Filtering by Tag: Musicals

Fast Times in Philadelphia

If you had asked me a year ago where I'd be, I never thought I'd say singing Edward Rutledge in 1776 in New Jersey and playing the violin in between scenes.

And yet, here I am…

Approximately 7 weeks ago, I stumbled across a posting for 1776 on backstage.com. I auditioned (after juggling multiple responsibilities in the process) and was given the role of Edward Rutledge, the representative from South Carolina.

This production was “The show that almost wasn't.” It was a lengthy rehearsal process due to the schedule limitations of the theater (located at a Jewish Community Center, no Friday rehearsals or shows to observe the holidays) and the numerous adult males in the cast who were juggling their day jobs and their life responsibilities and needed to be excused from multiple rehearsals. I, too, had my own set of conflicts that prevented me from being there at all call times, so no judgement.

This show demands a lot of it's actors. It's a musical that has very few musical numbers and extensive dramatic scenes. The show requires a LOT of older male actors, which if you're familiar with this business, you know that that particular bunch is slim pickins. We had more than a few people who had to drop the project or enter into the process at a much later time. We didn't even have a full run through with the entire cast until opening night! So, at times the process was stressful...but, in the end, this production was a lot of fun.

This group of guys and gals were a bunch of rag tag misfits who had hearts the size of Manhattan. Truly wonderful people that always found a joke in everything, were eager to rehearse and enjoyed each others company. Just a lovely bunch of people.

Now...why am I playing the violin?

Two days before opening night the pit was starting to assemble. And to my surprise there was no violinist (the show had a small budget...to say the least). In the show is a song entitled "He plays the violin" and it has an extensive violin solo. Without the sound of a violin the number loses a bit of it's authenticity, which is a shame considering how great the actors were on stage. So, I offered my abilities to the musical director and that evening I had the book in my hand.

The Violin part was...much harder than originally anticipated. But I was grateful for the challenge. Edward Rutledge has one of the hardest songs in the show "Molasses to Rum," but for the most part he has very little stage time. I had frequent breaks between my scenes and picking up the violin in those down times allowed me to have a much more interesting evening of performing and allowed me to regain some of my former chops with the bow and fiddle!

Until next time,

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

Kasey (Ol’) Yeargain

"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

Goats and Barbells

Things in Connecticut are definitely different...I've been spending a lot of time with Goats and Barbells

I've just began rehearsals for The Fantasticks here in Bethlehem, CT with the Clay and Wattles Theater. It's like wearing an old hat. I haven't forgotten a word, a note, or the feelings that come from singing these songs and reciting this poetry. I love this show and feel that it's an exceptionally important piece of art. I hope that I can share my joy of it for years to come.

The most interesting part about life here in CT is the cast housing. It's on a beautiful piece of property that also serves as a farm and houses two giant, beautiful Swiss Mountain Dogs. There are lots of sights and sounds that I haven't seen since my time in Upstate New York. Amazing place!

But, just because I'm rehearsing in CT doesn't mean that I'm not in New York City...because I am. Every other day I'm driving, living, sleeping and WORKING in the Big Apple.

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

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

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

Sky Masterson - The Man Behind the Dice

This summer I'll be performing the iconic role of Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. This role has been performed by such iconic actors as Marlon Brando, Robert Alda, Peter Gallagher, Ron Raines, Ewan McGregor, Craig Bierko, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Patrick Wilson.

Sky Masterson was a character first crafted in a short story by Damon Runyon - "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown." Runyon describes Sky Masterson like this...

“Of all the high players this country ever sees, there is no doubt but that the guy they call The Sky is the highest. In fact, the reason he is called The Sky is because he goes so high when it comes to betting on any proposition whatever. He will bet all he has, and nobody can bet any more than this.

His right name is Obadiah Masterson, and he is originally out of a little town in southern Colorado where he learns to shoot craps, and play cards, and one thing and another, and where his old man is a very well-known citizen, and something of a sport himself.


He is maybe thirty years old, and is a tall guy with a round kisser, and big blue eyes, and he always looks as innocent as a little baby. But The Sky is by no means as innocent as he looks. In fact, The Sky is smarter than three Philadelphia lawyers, which makes him very smart, indeed, and he is well established as a high player in New Orleans, and Chicago, and Los Angeles, and wherever else there is any action in the way of card-playing, or crap-shooting, or horse-racing, or betting on the baseball games, for The Sky is always moving around the country following the action."

 

The REAL Sky Masterson, a Man Named Titanic

Damon Runyon based The Sky off of the infamous gambler Titanic Thompson. Thomas was born in southwestern Missouri but raised mainly on a farm in the Ozark Mountains. Thomas spent most of his youth developing skills he would use later, such as shooting and understanding odds at card games through marathon dealing of hands.

Alvin Clarence Thomas AKA Titanic Thompson -

"In the spring of 1912 I went to Joplin, Missouri, just about the time the Titanic liner hit an iceberg and sank with more than 1,500 people on board. I was in a pool room there and beat a fellow named Snow Clark out of $500. To give him a chance to get even, I bet $200 I could jump across his pool table without touching it. If you think that’s easy, try it. But I could jump farther than a herd of bullfrogs in those days. I put down an old mattress on the other side of the table. Then I took a run and dived headfirst across the pool table. While I was counting my money, somebody asked Clark what my name was "It must be Titanic," said Clark. "He sinks everybody." so I was Titanic from then on."

When he had honed his skills, he became a "road gambler", a traveling hustler who became an underground legend by winning at all manner of propositions, many of them tricky if not outright fraudulent. Among his favorites were: betting he could throw a Walnut over a building (he had weighted the hollowed shell with lead beforehand), throwing a large room key into its lock, and moving a road mileage sign before betting that the listed distance to the town was in error. He once bet that he could drive a golf ball 500 yards, using a hickory-shafted club, at a time when an expert player's drive was just over 200 yards. He won by waiting until winter and driving the ball onto a frozen lake, where it bounced past the required distance on the ice.

Blessed with extraordinary eyesight and hand-eye coordination, he was a skilled athlete, crack shot and self-taught golfer good enough to turn professional. In an era when the top pro golfers would be fortunate to make $30,000 a year, Thompson could make that much in a week hustling rich country club players. Asked whether he would ever turn professional, he replied, "I could not afford the cut in pay". He can play right- or left-handed. One hustle of his was to beat a golfer playing right-handed, and then offer double or nothing to play the course again left-handed as an apparent concession. One thing his opponent usually did not know was that Thomas was naturally left-handed. Thomas' genius was in figuring out the odds on almost any proposition and heavily betting that way. He also had to perform under pressure, and most often did.

 

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

You'll Never Walk Alone

This past weekend I had the pleasure of performing a few songs at New Covenant Christian Church in Oklahoma City.

In late 2014 I had just began singing a LOT more musical theater and was testing the waters of how I felt performing the rep. My first non academic musical theater venture was with a small theater in Oklahoma City called The Cynthia Poteet Theatre. I performed the role of Trevor Greydon III in Thoroughly Modern Millie. An absolute BLAST! The assistant director of that production became a good friend of mine, Chad Haney.

I first met Chad when performing the role of Frank Maurrant in Street Scene, his two sons sang in the childrens chorus in that show. A couple of young rock stars. Hard working, musically talented, very gracious and friendly. Basically a fantastic family from top to bottom.

I reached out to Chad to invite him and his family to my concert. Unfortunately they could not make it. But Chad is musical director at New Covenant Christian Church and asked if I would be interested in singing at a service.

I, of course was delighted to do so. Fast forward to this past weekend...

I began with The Lord's Prayer. An old standard of mine, a crowd favorite, and a piece that I truly enjoying singing.

Our Father
Which art in Heaven,
Hallowed be... Thy Name,
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth...as it is in Heaven
Give us this day
Our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors,
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thy is the Kingdom, and the power
And the glory forever
Amen.

The crowd erupted. A literal standing ovation. I was immensely flattered and a bit shocked, but I still had one more song to sing, I had to coax the crowd to settle down so I could finish the performance! The next song I was to sing was...

"You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel.

"When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on walk on with hope in your heart

And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone"

Truly an enjoyable performing experience. People were extremely complimentary and I could tell from the tone in their voice and the firmness of their handshake that I was able to elevate their spiritual experience that beautiful Sunday morning.

Until Next Time,

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

Kasey (Ol') Yeargain