You Don't Know This Man: Trevor Bass

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MPT favorite Trevor Bass returns to the stage for his 16th MPT show! Trevor plays Leo Frank, a Jewish man accused of murder in pre-WWI Georgia. Read on to learn more about Trevor and his thoughts about Parade.

Are you a Madison native? If not, what brought you to the area?

Yes, I was born in Madison and have lived in the area all my life. I love it here!

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before? If so, which ones?

I have been in MPT shows every summer since 2013. At the end of this summer I will have been in 16 MPT productions! I keep coming back because I love the people.

How do you prepare for auditions? What did you sing to audition for MPT’s 2019 season?

I look at what the audition requires, and try to pick music that best presents my talents for the roles I’m interested in. Then I practice the songs as much as I can so I project confidence when it's time to audition. This year, I sang “What More Can I Say” from Falsettos, and “Tonight at Eight” from She Loves Me.

What was your first stage show and who did you play?

My first time onstage was Fiddler on the Roof in 1995, when I was 5 years old. I was a citizen of Anatevka.

What was your strangest experience in theatre?

I’d say it would be my high school freshman performance of Holes, the stage play based on the popular book. I fell asleep on a couch backstage, and woke up just in time for one of my entrances!

What is your favorite theatre memory?

There are too many to count, but performing Anything Goes at the WI State Theatre Festival in high school was pretty great.

What musical theatre song do you shamelessly belt in the shower or in your car?

My brother and I do a solid rendition of Defying Gravity from WICKED.

What do you enjoy about your character Leo Frank? In what ways are you similar or dissimilar?

One thing I like about Leo is his honesty. One thing I’d say we have in common is a reluctance to let other people do important, personal tasks for me, for fear that they might make a mistake or misrepresent my feelings/thoughts.

What are people going to think about as they drive home from the show?

This is a pretty emotionally taxing show. For me, reaching the end of the story brings me mostly anger, because Parade reveals in stark terms how little progress society has made, in certain respects, in 100 years. The fear and hate that can manipulate a group of people into believing things that aren’t true, just because they need a convenient place to put their vengeance. The terribly sad but true idea that the media only takes notice of injustices and violence when the victim is white. All in all, I hope audiences leave the theatre with the hope and desire to be better as a society.

Do you have any special/hidden talents, or other fun facts?

I can dislocate my shoulder at will!

Where can people go to learn more about you and your projects?

I don’t have a website, but I usually work with MPT for most summers, so middletonplayers.com!

Come see Trevor on stage in Parade this weekend only! Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

You Don't Know This Woman: Mari Bass

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Mari Bass returns to the MPT stage to play Lucille Frank, the quintessential Southern wife who must reexamine who she is in order to save her husband. Keep reading to learn more about Mari!

Are you a Madison native? If not, what brought you to the area?

I grew up in Minnesota, came to Madison for college, and never left!

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

This is my sixth season with Middleton Players! Some of my favorite shows with MPT have been Rent, Ragtime, and Sweeney Todd.

What do you do when you’re not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a daytime job?

I do have a daytime job - I work at Epic as part of the Technical Services team.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

I have so many, but I think opening night of Sweeney Todd (the first show I directed solo) was one of my proudest moments in theatre. After a completely hectic rehearsal process, to sit and finally see everything the team had accomplished hit me with a lot of emotions. I'm also thinking many parts of this show will end up being my favorite memories as well.

What is your favorite Broadway musical?

I can't say that I could pick a single favorite, but I have no shame about how much I love Wicked. I know many people are rolling their eyes at me, but I can't help it.

What musical theatre song do you shamelessly belt in the shower or in your car?

Any and all musical theatre songs! When I moved out to college my parents reminded me many times how much quieter the house was ;)

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

One of my favorite things is having a fun ensemble track in a show and making up truly ridiculous and elaborate back stories for my characters. It's like having little fun secrets I'm keeping from the audience!

What do you enjoy about your character Lucille? In what ways are you similar or dissimilar to your character?

I love how Lucille is always pushing forward. She refuses to settle or give up. I aspire to be as strong as she is.

What would you like audiences to know about PARADE?

Having done this show once before I'm really learning how different your take on the show can be looking at it from the different perspectives of the characters. I think it's easy to gravitate to feeling like people are "good people" or "bad people" and I've learned that this show is so much more than that. I hope audiences will see that. I think one of the only ways to affect change is to be able to first understand another's perspective.

Come see Mari on stage in Parade this weekend only! Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

You Don't Know This Woman: Jennifer Kuckuk

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Jennifer Kuckuk plays the grieving Mrs. Phagan in this weekend’s production of Parade. Read on to find out more about Jennifer, what she does when she’s not on stage, and why she thinks her character is a cautionary tale for all of us.

Are you a Madison native? If not, what brought you to the area?

I’m originally from a fairly small town in the California East Bay but moved to Madison to attend UW Madison for my B.S. in Biology 2012.  I loved Madison so much that I stuck around!  It’s a great city for science and theater, I’ve had so many opportunities here that I would not have in other places.

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before? If so, which ones?

This is my third show with Middleton Players, and each show has had a very different feel.  I was in Sweeney Todd last September and Beauty and the Beast this August.  That’s one of the things I have been drawn to about Middleton Players — they choose varied content and certainly don’t shy away from challenging material.

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

My favorite part of the rehearsal process is adding in costumes, sets, and lighting during tech rehearsals.  As grueling as those rehearsals can be, it’s so rewarding to finally watch as everything starts falling into place.

What do you do when you’re not performing? Do you have a daytime job?

I do have a day job in biopharmaceutical drug development that keeps me in my theater habit and my cat in her wet-food habit.

What would you like audiences to know about your character?

Mrs. Phagan is a cautionary tale in grief.  We commonly hear that “there is no wrong way to grieve”, but Mrs. Phagan might make you rethink that.  She mourns the murder of her daughter by withdrawing into a narrow and prejudiced worldview that is reinforced and nurtured by opportunistic lawyers, bigoted journalists, and a community so entrenched in their beliefs that they are willing to maim or murder those who challenge them. In her grief, she becomes a pawn of a political message of hatred and violence.  While we may not all be hounded by lawyers and politicians in our own personal losses, we can be mindful of keeping an open heart to others who are suffering, instead of putting up walls to the world.

What are people going to think about as they drive home from the show?

I hope that audiences will be introspective after the show.  The music is gorgeous but the plot is heavy and the ending poignant.  The message of the show is murky and difficult to unpack, by virtue of this being a true story.  There is good and evil and a lot of in-between — in every character.  The bad guys don’t get their comeuppance and the good guys don’t get to sing songs of their victories at the end.  It’s frustrating and beautiful and thought-provoking and very important.

Come see Jennifer on stage in Parade this weekend only! Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

You Don't Know This Woman: Mona Iskandar

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MPT newcomer Mona Iskandar plays Mary Phagan — the young factory worker at the heart of Parade’s story. Read on to find out more about Mona, some of her favorite theatrical experiences, and what her dream role is!

What is your first stage show? And who did you play?

In fifth grade, I was cast in CTM’s 50th anniversary production of The Wizard of Oz. Although I played several youth ensemble roles including an Ozian and a Poppy, my favorite character was the Munchkin coroner, who pronounced the wicked witch dead (“As coroner I must aver…”) — my first “solo.” I was hooked!

What is your favorite musical? 

As long as I can remember, my parents have been taking my brother and me to the theater.  Everything from community and traveling Broadway shows to concerts and performance art, attending shows is our favorite family activity.  I was introduced to theatre through CTM, and one of the first musicals I remember seeing was Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  Right now Waitress is my favorite musical and Jenna is my dream role.  

And what musical theater song do you shamelessly belt in the shower or in your car?

Definitely “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress. Fun Fact: This was the first song I learned on ukulele so I can accompany myself!

Come see Mona on stage in Parade this weekend only! Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

You Don't Know This Man: Flynn Marcus

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In our production of Parade, high school Junior Flynn Marcus plays Frankie Epps — the charming and devoted friend to Mary Phagan. Read on to find out more about Flynn, some of his earliest theatre memories, and how he taps into a character so different from himself.

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

Parade will be my second show with Middleton Players Theater after being in the ensemble of All Shook Up earlier this summer.

How do you prepare for auditions? What did you sing to audition for MPT?

I always research the shows I'm auditioning for and think about the character I'd like to play. I listen to the cast recordings, read about the context of the show, and its historical time period. Then I select audition songs that are similar. Sometimes I look for songs by the same composers or of a similar genre. I choose songs in which I can portray a character that is similar to the role I'm auditioning for. For Parade, I wanted to try out for the role of Frankie Epps so I chose an emotional song sung by a teenage character: "For Forever" from Dear Evan Hansen

What was your first stage show and who did you play?

My first real stage show was in Aladdin with CTM when I was 10 years old. I played Prince Dahdu Rahn Rahn and I was dressed as Elvis in harem pants. My big moment was to impress the princess with some hip swivels. I got a lot of laughs and after that I was hooked!

What is your favorite theatre memory?

When I played the role of Snail in A Year WIth Frog & Toad, a teacher who attended a student matinee shared a story with me. She was with a young student who struggles in school and said, "I like Snail. He works slow, like me!" The experience inspired him to want to try acting. It made me feel great to inspire a little boy.

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process? 

I love getting to know new people. The magic of rehearsals is that in the beginning the cast and crew are strangers, but by the end we are family.

What is your favorite theatrical work?

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

What do you enjoy about your character? In what ways are you similar or dissimilar?

Frankie Epps starts out cheerful and fun-loving, but is profoundly affected by the violent death of Mary. His actions in Act 2 are motivated by his hate, rage, and his desire for revenge. He is blinded by his emotions and is unable to see the truth. Frankie is a deeply flawed character, and of course I cannot identify with his hate and antisemitism.  But all human beings experience grief and anger, so that is what I tap into to portray this character.

What would you like audiences to know about this show?

I'd like people to understand the show's historical significance and how this event led to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League. When we understand history we can avoid repeating it. Having Jewish heritage, it's important to me to tell these stories.

Come see Flynn on stage in Parade next weekend only! Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

You Don't Know This Woman: Meghan Stecker

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In MPT’s production of Parade, Meghan Stecker plays Iola Stover — a young factory worker who is friends with the murdered Mary Phagan, and whose testimony is paramount to the story’s outcome. Read on to find out more about Meghan and how she feels about playing such a weighty character.

Are you originally from Madison?

I am originally from Appleton, Wisconsin but have lived in Madison since beginning school in 2016. I’m a student at UW—Madison, where I am earning a Bachelor of Music in Vocal and General Music Education.

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

I joined Middleton Players Theatre in 2018 as an ensemble member in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — because it is my favorite musical and because the timeframe of the show worked with my schedule. I had such a fun time getting to know the wonderful and kind people in the company that I knew I had to audition for all three shows this season!

What do you do when you’re not performing?

In addition to my school work, I have worked as an intern for the past year with the Madison Youth Choirs.

How do you feel about your character Iola Stover?

I find this character particularly interesting in its comparison to the current political climate; people in power pressure Iola to testify against Leo Frank and through the course of the trial, her narrative is taken away from her to be used as political ammunition. The character deals with an impossibly complicated situation and the consequences of her actions severely affect the life of another human being. The difficult subject matter makes this role expressly challenging, and I am excited to have a role in telling this important story. I hope you enjoy the show!

Come see Meghan on stage in Parade next weekend only! Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

My, What a Gal, that Kelsey Odorizzi

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Kelsey Odorizzi is thrilled to be playing her dream role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Read on to find out more about Kelsey, how she prepares for auditions, and he favorite theatrical experience.

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

My first show with MPT was Crazy for You last summer and I had such a great time that I wanted to audition again!

How do you prepare for auditions?

If I’m going for a specific role, I always try and parallel my song(s) with the character. For example, when I auditioned for the title role in Mary Poppins with VACT, I sang “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music. Marie (nanny) = Mary Poppins (magical nanny). Having Julie Andrews as both of those characters was just pure luck. 😉 I then pick my song(s) at least a month before hand and figure out what cut best shows my ability.

What was your first stage show and who did you play?

I did a summer school program when I was 9 and we did a junior version of The Wizard of Oz, where I was Winkie 1. My one and only line was “The crows are dead!”

What is your favorite Broadway musical?

I can’t pick one, so my top five are: Les Misérables; Jesus Christ Superstar; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Jersey Boys; Wicked.

What do you enjoy about your character Belle?

Of the classic Disney princesses, she represents a departure from the “damsel in distress” stereotype. She stays true to herself and is unwilling to change or sacrifice the things she believes in.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

When I toured with the KIDS From Wisconsin, I was chosen among my peers to perform with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops for one of his concerts. Their concert artists included Sutton Foster, Dee Hoty, Donna McKechnie, Matt Bogart and William Michaels (who played the Beast and Gaston on Broadway). Sutton Foster and I talked in her dressing room for 30 minutes before a show and she was the most kind, down to earth person I’ve ever met. William Michaels also sang part of “If I Can’t Love Her” for me so that was pure magic to a girl whose dream role was Belle. The whole week was the most incredible experience.

What do you do when you’re not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a daytime job?

My main focus is being a stay-at-home mom to my two littles, Caden (6) and Elena (2). But I also teach voice lessons during the evening, and music direct the musicals at Sun Prairie High School, as well as the VACT teens shows. I absolutely love it!

Come see Kelsey on stage in Beauty and the Beast August 8-11. Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

My, What a Gal, that Ashton Siewert

Ashton Siewert will be portraying Mrs. Potts in our upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast. We asked Ashton, a longtime Middleton Players Theatre participant, to share a little more about herself, what she enjoys about her character, and some of her favorite theatre memories.

What do you enjoy about your character Mrs. Potts?

Mrs. Potts is a loving and empathetic embodiment of maternal warmth. It’s a pleasure to portray a character who is not in the least bit villainous.

How do you get pumped up before a performance?

Music! I put in my earbuds and rock out to something. Right now it’s Mark Ronson’s “God Put a Smile on Your Face” because it’s spunky, and just a little bit sassy. Plus, you can pretty much just listen to it on repeat forever and never get sick of it. An absolute bundle of fun.

What do you do when you’re not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a daytime job?

I’m a recruiter for a telecommunications company, and host pub trivia at night. I’m also wrapping up graduate school this fall. In my endless amounts of free time, I draw, play euchre, and galivant off to find my next great adventure!

What is your favorite theatre memory?

There are so many! One of the experiences that really stands out is when I saw All My Sons at APT. Theatre can be a truly magical experience, and lights, sets, and sound are often a huge part of that. But, when I saw All My Sons, it was a matinee in the outdoor theatre in broad daylight. There were no mics, no music, no lighting changes, a stagnant set, and a cast of maybe ten. Even without all of the technical aspects, the gravitas of the material and the outstanding performances were still able to completely transport me and deeply move me. It’s one of the memories that most helps me to appreciate how affecting live performance can be.

Who is your greatest musical theatre inspiration and why?

There are many, but I think the performer who inspired me to grow the most is Marin Mazzie. I was immediately taken with her supremely beautiful voice when I first heard her.

Do you have any special/hidden talents, or other fun facts?

My chicken cluck is pretty uncanny...

What do you want people to think about as they leave the show?

I hope that people will think about how inspiring and enjoyable live theatre is, and continue to support both the arts and MPT!

Where can people go to learn more about you and your projects?

Follow the Middleton Players Facebook page! Chances are I’m buried in an MPT project. Next up, I’ll be co-directing Parade alongside Thomas J. Kasdorf.

Don’t miss your chance to see Ashton in our upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast! Performances are August 8-11 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

My, What a Guy, that Carter Krzyzaniak

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UW Senior Carter Krzyzaniak lights up the stage as the charismatic castle maître d', Lumiere. Read on to find out more about his very first role, what he likes about playing Lumiere, and how is passion for singing and dancing extends beyond the theatre.

Are you a Madison native? If not, what brought you to the area?

I’m not a Madison native. I came to Madison to go to school at UW-Madison.

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

I did Crazy For You and Legally Blonde last summer, and I am in all three shows this summer.

How do you prepare for auditions? What did you sing to audition for MPT’s 2018 season?

Auditions are actually a very stressful process for me so I spend a lot of time making sure my cuts are ready and that I am very familiar with them. This year I sang part of Donny Novitski from Bandstand and If I Didn’t Believe In You from The Last Five Years.

What was your first stage show and who did you play?

The first stage show I was in was Willy Wonka Jr. I played Grandpa Joe and had such a fun time flying and burping my way through that show.

What do you enjoy about your character Lumiere?

Getting to know Lumiere has been such a fun process. I love exploring his flirtatious energy and his slightly reckless behaviors. The French has been a great challenge and has really helped me as a performer.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

I don’t know if I can pick one specific theater memory that is my favorite. Every show for me offers a different message to take away from it. Some shows are extremely uplifting and spread so much joy, while others might instill more hope and positivity. There is just something so special about taking yourself out of your own world and diving into life that can be anything you want it to be.

What do you do when you’re not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a daytime job?

When I’m not doing theater, I can be found directing and choreographing for show choirs. I was in show choir in high school and it is a huge passion of mine. There’s something special about working with high school kids and watching them grow as performers and as young adults.

What are people going to think about as they drive home from the show?

As people leave the show, I hope their hearts are full of the joy the theater brings to people. Live performance is such a powerful art and I love to hear the excitement that audience members have after they see a show.

See Carter on stage as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast August 8-11. Tickets are available now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

My, What a Gal, that Faith Oldenburg

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Introducing Faith Oldenburg as Young Belle. Read on to find out more about Faith, how she got hooked on musical theatre, and what she likes to drink before a performance.

Are you a Madison native?

Yes! I love living in this city because there are so many opportunities for students pursuing the arts!

When did you fall in love with musical theatre?

I fell in love with musical theatre about five years ago when I played the title role in the musical Annie. Singing, acting and dancing for that audience felt like magic. Performing was exhilarating, and I knew I wanted to do it again.

Have you done a show with Middleton Players Theatre before?

This is my first show with MPT! I was excited to audition because Beauty and the Beast holds a special place in my heart. I’ve always connected with the main character, Belle, and I’m delighted by this opportunity to portray a younger version of her!

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

Probably the first couple of stumble through rehearsals. It’s fun to finally see the whole show, even though it’s not ready yet.

What do you eat or drink before doing a show?

Before shows I’m almost always sipping Bigelow’s Pomegranate Pizzazz herbal tea with lemon chunks and LOTS of honey.  Delicious!

Come see Faith on stage in Beauty and the Beast August 8-11. Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

My, What a Guy, that Bobby Goderich

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Madison favorite Bobby Goderich plays uptight grandfather clock Cogsworth. Keep reading to find out about his very first theatrical role, his strangest experience onstage, and what he likes to belt out in the shower!

Have you done a show with Middleton Players Theatre before?

Yes.  I was in Ragtime in both 2005 and 2017, Company, Into the Woods, Chicago, Crazy For You, and Sweeney Todd.

What do you enjoy about your character Cogswoth?  

I love Cogsworth because as much as he comes across as strict, he’s really just a softy and wants what’s best for everyone.

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

Sitz probe by far is the favorite part.  Hearing the actors and the orchestra come together for the first time.  Gives me goosebumps every time!

What do you do when you're not performing/working in the theatre?

By day I work for BMO Harris Bank.

What was your first stage show and who did you play?

My very first time on stage was with Missoula Children’s Theatre in a production of Cinderella. I played “Town Crier #1”, and all of my lines had to be delivered like I was weeping/sobbing.

What is your strangest experience in theatre? 

During our production of Company, the lightboard decided to reset itself. So I was in a very emotional scene at the end of Act 1 and the lights… all of the lights… decided to turn on.

What musical theatre song do you shamelessly belt in the shower or in your car?

Too many! “I am here” from The Color Purple; “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress; “Made of Stone” from Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Musical… and the list could go on and on.

Where can people go to learn more about you and your projects?

Just ask me… I am pretty easy to talk to. :D

See Bobby on stage in Beauty and the Beast August 8-11. Tickets are available now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

My, What a Guy, that Karl Scheidegger

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MPT is pleased to welcome back Karl Scheidegger as Belle’s eccentric father Maurice in Beauty and the Beast! Keep reading to learn more about Karl’s favorite musical memory, how he prepares (or not) for auditions, and what he has set as his ringtone.

Are you a Madison native?

I’m a Mount Horeb native (51 years and counting).

What do you enjoy about your character Maurice? In what ways are you similar or dissimilar to him?

Maurice is a creative kind of guy. I tend to be a little creative, as well. Maurice is an older cast member and I’m an older cast member. We both have daughters; He has one and I have one times three.

What is your favorite theatrical work?

I’m a big musical fan, so I would probably say Phantom of the Opera. I’ve got the music from the “papier-mache musical box, in the shape of a barrel-organ. Attached, the figure of a monkey in Persian robes playing the cymbals” as my ringtone. “Hide your face so the world will never find you.”

How do you prepare for auditions? What did you sing to audition for MPT’s 2019 season?

I don’t really prepare for auditions. I generally choose a song from our family “collection” and sing it a few times. (Unfortunately, the first time with an accompanist is usually during the audition – not recommended, and not great for your confidence). For MPT’s 2019 season, I had to go the video audition route.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

I would have to say when my entire family (Wendy, Kallee, Kacey and Karley) was in the cast of MPT’s Les Misérables in 2013.

What do you do when you’re not performing/working in the theatre?

By day, I am a fisheries biologist with the Department of Natural Resources. I’ve worked the past 27+ years trying to make fishing better for the residents (and nonresidents) of Wisconsin.

What are people going to think about as they drive home from Beauty and the Beast?

That MPT does a great job producing quality shows and that local theatre is alive and well in Madison!

Where can people go to learn more about you and your projects?

You can visit http://kjscheidegger.com to learn a little about my struggles with fishaholism.

Come see Karl on stage in Beauty and the Beast! Tickets are on sale now at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

Can't Help Falling in Love With: Chaz Ingraham

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Madison favorite Chaz Ingraham plays Chad, the guitar playing roustabout who stirs up a small town and brings it back to life. Keep reading to learn more about Chaz !

Which MPT shows have you previously performed in?

I have been in a lot of MPT shows!… Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent, A Chorus Line, Les Mis, Into the Woods, Crazy for You, Rocky Horror, The Producers, and Ragtime.

What has been your favorite role?

Every show I’ve ever done has touched me in some way, but my favorite so far would probably be getting to play Jack Kelly in Newsies.

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

Getting to finally be in the room with everyone! I missed out on most of the All Shook Up rehearsal process due to another show. So it’s nice to actually be present and not watching rehearsal videos trying to see where I “would” be.

What do you admire about your character Chad?

Keep in mind it’s the 50’s, so the fact that Chad is telling people it’s okay to be who they are and love who they want to love shows a depth of who he is under all that macho exterior. It’s an important message that is good for us all to be reminded of: Be true to yourself and open to love when you find it.

What will audiences like about All Shook Up?

That it’s just fun! It’s truly a show where you get to relax and have a laugh...or two...or two acts worth...lol!

What is your strangest theatrical experience?

Literally every conversation I had with Tom Wopat!

Come see Chaz be nothing but a hounddog June 27-30 in All Shook Up! Tickets available at www.middleotnplayers.com/tickets.

Can't Help Falling in Love With: Mike Brady

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Middleton Players is excited to welcome Mike Brady, who plays Natalie’s daddy JIm in All Shook Up! With the help of the roustabout, Jim learns to open his heart and find his inner “coolness.” Keep reading to find out more about Mike!

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

This is my first show with MPT! I was involved in theater back in high school, and while I’ve performed in other capacities since then (I once delivered a stand-up routine to an audience of 6000!) there was a theater-shaped hole in my heart.

What do you do when not performing? Do you have a day job?

I am originally from the Boston area, though I spent most of my life in North Carolina. I moved to Madison eight years ago when I was recruited by Epic. My day job involves training programming classes to customers from all over the world, which is another great outlet for the performer in me. I am also a 3rd degree black belt in taekwondo, and an instructor at ATA Madison West.

How are you similar or dissimilar to your character Jim?

I was thrilled to land the role of Jim, because we definitely have some similarities. Like Jim I also have a strong daughter of whom I am very proud. And I also have an inner geek who sometimes gets in the way (although mine involves acting to myself when I think nobody is looking).

Tell us about your pre-show routine.

Some things have definitely changed from my high school theater experience. I have to be much more thoughtful now about what I eat and drink before a show. I can’t eat anything more than a granola bar for a couple hours before a musical; it just sits too heavy in my stomach and makes me feel sluggish. Fluid intake is even more of an art: Too much water and you get that lip- smacking sound that drives some people crazy; too little and your voice won’t be flexible enough!

What have you enjoyed about getting back into theatre?

I love surrounding myself with creative people, so rehearsing for a musical is a special treat. You get to learn each others’ personalities at a very deep level, experience what each of you is bringing to your characters, and figure out how to build off of each other to tell a fun story. Collaborating with the enormously talented cast of this show is a true joy, and I look forward to sharing that experience with our audience!

Come see Mike get down in his blue suede shoes in All Shook Up June 27-30! Tickets are available at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

Can't Help Falling in Love With: Bryanna Plaisir

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We’re excited to welcome Bryanna Plaisir into the MPT family! Bryanna plays the bubbly, hopeless romantic Lorraine in All Shook Up. Read on to discover more about Bryanna, how she fell in with MPT, and what else she’s performing in this summer!

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

This is my first show with MPT! I currently am a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Theatre and Mathematics. I was taking a class and working on the university’s production of Into the Woods and (MPT Artistic Director) Thomas J. Kasdorf was my instructor and approached me and asked me to audition!

What is your favorite theatrical work (play, musical, opera, etc)?

Miss Saigon is my favorite musical! The music is just absolutely lovely and I fall in love all over again every single time I listen to the soundtrack!!

What is your favorite theatre memory?

My last high school production was The Producers and once the curtains closed my best friend and I took our last final bow and kinda just hugged each other for a solid ten minutes. We were both going to different colleges to study theatre. It was the last production we would be in together for a while, and we both knew that we would miss each other but also have a great time on our own. It was bittersweet.

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

Technical rehearsal!! I love seeing everyone’s hard work come together right before having an audience. I love when costumes, scenery, lighting, and all the other elements come together for the first time. It’s almost a magical experience!

What do you enjoy about your character Lorraine? In what ways are you similar or dissimilar to her?

Lorraine is very much a hopeless romantic. Her love for Dean is what drives her throughout the show and ultimately what makes her decide to stay. I am very much similar to this in term of the goals that I have for myself and the things that I wish to achieve in my life.

What do you do when you’re not performing?

I’m usually studying or memorizing for an upcoming show!! I am currently taking two summer classes and preparing for two more musical productions: Parade with MPT and Hephaestus with Music Theatre of Madison

Come see Bryanna play Lorraine June 27-30 in All Shook Up! Tickets are available at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

Can't Help Falling in Love With: Kyle Michael James

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Kyle Michael James joins MPT for the very first time as Dennis - Natalie’s nerdy, romantic best friend - in All Shook Up! Keep reading to learn more about what first drove Kyle to the stage, and how he serves our country with his talent.

What was your very first theatrical experience?

I began my acting career in Kindergarten for a school video commercial helping to advertise the new vending machines in the cafeteria. I was known as the kid that said “Wow, what are those?”

What are some favorite roles you’ve played since then?

At UW-Platteville I was awarded two scholarships for my performances as Jesus in Godspell and Felix Turner in The Normal Heart. I also received an ACTF Irene Ryan Nomination for my portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.

What do you do when you’re not on stage?

When not doing theatre, I serve as a Human Resources Specialist with the Army National Guard. I first enlisted in October 2013 and received a Certificate of Achievement for epitomizing the Army Values that same year. The following year I was selected to sing the National Anthem at Advanced Individual Training graduation and most recently was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service in the Wisconsin National Guard.

Where can people go to learn more about you and your projects?

Find out more about me at https://kylemjamestheatre.site123.me/!

See Kyle take the stage as Dennis June 27-30 in All Shook Up! Tickets are available at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

Can't Help Falling in Love With: Anna Pfefferkorn

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MPT favorite Anna Pfefferkorn takes the stage as Miss Sandra, the beautiful, intellectual caretaker of the town's museum in All Shook Up! Keep reading to find out more about Anna and some of her most memorable theatrical experiences.

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

I’ve done several MPT shows—my first one was Chicago in 2011! I was Katalin ‘Not Guilty’ Hunyak. Or as my friend’s grandma said, “that Hungarian prostitute”. I later played actual French prostitute Fantine in Les Mis.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

I can’t pick just one. But when I did All Shook Up in high school, I accidentally flipped my line and said, “You’re from Shakespeare and you appreciate this town?!” The conductor was laughing so hard he almost forgot to start the next song.

What was your strangest experience in theatre?

I did Carrie: The Musical in a very small theatre with limited facilities. After every performance, I had to go into the tiny janitor’s closet, peel off my blood-soaked dress, and hose myself off in the mop tub. Sometimes the stage manager forgot to bring a towel. I would be stranded naked in the closet until someone wondered where I was and came to check on me!

What do you enjoy about your character Miss Sandra? In what ways are you similar or dissimilar to your character?

I admire her savage comments about small-town life. And that for all her sophistication, falling in love makes her drop her dignity like a hot potato. Like her, I enjoy people with poetry in their souls. Unlike her, I have a death grip on my dignity!

What are people going to think about as they drive home from the show?

“Why were the statues dancing, though?” ;)

Where can people go to learn more about you and your projects?

I have a real live website and it’s www.annapfefferkorn.com!

See Anna take the stage as Miss Sandra June 27-30 in All Shook Up! Tickets are available at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

Can't Help Falling in Love With: Katie Debs

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Katie Debs joins MPT for her second season as Natalie (also known as Ed) in All Shook Up! Natalie falls hard for the hip-shaking, guitar-playing roustabout, and decides to disguise herself as “Ed” to get to know him better. What ensues next is musical theater comedy at its best! Keep reading to learn more about Katie, her first theatrical experience, and how she tackled playing someone of the opposite sex.

What was the first musical you were ever in?

The first musical I was ever in was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  I want to say this was 1999 or early 2000's, the summer before I started sixth grade. My mom had suggested I audition for a Middleton summer recreation program, directed by Ken Urso. I had never even walked into the high school before, and somehow I was supposed to find the choir room and sing in front of strangers?  Well long story short, I got in! I was the color purple in the children's choir and had the very important task of picking up the prop ears of corn after the wives threw it. I was hooked! That summer I made friends from different schools, memorized so many darn colors and learned incredible skills and discipline that would help me in the years to come.

Tell us a little bit about playing Natalie and her alter-ego Ed.

Developing the character Natalie has come naturally, but creating Ed has been a different story.  Working on his posture, voice, and mannerisms has been a welcomed challenge.  Our Director, Musical Director, Choreographer and I collaborated to construct Ed. And I'm pretty proud of who he has turned out to be. As much as I love working on dark or tortured characters, it sure is a delight to perform in a comedy where everyone is falling in love with each other!  

What are you most looking forward to with your performances of All Shook Up?

The thing I am most looking forward to about this show is hearing the audience's reactions each night. I love to hear laughs, the gasps and even some "awws".  This story has so much feel-good energy in it that it's hard to image anyone sitting still in their seats, and they'll definitely be singing in the car on their way home. 

What advice would you pass on to other young actors?

When they say "there are no small parts, only small actors," they really mean it.  Someone is always listening, whether that is a cast member, production staff, or impressionable young person.  So do your part to set a good example and come prepared.  It matters.  Also, always be 15 min early, and bring lots of water! 

See Katie take the stage as Natalie/Ed June 27-30 in All Shook Up! Tickets are available at www.middletonplayers.com/tickets.

Get A Taste Of: Thomas J. Kasdorf

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MPT Artistic Director Thomas J. Kasdorf explores his darker side as the titular Sweeney Todd. Keep reading to find out how Thomas relates to his character, his strangest experience on stage, and which Sweeney Todd characters his cats are named after!

Are you a Madison native? If not, what brought you to the area?

I’m a proud Middletonian.

What do you do when you’re not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a daytime job?

I’m very fortunate to be almost always performing or working in the theatre in some capacity. But in the daytime, I’m a full time student at UW Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music, working towards my DMA in Collaborative Piano.

What was your first stage show and who did you play?

Children’s Theatre of Madison’s The Wizard of Oz in 1998. I played a member of the Lollipop Guild.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

Playing Jason in Falsettos at University Theatre. The cast was such a family, the production staff was exceptional, the audiences were so warm and inviting, I never wanted it to end.

What was your strangest experience in theatre?

Hands down: Waking up onstage in the middle of a performance of Cabaret at the keyboard, in the middle of the number “Mein Herr,” with my hands playing.

What is your favorite theatrical work?

My favorite theatrical works are Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

What do you enjoy about your character Sweeney Todd? In what ways are you similar or dissimilar to your character?

I appreciate Sweeney’s determination and focus, his single mindedness towards achieving his goals. Although I hope that I am not altogether similar to my character, I have been told by people that I have much in common with Sweeney’s brooding attitude.

What would you like audiences to know about this show?

I think that this show really explores so many themes beautifully: justice, revenge, greed, love, and loss. And for all its intensity, this show is exceptionally funny in a dark and twisted kind of way.

Give us a fun fact about yourself.

I have two beautiful fur babies at home named after characters in this show: Sweeney Todd and Lucy. Sweeney is a tuxedo cat and Lucy is his sister. I’m basically trying to replicate all of Sweeney’s insanity and menace for my character research. Anybody got any catnip?

 

Get A Taste Of: Meghan Randolph

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Meghan Randolph graces our stage as Sweeney Todd’s business partner and accomplice Mrs. Lovett. Keep reading to find out what Meghan’s three favorite musicals are, what she MUST do before every performance, and why she finds Mrs. Lovett likeable.

Have you done a show with Middleton Players before?

I had the pleasure of playing a female Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar in 2016.  It was one of my favorite stage experiences of all time.  

What do you do when you’re not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a daytime job?

I run Music Theatre of Madison, a professional company focused on new and lesser-known musical theatre pieces.  We have presented many local premieres and have recently started focusing on brand new, Wisconsin-written works.  I produce, perform, direct, fundraise, market, and do a lot of other stuff and it's my passion. I also write and speak professionally about theatre marketing, teach voice lessons, and am a contract marketing director for SAIL, a local organization that serves senior citizens. 

What is your favorite theatrical work?

I was lucky enough to do my three favorite musicals each summer I was in the high school musical theatre program at Interlochen Arts Camp in the 1990s:  Sweeney Todd, Fiddler on the Roof, and West Side Story. (Fun fact: Pre-famous Josh Groban was in Sweeney and Fiddler with me back then).  Now, with this production of Sweeney, I've had the chance to do each of those shows again as an adult... but backwards - West Side in 2001, Fiddler in 2014, and now Sweeney in 2018. 

What do you eat/drink before doing a show?

I don't usually eat or drink much but I HAVE to brush my teeth last thing before starting or I feel weird. 

What are people going to think about as they drive home from Sweeney Todd?

I hope people find it to be as thrilling as they'd hoped...whether seeing it for the first or millionth time.  If they're longtime Sweeney fans, I hope they see something new and interesting in this production and find things in the characters that they haven't seen before. If they're seeing it for the first time, I hope they're shocked and thrilled by the music and the story and spend all night on YouTube looking at clips!  

What do you enjoy about your character Mrs. Lovett? How do connect to her?

Mrs. Lovett is, in my opinion, musical theatre's truest villain and one of its greatest roles comedically, dramatically, and musically.  She is, in many ways, very likable, which adds to the horror of who she is.  As an actor I have to find her reasoning and look for the layers. So, being the nerd I am, I have written a long, detailed backstory for her to draw on when I'm trying to figure out what made her the way she is and what causes her to do the things she does.  I try to make every moment and every line accounted for in my backstory.  It's just the best way for me to be specific as an actor. The vast majority of what I've decided will not be anything the audience sees directly, but I have to have it for myself, and I hope it makes me consistent.  When I frame this story using the history that led up to it, particularly in this show, which gives us a history to draw upon, I start to sympathize with her and justify her actions, which is scary... and fascinating.  (Don't worry, no plans to make anyone into meat pies any time soon.)

Give us a fun fact about yourself—do you have any special/hidden talents?

I am an outstanding thrift store shopper.  I also can say the alphabet backwards in less than five seconds. 

Where can people go to learn more about you and your projects?

Music Theatre of Madison's website is http://www.mtmadison.com.  I would love it if you stopped by to see the big projects we have lined up for the fall and for next year!