November, 17 2008
Edited by: Marcy
Before getting into my thoughts about the reading itself here's a brief summary of the play:
The Malcontent is a "disguised duke" play. From Wikipedia: "The Malcontent tells the story of the deposed duke Altofront, who has adopted the alter ego of Malevole, a discontented parasite, in order to try to regain his lost dukedom. Malevole is an angry satirist-figure, who attacks the corruption and decadence of the court in which he lives." I will add to this that the new duke has no children and names Mendoza as his heir, only to have Mendoza plot to kill him and any others he deems a threat or in his way. Malevole then exposes Mendoza's plot, along with the help of the Duke Pietro and others, then regains his position as Duke at the end of the play. There were many comic and satiric the moments. The dialogue is quite snappy, though it did take a while for my ears to become attuned to the Elizabethan/Jacobean period English. I'm definitely out of practice, lol.
Here is the cast list:
Michael Stuhlbarg - Malevole (Altofront)
Michael Rudko - Duke Pietro
Matthew Rauch - Mendoza
Randy Harrison - Celso
John Siedman - Bilioso
Ron Bagden - Prepasso/Captain
Carson Elrod - Ferneze
Tom Butler - Ferrard
Vivienne Benesch - Aurelia
Carol Halstead - Maria
Samara Bay - Emilia
Michelle Beck - Bianca
Caitlin O'Connell - Maquerelle
Patrick Vaill - Stage Direction/Mercury
The reading was Monday night. For those of you who aren't familiar with readings, the actors have the script in their hands and literally read the play, while acting it out. This was only my second reading, the first one being at BTF this past summer. The BTF one was very basic, with everybody sitting down toward the front of the stage. They sat the entire time and simply read from their scripts. For The Malcontent the reading was somewhat more involved. There were chairs for the all of the actors to sit upstage, near the curtain and then downstage there were several stands set up, so when actors had scenes they actually got up and came to the front of the stage and acted out their scenes, all the while reading the script. When Jesse Berger introduced the play he mentioned the actors had 4 hours of rehearsal the day before and from my limited experience that seems to be typical of readings. There is very little rehearsal time involved. I personally find the readings fun because they're not as structured as a full production. There aren't costumes (most of the people wore black, including Randy who was all in black), there is minimal blocking. It's pretty much just the actors and words. That, to me, makes it freeing in a way. Plus, the actors are clearly having a good time which adds to it. I can definitely recommend attending a reading. It's not nearly as boring as it might sound and if you're at all interested in theatre, I think it's the kind of thing you should try at least once.
Now, getting to the specifics. All the actors did a great job, I thought. Matthew Rauch was excellent as always. I also liked the actor who played Duke Pietro. Randy played Celso (pronounced Chelso), who is a good guy and friend of Malevole's/Altofront's. He didn't have a huge number of lines but I thought he made the most of what he had and he was in a lot of the scenes, even when he didn't have lines. Even when he wasn't speaking, though, he was engaged in the scenes and reacting to what was going on around him. It wasn't a flashy, showy role so there weren't any really standout moments (though he did have one killer line reading) but he played an important part of the overall ensemble and I thought he did an excellent job with what he had to work with.
My group (inner_justin, my friend Trish and I) sat in the second row, on the far left. Trish and I were joking beforehand, wondering which seat he would take: the far right or the far left. Lucky us, he took the far left seat (that's left if you're facing the stage). So we got to look at him quite often throughout the reading (though I didn't stare at him the entire time, lol). It was fun watching his reactions as other people were reading. He was laughing along and very engaged in the play even when he wasn't in the scene. There were a few times I saw him reading ahead, I suppose to see where he came on next or something. There was a funny moment at one point where he was trying to get his water bottle open (each of the actors was given a water bottle before the reading started) without making any noise and the cap was obviously being stubborn, lol. He managed, though, and didn't make any noise, though he did make a funny face trying to get the bottle open. :-)
One really funny Randy moment during the reading was when he almost started laughing. This is the sort of thing that would only happen during a reading. There's a scene where Mendoza thinks he's poisoned Malevole but it's just a ruse to set up Mendoza. Celso (Randy) comes into the scene after Malevole is laying on the ground, supposedly dead. Well, since he's not ACTUALLY dead, the actor needed to follow along in the script. So he's laying on the ground sort of propped up in a way where he can still read the script - and flip the pages. The audience was laughing. Randy walks in and Celso is supposed to see Malevole laying on the ground and express concern or ask what happened and Randy takes one look at the actor and came very close to losing it (as did Matthew Rauch, I might add). It very much reminded me of the S5 QAF bloopers where he and Gale were trying not to burst out laughing during Justin's gallery show scene, lol. Randy sort of bit his upper lip and managed to get it under control, though.
After the play, we went downstairs (I knew Randy wouldn't stay for the talkback afterwards). After a few minutes, I saw one of the other actors, and almost immediately behind him was Randy. There were a bunch of people standing around in the little lobby and I'm sure some of them were Randy fans. Anyway, he was SO fast I asked Karyn and Trish of that was him (I was sure it was) so we just walked outside. He had a friend with him. I don't know who she was. Anyway, Trish needed to get back to Port Authority Bus Terminal to catch her bus home and Randy was going in the direction we were going anyway so we caught up with him at 46th and 9th (and no, I didn't run after him, lol). Karyn had a card with a tAB donation that she was hoping to give him. Plus, she'd had a shitty day so I was hoping Randy would at least chat with us for a moment. So I said his name and he saw us and said, "Oh, hi." I could tell he wasn't really in a chatty mood but he was polite and didn't look completely pissed off so I said, "She (Karyn) has a card for you with a tAB donation". That woke him up a little, lol. He smiled and said "Oh, thank you." Then I asked him how Paris was and he said he had a good time. At the "thinking..." screening he mentioned he was going to Amsterdam (Karyn had been wearing an Amsterdam shirt and he'd asked her if she'd been there because he was looking for advice on what to do there). So, I asked him how he liked Amsterdam. He said, "It was good. I liked it but not as much as Paris." Then I said, "I'm such an idiot. I totally forgot my landlady is actually Dutch." He smiled a little and said, "You should have let me know." And I said something like, "Sorry, I know..." and kind of shrugged. I only remembered that my landlady was Dutch DAYS after the "thinking..." screening, lol. Then he said, "That's okay. I got lots of good suggestions." Then Karyn jumped in and said she lived in Germany for six months. Randy kind of smirked and said, "Oh? Really? How's your German?" She said, "Not good." Randy said, "Oh..." in a sympathetic way, lol. Then I gave him a quick hug, we said our farewells and he and his friend went off toward 47th and we headed the other direction. The whole exchange only took a couple of minutes and Randy was really very sweet, even though he really wasn't in the mood to stand around and chat much. We didn't want to take up any more of his time anyway since his friend was there and it was cold out. We got our few moments with him and that was good. :-)
Now, for the particulars. Nothing really new regarding his hair. Looks about the same as Paris, though he had it more just swept forward on top rather than the sort of faux hawk think he had going on in Paris. There was some stubble, but just 1 or 2 days' worth of growth. Randy was dressed in black - that black, long sleeved shirt he wore the Saturday of the Paris convention, tight black skinny jeans and black leather ankle high boots. He kept pushing the sleeves up on his black shirt. The boots were very interesting. They were lace-ups and had this turquoise or electric blue stitching on the top and sides. The stitching on the toe was similar to the type of stitching on cowboy boots. And you couldn't really see the stitching unless you were up close.
He wore this beautiful wool coat. It was about mid-thigh length and was woven, alternating black and white. It fit him like a glove. It was very form fitting in the torso and flared at the waist. The fit reminded me very much of the suit he wore to that QAF crew member's wedding.
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Written by Stacey edited by Marcy