Kopp & Robinson Gives Them Something to TALK About... AGAIN!
By Thomas G. Robinson
They say you shouldn’t write an article about your own production; that you may be too close to the subject matter to attempt to write a well balanced article. Bah! That’s never stopped me before!
I’m really proud of the show (going on now, and continuing through to April 30) at the Bakersfield Community Theatre, so prepare for some major unbalanced gushing over this play! By none other than… me, dammit!
It started with an idea between me, and the play’s star, Ryan DeCarolis (who is simply incredible as Barry Champlain!). Ryan had just finished starring in a one-act play (Stonewall by Nick Belardes) in the Random Writers show that I directed last December, and was now wrapping gifts during the holiday season at Russo’s Books to pass the time. We started talking about plays and such in-between customers, and came to realize that we both liked this play by Eric Bogosian.
Having just moved here from Boston and being an actor without anything to do, he suggested we try to get the play up and running. From my point of view, knowing he was going to be in it as ‘Barry’, the lead character, I set off to try to get the play squeezed in-between the scheduled productions at BCT. Luckily, I had the faith of a few of the board members, and it was in!
The auditions went without a hitch, and from what I was able to tell in casting, this was going to be a pretty good show filled with interesting characters. I was lucky enough to secure some well known local talent as well as some fantastic new talent who, I hope, will continue to act around town. I did ask a friend if he would join in and take this role, but he would never answer me directly… and auditions were coming to a close, would someone please step forward!!!
Enter James Kopp.
Well known in Bakersfield as a “one man production team”, he has singlehandedly (usually) written, directed, acted, and built the sets of pretty much everything he’s produced within the last three years that I've known him. After my continuous requests that he do it, he reluctantly agreed to play Barry’s sidekick, Stu Noonan. Now, at this point, it should be perfectly clear that anything that is going to be done under my direction, will be a crazy, unorganized, late, sloppy, who’s doing what?, are we prepared? - kinda show… and, as he has learned (or has he?) from past experiences working together (Jukebox Legends?) that working with me usually comes down to James doing what James does best - just go man, go!
And go he did. James took it upon himself to design and build the set. It is simply phenomenal. From the audience’s point of view, you can see a radio studio where the talk show hosts handle the calls, the booth where the station manager is overseeing all the action, and the desk where the producer lines up the calls. Then the magic happens. When the show starts into the phone calls, all of a sudden silhouettes of the callers appear on the walls of the radio station. Masterful! A triumph in set design!
The music is cool, too. The period is 1987, the setting is Cleveland, Ohio. It’s hard to do a period piece when the period is only a couple of decades ago. Now, that may seem easy to do, right? But, there are so many subtle differences from then and now, that if you put the wrong prop onstage, the discussion will become a geek-off! “I don’t think there was a computer mouse back then”. “Cell phones weren’t everywhere, only the uber-rich had them, and they were humongous!” “I don’t care how popular they were, I’m not wearing a Members Only jacket!”
The play may seem a bit dated to you, but there are many comments made by the characters that seem right on target to today’s politics and world situations! It’s strange that a few of the things mentioned in this play can now be considered pretty good predictions of things to come! I’ll let you figure those things out.
The show itself is entertaining and a joy to watch. It’s both funny and serious, a good time and a troubling time. You can go knowing that for less than the price of a movie ticket, you’re going to have a hell of a time!
It stars Ryan DeCarolis, James Kopp, Norman Colwell, Morgan S. Roy, Andrea G. Reeves, Steve Evans, Tim Fromm and Jennie Babcock. It features Christine Millan, Payne! Smith, John A. DeCarolis, Marie Colwell and Thomas G. Robinson. It also features the recorded talents of Adam Calvillo and Caroline Clark.
The poster reads that I directed this play – and whatever you read into that, feel free. Truth is, I could not have presented the high quality production that is this play, if not for the amazingly talented, and always dependable James Kopp. He is impossible to categorize. He is one of those guys that is so in love with the art of theatre, that he has taken the time, and mastered it. From writing and directing his own very popular productions (Super Villain, Geeks VS Zombies), to writing and hosting my show (Jukebox Legends) last year, to taking on a part in this play and becoming (for lack of a better title) my creative consultant, set designer, builder, prop guy, light guy, sound guy, and the list goes on and on and on.
By the time the show was set to open, James Kopp had definitely put his ‘stamp of excellence’ on this production, and I was/am eternally thankful.
Some people may think that because someone got that involved in your production, where does my vision end, and his begin? The truth is, everything that is in this play was approved by me. James would never be so bold as to make a decision, or create a major change in the play without consulting with me first. (Though he was given the power to do so by me, and he never took advantage of that.) The time he put into this production was amazing. I can’t thank him enough. But, I’ll try.
James Kopp means the world to me, and his friendship and insight is one thing I value above others. I enjoy his company as a friend, and respect him as a person. To be working with him again is a joy and an honor. I wanted to make sure I publicly stated that and that I thank him for all he’s done for me and for Talk Radio. So it is written…
Others that make this thing tick… Araceli Aguilar and Cynthia Ortega are the Stage Managers and sound board operators, James Kopp designed and built the set, Mark Flores and James Kopp designed the lights, Mark Flores controlled the light board, Music and FX were added by Thomas G. Robinson, additional sound and effects were done by Adam Calvillo. Props were done by Ed French, Ryan DeCarolis, Christine Millan and James Kopp. Photography throughout the production, as well as the photo used in the poster is by Laurin K. Lee Photography. Poster design by Nick Belardes.
I hope you come and see this play. You will get a chance to see what live theatre is all about, and you’ll be glad you did. The show opened to an enthusiastic crowd last weekend, and continues to play tonight at 8pm (house opens at 7:30), Saturday, April 22, EASTER SUNDAY AT 2:00PM (what are you going to do after church and egg hunting are done? Go see a play for Christ’s sake!), then next weekend beginning on Thursday, continuing on Friday, and closing on Saturday, April 30.
Tickets are $10! All this entertainment for ten bucks! Incredible! Just go to the box office and you’ll be able to buy your tickets with cash or checks. Also, tickets are being sold at Russo’s Books at The Marketplace! They take cash, checks and credit cards!
The Bakersfield Community Theatre is California’s Oldest Continuous Running Local Theatre, having been around since 1927, and never failing to open their doors since. They are located at 2400 South Chester Avenue in the 93304 zip code. Reservations are strongly recommended, which you can do by calling 831.8114.
I hope you come to the show. I hope you have a good time. And if you don’t come to our show, I hope you support another local theatre around town.
Wow. This wasn’t really an article after all. But, if you don’t tell on me – I won’t either.