Sound consultant, composer, and musician extraordinaire Robert Oriol has just been named our newest A Noise Within Resident Artist by Producing Artistic Directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott. Congratulations, Robert!
His first association with ANW was with As You Like It in 2007, when Robert was brought into the fold by director Michael Michetti (who directs this season’s buoyant Figaro). He admits, with refreshing candor, “The old building was fascinating in some ways, and frustrating in others. I was impressed with the company, though, and with their consummate professionalism.”
His first collaboration in Pasadena was on The Grapes of Wrath, when he was the musical director and a band member. “I was on stage for every performance,” he laughs. Pericles (original music composition and sound design), which has (so far) set the bar for the amount of original music the Company has used in a single production, followed. Last season, his talents graced both Tartuffe and The Dance of Death (original music composition and sound design). This year, the tradition continues with The Threepenny Opera (sound consultant and orchestra member), Figaro (original music composition and sound design), and Julius Caesar (original music composition, music direction, and sound design).
Robert’s blend of musicological and technical experience helps our shows sing. “Mixing music in a thrust space is challenging because you want to make it sound good for everyone, regardless of which section their sitting in. For example, if you’re seated in the far house-right section, it’s likely you’re only ever going to hear music through the house-right main speaker, because the house-left speaker is simply too far away to hear it. So you’re only hearing half of the stereo field. If you’re in the middle section however, you’ll hear both main speakers in stereo, as intended. Now, for Figaro, I’m trying something new…READ MORE
YOU ASKED, WE ANSWERED:
The Threepenny Opera
After each performance at ANW, patrons are asked to fill out a post-show survey. Here are a few answers to a few popular questions.
What voice training have you had as an actor? How did you prepare for all the singing in this play?
Marisa Duchowny (Polly Peachum):
Growing up, I never took voice lessons. Singing was fortunately a gift I was born with and always came very naturally to me. Later, in graduate school, I learned the fundamental techniques, but I truly learned how to sing by sitting alone in my bedroom as a little girl and mimicking the sounds of the soulful Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Beatles. So preparing to sing as Polly Peachum was very much out of my comfort zone. Warming up before every rehearsal and performance was essential in order to expand my range and sing clearly in Polly’s high mezzo soprano register. I also put a lot of my attention on the text sung in each song. I think it’s important to emphasis the story behind the words and take the audience on a journey as if they are hearing a character speak a monologue. It was also very helpful to have our wonderful musical director, DeReau Farrar, there to support the technical aspects of the songs and stay true to the music of Kurt Weill. How did you learn the Cockney accent?
Matthew Ian Welch (Sawtooth Bob): I have always had a knack for imitating voices and accents, but a knack will only take you so far. I primarily learned a Cockney accent by listening to recordings of authentic speakers and imitating them. I have also studied the “rules,” or the most common shifts in vowels and changes in consonants as catalogued by linguists. For this show, specifically, the assistance of ANW’s dialect coach, Nike Doukas, has been indispensable.
What challenges did you deal with in making an historically provocative piece of theatre accessible to the modern audience and times?
Julia Rodriguez-Elliott (Co-Director): This is a very good question, and one that all directors must look straight in the eye. On the one hand, what’s remarkable is that The Threepenny Opera was way ahead of its time in so many ways–it was the precursor of edgy musicals like Cabaret and the forerunner of ’70s and ’80s performance art–that it doesn’t need to be modernized per se. But while many of the themes, though certainly relevant today, were based on actual events of the early 20th century, so we needed to make these very clear. One way we did this was through the use of themed placards, which are displayed even before the play starts. At the same time, we have emphasized key lines and textual components that make the milieu and themes very clear to modern audiences–it’s a question of playing these up without being overbearing or obvious. For instance, one message we absolutely wanted to convey was how the privileged classes get away with figurative murder while the lower ones are actually convicted. This said, the themes are so rife and rich that they stand on their own, and our conversations with audience members tell us that they’re really seeing the contemporary parallels to the world Brecht portrays.
Did Deborah have as much fun doing her big number as it looked? Did she have trouble being so physical while wearing all that padding? Deborah Strang (Mrs. Peachum): It’s more fun that you can even imagine. Brecht always attempted to remind his audience that they were watching a performance and that there is no separation between the actor and the spectator. While breaking the fourth wall is always a bit terrifying, our patrons…READ MORE
There’s a reason we call our student programs “Classics Live!”: we want plays to jump off the page and into kids’ minds and hearts.
Live theatre is the hallmark of our program, which now serves nearly 12,000 students each year. But we also bring our teaching artists and resident artists into schools to provide tailored in-school workshops where the students are provided with real-world theatrical insight. These pre- or post-show in-school student workshops are a part of ANW’s mission and help our teaching artists and RA’s integrate their work into the…READ MORE
DINNER ON STAGE
Thank you to everyone who attended our inaugural Dinner on Stage for making it an incredibly successful and unforgettable evening! VIEW EVENT PHOTOS
PHOTO BY JAMIE PHAM
Mary Jo DuPrey directs a special Words Within’s reading of Beaumarchais’ The Barber of Seville on Wednesday, April 8 at 7pm. We talked with her about this much-anticipated event.
Q: Mary Jo, you’ve known about our Company for some time, right?
A: Yes! But this is my first time directing for A Noise Within, and I’m so thrilled to be working with this absolutely incredible company of actors whom I have admired for so long.
Q: When did you first see one of our shows?
A: I’ve been attending A Noise Within plays since they first started, from your Glendale beginnings till now, and it’s been an inspiration to see the Company grow. I went to Vassar with my dear friend Steve Rockwell, who is one of the earliest members of the company, so I’ve always kept it on my radar. I’ve had the pleasure to work previously with Bill Hunt and Alan Blumenfeld at other venues, and I just can’t wait to work with them again.
Q: Which of our shows have you liked the best?
A: Some of the shows that stand out in my memory are The Taming of The Shrew, which was really one of the best I’ve ever seen. I also loved Awake and Sing!, which Alan was in along with another Vassar friend Daniel Reichert, who has often worked with the company. That’s when I completely fell in professional love with Deborah Strang. I also loved your …READ MORE
Mingle with other theatre fans, and enjoy an informal dinner between performance of The Threepenny Opera and Julius Caesar. Then, choose between various workshops or join us for a behind-the-scenes look at state-of-the-art stagecraft!
Limited tickets are $50; show tickets extra.
Call the Box Office at 626.356.3100 to reserve your seat today.