By: Judy Shields
Photo credit: Mathew Caine/ Studio Digitropr
North Hollywood, California (The Hollywood Times) 8/8/16 – “I am teaching a different generation and they like it.” It is a surprise when the music comes into the play and everyone just really enjoys that.” “The point for me is when it is completed, it’s really important that the cast have had an experience, that they have learned something, that they have grown, that is was exciting for them, but secondly, that the audience has had an experience, I don’t care what anyone else says, but if that audience it’s happy, I’m not happy, seriously! When I put my director hat on, I want the audience to be happy, as an actor I have a different feeling.” Director Gloria Gifford said after the Saturday evening performance at the T.U. Studios in North Hollywood.
Gloria Gifford told The Hollywood Times that she is ready now for her two hour note session after every show and that she is diligent and every little thing has to be corrected and fixed. She went on to say that she doesn’t ever want the show to go backwards, because people come early in the run and by the time they come to the end they say what happened it went through the roof. This is why she keeps fixing and changing things and maybe even put in another song.
The music used in the play was chosen by Gloria Gifford. She picks everything from the music to the costumes and she is a singer and actress and has been singing her whole life and that music is just part of her life. She also said that she has a huge encyclopedia in her head of music, and she tries these songs and her cast doesn’t know most of these songs and the last song was a Lou Rawls song and everyone thinks it was a Barry White song, but it was not. “The male cast loved the song during the rehearsal and they loved that song from the 70s. The music is the best part and the last moment of the play and the reviewers are loving it. I like picking music from the 30s and the 60s like Jerry Vail.”
The Hollywood Times caught up with a few of the cast:
Sam Mansour, who plays Conrade the villain
THT: How did you get your part in this play?
Sam Mansour: I got it by rehearsing for the past two and half months and she told me to grow out my beard so that I would look like a villain and I got the part
THT: Did you like playing a villain?
Sam Mansour: Of course, that was my favorite part
THT: How many plays have you been in so far?
Sam Mansour: Two so far. Down on your Knees was my first one and we do not know what the next play is.
Sam told the Hollywood Times that he has only bene in the states for a few years and that he knew he wanted to act so he came to this country to get some training and is having a great time being part of Gloria Gifford’s Conservatory for Performing Arts.
Lauren Plaxco, who played Beatrice, and for the first time of this run thus far.
THT: How did you get this role?
Lauren Plaxco: In truth, it’s one of the Shakespearian roles that all females crave. It’s a tour to force role and she is funny, she is whitey, she is smart and she is sexy, she gets to get angry and passionate, so it is one of the roles that every actress wants to eventually play in her time as an actress on stage. I worked really hard for this role and there are four other women in this company that also play Beatrice so we all have to work very hard with the director to craft to the role and I am really excited to get the role tonight.
THT: Have you worked with Gloria Gifford before?
Yes, I have been studying with Gloria now several years and probably my ninth production with her. Some of my biggest wins on stage have been under her direction. Actually Chad & I, who played Benedick tonight, we I did two six week runs of “Fool’s For Love” very different from this one. Sam Sheppard, dark and gritty, but that was an incredible experience and Gloria directed that one as well.
THT: How difficult was it for you to learn the lines from this Shakespeare play?
Lauren Plaxco: Gloria is Broadway trained and she has done a great deal of work herself and she really walks us through the whole process of understanding the material, looking things up and understanding the context of the times and then putting it into our mouths in a way that the audience can understand it. She really runs us through the ringer and spends a lot of time with us, what are trying to do, what is happening in this scene. So hopefully we can communicate that to the audience once we are out there…
THT: Did you have fun performing the songs?
Lauren Plaxco. Oh my gosh, yes! Singing it with the track takes away the pressure having to sing it on your own, like if you are watching a Disney movie and they break out into song, like that, and it sure was fun that added an element to all the characters.
THT: How many shows will you be able to perform as Beatrice?
Lauren Plaxco: Maybe three, it all depends, because we all kind of rotate through and because it is a company of actors and we all study together at the conservatory, it is a very symbiotic relationship, everyone is there to help, make things go right. When I’m on stage as Beatrice, the women backing me up are the other Beatrice’s really. An environment like everyone is on a team and helping each other out.
THT: How many weeks of rehearsals”
Lauren Plaxco: Months is probably a better questions. We were working on this while we also on previous production, which was an original musical and so doing research for this play then and we probably spent six to eight weeks straight rehearsal then. We have been going from production to production for over three and half years now and it’s been incredible.
THT: When did you decide you wanted to be an actress:
Lauren Plaxco: From the womb, no actually I was one of those kids that did a lot of plays in school and then I kind of came into more as an adult, re-found my passion in college and then came to LA.
THT: What was your first play as a child?
Lauren Plaxco: It was probably a Christmas play at church, but the one I remember most was Wait Until Dark” which I played the little girl on that and reprises that experiencing and I got to play the lead in that under Gloria’s direction at the Glendale Center Theatre maybe four years ago. Full circle for me.
You can find Lauren Plaxco on her social media
Instagram: Lauren Plaxco
FaceBook: Lauren Plaxco
We caught up with Chad Doreck who portrayed Benedick:
He said that they all know each other, not like strangers working together, the same vibration and rhythm. They all produce the shows together as teammates. The audiences tend to feel that community in the show when they see the show.
Chad Doreck is one of the main characters and he is handsome and sure can act with a great smile upon his face and he does a great job with his singing part too! There is a scene that he does a mime routine and you have to just really watch him.
In 1985 Chad was doing some modeling out in a field in Cucamonga and just shared that with us because I told him we drove from Rancho Cucamonga and he got that thought in his mind. He grew up in Long Beach and remembers farming in Cerritos and now there are buildings all around now
There are over 40 cast member and they all did an excellent job entertaining the audience. Let me tell you the second row had children, relatives of one of the cast members named Hero and those kids were enjoying themselves and well behaved. So this play is for every age and the music used during the play will have you smiling and wanting to sing along.
Much Ado About Nothing has been extended until September 18th! I can see why, it is truly an entertaining musical play and Gloria Gifford sure has a hit to be proud of.
I truly want to let you all know which songs they play during this musical, but I just can’t give it away, so you can be surprised when you go see this entertaining Rock n’ Roll comedy, Shakepeare himself would find it entertaining!
Much Ado About Nothing. The classic romantic comedy. This production features a rockin’ song score.
Written by William Shakespeare. Director/Executive producer: Gloria Gifford. Producers: Jade Warner, Lauren Plaxco, Chad Doreck. Presented by Jamaica Moon Productions and GGC.
T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91602. Some free parking behind theatre.
NOW PLAYING through September 18, 2016. Saturday at 8:00, Sunday at 7:30.
RESERVATIONS: (310) 366-5505.
ONLINE TICKETING: www.tix.com
About Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing is set in Messina, Sicily. Beatrice, niece of the local governor Leonato, and Benedick, a gentleman and friend of the powerful Prince of Aragon Don Pedro, are seeming adversaries, engaging in much verbal jousting and argument. The antagonistic remarks fool neither the men nor the women in Don Pedro’s court; Beatrice and Benedick are obviously meant for each other, even if their love isn’t instantly apparent. Their friends conspire to trick them into confessing their love for each other.
Claudio, a young nobleman, is in love with Hero, daughter of Leonato. Claudio plans to wed Hero, but a scheme is plotted to thwart matters by Don John, who causes doubts to emerge about Hero’s virtue. Don John is the illegitimate brother of Don Pedro. Jealous of Don Pedro and of the esteem in which Don Pedro holds his friend Claudio, Don John wants to prevent the wedding. Can he possibly succeed? Hint: Happy endings are the convention in Shakespeare’s romantic comedies.
Much Ado was revolutionary for its patriarchal times, in featuring a heroine like Beatrice with a sharp tongue and sparkling wit. Beatrice and Benedick became the prototypes for the characters portrayed in 20th Century film comedies by actors like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.
Much Ado About Nothing has love and romance, snappy dialogue, clowning, intrigue, laughter, and occasionally risqué humor. (In Elizabethan slang, the “Nothing” in the title of the play could refer, depending on context, to either virginity or a select portion of the female anatomy.) The naughtiness is subtle enough that the show is still appropriate for family audiences.
Gloria Gifford directs and serves as executive producer. The New York and Broadway- trained director/actress/teacher received an M.A. from the New School, where she studied Criminology after graduating with a degree in Political Science from SUNY New Paltz. She has directed over 75 stage productions, including On Golden Pond (with Salome Jens and Andrew Prine), Our Lady of 121st St. (L.A. Times Critic’s Choice), The Tempest, Romantic Comedy, A Bed and a Bar, Summer and Smoke, Wait Until Dark, and many more. A veteran actor with credits on Broadway, in hit films (opposite Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, John Candy and Tobey Maguire), and recurring roles on four TV series, she has also been known as an acting coach to emerging stars and as the producer of the Rebel Planet Short Film Festival in Hollywood.
The Much Ado About Nothing company includes (in alphabetical order) Tracey Ali, Hayley Ambriz, George Benedict, Raven Bowens, Jeff Hamasaki Brown, Billy Budinich, Marlin Chan, Leana Chavez, Heather Compton, Yvette DeVito, Sonia Diaz, Chad Doreck, Justine Estrada, Joshua Farmer, Joe Filippone, Lindy Fujimoto, Dylan George, Keturah Hamilton, Chris Jones, Abigail Kochunas, Christian Maltez, Sam Mansour, Tahlia McCollum, Alex Miller, Maya Moore, Kelly Musslewhite, Benito Pajr, Nakta Pahlevan, Kasia Pilewicz, Lauren Plaxco, Antonio Roccucci, Cynthia San Luis, Deidra Shanell, Danny Siegel, Tejah Signori, Samiyah Swann, Justin Truesdale, Nancy Vivar, Keith Walker, Lucy Walsh, Jade Warner, Teagan Wilson and Sabrina Won.
Set design: Jeffrey Casciano. Scenic Painters: Billy Budinich, Chris Jones. Lighting Technician: Chris Rivera. Hair/Make-up: Kasia Pilewicz. Costume Design: Gloria Gifford/ Kasia Pilewicz. Stage Managers: Justin Truesdale, Keith Walker.
About Gloria Gifford