Filtering by Tag: Festival 56

"I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua"

I love revisiting old performances. Especially when someone else recorded them and sends me the video footage!

This Video was taken from a live performance at the "Late Night, Cabaret" at Festival 56 in Princeton, IL. This Features Nick Towns (Pianist/Back Up Vocals) and Shannon Hill (EMCEE and Artistic Director of Festival 56)

"I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua" - Kiss Me, Kate

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

My New Life

I've always considered myself a bit of a Vagabond. And this past half of a year I did just that. I went from gig to gig, contract to contract in different states, going wherever the job and wind blew me.

But that was my old life...this is My New Life.

In Princeton, IL while performing with Festival 56 I met a beautiful gal. We fell for each other in the kind of way you only read in books. So, when our contracts ended and she went back home to New York, I had no choice but chase after. So, here I am back in New York City. I'm auditioning, doing readings and gigs, and beginning my contract with The Clay and Wattles Theater at The Gary The Olivia Theater in Bethlehem, CT...which just so happens to be only 2 hours away from the big apple...

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

The Last Vlog

Last Week I ended something pretty important to me...I Ended The Vlogs.

And by that I mean I ended The Illinois Vlogs...Sorry for the click bait. I can't stop vlogging. Can't stop won't stop. But saying "goodnight, sweet prince" to Princeton, IL and Festival 56 was tough. I had an absolutely wonderful time there and will miss it desperately.

But, I've already made peace with leaving...because my next location has already proved to be a huge part of my life.

Gotta run, I'm typing this up while sitting in a Shetler Studios penthouse waiting for a recording session I'm a part of to finish up. Subscribe to the YouTube Channel to find out what THATS all about.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

P.S. - Make sure you check out The IL Highlights....

Things get WEIRD in Brighton Beach

This past week...Things got WEIRD!!!

Here at Festival 56 in Princeton, IL we said goodbye to a lot of great new friends as their contracts came to an end. But a handful of us lingered to put on the last show of the summer season: Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs.

In this show I'm definitely not playing my typical type. I'm playing Jack Jerome, a 42 year old Jewish man who works several jobs to support his family during the great depression of the 1930's.

It's been a wonderful experience to stretch my acting legs and find home in this man's story. It's a delightfully funny, charming, and moving play. And the fact that I don't sing a note all evening is not my typical jam, but it's nice to really focus on the craft of ACTING!

The cast and crew left are a goofy bunch, but they are delightful to work with and are a constant source of entertainment. It will be a tough time saying goodbye to these wonderful peeps.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

WE'RE GOING TO MAKE IT!!!

I know I've had a tremendous amount of radio silence as of late, but there were times this past week where I wasn't sure I was gonna make it!

I'm being dramatic. However, the work load was larger than usual and when times get tough, the vlogs/blogs grow lean and less frequent.

The past week has been a blur of rehearsals, training sessions, performances, laughs, tears, bouts of extreme grumpiness, and finally - fond farewells.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It!

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

Helicopter Ride

This past week I got to cross something off of my bucket list.

Currently in Princeton we are going ALL IN on Guys and Dolls. This evening is a dress rehearsal with tech and orchestra. We've begun putting together Brighton Beach Memoirs and are working in between the big rehearsals.

When you work hard, it's best to play harder...or something like that. I'm not one to enjoy drinking or too much recreation. But, when a cool opportunity pops up I definitely take advantage. This past week I got to ride a friggin' helicopter. Basically, one helluva time. If you don't believe me, just watch...

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

Petting Zoos, Wolverine Beards, and Final Shows

This week at Festival 56 we've had nothing short of a BLAST!

We've picked up a rhythm. A sleep deprived, hard driving, rehearsal/performance filled rhythm. And (knock on wood) we're feeling powerful. With confidence in your products comes a little more room for fun and experimentation.

We've started up Guys and Dolls, got it on it's feet, and now we have fun. We start tech next week..the same time we start rehearsals for Brighton Beach Memoirs. Get pumped, team.

This week we also had to say goodbye to Violet: The Musical. And subsequently we had to say goodbye to three wonderful people; our director - Tim Seib, our musical director - Thomas Conroy, and The lovely and talented Olivia Griffin. I'll miss this show and these people quite a bit, but the memories we created have been immense. Truly unforgettable, I hope that moments like these can somehow be recreated.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

Beer Hats and Cat Tanks

I can only hope that your Fourth of July Weekend was as fun as mine!

Here in Illinois we've been working our butts off. We've successfully opened three shows, closed one and we are fast approaching tech week for another next week!

This past week I got to have my first big dose of singing and acting Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. It's a blast of a show, an American classic, and singing full legit tunes with a jazz flare while also snapping out lines with a flavor of smooth, smokey charm has been a TREAT.

But, even when the work is enjoyable, it's still WORK. Luckily for us, the holiday weekend has refilled our glasses with the vinegar of life. As you will see in THIS VLOG, these people know how to have a great time.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

Who Did It???

With one show closing, two more BEGIN!!!

As sad as I was to say "goodnight, sweet prince" to El Gallo and The Fantasticks, It's been an absolute pleasure breathing a new kind of life into the show Violet: The Musical here at Festival 56. This show is an absolute blast.

In Violet I play the aptly named "Father" who is the unfortunate parent who accidentally scarred his daughter's face with an axe. This show, although given a few chances in the spotlight with Broadway and large scale presentations, I truly believe is best delivered in the manner we're doing it here at Festival 56. Most of the actors are musicians and sing in the ensemble and play in the pit. The evening becomes a story telling concert that seamlessly moves from image to image while keeping true to the musical styles of the people involved with the story.

I've truly come to appreciate this show. I still believe it has some flaws, but it's got true heart and depth that really resonate with people, and honestly it's an immensely enjoyable performing experience.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

That's How you CLOSE a SHOW!!!

This Past Weekend we CLOSED The Fantasticks here at Festival 56

Yeah, I'm pretty bummed to be saying goodbye to a show that I've truly grown to adore...fortunately for El Gallo it's merely a see you later. But, in regards to THIS Fantasticks, this cast, this set, and this unique dynamic, the chapter is ended. But, while we had time with quill, ink, and scratch parchment, we told some wonderful stories and made some incredible memories. I feel a deeper connection with several other human beings in the world now that I did not previously. The art enhanced our happen stance meeting and I'm forever grateful because of it.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

A Tornado Stopped Our Show!!!

In ALL my time on stage, not ONCE has a live show been halted to a complete stop...until Wednesday night.

This week started off with a blitzkrieg of Violet: The Musical. We put a LOT of work towards getting Violet ready for the space/tech once The Fantasticks closes. This show is going to be very different than the usual presentation. The actors are frequently also the band and we are utilizing a lot of different props and set pieces to create numerous atmospheres without flying in obvious things like a bed, bus seats, and the usual scenery.

I'm really enjoying telling the story of Father in Violet. He's very human. His story is very tangible, and I think a lot of people see much of their own fathers in his words and story. Plus, I get to revisit my old passion of playing the strings. Remembering how to navigate the fingerboard, positions, fifths, harmonics, slides, all sorts of style induced by vibrato. Really cool stuff.

 

Now back to Tornadoes.

Wednesday was our first day back to The Fantasticks after two days away from it. We had a brilliantly packed matinee, a crowd bused over specifically for our show. They loved every bit of it. We were all giggly with happiness from the highly spirited show, but that led us all to feel a little under-energized for the evening (something that was cured by energy drinks and ridiculous backstage antics.)

Already a strange show, a Wednesday evening crowd is usually not the most vibrant, yet we were prepared to give them our very best regardless! The weather that had been brewing over the past few days swung between a little too cold for summer, boiling heat, and a heavy rainfall. This evening was no different, but the dark clouds promised some specifically eventful happenings.

We were just about to complete Act 1. El Gallo (me) had just "died" by the hand of Matt when the sirens started to leak into the theater. With much comedic flair I had laid my 6'4" 200lb frame on the ground when the stage manager called the show to a halt. Unfortunately we were put into a position where it was a bit difficult to maintain character and composure, a few of the actors and audience members were genuinely concerned. Being a native Oklahoman, I've lived out similar scenarios (although never during a show) all throughout my life. I wasn't concerned and was kind of hoping that we'd just continue on with the show. But, the siren was rather loud and I'm sure it was quite concerning to the audience unaware of the severity of the warning.

When we returned from intermission I could frequently hear weather alerts going off in the audience and backstage, sometimes for neighboring counties and of course the pending Flash Flood warning...

In the end, everyone was fine...but it was a rather interesting evening/show that created a unique experience for this wonderful group of people.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

Opening of The Fantasticks at Festival 56

"IT'S THE DAY OF THE SHOW, Y'ALL."

This past weekend has been a hell of a ride. A lot of rehearsals, a lot of long nights, early mornings, and finally - an opening night weekend for one of my absolute favorite shows: The Fantasticks.

Shows are created by lots of individuals, and due to the requirements of being an actor I'm not necessarily aware of all the factors that go into a show. This weekend I finally feel like I have an idea of what kind of community it takes to truly put on a show, and it's amazing to see how invested all of these people become in a production.

For The Fantasticks at Festival 56, it has become truly a heartfelt adventure. I adore this story and I truly believe it has the power to move people from all walks of life. It's universal and timeless. It's a masterpiece. And when you perform a show like this, you feel like you're a part of something bigger than yourself.

I've loved walking and talking in the diverse and transformative skin of El Gallo. Narrator, magician, showman, salesman, poet, romantic, bandit. But, most of all, a loving and understanding teacher who does what is necessary to help us all grow - casting off his own real desires in the process. These past 4 performances have given me just a taste, I'm so excited for the 5 coming up next week and the production I'll be performing in Connecticut later in the summer.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

The Tech Week Grind

Tech Week is a Grind

This past week has been a never ending stream of 13 hour days. That means 4 hours of rehearsal in the morning, three hours in the afternoon and 4 more to cap off the evening.

There are a LOT of pieces to the puzzle that is a full production. The actors, singers, dancers, and people in the pit are simply one part. There are costumes, lights, amplification, and dozens of individuals who make up a show. Many of which you might never know of. Everything leading up to tech week belongs to the actors and directors. BUT, tech week belongs to the people who make your set, lights, and costumes shine like diamonds.

At times the tech week grind can get gruesome. I've had some shows where tech feels like it never ends and you're unable to move past the first scene without the light board. Fortunately for this production of The Fantasticks, tech week has been immensely productive.

Tonight, Friday - June 17th, at 7:30 is opening NIGHT! I'm very excited to give this show to the audience. I can't wait to hear how they respond to this beautiful story.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

I Am So Sorry

A Snap in Time

In times of suffering, one must look towards the positive things in life and count each and every blessing that is bestowed upon them. Life is a short burst, and sometimes things happen that make that burst a snap in time.

I do not know the answer to why such horrible things happen, nor am I interested in pointing a finger at a religion or a belief. I can only offer my sympathies and condolences to those who are suffering beyond anything I could ever know. The only other thing that I can offer is the abilities that have been bestowed upon me and the ones I have been crafting for years to give people an escape: My art. I hope someone can find value in them.

 

"You go ahead, Henry. I'll be right there."

The past few days have been extremely productive and progressively overwhelming. It's hard to feel like a part of the same world where events like Orlando occur when you're immersed in your craft. Yet the two coexist.

While working diligently on The Fantasticks here at Festival 56, we've already begun work on our next show - Violet: The Musical. The progressing work load has led me to feel like I'm playing a perpetual game of "catch up." But, having just performed a full run through of The Fantasticks I have so much confidence that we're going to put up an AMAZING show...this week is Tech Week and Opening.

Until Next Time,

LIft Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

Better LATE than NEVER

Friends, Romans, Countrymen...Ya boy, Ol' Yeargain has been a VERY Productive fella.

Today (6/12/2016) the cast of The Fantasticks at Festival 56 did our first ever full run of the show. I'm so VERY proud of our cast and crew. They are so smart, so dedicated, and eager to bring an INCREDIBLE product to the stage. We're in such a great place artistically. I have a lot of pride in this product and I'm EAGER to give this story to an audience as we start adding more and more elements to the process in the coming days.

That being said, a great deal outside of The Fantasticks has occurred. The majority of the cast and crew of Festival 56 has arrived in Princeton, nearly doubling the company as a whole. Lot's more people to meet and learn from. And while half of them spend the majority of the day preparing for the production of Winter's Tale, we are all meeting up in the evening to rehearse Violet: The Musical.

So, now that we've locked in a fairly solid Fantasticks, our adventures with Violet and her bus ride to Tulsa, OK has just begun! But having heard all of these wonderful artists sing at our first cabaret, I'm positive that we're going to have some EPIC shows this summer. I hope you all will continue to follow THE VLOGS to see all of the great backstage happenings!

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

This Was Unexpected

I'm a week in here at Festival 56, and it's a jam and a half.

We've been working really hard on putting together The Fantasticks. I'm very proud of the work I was able to put in prior to coming to Princeton, but the one thing I couldn't anticipate was how physically demanding the role of El Gallo was.

When I saw the Off-Broadway Production in New York I knew the role required a lot of physical acting, and the man playing El Gallo had a lot of physical similarities to Jim Carrey - so the bar has been set high!!!

So, despite getting restless sleep and still putting in the hours in the gym, I've been doing my best to bring my absolute best to the physicality of El Gallo. I feel that it's going to be a dynamite product. But, make sure you stay tuned and keep watching The Vlogs to keep abreast of the Situation!!!

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

Not a Typical Work Day

Most People don't get what Actor's really do. And I admit before I made the step towards being a singer/actor I had no clue as well. The complexity of rehearsals, the long days that seem to disappear within minutes. The days fading into nights, the sleepless hours you lay in bed thinking about the previous day blending into the next. Thinking how you're going to work hard and be better at your job. How you want to be the best, sing beautifully, act honestly, nail the choreography, be early, be attentive, be present.

But not for a promotion. Not for a bonus check. Not for your mom, your dad, your granny or your friends. Most of the time it's not even for the director or administrative staff.

In the end it's for you, the art, and the audience.

The Holy Trinity.

I love my job. And Here at Festival 56, my job's not only fun, it's easy, it's invigorating, it's EXCITING! And I'm surrounded by some super stars. Good Times, team.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

New Pastures for an Old Cowboy

After driving 11 hours in my 2008 Dodge Caliber, I landed in the beautiful community of Princeton, IL. Thus has begun my season at Festival 56.

Last night we had our first music rehearsal for The Fantasticks. I'm so happy to be WORKING. Singing this rich, beautiful show that has so much substance and history, yet packaged in such a simple, sweet tale.

I've met my cast mates, the company who are constantly working to produce this stage magic, and I've found my gym (anytime fitness) so I'm feeling rather balanced here.

This place reminds me a lot of Indianola, IA and my two summers at Des Moines Metro Opera. Very similar landscape, but Princeton has got even more little town charm. And I'm also a different guy. More muscles, more experience, but also a lot more cuts and bruises.

I'm going to have a blast. Here's the first installment of The Illinois Vlogs...

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

My Time of Day

Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls is considered by many to be the greatest American musical comedy of all time. It was a huge success on Broadway and has earned itself immortality with the thousands of productions that have occurred all around the world.

I never thought I'd have the privilege of playing Sky Masterson. At first look I didn't identify with Sky. He's a gambler, a smart-ass, a salesman. A smooth talker. I found a lot of similarities between him and Curly McLain in Oklahoma! And although it took me a while to find Curly in my bones, at the end of the day I found a LOT of me in his words and songs.

There is a part of him that really resonated. In the song "My Time of Day" he shows his lone wolf nature, walking the streets in the early morning. It's considered to be biographical piece because Loesser would frequently wake up at 4am, 5am to write in the peaceful tranquility of the early morning.

I've always been a classic introvert. Finding my pleasure in my work and my solitude. I remember waking up early every morning to train, to get stronger. Beating the sun up. Walking on the streets when nobody else was around. The calm quiet. It's beautiful and simple.

"My time of day is the dark time
A couple of deals before dawn
When the street belongs to the cop
And the janitor with the mop
And the grocery clerks are all gone.

When the smell of the rainwashed pavement
Comes up clean, and fresh, and cold
And the streetlamp light
Fills the gutter with gold

That's my time of day
My time of day

And you're the only doll I've ever wanted to share it with me."

 

Until next time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and look your absolute best doing it.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain

Digging Deep into The WORDS!

I'm so deep into learning The Fantasticks that I'm practically losing myself!!!

But in all seriousness I feel like I've been eating, breathing, and sleeping the sights, sounds, and visceral touch of this piece. Lately I've been digging deep into the text of the show and the style that it's written in.

At the time The Fantasticks was written everyone was trying to recreate the monumental powerhouse Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt originally tried to make The Fantasticks one of these recreations. But, the product just didn't work. The Fantasticks was meant to be it's own special animal. And it clearly sets itself a part from most musicals with the manner it chooses to communicate!

Tom Jones borrowed literary techniques utilized by Shakespeare in the form of blank and rhymed verse. This dialogue elevates the simplistic events taking place and reinforces the mythic and fable like storytelling. And because verse is based so much on rhythm, its as if the music never stops and the energy continues throughout the piece!

The question of "Who El Gallo Is" still lingers. But, having looked and poured over The WORDS, I feel like I've come to a conclusion:

El Gallo, with the help of The Mute, are exactly what and who are needed at any given time. So, he moves in and out of the scene like a chameleon. At the beginning he's the narrator, but more importantly he's the bridge between you (the audience) and the story and the actors. Then he's the salesman, The human farce to help sell the cardboard moon. In Act II he's the god like father figure teaching each child a lesson...despite "hurting himself" through the process. He's always what is needed, but not always what he wants. I

hope you guys enjoy The Video!!! Leave a comment or a thumbs up if you do!

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Your Absolute Best Doing It.

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain