Your Chance to Take the Stage

If you’ve joined us for a performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, you are well aware of the “volunteer” component of the piece. Four lucky, brave souls share stage time with Commonweal professionals to add combatants to the field and a whole lot of fun and laughter. Recently, Commonweal MDC member Kevin Kelleher tested the waters of the professional theatre stage by throwing his hat into the ring of volunteers. In this edition of Drama Unfolds, Kevin relives his debut. 

Make Your Professional Theatre Debut

by Kevin Kelleher

My friend Brian was the instigator. “When you go to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Commonweal just tell them you want to volunteer,” he said. “You’ll get to go on stage and be a part of the crowd,” he said. So, I volunteered! Up to the stage I go thinking I’d just be sitting there watching the action from the inside. Well, think again! The first thing I noticed was how dark the audience was, I could only make out the first couple of rows. When the actor/actress sitting next to me whispered “just follow my lead and everything will be alright,” I knew I was in for a more active time than I anticipated. My thoughts about how I should act quickly dissipated as the action on stage kept my full attention. When asked to spell bridge, I was afraid I’d blow it but it came out right. As the last “volunteer” left on the stage, I knew my time was going to end shortly. I made it through a word I’d never heard of but then the word their or perhaps there or maybe it was they’re, proved to be my Waterloo. Being escorted back to my seat falling into my friend’s arms pretending to be crushed thus ended my professional acting career. Thankfully for the audience and myself, I can now take that off my bucket list! The night was simply good fun and a learning experience to boot. Thanks for my professional live theatre debut, Commonweal!

As of today…Saturday, September 15…you have only five more chances to join us for a performance of the Bee and to “volunteer” to make your own professional live theatre debut. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee closes this month on Monday the 24th. Make plans now and perhaps you’ll make your own very special memory on the Commonweal stage!
GET TICKETS —> Performance Calendar
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.

Said the Spider to the Fly

We are neck deep (yep, I did that) in rehearsals for our world premiere version of Dracula: Prince of Blood and chomping at the bit to get into previews ahead of opening night on Sept. 8. The adaptation is from the hand of Commonweal professional resident ensemble member and playwright Scott Dixon and is based on the classic horror story Dracula by Bram Stoker. Here’s a little taste of what’s in store for you when you join us for a performance. 

Dracula: Prince of Blood

I am thrilled and humbled to say that I have the pleasure of portraying The Lord of Vampires in Scott’s version of the classic horror story. And when I say “pleasure,” that is exactly what I mean. I have played another pure villain in my time and, honestly, playing the bad guy can be much more satisfying than portraying the hero and that is truly the case in this instance. Scott has written a delightfully scary and suspenseful horror story that I’m certain Bram Stoker would be proud of. I do hope that you will make plans to join us at some point. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.

Seeing the scary, seductive and suspenseful Dracula: Prince of Blood at the Commonweal is just one of the great things to do in Lanesboro. In case you’re in need of another idea…don’t miss the award-winning collection of one of a kind jewelry at Crown Trout Jewelry in downtown Lanesboro. Liz Bucheit and Michael Seiler are celebrating 24 years in business doing what they love. 
Get tickets for Dracula: Prince of Blood or any of the other great performances this season —> Performance Calendar

Dracula—Deconstructing and Reconstructing a Classic Horror Story

Retelling a Classic Horror Story
through a New Play

by Scott Dixon

As a playwright, one is often in search of that perfect word for a particular moment. It can take a while to find—experimenting with different words and variations of words. In times like these, my bookshelf copy of Roget’s International Thesaurus is my best friend. Right now, I’m searching for the best word to sum up my feelings about rehearsals starting for Commonweal’s world premiere production of my play, Dracula: Prince of Blood.

Ah yes, I think I have it…WAHOO! (I don’t think that’s over the top at all. I bet Paula Vogel and Tom Stoppard say the same thing at the start of a new rehearsal—even if it’s just to themselves.)

Opening night will, of course, be exciting and, like a kid before Christmas, I doubt I’ll sleep much the night before. But where Dracula: Prince of Blood is now, this phase of a new play’s lifecycle is my favorite. It all started with Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula. Then, a few years ago now, I came along to deconstruct and reconstruct this 19th-century classic horror story into a 21st-century play. During that time, the only creative voice in the room was my own—supplemented here and there with input from others with whom I shared my work-in-progress. But basically, I was the soloist.

Dracula - Prince of Blood by Scott Dixon, adapted from the Bram Stoker novel

           Lizzy Andretta and
         Jeremy van Meter in
       Dracula: Prince of Blood

Then Dracula: Prince of Blood gets selected for Commonweal’s 2018 season, and steadily more voices get added. A director is hired, and a team of design artists is assembled, to do their own deconstructing and reconstructing of my work through the lens of their creativity and imagination. And now the cast is gathered to add their contributions. I have gone from being a soloist to one member of a larger chorus.

And this is how it’s supposed to be. It’s true that I have a certain anxiety about giving up my total control, but that’s ultimately just a flash of ego. It’s natural and I let it pass through because what’s about to happen is simply amazing. It’s the lesson I learned watching a play of mine brought from page to stage for the very first time with Commonweal’s 2005 production of The Nutcracker & The Mouse King. I had the special experience of watching talented artists take the story I’d written and bring it to life in ways which were beyond anything I could have imagined for myself.

That’s exactly the kind of energy that’s in the air right now. I get to be on the inside and the outside at the same time—intimately knowledgeable of what this particular telling of the Dracula tale will be like, and yet being surprised by new discoveries in every rehearsal I watch. I’m already incredibly proud of this production. I hope to see you at the Commonweal where we can both enjoy the hard work and talents of so many.

Until then…all the best to you!

Dracula: Prince of Blood begins previews August 31 and officially
opens September 8 —> PURCHASE TICKETS.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.