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Archive for February, 2011

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This week I started rehearsals for a new show with Breeders Theater. I’ve been performing with this company for 10 years (!), and it hit me at some point this week, this is the last show I’ll probably ever do at this venue, E.B. Foote Winery. Sherrill Miller, the winery owner, is closing the place later this spring and BT wont have a permanent venue. It makes me all kinds of sad.

The show is called “West” and is a sequel to “Prairie Heart,” a show T.M. Sell wrote (and Breeders Theater performed) a couple of years ago about immigrants in North Dakota. I’m acting in this one, playing a father who is concerned about his son’s future. It should be great stuff. Alan Wilkie is directing, and I’m working with an assortment of the great people that have made this experience so memorable. Big sigh.

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It’s time for part two of my Oscar poll. Who’s your choice to win for best performance by an actor in a supporting role this year?

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I’m a little late in getting to this (garden) party, but since I just finished watching the recent PBS series, “Downton Abbey,” I want to take a few minutes to sing its praises.

Set in England just before World War I, Julian Fellowes’  well-written story concerns the Crawley family and the staff at their titular estate.

Yes, this sounds like a recipe for a high-gloss, “Upstairs, Downstairs,”  British soap opera, but somewhere around hour two I found myself totally sucked in.  Yes, there is foreign intrigue, a scandalous relationship (or two) and questions of virtue, but watching these characters struggle with all things new (electricity, telephones, women’s rights, questions of inheritence) and how they all cope with a vanishing way of life is what really drew me in.

And the acting! It was great to see Elizabeth McGovern again. I adored her work in the movies “Ordinary People” and “Ragtime” back in the 1980s, and here she plays an American heiress mother (Lady Grantham) with such a light and humorus touch. Hugh Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham is just the right mixture of nobleman and caring husband/father. I also enjoyed Jessica Brown-Findlay as the youngest daughter Sybil and Brendan Coyle as ex-soldier/valet John Bates. And I could write paragraphs on the wonder that is Dame Maggie Smith.  Her scenes revolving around a local flower show were priceless.

The series ended with the announcement of the outbreak of World War I. I cannot wait to see where the series goes from here.

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For many years I sent out an Oscar poll (by snail mail) to my friends and family. I called it “Knoop’s Oscar Survey.” Clever, huh?

This year let’s try an online version of the top six catagories, starting with Supporting Actress. Come on…give it a whirl. You can even write in your own favorite if you think she was ignored.

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So, here we are now into the second month of a new year. How’s it going?

I turned 50 back on Jan. 2nd. My sister Jenny threw me a great party, inviting all sorts of family and many of my good friends. It was an amazing afternoon. Thanks sis (and Mom, who funded the operation).

The remainder of January was spent in rehearsal (for “The Drowsy Chaperone”) and performance (“Casting Call” at Breeders Theater). Often I did both on the same day. I was very proud of the “Casting Call” cast. After a seemingly endless rehearsal process, they emerged with a pretty damn funny show. Take a bow Scheide, Erika, Teresa, Laura, Andrew and Eric. You done good.

It’s the end of Hell Week for “Chaperone” and I’m thinking we just may pull it off. It’s a cute, 1920s-set “musical within a comedy.” I play Feldzieg, the producer of the “show within the show.” I’m working with a whole bunch of insanely talented people. Lots of late nights and hard work, but here we are. “Ding-a-ling!”

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