Month: June 2017

Hanna Gaffney Could Use a Good Laugh

“Traveling and sewing are good sources of meditation,” says actor Hanna Gaffney, who returns to Hedgerow Theatre Company this summer for Around the World in 80 Days. “I love to travel when I can. I am also a seamstress, so finding sewing projects is a good source of meditation. I also can hardly sleep at night because I’m so excited to decorate my room. That’s sort of lame, but you want answers, you got ‘em.”

Gaffney, who made her first appearance at Hedgerow last summer as Gabriella in Boeing Boeing,  plays Aouda and many others in the upcoming comedy. She is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and her most recent Philadelphia credits include Witness for the Prosecution (Dr. Wyatt) at Bristol Riverside Theatre and Spamalot (The Lady of the Lake) at Resident Theatre Company.

This summer, Mark Brown’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure Around the World in 80 Days pits the intrepid adventurer Phileas Fogg, played by Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, with his loyal valet, Passepartout, against time as they embark on a grand journey from Victorian London through Asia and across the Pacific in precisely 80 days.

“I love to play in the clowning world, and though not all of my characters live there, I’m excited to work to give specific life to each of them. I also really enjoy doing research on the productions I’m involved in, and learning more about each culture we fly through in 80 Days is going to be so fascinating,” said Gaffney.

Around the World in 80 Days returns familiar funny faces and puts them in an exciting, and incredibly silly, rollercoaster spectacle.  Danger, romance and comic surprises abound as five actors—portraying 42 characters—traverse four continents in this race against the clock.

“I love how much this show encompasses,” said Gaffney. “Besides, for all of the many countries and cultures, it also blends a fantastic and bombastic world with a still and heartfelt one. Plus I rarely get to play a romantic lead, and I’m very excited for the challenge.”

All the world’s a stage, literally, in this theatrical tour-de-force as Gaffney and company turn adventure and romance into a fun-filled evening of farce and slapstick.

We live in a world where any bit of comedy and heart we can sit and ruminate on for a while is something worth watching. We need to escape the current climate so we don’t fall into normality. Our bodies will adjust to that normality, and we may forget we can fight for what is right. We need these breaks of hilarity and entertainment.”

The first preview performance of Around the World in 80 Days is Wednesday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Friday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Wednesday matinee on August 2, at 2 p.m., and Fogg’s balloon lands for a final time on Sunday, August 13, at 2 p.m.

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

 

Hedgerow Theatre’s Summer Comedy: Around the World in 80 Days

Hop aboard Phileas Fogg’s hot-air balloon as Hedgerow Theatre Company’s small troupe of actors take on a global collection of carnival characters in Mark Brown’s imaginative and theatrical re-imagining of Jules Verne’s 1873 adventure, Around the World in 80 Days, running July 6 to August 13. All the world’s a stage, literally, in this theatrical tour-de-force.

It is directed by master farceur Damon Bonetti, who helmed the Hedgerow’s phenomenally popular production of Patrick Barlow’s The 39 Steps, as well as the hit summer farces Boeing Boeing and No Sex Please, We’re British.

Around the World in 80 Days returns familiar funny faces and puts them in an exciting, and incredibly silly, rollercoaster spectacle.  Danger, romance and comic surprises abound as five actors portraying 42 characters traverse four continents in this race against the clock. Zoran Kovcic (Boeing Boeing and No Sex Please, We’re British), Mark Swift (Boeing Beoing and No Sex Please, We’re British), Hanna Gaffney (Boeing Boeing), and Sarah Knittel (The Servant of Two Masters) take on the mountainous task of creating a world of characters.

“It’s a fantastic adventure story with wonderful characters, but it’s also the story about the breaking down of barriers – both literally and figuratively – as an appreciation is gained of other cultures and Fogg learns how to care and to love others,” said Bonetti. “It’s a fun, fastpaced, exciting adventure – full of quick changes and quirky characters – a classic summertime farce – destined to become a Hedgerow favorite.”

The intrepid adventurer Phileas Fogg, played by Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, with his loyal valet, Passepartout, agrees to an outrageous wager that puts his life and fortune at risk, as he embarks on a grand journey from Victorian London through Asia and across the Pacific in precisely 80 days.

“My first memory of this story was reading it at 10 years old. I love this adaptation. It captures that feeling from my youth. It is funny and adventurous and a great challenge for five actors….It’s humorous, romantic, and as witty as it is silly,” said Reed.

Stampeding elephants, raging typhoons, runaway trains, and unabashed slapstick fill this farcical adventure from start to finish. Hedgerow Theatre tackles the challenge of Verne’s epic adventure with its talented cast in its beautiful rustic setting and brings the joy and humour of Brown’s adaptation to life.

“How do we travel across the world on stage and keep a story moving forward, allowing the humor of the piece to be honest? That’s what we are attempting to find out,” said Reed.

The first preview performance of Around the World in 80 Days is Wednesday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Friday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Wednesday matinee on August 2, at 2 p.m., and Fogg’s balloon lands for a final time on Sunday, August 13, at 2 p.m.

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

Damon Bonetti Farceur Extraordinaire

Damon Bonetti is the Co-Founding Artistic Director of The Philadelphia Artist’s Collective and a Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University in Camden, Drexel University, and Rowan University.  He is excited to be back in the Hedgerows where he has directed the last three summer farces, The 39 Steps, No Sex Please, We’re British, and Boeing Boeing.  

“This play is a ton of fun, a true adventure! I’m interested in how these five actors interpret these roles and how to find the best world for them to inhabit,” says Bonetti.

Damon has directed or acted at many of the area theaters and received Barrymore nominations for True Story at Passage Theater (Director), Orange Flower Water at Luna Theater (Supporting Actor)  and The Hound of the Baskervilles at Lantern Theater (Ensemble).

He recently directed the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective production of The White Devil, with Jared Reed as Duke Brachianno, and appeared in All’s Well That Ends Well.  He holds an M.F.A. from Florida State University /Asolo Theatre and a Bachelor of Arts from DeSales University.

He’s spent the past three summer’s in Rose Valley making people laugh with farces, and this summer will be no different. He loves the intimacy of the audience that Hedgerow offers and the connection to its patrons.

“There’s no prettier place outside nor funnier inside than Hedgerow Theatre,” says Bonetti, “[and] the collective shared experience that those people have – hearing the laughs, gasps and groans is why we do this.”

The first preview performance of Around the World in 80 Days is Wednesday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m. Opening night is Friday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Wednesday matinee on August 2, at 2 p.m., and Fogg’s balloon lands for a final time on Sunday, August 13, at 2 p.m.

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

7 Things Fitness has Taught Me About Acting

Madalyn St. John is an actor appearing for the second time at Hedgerow. She has performed in The Servant of Two Masters and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She is also a fitness instructor in the Greater Philadelphia area. Below, check out her Top 7 things fitness has taught her about acting and life.

1. How to handle long hours

I am not a morning person. Yet, I’ve been waking up at 3:45am, Monday through Friday, for the last three and a half years to teach early morning bootcamp classes. While this has certainly increased my appreciation for a good nap, it has also trained my body to get up and get moving even when it doesn’t want to.

Days on a film set can be long and exhausting. Teaching early morning classes I have learned to handle the occasional 19-hour day. Gone are the days when I would wake up long after the sun; now I try not to laugh when my actor friends complain about an “early” 7 a.m. call time.

2. Mix it up

If I do the same class or program too long, I get bored and end up falling off the fitness wagon. I mix up my routine throughout the week with running, HIIT or circuit training, weight training and kickboxing to challenge my body and keep boredom at bay.

I apply the same principal to my acting life. I’m working on Shakespeare now, but I also take a Meisner class twice a week and most of my past work has been musical theatre. Exploring different areas and styles of acting is not only really fun, but it is also a great way to challenge yourself and grow as an actor.

3. Goal setting

I am really big on goal-setting. There’s no point working out everyday if you don’t know what you’re working towards. I try to set specific goals with meal plans and workout schedules that are manageable but will help me get the results I want. Setting specific goals is vital to acting. You could float around taking whatever job comes your way for years without making any real progress.  Goals might be business-oriented (like creating a website, putting together a reel or sending submissions) or more creative (like learning a new special skill or writing a screenplay). Just like with fitness, you have to think about what you want and then map out the steps to take to get there.

4. Don’t limit yourself

“I can’t do push-ups.” I hear this time and time again from new clients; but “can’t” is the dirty four-letter word of my classes. My advice is the always the same: try, practice, try again. In acting, you absolutely CANNOT be afraid to GO FOR IT. If you hold back, you’ll be dead in the water before you even begin. I’ve surprised myself many times by trying something I didn’t think I could do, only to find that I could do it—and what a great feeling that is, in the gym or on the stage!

5. No pain no gain

How cliché, right? The thing is, clichés exist for a reason: they are usually true. If I’m not sore a day or two after my workout, I take that as a sign that I didn’t push myself enough. Soreness after a workout is literally thousands of tiny microtears in your muscles. The muscle the grows back in its place is thicker and stronger, thus you literally need to go through the pain to gain muscle.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of “pain” to be had as an actor. There’s a lot of crumby jobs and tiny roles you have to go through to get to the good ones. There’s long hours, and low pay, and unprofessional “professionals” and there’s a lot of rejection, putting yourself out there time and time again only to hear, “no thank you,” 19 times out of 20; but it’s worth it for that 1 time.

6. Make a choice, then commit to it

My biggest problem when trying to get in shape or eat healthy is—like many people—sticking to it. As a result, I usually go for plans that are pretty strict, with no grey area. If I know the rules of a meal plan or workout, I’m much more likely to adhere to them. Once I’ve decided to do it, I follow through to the end.

As an actor you have to make choices. Sometimes HUGE choices. Most of the time, there’s not one RIGHT way to do a scene or play a character, but whichever way you choose you have to choose HARD. Nothing is more uninteresting to watch than an actor who can’t commit to their choices.

7. Try, try again

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set a fitness goal for myself and failed. Yes, FAILED! Does that mean I rolled up my yoga mat and stormed out, never to return again? Of course not! If I fail to get the results I want, I reassess, taking stock of what worked and what to do differently next time. And then I get to work again.

If you want to be an actor, and I mean REALLY want it, there is no quitting. There is no time off. There is no failure. You say to yourself, “Ok, that sucked. What can I learn from it? What can I do right now to put me on a better path this time around?” My favorite thing to do after a crappy audition is look at the next audition I have coming up and start preparing for it HARD. Whether it’s sit-ups or Shakespeare, you have to keep pushing.