The Friday Five(+1):The Four Leading Players of IS Productions' CLOSER

Kurt Jarvis Directs Britt Byrd, Ross Canales, Jeremy James Carmichael and Angela Gimlin in the Patrick Marber Play

By: Feb. 15, 2024
The Friday Five(+1):The Four Leading Players of IS Productions' CLOSER
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IS Productions – the more serious, less drunken offshoot of Inebriated Shakespeare – is inaugurated with its run of Patrick Marber’s Closer, directed by Kurt Jarvis, opening tonight at The Annex at Third Coast Comedy Club in Nashville.

Curtain is at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, February 16, 17, 23 and 24. Tickets are $15 and are available online at www.inebriatedshakespeare.com/closer.

The Friday Five(+1):The Four Leading Players of IS Productions' CLOSER
Ross Canales, Angela Gimlin and
Jeremy James Carmichael

Closer stars Britt Byrd, Ross Canales, Jeremy James Carmichael and Angela Gimlin, who take on our Friday Five (+1) questions and tell us why they think you should come see their show. You know the drill: Read their answers, call and get tickets, then tell everyone you know to meet you there.

And just in case you need another reason to make sure you don’t miss this one: Alexis LaVon stage manages. Editor’s Note: I wouldn’t miss it, if I were you.

The Friday Five(+1):The Four Leading Players of IS Productions' CLOSER
Britt Byrd

Britt Byrd

What was your first live onstage taste of theater? My late grandmother was a devoted advocate for the arts so my first memories of the theatre include regular trips to TPAC to see the Nashville Ballet, the Opera, and professional tours. The show that left a lasting impression was The Phantom of the Opera. I remember that chandelier rising and thinking, "This is magic and I want to make it, too."

What is your favorite preshow ritual? Music plays a big role in how I prepare for a performance, so I'm usually bundled up in a corner listening to a character playlist and running my lines.

What’s your most memorable the show must go on moment? When I was in Noises Off at Boiler Room Theatre, one of our actors went down mid-way through Act I with a sudden and violent stomach bug. We managed to get him through the second "backstage" act with buckets tucked just off stage so he could toss up his guts as needed, but by the second intermission, it was clear he needed to go to the emergency room. Our director put him in the car and the rest of the cast went on for Act III, each of us absorbing his lines, blocking and assorted business, and the audience was none the wiser. To this day, that particular performance remains in my Top Three favorite moments on stage. We were fighting for our lives that night but we gave a master class in The Show Must Go On. And it was pretty fitting that that happened during Noises Off.

What is your dream role? Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

Who is your theatrical crush? Nationally, it's a tie between Robyn Hurder and Josh Groban as Sweeney Todd. Locally, it's Blake Holliday.

Why should people come see CLOSER? Because we're all just trying to outlast the machine that's eating us feet-first, desperate for love and connection in an increasingly technocratic society. Closer is an unflinching look at love, betrayal, and the ways we struggle for softness in a world that wants to harden us.

The Friday Five(+1):The Four Leading Players of IS Productions' CLOSER
Ross Canales

Ross Canales

What was your first live onstage taste of theater? My first taste of live onstage theater was playing Mr. Brownlow in Oliver Jr. This was a production for my small elementary school when I was ten years old and continued ever sense. 

What is your favorite preshow ritual? My favorite preshow ritual would have to be the car karaoke on the way to the theater for each performance. It helps to calm my nerves and warm up my voice for whatever performance I may be doing. 

What’s your most memorable the show must go on moment? During the production of Grease during the song “Greased Lightning,” the cast and the band got off beat in a bad way. The band eventually stopped playing but the T-Birds sure didn't!

What is your dream role? I would love to someday be cast in the role of Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd. He is a powerful presence with complex emotion which would make him a fun character to embody. 

Who is your theatrical crush? I would have to say Jodie Comer is my theatrical crush. She is immensely talented, has an incredible ability to change characters in a moment, and her accents are more than impressive. She is more known for her film work but also for her role in the one-woman show Prima Facie.

Why should people come see CLOSER? Closer is one of the shows that people will watch and resonate with at least one part from personal experience. The characters go through such a range of emotion and growth that it's hard to like them at times, but in the same note can be very relatable. It is a show that will take you on a wild ride of feelings through the entire thing. 

The Friday Five(+1):The Four Leading Players of IS Productions' CLOSER
Jeremy James Carmichael

Jeremy James Carmichael

What was your first live onstage taste of theater? The first production I remember seeing as a little kid was The Nutcracker one December when I was too small to see above the person in front of me and too young to understand what was happening. What IS seared into my mind for eternity is the life-sized rats that came down the aisles for the fight scene with the Nutcracker Prince; I'm not sure if it's real or a memory I've chosen to create, but I swear that the rat-actors picked and poked audience members on the way to the stage and I was petrified. To this day I still have a visceral reaction every time I see that scene in a production. Parents, protect your kids!

What is your favorite preshow ritual? Sometimes I like to jog laps up and down the aisles of the theater listening to Tommy's finale (try it... it gets the party started). Sometimes I meditate. Sometimes I like to interrupt actors who take pre-show rituals too seriously. I'm a riot to work with!

What’s your most memorable the show must go on moment? I was playing the Dentist in a production of Little Shop of Horrors. One of the hanging backdrop curtains was apparently hung too close to a hot light. As I was getting ready for my first entrance of the show on opening night, and in that moment when I hear my cue line and take my first step onto the stage, I heard somebody behind me in an urgent whisper say, "Fire!!" I dare you to keep your focus when you smell smoke and hear someone say that behind you. Everyone survived, by the way. Except the curtain.

What is your dream role? I spent the first 40 years of my life dreaming of playing Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. From the time I was a ten-year-old boy through my adult career, I played every male character in that show, starting as a boy in the family, graduating through all the characters as I aged through the years. I had yet to play the Captain and was cast seven times with different companies as the understudy (Kids, don't give up your dreams). Finally, I played my dream role two summers ago and it was magical. Now I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. Maybe the title role in The Bodyguard. Definitely Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde. And who wouldn't want to ride in a flying car across the stage?

Who is your theatrical crush? Honestly, it's whoever I'm working with at the time; I always think there is so much to learn and so many ways to grow as an artist by working with incredible scene partners. Who are we as actors but a collection of the people we've worked with or the directors who've invested in us? I'm thankful for the community who has poured into me and built the actor I am today. I can always find something to learn or to celebrate about my co-stars.

Why should people come see CLOSER? I love a story that asks more questions than it answers; I think so much theater is formulaic that shows can become stagnant. The plot points go through the same expected litany of action and the resolution puts a nice bow on the ending. Closer shatters expectations and really forces audiences to ask: who are these characters, really? who is the villain? what are we willing to do for love? when is it OK to break the rules? what sacrifices are worth it in getting what you want? These are tough questions that Closer doesn't answer, but may help you think about in new light.

The Friday Five(+1):The Four Leading Players of IS Productions' CLOSER
Angela Gimlin

Angela Gimlin

What was your first live onstage taste of theater? I remember my mom putting me in elementary school talent shows. I sang “Over the Rainbow” as Dorothy one year and “Maybe” as Annie in another.

What is your favorite preshow ritual? I always get a “break a leg” text from my better half, Jeff. He's too good for me.

What’s your most memorable the show must go on moment? Probably when fight choreography was off one night during Dracula and I slapped Michael Adcock the wrong way and rung his bell.

What is your dream role? I haven't thought about that in a while. I think I'm more focused on working on original productions that make a statement. 

Who is your theatrical crush? Jeremy James Carmichael, Britt Byrd and Ross Canales 

Why should people come see CLOSER? It's an edgy, thoughtful, emotionally powerful show. It will make people uncomfortable. Nashville needs more of them.



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