Ragnarok'n'Roll, Blog #5

Blog Entry #5: Ragnarok’n’Roll

                Casting is one of my favorite parts of this process. It is when I get to hear my words in the mouths of others for the first time. It’s when I get to see characters I envisioned come to life and surprise me with complexities I never imagined. This is the reward of playwriting that makes me so love the medium. If I were to write a novel, I would miss the thrill of watching an actor step in upon my writing with their talent. We were fortunate in our audition process to be gifted with a large pool of talent that called for some difficult decisions and a happy conclusion.

                The cast we’ve assembled is young, talented and hungry for the work. I would also venture to say they’re easy on the eyes. Yes, I wrote myself a large role with lots of stirring music and a fantasy-laden story of magic gold, Rhine maidens and atom bombs. I plead no contest: I was pre-cast in the role of Aleric.

Taking on the role of Ivana, Aleric’s closest friend, is Chelsea West. Here is a girl with star quality. She looks like a fashion model, sings like a Baptist and does it all with striking ease and charisma. Playing the lone supernatural in the cast, we have Philly Gay Men’s Chorus baritone Eric Oliver as Odin. His dulcet classically trained voice distinguishes him from the mere mortals of SAGA. Tribe of Fools and Enchantment Theatre Alum Zachary Chiero darts from role to role in SAGA, applying his smooth pop-tenor voice to the role of Patrick, then warbling out a rendition of Rule Britannia as England’s favorite Iron Lady.

Then we have the Wagners. As the overzealous, neoconservative antagonist, Vanessa Wagner, we have Valerie Jonkoff. Her actual sweet mild mannered demeanor is well concealed in SAGA as she shakes the chandeliers belting about the evils of homosexuality. And, as her younger brother, Troy, we have University of the Arts senior, Dan Kiernan. Hearing his voice soar through my music has been such a treat, and he’s an incredibly giving scene partner who has truly brought Troy to life in a way that thrills me as a writer.

All that being said, the rehearsal process has been an exciting endeavor which has enabled me to take a look at the show and consider how best to improve it. The talents of the cast and the artistic team have given me all kinds of ideas for how to refine this show so it can, hopefully, work toward a full production.

This will be my final blog for this project. The rehearsal process is over and the performances have begun. The show, as it stands, is out of my hands until its next incarnation. It belongs, now, to you: The audience. This is the part that scares me most. This is the part where I stand before you to be judged. Some of you will love the show, some of you will hate it. It will be compared to “Coming”. It will impress and disappoint. Some of you will compliment me, others of you will keep your opinions to yourselves. And I’ve given you permission to do it all; To raise me up or tear me down. While I'm writing and rehearsing these shows, I forget what an intensely vulnerable thing it is to put them out in front of people. All my neuroses and psychoses laid bare and set to music. I have worked to put this show in front of you. I hope you enjoy it, but most of all I hope you’ll talk about it.

The saga of SAGA is far from over… But our world premiere concert reading will conclude this Saturday, so get tickets now!

-Erik Ransom
Resident Artist 2012

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