In 2010, Houston's Channel 2 News KPRC named Stage Door Inc. Houston's "Best Theatre Group," a title this company definitely is deserving of. After attending a recent production of Stage Door Inc.'s FRANKENSTEIN-A NEW MUSICAL by Mark Baron, Jeffrey Jackson, and Gary P. Cohen, I had the opportunity to sit down with members of the talented cast. Justin Nicholson, playing the Creature and a founding member of the theatre, Travis Hamilton who plays Victor Frankenstein, Leslie Sharp who plays Elizabeth Lavenza, and Alyssa Araguz who plays Agatha all chatted with me about Stage Door Inc., FRANKENSTEIN, and their upcoming 2013 season. All I can say is that great things are currently happening in Pasadena and it seems that that trend is sure to continue into the future for quite some time.
Tell me a little about Stage Door Inc.
Justin Nicholson (JN): We started about five years ago. Mark Anthony Glover and I had both been doing shows together. He came to me while we were in college and an opportunity arose and we decided to take it to start our own theatre. We were already doing guest directing and stuff at other theatres. It took us about a year to build funds and get our game plan together, then we started in another section of this mall [Pasadena Town Square Mall], and we had kind of a small beginning. We had a four-show season, then we ended up getting a better, newer space with the same size stage. We've done about 10 shows a year every year, and it's been non-stop since. We've been growing and growing.
How do you program your seasons?
JN: We have board meetings, and we have a scheduled time of the year where we will have people selected for script committee and they vote on what we're going to do for the next year. Everybody always brings in a number of scripts, and then we hand them out and read them. Then we'll have a meeting and discuss "let's do so many musicals, let's do so many regular shows, let's do some many comedies, let's do so many of this and that," so that we have a little bit of everything for everybody in the season.
How did you pick FRANKENSTEIN-A NEW MUSICAL? As musicals go, it's not very well known. Is there a story there?
JN: We were originally going to do, what was it?
Others (in unison): JEKYLL & HYDE!!!
JN: We were originally going to do JEKYLL & HYDE. It came time for auditions and someone ended up getting the rights at another theater, and we ended up losing that. But we found this script and heard the music and we're like this is very close to the same show, very close to the same feel...
Travis Hamilton (interjecting): Thematically.
JN: And we just fell in love with it instantly and put that up next for our show.
Leslie Sharp (LS): JEKYLL & HYDE got taken away and we were all like, "Dang! I was really set on this dark, gothic, beautiful choral sound." Then we found FRANKENSTEIN, and I think we had a few others that were thrown in as possible replacements. Everyone listened to FRANKENSTEIN, and everybody liked this immediately.
What was preparing for FRANKENSTEIN like?
LS: It was a lot of music rehearsal at first with just a keyboard and without the actual underscore. The chunks of music in the score are so huge that if you miss something you have to go back to the beginning, and it's like five minutes ago. So, we did a lot of rehearsals with just a keyboard and a cappella singing to get chords and all of that. Then, we slowly put it together. It was a lot of music rehearsals. We didn't block it until very late in the game.
Alyssa Araguz (AA): Two-thirds [into rehearsals], I think.
Travis Hamilton (TH): Yeah, because the show is designed timed to the underscore. So, we pretty much worked on getting that down, and then we could work on putting it on the stage.
What are your favorite moments in FRANKENSTEIN?
LS: My favorite part of the show is the beginning of Act II when Justine comes back to life on the table. It's just Justine, Frankenstein, and the Creature, and that interaction, and that song, and the lightning, and that feeling. I got to sit in the audience and watch that during dress rehearsal, and that is my favorite part of the show.