BWW Blog: Eric Ulloa of Goodspeed's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA - Getting to Know You
Now that we've gotten to know our principles, it is time to get down to the foundation of any great show...the ensemble.
This week I bring you a few of last week's all stars to get the ball rolling.
Danny Lindgren-" Jake"- Understudy for "Herman" and was on all last week.
Eric Ulloa: What's the scariest part of going on for "Herman"? What's the best part? Why?
Danny Lindgren: The scariest part of going on for Herman is getting hog tied and then bouncing around the stage during "I Like Everybody (Reprise)." There's always a chance of me falling into the pit without being able to brace myself. The best part is working with the wonderful Natalie Hill. It was hard stepping into a comedic duo and making sure I was setting up the jokes and getting the flow of Herman and Cleo's banter. But during the put-in she tweaked a few things and together we landed all the jokes. It's a great feeling to have hard work pay off and just be able to play with a terrific performer.
EU: What was your most embarrassing moment on stage ever? Why?
DL: When I did a production of "Into the Woods," I had to catch Jack's mother when she died. When I caught her my pants split. I had to play the next three scenes with my ass facing upstage so I wouldn't pull focus. But, when I turned around to exit, house right got to see the huge split in the pants and I heard more than a few chuckles. I think I blushed till the next matinee.
EU: What would your last meal on Earth be if you could choose it? Why?
DL: My last meal would be my family's Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, butter milk rolls, all bought from Pike Place market. I'd probably have Blanton's Bourbon on the rocks as well. My family has a tradition of going to Pike Place to buy all the ingredients a day or two before Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday and I'd want to celebrate it one more time.
Matthew Amira- Male Swing- Went on as "Jake" all last week.
EU: What are the fun parts of being a swing? What are the bad parts? Why?
MA: I would have to say the best part of swinging is that it never gets dull because anything can happen. There is a kind of thrill in knowing that you can step into any part and also a sense of power that you know every facet of the show inside and out. It gives you a great feeling of accomplishment. I've also learned to see the stage differently, this time from a much broader perspective.
The downside of swinging is all the downtime that you have. Sabrina, the female swing and I have definitely suffered some cabin fever-like symptoms together. One time we even caught ourselves playing tag. The countless hours spent in the greenroom can cause you to go a little stir-crazy so you have to find some productive ways to fill that time. #swingnation
EU: What's the point where the nerves hit your first time on for this show? How did you calm them?
MA: I had a week's heads-up to get Danny's track completely solid. But the nerves seriously kicked in when I woke up in my bed back home and had the realization that I had never done the show with the full cast onstage...Then I thought, "Well, here goes nothing!" What calmed the butterflies was my knowing that I had an incredible ensemble behind me that would never let me fall (even if it came to a shove with love). That being said, there is a part during the show where I have to climb to the roof of the barn and play guitar and I don't know how Danny does it every night, but I feared for my life a little bit. I figured, if I could do that, it's smooth sailing from there.
EU: If your personality were a style of music, what would that style be? Why?
MA: That is something I have definitely never been asked. Being raised in Manhattan this answer may be a little strange but, Urban Cowboy with some Honky Tonk realness thrown in? That's the rhythm I live to. I am definitely a city boy and move to a brisker pace. Though at the same time I try to be warm, fun, and enjoy what life has to offer.
Eloise Kropp- Ensemble- Dance Captain extraordinaire.
EU: What do you love about being a dance captain? What do you hate?
EK: This is my first time being a dance captain and it was both scary and exciting. Through the process though I have gained a HUGE appreciation and understanding of everything that the DC is responsible for. I am now going back and thanking every DC I have had in years past. Being a DC is a tough job, but one that has great rewards. I think that having to be on top of everyone's track in the show is the hardest thing because it is extremely tedious. While I was writing down everyone's track, I had to be really specific especially because the tiny Goodspeed stage is not very forgiving. If you are an inch or two off, collisions can occur! I don't think people understand how important it is for the understudies and swings to be ready to go on at a moment's notice. This week is a perfect, crazy example. Kevin Vortmann was away so his understudy, Danny, went on for him. This means that our swing is covering Danny's track, while Danny is covering Kevin's track. Confused? To make things even more nerve wracking the one and only 'Most Happy Fella' Bill fell ill halfway through the show last night and had to call out midway. So his understudy had to step up and take over and someone else had to cover his track...ahhhhhhhh!!!! Thankfully the amazing John 'PINKY' Payonk walked up to the stage without a blink of an eye to take over and save the show, and boy did he. John did not only deliver, but he excelled and the show was as fabulous as always.
EU: What was the best era for dancing in your opinion? Why?
EK: 1940's-1950's Movie Musicals. Vera Ellen, Eleanor Powell, Ginger Rogers, Ann Miller, Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby... I could go on for days. But I am in love with the classic beauty of the dancing in this era. I can't get over the grace and ability each and every one of the performers had. What truly defines the era is that each and every one of them had a 'star' quality that you could not define. When you watch them perform you notice yourself just watching them as a person, as opposed to defining their technical talents. I would give anything to be transported back to that time.
EU: On the days where this business gets difficult, what gets you through it? Why?
EK: My family, yoga and chocolate. I think that the business can get into your head and it is very easy to wrap yourself into the 'business' world. It is nice for me to know that I always have the support of my family because no matter how low I feel I will always have them standing behind me. I can call anyone in my family at any time to talk about whatever is on my mind. And trust me, I have called about not booking a job I really wanted to something small and silly like spilling coffee all over myself while walking to the subway. It is a tough business that can sometimes consume your life but you have to find ways to separate yourself from it or else you will go crazy. This is why I love yoga. I sound like some hippie but it really is a great place for me to just go and clear my mind. When you are in a room with just yourself and a mat the last thing you want to be thinking about is how flat you were on that ending note in your audition earlier, or how your bank account is looking sad. I always leave yoga feeling refreshed. As for chocolate, well who doesn't like chocolate? I really think the world would be a better place if we all consumed chocolate daily. Chocolate goodness makes one a nicer person. Word!
John "Pinky" Payonk
John "Pinky" Payonk- Postman - Understudy for "Tony" who went on with fifteen minutes notice last week to finish our evening performance.
EU: How does it feel to find out you're carrying the lead role of this show with 15 minutes notice? Explain.
JP: It was thrilling! I felt so bad for Bill because I knew he wasn't feeling well and he always gives his best to every audience so I had some big shoes to fill. Luckily I've done the role quite a bit in the past plus we've had some great understudy rehearsals and most importantly, we have THE most supportive cast and crew in the businessm so I felt very calm and in good hands all around. Also the chance to work opposite Ann Arvia and Mamie Parris was a real treat, as they are just so fantastic.
EU: What is the best era for musical theatre in your opinion? What are great shows of this time?
JP: Well, in my opinion Broadway in the 40's & 50's was truly the golden age. A great show in my mind is anything that has a role in it for me!!! LOL!!!!
EU: What faraway place have you always wanted to visit? Why? What would you do there?
JP: Definitely Italy! I love everything about the Italian culture. I myself am Polish and we have some great food and traditions but the Italians really know how to live. Another reason would have to be the opera. Having started my career in opera it would be thrilling to visit the land of Puccini and Verdi!!
Goodspeed Musicals is celebrating their 50th Anniversary and I was there at Lincoln Center in NYC for the big celebration. Check back in for photos and fun stories from what was a very memorable evening...the guest list was at 500!!!