Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Christmas Carol - meet producer Lloyd Bittinger

Why did you want to produce this year’s production of A Christmas Carol?
When the board of governors was selecting a director for the production Rachael Hubbard was asked to direct. She and I discussed and made a deal that if she would direct I would produce. She’s wonderful to work with and truly loves this story. She also gets the most out of the actors and ends up with a terrific production.

How did you get involved with the production and what are your goals as the producer?
I got involved because I’m currently the president of The Little Theatre of Alexandria and I also felt like I should contribute something to the overall success of the theatre other than just being “the president.” I like to work in the various areas of the theatre and also do a lot of work on the lighting team, hanging and focusing lights, and running the light board. My goal as producer is to pull all of the elements together to make this the best holiday production the Little Theatre has ever done.

What were some of the challenges as the show’s producer? 
I really wanted to take on a singular role as producer because I had co-produced the production before and felt like I would be able to do a good job having had that experience. Nevertheless, producing is a huge job and several others at The Little Theatre have offered to help me with various tasks. I have also named an assistant producer and an assistant to the producer. So I’ve learned that I need a lot of support and people are stepping up to help. I am very thankful for the support.

What do you want the audience to take away from A Christmas Carol?
The story of A Christmas Carol is very well known. It involves many deep and dark elements as well as some bright happy scenes. Between the director, the musical director, and me we are working to make this year’s production the most audience-pleasing A Christmas Carol ever. We want to have the deep and dark scenes because they’re important to telling the story, but we are adding some songs and dancing to lighten up the production. We want the audience to leave the theatre smiling and being happy and singing a song. This is our gift to the community for a happy holiday season!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife - meet assistant producer Brooke Angel

How did you get involved with LTA's The Tale of the Allergist's Wife and what are your goals as an assistant producer?
I'm a glutton for stretching my time thin -- I'm kidding!  I'm actually friends with co-producer Jay Cohen outside of theatre and he approached me with the possibility of becoming a producer-in-training.  I was both honored and thrilled to be asked, so I immediately said "yes."  I must have been half asleep because I said "yes" to being not only assistant producer but also co-stage managing and helping with set construction.

I'm personally trying to make it through my first  LTA show alive! My goal is to have the story told in a way that the audience understands and connects with.  And let none of the mistakes be my fault!

What do you hope the audience takes away from this show?
I would love for the audience to walk out of the theatre thinking "gee, I thought my life was weird, these people are plain crazy!"  This play is nothing short of "Frasier" category humor: intellectual references mixed with modern day humor tactics.

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife - meet director Michael Kharfen

What are you trying to accomplish with the story of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife?
First, we are trying to have audiences laugh.  Our daily lives can be very challenging and we all need a little break by enjoying a very funny play.  Second, we get to share Charles Busch's wonderful blend of New York and Jewish humor with its mocking and colorful expression, which is telling it like it is, from the heart, without filter.

What were some of your challenges as the show's director?
A challenge was finding the perfect cast that can create these slightly kooky characters, which I was so fortunate to get with such a gifted group of actors.  With comedies, another challenge was to not have the characters become cartoonish or caricatures.  I am so grateful for the talented cast in giving us genuinely natural, funny people.

What do you want the audience to take away from The Tale of the Allergist's Wife?
I think the message of the play is though sometimes we may get lost in the middle of life, we also have an inner spark - our inner Buddha - that will reignite us and get us back on our way.

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife - meet cast member Omar Rocha

Tell us about your character Mohammed from The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.
Mohammed came to the United States from Iraq many years ago.  His father wanted to partake in the American dream and wanted his family to benefit from it as well.  Although Mohammed's father was somewhat distant, he always wanted the best for Mohammed and his siblings.  Eventually, Mohammed found his calling as a doorman.  His father is quite proud of him.

What were some challenges for you while working on this show?
My major difficulty was trying to get some kind of quasi accent down for Mr. Mohammed.

What do you hope the audience will take away from The Tale of the Allergist's Wife?
I believe that one truth an audience member could glean would be "every adversity is an opportunity for growth."  What some intend as harm can turn into a wonderful blessing.

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife - meet cast member Marianne Meyers

Tell us about your character Lee Green in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.
Lee Green is a woman of mystery, worldly and glamorous.  She seems to know everyone and has been around.

What were some of the challenges you faced in working on this show?
Lee is not necessarily trustworthy and you may not know what her true motives are, perhaps she doesn't even know herself.  In my real life, I am honest and upfront, integrity is very important to me.  Other challenges for me in this show include fast costume changes and a lot of eye makeup!

What do you hope the audience will take away from The Tale of the Allergist's Wife?
I hope people laugh.  The play is very funny and the show is well-cast.  The dynamics between the characters are just a riot!  There are wonderful questions about the meaning of life, friendship, and what makes a family work together.  The audience is in for a good time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife - meet cast member Janice Zucker

Tell us about your character, Frieda Tuchman, in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.
She's an older woman living in the same apartment house as her daughter Marjorie and son-in-law Ira on the upper west side of Manhattan.  She's a Jewish mother who doesn't get along with her daughter and pretty much never has.  But she adores her son-in-law!  She's very sure of herself, what she believes in, and because of her age, she pretty much says whatever she is thinking!  There's no filter and she doesn't hold anything back!  Because of her ailing health and "digestive issues", she lives directly down the hall from Marjorie and Ira.  Needless to say, with her living so close, their life is not their own!

What challenges did you face in working on this show?
I've had very many.  I can identify with Frieda beacuse I am a native New Yorker, Jewish, and have a relative that acts just like her!  Two challenges that do come to mind: saying some of my lines in such a way that I am pouring on the Jewish guilt and learning and memorizing my lines.  As I get older, I find that takes longer to do but I seemed to learn these lines faster than I normally do.  I think I easily identified with Frieda because of both my New York and Jewish upbringing!

What do you want the audience to take away with The Tale of the Allergist's Wife?
The play is so funny, with a great cast and crew.  I have enjoyed working with my fellow actors, director, and crew.  They have all made this such a fun experience for me!  I hope the audience will enjoy the story line and all it's wonderful characters as much as we had bringing them to life.  Get ready to laugh a lot!

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife - meet cast member Jack Stein

Tell us about your character in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.
I play the role of Dr. V. Ira Taub, the allergist referenced in the title.  Ira is a "helper" by nature and has retired from his practice to pursue helping the needy and disenfranchised while at the same time being the great mediator between his ever-arguing wife and mother-in-law, both to whom he is devoted.  He's also a frustrated Catskills comedian which emerges in just about everything he says and does.

What were some of the challenges you faced in working on this show?
Ira is great fun to play but in such a comedic piece it is important to balance the broad with the nuanced.  It's easy to go "too big" with his character.  Thanks to our terrific director, I've been able to find the humanness of this man while enjoying his bigger than life personality.

What do you want the audience to take away from The Tale of the Allergist's Wife?
Blood is thicker than water.  Ultimately, family is at the foundation of all things good.


Friday, October 16, 2015

The Tale of the Allergist's Wife - meet co-producer Jay Cohen

Jay Cohen is very pleased to be producing another great play at LTA and to be working with such a talented team. Jay previously produced The Rocky Horror Show, The 39 Steps, Run for Your Wife and The Teahouse of the August Moon, all at LTA. When not at LTA, Jay serves on the board of directors for other nonprofits.

Why did you decide to produce The Tale of the Allergist's Wife?
I had seen the show in Florida where my mother played Frieda and I thought it was hysterical.  When I heard that LTA was doing it, I had to do it myself.  Also, the fact that Michael Kharfen was directing didn't hurt, as I wanted to work with him.

What are you trying to accomplish with the telling of this play?
I think it is a great play about life challenges.  You have Majorie who is going through a midlife crisis and is feeling rather small, as we all do from time to time.  You also have Lee who is a free spirit that we all wish to be.  And then you have Frieda, who is how we all eventually wind up!  I think from these three characters, all of us can identify with them.

What were the challenges as a producer?
Getting non-jewish people to say Yiddish words!

What should the audience take away from this play?
<In a heavy New York Jewish accent> Well Jews are people too!  What do you want me to say?