Up & Coming
Great Art Starts with Great Talent
This season, SpeakEasy is launching the Up & Coming Campaign, a fund that will directly support the hiring of emerging actors, directors, designers, technicians, and administrators for one of their first professional shows. The first $15,000 in contributions will directly support this campaign and will be matched dollar for dollar by the George & Alice Rich Charitable Foundation.
Emerging artists are hungry. They rise to the occasion to make great art. And they make SpeakEasy a better company.
For more information about Up & Coming, contact Jackie McCoy at email@example.com or call our offices at 617-482-3279.
For each show this season, we will be highlighting a different emerging artist.
The Motherf**ker with the Hat: Evelyn Howe
Originally from Haverhill, MA, Up & Coming actress Evelyn Howe made her SpeakEasy Stage debut as “Veronica” in The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis.
A graduate of Fitchburg State University with a degree in English and Theatre, Evelyn recently spoke with SpeakEasy’s Artistic Fellow Jeff Kubiatowicz about her experiences as a young working actress in Boston.
JK: So when you graduated, did you intend to make a move to Boston?
EH: I was hoping to make some sort of move, make the plunge; and then I started working full time in mortgages, trying to save some money while I found the right people to move in with. I had the whole "within three year years it has to happen" plan, so I did set a deadline. A couple years later, we were all in the right mental place; so in May, we moved to Quincy. It ended up working out really well. My roommates are actors too, and we’re all in that frame of mind: “Let's go. Let's do this.”
JK: What does your family think of your career?
EH: They love it. Especially my dad. They've been coming to my little shows ever since middle school. They know I went to school for theatre and they're like “OK. This is the path you've chosen.” Kind of makes me proud to finally go from "OK, let's just get through her play" to "oh, this is really real. You could actually have a future in this.”
JK: Had you auditioned for SpeakEasy before?
EH: No, never. I definitely had wanted to find a show that I was going to be right for. This year was the first year that I finally went out and did it.
JK: Did you know you nailed it when you did your audition?
EH: [laughs] It was weird, yeah, because it just went exactly how I hoped it would go, and that rarely happens. But it was one of those things where Veronica was the first Hispanic character I've ever been able to play even though I am Hispanic. But she's very different from me.
JK: How so?
EH: [laughs] She's very blunt and loud and sassy. I went into it saying, "I know that girl. I have heard her speak. I have seen her. I just have to kind of hope I can channel that somehow." just thought of the people in my life that I could mirror and that really helped for the audition—just putting my head in the right space. But I felt really good leaving there. I felt confident. I was hoping for at least a callback, but they actually cast me right away. It was just one audition and that never happens! I haven't really gotten a chance to do specifically non-white roles. It's been exciting to get to delve into playing somebody that is Hispanic and being able to do that justice. [laughs]
JK: I wouldn't have known that you were using an accent when I heard you read at the first rehearsal.
EH: Right? So I feel like people might think that I talk like that. [laughs] It has to sound so natural. Even David Gammons, our director, was like "So, is it an accent? Or do you..." And I'm like "No, it's totally an accent." I have to be conscious of getting into the accent, just like when you use a Southern accent or a British accent. It's a state of mind. If you can get into that, it'll all [laughs]...you start doing your hands. ["does" her hands] but it's a state of mind [laughs]. Once you're in there, it makes it easy to just keep going.
JK: How would you rate your experience at SpeakEasy thus far?
EH: It's been one of the best experiences. The Motherf**ker with the Hat is a very intimate play in which I have scenes with just one other person. Coming off of Arabian Nights [at Central Square Theatre] where it was everyone and everything all at once, I find it really awesome to be able to sit and play off just one person.
And [director] David [Gammons] has been amazing. He just makes it easy because he knows when to let you do your thing. He lets you play in rehearsal, and if you're feeling like something is missing, he knows exactly what that is. "Oh, I think we could do this" he says. I'm like, “that's exactly what I was feeling needed to be tweaked there.” So he's just very intuitive like that. I love working with him.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson: Nicholas James Connell
A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Nicholas James (Nick) Connell came to Boston to study Songwriting at Berklee College of Music. Some gigs music directing student shows at both Berklee and The Boston Conservatory led SpeakEasy Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault to hire Nick to music direct the company’s 2010 production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical.
Since that time, Nick has music directed some of SpeakEasy’s most challenging and successful musical productions, including his current stint in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, in which he sings, acts, conducts, and plays the piano.
Recently Nick sat down with SpeakEasy’s Artistic Fellow Jeff Kubiatowicz to talk about Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and his early career experience working as a music director in both Boston and New York.
JK: So what’ve you been up to for the last 20 years?
Nick: The last 20 years? [laughs] I grew up in Las Vegas, and went to a performing arts high school called Las Vegas Academy. I moved here for college in 2005, went to Berklee College of Music, and graduated with a Bachelors of Music in Songwriting. After music directing student productions at The Boston Conservatory and Berklee, Paul Daigneault hired me to do The Great American Trailer Park Musical. That was my first real professional music directing gig. And it was great.
JK: How so?
Nick: I had been music directing for years [at school], but I didn't know on a professional level what the job was like, and I certainly didn't realize how fast it was going to move. And the pace is definitely much quicker than I anticipated. One thing I learned from that my experience on Trailer Park was that, when a challenge comes your way on the professional level, you have to deal with it right away and then move to the next thing. There is no time to waste. Also, that first tech week for Trailer Park was crazy because there were so many different things to consider; and as the music director, it's my job to make sure the band is ready to go, is set up, and everyone sounds great. It's a lot of responsibility, and I love it.
JK: Right after the success of Trailer Park you made a move to New York. Tell us about your time there.
Nick: Yeah, that was in 2010. I got offered a really good gig in New York assistant music directing a Broadway music director on a show called Wallenberg: The Musical. It was new musical based...it was a holocaust musical. [pause]. But it was a really great experience.
Working at SpeakEasy definitely prepared me to do stuff in New York. Everybody here knows what they need to do, and we all work so well together. Music directing is such a collaborative effort, and that's something I didn't really completely understand before coming to SpeakEasy.
JK: Though you were still living in New York, you came back to SpeakEasy and music directed both Nine and The Drowsy Chaperone. Where those experiences different for you?
Nick: Yes. I think I had more time to prepare because I knew what to expect. And working with some of the same people again—once you establish good working relationships with people, you want to continue that. Paul Daigneault and I bounced so many different ideas off of each other; and I think the end result was a really great collaboration between the two of us. I think we put on good shows.
JK: And after that?
Nick: I didn't find much work in New York after that, and then came back and decided I'm better off in Boston. I think New York is a great place if you have lots of money to spend, but trying to make ends meet there is a lot harder than it is here. And I was like "Why am I putting myself through hell when I could be in Boston with people that I love and a company that I love." So once I got back to Boston, I did Next to Normal and Xanadu. And also I was recording my album this past year.
JK: Tell me about that.
Nick: I started writing my album last year. It’s something I always wanted to do, but because of my musical theater career, my songwriting has taken a back seat. But recently I felt it's time that I'm really doing something with my songwriting, so I started this album. It's a pop album, made up entirely of my own original compositions. It's a lot of fun,high-energy dance music. It has a lot of piano in it because I'm a pianist, and so I incorporate a lot of that into my dance music. Also I'm singing all the vocals, and it's going really well. I'm still recording it now.
JK: When's it due out?
Nick: I'm planning to release it this fall.
JK: We'll have to see if we can get that announced.
Nick: Thank you very much. [laughs]
JK: Anything you want to add about our time working at SpeakEasy?
Nick: The relationships with the people here are so important, and that's not something you see at every company. I really feel like I have a tight family here that really supports me and I feel very comfortable taking risks. I really love everybody who works here. It's so wonderful because the people make it wonderful.
Other Desert Cities: Michele Teevan
Michele Teevan came to Boston from Harrison, New York to study Stage Management at Emerson College. While an undergraduate, she signed on as a Production Intern for SpeakEasy’s New England premiere production of the hit musical [title of show] and has since worked on over a dozen SpeakEasy shows, becoming a permanent member of the staff this past September. Michele has also worked with other Boston performing arts groups, including Northeast Youth Ballet, Centastage, Happy Medium Theatre, Imaginary Beasts, and New Repertory Theatre.
She recently took a break from working on SpeakEasy’s current production of Other Desert Cities to talk about life in the theatre, backstage chaos, and performing for the President.
What got you interested in Stage Management as a career?
The first show I ever saw was Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway when I was 13, and it is the show that made me fall in love with theatre. After that experience, I tried to see as much theatre in New York as I could.
When I was 15, I went to Stagedoor Manor, a performing arts sleep-away camp in the Catskills. There I got to take a Stage Management class with a professional Stage Manager who taught me all about the basics of Stage Management and the professional opportunities available in theatre. I always knew I wanted to work in a career in which could use my organizational skills, but what really attracted me to theatre management was the collaboration among designers, directors, managers, actors, and technicians to create the final product of a show.
You are now SpeakEasy’s first Production Associate. What does that job entail?
I take care of scheduling meetings, deadlines for design elements, rehearsals, tech, and performances, plus help with the hiring and contracting all of the actors, directors, designers, stage managers, and technicians. I also help coordinate the entire production team for each show to make sure everything happens when it needs to. I love working for SpeakEasy in this capacity because I greatly enjoy the people that I get to collaborate with every day.
What’s it like backstage at a SpeakEasy show?
Opening night is always pretty chaotic. Everyone is excited about getting to perform the show for an audience for the first time, but everyone is also really nervous because the show is still so new that it takes more effort to remember what comes next. Once everyone settles into the show and you know your track, it becomes more exciting than hectic. It’s always fun to be backstage, especially when there’s another show in the theater next door and you get to interact with another set of theatre professionals.
What are your goals as a theatre artist at this point?
Well, my first goal is to get my Equity card, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to do that just yet. I’d like to get more experience outside of SpeakEasy before I take the plunge into union work. The thing that I love about theatre is that it is constantly changing; and in the past two years. I have been offered jobs and given opportunities that I could never have dreamed of. Right now I work a lot in the Fringe Theatre scene and I am really enjoying the work they do. Thus I feel like, if I get my Equity card, I will be closing that door before I am ready since fringe theatres typically cannot afford union stage managers. Overall, I want to continue working on a wide range of shows. Recently I assistant stage-managed a production of The Nutcracker and I really enjoyed it. I have such a respect for dancers and would love to work on more ballet.
You’ve been a long-time member of a touring competitive drum corps. How did you get involved in that?
I spent four years marching in the Color Guard for my High School Marching Band, and then went on to march two years with a senior drum and bugle corps called the Bushwackers from Harrison, New Jersey. After that, I decided to audition for a junior drum and bugle corps called the Boston Crusaders when I was a sophomore in college.
It takes teamwork, patience, perseverance, dedication, and hard work to march and perform at the level that the Crusaders do every summer while touring the country. I found the opportunity to further develop these skills to be extremely rewarding.
You recently performed in the Inauguration Celebration in Washington, DC. Were you nervous to perform for the president?
In the 9 years that I spent doing Color Guard, I have never been as nervous as I was for this parade. Part of it had to do with the fact that I was a little out of practice and we only had about 8 hours of rehearsal time over the weekend to learn our flag work, clean it to counts, and put it to the music with the rest of the corps.
How long did you have to prepare?
We learned that we were performing in the parade on December 18th and the parade was January 21st, so we had a little over a month to prepare everything. The parade music and color guard work was all received prior to the weekend rehearsal camp, but we only had those three days to put it all together including getting the corps into uniforms and equipment. It was a huge undertaking by everyone.
How big was the crowd?
This was by far the largest crowd I have ever performed for. Over the summer we perform in around 30 competitions to a combined total of 300,000 people, but this parade alone had 600,000 watching live and almost a million watching on TV. At first, it didn't feel like there were a lot of people as we marched thru the streets; but once we turned onto the block with the Presidential Reviewing stand, I was shocked by how many people were crammed into that one block.
What has been your most satisfying theatrical experience to date?
My most satisfying theatre experience to date was working on Next to Normal last season. It was the first show that I got to work on as production assistant that Paul Daigneault directed, and we had an amazing cast and crew. The show ran for 7 weeks, which is the longest run of a show I have ever done. In addition, the show was extremely well received by audiences, which is always a plus.
Why do you think people should support SpeakEasy Stage?
We fill an important niche in the theatre community here in Boston. We present premieres of shows that are relevant to people of all ages and that make a statement about what is going on in the world. We are also one of the few theatre companies in the area that has subscribers of all ages. I think that says something about the work we produce.
Clybourne Park: Arshan Gailus
You may not know it, but you’ve probably heard Arshan Gailus’ work in Boston theatres. Sound Design can be an incredibly subtle (and incredibly important) element of an audience’s experience. In his work for SpeakEasy Stage, Company One, Lyric Stage, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, and throughout the Boston area, Arshan has created music, effects, and soundscapes that have a tremendous impact on the emotional weight of a play.
In our special Up & Coming interview, Arshan talks about his process for Sound Design, and what Clybourne Park has in common with a video game.
How did you first get involved in the Boston theatre scene?
The year after I graduated from MIT, I served as the House Sound Engineer at the Calderwood Pavilion for the Huntington Theatre Company for their '06-'07 season, as well as serving as Sound Supervisor for their 2007 production of Brendan. The contacts I made there led to me getting my first professional sound design gig the following season with Company One.
Did you do theater in high school?
I was involved in my high school theater, primarily as an actor, actually. I also composed music for our submission to the Massachusetts High School Drama Guild Festival my senior year. I suppose that would have been my first experience as a theatrical sound designer.
Most people don’t think of MIT as a place to study music. What was it about their program that attracted you?
I initially went to MIT to study electrical engineering. About halfway through my time there, I realized that while I felt intellectually stimulated by my studies, I didn't really feel excited about what I would do with that degree once I graduated, so I switched to something I did feel passionate about: music. MIT has some really outstanding music faculty, and, because of the small department size, you're able to develop a personal rapport with all the professors and lecturers.
How would you describe theatrical Sound Design? It might seem to some people that it is all about choosing songs and making doorbells ring.
That's a great question, and something I could go on for pages about in and of itself! The most concise description I like is that the Sound Designer is responsible for the entire sonic landscape of the play, which could include music, sounds, live voices, sounds of objects onstage, the sound of the room etc. What this means in practice depends a lot on the particular play, as the goal is always to support the intentions of the piece. Some productions call for a full, realistic soundscape like you might find in a documentary, while others want something more abstract or fantastical. Some of the work is clearly recognizable (such as those songs and doorbells you mention) while some can act on a more subtle or even subliminal level. A great example of some of this subtle sound work in my design for Clybourne Park is the trunk. When the trunk is moved or dropped, a deep, rumbly sound is played in sync with the live sound of the trunk itself. This adds a weight to the sound, which I wanted to help reflect the physical and emotional significance of the trunk. The audience may never realize anything extra is happening, but their experience is altered, even if subliminally.
With all the composition and engineering involved, Sound Design seems like a solitary craft. How do you share your creative process with the rest of the team outside of the studio?
One of the most exciting parts of working in theatre is discussing the general artistic goals of the production with everyone involved (director, actors, other designers, etc.), then figuring out how to translate these ideas into each of our individual disciplines. So while it is true that much of the heavy lifting in sound work is often done alone, the work I am doing is directly inspired by the collective vision for the production. Furthermore, sound and music can create an instinctive reaction in people, even if they can't describe exactly why or how. So when I share my work with the team as it develops, everyone is generally able to give feedback, regardless of how much training they may or may not have in the specifics of sound or music.
What's the first thing you do when designing a new show? How do you start?
The first thing I do with a new show is to try to get a sense of the play as a whole. I do this through a combination of my own reading of the script and discussions with the director and design team. Sometimes, these early thoughts and discussions can have very little to do with sound specifically. What I really want to do is get an idea of what it is we want to say about the play, its characters, and the world it creates. All the specifics, then, spring forth from these initial concept discussions.
What kind of influence does the performance venue have on your design?
No matter how lofty the concepts are, eventually, they need to be distilled into something we can actually implement, so of course the venue can have a huge impact on the design. Some obvious ways this can happen are in terms of what resources I have for the sound system, the acoustics of the space, and the audience layout. In general, I am trying to create a particular environment through sound: Does the space want to sound big? Small? Do we want to feel like we are a part of the action, or that we are watching something happen from the outside? Do we want to feel like it is all in our heads? How these effects are created is largely dependent on the space I have to work with.
You do a lot of composing and design in other media, including video games. Do you find that work informs your theatrical work at all?
I would actually say that all of my work informs all of the other work. While there are some obvious technical and structural differences between, say, live theatre and a video game, the overall goal on my end is very similar: to support the story, themes, and moods through sound and music. Almost all of the techniques and approaches I develop for one medium can be in some way translated to another.
Your work last season on SpeakEasy's production of The Divine Sister has been licensed for use by other companies producing the show. How did that come about?
The first re-licensing came about through Jeffery Roberson (aka Varla Jean Merman) who played Mother Superior in the show. He appeared in another production of The Divine Sister, and arranged for my work to be licensed for that production. The other cases were once via a connection through Jeffery, and the other through Larry Coen, the director of the SpeakEasy production.
What do you think it is about your work on that show that has attracted such interest?
Well, first off, I very much enjoyed creating the music and sound for the show, and I'm thrilled that others connected to my work as well! If I had to say what might have attracted people's attention, I think it has to do with the commitment we made to a strong overall design choice. Early on, Larry Coen felt it was important to support an epic, over-the-top, Hollywood feel to the show, but more as a loving tribute to the style and all its quirks, as opposed to parody. In all the music I wrote for the show, I tried to keep this idea at heart, relishing in the melodrama, but still staying true to the emotions of each moment. I think this approach to the show really resonates with the characters and the story in a very natural way.
What were the specific challenges of Sound Design for Clybourne Park?
Some shows call for overtly dramatic sound (such as The Divine Sister) whereas others want a more restrained, subtle approach. Clybourne Park was definitely one of the latter. The challenges of a show like this often center around decisions of when to use sound and when not to, and just how present or subtle sound wants to be in each moment. I want to make sure that each sound choice is specific and present enough to have the intended effect, but not so present that it overwhelms the senses and distracts from the audience's focus and investment in the world of the show. It's a game of constant tweaks and reassessment to hit just the right balance.
Talk a bit about the pre-show and intermission music. What were you hoping to achieve with your work on those portions of the show?
Both the pre-show and intermission music choices were intended to give a sense of time and place, but with different goals. I wanted the pre-show music to firmly place us in the 1950s, while also building on the cultural stereotype of an idyllic, happy, little ‘50s suburb, as a starting point and something to grapple with and push against through the first act.
The intermission music is intended to track the neighborhood through the 50 years between acts. I tried to be sensitive not only to the time period of each piece of music, but also to the demographics they reflect and the societal states and issues they address. And, of course, I wanted to make sure that the pieces were selected to create a smooth and enjoyable musical progression.
Besides the music, what are the differences for the Sound Design between the two acts in Clybourne Park? How does 1959 sound different from 2009?
One of the concepts the artistic and design team kept coming back to was the idea that while many things have changed over those 50 years, many of the fundamentals have stayed the same. To this end, instead of trying to draw a huge contrast, I tried to show how the same kinds of things are filtered through time. So in both cases, for example, there are kids playing, dogs barking, and some cars driving by, but the choices become: What are the kids doing? What kind of dog is it? How do the cars sound different?
What’s next for you?
I'm currently in the early stages of working on Pericles with Actors' Shakespeare Project, and am working on a few different video game and film projects.
In the Heights: Diego Klock-Perez
Diego Klock-Perez; photo by Glenn Perry Photography
What was your first time on stage?
My public debut, for people other than my family, that is, was as a gambling gangster in Guys & Dolls in the fifth grade at South Miami Magnet School For the Arts.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I have been an actor my whole life. From my first pre-K performance during the show that was part of the annual Christmas Dinner of my (very large) extended family, I knew that this is who I was and what I wanted to do. With experience and education, my interests grew to include all things theatrical, including direction and production. My goal is to revolutionize the way audiences experience live theater, bringing it into the hearts and minds of a newly created generation of theater lovers and supporters. For the record, I still perform at Grandmom's dinner (you try saying “no” to her!).
Are any members of your family in the arts?
I come from a long line of artists of every kind. My parents are both Grand Masters (mega-black belts) in Tae Kwon Do, teaching and performing martial arts ballet. They both love to sing, dance and also perform in Spanish-style equestrian dressage shows (I am not making this up). There are also many musicians, writers, actors and dancers in my extended family, starting with my maternal grandparents, who co-founded a community playhouse in Philadelphia, which has survived for more than sixty years (they are coming up to Boston to see the show!).
Tell us about your training before coming to Boston.
My first theater class was in the third grade, at South Miami Elementary Magnet School For The Arts, which was followed by the South Miami Middle School Magnet, then New World School Of The Arts, in downtown Miami. I also spent three great summers at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, in the New York Catskills, before entering Boston Conservatory.
Tell us a little bit about your decision to attend The Boston Conservatory.
It was an easy call. In my mind, the Boston Conservatory was to theater what Harvard was to law and medicine, was situated in the very heart of the performing arts world and would provide the preparation, inspiration and opportunity I knew I needed. From the first interviews, when I met members of the faculty, to now, BoCo has been everything I hoped it would be and so much more.
How is conservatory training different from a more traditional four-year college program?
Although I never attended a traditional college program, and would not want to minimize that choice in any way, I think it would be safe to say that the main difference could be best described in terms of focus and immersion. While our curriculum covers a broad spectrum of higher education subjects, there is still intensive attention paid to both the academic side of theater and the practical training that develops the skills, discipline and professionalism needed to be fully prepared to meet the demands of a full-time career in any area of theater. The work is hard, the pace is lightning-fast and expectations are high. I can't imagine a better way to train an artist.
What is the best part of your Conservatory training?
There is, really, no "best" part because, thanks to the incredibly extensive curriculum, and our superb faculty, my acting, dance and vocal classes were equally interesting and challenging. There's no doubt that, throughout what I hope is a long and rewarding career, I will continue to draw from the vast well of knowledge and experience I gained in school, as well as the inspiration and encouragement I received from both the faculty and my fellow students, so many of whom have become, and will remain, lifelong friends and collaborators.
Tell us a little bit about In the Heights.
In The Heights tells its very real, gritty and meaningful story in the most thrilling, creative and thoroughly enjoyable way imaginable. It's a very "now" musical that forges a new road by taking the struggles of family, love, friendship, striving, coping, surviving and finding oneself that define the lives of people in every corner of our planet, then infuses it with the rich kaleidoscope of passion, tastes, smells and rhythm of the tough, deep-urban Latin world of its setting within New York City's Washington Heights.
Have you seen the show before?
Yes, I was lucky enough to see the original Broadway production in 2008. It was life changing.
Does this show have any special meaning/significance for you?
In my opinion, In The Heights has revolutionized musical theater as we knew it in this respect: Lin Manuel [Miranda] has created a unique style that speaks meaningfully to today's emerging audiences, much the way new hit musicals have done in the past. Here, it is a celebration of Latino culture, as reflected in the vibrant community of Washington Heights. It seems like a new door has opened and sent a rush of creative energy out into the theater world. Entering my final year at school, I feel like I'm truly in the right place at the right time.
Tell us about the role of Usnavi.
Usnavi is a young man, "runnin' just another dime-a-dozen bodega" in a stereotypical immigrant neighborhood, who was brought as a baby to America from the Dominican Republic. His parents died soon after, leaving him to be raised by the neighborhood's unofficial Abuela (Grandma). While coping with a life he did not choose, Usnavi inwardly leads with his heart and pursues his dreams. It is through Usnavi's eyes and point of view that we are invited into the lives of his friends, family, and community.
What is your process for approaching any character you play?
The "job" is to make my portrayal seem real to the audience and to my fellow cast members. The challenge is to obscure the "seem-ness" and make it actually happen on the stage. Art, we are taught, lies in the concealment of art. It's a long process for me and generally means total immersion, focus and eliminating as many distractions as possible, which can be quite a challenge, especially when there's an English essay (or three) due very soon or someone in your life expecting a return phone call (sorry!).
What are your plans after In The Heights wraps up?
To wrap up my last year at Boston Conservatory, claim my BFA degree, then get wrapped in whatever opportunities may be pursuable "out there," be they new roles, new companies and/or - if you'll permit me a moment in Fantasyland - eventual founding of my own theater. (Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?)
Tyler KinneyHometown: Reading, MA
SpeakEasy Breakout Role: Costume Designer, Next to Normal
What I've Been Up To: Working on an HBO film with Larry David; costume designing Suffolk University’s Avenue Q and The Lyric Stage Company’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
"The process was extremely collaborative and rewarding for me. My ideas and opinions were respected and I never felt uncomfortable expressing them. I am grateful for the tremendous opportunities SpeakEasy has given me. I will not only carry the portfolio photos with me, but also all of the positive experiences."
Michael TacconiHometown: Ivyland, PA
SpeakEasy Breakout Role: Gabe, Next to Normal
What I've Been Up To: Playing the role of Nick in the upcoming off-Broadway production of Bare
"SpeakEasy is a place where an actor can take the reigns and go for it. SpeakEasy demands boldness. The energy in the rehearsal hall is supportive, playful, intimate, blunt, and collaborative. I knew I was a different actor leaving than when I had entered."
Stephanie UmohHometown: Lewisville, TX
SpeakEasy Breakout Role: Kate, Zanna, Don't!
What I've Been Up To: Played Sarah in the 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime; continuing to pursue opportunities both on stage and on screen
"SpeakEasy made it possible for me to join Actors’ Equity Association, something I had wanted to do before graduating from college. They consistently provide opportunities for actors of diverse ethnicity."
Miguel CervantesHometown: Dallas, TX
SpeakEasy Breakout Role: Bat Boy, Bat Boy: The Musical
What I've Been Up To: An original cast member in American Idiot on Broadway; starring in the New York premiere of Giant at the Public Theater
"I had moved back to Texas from New York after September 11th and found myself installing TVs in cars and trucks for 6 months. Then I moved to Boston for a girl, but I found a guy—Paul Daigneault—who let me flail and screech my way into the role of Bat Boy. From that day, I can directly trace the path to where I am now."
Carolyn CharpieHometown: Weston, MA
SpeakEasy Breakout Role: Melissa, The Savannah Disputation
What I've Been Up To: Education Programs Associate at the New Victory Theater in NYC
"The largest contributing factor to getting hired at the New Victory Theater was SpeakEasy. The Savannah Disputation marked my transition from an amateur actor to a professional actor. SpeakEasy solidified my being able to say, with great confidence, 'I am an artist.'
Srda VasiljevicHometown: Sarajevo, Bosnia/Des Moines, Iowa
SpeakEasy Breakout Role: Assistant Director, Next to Normal
What I've Been Up To: Directing The Tallest Tree in the Forest for the Guggenheim's Works in Process, and Assistant Directing the revival of The Laramie Project with Moises Kaufman and the original Company.
"SpeakEasy gives young theatre artists the opportunity to begin working professionally very early in their career. By providing this professional home to cultivate, learn, and create, SpeakEasy initiates an innate artistic drive which pushes young artists to continue to create amazing work. As a young director, SpeakEasy gave me the opportunity to experience the ins and outs of a professional theatre production which has been an invaluable asset to my career."