Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Anne of Green Gables-meet cast member Aaron Eckloff

My character is Tommy Sloane. Tommy Sloane is the brother of Charlie Sloane, who is another character in the show. He is somewhat of a trouble maker, who likes to occasionally torment his classmates and even his teacher.
Some of the challenges of working on this show for the most part is the physical element of the show. Our choreographer, Ms Cristina , does not cut corners when it comes to dancing, and she prefers a more traditional and intensive style of dance, which looks spectacular, but has taken some getting used to and was a significant hurdle for me to get over.
I hope that audiences will be impressed by the dance numbers, the singing, the humor, and overall just enjoy a story about a girl who is just a little different than everyone else.
The thing that I find appealing about my character is since he’s a trouble maker, he gets to do some mischievous things, one of which involving a slingshot *wink wink*, which is very fun to do.
I’ve been involved in theater ever since I started doing class plays in first grade. I then started to get involve in more legitimate theater opportunities, inside my school and outside of it.
Anne of Green Gables is my first show with LTA, and I decided to audition because I knew the choreographer and some of my friends were auditioning as well.
Some advice I have for people trying to get into theater is to try to find as many audition opportunities that interest you as possible.  And in your audition, just remember that the casting directors are most of the time rooting for you and and want you to succeed, so try to be yourself. Also one tip I can give is to try to make good relationships with other people in the community, especially people like directors who can recommend you to other directors and give you more opportunities to further your career as an actor. Connections are important!

Anne of Green Gables- meet cast member Tony Gilbert

Tell me a little bit about your character?

Matthew Cuthbert is a farmer who lives with his sister on their farm, Green Gables. He is in his 60s and is slowly losing his ability to work the farm due to his age and a heart condition. A gentle man, he is very shy around women he is not well acquainted with. When he meets Anne he is taken by her from the moment they meet. When I started studying him, I liked him more each time I met him.

What were some of the challenges for you in working on this piece?
Well, like Matthew, I am also in my 60s and not being a dancer, I find it more difficult to hop around than 20 years ago. This is also a much different role than I have been blessed with in my past, a lovable (I hope) old boy with a huge heart of gold and a sense of humor. One of the easiest parts of this role has been that Cassie Cope has made my job of adoring "my little girl, Anne" effortless.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this play?
This piece is very progressive for the time in which it was written, and very timely for today with the subjects of gender equality, self image, and bullying. If people walk away feeling more accepting, less judgmental, and warm, we will have made "Anne" proud.

What do you find appealing about your character and this show?
I just really like Matthew Cuthbert and love Anne and Marilla. I hope there is a good measure of Matthew in me and I might "be some good" to others, as he would say.

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? 
I performed in my first high school musical 51 years ago last spring. My senior year in high school, our drama teacher took a group of us to see one of the first touring companies of "Man of La Mancha." I was so moved by the story and actors that a year later I decided to major in theatre at UVA. I have always had the goal as an actor to move the audience as other actors have moved me. 

How did you first get involved with LTA?
After a hiatus from acting I decided to show up for auditions at LTA for "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 2016 and was given the privilege of playing Judge Wilson. So far, this is the only theatre I have worked in since.

Anne of Green Gables- meet the director Mike Baker

Why did you suggest Anne of Green Gables: The Musical to the LTA Board?
The LTA Board was looking for a family show so I suggested the original Broadway version of this
musical. In addition to one of the most popular mini-series on PBS, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s story
was enjoying a popular rebirth through the Netflix series, “Anne with an e.” I knew it would be a
natural for LTA audiences young and old. Plus, the original 1965 version had not been done in the
DC area for a very long time, if at all.
Why did you decide to ultimately direct "Anne of Green Gables?"
First, the Board had to select me. But in a real sense, it just seemed to speak to me on so many
levels. Contemporary themes like child neglect, adoption, romance, friendship, and life in a small
town, were all rolled into this wholesome, imaginative, breezy tale of a young orphan girl who rose
from destitution to happiness in the farm country entirely by virtue of her pluck and personality. I felt
it could not miss.
What were you trying to accomplish with the telling of this play?
I didn’t just want to direct the musical, I wanted to ennoble the richness of Montgomery’s text, with
many non-spoken subtleties from the novel. Richer characterizations, additional episodic
development, and ingenious stagecraft choices imbue this production with a magic that is difficult to
muster in community theatre. For the Anne of Green Gables devotee, it is a treasure trove of
childhood memories.
What were the challenges as a director?  
A horse, carriage, and endless theatrical drops are a tall order for any community theatre, but with a
little imagination and mixed-media, this musically lush and youthfully energetic musical has reached
fruition at LTA. It also features dance within dance, mixed vocal and dialogue sections, 10 different
settings, a dozen legit voice parts, and a half-century of musical traditions. It was quite an
How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
It is clearly more complex than some I have done. It is essentially a 423 page novel in a little over
two hours. And yet, it is not pithy or overbearing. It has light airy moments with ‘Open a Window’
and true human pathos with ‘The Words.’ The width and the breath of this musical is a life worth
lived on stage.
What should the audience take away from this play?
The kindness of humanity. The precious gift of family. The joy of youth and the wisdom that comes
with age. Melodies that seem to talk to the human spirit and both renew and uplift.