2003-2005


When I moved to New York in September of 2003, I had no idea what I was doing.  

A typical headshot should cost a buck, but my first one — a high-quality print from a well-intentioned photographer back home — set me back $35.  I didn't know how to find an agent, a manager, or even an affordable apartment.

My one professional contact, a major New York casting director, took the time to look over my resume and answer a few questions.

"What should I do?" I asked him. 

"What are you above?" he replied.

 

a clip from Checkout

CHECKOUT

Student Film (Short)

September 8-10, 2003 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Matt Shapiro

Role: Arnold

New York University, Undergraduate Thesis Film

Matt invited me to audition for his senior thesis film at NYU after seeing me in a play at Princeton.

We shot on location in a Philadelphia supermarket, where all filming had to be done overnight, after the supermarket closed and before it opened again the following morning. By the end of the third consecutive night of shooting, I was physically and emotionally exhausted — but so was the character.


WAITING FOR LEFTY

Production

by Clifford Odets, dir. Ben Mathews

with Ben Mathews

Role: Miller

The Knitting Factory

It feels appropriate that my first show after moving to New York was Waiting For Lefty, a theatrical anthem to progressive politics.

It's a theme I'd return to in HOME/SICK, and a driving force behind three of my favorite playwrights: Suzan Lori-Parks, Tony Kushner, and Caryl Churchill.

 director Ben Matthews

director Ben Matthews


27_04twelfth.jpg

TWELFTH NIGHT

Production

January 28-February 8, 2004

by William Shakespeare, dir. Michael Hagins

Role: Sebastian

Waterloo Bridge Playhouse

My first of four productions of Twelfth Night in NYC.

I dramaturged the play a year later, played Orsino the following fall, and directed the show in the summer of 2007. I nearly worked on a fifth Twelfth Night in 2011, when I was called back for Malvolio in Pig Iron's production.


A clip from Gwen44

GWEN44

Student Film (Short)

January 28-February 1, 2004 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Jammy Yoon

School of Visual Arts

My first project with filmmaker Jammy Yoon. We'd reunite for Among Thieves in September 2004 and Rust in December 2005.


SEGWAY - "WORLD'S GREATEST INVENTION"

Commercial (Regional)

February 2004

Role: Scientist

I booked this spot just after completing a commercial class with casting directors Brooke Thomas and Mary Egan.


POWERLESS

Staged Reading

March 2, 2004

by Marli Guzzetta, dir. Meredith Lucio

with Traci Godfrey, Julie Leedes, and Stephen Wheeler

Role: Jim

Tex in the City @ Red

Two women meet on a remote island and find themselves powerless to resist each other. They are, however, perfectly capable of resisting Jim.

una-foto-di-julie-leedes-367849.jpg
 Julie Leedes (left) and Traci Godfrey (right)

Julie Leedes (left) and Traci Godfrey (right)


a clip from Snowball

SNOWBALL

Student Film (Short)

March 15-18, 2004 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Jaime Vaca

Role: The Reporter

New York Film Academy

In a movie about how rumors can spin out of control, there's bound to be a sleazy reporter involved.


Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 9.07.58 AM.png

ANDY AND EDIE

Production

June 3-13, 2004

by Peter Braunstein, dir. Jess Rotondi

with Ethan Aranoff, Thomas Blake, Morgan Breen, Lee Briggs, Bettina Bryant, Sarah Bunker, Pat Caesar, Adam Cohen, Bryan Rucker, and Misha Sedgwick

Role: George Plimpton

The Shetler Theater

A troubled production.  The New York Post reported that Jennifer Garner was slated for the lead, but had to drop the project when scheduling difficulties arose. (We later discovered this wasn't true.) Edie was eventually played by Misha Sedgwick, who claimed to be Edie Sedgwick's real-life niece. (This was also untrue, it turned out).

We lost our initial space (The Milagro Theater) and our original director (Robert Saxon). Hours before our first performance, frustrated she hadn't been paid, our costume designer absconded with all the costumes, so the day of the show, the cast ended up pulling clothing from our own closets for the production.

Sixteen months after we closed, writer/producer Peter Braunstein — who had embezzled the show's paltry returns and refused to pay the cast and creative team — ended up on the front page of The New York Post for a crime that later inspired an episode of CSI (as you can read here).


WANNABE

Independent Film (Short)

June 24, 2004 (Principal Photography)

Role: "Pope" Ondine

dir. Frances Bathory

I shot Wannabe with some of my castmates from Andy and Edie, just weeks after the show closed. We all played characters in Andy Warhol's inner circle. Based on a true story, the film tells the tale of a Warhol starlet who overdosed at a party and was left to die.


It All goes in

Independent Film (Short)

July 10-12, 2004 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Coy Byron

The film took home Best Original Story at the Asian-American Film Festival.


Macbeth.JPG

MACBETH

Production

August 13-29, 2004

by William Shakespeare, dir. Sherry Saab

with Farah Bala, Sinem Balkir, Daryl Brown, Robert Dioguardi, Russell Hankins, Alison Kerrington, Michael Menger, Wole Parks, Jenni Peterson, Melissa Silver, and Paul Swinnerton

Roles: Duncan, First Murderer, Seyton

The Willful Company @ The Actors Theater

Our director set the production in an insane asylum.

"It was never clear who were the crazies and who were the sane ones," one critic wrote, "as Shakespeare’s characters all seemed a bit deranged through the course of the two-act play."

That turned out to be an apt description of the rehearsal process as well.

Reviews: The Off Off Broadway Review


CRAZY FACE CRAZY

Independent Film (Short)

August 16, 2004 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Coy Byron

I played a drag queen with a wig of plastic and a heart of gold.

I've portrayed a lot of ladies over the years, including Thisbe in Midsummer, Salome in The Bible (Abridged), a new bride in A People, Miss Havisham in That Poor Dream, and Mrs. Bumbrake in Peter and the Starcatcher.


BUCK WILD

Student Film (Short)

August 30-September 2, 2004 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Brett Rebel

with Jenn Marie Jones

Role: Ben

New York University, Undergraduate Thesis Film

A love triangle between a young man, his long-suffering girlfriend, and his toy horse.


THE SAINTS SPEAK

Television

September 14, 2004 (Principal Photography)

dir. Stephen Payne and Richard Payne

Role: Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

Eternal Word Television Network

In my early days in New York, I responded to every casting notice for which I was remotely appropriate, so it's perhaps unsurprising that I ended up playing a 18th-century French saint for Catholic TV.


Clip from Among Thieves

AMONG THIEVES

Student Film (Feature)

September 25-October 1, 2004 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Jammy Yoon

Role: Ponce

School of Visual Arts

Jammy created a science fiction epic set in a future dystopia.

I decided that my character, the protagonist's friend and confidante, was the product of a liaison between a human and an alien species.  Jammy agreed with exactly none of this.


 Ben (left) with the cast of  Eternity: Time Without End    

Ben (left) with the cast of Eternity: Time Without End

 

ETERNITY: TIME WITHOUT END

Production

October 7-19, 2004

written and directed by Duncan Pflaster

with Ari Benjamin, Brendan Burke, Jon Crefeld, Joe Fanelli, Carlos Rafael Fernandez, Alexandra Finger, Jena Tesse Fox, Paula Galloway, Clara Barton Green, Erik Sisco, Jason Specland

Role: Mac

Cross-Eyed Bear Productions @ The Greenwich Street Theater

Like Harry Beaton in Brigadoon, Mac is the sole malcontent in a magical world that is, for others, a paradise.


TDbutton.gif

TINY DYNAMITE

Production

December 3-12, 2004

by Richard Lovejoy, dir. Brad Raimondo

Roles: Bryan, Barker, Grace

The Legitimate Theater Company and Dreamscape Theater Company

@ Collective: Unconscious


ROMEO AND JULIET

Production

December 17-18, 2004

by William Shakespeare, dir. Tammy Tunyavongs

Role: Romeo

Theatre-Studio, Inc.

Cutting Shakespeare's "two hours' traffic" down to a lean seventy minutes, we set about staging what was left of the play.

Of course, 7/12 of infinity is still infinity, and working on an abridged Romeo and Juliet was intermittently transcendent.

 Our Nurse, Mercurio, and Capulet backstage at Theatre-Studio, Inc.

Our Nurse, Mercurio, and Capulet backstage at Theatre-Studio, Inc.


WORLD'S ASTONISHING NEWS -

"THE WOMEN WHO LOVED A MURDERER"

Television

February 3-4, 2005 (Principal Photography)

Role: Assistant Detective

Nippon TV (Japan)

More or less a Japanese version of America's Most WantedWorld's Astonishing News is filmed in English and then dubbed into Japanese. The scripts, hastily translated from the original Japanese, designed to be dubbed back into Japanese, aren't exactly Shakespeare.

(In fact, they aren't exactly English.)


THEY'RE ALL GONNA GET IT

Student Film (Short)

February 20, 2005 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Nick Ordway

New York University, MFA Film

A good friend from college, Nick and I still meet up from time to time to check out art films at Film Forum or The Anjelika. 

They're All Going To Get It was a quick and dirty exercise in shooting a semi-improvised noir in broad daylight with a handheld camera.


NOT ENOUGH PRINCESSES

Workshop Production

March 4, 2005

directed by Shari Johnson

The Looking Glass Theater

A collaboratively created children's show based on Swedish fairy tales. The piece premiered seven months later, while I was on tour with Sleepy Hollow.

The New York Times' review of that production (available here) perfectly captures the low-key charm and off-beat content of what we'd developed.


WORK/DREAM

Workshop Production

April 13, 2005

conceived and directed by Bryn Manion and Wendy Remington

Aisling Arts @ The Astoria Undercroft

Between Not Enough Princesses and WORK/DREAM, 2006 marked my first exposure to devised theater. Bryn and Wendy had studied with SITI Company, and their work, like SITI's, was often collaboratively developed, formally experimental and highly physical.

WorkDream.jpg

VOTE STUMP

Independent Film (Feature)

May 8, 2005 (Principal Photography)

improvised by the cast, dir. Dave Lawler

One advantage of doing low-budget student films over low-budget indie films, I discovered, is that student films are a little more likely to be completed. (Student directors who want to graduate make sure they turn in their final cuts on time.)

Vote Stump was a lot of fun to shoot, but the film itself never materialized.


HARDER THAN TEETH

Independent Film (Short)

conceived and directed by Erich Sturm

with Anouk Dutruit

Role: The Husband

Harder Than Teeth consists of a single scene: a husband and wife brushing their teeth together.  It's weirdly long, more than a little aggressive, and kind of riveting. 


THE BIBLE (THE COMPLETE WORD OF GOD): ABRIDGED

Production

June 7-24, 2005

by The Reduced Shakespeare Company, dir. John Healey

Roles: Eve, Salome, Mary, Matt

Theater at Lime Kiln

From the guys who created The Complete Works of Shakespeare: AbridgedThe Bible (The Complete Word of God): Abridged was even sillier project based on an even longer text.

I played more or less every woman in the Bible.


SING DOWN THE MOON

Production (Musical)

June 28-July 30, 2005

by Mary Hall Surface (book, lyrics) and David Maddox (lyrics, music)

dir. John Healey

Role: Jack

Theater at Lime Kiln

I'd appeared in more than a dozen musicals in high school and college, but once I arrived in New York, I rarely auditioned for them. Sing Down the Moon was my first musical in over two years.

It wasn't until 2014 that I started singing again intensively.


TWELFTH NIGHT

Production

September 1-25, 2005

by William Shakespeare, dir. Bryn Manion and Wendy Remington

Role: Orsino

Aisling Arts @ public parks in New York City

We performed in public parks in every one of New York's five boroughs.

Because we performed outside, we could only do the show when there was good weather and plenty of sunlight. As the days got shorter towards the end of our run, we had to make cuts to the play, to make sure we'd finish before the sun went down.


BURY THE DEAD

Benefit Performance

September 19, 2005

by Irwin Shaw, dir. Randall Stuart

with Lindsey Andersen, Elizabeth Amari, Andrew Arno, Tom Bain, Lucas Beck, Kathryn Blume, Bob Bollweg, David Buttarro, Kathleen Chalfant, Buck Henry, Victor Khodadad, Mary Jo McConnell, Denis O'Hare, Enrique Rivas, Mark Tafoya, Jonathan Tindle, Eric Walton and Mary Beth Worley

Role: Colonel Elwell

Upon These Boards @ Cooper Union

As a young actor in New York, I felt impossibly distant from actors who had "made it". (I later discovered most of these actors had anxieties of their own.)

Working with Buck Henry (Oscar-winner for his screenplay of The Graduate), Denis O'Hare (Tony-winner for his performance in Take Me Out), and Kathleen Chalfant (Obie-winner for her performance in Wit) — all artists who had deeply inspired me — was a gratifying experience.


Doric_Wilson_with_IT_Award.jpg

AND HE MADE A HER

Staged Reading

September 20, 2005

by Doric Wilson, dir. Bryn Manion

with Eric C. Bailey and Brad Wells

Role: Disenchantralista

Peculiar Works Project @ The Cornelia Street Cafe

Doric Wilson — who watched our reading with evident delight — was "a playwright whose satirical, wisecracking works are considered bricks in the foundations of the Off Off Broadway and gay theater movements" (as The New York Times put it in his obituary).

A year later, Doric reached out to me about reprising Disenchantralista ("an angel of conservative cant") in a revival of his play. Unfortunately, I was tied up with another project.


FORCE: THRESHOLD

Staged Reading

September 25, 2005

written and directed by Bryn Manion

Aisling Arts @ Manhattan Theater Source

Bryn Manion, with whom I'd recently worked on three projects, invited me to help develop The Force Trilogy, which was eventually nominated for a Pulitzer.


PARABLE

Television

October 2, 2005 (Principal Photography)

dir. Stephen Payne and Richard Payne

Role: Saint John Chrystom

Eternal Word Television Network


SLEEPY HOLLOW

Production (Musical - Regional Tour)

October 4-October 30, 2005

dir. John Healey

with Morgan Gengo and April Usarski

Role: Ichabod Crane

Theater at Lime Kiln

Morgan and April and I toured through several schools in southwestern Virginia with this musical adaptation of Washington Irving's famous story.

The theater went bankrupt a month later. (I'm almost positive it wasn't our fault.)


THE WAIT

Student Film (Short)

written and directed by Rosa Bordallo

Role: The Boyfriend

New York University, Undergraduate Film


INTELLIGENT OFFICE - "NOT IT"

Commercial (Regional)

November 19, 2005

dir. Matt Ballen

with Fiona Choi and Raul Dedos

After meeting on this commercial, director Matt Ballen and I talked for years about shooting a short film he'd written. The funding never materialized, but Matt did eventually bring me in for The Onion News Network.


RUST

Student Film (Feature)

December 2005 (Principal Photography)

written and directed by Jammy Yoon)

School of Visual Arts

For the third time, Jammy cast me as the best friend of the central character. (For the first time, that character was played by someone other than Jammy himself.)