Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Q&A with Timothy Gulan

Timothy Gulan plays Luther Billis on the tour!

Can you share with us any special interests or skills that you have (fitness trainer, dance, cooking, knitting, etc.)?
Motorcycling, scuba diving, cooking, archery and hand guns, “Houdini Illusions” and I do a lot of movie ADR work also.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your background?
I’m Polish and Irish, one of 5 kids and all of my tattoos are real (except the ship).

Do you have a website? Myspace Page? Facebook Fan Page or Blog?
My website is Timothygulan.com. If you go to my website, you can find a secret blog for a puppet I have called “shekki the shark.” Also, I am “Timothy Gulan” on Facebook.

What are the most played song(s) on your iPod?
I can't stop listening to the Broadway soundtrack for Next to Normal!

Before this gig, what was your claim to fame?
I starred in the tours of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Some Like it Hot (opposite Tony Curtis). I was playing Hitler in a new Musical called The History of War before I got South Pacific.

What is your best on-stage moment/mishap?
I had to get to a Houdini trick on stage - underwater, with 2 sets of handcuffs and leg cuffs, in a triple padlocked container. I had to get out of it in front of people on stage and members of the audience were invited to inspect all of it.

Name your favorite guilty/pop-culture pleasure:
I love old martial arts movies, and I am a WWII documentary junkie.

How do you unwind after a performance?
I walk my dog Yogi! He's a Brussels Griffon/Shitzu mix.

Who is the performer you'd drop everything to see?
I am not like that at all. However, I will drive 13 hours to see a friend in a show. That is what matters to me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Sound of Music Sing-Along Event

One of your favorite things returns to the big screen for two nights only on October 19 and 26 with The Sound of Music Sing-Along Event: 45th Anniversary Celebration! Don’t miss the opportunity to sing along with Julie Andrews (The Tooth Fairy) and Christopher Plummer (Up) in the extraordinary, Academy Award-winning classic back in theatres in true HD! Visit FathomEvents.com/soundofmusic for tickets today!

The Sound of Music feature has been fully restored and this is the first time it will make its debut in theatres in full HD. This theatre event is part of the larger 45th Anniversary celebration of The Sound of Music that NCM Fathom, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Rodgers and Hammerstein are launching.

This exclusive event will entail the sing-along version of the fully restored feature with timeless hits like "The Sound of Music", "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev’ry Mountain" and "Do-Re-Mi.”

Plus, see I’ll Sing Once More: The Sound of Music Today, an exclusive piece that pays tribute to this timeless classic by looking at The Sound of Music effects on popular culture. Audiences will get a unique look at the brilliant restoration The Sound of Music, be whisked back to Salzburg for a travelogue where the movie was filmed, and be treated to contemporary and surprising tributes ranging from modern dance and rock band salutes to an all-marionette version. All brought to you by NCM Fathom in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment in celebration of the release of The Sound of Music on Blu-Ray™ and DVD Combo Packs available November 2.

The Sound of Music Sing-Along Event is two nights only! October 19 and October 26 at 6:30PM local time.

Visit www.FathomEvents.com/soundofmusic to get your tickets today!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On the Road with Christopher Johnstone

Actor Christopher Johnstone, who can be seen in the national tour of South Pacific, has filled out a blog Q&A from Los Angeles! Keep reading to find out more about the tour cities he has visited and which city he's most looking forward to visiting!

Question: What city are you currently in?
Christopher Johnstone: LA

Q: What are you most looking forward to in this city?
CJ: Being close to friends from college and my three bros and parents in the OC. Visiting my favorite beaches: Salt Creek & Thousand Steps; living in Hollywood!! And shooting some episodes of “All My Children”.

Q: What tour stop has been your favorite so far and why?
CJ: I loved the layout of the city in Seattle. They had amazing restaurants, great shopping and nightlife. Their music and art scene is top-notch and the country up there is beautiful!

Q: Which upcoming tour city are you most looking forward to visiting and why?
CJ: Toronto - I’ve never been to Canada.

Q: What music are you currently listening to?
CJ: While in So Cal it only seems right to jam to alternative and alternative rock. I’m listening to Coldplay, The Postal Service, Death Cab For Cutie & Green Day to name a few.

Q: Name one item you can’t live without while on the road:
CJ: My iPhone. It’s necessary to find your bearings in all these new places. It finds whatever I need, how to get there and keeps me in touch with my fam and friends.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re traveling between tour stops?
CJ: Visit my place in NYC.

Q: What is your favorite song in South Pacific?
CJ: I’m in love with a wonderful guy. Whether you’re a guy or girl, the feeling of being in love is unlike anything else. :)

Q: Name one reason why people should see South Pacific.
CJ: Not only is it beautiful to look at and listen to, it teaches you about American history (which most likely has something to do with your own history) AND it teaches you about life and love.

Visit Christopher's official website at www.topherstone.com.
Read Christopher's bio on www.southpacificontour.com.

South Pacific is currently playing at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles through July 17, 2010. Click here to purchase tickets.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Settling in with Settle

Brendan Lemon

When Keala Settle auditioned for the role of Bloody Mary, which she plays on the South Pacific tour, the director Bartlett Sher, who was impressed, asked, "Where were you when we were casting this production for Lincoln Center?"

So where was she? "I was at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego," Settle told me in a recent interview, "working as a stagehand with the sound crew for the musical 'A Catered Affair.'" And why was an actor this talented - Settle has a big, rich voice that can be swoony one minute, and rock out the next - working backstage?

"I'd done Tracy Turnblad for three years in a tour of 'Hairspray,'" Settle said, "and I was burnt out. But I love the backstage world of theater, so I decided to work in it while I figured things out."

Now that Settle's performing again, here's what she's figured out about her character, Bloody Mary: "She's not the happy-go-lucky lady from the movie who walks around and laughs. She's an actual person who's in survivor mode. The Second World War has upended her world. She'll do anything to get her daughter, Liat, a better life: that's why she's so desperate to hook her up with Cable. I'm so grateful to Bart Sher for giving me a character who isn't a cartoon."

Settle has played Bloody Mary twice before, the first time in college where she was on a theater scholarship. "I don't want to knock those productions too much, but in them Bloody Mary was a caricature."
Settle was involved in singing long before college. "My mother is a musician," says the actress, who grew up in Hawaii. "I was harmonizing with TV commercials from a very young age. I grew up with the Disney Channel and MTV." Settle says that in high school, "I was kind of a troublemaker. They put me into a Shakespeare class. I said, 'I can't understand this.' But I had a counselor who went through the plays with me, bit by bit. Before long, I was hooked on theater."

Settle likes playing Bloody Mary in a way that defies some people's expectations. For example, she says, "The song 'Happy Talk' is not really happy at all; it's uneasy and uncomfortable. I know there are some people who might not see it that way. But my take - and the take of this production - is richer, deeper, unafraid of the pain. After all, it takes place during wartime. A big war, that affected people's everyday lives in a way we can hardly imagine today."

When asked what she's enjoying most about doing South Pacific, Settle mentions the orchestra. "When I first heard it, and first was singing with it, I was in tears. I had never performed with a 25-piece orchestra before. The musicians in it are astounding, which makes my job more fun."

Settle also points to her fellow cast members as an advantage. "They're a great bunch.
A lot of them have never toured before. Unlike me: I've basically been living out of a suitcase for six years."

With her on-the-road experience, Settle is a resource person for the newbies, although she downplays this role. "I don't have to say much. I tell the actors that the best resource in any new town on the tour is the local stagehands. They always know the places to go eat and the local sites worth visiting. Myself, I've gotten to know a lot of towns on the road without having to ask the stagehands anymore. I know where the local Walgreen's is, and what bars are open in a given city after the show. To enjoy the road, you have to know the basics."

The End

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Tour Blog: David Pittsinger and Emile De Becque

Brendan Lemon

David Pittsinger, who is about to join the tour in Raleigh, North Carolina as Emile de Becque, has played the part 130 times during the production's ongoing run at Lincoln Center in New York. So the other day I asked him: does doing the show still surprise him?

"The surprise comes as a daily thing," replied Pittsinger, who graduated from U Conn and then got serious musical training at Yale. "There's always the excitement of each day's new audience, and the daily interaction with colleagues: trying to better our stage rapport."

More specifically, Pittsinger says, "I'm am still a little surprised by how consistently I am struck by the power of the show's scenes dealing with race." He points to the sequence when Lt. Joe Cable sings "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" and then turns to Emile before the latter does "This Nearly Was Mine." "Sometimes," Pittsinger says, "I almost feel as if I'm looking at a younger version of myself." He adds, "I think everyone who portrays the characters of 'South Pacific finds things that we may not like in ourselves and may want to change. It isn't just a story of Nellie confronting her racism and everyone else being perfect."

I asked Pittsinger whether he was ever surprised by "South Pacific"'s ending: Nellie and Emile get back together to become a family. Will the honeymoon last? "That depends on who my Nellie is. Carmen Cusack" [who plays the part on the tour] will be the fifth performer I've played opposite in that role. Each one brings something strong to the part. Each Nellie would be a little different for Emile to settle down with. But whoever it is, I don't think that Nellie is going to flee back to Little Rock and or ever ask for a divorce. The love between Nellie and Emile is too strong."

Pittsinger usually inhabits the opera world (he just finished a run of "Tosca" at the Metropolitan Opera, playing Angelotti, and will do "Lulu" at the Met in the spring), so I asked him if playing Emile is much different from singing Mozart or Britten or any other great composer.

"In opera, you usually only have 6 or 8 performances in a run. It feels more like doing previews of a musical, where each performance can be totally unlike any other performance. With a long-running musical, you have much more time to explore a role. But make no mistake: Mozart's 'Magic Flute' was the music theater of its day: in that sense opera and Broadway are similar."

Pittsinger, who lives in Connecticut, with his wife, the singer Patricia Schuman, and their 10-year-old twins, is grateful to do "South Pacific" at this point in his rich and varied career. "I did 'Shenandoah' and 'Carnival' when I was young, and playing Emile has brought back a lot of feeling from that time - it conjures up the music I grew up with. I am very grateful for that."


Thursday, October 1, 2009

More From Fleet Week at the Bay

by Genson Blimline

I really loved being out on the water on a beautiful ship. It's also nice to do things like this for huge audiences that are up close and personal. They really seemed to enjoy the number and that's always nice. If only we had a little more time before curtain, it would have been rad to go for a spin around the Bay.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


by Brendan Lemon

There's a certain song title from "South Pacific" that for 60 years has been used as a party theme to the point of cliché. But on Tuesday, September 22, in San Francisco, the cliché fit. Don't take my word for it: the theater critic of the San Francisco Chronicle used that familiar theme in the opening sentence of his review: "It's some enchanted evening, all right," wrote Robert Hurwitt.

Hurwitt and his critical colleagues launched the national tour of "South Pacific" with glowing notices, but I was more interested in what the cast members experienced that night at the Golden Gate Theatre, where the show is running through October 25, so I turned to a couple of the actors.

Both Mike Evariste, an ensemble member who also plays Henry, and Eric L. Christian, of the ensemble, are veterans of the road: Evariste has done "Rent," "Smokey Joe's Café," and "FAME," and Christian has toured with "Aida," "Chicago," and "Carousel." But they both seemed to think that the "South Pacific" opening night was special.

"The audience was really responsive," said Evariste. "We got reports backstage that some members were so affected they were crying and that others were humming and singing the songs in the lobby at intermission."

For more rehearsal photos, click here.

Christian concurs. "We got a standing ovation on opening night, and on the night after. That was a big relief for the cast, not because we were worried that we weren't good, but because we'd all been working so hard to become a team and we hoped that our effort would come across."

Evariste, who was a member from the beginning of the this production's first go-round at Lincoln Center Theater in New York, added, "During previews at Lincoln Center we were kind of nervous. The show hadn't been on Broadway for 60 years, so we all felt this obligation to make it as good as possible. The pressure on the tour cast leading up to San Francisco was a little different: everyone knew that the show had won seven Tonys in New York, and people wanted to live up to that reputation."

Audiences and reviewers agreed that they had. But what about the opening-night party - the reward for all the cast and creative team's toil? Well, it was held at the Great American Music Hall, on O'Farrell Street, which has been around since 1907.

"There was a backdrop there in the spirit of the show," said Christian, who is coming off a long stint with "South Pacific" in New York. "It's such a great atmosphere: food, drink, a d.j. Bart [Sher, the director of the production] gave a speech, and said how proud he was of us." Evariste added: "Bart's speech was inspiring. He wished us luck on the road, and said he was confident that we would spread the story of 'South Pacific' all over the country."

Other important figures in this staging of the Rodgers & Hammerstein show were also in attendance on opening night: Bob Boyett, the producer; Bernard Gersten, the executive producer of Lincoln Center Theater, or as he calls it, "the mother country"; and Ted Chapin, president and executive director of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization.

"I didn't see anyone at the party," Evariste said, "who didn't seem to be having a good time."