Meet the Cast of The 39 Steps
Becky and I are proud to announce our casting for the 2013 Fringe production of The 39 Steps improvised show. At this time, our cast is an ensemble composed of 4 members: Megan Borkes, Christian Cheker, Nadia Garzon and Max Hilend. (pictured in that order)
This process has been completely new for me, equally fun and difficult. After Jimmy Moore set up a multiple show Fringe audition at the beginning of the month, I was able to see some actors reading a singing prepared work. While I got a lot out of that day (I saw 50 auditions in a few hours), it did not really let me know what kind of improvisers the actors were.
I talked with Mike Carr and several actors from SAK Comedy Lab after several performances in December, January and February to get a sense of how everyone would recieve the show concept. The improv community in Orlando is really amazing, and many of them come from other cities, or have gone to the large acting meccas to study. Some examples are the iO in Chicago and workshops during the Edinburgh Fringe. I also learned about several long-form improvised shows, like one group who "reads" a radio drama from a script composed of blank pages, complete with sound effects and a sponsor break in the middle of the story for a soap company.
Finally, I tapped both Mike from SAK and John DiDonna's Central Florida Theatre In Process email lists to announce an audition for a Thursday night. We also reserved the audition venue for an additional callback time on Saturday. The audition was held at Urban ReThink in downtown Orlando - 12 actors showed up to play improv games and show off their teamwork while playing scenes. The audition lasted over 2 hours - I'm sure everyone was a little tired at the end of the process, but everyone seemed to be having a great time playing and getting to work with new people.
Two days later was the callback time. We had a few scheduling conflicts from Thursday - most of which were people that Becky knew or that I had seen at the unified Fringe audition, so we called back a few of those folks and several people from the first night. In all, 8 people attended the callback, and after just under an hour of intense games, we had a much better idea of who would be in the cast, but we were still not close to a final decision.
Becky and I sat with a stack of applications, headshots, resumes, and notes from the auditions to discuss all our candidates. We had almost 8 people who were incredibly strong performers and showed great promise. Some of these actors had experience working with Dr. David Charles on similar long-form improvised shows, others had previously worked with Becky, and I had seen several of them perform around town. We also had to consider availability for rehearsals and work conflicts for all of our candidates. When I say it was a challenge, I mean it.
Once we finally made the decision, we decided to call all four of them that very minute - we had never been closer to making the show a reality. About 3 hours had passed since the audition ended -- everyone's phone went to voicemail! I called Megan and Christian, while Becky called Nadia and Max. Before the weekend was over, all four of them had accepted their parts! This thing is really happening! Hugs all around, and now time to work on the poster, marketing materials, website, and prepare for the Fringe at the Hard Rock fundraiser the following week - and the first rehearsal!!!! (there aren't enough exclamation points to show how excited and nervous I am)