7 Actors. 35 Characters. 8-Second Quick Changes.

By Annie Sears

Vanity Fair is a theatrical spectacle, a kaleidoscope of colors and costumes and characters—35 characters, to be exact. The seven performers engage the full range of their physical and vocal abilities to distinguish between Thackeray’s classic figures, from the stringent Miss Pinkerton to bawdy Rawdon, from slimy Pitt Crawley to his saintly son.

Costumes prove very helpful in defining each character, which means backstage hands are the heroes of these transformations. “When you’re watching from the audience, you’re seeing a well-oiled machine,” says actor Vincent Randazzo. “What you’re not seeing is the crew backstage working tirelessly to make it all seem seamless. They make the theater magic happen.”

Randazzo—an A.C.T. M.F.A. alum (2018) who has appeared on The Geary in Hamlet (2017), A Christmas Carol (2017), and A Walk on the Moon (2018)—embodies six different characters: Jos Sedley, Sir Pitt Crawley, Mr. Osborne, Miss Jemima, Lady Chesterton, and King George. This r…

Cleats. Corner Kicks. Conversations About Global Genocide.

By Annie Sears

The nine players on soccer team The Wolves are warming up for their big game, and the pivots in their conversation are just as quick as their sprints up and down the field. Sarah DeLappe’s script (which our Young Conservatory actors will perform April 17–20) offers a glimpse into the real-life conversations high school girls share as they figure out what it means to be “a young woman in the multi-dimensional and complex world of today,” says actor Clara Dossetter (third from the left in the above photo). Dossetter is a high school senior who has been involved in the YC for “as long as I can remember,” including performing in The Life to Come in 2017. “The girls’ experience in the script reminds me a lot of my experience coming into my own as a woman surrounded by other young women.”

These characters talk about things high school girls really talk about, and they talk about them the way real high school girls actually talk. “In The Wolves, discussions about genocide happ…

What We ACTually Do Here: A Day in the Life of A.C.T.'s Production Fellow

By Lavine Leyu Luo (罗乐瑜)
Ever wonder what goes into the making of a show? What decisions are made before the reviews get rolling? What steps are taken to get the cast onstage, in front of a fully constructed set, wearing well-designed costumes, and accompanied with stunning visual and sound effects, all working together to bring the story to audience hearts?

The Production Department makes that happen; we’re the master cooperator that helps realize all the artists’ visions onstage. Our responsibilities range from small tasks, such as purchasing cough drops for the cast, to really large tasks—ensuring all aspects of production are efficient and safe, keeping everyone onstage and offstage alive and intact. There are so many small but essential details that need to be completed before a show can open. It’s only when the audience doesn’t notice any of these things that we know we’ve done a good job.

As the A.C.T. Production Fellow, I get to observe and participate in the production proce…

Sports or Theater?

By Simon Hodgson 

In a room deep below the bustling crowd, performers prepare for a great entertainment spectacle. They put masks over their heads, they cover their bodies with brightly colored outfits, they rub greasepaint on their faces. As they step out into the arena, the crowd roars. Is this a grand drama on the stage of The Geary, or the Super Bowl?

The idea of performance—sporting or theatrical—is full of crossover, and costume is just one shared element. While we are used to seeing actors transfigure to create three-dimensional characters onstage, the same transformation takes place in the world of sports. Think of football players, layering their bodies with helmets, shoulder pads, gloves, and mouthguards, or ice hockey goaltenders donning wire-mesh faceguards and throat protectors. These “costumes” are just as essential as those on a stage.

So too is the arena. Focusing the attention of the crowd, like a crucible, it also enriches the event with history and the glorious ghos…

Right in Front of Your Eyes: The Subtlety of Her Portmanteau

By Annie Sears

Obie Award–winning designer David Israel Reynoso has done a bit of everything: costume design and scenic design, regional theaters and dance companies, shows for stages and immersive experiences for museums. Last season, he brought his expansive toolkit to The Geary, designing costumes and set for Hamlet. This year, he returns to A.C.T. as scenic designer for Mfoniso Udofia’s Her Portmanteau at The Strand. We sat down with Reynoso to hear more about infusing this thoughtful, intimate drama with subtle psychological cues.

Which aspect of the Her Portmanteau design was your favorite to conceptualize?
The entire stage is framed by a beautiful fretwork, a filigree design that’s inspired by a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria. I was struck by its basket-like, woven quality. Yet it felt very contemporary, industrial, and New York–like as well. There’s a duality there, looking through the lens of both cultures. I thought we could capture that by bringing in something that frames every lo…

Snail Slime and Other Skincare Secrets: Actors Reveal Their Pre-Show Routines

By Annie Sears

Being an actor means a lot of preparation: researching the play’s context and analyzing character motivations, attending costume fittings and spending hours in blocking rehearsals. Another important prep step not often revealed? Pre-show skincare.

Stage makeup is heavier than day-to-day makeup, often causing allergic reactions, breakouts, and dryness—which nobody wants, especially someone who stands under stage lights every day. So how are actors in The Great Leap (running through March 31 at The Geary) making sure their faces are stage-ready?

BD Wong (playing Wen Chang) is a fan of hyaluronic acid. Sounds a little scientific and sterile—like something you definitely do not want soaking into your skin, right? It’s actually entirely natural. Our skin cells produce hyaluronic acid on their own, but we could all use a little extra to even skin tone and decrease the appearance of lines and wrinkles. “It makes it possible for this character to be 24 years old at the beginning o…