BWW Blog: Ryan Bauer-Walsh of Goodspeed's LMNOP - Everything Old is New Again
Everything old is new again!
Coming back to Goodspeed after seven years on the road has been wonderful. As I said before, it feels like coming home. Here at Goodspeed there have been a lot of changes; new housing being the biggest among them-- and the new housing is amazing! They all have central air, and private bathrooms with bathtubs. In my other house I shared a bathroom-but it had some old world charm to it. But having your own tub, can really make all the difference after a long day.
Somethings stay the same though! When I was in Nell Benjamin's PIRATES at the opera house in 2006 I was given a necklace to wear in the show. It was a screaming Tiki mask on a leather cord.
When the show ended, Goodspeed's wardrobe master, John Ricucci, gave it to me as a parting gift on the condition that I promised to come back. Well, I was lucky then that I got to keep that promise when I got cast in this show- and not only that- I brought the Tiki Mask with me, and I am now wearing it once again on stage at the Norma Terris as my character Willy Creevy. Everything old truly is new again! With that being said, this show is very new and still changing and growing along with my Actor's Garden. But first, let me tell you how I came to be in LMNOP.
Sometimes things come to be in the strangest ways. It all happened because I went out on a date. Ha! Well, I met my date and we ended up sitting at the bar next to the one and only Paul Loesel who is the composer for LMNOP. He and his husband and my date and I all got to chatting, and they found out I was an actor having done a few skits here and there, and we talked for a long while and had great time. We exchanged numbers to all have drinks again soon at the end of the night.
Ryan Bauer-Walsh and LMNOP composer Paul Loesel" src="https://newimages.bwwstatic.com/upload10/551846/2013-07-26%2013_17_26.jpg" style="float:right; height:333px; margin:5px; width:250px" />The next day I got a phone call from Paul: "Hey Ryan! It was great meeting you last night, and well, Chuck and I sort of stalked you online... and I would like to cast you in a reading of a show I am doing called Ella Minnow Pea." --- I was floored, and thrilled. So I met up with him again, but this time to rehearse! The material was great, it was topical and intelligent with a solid book and beautiful music. We did the reading and I knew the show had legs. After the reading was over, Paul and I stayed in touch, but I didn't really know what was going to happen with the show until a few months later when I was brought in for the Goodspeed production of the newly named LMNOP! I am incredibly proud of Paul and Scott's work on this piece and it has been amazing to work with them.
We all arrived up at Goodspeed and settled into our amazing houses and rooms and the next morning it was time for work! The rehearsal hall at Goodspeed sits over a creek next to a waterfall and is one of my favourite places I have ever rehearsed a show in. There is a comfortable green room off the back, a little covered bridge over the creek that flows beneath the hall, and a full kitchen stocked with all the coffee, tea and honey a performer might need.
It was a short rehearsal process for such a new piece, but this team is incredibly efficient. Headed up by Joe Calarco who is directing, we navigated our way from the states to Nollop where a letter has fallen off
the statue of their beloved founder's pangram; The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog. The Z falls off and the council eliminates the letter Z from all language written and spoken as a way to boost patriotism and reclaim our identity as Nollopians. But... more letters fall and chaos ensues as our freedom to speak is taken away.
It is a great story, originally a book by Mark Dunn-- But it speaks so well within the realm of Musical Theatre. Scott Burkell has done an amazing job writing intelligent lyrics while not using certain letters-- a task which may sound easy-- but I dare you to try it for a day! Get rid of something easy sounding.. like V. Who uses the letter V anyway? I have used it thirteen times in this little blog already!
We opened just as my water melons came up and the sugar snap peas started to flower. The night was really wonderful, but we knew it was part of a long process where we would weed through the material, eventually reworking the beginning, middle and end. But what garden doesn't need a little pruning and tending?
So here we are in the middle of our run and the garden is thriving.
Working with this cast has been an incredible experience. Headed up by our title character, Ella, played by Lilli Cooper with a supporting cast of thirteen actors including two very bright young child actors, we have created an entire country and delved into it's darkest hour 8 times a week. For the first 2 weeks I had growing pains... almost literally. I have a scene very early on where I pay the consequences for using the forbidden letter and I am flogged with a whip in the town square. I couldn't figure out the best way to mime being restrained while being whipped and belting an A... and I gave myself, ironically, whiplash. So I slathered on the tiger balm until I figured out a healthier way with the help of our
director and assistant director, Billy Bustamante, to make it through that scene without actually feeling like I had been flogged.
It can be an exhausting process with up to 10 hours of rehearsal a week to make the changes needed to tell our story. But with a lot of water, and our day off for vitamin D, things are coming to fruition as we approach our final weeks. This week I will also be celebrating a birthday. Yes I will finally be Twenty-Blerm on August 8th...... ha!
Earlier in the week 3 friends came up to help celebrate and we had a wonderful time. One of the perks of being close to New York is that you get to head back to the city when you need to for auditions, or invite a few friends up to enjoy the country air.
So the garden is growing, and the show is too, and apparently I along with it! But I feel incredibly blessed to be able to mark my own time at Goodspeed with the coming birthday, where I have made and continue to make so many wonderful memories. I'll check back in with you next week!
Chat soon! -Ryan
From This Author Guest Blogger: Ryan Bauer-Walsh