UPSTAGED – THE SERIES EPISODE 6 POP QUIZ

Every once in a while I like to do a fun little thing I call The Upstaged – The Series Pop Quiz, where I ask questions about a specific episode to challenge your recollection of some of the finer plot points and also remind viewers of some of the best parts of those episodes. And, for those of you reading this who have never watched our show, why are you reading this? It makes no sense until you’ve seen the episodes! I mean, kudos for participating and I love you to death but, really, you should see the episodes before you take a quiz on it. You can check it out on our YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRobCIcUT9RV4gIsMi_yOZA. And I’m really glad you’re here. But go watch the episodes.

These quizzes are more for serious fans of the show.  There should be a name for those people who really can’t get enough of Upstaged – The Series, and the staff of the Calhoun Theater. You know, like Beliebers? What about Calhounds? That do anything for anybody? Well, if you think you have something better than CALHOUNDS, by God, then leave it in the comment box and I’ll be the judge of that.

Anyway, here are the answers to the last quiz, epically titled “The Upstaged – The Series Episode 5 Pop Quiz!” Or maybe it wasn’t. I could go back and check but that would really only delay getting to the good stuff. And here it is!

EPISODE 5 POP QUIZ ANSWERS:

  1. Is ‘Taterface’ a real or made up Urban Dictionary word? It’s completely made up and kind of rude!
  2. Which two members of the final crew lineup do not appear in the lineup at the beginning of Episode 5? Barry and Lou
  3. What does Liz threaten to castrate Michael with? A curling iron
  4. Why can’t Kelly wear black backstage? It’s not really complimentary to her skin tone
  5. What does Bethany say to Teri that alters their relationship…forever!? Of course it’s “Not really.”
  6. What Broadway star does Lou claim to have made love to? Patti Lupone
  7. What is the second item Duane pulls from his thermos when he first sees the dog? It’s an apple.
  8. Is Michael racist? No. He’s just busy.
  9. Which of the following is NOT a disease that can be found on a dog’s tongue? Dysentery
    1. Tapeworm
    2. Dysentery
    3. Salmonella
  10. What is the name of the competing theatre where the dog leads Jen and Desmond? Arts Alive!

How did you do? Well, you have another chance right now because here it is: *drum roll* The Upstaged – The Series Episode 6 Pop Quiz!

  1. What is Barry doing on stage when he announces the audience is in “the presence of greatness?”
  2. What does Greg show Billy to demonstrate the state of Kelly’s cervical mucus?
  3. What does Cat compare her friend’s new face to?
  4. According to Cat, what are the top 5 ways to meet people?
  5. What does a Dorito do that everyone hates?
  6. What is the name of Teri’s anime character?
  7. What is Liz’s team slogan that Billy claims is too long to fit on a t-shirt?
  8. How long has Miss Ogilvie been with the Calhoun Theater?
  9. What book is Miss Ogilvie reading when Billy tries to fire her?
  10. Billy murders to cliché phrases in the balcony scene with Liz. How does he mangle them?

And there they are! Hope you have as much fun re-watching Episode 6 to get the answers!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget about our movie premiere of the final three episodes of season one! This is the only event we’re showing these episodes and your tickets give you access to our wrap party after!  Get all the information by visiting https://upstaged.yapsody.com/event/index/225856/season-finale-premiere-and-wrap-party

Jeff

 

Now Playing

Subscribers to our You Tube channel know this, and maybe you’ve seen it in passing (maybe you’ve even ‘thumbs downed’ it); in conjunction with the release of episode 10, my creative partner Joel Bennett and I announced that it would be our last episode to be released online.

We went back and forth about this for quite a while. After all, the original intent had been to make a web series that we would release in its entirety online, hoping that it would get in front of people who had the passion and financial resources to help us continue the series.

As we progressed through the season, however, we realized we had somehow been fortunate enough to pull together an incredibly talented staff of actors and behind-the-camera professionals who were somehow able to make comedy gold out of what I had written. We had a really, really good show on our hands.

More discussions were had, with the possibility that Upstaged – The Series was at a quality that made it competitive with several shows already on the air. Maybe there would be interest from one of the many, many streaming services out there, all hungry for content, who would want to purchase the first season of our show in its entirety. I mean, maybe not, but this is the stuff dreams are made of, people.

And that raised another question: Would a streaming service be interested in buying a show where every episode was available online for free?

We thought not. So the decision was made, reluctantly, to withhold the remaining three episodes of our 13-episode first season as motivational incentive for interested buyers.

But that brought with it another complexity. Upstaged – The Series was made possible by the commitment of the cast and crew, who largely volunteered their time and talents to make a great show. It was also invested in by the families of those cast and crew members, as well as the many wonderful people who donated via our gofundme campaign to help defray the costs of production. What about them? A show written to be watched as one long story, abruptly cut off at perhaps the biggest cliffhanger of the season? Didn’t they deserve to see how it all comes out? As my wife suggested, wouldn’t we, by making the decision to not air the final three episodes, come off as, for lack of a better word: dicks?

We wrestled with that question and came up with huge yes’s all around. It was unfair to not allow people who loved our show to see the ending of our first season. Fortunately, with the help of Woodstock Classic Cinemas, we are going to be able to fix that.

In May, 2017, we rented out a 150 seat theatre in Woodstock to show our first two episodes and premiere the third episode of Upstaged – The Series, as a fundraiser/thank you to everyone who had helped us to tell our first complete chapter. The event all but sold out, and throughout our filming we’ve fielded repeated requests to hold another movie event.

On May 23, almost exactly one year later, we’ll be premiering the final three episodes at the Woodstock Classic Cinemas in Woodstock, IL. This time it’s a 190-seat theatre. This time, all three episodes will have never been seen. This time, it’s the wrap up to our first season, and all your questions will be answered.

If you’re interested in attending our premiere, with appearances by cast and crew members and an after-party following the movie, head on over to our Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/1914910958581972/. Tickets are extremely limited and are going fast so do not sit on this because once they’re gone, we’re gone and you won’t have another chance to see the ending until it’s on a streaming service.

Thank you again to everyone who has participated in any way in helping us make this dream a reality. I hope you love what’s coming next.

Thanks for reading. If you feel like it, share Upstaged – The Series with one person you know today who hasn’t seen the show.

 

Jeff

 

An Open Letter To Everyone I Know (And Some People I Don’t Know)

Dear You,

So maybe you’ve watched episodes of Upstaged – The Series and thought to yourself, “Hey! That’s me! That sonofa…he put me in Upstaged and he’s making fun of me!” Maybe you heard an exact conversation we had replayed on your TV/computer screen. Maybe, just maybe, you think I took your name and used it for a character.

To answer these concerns in the order they’re presented here: No, yes, and DEFINITELY yes.

There’s an old saying about writing, write what you know. Well, in creating an entire fictional world, such as the Calhoun Theatre and its (ever growing) cast of characters, I choose to write WHO I know.

I mean, the whole purpose of the series is to relay those stories and people that I’ve encountered through more than a decade in community theatre, right? Admittedly, if you’ve been following the series, that’s more of a jumping-on point than anything else, but nevertheless.

The important thing to remember is that I am not depicting a specific person in the series. During a recent filming session, an actor said “this character is basically me.” And he had a point. A lot of what I used in building the character came directly from what I knew or surmised about the actor I ultimately hired to play him. But that’s not to say it is a fictional representation of the person themselves.

Let’s put it this way. Say you are an interesting person (and I know you are, so shut it!). Say I am looking to write an interesting character. I have to build the character from the outside in, and since I admire you and your individuality, I’ll take bits and pieces of your personality, mix it with one or two bits from someone else’s personality, and create a framework for the character. But here’s the thing: The character often takes on a life of his/her own and develops their own unique personality. So from what I took from you, I created something entirely new. You may recognize aspects of yourself, and I hope you do, and I hope you see it for what it is – – an homage (a homage? Who knows) to a person that I in some way admire.

Now, for the second part – – Nothing sounds more honest, and contains more insight into the human conditions, than the actual conversations we have with each other. There’s a ton of dialogue and characters’ opinions that I created out of whole cloth. Duane’s prom night disaster and Billy’s inability to focus for more than five seconds at a time.

But there are other conversations and opinions that I have taken directly from my own opinions, or opinions of those around me. As my wife says, “I can’t even have a conversation with you or it will end up in Upstaged.” Which is completely not true! I’ve only used about a third of our conversations.

I have to save something for season two, you know.

Finally, I am TERRIBLE at coming up with character names. So, in many cases, the characters in Upstaged are named after actual people I know. In one case, it is literally the person’s name. In other cases, I’ve used a first name and made up a second. That doesn’t mean the character is meant to represent the actual person. Only that the names have NOT been changed to protect the innocent, as Sgt. Joe Friday used to not say.

So why I am I spilling the Ancient Secrets of Writing? Well, partly because I think it’s interesting to see how the act of creation is accomplished, at least in my case. You may have an entirely different process, and I’d love to hear about it!

Secondly, it’s finally seeped into my conscious that people might have mixed feelings about seeing aspects of themselves that I’ve pilfered to create the characters that populate Upstaged – The Series. If that’s the case, and you’re reading this blog, rest assured I have the utmost respect for you and, in the cases where I’ve gone a step to far and hurt your feelings, I apologize.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t funny.

Thanks for reading! Please keep sharing the episodes with someone who might not know us, and I’ll see you next time!

Jeff

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING

So, I bet you’re wondering where episode 10 is?

We released episode 9 in December and had hoped that by now you’d be laughing along with the staff of the Calhoun Theatre in their landmark 10th episode. Unfortunately, as sometimes happen, schedules and delays got in the way and so we, for the first time in the HISTORY of our show, missed a month. Two months, actually. But what’s 30 days between friends.

Well, hold on to your hats, because 10 should be out VERY soon, and I can promise you it’s more than worth the wait. You see, Episode 10 isn’t just a typical episode. This one changes the game in a big way, revealing surprises and twists that we think you’ll really like.

Let me backtrack a minute.

In the ‘he’s been writing these so long he’s starting to repeat himself’ department, here’s your Upstaged – The Series hack for the day: If you’re not watching the whole series, you’re not getting the whole story.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy our show episode by episode. I mean, these characters are engaging enough on their own that you’re guaranteed an entertaining 25 minutes or so, but the series was written to be enjoyed from beginning to end. It is, essentially, one long story and things that happened in the first episode will pay off down the road. So if you’ve watched a random episode, say, episode 6, and were wondering what the heck was happening, then you should go back and start watching at Episode 1. Because it all makes sense if you start from the beginning. Okay? Okay!

But in case you’re new to the Upstaged family (and if so, hello you, wow those shoes are awesome!) here’s what’s happened so far. Keep in mind this is only a summary, and for all the best bits and jokes you’ll have to watch the actual episodes.

***

When we first meet the cast of Upstaged – The Series, they are having a typical weekly meeting at the Calhoun Theatre, a local community theatre located in the heart of the Midwest that comes with its own legend of a ghostly actress who died in a flaming analogy of fame at the turn of the 20th century.  A weekly meeting means lots of distractions and not actually getting much done. The staff are:

Billy Cavanaugh – Theatre Manager
Liz Rabbie – House Manager
Teri Jensen – Crew Manager
Jen Simmons – Lighting Designer
Desmond Moreno – Head of Security
Duane Packer – Facility Engineer

Life for the staff of the Calhoun Theatre is turned upside down by the arrival of a new owner, Moises Predux. Now, Moises is not just a new owner. He’s a former New York theatre bigwig who has a reputation for being demanding and cutthroat and, so, you know, everything has to be PERFECT.

Which is all well and good, until the staff discovers a homeless family living in the theatre. On the day the new owner arrives, unexpectedly, for a tour.  Meanwhile, the local theatre company president, Marion Barbnut, has received a letter from Moises stating that the theatre will be creating all productions in-house, and her services are no longer needed.

Typical sitcom hijinks ensue as the staff tried to hide the homeless family from the new owner. Of course the ruse is discovered, and the team learns a lesson about respecting people and their circumstances. Moises is willing to give the staff a second chance.

In preparation for the new season, the staff interviews candidates for new crew positions and hires five new members, while Moises brings in his nephew Michael to run the day to day operations. Michael is not what you’d call a people person, and tensions quickly ratchet up, particularly between him and Liz, the House Manager. That tension increases when Michael announces the first show of the season will be Mannie, a re-visioning of the classic musical ‘Annie’, with the orphans cast as boys. And the orphanage replaced with a ‘school for mages.’

As if this weren’t enough, staff at the theatre start experiencing ghostly voices and apparitions, and fears that the building’s ghost, Eliza, has returned to haunt the theatre. Desmond brings in his brother-in-law, the host of an internet web series called ‘The Unhauntinators’ (200 subscribers!) to investigate. While the paranormal investigators don’t uncover a ghost (despite the fact that they actually interview Eliza), they do uncover a plot: Marian Barbnut has been haunting the theatre, Scooby Doo-style, in the hopes that the resulting bad press would force Moises to go back to the way things were. Marian goes to jail because I don’t know how laws work.

And what is Moises up to? He seems to make decisions that help the theater one second, and hurt the theater the next. In the midst of preparing the new season, Moises makes the decision to host a banquet in hopes of drumming up interest for, and financial support of, the Calhoun Theatre.

The staff is completely off-balance, a situation made only worse with the arrival of Teri’s new boyfriend, Rick, and personal and professional issues with the new crew. The chaos comes to a head when Penny Jenelle, Moises’ assistant, provides Jen with a link to a video featuring Liz’s spectacular meltdown during an off-Broadway production.

Meanwhile, preparations for the staging of Mannie continue; auditions are held, and a director, Darren Leake, is hired. Darren has what could loosely be called a volatile temper and is eventually fired, leaving the staff without a director only weeks before opening night.

***

So there you are, everything you need to know about where our characters stand as we prepare for Episode 10. Believe me, you won’t want to miss this one. If you only watch one episode of Upstaged – The Series, make it episodes 1-9 and then this one. Because it’s all connected.

Thanks for reading, please keep watching and sharing Upstaged – The Series with people who don’t know about us! www.upstagedtheseries.com

Jeff

 

When You Give All The Heart

Blog Entry by April Noel

While scrolling through my Facebook feed one night I read “looking for a production assistant to help out with screen tests and auditions” posted by Jeff Cook. My first reaction was to help out my friend, not knowing anything about the project. I ended up auditioning after everyone had gone and was cast as Mary Benz.

While filming Episodes 1-3 I got to wake up every day for a week excited to go to work with a group of people who loved and care about what we were creating. Though there was a lot of laughter; there was also a good deal of seriousness about the production to be genuine, accurate and true to the people we were representing in this industry and in a sense each other.

A group of misfit toys creating a love story about a place that provides a space to be accepted; maybe even envied. As community actors stand on a stage for little to no pay except the sound of applause that gives reassurance that they are good. Where complete strangers collaborate begin working as fine-tuned machine that preforms their task as well as being able to help others. As well as those who sift through plays and musicals to choose a production to bring to life.

While also representing people who put their hearts not just put into the productions but also into the structure of the building. A 120 year old building filled with laughter, sighs, gasps of amazements, though all cleaned through a state of the art filtration system which may or may not have something to do with the lemon smell in the curtains. In our own way thanking those who repaint the stage, clean up in row E balcony and rebuild the walls on the sides of the bathrooms. Those I call the theatre ninjas; if you didn’t see how they got the job done, then they did it right. While doing all this through cute, bubbly, odd, crazy, controlling, inventive, scary comedic timing (I will let you decided which character brought which personality) and lessons learned.

It gave me such great joy to perform with people that I have tread the boards with in the past as well as making new connections. I watched so many talented individuals bring this creation to life in an inviting and positive atmosphere, even in times of frustration. Being a part of this production gives me great pride as an actress, a member of the theatre community and as a friend.

Maggie Smith has been quoted “I like the ephemeral thing about the theatre, every performance is like a ghost – it’s there and then it’s gone.” That is kind of how I felt about my time on UpStaged the Series but I would add to that quote with, “but if the encounter makes a big enough impression, you will remember it for many years to come.” See you at the theatre!

EPISODE 5 POP QUIZ

Hey, guess what it’s been forever since we’ve had here on this blog? Well, if you read the title, I really just don’t know what to tell you.

You all remember Episode 5, right? It’s the one that introduces Michael Predux! It’s the dog episode! It’s the one where Jen and Desmond get egged! Sure, you know it. At least the bare outlines. But how well do you reeeallly know it? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out!

But first, you probably want to know the answers to the Pop Quiz on Episode 4, right? I mean, you’ve only been waiting since DECEMBER. Or have you? I don’t know. Either way, here are the answers to the Episode 4 POP QUIZ:

  1. What was the name of Billy’s unsuccessful Les Miserables party? It was “The Miserable Party”.
  2. What does Billy think about Stephen Sondheim? Over *bump bump* rated *bump bump*
  3. What is Liz’s favorite country? Canada, of course.
  4. What musical does Desmond hope the theatre does next? Hamilton, because he’s tired of looking dumb at parties.
  5. What are the three factors in Teri’s Three Factor Test? 1) A guy cannot look at her boobs the whole time; 2) there must be shared interests; and 3) He has to have a ‘special talent’
  6. What is the secret of Duane’s success with women? He’s a guy who likes to clean and fix things.
  7. What is the reason for Duane’s continued usage of the word ‘clean’? Psychological. By repeating it, others will subconsciously think he cleans the whole time.
  8. What Shakespeare play does Duane perform a monologue from? King Lear
  9. Which person is not interviewed by Billy and Teri? A) A stoner; B) A priest; C) a woman with way too much time on her hands? A priest, of course. Hey, we gotta save something for Season Two
  10. What is Billy’s special talent? He’s sticky.

Ok, glad we got that out of our systems.

And now, on to the EPISODE 5 POP QUIZ

  1. Is ‘Taterface’ a real or made up Urban Dictionary word?
  2. Which two members of the final crew lineup do not appear in the lineup at the beginning of Episode 5?
  3. What does Liz threaten to castrate Michael with?
  4. Why can’t Kelly wear black backstage?
  5. What does Bethany say to Teri that alters their relationship…forever!?
  6. What Broadway star does Lou claim to have made love to?
  7. What is the second item Duane pulls from his thermos when he first sees the dog?
  8. Is Michael racist?
  9. Which of the following is NOT a disease that can be found on a dog’s tongue?
    1. Tapeworm
    2. Dysentery
    3. Salmonella
  10. What is the name of the competing theatre where the dog leads Jen and Desmond?

Look forward to seeing how many of these you can answer correctly! In the meantime, keep sharing Upstaged – The Series with new people!

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

Jeff

Cast Take Over: Terry King

How did I come across Upstaged you ask?  Oh, you didn’t? Well don’t worry, I’m going to tell you.

For me, this all started a long time ago in a galaxy… well, right here… in this galaxy… maybe slightly to the left. I had been working on a film, and one of the other cast members, the talented Jennifer Lenius, mentioned that she was part of this online series “Upstaged” and that we should all check out the release of the first episode.  I myself always do my best to support fellow actors when or if I can, so I decided to check it out. Much to my pleasant surprise, I loved it! It was hysterical, silly, fun, touching, and had a heart that you don’t always see. From that moment on, I watched for every episodes release. Even attending the premier, which was a collection of the first 3 episodes, and if I remember correctly, the initial release of the 3rd episode, I could be crazy. At the same time, I could be correct, but still be crazy, mwa hahahahaha.

Anyway, just before the premier, Upstaged announced they were auditioning some roles for the show. I was excited! I had fallen in love with the series and suddenly had a chance to take part in it in some way. I submitted the moment I saw it. It was funny, because when it came time for the auditions, it was the first time I had been nervous for an audition in quite some time, just because I so badly wanted the role. But then I walked into the audition room and felt welcomed, I felt at ease. Everyone was beyond kind, and really, just a joy to talk to in general. And on top of it all, spoilers, I got the part! I guess that’s probably obvious since I’m writing this blog, but still.

Since that time, I got more than I even bargained for. Not only did I get to work on a show that I thoroughly enjoy, it created new opportunities, brought new and different roles, experiences, and above all, led me to make a lot of really great friends. The kind of people that if they ever needed me, whether it be for a role, hanging out, or even just moving a couch, I would happily be there.

Upstaged is a wonderful show that deserves attention, and the more its shared, the more it can accomplish.  If you haven’t watched it already, you should watch, if you haven’t shared, please share, and if you haven’t laughed, well then you should definitely watch.  A picture may be worth a thousand words, but laughter is priceless, so get watching.

Nanoo Nanoo,

Terry King

Catch us Live!

It’s very important to have goals in life. They give you a sense of purpose. Of focus. They’re the reason we say, by God, I’m going to put on pants today! For some of us, the goal is to be the very best at our chosen occupation in life. This is true even of professional LARP players and champion food eaters. We all take pride in setting and achieving our goals. Why, bet even you, reading this, have a goal or two. Sure you do, and you can do it!

One of my goals (and you knew it was only a matter of time before this came around to me, didn’t you?) over the last five years was to sit down and re-watch the entire series of Friends episodes. Why has this taken me the better part of half a decade? Two reasons. One, there’s a TON of other television to watch, much of it brand new (and by brand new I mean it’s been on my DVR less than a year). I’m the kind of person who can watch at most three hours of TV a night, and I spend at least 10 minutes of those three hours staring at 11 episodes of The Flash and wondering if I have that kind of stamina in me.  The other reason, tangentially tied to the first, is that I forget that I’m trying to re-watch the entire series of Friends, sometimes for months at a time. So, when it comes to goals, I may have a much more casual relationship with them than some people. But it’s important to have them, right? Not achieve them, although that’s nice too.

Anyway, earlier this week I was watching some episodes from Season 3. You remember, it’s when Ross and Rachel went ON A BREAK, and Joey and Chandler got the duck and the chick. Good stuff. And on one of these episodes, Joey and Chandler were arguing and Chandler went off into his bedroom and slammed the door.

Which got me to thinking, well, what is he doing in there? Sure, the scene cut back to Monica’s apartment, but what’s Chandler doing in his bedroom right this minute? Did he lay down and flip through Baywatch Monthly? Did he take the opportunity to catch up on some correspondence with an old friend?

Now granted, some may say I am overthinking things. In reality, Matthew Perry probably heard the word ‘cut’ and went straight to his trailer to peruse the script for Fools Rush In or something, or made a beeline to the craft services table for some Triscuits and Dom Perignon (This is what I think craft services provides at fancy Hollywood sitcom sets. And before you start getting ideas, our craft services consist of such delicacies as goldfish crackers and fruit.)

The point is, and I bet you didn’t think I had one but I do, once they leave the set, actors and crew generally go about the rest of their busy, busy lives and wait for the next script to arrive. This is true also of the team here at Upstaged – The Series. There are plenty of opportunities for locals to see our actors performing live right here in McHenry County! If you have the opportunity, you should see their shows. Who knows, you might be able to meet them after and get an autograph, or at least hit them with a “hey, aren’t you in Upstaged?” so they know you care.

If you want to know what projects the Upstaged team has coming up, here they are:

The Little Mermaid: Billy Seger (Michael Predux) Directs, Choreographs and Designs the set, Shannon Lee Day (Liz Rabbie) is the Set Dresser/Social Media Coordinator, Teagan Anderson is the assistant costumer and Janaan Rose (Enid) co-produces this lavish Disney musical that premieres at the Woodstock Opera House on March 30th and runs for three weekends. www.woodstockoperahouse.com

The Green Bay Film Festival: Movie star Terry King (Rick) plays dual roles in a film called ‘The Rocket’ that will be shown at this film festival on March 4. https://www.facebook.com/events/171161950164390/

Spinning into Butter: Shannon Mayhall (Cat Cavanaugh) is starring in this timely drama presented by the Janus Theatre Company. The show opens March 16 at the Elgin Art Showcase.  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/spinning-into-butter-presented-by-janus-theatre-company-tickets-42583646834

Joan, The Musical: Gina Phillips (Kelly) will be rocking the stage in this Sigman Brothers musical presented at the Pheasant Run Resort in Saint Charles, Illinois. The show opens March 23. https://www.facebook.com/events/307249866432214/

Monty Python’s Spamalot: Upstaged – The Series’ Costume Designer Teagan Anderson brings her outrageous skills, also catch; Alex Fayer (Stuart), Elizabeth Zimmerman (Maria) April Noel (Mary Benz) and Shannon Lee Day (Liz Rabbie) utilize their audacious acting chops to this Woodstock Musical Theatre Company production opening April 6. www.woodstockoperahouse.com

Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat: The adorable Charlie Martin (Danny Benz) will be showcased in this production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic at Woodstock North High School for two weekends beginning April 13.

Prometheus Bound: Can’t get enough of Krista Mitchell (Jen Simmons)? Krista brings her heavenly voice to the choir of a premiere translation of Aeschylus’ tragedy at City Lit in Chicago! Previews start April 27 and the regular run begins May 6. https://www.citylit.org/prometheus-bound

A Tribute to Carol Burnett: Catch upcoming Upstaged – The Series star Jerry Hage in this hilarious presentation of sketches from The Carol Burnett show at White Pines Resort for one weekend only beginning June 26! https://www.whitepinesinn.com/item/1428-the-carol-burnett-show-comedy-musical.html

Theatre Reviews and More: Regina Belt Daniels’ (Brenda) and Rikki Lee Travolta (Greg) are regular contributors of theatre reviews in the Northwest Herald and both will be bringing their golden tones to Radio Parody Playhouse’s upcoming production of Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat in June! www.huntleyradio.com/radioparodyplayhouse

It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee: Rikki Lee is also the host of a weekly radio show, It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, that features an in depth discussion of a Broadway musical soundtrack each week. The show airs Mondays at 7:30 pm on huntleyradio.com or you can listen to archived shows at http://huntleyradio.com/hcr/its-showtime-with-rikki-lee/

Radio Parody Playhouse: Radio Parody playhouse is the area’s largest provider of golden-age-of-radio-based comedy. It’s adapted, produced and recorded by me and I bring along loads of talent from Upstaged – The Series. Past actors have included Karen Cook (Executive Producer), Joel Bennett (Executive Producer, Director of Cinematography and Billy Cavanaugh), Terry King and April Noel. You never know who’ll show up next! Radio Parody Playhouse airs each month on huntleyradio.com, or you can listen to archived presentations at http://huntleyradio.com/hcr/radio-parody-playhouse/

If you’re interested in keeping track of our performers’ doings throughout the area, let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, see you next time!

 

Jeff

Behind the Curtain – Episode 7

Welcome back to the latest installment of Behind the Curtain, where I take you behind the scenes at the making of Upstaged – The Series. This time, we’ll take a look at Episode 7, “Anything Goes.” This is a pivotal episode in the Upstaged Saga for a number of reasons.

Unlike our previous couple of shoots, during which we filmed three episodes at a crack, the shoot which commenced in May of 2017 consisted only of Episodes 7 and 8. Partly, this was because the weather was getting nicer, which meant that the schedules of the cast and crew were getting more complicated. Another reason for the truncated shoot was that we were looking ahead and knew that our biggest episode was coming up (I’m referring to Episode 10, and if you’ve been following us this far you’ll definitely want to stick around for that episode). Because that was going to entail a lot of extra filming (and extras filming, hint hint), the decision was made to film episodes 7 and 8 together, then 9 and 10 together, then resume our original schedule for the remaining three episodes of season one.

This was also a transitional time for us as a production team. Several people who had been with us from the start were called away by other opportunities and commitments, including AD Matt Canon, Camera Operator Lili Lilova, and Makeup Designer Kelsey DeRozier. However, we also welcomed aboard Camera Operators Jill Gautreaux and Nick Bennett. Unit Production Manager Christy Johanson and Aaron Gomez took over makeup and costuming, including Christy’s design of Eliza.

Finally, it was a departure for us stylistically. Introducing “The Unhauntinators” let us explore with a different look for the series, as the POV (Point of View, how bou da) switched between our regular series camera, The Unhauntinators hand held camera, cross cut with the traditional green-screen “interview” look.

It was a good time to take this risk, as we had allowed audiences to settle in with the characters before pulling the rug out from them, visually-speaking.

Oh, and we also introduced a ghost.

SCENE ONE

  • We open with an exterior shot of the Stage Door entrance to the Woodstock Opera House. We had to back way up in the parking lot behind the Opera House to ensure the building was included in the shot. I can’t tell you how many times we had to call “Hold for cars/trucks/the coolest man in the world, but it was approximately 750 bazillion.
  • Behind the hand held camera is Joel Bennett.
  • The story of Barnaby Calhoun is completely made up. While there is a legend of an actress who plunged from the bell tower and continues to haunt the Woodstock Opera House (her name is Elvira), I’m pretty sure she wasn’t on fire.
  • It’s true: We were not allowed to film up in the bell tower. Sure, Bill Murray was able to film up in the bell tower, but us? Nooooooo.
  • The scene cuts to the sidewalk outside the stage door entrance to the Opera House. The off camera voice belongs to Trace Gamache, who plays Unhauntinators camera operator Ana.

UNHAUNTINATORS OPENING

  • Joel Bennett created the opening sequence and graphics for the Unhauntinators, using music that he had recorded as a demo several years before and footage he and Alex Fayer (Stuart Baserman) recorded separately from the actual shoot.

SCENE TWO

  • This scene was shot outside the entrance to the Green Room. Picture, if you will, about a dozen people crammed into a six foot wide hallway with lights, cameras, sound, etc. and you’ll have some idea of what we go through to bring you all high quality laughs.

SCENE THREE

  • Filmed in the Green Room of the Opera House, the same location where all the meetings take place. Here, it’s set up for the team to audition kids for the upcoming production of Annie. Jimmy Norris plays Kevin, the young actor auditioning, named after the Macaulay Culkin character in Home Alone. Also present is Maryann Bennett as Helen, the rehearsal accompanist.
  • Maryann, in addition to being Joel’s mom (and Nick’s grandma) has been a huge supporter of ours and, in fact, won this walk on role at a fundraiser we held for the series.
  • The Freeman impersonation bit was not in the first draft of the script to the episode, but after hearing Joel’s (Billy) version, we knew it had to be. And if Billy was doing it, you know that Robin Wilson (Desmond) and Shannon Lee Day (Liz) were going to get dragged into it.

CUTAWAY – BILLY

  • Billy’s perspective on ghost sightings is exactly my own. I’m fine with ghosts per se, I mean, you do you. I just don’t want to see one, or have one take any particular notice of me.
  • At the end of this cutaway, we break the fourth wall for another Meta joke. We decided after this, and the “web series” gag in Episode 6, we didn’t ever need to do it again.

CUTAWAY – LIZ

  • I don’t think the cast really appreciated my Better Than Ezra joke, but it’s funny to me that the Unhauntinators, in their editing of the interviews, selected some segments that had NOTHING TO DO WITH GHOSTS.
  • I’m also well aware that Better Than Ezra had a string of hits. I feel like I’m spending a lot of time on Better Than Ezra. Let’s move on, shall we?

SCENE THREE CONT’D

  • Another uncomfortable moment with Billy Segar (Michael), another intervention by Billy. Jimmy’s reaction is priceless.
  • The purpose of this scene was to explore the chemistry of these characters. Note the position of Billy and Liz in relation to Michael, which denotes the divide between the staff of the Calhoun Theatre and the new arrival. See you in film school!
  • Also note outside the windows. It has gotten noticeably darker between the first part of this scene and the second. Shh.
  • That is not actually Jimmy’s singing voice. I hope.
  • Externiatum Valencis is not an actual Harry Potter magic spell. No wizards were harmed in the making of this episode.
  • I’m ratcheting up the tension between Liz and Michael, which will lead up to the confrontation at the end of the episode.
  • “He’s a transgender, Blondie” – One thing about writing Michael, it takes me waaay out of my comfort zone. In fact, I considered this dialogue to be so loaded that I sent it around to several of my friends in the LGBTQA community to make sure it wasn’t offensive. They all thought it was funny, so here it is.
  • Helen’s departure with Kevin constitutes the longest 20 seconds in the history of Upstaged –The Series.

CUTAWAY – DUANE

  • This is Joe McCormack’s only appearance in Episode 7.
  • Desmond is the only main cast member to not get an interview segment.

SCENE FOUR

  • Shot in the stairway that leads from the backstage entrance, past the vending machine area and green room, to the stage and up to the balcony.
  • Teri walks out from the vending machine area. FUN FACT: The vending machine area one of the few rooms in the Opera House that are not onscreen in any episode of Upstaged. This is because it is where we store all our equipment during shoots.
  • This is the first appearance of Rick (played by Terry King, uncredited), soon to become Teri’s boyfriend.

CUTAWAY – TERI

  • Teri’s comments foreshadow exactly who Rick is, and yet she falls for him anyway. Something not too uncommon in the world of community theatre.
  • “I wonder if he has any special talents…” Having a special talent is a pillar of Teri’s “3-Factor Test”, first explained in Episode 4.

SCENE FIVE

  • Shot backstage at the Opera House.

SCENE SIX

  • Shot literally six feet away from Scene Five, this is the area of the stage directly off stage left. Behind Stuart are the curtains that Billy smelled in Episode 2 and the stage itself.
  • Rikki Lee Travolta (Greg) is leaning against the podium where the actual stage managers stands during performances at the Opera House. The door behind him leads to the Stage Left Oleo, a short passage that allows actors to enter and exit from further downstage.
  • Look at all the fire extinguishers!

CUTAWAY – PARKER

  • Here it is revealed that Parker’s last name is… Posey. Creating character names is my least favorite thing, can you tell?

CUTAWAY – LOU

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber is, of course, the creator of such seminal Broadway hits as Evita and Phantom of the Opera. Mister Mistoffelees is a character in Webber’s Cats. I particularly love the way Mark Newton (Lou) delivers this line.

SCENE SIX CONT’D

  • This marks the first appearance of Eliza, played by Lizzy Haberstroh.

SCENE SEVEN

  • Shot in the Stage Left Café, a bar/lounge adjacent to, but still operated by, the Opera House.
  • Comedy On Set: It was actually uber-volunteer Vinny Scalise who came up with the idea to include the line “That’s what they said about the Snuggie.”
  • There’s a ton of foreshadowing of future events in this scene. Why is Darren there? Why is Liz checking her phone? Why did Billy say he doesn’t “know anyone who would take on a project like this”? What is the opportunity that Moises wants to discuss with Billy? Where has he seen Liz Rabbie before?? For these answers and more, check out future episodes of Upstaged – The Series! Oh. Well, if you’re reading this, you already have all those answers. But there’s still stuff you don’t know! I swear!
  • Billy and Shannon (who play Michael and Liz) are actually very good friends in real life. They both enjoyed getting in each other’s faces in this scene.
  • “Hang Up on Yourself!” – Billy’s line here calls back to the balcony scene between him and Liz in Episode 6.
  • Comedy On Set: Steve Firak (Darren) threw in that additional finger snap, one of the funniest bits in the whole episode.

SCENE EIGHT

  • Shot in the balcony of the theatre.
  • And now it’s revealed that, even though there is an actual ghost in the Calhoun Theatre, the “haunting of the Calhoun Theatre” was no more than a wildly implausible scheme straight out of Scooby Doo and hatched by Marion Barbnut, making her first appearance since Episode Three.

And there you have it, more information about Episode Seven than you probably wanted but definitely the breakdown you needed!

Did you know that Joel Bennett, along with his brother Jerry, have a podcast that focuses on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and other pop culture movie and tv shows? While you’re waiting for the next exciting episode of Upstaged – The Series, why not check them out? Just search Bennett Brother’s podcast on Facebook and give them a like!

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Jeff

Just write, right?

Want to know a secret? I had no idea where Upstaged – The Series was going to go when I sat down to write the scene which would become the centerpiece of the first episode. That scene was the conference room scene which, with minor alterations, was unchanged from the first time the characters popped into my head, sat around the conference room table, and started talking about the results of their last show.

All shows worth watching start with story first, and that has primarily been my responsibility. Directing is a natural by-product; since I created the story and characters, by directing I can assure that my vision for what the series should be flows outward, through the cameras and performers so that we have a cohesive story to tell.

But sometimes, in the writing, characters and events will start determining their own direction, and this was the case with Upstaged – meant to focus on the challenges of staging a production, based on my experiences in community theatre, became the story of the people who run the theatre itself, and in fact became as much about their relationships with each other than the events that happened around them.

The first was the arrival of Moises Predux, the new owner of the Calhoun Theatre. All of a sudden, the first episode became about how the team were going to impress the new owner, a challenge made more difficult by the discovery of a homeless family who had taken up temporary residence. Through these first episodes, many of the characters’ personalities started revealing themselves. Billy became easily distracted. Teri became relentlessly cheerful and upbeat. Jen became enigmatic and socially apprehensive. Duane became a wild card. Of all the characters, perhaps only Desmond has maintained the characteristics he was originally imagined with – generally aloof from all the nonsense going on around him, but occasionally drawn in through no fault of his own. And Cat, who continues to shine every time she shows up on screen with a mixture of sound, motherly advice unrestrained by filter.

Once the characters had defined themselves (a task made much easier after casting, when I had the faces and voices of the actors in my head as I wrote) shaping the first season became a juggling act; how to tell a thirteen episode story that had a beginning, middle and end, while allowing each character to develop naturally. This involved a long game – where the story was going to go from beginning to end, and a series of short plans for the individual characters and their relationships.

There have been so many things that, even as the writer, I was surprised by. But I think in the end all the twists and turns, all the little character pieces, make our show much richer and more rewarding, especially when you consider the bigger picture.

I’ve fielded a number of questions from people who are interested (God bless them) in where these characters and stories are going. Are Billy and Penny going to end up together? Are Billy and Liz going to end up together? Why is a big time guy like Moises Predux interested in a little theatre like the Calhoun? Is Michael as bad as he seems?

Well, the answer to all those questions have been considered and are part of the ongoing storyline in Upstaged – The Series, and if you’ve been following us from the beginning, you’re going to get all the answers you can stand.

Because, as sometimes chaotic as events in the series have been, they’ve all been leading up to something. Things that happened in our first three episodes will pay off down the road. Upstaged is, at its essence, one long story and I sincerely hope you continue to enjoy the journey.

Thanks for reading, and please remember to share our website, www.upstagedtheseries.com, with someone who hasn’t heard of us.

Jeff