Monthly Archives: August 2010

“Little Shop of Horrors” Opens at Circle Theatre Sept. 2

Circle Theatre of Grand Rapids, who performs at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center at 1607 Robinson Road SE, will be presenting the hilarious rock and roll musical, Little Shop of Horrors Sept. 2-18, 2010:

A down-and out skid row floral assistant becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a mysterious craving for fresh blood. Soon “Audrey II” grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore who offers him fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite, finally revealing itself to be an alien creature poised for global domination!

For more information or to order tickets by phone just give call the box office at: 616.456.6656 or go to the Circle Theatre website.

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Auditions Tonight and Tomorrow for “Our Town”

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre has auditions today and tomorrow for the much beloved play, Our Town.  From Civic’s website:

Our Town
October 15 – 30, 2010

Follow the Webb and Gibbs families of Grover’s Corners, NH., in Thorton Wilder’s theatre masterpiece. Each scene describes the stages of life; love, marriage and death, as the narrator explains. “The date is May 7, 1901. Three years pass before the next act, Love and Marriage. It’s July 1904 and nature’s been pushin’ and contrivin’ in all ways. Before ya know it, its 1913. Horses are gettin’ rarer, but not a whole lot changes in Grover’s Corners. Even in the new part of the cemetery they’re growing indifferent to what’s goin’ on. The dead don’t stay interested in the living people for very long. Gradually they get weaned away.”

Auditions for Our Town:
August 30 & 31, Callbacks Sept. 1 Open Call
Audition Style: Readings from the play and improvisation

Go to Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s site to learn more.

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Grand Rapids Dance Project Opens Tonight

Grand Rapids Dance Project
At the Peter Martin Wege Theatre

Guest choreographers Melanie Brossiet, Tassia Johnson and Amanda Smith present several works – including some with guest dancers Martha Bellamy, Francis Lawrence, Nick Schultz and Laura Schultz from the Grand Rapids Ballet Company.

Friday and Saturday, August 20 & 21, at 7:30 pm

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Get your tickets at the Ballet Box Office or call GR Dance Project at 616.328.7176.  For more information, see the Grand Rapids Ballet web site, www.grballet.com

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Serving Proudly – An Interview with Aaron Fryc

Last season we began our “Actors’ ExPats” series – interviews with folks who once were involved with Actors’ but had since moved away. This year, as we move our 30th Season, we are going to take that idea and expand on it. We are going to be celebrating some of the many, many people who have made this theatre such a success!

So, we’ll be interviewing all kinds of folks, from those that helped start Actors’ in the very beginning to those who are helping out today; people who have moved from West Michigan and those who are active in Grand Rapids theatre now. Our goal is to get to know some of the amazing people who have graced our stage, from acting to directing to everything in between. This is an opportunity to take a look at the past and also look to the future – and why Actors’ Theatre has been a passion for so many.

This week we talk to Air Force Serviceman, actor and voice talent Aaron Fryc.  From Grand Rapids to Washington DC to California, Aaron has been across the country serving in his dual roles.  We got a chance to talk to him about how a guy from GR ends up traveling with the President and the First Lady and appearing in such movies as National Treasure 2, The Bourne Ultimatum and many more!

Aaron, when did you decide you wanted to become an actor?

I don’t know if I ever decided to be an actor. I think I always acted crazy and it just made sense that the only place where it made sense to fit in was acting. Does, that make sense? I mean, I was a very energetic kid, always doing funny voices and hamming it up. I always enjoyed making people laugh and really got into lightening the situation. It was only until later in life that I realized that this was actually acting.

After graduation from the Colorado Institute of Art, I moved back to Grand Rapids and  I became a photographer’s assistant.  I was freelance and worked for many different photographers and many different types of projects from product to fashion. Oftentimes that would put me in contact with models and/or actors for various shoots. Having done various plays in high school and college and having a deep passion for acting, I gravitated more toward the talent and would chat them up (much to my boss’ displeasure) and pick their brains on classes and the biz.  It was on one particular shoot I had to actually sit in and be a talent at a restaurant where I met the late Scott Dawe. He told me about this wonderful guy Fred Sebulske and this group called Actors’ Theatre. He also said they had this workshop they put on for acting.  I later took the class, quit photography all together and became a full time actor/voice over talent in GR.

What were some of your favorite shows?

It’s hard for me to say which were my favorite shows, as I’m sure any actor will tell you.  I had the pleasure of being cast in shows that required me to play multiple characters; Shows like Our Country’s Good, and Travels With My Aunt. These types of shows taught me so much and were so fun to perform! I did get to run naked across Circle’s stage for Vast Difference. I would be interested in hearing if that was anyone ELSE’S favorite show!  Of course, as anyone will tell you, any show that I was onstage with my best friend, Greg Rogers, would have to have been my favorite. I think we’ve done nine shows together! Sorry, I had to “mug for the camera” on that one!

What does Actors’ Theatre mean to you?

It’s hard to put in words what Actors’ Theatre means to me because it is such an emotional place for me. Especially since I’m going through some stuff right now. It was and is such a wonderful place in my life that I don’t know where to begin. It taught me the honesty of the character and the script. About how to truly connect with your audience. Regardless of the director or the show, this was always the case. I attribute that to Actors’ as an institution because of their ideals and how they select their directors and plays. I do know what it means to GR as well. It means a place where good theatre can be explored and celebrated. I know of no other place that allows such freedom to this. I hope it continues for many years to come.

What do you think you gained from doing community theatre in Grand Rapids?

I learned that Grand Rapids has a wealth of talent that most people don’t even realize. It’s funny that people judge talent or success these days by IMDB alone. When I say I’m an actor, or a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the first thing people ask is, “Are you on IMDB?” It’s pretty sad. The people in Grand Rapids may never get anywhere near the camera or do any more than one show but I tell you, that one show will stick with more than one person. They will wow a room full of people and THAT is what a good actor does. Grand Rapids is full of good actors-period.

So, what have you been up to lately?

From Actor...

I’ve actually had somewhat of an interesting sidetrack from theatre after GR. In ’99 I was in “61*”, directed by Billy Crystal. Although I was just an extra, he gave me a line and that allowed me to get in to SAG. From ’99 –’01 I was seriously considering moving to LA to give it a shot when the World Trade Center was bombed. I was actually filming a TV commercial on Alpine when it happened and I remember watching it in the lobby. Long story short, I sold my car and voice over studio, enlisted in the Air Force and put the Acting on hold.

... to the Secret Service.

I just recently ended a tour in DC with the White House Communications Agency in which I traveled the world with the President, Vice President, First Lady and Secret Service. I was responsible for all of their secure satellite communications. This small town Grand Rapids guy even had full access to the entire White House and could even park there! Ask Greg Rogers!  During my time in DC I was finally able to afford the initiation fee for SAG and appeared in National Treasure 2, the Bourne Ultimatum, Body of Lies, State of Play, the Wire, America’s Most Wanted and most recently Salt. I am currently serving in Vandenberg Air Force Base California. However, along with my other Air Force citations I proudly display my letter from SAG saying I have been transferred to the Hollywood Branch! I have been able to set up my home voice over studio once again and have been doing voice-overs. I have even had the opportunity to voice “The History of Buckley Air Force Base” during my time there. It was a video shown to the top brass during a presentation. They thought the History Channel guy did it! Nice! I look forward to the day where I will be back to doing it full time. Until that day, I continue to serve proudly but I’m always aware of where my passion truly lies.

To read more about Aaron Fryc and see a video clip of him in action, see this article: Who’s Who (in the Background) from the Washington Post.

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From Fountain Street to all Across America: Interview with Costumer Marcia VanKuiken

Last season we began our “Actors’ ExPats” series – interviews with folks who once were involved with Actors’ but had since moved away. This year, as we move our 30th Season, we are going to take that idea and expand on it. We are going to be celebrating some of the many, many people who have made this theatre such a success!

So, we’ll be interviewing all kinds of folks, from those that helped start Actors’ in the very beginning to those who are helping out today; people who have moved from West Michigan and those who are active in Grand Rapids theatre now. Our goal is to get to know some of the amazing people who have graced our stage, from acting to directing to everything in between. This is an opportunity to take a look at the past and also look to the future – and why Actors’ Theatre has been a passion for so many.

Our most recent conversation was with Costume Designer and Wardrobe Supervisor Marcia VanKuiken.  Marcia worked here in town with many Grand Rapids theaters before eventually hitting the road and going on tour with a number of national companies.

How did you get your start in community theatre, Marcia?

Marcia backstage with Lou Diamond Philips

I began working in Grand Rapids theatre in 1987, assisting Jill Hamilton with the costumes for Circle Theatre’s production of Sweeney Todd.  I helped with building the costumes and also worked the run of the show backstage, helping as a dresser.  It was my first experience working behind the scenes and I guess that’s where I got the bug.  In 1988 Fred Sebulske asked me to design the costumes for his production of Burn This.  That was my first show of dozens that I designed for Actors’ Theatre.  When Actors’ moved into the new building on Fountain St., I was honored to be asked to help design and set up the costume shop for the GRCC theatre dept..  With that came the offer to be adjunct instructor for the Theatre Tech classes.  I taught the Costume Construction class for several years along with designing the costumes for all of the Actors’ Theatre productions.  It kept me busy, to say the least!

As someone who worked at the community college and saw the relationship between it and Actors’ and the other theaters that performed there, what are your thoughts about that connection?

I feel that the connection between GRCC and Actors’ Theatre is invaluable.  The students in the theatre dept. gain so much experience by working in all areas of theatre.  And as the students learn and nurture their talents, Actors’ gains from a growing pool of artists and technicians.  I believe that value is evident in the quality of the productions done by Actors’ Theatre.

"Elizabeth Rex" Actors' Theatre, 2006 - Photo Credit: Gayla Fox Photography

Tell us about some of your favorite shows that your created costumes for.

I have enjoyed all the of the shows that I have designed for Actors, but some were a bit more challenging than others.  I especially enjoyed the period shows, which gave me an opportunity to stretch my knowledge a bit. Shows like Elizabeth Rex and The Herbal Bed were a couple of my favorites.  I also fondly remember Curse of the Starving Class, but that memory involves a sheep living in the dressing room in the basement of the old theatre building!

"Elizabeth Rex" Actors' Theatre, 2006 - Photo Credit: Gayla Fox Photography

The most challenging show, I guess, would have to have been Elizabeth Rex.  The queen had a very unique look that had to be just right.  Thanks to Rob Thomasma, who did the wigs and make-up, I think we came pretty close.

What do you think you learned/gained from doing community theatre in Grand Rapids?

I learned everything I know about theatrical wardrobe and supervising wardrobe projects from working in local theatre.  I am grateful to the talented people that I worked with who shared their knowledge with me and allowed me to learn from them.

Actors aren't the only people who enjoy Marcia's magic in the costume shop. Tex appreciated her assitance with his favorite prop.

What are you up to now?  Or, what sorts of theatrical things have you done since leaving Grand Rapids that you want to share?

I left Actors’ Theatre to work as the Wardrobe Assistant on the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar in 2004.  I went on to tour with Spamalot and Camelot.  I have recently completed two years as the Wardrobe Supervisor for the national tour of Legally Blonde.  I am currently working as the seamstress for the film 30 Minutes or Less, which is being filmed here in Grand Rapids.

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