?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
04 November 2008 @ 09:55 am
Dream Benefit for ‘Lost’ Fans  

JOHN BERGER / JBERGER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Michael Emerson, left, plays Pyramus in a funny, minimally rehearsed benefit reading of scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Also pictured is Chris Soldeville.

Larger version of the photo is here:

http://michaelemerson.net/coppermine/thumbnails.php?album=433

A intimate crowd sees cast members do Shakespeare to raise money for HTY

Several "Lost" actors took a break from filming in the jungle to perform on stage in an intimate setting during a gala benefit for the Honolulu Theatre for Youth last weekend.

Michael Emerson (Ben), Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) and Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond) volunteered to read several scenes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream," bringing Shakespeare -- and the enthralled audience -- to life.

Roaring with laughter, guests savored the opportunity to watch actors in a television drama reveal their polished (and too often hidden) comedic skills for the benefit of the community.

By Katherine Nichols

POSTED: 02:30 a.m. HST, Nov 04, 2008

For a veteran stage actor accustomed to large audiences, this was nothing. Many of the 150 or so Honolulu Theatre for Youth patrons attending the annual gala fundraiser were dressed in costumes, or adorned with wings and sparkles, thus projecting a decidedly nonjudgmental air. Even so, "Lost" star Michael Emerson was nervous. "It doesn't matter that it's a small group thrilled to see you do anything," he said. "It might as well be Broadway."


The audience probably felt transported to (Off) Broadway -- a thrilling, intimate, casual stage performance laced with their favorite celebs -- when Emerson and his "Lost" colleagues performed several scenes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Koolau Golf Club Oct. 25.

Daniel Dae Kim, Jorge Garcia, Elizabeth Mitchell and Henry Ian Cusick joined him in donating their time to help raise funds for the Honolulu Theatre for Youth. Emerson's wife, actress Carrie Preston, and Mitchell's husband, improv acting teacher Chris Soldevilla, also joined the fun. Cusick's wife, Annie Wood, organized the performance.

"I'm so passionate about children's theater," said Wood. "It goes unrecognized a lot of the time, so I'm honored to help them, and this is one way that I can -- by accessing these fantastic people who are always willing to help. They are so accommodating, and they all worked in theater and they all love it." Though finding time to rehearse around their shooting schedules proved challenging, she added, "they went beyond what I asked them to do originally!"

The reading focused on Shakespeare's play-within-a-play, and included plenty of spontaneity and hilarious interaction between tragic lovers Pyramus (Emerson, who played the character like a "bombastic actor") and Thisbe (Garcia, with a comic wig and high-pitched voice) that left the audience roaring. Garcia, Emerson and Kim (who brought life to the brick wall standing between the ill-fated lovers) turned a death scene into pure, brilliant comedy. Later Emerson deadpanned, "People are so cold sometimes."

At one point, Emerson, a veteran of weekly readings in New York, expressed his appreciation for the minimal rehearsal time. "My philosophy is to do less. It's a reading, so let it be a reading. Just go up there, hold the script in your hand and read it out loud, and the audience will fill in the action. When you throw yourself at it a little cold, like we did tonight, things will happen. Things will break, props won't be where you want them to be, people fall down. But somehow you make magic of it in the moment."

Kim, who relished the opportunity to work with his fellow actors in a different setting, agreed: "When you get a bunch of talented actors together and you have a great script, sometimes what develops moment to moment is really just a joy to watch. We all know what we can do in the context of a television drama, but to see each other do Shakespeare, we learned something about each other, and that's rare after five years together."

Kim participated to give back to the community he now considers home, and said he's a fan of youth theater in Hawaii. He also found the material fairly alluring. "I have a special place in my heart for Shakespeare, so to be able to do this in a relaxed, casual environment was a treat."

Mitchell jumped at the opportunity as well. "The thing about readings that I love is the idea that the audience feels they're with you," she said. "I think mistakes are fascinating to people, so if you go into it with a joy and excitement about what you're doing, that's the most fun. I looked around and everyone was laughing so hard, I was so happy. Everyone's just there to have a good time."

After their performance, the actors bid at the silent auction and mingled with grateful guests. In their typical, obtuse fashion, some hinted at what's to come on Season 5 of "Lost," set to launch in early 2009.

"I'm reunited with John Locke, and it's powerful and shocking," said Emerson, eyes twinkling (probably since the last shot of Locke's face was framed by a coffin). Mitchell said no one character carries the show. Instead, it revolves around "little bits of all of us." Furthermore, "none of the usual people are hanging together," she added. "New alliances are forming."

As has always been the case, even the actors don't know what's coming from week to week. Mitchell noted that "we still laugh and gasp when we read the script."

For a veteran stage actor accustomed to large audiences, this was nothing. Many of the 150 or so Honolulu Theatre for Youth patrons attending the annual gala fundraiser were dressed in costumes, or adorned with wings and sparkles, thus projecting a decidedly nonjudgmental air. Even so, "Lost" star Michael Emerson was nervous. "It doesn't matter that it's a small group thrilled to see you do anything," he said. "It might as well be Broadway."

"I'm so passionate about children's theater," said Wood. "It goes unrecognized a lot of the time, so I'm honored to help them, and this is one way that I can -- by accessing these fantastic people who are always willing to help. They are so accommodating, and they all worked in theater and they all love it." Though finding time to rehearse around their shooting schedules proved challenging, she added, "they went beyond what I asked them to do originally!"

The reading focused on Shakespeare's play-within-a-play, and included plenty of spontaneity and hilarious interaction between tragic lovers Pyramus (Emerson, who played the character like a "bombastic actor") and Thisbe (Garcia, with a comic wig and high-pitched voice) that left the audience roaring. Garcia, Emerson and Kim (who brought life to the brick wall standing between the ill-fated lovers) turned a death scene into pure, brilliant comedy. Later Emerson deadpanned, "People are so cold sometimes."

At one point, Emerson, a veteran of weekly readings in New York, expressed his appreciation for the minimal rehearsal time. "My philosophy is to do less. It's a reading, so let it be a reading. Just go up there, hold the script in your hand and read it out loud, and the audience will fill in the action. When you throw yourself at it a little cold, like we did tonight, things will happen. Things will break, props won't be where you want them to be, people fall down. But somehow you make magic of it in the moment."

Kim, who relished the opportunity to work with his fellow actors in a different setting, agreed: "When you get a bunch of talented actors together and you have a great script, sometimes what develops moment to moment is really just a joy to watch. We all know what we can do in the context of a television drama, but to see each other do Shakespeare, we learned something about each other, and that's rare after five years together."

Kim participated to give back to the community he now considers home, and said he's a fan of youth theater in Hawaii. He also found the material fairly alluring. "I have a special place in my heart for Shakespeare, so to be able to do this in a relaxed, casual environment was a treat."

Mitchell jumped at the opportunity as well. "The thing about readings that I love is the idea that the audience feels they're with you," she said. "I think mistakes are fascinating to people, so if you go into it with a joy and excitement about what you're doing, that's the most fun. I looked around and everyone was laughing so hard, I was so happy. Everyone's just there to have a good time."

After their performance, the actors bid at the silent auction and mingled with grateful guests. In their typical, obtuse fashion, some hinted at what's to come on Season 5 of "Lost," set to launch in early 2009.

"I'm reunited with John Locke, and it's powerful and shocking," said Emerson, eyes twinkling (probably since the last shot of Locke's face was framed by a coffin). Mitchell said no one character carries the show. Instead, it revolves around "little bits of all of us." Furthermore, "none of the usual people are hanging together," she added. "New alliances are forming."

As has always been the case, even the actors don't know what's coming from week to week. Mitchell noted that "we still laugh and gasp when we read the script."

SOURCE:  StarBulletin.com



 
 
 
~Lirpa~: ?katje0711 on November 4th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
Were you trying to put this behind a cut, because the tags are messed up. And how weird, the text goes way over the comment box...
m_emerson_newsm_emerson_news on November 4th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
Damn LJ is giving me a hard time. But the answer is yes.
lost_rp_815: Sawyer LOSTlost_rp_815 on November 4th, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
Typical LJ. At least the comments aren't all screwy now.
Stephbenobsessed on November 4th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
ROFL @ Mike and Jorge being lovers

Aaaw this is cute
Susie Qff7gal on November 4th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Man, I would have loved to see this! Too bad there is no video of it.
mooncove: bunnyluvmooncove on November 14th, 2008 08:56 am (UTC)
Wow, interesting article. I would so love to see ME in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"--it's one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. Ironically, when I first called the box office at Chautauqua to find out what play Michael was appearing in, there was a production of said play going on at roughly the same time, and I was really hoping they were going to say it was that one! I'm dying to hear Michael do Shakespeare! (Could you imagine if they'd record something like that for the LOST DVD extras? Actually, it would be really cool if they made a DVD of the LOST cast doing a Shakespeare play and sold copies to benefit the charity. I'd buy it!)

They sure are working hard to defend the use of scripts though, aren't they? In my admittedly unsophisticated opinion, as long as they promote the show as an impromptu "reading," I have no problem with them reading off of scripts, and "bloopers" like they describe can add to the fun. (I mean, I'm a "Dark Shadows" fan from way back, and the irreversible, live-on-tape bloopers are a large part of its charm.) But if I'm going to pay big $$$ to see a professionally produced play, I'm still naive enough to expect them to be rehearsed and off-book. (I went to see "The Seagull" on Broadway last week, and one of the major characters was played by an understudy who was so prepared, I never would have guessed he wasn't part of the regular cast if it weren't for the announcement. After a local production of Hamlet kind of spoiled the mood by the understudy playing Laertes' being the only one relying on the script, I was pretty impressed by this production.)