Showing posts from May, 2011

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Diane J. Findlay

Meet Diane J. Findlay, who plays Mother Mucca. Click here to read her official bio.

Check back next week to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical!

NAME Diane J. Findlay.

CHARACTER Mother Mucca.

HOMETOWN Suffern, New York. It’s about 25 miles north of New York City, up the Hudson River.

FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCEHello, Dolly! on Broadway.

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE That’s a hard one. There’s been soooooo many. You see, I love what I do and each project brings along something exciting and interesting and new; something to take home with me and remember, hopefully with laughter.

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES My first audition for Tales of the City was a wonder. At first I thought perhaps I shouldn’t go to the audition because I felt our director Jason Moore would never buy me as Mother Mucca, and I knew I’d be disappointed, but my agent talked me into it. So I decided to go for broke and have myself a ball, which I did, and look what happened! The e…

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Andrew Samonsky

Meet Andrew Samonsky, who plays Beauchamp Day. Click here to read his official bio.

Check back next week to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical!

NAME Andrew Samonsky.

CHARACTER Beauchamp Day.

HOMETOWN Ventura, California.

FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE My earliest theater memories are when my parents would take me to see musicals at PCPA Theaterfest’s outdoor theater in Solvang, California. Great memories.

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE In Verona, Italy, I got to see Rigoletto in an ancient 35,000-seat coliseum. I can only compare it to a Yankees game. It was the grandest production I’ve ever witnessed, and the voices were unbelievable. Those Italians love their opera.

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Honestly, the first time I heard of Tales of the City was when I got an audition for this production. Now, I constantly see Armistead Maupin’s books everywhere!

HOW ARE YOU LIKE BEAUCHAMP? We’ve both lived in San Francisco. That’s all I’ll admit to with Beauc…

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone

Meet Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, who plays DeDe Halcyon-Day. Click here to read her official bio.

Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical!

NAME Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone.


HOMETOWN Portland, Oregon.

FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCEBest Christmas Pageant Ever in sixth grade.

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Coming home to Portland with the national tour of Legally Blonde. I loved performing for my hometown.

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Reading the script for the audition.

HOW ARE YOU LIKE DEDE? I’m married :) and I would also eat donuts at a low point.

FAVORITE MUSICAL Not a musical, but I love August: Osage County.

FAVORITE SONG TO SING Anything country. Country music always makes it seem like its sunny outside.

EDUCATION B.A. in acting with a minor in musical theater from Marymount Manhattan College.

PERFORMANCE RITUAL Pre-: work out and steam (pretty normal). Post-: depends on the night!


Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Richard Poe

Meet Richard Poe, who plays Edgar Halcyon. Click here to read his official bio.

Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical!

NAME Richard Poe.

CHARACTER Edgar Halcyon.

HOMETOWN Pittsburg, California.

FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE Playing Scrooge in the eighth grade (magnificent!).

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Hard to choose. Journey’s End on Broadway: nine guys in a dark World War I dugout talking for two and a half hours, and everyone dies . . . then winning every available award in New York, including the Easter bonnet competition. 1776 on Broadway: more guys, more talking, more light, same result. Cyrano de Bergerac at A.C.T. in 1973, playing Second Musician/Third Cadet, being a novice in the middle of all that wonderfulness. There’s more. Just ask me.

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES I lived in San Francisco until about 1977 (graduated from the University of San Francisco [USF] and started acting at A.C.T.). I had never read the book…

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Josh Breckenridge

Meet Josh Breckenridge, who plays Jon Fielding. Click here to read his official bio.

Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical!

NAME Joshua Breckenridge.

CHARACTER Jon Fielding.

HOMETOWN Fallbrook, California.

FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCEThe Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at Circle Bar B Ranch Theatre in Santa Barbara, California . . . at age 14!

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCEThe Scottsboro Boys. From our very first reading to our closing night on Broadway . . . what a journey!

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Being cast in the original workshop at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut.

HOW ARE YOU LIKE JON? I’m very focused and career driven, much like Jon . . . oh yeah, and I’m a hopeless romantic.


FAVORITE SONG TO SING “On the Wings of Love” (I sang it for my Tales of the City audition).

EDUCATION B.F.A. in musical theater at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).


Touchstone the Teacher

posted by Anthony Fusco, A.C.T. core acting company member 

As You Like It, currently running at Zeum Theater, offers a rare opportunity to see A.C.T.’s core acting company members sharing the stage with the students of our M.F.A. program. The veteran professionals in our company have served as teachers and advisors to the students throughout their three years of training at A.C.T., and it is a fitting rite of passage for these master apprentices to share the stage with their mentors in their last A.C.T. production before graduating. The transition from teacher to colleague is always complicated, sometimes explosive, and often humbling. A.C.T. core company member Anthony Fusco reflects on the process below.
—The A.C.T. Intern Blog Quadrumvirate

So here I am playing Touchstone in As You Like It, with a cast made up mostly of the beautiful and talented members of A.C.T.’s M.F.A. Program class of 2011. Having taught these young actors on and off over the last three years, it’s a real plea…

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Wesley Taylor

Meet Wesley Taylor, who plays Michael “Mouse” Tolliver. Click here to read his official bio.

Check back tomorrow to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical!

NAME Wesley Taylor.

CHARACTER Michael Tolliver.

HOMETOWN Orlando, Florida.

FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE I did a lot of theater when I was a child, but it’s hard to remember. My first professional experience in the theater was when I was 11 and played Kurt in The Sound of Music at this little Equity playhouse. It was an eight-week run, and when it was over, I was devastated and cried for days.

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Playing Falstaff in Henry IV my last year at drama school.

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES I was in the dark until I was cast, but then immediately read the books, watched the miniseries, and got hooked!

HOW ARE YOU LIKE MOUSE? Unfortunately, I’m also a hopeless romantic.


FAVORITE SONG TO SING Sheesh, I don’t know. Any song that Norbert Leo Butz has alread…

Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Betsy Wolfe

Meet Betsy Wolfe, our Mary Ann Singleton. Click here to read her official bio.

Check back next week to meet another member of the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical!

NAME Betsy Wolfe.

CHARACTER Mary Ann Singleton.

HOMETOWN Visalia, California.

FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE At ten I played Kenickie in my church’s basement production of Grease, and Artful Dodger in Oliver! the following year. Apparently I played smooth-talking boys really well.

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE Having the rain pour down on me at the end of Act II in 110 in the Shade. It was freeing, healing, and my first time on Broadway.

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES Two years ago the casting director for Tales of the City came up to me at an opening night party and said, “There is this part that is perfect for you, but no one knows who the hell you are. You read the books and I’ll get you in the room.”

HOW ARE YOU LIKE MARY ANN? Let me count the ways . . . BUT I will say I’ve never dated a child molester.


Tales of the . . . Cast! Meet Judy Kaye

We know you’re counting the days until Tales of the City officially opens on June 1, so to hold you over till then (and to whet your appetite) . . .

We are pleased to introduce to you the cast of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical!

Today, meet Judy Kaye, who plays Anna Madrigal. Click here to read her official bio.

Check back tomorrow to meet another Tales cast member!

—The A.C.T. Intern Blog Quadrumvirate

NAME Judy Kaye.

CHARACTER Anna Madrigal.

HOMETOWN Phoenix, Arizona.

FIRST THEATER EXPERIENCE Seeing Damn Yankees with Gwen Verdon on Broadway.

FAVORITE THEATER EXPERIENCE The first night I went on as the understudy for Madeline Kahn in On the 20th Century. I don’t remember every detail, but it was a magical night. An out-of-body experience.

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH TALES When my cell phone rang as I was about to tee off on a golf course in Phoenix, barely a month before rehearsals started!


FAVORITE MUSICAL Oh, God. How could you …

The Creation of a Forest

posted by Liliana Duque-Piñeiro, scenic designer for As You Like It

The Forest of Arden is one of the best-known and most-loved settings in the history of English dramatic literature. At once playful, mysterious, dangerous, and brightly generative, it provides a welcome challenge for any designer. Below, As You Like It scenic designer Liliana Duque-Piñeiro describes her the creation of a Forest of Arden with a young, DIY feel.
—The A.C.T. Intern Blog Quadrumvirate

The project started with the traditional meeting with the director, Mark Rucker. He wanted our Forest of Arden to be a warm magical place in a world that speaks of today, but without a modern look, necessarily. The world he wanted to create would be influenced by today’s San Francisco, a trend that permeates all levels—in his words: “Etsy” [for the artisanal crafts website]. It would revolve around handcrafted, reused, and recycled materials, in stark contrast to new, hi-tech sleek modern design. I left our first…

A Safe Bet: The Value of New Work Development

posted by Beatrice Basso, A.C.T. Artistic Consultant

Preparations for Tales of the City are in full swing at the American Conservatory Theater on Geary Street, with the first audiences arriving for preview performances in exactly a week. Meanwhile, a few blocks away in A.C.T.’s offices and rehearsal studios, we’ve been working with a different time frame in mind. All through May, A.C.T. plays host to playwrights and directors from around the Bay Area and beyond, giving them the time, space, and resources they need to keep developing their latest works-in-progress. These in-house workshops, which range from a few hours to a few days, and most of which use our M.F.A. Program actors in their casts, are not intended lead to full productions. But, as Artistic Consultant Beatrice Basso explains below, they are still vital to the future of the theater in the long term.

For the artistic team at A.C.T., planning a season is as close as we get to high-stakes gambling. We want a thousand people t…

Tales from the rehearsal room: Mary Birdsong

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City: A New Musical has brought a real cast of characters to A.C.T. this month. There’s Mary Ann, Mrs. Madrigal, Mouse, and Mona, of course; but there’s also Betsy Wolfe, Judy Kaye, Wesley Taylor, and Mary Birdsong (to name but a few), the characters behind the characters.

Click here to check out what our Mona, Mary Birdsong, has to say on her personal blog about baring her, um, soul on the American Conservatory Theater Stage.

Mary Birdsong (right) with Betsy Wolfe in a music rehearsal for Tales of the City at A.C.T. Photo by David Allen Studio.