Senior Interviews: 1-4-9

Okay. Okay. So… weeks. Our bad! Finals and graduation and Senior-Showcase-Revues-that-we-put-together-in-4-hours take up A LOT of time! Also, typing is hard. We have big heads and little arms…

But enough about us! Three (3) more interviews here, featuring three (3) more grown-up ladies!

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Jackie Spoleti is hardcore. She’ll mess you up real bad, forrealz. With her fists. And her acting skills. Her acting skills are so hXc that she picked up a Cabbie award for her performance as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre in last year’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

She also does voices. Ask her about them some time.

This performance garnered Jackie her Cabbie Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions

  • Original Play Festival: Up, Out, and Away – “Focus” (Tracy)
  • …Spelling Bee (Logainne)
  • Director’s Showcase Spring 2011: “Sure Thing” (Director)
  • Director’s Showcase Fall 2011: “Next Door Down” (Susan)
  • Original Play Festival: “Nowhere, Nothing, Fuckups” (Kat) and “The Exorcism of Jakob O’Donnell” (Mrs. O’Donnell)

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

I’m from Monroe Township, NJ.  I’d like to live in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Europe, etc. in the future.

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

Due Mari

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

Same color!

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

“Modern Family”

Jackie also dazzled audiences as Rosie in LTC’s production of The Wedding Singer. She rapped.

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

My high school drama director

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

Communication and Theatre (double major) and Italian Studies (minor)

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Astronomy

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

An author

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

An actor

– What would you like to be when you grow up?

An actor.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Jackie “acting” in T25APCSB with fellow senior and roomie, Galadriel.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

Twelve Angry Men

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

The facility itself

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

It became a little bit condemned

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite

– What makes Cabaret special?

It’s very welcoming and takes risks

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

I’ve learned a great deal about how to work with all different types of people.  I’ve grown as an artist.  I’ve learned to challenge myself.  I have definitely learned some humility as well.

“Acting” as a uber conservative, hyper religious Jersey mom in “The Exorcism of Jakob Donnelly,” an original play by fellow Cabbie, Danny Cassidy.

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Once upon a time, Galadriel auditioned for Songs for a New World when she was just a wee little freshman. The director was so enamored with her audition that he nearly cast an extra four people in the show, reworking how the entire production was going to work, just so that he could get her on the cast. Ultimately, he didn’t do that, but Galadriel persevered and became a hotshot music director on A New Brain, Tommy, and Revue: Parte Deux, the vocal director of RU acappella group Deep Treble, and starred as freaking Joanna in Sweeney Todd and Olive in T25APCSB! She also, quite impressively, put together the first ever Senior Showcase at Cabaret in like 3 days. And it was good.

As her final act of awesomeness, she told everyone to go the f**k home from said Senior Showcase.

– Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions

  • Director’s Scenes – Cosette in Les Miz
  • A New Brain – Music Director
  • Revue 1 – Cast
  • Revue 2 – Music Director
  • Spelling Bee – Olive
  • Elegies – Director

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

Parsippany – I literally lived in the same 150 year old house since I was born.
I’m moving to NYC in the Fall and hope to live there for many years to come.

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

Depends, when sober and my parents are paying, Due Mari or Old Bay. When not sober and paying myself, Sanctuary or Hansel is my favorite non-pizza establishment.

Galadriel and Co. won the Cabbie Award for Best Musical Performance for their rendition of “The I Love You Song.”

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

Mix-match…anyone who has seen my room would know that .

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

LOST…oh wait that’s no longer on TV. If it has to still be on TV, then most definitely Community.

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

Joey. He’s so annoying. Just Kidding! I don’t really want to punch anyone, sorry.

She will punch you in the ear, though, with her VOICE!

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

Haha, supposed to be? Psychology and Music.

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Music History. Most useless thing ever. I really don’t care who Mozart met when he was 10.

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A Marine Biologist. I don’t know what I was thinking.

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

A Speech Pathologist.

– What would you like to be when you grow up?

A Speech Pathologist and awesome famous youtube singer person.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?

Definitely Elegies. All of my experiences were awesome, but that was life changing.

Elegies. She directed the s**t out of this s**t. (Editor’s Note: I cried.)

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

Cloud Nine. My mind was completely blown.

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

The thermostat.

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

It’s pretty much just gotten more and more organized and talented.

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

Les Miz, with a turntable.

– What makes Cabaret special?

The unisex bathroom. But actually the awesome intimate and home-like environment.

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

That I can handle a million things at once. The perfect preparation for grad school and probably life.

Galadriel singing in Revue 1 with Sarah, who will be profiled… RIGHT… NOW!

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Sarah is/was the artistic director of uptown rival student theatre company, LTC, but we forgive her her trespasses. Just kidding. She started way back when as the choreographer for a little show called The Wedding Singer back when LTC was still doing shows in the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick. And she kicked @$$. Since then, she’s been a major artistic player at both companies. Her first main-stage performance ever at Rutgers of all time, however, was as the thin nurse Nancy D in Cabaret’s winter 2009 production of A New Brain. So suck on that LTC, we showcased her first. BOOYAH!

Sarah (far left), once a lowly freshman, choreographed a difficult-to-choreograph-show. And it was good. Also in this picture, Cabaret Alumna Lena!

– Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions:

  • Back to School Revue… Performer
  • A New Brain … Nancy D
  • Back to School Revue: Parte Deux… Performer and singer of the “Blue Hair”
  • I Love You Because … NYC Woman

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

I am from Nutley, NJ … I am moving to Orlando this Fall to work for Disney, WOO!

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

Houli’s!

[Editor’s Note: F**K HOULIHAN’S!]

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

Mix-matched, all day err day

Here, Sarah leads the “DRAGON” maneuver during “And They’re Off,” a highlight of A New Brain.

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

This doesn’t really answer the question … but I really want John Pisciotta and myself to team up and be on the Amazing Race. We’d kick @$$.

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

Marc Mills or the entire RUSA Allocations Board

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

Fo Reals — Psychology (Major), Education (Minor) … if I could go back four years and start over? Theater Management (Major) with a double minor in Organizational Leadership and Awesome.

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Chem 102/Chem Lab

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

CSI Investigator

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

A proud stage mom of a fabulously talented gay son

– What would you like to be when you grow up?

Disney Casting Agent

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?

A New Brain

This A New Brain? Oh yeah.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

I have enjoyed each unique experience I’ve had as an audience member at Cabaret (but to be honest, I really enjoyed watching Godspell, I didn’t want that to be my answer because I did not want to give more satisfaction to the cult-ish cast) (you can write all of that if you want, I don’t care)

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

More cowbell.

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

Looking back over the past four years I am happy to see that LTC and Cab have grown closer together. Each organization grows stronger with support from the other.

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson & Avenue Q

– What makes Cabaret special?

Cabaret is the epitome of college theatre … practicing in a dingy basement into all hours of the night, designing/redesigning the space for each production, creepy garbage filled swimming pool, awkward unisex bathrooms. I have spent many hours here, and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

Over four years I have changed my major five times, failed one too many classes and constantly doubted my future … the only “constant” in my life has been college theatre. As an Undergrad I have not only picked up vast amounts of theatrical knowledge but I have learned a lot about myself along the way. Being involved with college theatre has really helped me grow both creatively and as a leader. I can honestly say that my four years participating in this “extracurricular” activity has taught me more than my 128 degree credits I am receiving upon graduating. Suck on that, Rutgers.

Editor’s Note: I don’t even know what this is. Sarah crashing T25APCSB? Yeah. Probz.

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Check out last week’s Cabbie Cuestionnaires!

And stay tuned for THREE (3) more posts containing more Senior Interviews in the coming DAY! That’s right! THREE! (3)! And that’s even more right! DAY! Promise!

Exclamation Point!

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Spring Awakening – An Interview with the Director

Finally! Inside Cabaret does something that it promised it was going to do! We’ve done it! We interviewed Cabbie-award winning Farnaz Mansouri about her experience directing Spring Awakening at Cabaret! Like we said we would!

Related: Farnaz has adopted this as her Facebook profile picture.

Somewhere between finishing her senior year at Rutgers and serving as Cabaret Theatre’s Artistic Director and being a bad b**ch, Farnaz “Yeah Daddy” Mansouri found the time to direct a critically-acclaimed-so-far production of Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater’s Tony-Award winning musical. Really: people love it! So reserve your spot on the waiting list for tickets, because all them hotcakes be gone!!!

No more hotcakes for Kitty cats.

So check out the interview below, in which we discuss sad things, fun things, boys, girls, cats, musicals, and puberty! And be sure to check out Spring Awakening at Cabaret Theatre this weekend! Last three (3) performances!

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Inside Cabaret: What was the best comment an audience member made last weekend?

Farnaz: I was overwhelmed by all the lovely things people said this weekend. [Cabaret Administrative Advisor] Matt Ferguson said some really lovely things about the production, which was amazing to hear.

The most touching comment hands down came from Dave Seamon, who said that watching the show felt like he was “watching a passion project movie”, and further continued saying not only how the show was injected with passion, but how alive each character was on stage. Those who know me know that I’m passionate about everything I do; the fact that this passion was able to resonate on stage, through each character, through the entire production, is something truly magical.

[Editor’s note: Check out Dave’s full review by clicking HERE!]

IC: And your parents? What did they say about the show?

Farnaz: My parents actually both really loved the show. They said they thought it was really beautiful, and my mom had really nice things to say about every person in the cast.

IC: Did she talk to them after the show?

Farnaz: My dad did! My mom is a little shy.

Shy Kitty.

IC: Your last directing position was on Streetcar Named Desire; how has this experience compared?

Farnaz: I went into Streetcar with no experience directing, so it was very much a learning experience for me. This time around, I went straight from being Artistic Director to director; and still, I found that it was just as much of a learning process. I had never worked on a musical before, so it was definitely challenging. In a great way.

IC: Why Spring Awakening? What was the thought process that went into proposing it and developing it?

Farnaz: To be completely honest, I wanted to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at first. There were many reasons I changed my mine.  First off, Cabaret Theatre always ends the year with a big name musical, and I have always been intrigued by musicals. I thought, “why the f**k not?”  Musicals allows for a certain amount of freedom, a boundless amount of creativity, which is liberating yet terrifying at the same time.

Who's Afraid of Virg-- Wait. This s**t is bananas.

I chose Spring Awakening because I thought it would be extremely challenging for two reasons. One, it’s so extremely popular and everyone has a preconceived notion about the show already. I wanted to break this idea of what the show should be.  Second, the transition period from adolescence to adulthood that the characters face is something that we [as college students] are facing as well.

IC: What’s the most important thing you as a director try to focus on when putting together a show?

Farnaz: As a director, I make sure to keep the big picture in mind, while attending to all the small details at the same time. Keeping the end product in mind takes a indescribable amount of clarity and focus, while attention to every single detail takes an indescribable amount of patience, understanding, and willingness to collaborate.  Finding the balance between these two different roles is the primary focus of the director.

IC: How has your vision evolved since first proposing this show? What role does your pro staff and the actors play in that evolution?

Farnaz: Without my staff and actors, my vision would remain just that: a vision. I was really lucky to have the best production staff and cast a director could ask for. Before I met with each member of the production staff, I had a few months to myself to really think through every aspect of the show, to figure out what I wanted from each scene, each character, and ultimately what I wanted from the entire show. I had specific visuals meticulously planned out.

In terms of bringing these visuals, emotions, and this story to life, it was collaboration with my staff that really allowed my vision to evolve into something clear, lifelike, and beautiful. After talking through my vision with each staff member, their input helped bring the show to a new level.  Carl’s musical direction, Sarah’s choreography, John’s lighting, Matt and Francesca’s set design/execution, Abby’s costumes, Allison’s perspectives, and all of Mike Bond’s help truly strengthened and amplified my original vision, and to them I am extremely grateful and appreciative.

Director Farnaz Mansouri & Musical Director Carl Phillips collaborating to paint the stage/each-other's-faces.

And then we added the actors. No matter how many times I direct, actors will ALWAYS surprise me. I was fascinated and inspired by the depths each actor was willing to go with his/her character. They each gave such life to each role; it turned the production into something electrifying.

IC: What was one of those surprising moments?

Farnaz: I mean there are a lot. One is definitely the moment when the actors have epiphanies about their characters and say things that you’ve been waiting to hear since day one. That’s pretty awesome. Another would be that rehearsal when everything unexpectedly falls into place and out of nowhere you have an amazing show 1.5 weeks before opening night. Is that too specific?

[Editor’s note: No.]

IC: Why should college audiences come see this show?

Farnaz: For the same reason they tune into their favorite show every week, or go see a movie; it’s the escape into another world, where our minds easily follow another story line focused around others. Our bodies are at rest, while our minds are entertained. Theatre happens to be all the more electrifying, because it’s live. And this show is just f**king amazing, lets be real.

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So there it is. An interview with the legendary Farnaz Mansouri. Check back in tomorrow for an interview with members of the cast!!!

Also, here’s a gem of a picture of young Farnaz from her Cabbie-award winning performance as Mimi Schwinn in A New Brain:

You're Welcome. (Courtesy Rich Kowalski)

Get to Cabaret! See Spring Awakening! Do it! WOOOOO!

Spring Awakening – Another Cabaret Alumnus’ Honest Opinion

Hopefully you were able to run your digital fingers under the digital lines to guide your digital eyes right along Dave Seamon’s fantastic review of Cabaret Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening. If not, click that hyper link right now!

Or click it right after reading YET ANOTHER stellar review of Spring Awakening from YET ANOTHER stellar Cabaret alumni.

His name is Matthew Hadodo. He is amazing. This is him giving a Cabbie-nominated performance in Cabaret’s February 2010 production of Ken Ludwig’s Shakespeare in Hollywood:

Vintage Matt.

Matt is another recent graduate of Rutgers University, with a degree in the uniquely awesome field of Linguistics (AND Spanish Linguistics). He’s spent the last year working up to the position of Editor-In-Chief at Parables & Books, and recently received some wonderful news about academic opportunities in the foreign land of freaking SPAIN:

SPAIN! Google doesn't even know how to get there...

So congratulations to Matt, and we at Inside Cabaret are very thankful that he dropped the following review into our inbox. Read ahead, True Believer! And reserve your gorram tickets for Spring Awakening!

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Before I begin my glowing–no, incandescent–review of Cabaret Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening (believe me, there was a lot of shining going on), allow me to share how much I do not like this show.

DO NOT WANT KNICKERS AND GERMANY

I really do not like this show.

Thank you.  I had to get that off my chest.   You see, most people in my age group (25 and younger) that are musical theater aficionados tend to gravitate towards angst-ridden shows such as RENT and Spring Awakening that, in my highly elevated opinion, have little to no character development, which in turn leads to unsympathetic motivations and thus actions that just fall really flat.

Soooo, we don't have to sing about it?

In other words, they’re not good.

But we love them.  Why?  Sweeping scores that provide emotional engagement in ways that the script can’t.  However, Cabaret Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening is filled with so much pathos (Which is coming from the Greek word which means passion) that I was choked up for a large portion of the play.  I’m also an emotional mess (Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Rising, Mercury, Venus, Pluto all in Scorpio so a lot of Water action on my birth chart) but do not allow that to overshadow the rest of this review.

So then, why did I even bother driving the 50+ miles from my house in Bergen County to see this production?  Well, I know quite a few members of the cast and even had the distinct honor and privilege to work in a Directors’ Scene showcase with the director a few years back.  Yes, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to share the stage with Farnaz playing a married couple that had no social skills whatsoever and made complete fools of themselves.  No acting was performed on my part in that scene.  Farnaz Mansouri, for those of you who do not know, is an exceptionally beautiful Persian Princess whose catlike poise and beauty is only surpassed by her keen insight to the subtext of a plot and her amazingly observant nature and storytelling skills.  In other words, girl is smart and really good at what she does.

Farnaz Mansouri, according to Matt's description

Having been involved with various directors’ scenes, open-mic knights, main stages etc. I know just how difficult the Cabaret Theatre’s black box space can be to work with.  Farnaz and Company were very practical in staging Spring Awakening in the round.  This provided the entire audience with completely unique vantage points and experiences throughout each showing, which is essentially what theater is all about: the individual’s unique connection with the art before them.  This definitely heightened and never detracted from the mood for me, as my front row corner seat was prime for certain scenes.  A key scene in which Boris Van Der Ree (who along with Jenna Fagan had perhaps the most difficult assignment in playing various characters throughout the show and yet still managed to make each one distinct from one another) mourns the loss of his son was performed completely back to me and yet the crippling bereavement was intensified as the lighting played with the staging.

Lauren Ann Sagnella is just breathtaking as Wendla.  Her naïveté shines through and really makes Wendla appear to be a young innocent child who is curious about the world she lives in.  She truly adds a quiet vulnerability and subtlety to the show that can often be missed in other productions.  Lauren is also really White.  Like alabaster or those porcelain dolls your mother bought to decorate your room when you were an infant.

Marc Mills’ performance as Melchior showed the actor’s immense versatility.  Having seen him appear as characters ranging from Sweeney Todd, Jesus (Godspell) and Cinderella’s Prince (Into the Woods), I was pleased to see Marc approach Melchior exactly as he should be played; a highly gifted, thoughtful young man who is more advanced for his years than his peers, yet is still humble to maintain close ties with childhood friends.  I found myself connecting to the character as he (editor’s note: SPOILERS AHEAD) loses his friend, lover and childhood seemingly all at once.

Perhaps the most engaging individual performance was given to us by no other than the man, the myth, the legend himself: Joey Braccino.  Joey is like taking the best feature from each of the founders of the Legion of Superheroes (He definitely will get this reference) and combining them with the newer legionnaires to form Cosmic Saturn Brainiac Kid.  Whereas weaker actors would make Moritz appear to be a mere caricature, Joey clearly spent much time dedicated to developing a real back story for Moritz that translates to the heartbreaking portrayal of a seriously confused, socially awkward teenager who was the product of an abusive home.  My heart went out to him.

One of my favorite aspects of the theater is that the show we are watching is not just what the main characters are singing and speaking.  Having been in the ensemble of many high school, college and community theater musicals, I can honestly tell you my favorite part is taking my character(s) which will have next to zero back story in the book and create a unique entity.  This production had supporting and featured roles that amounted to an electric ensemble that was always present, always engaging.  From the show-stopping “Dark I Know Well” to the more subtle reprisals and choruses of songs, I can honestly say that each actor on stage shined in their own right without upstaging anyone else.  Not an easy feat to accomplish.

So beautiful singing, great movement, phenomenal lighting and praiseworthy acting amounted to a truly memorable experience that I will keep with me for always.  The biggest compliment I or anyone else in the theater world can give is expressing how much love I felt for a show that I normally despise.  Are there certain unequivocal faults in the book? Absolutely.  Does this production completely rise above and tell a better story than what is provided in the script?  Without a shadow of a doubt.  Am I extremely long-winded?  At times.  Should you see Spring Awakening at Cabaret Theatre?  Why haven’t you done so already?

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So there’s another glowing–nay, incandescent–review of Cabaret’s production of Spring Awakening! Reserve Reserve Reserve tickets now!

Or Matt’s gonna get you:

Say WHAT again!

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The Ridiculousness of Paula Vogel

A Self Serving Blog Post by an Obsessed Director

Paula & Me

By all accounts, Paula Vogel is an unassuming person. She is a stout woman with short grey hair and glasses. But, behind this relatively plain appearance is a mind that has left a deep and profound influence on American Theater. Her plays serve universal themes while delving into topics that make you slightly (read: extremely) uncomfortable. To read a Paula Vogel play once is to do it a disservice. You probably have to read the piece twice, three times or more. (In the case of How I Learned to Drive, I lost count around August of 2011, by which time I had lived in my room for a period of three weeks, leaving only to use the restroom or microwave a Celeste Pizza for One.) But, on top of just reading her work, there is a lot to appreciate about this woman.

Her plays are fast paced, vivid and exciting.

They are also absolutely insane and follow the dictionary definition of ‘mindf**k.’

I'M COMING FOR YOUR BRAINZZZZ

Picture this: a sweet elementary school teacher acquires a deadly communicable disease and travels, with her brother, to Europe to visit a doctor specializing in the disease. While traipsing through Europe she sleeps with a number of European men, including a fifty year old Dutch man still dressed in children’s lederhosen. When she finally get to the doctor, a senile Belgian man in a fright wig, she finds out that the doctor specializes in “urinalysis” (read: he drinks peoples’ pee and analyzes the taste for medical purposes). After he drinks the pee, he pulls his wig off and screams to the woman that (SPOILER ALERT!) her brother is dead. Suddenly, the scene flashes to a hospital where the teacher is standing with a different doctor, who explains how her brother actually had just died of complications from AIDS. It is then explained that the entire trip to Europe and the rest of the story (which includes  a sub-plot involving smuggling stuffed rabbits across international lines) were just a dream that flashed through her head IN THE TWO SECONDS after she learns of her brother’s death.

Really, though.

That is basically the short version of The Baltimore Waltz, a play she wrote in 1992. Its only eighty minutes long and is played by only three actors. (Fun story: the man who originated the role of the pee drinking doctor was Joe Mantello, the same Joe Mantello who directed Wicked and recently starred in The Normal Heart in its Broadway revival.)

No matter what the topic is, Paula adds a ridiculously weird sense of humor and humanity to all of her work. Here is a short list of some of her other work:

1. The Oldest Profession

Five eighty year old women sit on a park bench and ruminate on their careers and lives.

The Twist: They are all hookers, working a beat together off a park bench in Manhattan. And then, at the end of each scene, there is a blackout and ONE OF THEM DIES! Also, around the sixty minute mark, the play slowly turns into a parable for the pitfalls of Reganomics. This play is widely considered to be Vogel’s most “straightforward” play.

2. The Long Christmas Ride Home

A family of five take a road trip to their Grandparents’ house, while revealing the emotional turmoil that the average family undergoes.

The twist: the three children are played by traditional Japanese puppets.

Non-traditional Japanese Puppets. Query: Will you do the fandango?

3. And Baby Makes Seven

A family prepares for the arrival of their newborn children.

The Twist: The family is a gay man and two lesbians, who already have three children together, all of whom are imaginary.

4. Hot N’ Throbbing

A divorced man returns to his former home, despite a restraining order from his wife, and attempts to make amends.

The twist: The wife is a “feminist porn” writer. When her ex-husband returns to the house, she shoots him in the butt, tends to his wound, and then gets strangled with a belt. All of this is interspersed with voice overs, reading the script of her latest “adult” screenplay, while the descriptions are acted out by her TWO CHILDREN!

Mind you, these plays are not just odd and ridiculous for the sake of being so (Christopher Durang has that market cornered). Every piece that Vogel writes has another element that pulls the plays away from being absolutely f**king bonkers: heart.

Heart. Bonus: Bear.

Her plays, while wild in description, are filled with realistic emotions, clever dialogue and a story that is both universal and unambiguous at the same time. The themes she brings to her work are a testament to what American playwrights look to achieve in their work today.

Actually, its more than a testament. As an educator, Paula has taught such playwrights as Sarah Ruhl, Lynn Nottage, Bridget Carpenter and Adam Bock.

When I selected How I Learned to Drive as the play I wanted to direct, I did not pick it because of its subject matter or its twisted method of storytelling (I’ll spare the details, because if you have read this far without going on Facebook, you are probably (read: definitely) going to see it this weekend and I don’t want to spoil anything), but because the story she told me in that little yellow acting edition script that I bought for seven dollars spoke to me, with its universal themes of maturing, learning and the power of manipulation.

Also, it has boobs.

Boobs.

Paula’s work is amazing and I sincerely hope you grab a copy of one of her plays. I promise you, you will finish reading it, shut the book, grab a drink of water and a snack, and then promptly reopen it and start again from the beginning.

-Jordan Gochman

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See How I Learned To Drive by Paula Vogel this weekend at Cabaret Theatre! Performances on Friday at 8 pm and Saturday at 3 pm & 8 pm! E-mail reservations to cabtheatre@gmail.com!

Got something to say about Life, The Universe, or Everything? E-mail a blog post to cabtheatre@gmail.com and it may show up on Inside Cabaret!

HIL2D, Part 3; Opening Night! Interview w/ Director Jordan Gochman

It’s Opening Night here at Cabaret Theatre! How I Learned To Drive by Paula Vogel is just finishing up its first performance. The crowd seems to be enjoying the show; this lowly Cabbie wouldn’t know, seeing as how they keep me locked up in the basement… typing away on the blogosphere… Forever…

They won't let me leave...

But before the audience and the actors engaged in some good old communal storytelling, Inside Cabaret sat down with director Jordan Gochman to talk about the insanity of opening night and the long journey that brought HIL2D to the stage.

Director Jordan "Mahna Mahna" Gochman and Stage Manager Meg "Before You Take The Picture Let Me Run Back to My Dorm and Put On A Dress" King

Inside Cabaret: How are you feeling?

Jordan: I’m feeling good… Well, I don’t know how to feel. A year ago I felt like I would be more nervous and scared. I always thought that this thing was just going to be mine, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a bunch of people to get this show where I want to be. All these people here were able to just catch on to my crazy idea and roll with it. I feel fine knowing that all these people are helping me with the play. I’m a lot calmer than I would have been if I didn’t have their support and effort.

IC: Did you have directing experiences before? How does this compare?

Jordan: I directed a short scene for Directors’ Showcase freshman year. Oh God!!! I was going nuts over a 20-minute scene with no set design and minimal lights.

I don’t know why I’m not going nuts like that right now. Maybe I’ve transcended it. Maybe I know how much work we’ve done over the last few weeks, and I just feel more prepared. Maybe it just hasn’t come crashing down just yet…

Assistant Director Matt "Save the (expletive) Day" Leddin

IC: Why did you pick this show? How has your vision changed during the process?

Jordan: I couldn’t put it down the first time I read it. When I finished, I read it again. And then again. And again, again, and again. And every time, I fell in love with it. I thought, “I have to do it. I just have to do it!” There’s no other show that I could think of wanting to direct… except for Our Town… which nobody seems to want to do. Ever.

I realized during the rehearsal process that I would have to give up a lot of to the actors as they brought in their own ideas. They were already with my big ideas, but a lot of times they brought in new ideas, things that I hadn’t even come up with all those times I read the play. That’s the really wonderful part of the process—that evolving vision.

Sound Designer Suved "Sexy & I Know It" Adkar

IC: Thoughts on opening night?

Jordan: I couldn’t have imagined this. I imagined the set. I couldn’t imagine all these people inhabiting it. All these crew members and actors. I still can’t imagine it. This is what it looks like.

When I’m watching it, I’m going to be very happy. It’s going to be different to just watch it, instead of taking notes or worrying about this or that. I might get overly reactive. It’s like a football game for me now. I know what each of them is capable of doing, and so I want to see if they can pull off the plays I blocked for them. And I’ll be cheering in the background.

Otherwise, I’ll be sitting with my head in my hands saying “No! WHY!”

IC: Anything else you want to say to the adoring people?

Jordan: [expletive].

Taylor McKay & Amanda Padro get done up before show time. Assistant Stage Manager Jared pours something.

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You missed opening night! Reserve your tickets for Saturday’s 8 pm show, Sunday’s 7 pm show, or any of next weekend’s performances by e-mailing cabtheatre@gmail.com! Visit the facebook event page for more information!

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