How did you get involved in music/theatre?
For music: My grandma and one of my many uncles play piano, and I remember watching them when I was reeeally young and being mesmerized by their hands and feet working the keys and pedals at the same time. We had an upright grand in our house, so I would sit at it (my feet were probably barely even hanging over the end of the bench) and mimic them as best I could. I took lessons from age 5 to 18 and continued playing just for fun until So Long, Stargazer formed in 2014. The scariest part about that was singing - until that point, other than a couple of musicals in high school and college, I *never* sang in public. 6-year-old me cried the day I realized that no, my bedroom was not soundproof and yes, my entire family could hear me belting out "Part of Your World." I'm more comfortable with it now... maybe resigned to it is more accurate.
For theatre: Again, I was making up characters and stories or mimicking what I saw in movies and TV shows since I can remember. I think I lived in my own little world in my head and in my notebooks for a very long time... OK, fine, I still do. But I'd only ever "acted" in grade school plays that everyone participates in until my sophomore year of high school when I decided to join Today Productions (a community theater group in Toledo, Ohio)... as part of the stage crew. I didn't think I wanted to be on stage with people looking at me. Or maybe I just didn't have the courage for it at the time, I don't know. But after doing crew for one show and watching the actors perform on stage every night, I knew that's where I wanted to be. I auditioned as an actor the following years and majored in theatre at OSU and, after a few years off, am now performing with It's All Been Done Radio Hour and in Theatre Roulette and whatever else I can worm my way into. My aversion to attention/being looked at always loses out to the pull of performing.
General pet peeves: line-jumpers, chronic plan cancelers, and that person in every group who is "fine with anything" but then is the first to complain about everything. (To That Person: You're high maintenance. Embrace it. Be proud!)
F***, Marry, Kill: Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum, Chris Pratt
F Ryan Gosling, M Chris Pratt, K Channing Tatum*
*Dear Mr. Tatum...Channing...can I call you Channing? I've just murdered you, so I would think so -
It's nothing personal. It's just that of the 3 options given, yours is the work with which I am least familiar. I am told that were I better acquainted with you, my decision would most likely be different. I am open to that opinion, as I don't like to make decisions with limited information. Especially important ones like whom to murder. Therefore, I reserve the right to bring you back from this hypothetical death I've fated you to. Maybe in zombie form? That's always popular.
So in the words of Todd Rundgren, can we still be friends?
“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you….”
That hauntingly creepy nursery rhyme, which begins A Nightmare on Elm Street, has plagued my childhood memories since the early ’80s with its eerie chords. If you’re like me, A Nightmare on Elm Street holds a special place in your heart as the first film to truly scare you.
You watched the characters battling Freddy Krueger, traveling with them on their sleepless journeys, only to fall victim to your own nightmares long after the movie had ended. Not being able to fall asleep after watching the film was part of the experience.
All but one character from A Nightmare on Elm Street suffered a gruesome (and, let’s be honest, awesome) death by Freddy’s claws. The lone survivor, Nancy Thompson, became the heroine, and she was one of the first characters to spark the phenomenon known as “The Final Girl.”
As the series progressed, however, the Nightmare films began to focus attention on Freddy instead of where creator Wes Craven originally intended it to be: on Nancy Thompson. And fans who embraced Nancy’s strength were left wanting more.
Nancy did return to Elm Street in the third installment of the series,but her time between the end of Nightmare 1 and the beginning of Nightmare 3 remained a mystery.
Don’t Fall Asleep is a fan film that tells the untold story of Nancy Thompson. Inspired by the Nightmares on Elm Street comics from Innovation Publishing, we created a film that is for fans, by fans—specifically those of us who know and love Nancy. It isn’t a Freddy film (although he does make several appearances). Instead, Don’t Fall Asleep is about the fact that Nancy’s nightmare is far from over.
What started as friends talking about making a short movie on our iPhones turned into an indie fan film with all the bells and whistles we could afford.
Ten actors from MadLab make up the majority of the cast and crew. When I initially approached the actors and said, “I’m making a horror film, and I want you to be in it... oh, and you’re probably going to die in it,” all of the actors said “yes” without hesitation. I don’t know whether it was my pitch or the actors’ secret desire to be drenched in blood, but their characters were soon born.
We needed to create four new characters in order to carry Nancy’s story from Nightmare 1 to Nightmare 3, so we wrote each character to represent the attributes that Nancy needed to survive Freddy’s continued tormenting:
- Joel (Chad Hewitt) is the morally flexible punk kid with a good heart. When faced with life-or-death decisions, morals are often challenged—especially when it comes to leaving someone behind. Hewitt takes his raw talent to the next level when bringing Joel to life on screen. His delivery of the character’s arc brought many pre-screeners to tears.
- Therese (Colleen Dunne) is the guarded young woman who comes across as being ruthless. Or, in the famous words of Delores Claiborne, “Sometimes being a bitch is the only thing a woman has to hold on to.” And women often need to possess such qualities to barrel through the obstacles in front of her. Dunne's performance of Therese was perfection. She cleverly crafts a character who avoids being a stereotype, and she plays the role with intelligence and fortitude.
- Dr. Travis (Travis Horseman) is the educated authority figure. He possesses the necessary wisdom to make the best decision. Horseman’s stellar portrayal of the doctor adds depth to a side character worthy of his own spin-off.
- Marshall (Casey May) is the scaredy-cat of the group. He symbolizes the little voice in your head that tells you to run when danger is lurking around the corner. Although Marshall’s part has less screen time than the other characters, May’s magnificent performance leaves a lasting impression with audiences.
These four attributes combined to bring the character of Nancy Thompson (Diandra Lazor) to life; Don’t Fall Asleep explores the question of what happens to Nancy when each of these is taken away.
Lazor was the most obvious choice to play Nancy—and not just because of her years of notable cosplay within the horror community. She knows this character, inside and out, and she plays Nancy from the heart, in a way that isn’t a mere imitation of the original. Lazor’s remarkable portrayal in Don’t Fall Asleep is a testament to what happens when a fan’s love for a character is captured on film.
Vicki Andronis and Erik Sternberger play two surprise characters from the original Nightmare films. Their performances of each character seamlessly fall in line with the original actors.
MadLab Ensemble members Stephen Woosley and Kyle Jepson, along with MadLab affiliates Andy Batt and Michelle Batt, also lend their talents on and off screen.
Written by Michelle DiCeglio, Paige Troxell and Diandra Lazor, Don’t Fall Asleep is available on YouTube and will screen at MadLab on Saturday, October 29, 2016.
MadLab's current production, Scritch Scritch by Christopher Lockheardt, is set in a universe in which men only exist as vermin - women run the world. Rebecca (played by Kyle Jepson) discovers her home has been invaded by a dirty man-pest, and her mother (Mary Sink), best friend (Shana Kramer), and an exterminator (Cat McAlpine) all lend her support and advice as she goes about dealing with her infestation.
The four actresses bringing this show to life are no strangers to MadLab, but their roads to our stage have been quite different. Many actors first become involved at MadLab through Theatre Roulette, our annual short play festival, and this was true for both Shana and Kyle. As Shana says, "[Roulette] really is the perfect opportunity for new actors to put their toe in the theatre waters." Cat, however, claims that what got her onto our stage was, "A little bit of fate and a whole lotta work. The whole MadLab family welcomed me with open arms, but I auditioned four times before I got cast."
MadLab actors in general vary from the uber-experienced to the I've-never-done-this-before. The cast of Scritch Scritch shows a similar diversity in their backgrounds. Kyle claims to have been performing since she could stand, and she majored in Theatre at the Ohio State University. Cat found her love of all things theatrical at OSU as well, after taking an acting class on a whim. Since then, she has gone on to work with a number of local theatre companies. Shana says she is "MadLab born and bred," having almost no experience prior to working with us. Each of the ladies can hold her own though - make no mistake!
Lockheardt, the playwright, has an impressive resume (for a man). A Boston-based wordsmith, his work has been seen on the MadLab stage many times in Theatre Roulettes and 3-in-30's. Scritch Scritch is Lockheardt's first full length play, and its MadLab production will be the world premiere. We asked the actresses to tell us a little bit about what they love about this particular script. For Cat, it's the unusual premise. "I love sci-fi and it's a very hard genre to coax onto the stage. I wouldn't call this show sci-fi, but it is a bit 'alternate universe' and in the very least, weird. Which I'm all about. I love when you leave the theatre and you can't help but talk and talk about the show you just saw. That's what Scritch Scritch is going to be."
As for their particular roles, some of the women are more typecast than others. Kyle says that Rebecca is, "...a little outside my comfort zone. I'm a sarcastic, caustic person 86% of the time and Rebecca is very caring, optimistic, and just a little naïve about the ways of the world." Cat, however, is perfectly suited to play the sarcastic exterminator who provides much comic relief. "I always love making people laugh, and I get some opportunities to do that in my role. Also I'm convinced my butt is going to look great in a jumpsuit. If I'm wrong, don't correct me." When asked about Daley, Rebecca's wacky but loveable best friend, Shana said, "I love Daley's unapologetic way of just being herself...actually, she's a lot like MadLab."
Written by Colleen Dunne
Chris Colgan was set to make his MadLab debut last summer, in the 2015 Young Writers Program, when disaster struck. Here is his story:
All the good actors were busy. MadLab looked way down into the bottom of the barrel and there I was. Honestly I was shocked to get the call from Andy telling me they had a role for me. I had auditioned in 2014, which was my first audition ever, and wow did I stink. I didn't get a role that year. I didn't think the 2015 was much better but it must have been. I was offered the role of Louis in Cards by Julia Stonerook.
The best way to describe the experience is new. It was all new to me. I was taking classes with ATC which was more of a training experience and had done a Christmas show with WCT with my boy which was a big family production. Cards was not a comedy. Four friends meet for a weekly card game. The fifth friend didn't show. Turns out he died earlier that day. Heavier stuff than I was used to dealing with. Michelle and Lexi (the director and assistant director) were very patient and were able to guide me to where I needed to be in the role. And it really helped to be surrounded by an awesome cast. RJ, Mike, and Joe were fantastic to work with and as the only rookie in the cast I knew I could learn a lot from them. Oh, and we all had to learn how to play poker. Not one of us knew how to play, except for the high school girl who wrote the play.
We were ready to go. I was ready to go. I was proud of what we were about to show the audience. But it turns out the script was a bit too prophetic. The morning the show was to open I went to the hospital with what I thought would be something painful but minor and I would be home in a few hours. Instead I was admitted, told it was something that could have been life threatening but the threat had passed, and that full recovery would be closer to six months.
Upon finding out that Chris would not be able to perform, Andy Batt stepped into the role at the last minute. Chris was able to make it to a performance, and he watched the show he should have been a part of.
It was seriously bizarre, like seeing yourself in the third person or something. Andy Batt was in my role and he did a fantastic job. How he was able to accomplish in 8 hours what took me 6 weeks is beyond me. That's some talent right there.
Chris came back to audition again in 2016, despite being nervous.
Auditions were just as intimidating. I thought I stunk just like the previous times but somehow I got another role. These people at MadLab just won't give up!
(This year) I'm just a tiny bit more relaxed and the play is a comedy. At least I think it's a comedy. Mike and I have turned it into one so I hope it is or the writer will be very upset.
On MadLab and the Young Writers Program:
First, the YW festival is fantastic and so important. What an incredible opportunity for young people. Everyone involved in this should be very proud and I hope the festival is around for many years.
Second, it's the people. Theatre is the most open and accepting community. Everyone is welcome, you just have to try. I was a bit apprehensive about returning this year after what I did to opening night last year, but far from being rejected I was welcomed as if I had been here for years. It's a good feeling.
*Extra credit - do you remember any of your lines from LAST year's show?
For fuck's sake.
I'm not swearing, that was my favorite line from last year.