Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In the Bones

Contributed by Isaiah Tanenbaum

In the Bones
produced by Astoria Performing Arts Center is one of the most-recognized shows this year, earning nominations for Premiere Production of a Play, Jaime Vallés' Innovative Design, and acting nominations for Emily Koch, Sean Hankinson, Mel House, and Zac Hoogendyk. We asked them to tell us a little about the production and what brought them on board.

"The first time that I read the script, I got lost in the story. I felt angry, laughed out loud and wept," wrote House. Hankinson agreed: "Cody Daigle wrote a beautiful play." And Hoogendyk added: "When I read it, I knew I wanted to do it."

The production made extensive use of video elements, which earned Jaime Vallés his Innovative Design nomination, and many of the nominees reflected on video's impact on the production as a whole. "I loved the different elements used within In the Bones," wrote Koch. While integrating video into a stage play was not without its challenges, such as a more complicated tech process, it had an upside: "we had one day to shoot all the video footage, and the cast and crew bonded very quickly," said Vallés. Creating the video elements "was a rare opportunity to work with the cast and director on the play's backstory," pointed out Hankinson. "Normally, that work is never really focused outside of personal prep. It was a treat."

The run had its share of memorable moments -- one audience member vomited; another time a pipe burst during the final act, soaking everyone on stage (the show continued, of course). One scene involves House's character's enthusing to Koch's character about the production of Wicked she had seen. Ironically, Koch was in callbacks for a swing role in the national tour of that play, a role she booked. That evening, House went completely blank on the monologue, and all she could get out was a breathless "Wicked!" "Luckily, [Koch's] agent/management team and lots of people in the audience understood and had a big response, and we picked up the scene and proceeded just fine. But I was a very proud Auntie indeed!"

All in all, the cast and crew had a wonderful time working at the Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC), whose mission is to "bring high quality theater to Astoria, Queens, and to support local youth and senior citizens" and whose productions have garnered 36 NYIT nominations and have received six awards (plus the 2012 Caffe Cino Fellowship). We'll give Koch the last word: "they are so giving and smart and fun that every rehearsal was a joy to be a part of."

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