Sunday, May 13, 2012

He's BAA-AACK ! ! !

Blog me once, then blog me twice, then blog me once again,
It's been a long long time ....

It's been so long since I've written ... and things have been rough since last I wrote.  A hip replacement (excellent recovery),  family illnesses, and the death of my Mom, Georgia Ravanis Fennessy (1/21/1929-10/25/2011).  I've been doing my writing on Facebook, and, for no good reason, haven't been writing here.  But I'm back, and looking forward to ongoing communication.

I started this blog around the time of the 2010 Elliot Norton Awards, and here I am a week before the 2012 Awards starting back in.

Just a few comments on what I'm doing here:
Well, no, not really, though sometimes I'll have things to say about performances I see at theaters around town.  I'm hoping to promote local theater, while giving my take on what I see and what's going on in Boston and throughout New England.
Well, I'll try to be a source for what's going on, but I can't promise I'll be able to keep up with absolutely everything.  That's where you, readers, theater companies, publicists and others, come in.  Email me info about your events and I'll try to list all that I can.  And I'll try to get to everything I can, too.  I've been getting back to theater in a big way, both by going to shows and events, and by auditioning again.

And what about the many hats I wear?
That's a topic that has confused people ever since I started writing plays, casting my cousins, brother, and friends in them, and acting in, and putting on, shows in the backyard when I was 10.
I started acting in "Halfway To Concord", the fifth grade play about "David Lovett", a colonial boy whose family ( I remember he had a sister, "Elspeth") took a part in Paul Revere's ride, though I don't recall what it is they did.  Though a fictional family, I did my research, and on a Sunday ride with my Uncle Pete, my Mom, my brother Bob, and my Greek Grandparents, YiaYia and Papou Ravanis, we drove all over Concord and found the Lovett House, which I believed then was where my character lived.  I really never found out if he was an actual person, and I've always wondered if there was a historical context to our fifth grade Patriot's Day play.  But though I didn't know it, that was the start of my theatrical research, and also the beginnings of the support I've found throughout my life from my family for all the things that interested me.  We literally travelled up and down every road in Concord, though now that I think about it ... the play was called "Halfway to Concord" ... shouldn't we have been looking in, say, Belmont?  Arlington?  It never occurred to me then.  But I'll never forget that afternoon, sitting up front with my Mom and Uncle Pete, craning my neck out the window to read every historical signpost and placard.
The first actual play I recall directing was in high school, as a student project.  I directed George Bernard Shaw's one-act, "Passion, Poison and Petrifaction".  A one-act comedy, and the thing I remember most is that I decided to have "Hail, Britannia" sung at the close of the play, only I was sure the lyrics were "Hail! Britannia! Britannia all the way!", which amused my drama teacher greatly.  It was 1969.  I was 15.
I studied musical theater for only one year at the Boston Conservatory of Music.  At that time, the Conservatory (we didn't call it BoCo then ...) had a strong Dance program alongside its obvious concentrations in Music, but the Theater program wasn't as strong.  That year I was introduced to the true study of acting by my teacher Phoebe Wray, a dynamic teacher and performer who I later learned had a career that began in the Off Off Broadway movement in places like the Cafe Cino, with playwrights such as Lanford Wilson and Robert Patrick, and who continues to teach at BoCo.
But aside from Phoebe, and a wonderful voice teacher named Lillian Lee, I didn't feel I was getting enough, and didn't feel up to competing with the level of song and dance "triple threats"that, even then, the Conservatory was attracting.  So, at the urging of a friend, I auditioned for the Theater program at York University in Toronto, and for the next three years was in the Performance Stream, with a minimum of 9 hours a week of combined voice/movement/acting classes, in what I found to be a more complete Conservatory-like program.  It was at York that I began to direct, and took great advantage of the resources.  Each year, Student Project Week opened up the department facilities for student use.  One year a friend and I produced an experimental piece using the poetry of a Boston writer I had met at the Conservatory.  Another year I played Dick in DAMES AT SEA. And another year I played Bobby (at barely 22), the lead in Sondheim's COMPANY, while co-directing and choreographing.  And in my third year, I became Artistic Director of the York Cabaret, a student run cabaret theater in an on-campus pub.  One of the Cabaret's shows was "Passionella",  based on a Jules Feiffer story, which makes up Act Three of the musical THE APPLE TREE, and among the cast members was Risa Bramon Garcia, who went on to a hugely successful casting career (She cast Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, Roseann Barr's sit-com, and countless other projects over decades of casting solo and with her business partner Billy Hopkins), producing (100 Cigarettes, etc.), and is now a renowned acting teacher and coach based in LA and working throughout this country and in Canada.
So, in a sense, I've always worn many hats.  It's only been in the bigger arena of an adult career that I've confused so many who wonder what I'm up to.
At present, though I continue to freelance and pursue casting opportunities, and scout talent as a consultant to others in casting, I'm focusing on a return to theater, in both Acting and Directing.  In only a year of seriously putting myself out there as an actor, I performed with DEATH AND THE POWERS: THE ROBOTS OPERA at the Cutler Majestic, in the ensemble of "The Miseries of the World", directed by Diane Paulus and choreographed by Karole Armitage, and as Telegin in the Elliot Norton Award nominated production of UNCLE VANYA with Apollinaire Theatre Company, which returns in October 2012 for a month of performances.  Other opportunities are coming, and I'm exploring opportunities to direct again.  "Watch this space" for more information ...

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