and it's various components.

Friday, September 24

Enron by Lucy Prebble, Zeitgeist Stage Company at the BCA

Under the direction of Artistic Director David Miller, the award-winning company presents a cast of Boston actors in the ambitious local premiere of the international British hit (and Broadway failure), a multi-media event based on the financial scandal of the fin de siecle.
Through Saturday Oct. 15.

That's just a sampling of the events happening worldwide with connection to the "Athens of America".

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Robots and Me

Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera
(Todd Machover, composer, Robert Pinsky, Libretto and Lyrics) has it's World Premiere on Thursday, September 24, in Monaco at L'Opera De Monaco)

It's the most technically complex music-theater piece I've ever been involved in.
Wait a minute: Opera? Technology? Me?

Appropriately enough, I first learned of the opportunity to participate through Twitter. A Twitter account I follow retweeted another Twitterer's tweet, responding to an ART post seeking volunteers to get involved in an ensemble rehearsal workshop. Directed by ART Artistic Director Diane Paulus, the ensemble would be choreographed by the great Karole Armitage (dubbed The Punk Ballerina in her early dance career).

Anyone who knows me knows my desire to revive my acting career, which began "post-academia" in 1976 (as I described in an earlier post. More info can be found at the Boston Irish Reporter , which featured a story in 2009 about my life in casting).
Having trained in Performance and Directing at Toronto's York University, I began a side career in directing in 1982 (the American premiere of Have by Hungarian playwright Julius Hay for Open Door Theater, the musical Boy Meets Boy for Boston's gay theater company, Triangle Theater, and a double bill of Trial By Jury and HMS Pinafore for Harvard's G&S Society at the Agassiz theater in Radcliffe Yard, which featured Broadway/TV/Film actor Craig Bierko, then a BU student, as Dick Deadeye). In 1995 I received Boston Magazine's Best Theatrical Director award (for the Boston premiere of Frank Galati's The Grapes of Wrath , outdoors for Open Door theater, and a revival of the children's musical Emil and The Detectives,, adapted by Andy Gaus and Karen MacDonald).
In 1994, while I was casting my 30+ member ensemble for The Grapes of Wrath, I began an association with Carolyn Pickman of CP Casting, who generouly allowed me to come in and use the company's actor headshots. Over two days I think I touched every headshot in those files. Carolyn stopped me one day and said, "What do you want to do, work here?". And so I did, until the end of 1997, when Boston actress/producer Christy Cashman offered to partner with me, and in 1998 we opened Kevin Fennessy Casting (the partnership dissolved in 2000, and I continued "on my own"). After surviving a devastating office fire in 2002, followed by a stress-induced heart attack, KFC ("We're Not Chicken") struggled on till the present. I still cast smaller projects and pursue other film casting jobs.

I jumped at the chance to work with Paulus and Armitage, albeit as a non-Equity volunteer. (I had forfeited my AEA card after performing with the New Repertory Theater in their 1994 production of Holiday Memories, as the Narrator, a Truman Capote stand-in, in this adaptation of two Capote stories, The Thanksgiving Visitor and A Christmas Memory. My last AEA, job as I chose to focus on casting).
Working with Karole brought me back to my ensemble-oriented university training. It was the mid-70's, when Canadian theater embraced an eclectic theatrical palate, especially anything that wasn't particularly British or American. After spending the previous year at the then rather traditional Boston Conservatory of Music, where acting classes meant a 45-minute scene and monologue class twice a week, the York theater program's 3 hour voice and movement workshops 3 times a week and the annual Student Project Week, when the department's facilities were turned over to the student body to experiment, perform, and empower us, was theatrical paradise. And I was the Rebel Yank, revelling in the experiences.

The opera tells the story of Simon Powers, his assistant, wife, and daughter. The set moves, illuminates, and supports projected images and people, and features a "chorus" of MIT designed and created Robots, all controlled by offstage technicians on a myriad of computers, laptops, and iPads. At one point in the midst of all this technology, a 30-member ensemble of "The Miseries of the World" storms the stage in a highly physical dance/movement piece.
For a week this summer at the end of June and another at the end of July, the ensemble met with Karole at MIT. Very quickly, Armitage assessed and learned the individual strengths of this volunteer ensemble, ranging in age from 12-65. In a pure and organic way, she exploited those strengths, a sculptor molding her human "clay".
As it evolved, I found I was one of the opening moments, hurling myself onstage from behind the set, landing on my knees, crawling and pleading for help, while lighting and sound supported the entrance of The Miseries.
Under the guidance of Broadway costume designer David Woolard, we created our own costumes. He described his vision of The Miseries as representative of all ethnicities, classes, and time periods. I decided my Misery would be a downsized 20th C. businessman, using components of a suit from 1979 (which, ahem, I could still fit into), distressing it with rips and tears with a razor and my hands, dipping the shirt and tie in double-strength coffee, rubbing in a paste of water and cigarette ash, burning holes and edges of shirtsleeves, tails, and cuffs with a lighter. On top of this, and as makeup, a pasty white pancake and spray creat the look of volcanic ash.
We toiled through technical rehearsals (I even volunteered to stand in for both soloists and robots during lighting sessions), and our work culminated in a full dress rehearsal on the stage of the beautifully restored Cutler Majestic Theater downtown. The enormous set was then disassembled to be shipped to Monaco for this week's premiere.
In Monaco, the company is putting together a local ensemble and teaching them the piece that the Boston ensemble created. But our Boston ensemble will perform in the American Premiere in the spring of 2011.

The decades between college and the physically taxing workshop, however, have taken their toll. The abandon with which I thrust myself into the experience resulted in increasing leg and knee pains: I exacerbated a condition I was completely unaware of. X-rays and orthopedics revealed to me and my doctors that I have acute arthritis in my right hip, it's cartilage eroded due to years of working on my feet in just about every job I've ever held, living most all of my life in third and fourth floor "walk-ups", genetics, and possibly from infant hip dysplasia (back in the mid-50's, when I was born, doctors weren't looking at such things). My left hip shows no arthritis, just minor signs of an active life well-lived, but my right hip is basically bone-on-bone. (I was told by my doctor that x-rays show I "have the knees of an 18 year old".)
In retrospect, this explains the minor aches and pains that have been coming on over the past few years. And so, on Wednesday Oct. 6, I'm undergoing total hip replacement surgery at New England Baptist Hospital, the best orthopedic facility in the region if not the country, with Dr. James Phillips , likewise one of the best in his field.

When I told a friend about my hip, he replied "Now you'll have the knees of an 18 year old and the hip of a Robot".
One of my goals in recovery is to be physically sound enough to perform with the opera in March at the Majestic.
I can't wait to work with my Robot brethren.
In costume for Dress Rehearsal in August


Another Opening of a Slew of Shows

The fall 2010 theater season is in full swing

Basham and Gottlieb in In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)

The ART Institute actors in Alice VS Wonderland

Kuttner, Thomas and Lyman in The Real Inspector Hound

Because of my impending surgery and a hiatus of recovery (Watch for my next post: Me And The Robots), I'm a little late to the start of the 2010/11 Boston theater season. I made it to three of the initial offerings, and while my wish always is to see absolutely everything, I have to apologize to the casts, crews, and companies whose productions I'll regretfully miss.
But on to the three I've seen.

The Real Inspector Hound
(Publick Theater at the BCA's Plaza Theater)
The Publick opens the season with a revival of Tom Stoppard's early effort, an absurdly layered parody of Agatha Christie-like whodunnits and overblown, self-important theater critics, with a Pirandellian shattering of the fourth wall turning it into a youdunnit fot the critcs. The cast of comic Boston actors is somewhat hampered by Mamet-like pacing and pauses, but impressive turns are delivered by Sheridan Thomas as the lumbering Mrs. Drudge the maid, Gabriel Kuttner as the wheelchair spinning Major Magnus Muldoon, and, as Lady Cynthia Muldoon, the piercingly blue-eyed and towering Georgia Lyman. While the body (no pun intended) of the work is a bit of a hit or miss, the curtain call staging is hysterically brilliant.

Alice VS Wonderland
(ART at the Loeb, a limited run showcasing the current ART Instute students, by the Hungarian director Janis Szasz)

Hewing closer to the original source than the recent Tim Burton movie, this Alice is an almost literal adaptation, with contemporary idioms, whimsical costumes with an 80's punk style, utilizing rock and pop music ranging from the Beatles to Lady GaGa.
If you lived through the ensemble-developed shows of the 60's and 70's, it may all seem a mite "retro".
It's a great showcase for the talented students, and a bridge from the past (Janos Szasz has been a favorite auteur of the Brustein/Woodruff regimes), to the present missions and the future of these promising performers.

In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)
SpeakEasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavillion)
Norton Award recipient Scott Edmiston works again with some of his best collaborators on Sarah Ruhls almost-Pulitzer play. A rock solid cast (including audience, critic, and award favorites Ann
e Gottlieb and Marianna Basham, dubbed by one writer the "Lucy and Ethel" of Victorian sexuality) includes the impressive local debut of Lindsey McWhorter as Elizabeth, the wet nurse. The physical production is another stunning example of the rise and resources of SpeakEasy Stage in this, the company's 20th Anniversary season.

I'll Miss This Event, But You Don't Have To

At the Inspector Hound performance I attended, Artistic Director Diego Arcienegas announced, a great free weekend-long event at Wellesley College on October 15 & 16. Titled Shakespearean Character On Trial, the events include a Keynote lecture on October 15 at 4:15 pm by Marjorie Garber (Harvard) and Carey Perloff (American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco), a performance by Shakespeare & Company 's founding Artistic Director Tina Packer of Women of Will (also on the 15th at 7:30 pm), and a Symposium on Theatre Criticism and Practice, with Packer, Arcienegas, Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director of the NY Public Theater and former AD of Trinity Rep in Providence), and nationally renowned theater director Joanne Akalaitis (Bard College,
the former artistic director of the New York Shakespeare Festival and founder of the critically acclaimed Mabou Mines in New York).
Did I mention it's all free?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Between a Rock and an ART Place

My Boston Theater career began, "officially", in 1976, on July 14, when the first play I was in "post-academia" opened (May Day, about the 70's Anti-War demonstrations in DC, written by Michael Wikes and directed by Andy Golov, both BU theater grads, at the former Boston Arts Group Theater, a second story black box on Boylston near the Pru). That fall, I toured coast to coast with Maxine Klein's Little Flags Theater, followed by Vatzlav ("Bobby Bat") at People's Theater (where else but in Cambridge), readings and workshops, and my first of many outdoor summer shows with the now defunct Open Door Theater (playing the radio announcer Gabriel Heatter in Toby Armour's Masque & Revelries of Calamity Jane {Kathryn Woods} and Her Would-Be Daughter Mrs. McCormick {M. Lynda Robinson}).
Then came one of my favorite roles ever: Grundeis, "the notorious thief" in a touring production of the German children's story Emil and The Detectives, with music by Andy Gaus, and book and direction by the Next Move Theater's Karen MacDonald.

And there lies my dilemma.

Before and since that tour, I became close friends with Karen, who I've always felt was one of the most talented actors I've known. (In the mid to late 90's, we were NY roommates in Brooklyn). Karen's friendship, support and love have had great importance in my professional and personal lives. When Diane Paulus became Artistic Director of the ART, I heard from many about the changes afoot, the dissolution of the Acting Company (which was actually begun by Robert Woodruff), and questionable season choices.

The "old" ART, which under Robert Brustein and his successors had produced some of my favorite shows (A Midsummer Night's Dream with the malevolent and inspired Puck of Mark Linn Baker, Comedy of Errors with Karen and Cherry Jones in their toilet-paper-doll dresses, Six Characters In Search Of An Author, True West, King Stag, No Exit, Mother Courage, 2008's Endgame, among many others) and some of the most maddening (Shakespeare's Pericles, Trojan Barbie, When It's Hot It's Cole, to name just a few), was no more.

At some point I stopped going unless Karen was featured, and post-show conversations were more about the process and "the weather".

Now, with the controversy surrounding Diane Paulus, the "a.r.t.", and the now infamous Will LeBow Letter, I find myself (having established this blog) needing to register a response.

I'm torn (how many weeks have I been composing this entry?) between past loyalties and the realization that I'm enjoying myself, at both the Loeb and at Oberon, with the "sense and sensibilities" of this "new regime".

I've boogied down at The Donkey Show, jumped to my feet at Best of Both Worlds, and left humming the tunes of Johnny Baseball.

I've also watched Karen (if possible) grow, deepen, and continue to excel in productions all over New England, most notably in All My Sons in a stellar performance at the Huntington, and in the tour-de-force cast full of characters in The Blonde, The Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead at the Merrimack in Lowell.

My "Pollyanna 'Can't We All Just Get Along' " outlook is evident, and has been criticized by many.

As the wonderful Tommy Derrah sings in the current runaway hit production of Cabaret, "So What?".

I mourn the loss of the repertory company of actors, I feel for my friends and colleagues who are so personally and professionally upset, but I embrace the change.
Maybe I'm just a musical comedy kid with a penchant for "the immersive experience". But I'm not on board the "Get Her" train (a blog I read used that italicized phrase as an entry title). I'm looking forward to the coming season with bright, wide eyes.

And I can't wait to see Karen in Bus Stop at the Huntington

Friday, August 20, 2010

Closing this week, the funny and fast-paced Central Square Theater production of The Hound of The Baskervilles.

Who is killing the Baskervilles? What is happening backstage that threatens the actors' well-being? And Why is Remo Airaldi wearing a dress?
The answer to these and many mysterious questions that plague the actors and the characters they play can be found in the funny and fast-paced Central Square Theater production of The Hound of The Baskervilles.
Adapted by British writers Steven Canny and John Nicholson from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes caper, this Hound is performed by three highly skilled and talented Boston actors who portray the entire ensemble of characters.
Remo Airaldi, an ART regular (he and Tommy Derrah play Herr Schulz and Fraulein Schneider in the ART season opener Cabaret, currently in rehearsal) plays an atypical Holmes, a rather anti-Basil Rathbone casting choice, with an ever-ready spyglass and Meerschaum pipe. He also plays a nefarious houseman and his sister (his appearances as the vamping Venezuelan sister are hysterical). As his assistant Dr. Watson, the handsome and versatile Bill Mootos is ever at his side, with latent possibilities just under, and over the surface. Trent Mills, still a student at the Boston Conservatory, plays the Baskervilles (all of them), including a collection of expressions in a gallery of portraits.
The mostly 2-D set gives a turn-of-the-other-century feel to the evening's conceit of a small (very small) touring company who've come to town.
Bill Mootos welcomes us, in character as "Bill", introducing the other two, appropriately called "Remo" and "Trent". They break the fourth wall again at intermission, when mysterious backstage events lead Trent to call a halt to the proceedings, and all go off to investigate what's happening, creating a reason for the audience to enjoy the newly established lobby pub (The Thirsty Fang), with a beer and wine license, soft drinks and baked goods.
As the condensed novel's plot and myriad characters are somewhat convoluted and hard to follow, the cast returns for Act Two with a recap of the first half at break neck speed, a tour-de-force romp for all three, especially Airaldi.
Tommy Derrah, best known for literally scores of performances at the ART, in regional theaters, and on Broadway ("Jackie: An American Life"), directs the trio of quick-change artists in a campy, comic romp: Sherlock Holmes meets Irma Vep. Timing is sharp and no stone goes unturned (nor a 2-dimensional boulder). The three perform as a true ensemble, seamlessly in sync (except when the seams are intentionally exposed for hilarious effect).
With closing weekend at hand, get a ticket (if you can). It's a perfect summer evening, suitable for all ages. The night I went, the almost sold-out crowd was multi-generational, with many kids laughing along with their parents.
After the performance, Executive Director Catherine Carr Kelly, told me that the success of the lobby bar "pub" has set them thinking of ways to adapt it to fit the setting of upcoming shows. For this show, the name of the pub came from the winner of an online contest at
See the show, join their mailing list, and enter the contest. You might just come up with the winning name for a wine and beer bar to compliment their next show, Truth Values: One Girl's Romp through the MIT Male Math Maze, Gioia De Cari's solo performance memoir.
Romper Room? The Gioia of Drinking?
Brew Values?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Equity and Non-Equity Boston Auditions at the A. R. T.

Next week, August 16-20, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge will hold auditions for it's 2010-2011 season, and "straight from the horse's mouth" the theater is actively seeking Boston area actors to come out for these auditions.
I know, as a longtime locally based actor, that for years the perception has been, for local actors, that there wasn't enough real interest in hiring local talent. But I've been contacted to help rid the community of the "unapproachable Tower on the Hill"
mentality regarding the ART.
Of course, using another old maxim, "the proof is in ..." the casting.
There are many actors who have felt, "why bother? They won't hire us anyway".
But, while there are still residual feelings regarding the former company members who were "cut" from what was once a resident company, there is a real interest in seeing the talent in the community that hasn't come out in the past.
Previously, I made a comment regarding the Cabaret cast. A number of local Donkey Show cast members are currently in rehearsal for the season opener, Cabaret, including Aly Trasher, who makes the transition from a fantastic non-AEA performance as Tytania/Zander in The Donkey Show to a card-carrying Equity member in the role of Sally Bowles. I think it's a great sign that local talent is being solicited and hired.
We'll only know the outcome once the season is cast. Of course, I can guarantee a lack of local talent if actors don't audition.
Reprinted below is the schedule of auditions and the procedure. I hope I've helped convince you that it's worth a shot!

American Repertory Theatre-2010-11 Season Auditions

The American Repertory Theatre will hold its auditions for it 2010-11 Season in Cambridge on:
Monday, August 16th​11:00AM-6:00PM​Equity Principal​Dramatic & Singing
Tuesday, August 17th ​11:00AM-6:00PM​Equity Principal​Dramatic & Singing
Wednesday, August 18th​12:00PM-6:00PM​Non Equity Auditions​Monologues Only
Thursday, August 19th​12:00PM-6:00PM​Equity Callbacks​Dramatic
Friday, August 20th​10:00AM-1:00PM​Non Equity Auditions​Monologues & Singing

2:00PM-6:00PM​Equity Callbacks​Dramatic & Singing

All auditions will be held in Rehearsal Room D at the ART/Loeb Drama Center located at 64 Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA.

AEA members without appointments will be seen throughout the day as time permits.

Please prepare one short monologue (under two minutes), either contemporary or classical and 16-32 bars of a song or two short monologues, either contemporary or classical. Please bring sheet music.

The American Repertory Theatre is a LORT C/D theatre committed to an inclusive casting policy of non-traditional casting and encourages all actors to audition regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, or the presence of a disability.

Please bring picture and resume stapled together. If you are unable to attend, please send picture and resume to:

American Repertory Theatre, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 ATTN: Chris De Camillis, Artistic Coordinator
No phone calls or emails please.

Music, Lyrics, Script, and Videography by Jim Bauer

Artwork, Story, and Videography by Ruth Bauer

Directed by Will Pomerantz

First Rehearsal: October 26, 2010
First Performance: December 1, 2010
Last Performance: January 8, 2011

Fusing the sounds of Weimar cabaret and country-western music, The Blue Flower takes us on a journey from Belle Epoque Paris to the World War I battlefields. As the artist Max Baumann assembles his memories into a spectacular collage, he reveals the story of four friends and lovers trying to make their way through a world in pieces. Please note that the creators of Blue Flower are interested in performers that have unique, more non-traditional singing voices, not a traditional “Broadway” sound. The musical influences on the score vary widely and marry Kurt Weill, Country and Western and Art Rock.

MAX (Understudy): plays 40’s-early 50’s (but must be able to be able to play both younger and older, specifically a man around 60) – A famous German artist, lecturer, and former medical orderly. Max is full of life, with a sense of humor and irony, but he also carries within him the pain and rage of WWI, which occasionally surfaces. Max lectures in “Maxperanto,” a language of his own creation, which the actor must learn/create. Baritone, but must have ability to sing various genres of music.

MARIA (Understudy): plays mid-late 20’s – A brilliant young scientist and irrepressible bon vivant, she is Franz’ love and the object of Max’s not-so-secret desire. She is changed by Franz’ death during the war and remains faithful to him after his death, while also caring about Max and Hannah. Doubles in comic role of Hostess for one of Max’s lectures. Vocally, a lovely lyric pop sound, preferably alto, but some flexibility re range.

FRANZ (Understudy): plays 20’s – A young German artist and soldier during the war, Franz is Max’s best friend and Maria’s lover. Franz has the openness and idealism of youth, as well as its magnetism, yet he is profoundly changed by his experience on the battlefields of WWI, moving from idealism to despair. Strong lyric pop tenor.

FAIRYTALE MAN (Understudy): 30’s-40’s – Max’s guide through the journey of his past. He is wise, with a deep sense of human nature, but also playful and mysterious, and never judgmental. Must have strong movement and text skills. Tenor or baritone.

DADA PERFORMER 1 & 2: 20’s-30’s – A performer at the Dada Cabaret Voltaire. Also doubles as soldier, party guest, German citizen. Strong movement background required, as well as humor and versatility. Vocal range flexible.

Please Note: The producers are open to having one of the Dada Performer tracks being performed by a woman.

By Sophocles, in a new translation by Charles Connaghan
​Directed by Sarah Benson

First Rehearsal: January 11, 2011
​ First Performance: February 12, 2011
​Last Performance: March 12, 2011

As the great warrior Ajax recovers from a bout of madness, he struggles to live with the consequences of his crazed violence and with the trauma of war. A poignant examination of how combat affects the mind of a soldier, Sophocles’ tragedy speaks directly to our times. A world premiere translation of this classic work, under the direction of Obie Award-winning director, Sarah Benson.


Written and Directed by D.W. Jacobs

First Rehearsal: September 25, 2007
First Performance: January 13, 2011
Last Performance: February 5, 2011

Journey through the universe on Spaceship Earth with the Leonardo da Vinci of the twentieth century as your guide. Futurist, environmentalist, and geodesic dome designer Bucky Fuller takes us on an adventure through his life and times—from his childhood in Massachusetts, to his meeting with Albert Einstein, to his breakthrough moments of invention. A visionary who anticipated many of the challenges the world faces today, Fuller shows us how to save humanity and the planet by doing more with less.

This is a one man show based on the life of R. Buckminster Fuller. An offer is out, but the theater will be seeing people for replacements and understudies.


Book by Joe Masteroff; Music by John Kander; Lyrics by Fred Edd
Directed by Steven Bogart

First Rehearsal: July 26, 2010
First Performance: August 31, 2010
Last Performance: October 29, 2010

Take your seat at the Kit Kat Klub, the perfectly marvelous cabaret where singer Sally Bowles meets writer Cliff Bradshaw. As the two pursue a life of pleasure in Weimar Berlin, the world outside the Klub begins to splinter. Sally and Cliff are faced with a choice: abandon themselves to pleasures promised by the cabaret, or open their eyes and face the coming storm.

This show has been cast but the theater will be seeing people for replacements and understudies.


Text and lyrics by Steven Sater (from the play by Aeschylus)

Music composed by Serj Tankian
Directed by Diane Paulus

First Rehearsal: January 24, 2011
First Performance: February 24, 2011
Last Performance: March 25, 2011

An outcry against tyranny, Prometheus Boundillustrates one man's struggle against the brute force of a ruthless dictator. Written by Tony and Grammy Award-winning lyricist and playwright Steven Sater(Spring Awakening) with music composed by Grammy Award-winning System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian, this new musical is inspired by Aeschylus's ancient Greek tragedy about the suffering of Western civilization's first prisoner of conscience. A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus stages this world premiere production in OBERON, immersing the audience in an environment that has the Dionysian energy and rebelliousness of a rock concert.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Spring into Summer Theater Season

With summer around the bend, the vibrant spring theater season is coming to a close.
But you can still catch a few shows before the summer shows kick in (some have already begun:) ).
(One of the best listing resources continues to be the Boston Phoenix's Play by Play)
A few suggestions ...
The Great American Trailer Park Musical... closing this weekend
If you've yet to see The Great American Trailer Park Musical, you've got a few more chances this weekend. Now more than ever I personally needed a good long laugh and this cast and show provided many! Don't miss the trio of Kerry Dowling, Mary Callanan, and pint-sized newcomer Santina Umbach, the Trash-talking trio. Welcome David Benoit back to town, see Grant McDermot huffing his way to the park in pursuit of Caitlin Crosbie Doonan as a stripper with a heart of ... well, a heart, anyway, (and plenty of soul) and marvel at both the pathos and humor in Leigh Barrett's agoraphobic! Kudos to Paul Daigneault & company. The voices are fabulous, kitschy sets and costumes capture the mood, and the whole show is a hoot!

The Lady With All the Answers... closes June 26
Stephanie Clayman brings the familiar (to those of a certain age ...) midwest twang and earthy pragmatism of Eppie "Ann Landers" Lederer to life in her portrayal of The Lady With All the Answers, playing at the Central Sq. Theater. Though the script is a fairly standard "one-person bio/recreation", occuring on a "special night" (Ann/Eppie is toiling over writing "the most difficult column I have ever tried to put together. . ." ), with a reason for an intermission (Ann retires offstage to take a relaxing bath where she often did her letter-writing), it's Stephanie Clayman's fine performance, aided by Daniel Gidron's staging that makes great use of the lovely Central Square Theater space, that makes the evening so warm, funny and touching .

Friday, June 18, 2010


ART's The Donkey Show continues through the summer at "Club Oberon", 2 Arrow Street in Cambridge

Admittedly, I'm very late to The Donkey Show party. Though I lived in NYC from '87-'94, and spent the next three years shuttling between Boston and NYC, I never made it down to see the show where it premiered. And last fall, I was "deterred" by associates who pooh-poohed the event as "not really theater".
Boy, did I make a big mistake.
I had seen Best of Both Worlds and was totally taken with the show, and with seeing so many performers I didn't know on the Loeb stage. With a raucous and uplifting score, ranging from Blues to Rock to Gospel, the adaptation of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale was my first taste of "the new" ART.
And when I was ready to drop my need for a stage and an audience separated by the fourth wall and visit Sleep No More, I was too late: all the subsequent performancs were sold out.
But I wasn't about to let the response of some others keep me from The Donkey Show.
A Midsummer Night's Dream is the Shakespeare play I am most intimate with. It was the first play I recall seeing, with my Mom, a production at Cambridge High and Latin School when I was a kid. And then later, as a student at the high school, I played Peter Quince in our director Bob Guest's musical adaptation called Into The Woods (no, not THAT Into the Woods ...), with "book by William Shakespeare". My favorite traditional performance was when Robert Brustein first established the ART. Mark Linn Baker was the Puck of my imagination: thrillingly malicious, enjoying every moment of toying with these foolish mortals. Among that cast was the unforgettable Titania of Carmen DeLavallade, John Bottoms' Bottom, and wonderful character turns by Richard Spore and Max Wright. And when the ART produced the show at the Wilbur Theater downtown, there was my friend/colleague Karen MacDonald, having been embraced by the new company, battling Robert Brustein in armor as Hippolyta to his Theseus.
So, armed with my knowledge of the play and turning a deaf ear to those who huffed "it's not Shakespeare", but buoyed on by the encouragement of so many others who believed I'd enjoy the experience, I got in line at Club Oberon and got my wristband.
The doorman (Steve DeMarco) looked at me, gestured toward my buttoned collar, and said "Another button, my man ... let it breathe!" and I obediently undid a few and walked on in.
And when I did, I walked into a 70's disco extravaganza in full swing! The lights, the music, the disco ball, the Go-Go Boys and other cast members working the crowd, brought me right back to the days of Donna Summer and Disco Inferno. I found myself falling immediately back into "Club Face": looking around the room, taking everyone in without betraying a blaise "seen-it-all, not-looking-at-you" demeanor.
By now everyone knows the premise: Shakespeare's basic plot of mismatched lovers encountering a magical world of fairies and love potions, with the low comedy of the Rustics and their play-within-a-play. As the "story" unfolds to disco anthems of the era, my need to define which character was who, and where the plot was, dropped away, and the parralels resonated more strongly. Once the two Vinnie's began Car Wash, I was hooked with them as the "replacement" for Bottom and the Rustics. The immersion into a disco fantasy was so complete that it carried me right on through the event. The whole evening was enormously clever (and I say clever in the best possible way, with no post-modern attitude).
And, as one who works in Casting and has been directing and acting in theater since childhood, I had what they call today an OMFG moment during the curtain call. Let's just say that a cast of 8, including two different same-sex quartet dance numbers, play the 12 characters in a dazzling feat of double-casting.
I thought the entire young cast was perfectly suited to their roles. Without diminishing any one else's contributions, I have to say that I was blown away by Aly Trasher, Lucille Duncan, and Rachael Hunt, and their versatility. And the Go-Go Boys are totally non-stop Dancing Machines. (Having seen the show twice now, I've seen at least 6 of the dancers who play the four roles: not all of them have to perform their 90 minute dance routine twice a night on Saturdays.)
There has been an undercurrent rumble in the acting community, that this is an all nonunion cast. But from what I know, they're all being paid quite well, are being treated wonderfully and appear to be having the time of their lives.
And on that note, I was thrilled to learn that the above mentioned Aly Trasher will return to the ART this fall, in Diane Paulus's production of Cabaret, in the same space, this time with an Actor's Equity card. I can't help but see a parralel in another actress, embraced between the first and second seasons of a former Artistic Director. Not a bad path to follow ...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BODY OF PROOF to shoot In Rhode Island

There's great news for Rhode Island.
The ABC series BODY OF PROOF will begin production soon, as announced by the Rhode Island Film Office. The show began as one of three pilots that shot in New England (the other two, Boston's Finest and The Quinn-tuplets, were both shot in Boston, but neither went to series).

"The Rhode Island Film & TV Office is pleased to announce that a new television series, BODY OF PROOF (formerly BODY OF EVIDENCE), has been picked up for ABC’s fall primetime schedule and will start filming episodes for its first season throughout the Ocean State in July 2010. Pre-production will commence immediately in the Warwick offices. The ABC Studios original television pilot was filmed in Rhode Island earlier this year."

This means another television series for Rhode Island, which was the setting for the Showtime series Brotherhood, and the NBC series Providence. Both of those shows provided weeks of work, each of their production years, for crew and talent throughout New England. Boston's Angela Peri of Boston Casting is doing the local casting, with extras casting by Rhode Island Casting Director Anne Mulhall of LDI Casting.

And on the topic of ABC series with a local connection, I'm proud to share that LA-based Casting Director David Rapaport, who interned and was an assistant for me in 1999/2000, is casting MY GENERATION, another new show from ABC, premiering this fall. A graduate of Emerson College, David has accrued quite a resume in film and television casting, including Gossip Girl, 90210, and MTV's new series The Hard Times of R J Berger, which premiered this week.
(David was interviewed for The Virtual Channel Network's series, "Inside Casting". The first of his six-part interview can be seen here.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Johnny Baseball: Homo-what?who?where?

We've all read them. Reviews by a writer who can't understand the enthusiastic response an audience gives a show, a performer, a moment. Often there's a 'maybe it's just me' disclaimer, acknowledging this rapt or elated response elicited from others. And sometimes the review will pan the experience unfairly, deterring some from even going, and causing others to wonder, "What show is she/he talking about?"
But what does one do when a critic calls a show out for something that, on careful examination through multiple viewings with a fixed focus, isn't even there?
The reviews for "Johnny Baseball" are in, and the show is off and running, with quotes like "cleverly crafted and terrifically performed ... Helmer Diane Paulus hits a clean line drive straight into center field with a thoughtful, crowd-pleasing and deftly balanced show" (Variety). I've agreed and disagreed with this or that, but nothing confounded me like a comment in the Boston Globe.
In her "Johnny Baseball" review, critic Louise Kennedy wrote: "Ultimately, “Johnny Baseball’’ wants to teach a small part of a familiar lesson — we should all learn to get along, and people should be free to love whom they please — within a feel-good musical. Given the theme, it’s just wrong that some of the show’s jokes are cheaply homophobic, but that’s the only even remotely political remark that could be made about a show that celebrates baseball, multiculturalism, and the American way."
(Cue the "Excuuuuuuuuse me?" voice-over tape).
As I said, I've seen the show three times now, once before reading that review, and twice since.
To put it plainly, what show is she talking about?
I was hesitant to even reprint her comment, but though the Globe readership dwarfs an audience I might reach, I couldn't feel this way and not express it.
For example, about a dozen or so years ago, I helped cast a reading of a freshman screenplay for an up and coming writer. It was set in a Boston Irish inner city neighborhood, and I found the undercurrent of unaddressed homophobia to be an issue I had to bring up. Unfortunately, I was met by a very deaf ear. Instead of listening and discussing the problem I had with it, I was told I was wrong, that's how these guys are, sorry you feel that way, goodbye.
When it's there, I see it and I say it.
But in the case of the Globe review, I just don't see it.
In the comments that follow the review online, there are a few readers who question the remark. One of them, "btmitch", said it best:
"I saw this show on Friday, and like some other people, I didn't notice anything "homophobic." In fact, I thought the whole "it's legal in this state" discussion was a pretty clear reference to other marriages that are legal in this state."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"JOHNNY BASEBALL": Take Me Out to the Theater

"Johnny Baseball" is a love song to two Great American Pastimes: Baseball and Old-Fashioned Musical Comedy

I grew up on musicals. Now, this wasn't an obsession, but more of an escape and an inspiration. I didn't, like a childhood friend, make an audio reel-to-reel recording on a portable tape recorder, IN the movie theater, of Barbra Streisand's cinema debut in "Funny Girl". (I did once produce a musical number in a friend's garage, lipsynching Connie Francis's "Lipstick On Your Collar" to the bewildered encouragement of family and friends.) And I was in awe, in the sixth grade, of the Asian girl in my class who was in a production of The King and I (By 9th grade, I spent a summer as Randolph MacAphee in "Bye Bye Birdie" in a summer stock theater in Olde Orchard Beach.)
So, with the world premiere of a new musical opening at the American Repertory Theater, I took advantage of every opportunity to see "Johnny Baseball" through the various ticket offers that were made available during final previews and opening week. I saw three performances: the final preview on Tuesday, and then a Saturday matinee and the Sunday evening show.
It just keeps getting stronger. As the show settles in, the powerhouse cast has continued to grow more and more confident, and by Sunday night everything soared. It's hard to single any one of them out. Every cast member has their individual shining moments, and together they create a stunning ensemble.
"Johnny Baseball" embraces the sentiments and structure of an old-fashioned musical. It's a beautifully produced show, and audiences love it. In her Boston Globe review, Louise Kennedy said that the fans would decide if it's a hit. I know, for sure, that they have: It is!!!
I've heard the questions, "Could it play in NY?" "Is it 'too Boston' ?"
I think it could, but I have an idea:
I'd love to see it develop into a long-running show, another "Shear Madness", with a Boston cast as strong and multi-talented as the originals. I'd put it on Lansdowne Street and make it a "destination show', let it sit and develop into a production audiences are drawn to Boston to see.
Whatever the future, see it now. Bring the family: I've seen how it works for a hugely wide and varied demographic of audiences, all ages and races.
And you know what? I've been going to the Loeb since 1970 (I recall seeing the late Christopher Reeve as MacHeath in a summer production of The Threepenny Opera, for you local theater historians, and was in a student-directed Most Happy Fella in 1971), and it's kinda fun eating hotdogs in the theater.

And, I love thinking about the possibilities: Just as I hope The Donkey Show can encourage its audience to come back to the theater, I wonder "what if Red Sox Nation not only embraced this show, but got hooked on going to others?"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Night at the "Norties"

Towards the very end of the 2 hour Elliot Norton Awards ceremony on Monday night, MC Joyce Kulhawik referred to the awards as "the Norties". An actress near me bristled slightly, but I thought it was a great way to sum up the evening, a cross between reverent and eclectic, celebrating the 2009-2010 Boston theater season.
(Click here for all the nominees and winners)
This year, the show included performances from the three nominated musicals. The Gold Dust Orphans performed the production number "Masquerade" from Ryan Landry's Phantom of the Oprah to kick off the event in high style. Watching the company perform on that gorgeous stage gave a taste of the possibilities that lie ahead, when the Orphans have room to spread their wings, shake their tail feathers, and fly (in wigs and heels). SpeakEasy Stage Company presented a montage of pieces from the winning production, Adding Machine, once again showcasing an ensemble of gorgeous voices perfectly in tune with the sometimes atonal and off-putting score, dazzling when taken as a whole. Unfortunately, the producers chose to include a number from the ART's Best of Both Worlds the only way possible: by videotape. The bad sound made too many of the lyrics unintelligible.
Another unfortunate touch was the prerecorded playing of the Overture From Gypsy, the great show biz musical fable, accompanying every slide show of each category's nominees. By the second time, it got old.
Barry Rocklin did his usual best as the evening's piano accompanist, playing winners and presenters on and off. He tried his best to overplay the Gypsy opening from time to time but sadly that idea never took off.
The night's first award was presented to special guests Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams.
And now the Elephant in the Room.
They presented a Gracie Allen & George Burns/Abbott and Costello "Who's-On-First" inspired sketch-y routine, poor Brooke confused by who Elliot Norton was.
As the haughtiest of Brahmins might exclaim, "Ex-cuuuuuuuuuuuuse Me?"
We treat our Elliot with total and well earned reverence and respect. Confusing him for Ralph Kramden's sewer-mate Ed Norton was borderline offensive and not at all funny. It left me with the nagging question, why them, why now? Certainly Tony has spent many years as an actor at the ART, and created dazzling performances as one of the country's finest repertory actors, before taking Broadway and Television by storm. But I didn't understand what their place was in the evening. It did, however, allow for a great photo opp, especially with Cherry Jones present to celebrate Karen's night. (See photo, Brooke Adams, Cherry Jones, Tony Shalhoub, Karen MacDonald. © Leo Gozbekian Photography)
The presenters included last year's award winners, making for a nice sense of continuity from one season to the next.
Among the winning acceptance speeches, some of my personal favorites include:
-Larry Coen, funny and humble, sending a big shout out to the other Gold Dust Orphans director, Jim Byrne, who was unable to direct Phantom of the Oprah due to other scheduling commitments. (Before the show, Larry reminded me that he first met Ryan when I asked them to perform in a one-night "All-Star" benefit performance of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom that I directed in 2004, with a cast that included Ryan, Larry, Karen MacDonald, Maureen Keiller, John Kuntz, and Bobbie Steinbach, among others.)
-Olive Another, of the Gold Dust Orphans, ad-libbing through an acceptance speech for Jeffrey "Varla Jean Merman" Roberson (I ran into Olive
in front of the Paramount Center before the show, dressed in a reverse-dalmatian-spotted black and white sequined suit with a tasteful little slit up the back, a black beehive wig and heels. He told me that besides performing in the opening and hoping the Gold Dust Orphans would win one of the nominations they'd received, he was accepting the Outstanding Musical Performance if Jeffrey/Varla Jean won. But he didn't have anything from Jeffrey to say. "I'm waiting on a text.")
-Karen MacDonald, with her reading glasses, delivering a speech that was full of gratitude, humor, and inspiration, calling on the younger emerging artists to take a look at the "old guard" and take comfort in hearing from those who testify of the rewards of a life in the theater. (Carolyn Clay, who was a BU classmate of Karen's and acted with her in a Feydeau farce, presented the award with a lovely introduction, with personal remembrances and a professional run down of Karen's many career accomplishments. She also added, "To us, Elliot Norton was not just a name. He was our Teacher." A dig at the routine from the "special guests"?)
(Last year's StageSource Theatre Hero recipient, Rick Lombardo, became a leit-motif of humor throughout the evening. From all reports, Rick launched into a speech that I've heard ran anywhere from 15 to 25 (!) minutes long. The awards ceremony was peppered with jokes about Rick's speech, including an announcement from the podium that Rick was on the phone and had a few things to say).
The show was followed by a party in the Black Box Theater, a performance space off the upper lobby of the theater. Across a crowded room one could see the movers and shakers of Boston's theater community laughing, talking, "working", playing, letting down their hair and generally catching up. It was a great evening ...
Next up, the Other Great Event:
The 12th Annual Boston Theater Marathon Sunday, May 23,
from 12 noon to 10 pm.
50 ten-minute plays by 50 New England playwrights presented by 50 New England theater companies in 10 hours. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door. Click the link to learn more

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Weekend of shows and a reminder ...

While I regret missing out on the Emerging Artist's Festival this past weekend, I spent time dashing around seeing local theater, and having a great time doing it.
Last Friday I began the weekend with HALF-WITS, at the Boston Playwrights' Theater (two remaining performance, Fri. and Sat. May 21 & 22 at 8).
Produced by the Son- Mother team of Charlie and Dossy Peabody, with direction by Charlie, HALF-WITS is a collection of sketches by Larry Blamire (and one from the director). It's a winning evening, and an introduction to Larry's comic mind.
Written over 20 years ago, the sketches stand up to contemporary themes: maintaining human dignity in a challenging society. Larry's sketches and characters are drawn in bold strokes, and established quickly in the first few moments; conflicts ensue, and we're off. From the opening, a scene in a restaurant with the world's worst waitress, revealed as a public service announcement, to the closing (watch as the quartet of neurotic characters, a customer, the manager and the employees of a copy shop, work out a method to complete the simplest of tasks, against all odds), it's a world of lost connections and miscommunication, but not for lack of trying. With pure "let's-put-on-a-show" energy and talent, the Theatre Nine production is a bare-bones treat, and reminds those of us who know Larry's work of his comic beginnings, and introduces a new audience. Click here for more about Larry Blamire.
Saturday afternoon, my Mom and I saw the Wheelock Family Theater's charming adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Simply and theatrically, Jim Byrne created an under-and-over-the-sea set for both worlds. Margaret Ann Brady's Sea Witch was a hoot! Her fabulously evil and delicious cackling laugh is Wicked-Witch/CruellaDeVille perfection! (Oh, and did I mention her Whale Song? Margaret Ann sings like a whale. A. Whale. Song. On porpoise!) (couldn't resist). Congratulations to Jane Staab and the Wheelock Family Theatre.
Saturday evening was The Gulls, Ryan Landry's hysterical adaptation of Hitchcock's The Birds. Led by Scott Marino (AKA Penny Champayne) in a Tippi-Hedren-channelling performance, everything you've heard is true:
The Gulls by Ryan Landry is a riot! Reliably and outrageously silly. Go for the thrills of seeing an aviary of birds attack a gaggle of sturm und drag actors in the basement of a bar! (at Machine thru the end of this month).
Sunday afternoon, friends and I made the trek to the Merrimack Repertory Theatre's closing performance of The Blonde, The Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead, starring tonight's Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence winner, Karen MacDonald. Though the play wasn't all I'd hoped it would be, Karen's brilliant talents were on full display, in a one-person tour-de-force, creating characters, male and female, ranging from a 4 1/2 yr old boy, to an octagenarian widow. Directed by Emerson College's Melia Bensussen, the sold-out house gave Karen a well-deserved rousing standing ovation.

And now the reminder:
The Elliot Norton Awards, tonight at the Paramount Theater. As of 2:00 pm, there were still tickets available, but only by going to the box office, opening at 6pm. Doors to the theatre open at 6:30, awards ceremony at 7, and various after-parties are being hosted by nominees and winners.
As mentioned above, this year's
Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence will be presented to Karen Macdonald.
Special Guests include former ART company member Tony Shalhoub and his wife, actress Brooke Adams.
Celebrate the vibrant 2009-2010 theater season! See you there.

Monday, May 10, 2010

You asked for it ...

... or maybe you didn't. But responses to my Facebook postings and musings on the goings-on in Boston's acting community have convinced me to put it all under one internet blogging "roof".
More to come soon ... send your notes, PR and actor propoganda to