Yesterday we closed our five-week run of this British farce by Ray Cooney at the Torrance Theatre Company. I played the lead character, John Smith, a taxi driver trying to get "...away with having two wives in different areas of London because of his irregular working schedule." Despite receiving one lukewarm review with one rave one, it was a welcome gift to hear all the laughter we received from our audiences throughout our run as we mugged, ran, fell and leap into each other's arms and couches, and otherwise performed with wild abandon the story of this insane plot.
But probably the best thing about being a part of this production was getting to work with this group of actors. Some were friends I'd already done shows with while a few others were folks I'd known well but we'd never worked on stage together before. Over two and a half months of rehearsals and then performances, we wined and dined together, karaoked together, went to the movies, toasted after shows with scotch whiskey, Jose Cuervo and dark chocolate, bickered, and even helped move two in to their new home. We became that neat thing that you hope happens when you get cast in a new show: a family.
To help promote our show, I designed a logo (the Union Jack-styled one at the top) and some web banners and collages that I shared on social media including Instagram (and included in my Portfolio). As I designed these elements, the back of my brain also started percolating ideas for what to do creatively for opening and/or closing night.
I try to do something special for each play I'm cast in if I can, something unique and unexpected to hand out to the cast and crew to help buoy our enthusiasm opening a show or to thank them for the experience as I've enjoyed sharing those past several weeks laughing and working together. Past pieces have ranged from compilation CDs to illustrated note cards to elaborate custom pop-up cards. Some recent examples can be seen by scrolling to the bottom of my Portfolio page.
Having been cast as the lead and thus tasked with memorizing a bulk of lines for the show, I didn't have a generous amount of time to come up with anything more elaborate for opening night than graphics for a card. Fortunately, in the course of a couple of afternoons working on it, playing off one of my character's lines in the play, I felt like I'd come up with something suitably punny and worthwhile.
Then, after we opened our show, my weeknights were no longer filled with rehearsals and during that free time, an idea for a closing night gift started to gel inside my brain.
I'd been cast as the lead in a British farce once before. I played Dr. Prentice in Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw for Palos Verdes Players. For that production, I'd created artwork (shown at left) that was used for publicity and on cast and crew tee-shirts.
That's when the idea to do a similar illustration came about. Only this time, rather than a line drawing of caricatures of the cast of characters, I challenged myself with doing a fully-rendered illustration featuring likenesses of this cast. It's something that I really hadn't done much before to the degree I aimed for. And because I'd obviously want to do them justice, moving forward it sort of stressed me out! But that's a good thing.
Working on it over several days, I was really happy with the way the Run for Your Wife cast poster turned out. I kept it a secret until I finally handed each one of the cast and crew their rolled up poster. It was fun - and a relief - to see their surprised, happy faces as they set their eyes upon the finished piece. The poster art's below, the cast illustrated by hand in pencil before scanning the art to finish in Photoshop and Illustrator. The quotes scattered about each head are from the play, said by our characters and that got amongst the most laughs from our audiences. They were another way to remember the fun we had performing Run.
I've been fortunate to have been cast in scores of theatre shows for many, many years now, each time appreciating the chance to flex those creative muscles that I wouldn't normally exercise just sitting in front of my iMac or at my drafting table being Mr. Designer Guy. Working in theatre also allows me the chance to meet and work with so many talented and generous people, in most cases volunteering their time and talent to the community for the love of the art. This group and this experience on TTC's Run for Your Wife was among the very best I've ever enjoyed! Thanks, Gary R., Gary K., Amanda, Jennifer, Geoff, Tim, Danny, Rachel, Linda, Lisa, Cary and Gia!
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!