This post is inspired by a identically titled post by Devon Solorow Cox, a wonderful girl I had the honor of calling one of my freshmen while at Ithaca College. To read her post (which is much more eloquently written than mine) click this link
So why this post? Well it's been an interesting weekend for me. Since last thursday I've seen two shows, both of which were in the development stage and had broadway starlets in the cast, I drove from Auburn NY, to Brooklyn NY, to Allentown PA. I moved into my father's house and began organizing my life for my upcoming NYC move on September 1st. I wrote a blog post about the dangers of contact slaps in theatre which has now been read over 10,000 times in the last 48 hours (which is far more traffic than anything else I've ever created in any medium, ever), I was hired to be a background extra for the TV show Smash
this morning, and have since caught a bus to NYC and am now back on Manhattan thinking about what it all means.
Holy crap. That's a big ol' weekend. However it's been a big ol' three months. Really a big ol' year. One year ago today I was in my final week of preparations for my senior year in college. I was living with Priya Iyer, John Gardner
, and Elizabeth Hake, and was ready for the greatest year of my life. I was preparing for fall auditions (I REALLY wanted to be in Plumfield, Iraq and I was, so yay!), and I had just been called down for Next Broadway Star
, a musical theatre competition run by Broadway.tv. This competition is still on-going by the way, I'm now a semi-finalist and waiting for the next round to be scheduled. I had no idea what it would be like to be a mentor to Evan Arbor and Taj Harvey, and as it turned out, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My little brothers are all-stars and if their names ever come across your desk, hire them immediately.
Where am I going with this? I'm not really sure, but as a man who makes a habit of playing his cards close to his chest, I feel like I'm going to burst. I went to school for the first time in the fall of 1992. Every single fall since then I have returned to a scholastic atmosphere, be it Waynflete School in Portland Maine, or Ithaca College in Upstate New York. This fall? I move into my first "real person apartment" and find a job. What? That's not real. That's the kind of thing that gives me nightmares. In fact, it's the kind of thing that causes me to weep in the middle of the night for no reason, to call my parents and blubber about how this world is crazy, and to sit at home alone and wish someone, anyone, was present to hang out and steal my brain away from the impending terror that is the real world.
Now after all of that, it's not entirely bad. I am so anxious for the real world to begin, in a way that I have never experienced before. Every fiber of my being tingles with excitement and anticipation at flying into this world guns blazing. I have never been more ready for anything in my entire life. I am luckier than many in this profession. I have worked consistently since I graduated, in fact I have spent only two unemployed weekends since May. I don't say this to toot my own horn, it is to say I have no reason to be as trepidatious as I am. Yet I am terrified.
I am full on, crazy, flat-f***ing terrified of what might come, and also so excited for that terror to come to actualization, or not. Those two emotions course through my veins like a fire ready to burst out. I feel like a million dollars, and a pile of dung all at the same time, I am, in a nutshell, a college graduate.
Cute animal slapping photos are funny
“It’s okay, just slap me. I don’t mind.”
Those words strike fear into the heart of every fight director I know.
Right now there is a trend that I have been seeing, one which might be called an attempt at "realism" in theatre, or more likely a money-saving attempt by a theater company to cut the "staged" part out of staged combat moments. In other words, when it comes time to slap someone on stage, directors, actors, producers, choreographers, whoever are becoming more and more comfortable with really doing it.
I have met very few fight directors who approve of this measure, so my only way of justifying it is to say that theaters are less and less willing to hire a fight director for a show. A notion that I get suspicious about especially at Equity theaters where they are required to do so. Often I find the director is trained, or even "trained" and does it for his or herself. Now I'm not one to doubt the abilities of someone, but as a fight director, I will simply say this: I hope you're the Michael Bennett of staged combat if you're going to play that card.
So when I see a show, and I know it contains a fight of some kind, and there is no one listed as “fight director” or “choreographer” or whatever in the program? I know there is something rotten in Denmark. Why is it that when an actor says “It’s okay, just slap me” the director goes, “GREAT!” and the fight director’s job is no longer needed? Worse, however, is when the director says, “Oh just slap them, it’s one slap.” There is literally no other non-violent profession in this country where a boss can say that and have it be okay. I am trained extensively to tell you that it’s not okay, that there is a ton that can go wrong. I’m not saying that every real slap is going to injure an actor. I’d say that 95% of the time, it will all be fine, maybe even 99%. But do you really want to take that 1-5% chance every time you put your show on its feet in front of an audience?
Before you answer that, let me just give you a couple of examples, they are extreme, but they are relevant.
Kudos to those who understand this reference
Those words used to sound dirty to me. "Stuck in Limbo" just sounds like nothing's happening, and nothing's moving on. I was worried that's where I'd be at this point in my life, which is after my summer engagements have ended, and before I've moved to NYC, in other words, just waiting for September 1st without any forward progress possible. Of course that's a ridiculous thing to worry about, this is me we're talking about, I never stop doing something, even if it's getting really really good at "Space is Key 2
" (before you snicker, that game ROCKS).
However right now, I find myself having a few minutes for me. I find myself cleansing my thoughts, organizing not only my life, but my brain. I've become increasingly despising of Paul Ryan (if you're friends with me on facebook, then you know all about that), and I've had some time to reflect on just where I am as a person.
My name is Ned Donovan and I am 23 years old. I am a graduate of Waynflete School in Portland Maine, though not with honors (sorry Mom and Dad). I am a graduate of Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre and I graduated Cum Laude (hope that made up for it). Prior to graduating Waynflete I was an athlete, a singer, a debater, a musical arranger, an actor, a dancer (sort of), a New England sports fan, and a lover of all things video games. After graduating Waynflete and arriving at Ithaca I was...an athlete, a singer, a debater, a musical arranger, an actor, a dancer (sort of), a New England sports fan, and a lover of all things video games. So what's changed? Not really anything. That's awesome. I hope it's a good thing, but I feel like I have not changed since high school, merely evolved, adapted, become a more realized, fully fleshed version of myself. I have become more adept at what I do well.
I have worked to turn what I do well into a career. Talk to me in 5 years and I'll let you know how that turns out. Right now I am paid to do what I love, which is act, sing, dance, and punch people in a remarkably fake manner so that an audience believes I just broke someone's nose. Oh wait, I get paid to do what I enjoyed when I was 5.
The Cockney Quartet in My Fair Lady
Well it's about that time, eh chaps? My Fair Lady is coming to a close, only 6 shows left and one of our wonderful cast members (John Little) is leaving us early to go do Oliver Twist at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ. His understudy will be great but it feels like the end of a great thing. I don't tend to get nostalgic about shows, I think what's magical about them is that they run, and the they close, and they live in people's memories, for good or bad, forever. This one, though, deserves to keep going. Every review we've had, every post-show comment has been that this show is one of Merry-Go-Round's greatest accomplishments. Everything about this show from the ground up is perfect. So this one ending is more bittersweet. I love that all shows come to an end, but this one deserves to be seen by more people before it goes.
Yes, I am moving on to another classic at another phenomenal theater, and I can not wait to get started on Of Thee I Sing at the Theater at Monmouth, but I will miss the Merry-Go-Round, dearly. If you are in the upstate NY region, please come see our show, you won't regret it.
Within the next 20 days everything changes for me. I move to NYC to start my life there, I become car-less for the first time since I was 15, and I begin truly trying to make it in this crazy CRAZY industry.
I can not wait.
For now, I hope I get chances to be a part of productions as special as this one for years and years to come. Oh and if you're a broadway producer? You should move this production to the great white way;) I'm just saying.
So here's the big night, it's opening for My Fair Lady
at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse! I'm so blessed to be a part of this amazing cast, crew, and theatre and can't wait to get an audience in here to see this! The show is absolutely beautiful (it would be, it's designed by Ithaca College alum and all around brilliant designer David Arsenault) and the performances are stunning. Kim Burns as Eliza Doolittle is a force to be reckoned with, and Will Erat (Broadway's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
, and Catch Me If You Can
) gives a completely fresh, and new interpretation to Henry Higgins which is sure to leave you all breathless. If you are in the upstate NY area, this is not a show you want to miss. For more info, visit the official website for the production and buy some tickets!
All the information can be found at: http://merry-go-round.com/2012-season/my-fair-lady/
If you do come out to see the show, let me know!
My best to everyone!
Tybalt (Justin Lantz) and Benvolio (Josh Sedelmeyer) in Romeo and Juliet
This past week, the Ithaca Shakespeare Company opened Love Hurts, their 2012 summer season. This season features 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Taming of the Shrew' performed in repertory.
I was the fight director on both productions alongside Nick Shuhan, and I can tell you they're both fantastic! Do be sure to go see them out at the Cornell Plantations, and support great local theatre! Shows are Thursday - Sunday at 6pm. For the schedule of which show is which night, please visit www.ithacashakespeare.org
Well here we are, it's July 9th, which means I've been graduated for almost 7 weeks now. It's amazing how good I feel with my 7 week post-college life, because a TON has happened. To recap, since graduating from Ithaca College I have:
- Moved out of my house in Ithaca, my stuff now resides at my father's house in Allentown, PA.
- Fight Choreographed two full shakespeare plays along with Nick Shuhan for the Ithaca Shakespeare Company
- Moved to Maine and back into my Mom's house
- Moved Mom out of that house and into a new house
- Learned, Rehearsed, Opened, and Closed a brand new Burt Bacharach musical at the Hackmatack Playhouse
- Worked 20 hour weeks for Ted Arcand and the Dogfish Company while in Maine
- Moved back to Ithaca, where I currently am couch surfing and finishing the fight choreography for the Ithaca Shakespeare Company, Taming of the Shrew opens on Wednesday, and Romeo and Juliet opens on Thursday.
On Wednesday, instead of going to the opening for ISC I head out to Auburn NY, about 45 minutes away, where I'm moving into a new apartment to begin my 5 week contract with the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. There I will be a member of the Ensemble and in the Quartet for My Fair Lady
. After that, life may slow down, or may speed up exponentially. I am moving at least briefly to Allentown with my Dad to get my life in order and prepare for my big move to NYC. At the end of August I'll be heading back to Portland for a weekend to a.) celebrate my amazing girlfriend Priya Iyer's birthday, she's turning 22 and happens to be at the Maine State Music Theatre as an Arts Apprentice this summer, and b.) to put on a 2 person cabaret along with my dear friend Genevieve Myers. We'll be doing a two person "Broadway Hopefuls" concert at the Dinner Theater we worked at for 2 years through high school, Anthony's Dinner Theater and Wonderful World of Broadway. After that, I up and move to NYC on September 1st and will begin the next chapter of my life as an actor in the big bad city!
Whew, that's a lot to handle in 3 months. I am so blessed to have had these opportunities immediately post college. It's so easy sometimes to look at those who are just as fortunate as I and say, "what are they doing that I'm not?" but that's foolish. I am a gainfully employed actor and fight director in a variety of shows and companies. I have been very blessed to be surrounded by talented, hard-working people, and to be given such support by my friends and family.
Burt and Me has just wrapped up its first weekend and the responses have been great! We've had all sorts of people (who generally don't come to the theatre) coming out to the Hackmatack Playhouse to experience the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David like never before! The cast and crew of this wonderful little show have been working super hard to make sure that the show is fun and carefree and that everyone will have a good time! It seems that the hard work has paid off! We received our first review the other day from Tourist News here in Southern Maine, and the full page spread agrees, Burt and Me is a must-see show this summer!To read the full review click here
So if you're in the New England area and want to come have a great, feel-good time with the wonderful music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, then come on down to the Hackmatack Playhouse Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm. We also have a Thursday matinee at 2pm. There's only one weekend left, so don't regret missing this fantastic show!
Enough family and friends have been stopping me recently to ask me what I've been up to. When I let them know, they always say the same thing, "plug me into whatever list you have so I know when you have shows and can try and come see them!" To send out individual emails to everyone whose asked would take up most of my time, and to create and maintain an email list sounds systematically tedious. So I've created a form on my Contact
page which will add you to my new Email Newsletter. It's not a weekly or a monthly or anything like that, but when something cool happens that I think people would want to know about, I'll send out an email blast to let you all know! Subscribing is as simple as putting in your name and email address, and then clicking a confirmation email.
Thanks so much for all of your support and I hope this helps me keep in contact with those who are interested!
My best to all,
A Fountain near New World Stages
If you had asked me 3 years ago what life would be like, I would have spouted tales of glory. Agents would be crawling on their knees for my talent, casting directors would be crying out my name as they cast me in three different broadway shows and a national tour...all at the same time.
In other words, I was a naive, conceited human being.
Today I find myself more reflective, calmed down person. Showcase is over. This is a fact that hasn't sink in yet. Showcase is over. With it the last act of my college career, and the first affirmation that yes, I am going to do this with my life. A new chapter starts on Sunday but it may as well be today. What do I have to do on Sunday but passively receive my diploma? I have no more active goals while at IC, and that fact is terrifying. What happens next? Before, my head was filled with thoughts of showcase and I forgot to look farther. Recently I began my plan, my path forward post Ithaca College, and with it I've found a sense of peace and zen. I'm so happy with my responses out of showcase and so proud of my classmates for theirs as well. The Ithaca College Class of 2012 is about to take the world by storm and I'm so excited to graduate alongside this amazing group of people. Next week I will be able to proudly announce myself as an Ithaca Alum and stand proudly beside my fellow members of 2012. Congratulations to my peers, I'm so proud of all of you.
~ Ned Donovan
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