|Brian Charles Rooney|
This audacious rock-’n’-roll concoction about mutant bedbugs that terrorize New York City never stops surprising, with its performances, its choreography, its props and special effects. The subject matter may leave you feeling itchy, but with the delirious sensory overload the show provides, you’ll quickly forget the discomfort.
That is how The New York Times review begins.
What happens when a lonely exterminator – hell-bent on avenging her mother’s bedbug related death – tries to eradicate all bedbugs from NYC??
Mass mutation and mayhem, from an army of human-size creatures out for blood, world domination – and love. Not since Little Shop and Rocky Horror has a sci-fi musical rocked audiences with such an electric, tune-filled score and over-the-top performances!!!
Brian Charles Rooney's road to Bedbugs: The Musical began when he was in high school. He signed up for the drama club. Unfortunately, they did not do musicals there. The head of the drama club felt that musical theatre was not real acting! A fact that Brian knows now not to be true. It was a really ridiculous notion. He did, however, do a lot of plays, particularly plays that employed a lot of different dialects which would prove to be very useful to him later in his career. He is a character actor and tends to use a lot of dialects. Being in that drama club, Brian fell in love with the PROCESS of putting on a show. That involves teamwork,creating the illusion of the story, and the audience buying into the story. Brian loves being a storyteller.
From high school, Brian went to Duke University. In his freshmen year, he was cast as Charley in Sondheim's Merrily, We Roll Along. That was Brian's first musical and he considers in "baptism by fire."
He then went headstrong into researching and learning about musicals. Before that, his knowledge was limited. He had seen a few, growing up in New Jersey, when his parents (rarely) came into the city. Brian really got to know the canon. Again, he fell in love with the art form. As an actor, it allows him to stretch in an emotive way.
Beyond the spoken word, you are allowed to go further. Music and the spoken word together touches people in a different way, rather than those two mediums alone.
Honest artists inspire Brian. Those that are fun to work with and those who take risks. Those who respect themselves and other artists. That makes his job a lot of fun.
Brian has been lucky enough to work with some really amazing people. That includes actors and directors. He worked with Cyndi Lauper in Threepenny Opera on Broadway and "she was incredible to work with.
|Gretchen Wylder as Mother in Bedbugs: The Musical|
|Randy Harrison and Brian Charles Rooney - POP! at Yale Repertory .|
Brian has been involved with Bedbugs since it was first written. It was written with Chris Hall who plays Cimex, the bedbug king, and Brian, in mind. They started working on it in late 2007 and early 2008. It started out as a reading at NYU because
Fred Sauter, who wrote the book and lyrics,went to NYU's musical theatre writing program.
They are great because they allow their alumni to use their facilities if they need to work. They did a reading/workshop there. Since then, working with Fred and Paul Leschen, the composer, has been an amazing thing. They have become like family to Brian. They are incredibly receptive collaborators. They listen to your questions. They respond to feedback in a very positive way. They will tell you if they don't agree with you, but it has been a very collaborative process.
There are many things that Brian has learned because of his involvement that he will carry with him throughout the rest of his career. At the top of that list is to keep trusting his instincts.
He admits that this is reaffirmed a bit more with every project. A good actor respectfully trusts his instincts. He listens to the director, to the writers, to the musical director... He doesn't take himself down if his gut tells him to ask a question, or to make a less conventional choice as an actor. Try something. You try everything. You try what is given to you and you try what your heart and your gut tell you to try...in rehearsal
Robert Bartley is the director. Off Broadway: Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle-nominated Character Man (Urban Stages), Tales of Custard (DR2 Theatre). The Cuban and the Redhead (Los Angeles Festival of New American Musicals, Village Theatre, Revision Theatre, York Theatre, National Alliance for Musical Theatre), The Family Fiorelli and Color Blind (NYMF), Hair (Peculiar Works). Creator/Director/Choreographer of Broadway Backwards produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS featuring hundreds of performers such as Betty Buckley, Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris and many more.
Brian has worked with a lot of really wonderful directors and has been very lucky that he has not had any bad experiences. Robert is no exception. He is extremely good at editing actor's work and challenging them to try ideas and trust their instincts and throwing them ideas that they might not have thought of. He is very grounded and very sweet and very passionate about this show. He has been incredibly supportive of Brian throughout the process. If Brian could carry him around in his backpack to auditions just to hear what he has to say, he would! He has Brian's back. Brian feel that a good director has to support their actors and have a good eye for editing the work and have passion that doesn't die. Robert has gone the extra mile for the show for the actors, designers, and all creative personnel.
|Grace McLean as Carley and and Nicholas Park as Burt|
There have been many wonderful experiences during this journey with Bedbugs. At the top of that list is an amazing review in The New York
|Brian Charles Rooney!|
He was so relieved and he was so grateful. He called Fred Sauter first. He didn't even know there was a review! Because Brian was crying, Fred asked if it was bad. Brian said, "Nooooo!"
Then Brian spoke with Robert Bartley (the director) and Dale Joan Young (Producer). It was a good day because the review validated what they all believed, that people really liked it and people could come and have a good time. Although it is this larger-than-life story, it has heart, and people relate to the characters, and desire to go along on the journey with them.
|Tracey Conyer Lee, Barry Shafrin, Danny Bolero|
GRACE McLEAN Carly, Young Carly
There was one night where there was not quite enough water in one of the glasses. They have incorporated drinking water into Dionne's stress eating so that the food is "sloshed" before she has to scream the next line. A piece of something salty got caught in Brian's throat. It was a little tricky but
|Tracey Conyer Lee as reporter Brenda Bedford|
It ended up being a little funny. He has become pretty skilled at spinning gold from straw. When anything goes wrong in any show, the problem can, sometimes, be fun because of the element of surprise. It becomes a challenge to make some kind of funny reality out of it. There was another night when one of the prop-bags of food came undone. Danny Bolero, who plays Dexter, Dionne's husband, has to dump a garbage can, filled with junk food packages, over Brian's head in a scene. The action helps to illustrate the abusive nature of their characters' relationship. In the scene in question, Dexter is berating Dionne for overeating, and for not having a good attitude, and being down. The food in the broken bag went all over Dionne's head! Dexter is supposed to leave the scene after yelling, "Clean this mess up!" Dionne's next line is normally, "Alright, Dexter." However, in character, Brian started to cry a little bit. He cried out, "I need a broom!" cracking up the entire house in the process. A potentially bad experience turned out to be a good one. Brian believes you must always react in character. Dionne wouldn't have ignored the mess!
|Chris Hall as Cimex and Grace McLean as Carly|
Brian was recently having a conversation with a friend when he stated that people are looking to be happy right now.
We all need some kind of escape. Theatre is special because you are THERE and it is going on in front of you in a LIVE way. It is not social media. It is not recorded. It is living in front of you. That's different from something where you're more separated from the entertainment, such as in the case of TV or movies or You Tube or whatever.
Brian cannot imagine having not done this show.
Brian has played women in a few shows. His evolution as an actor as far as the make up and creating a physicality for the female roles he has played is not a joke.
Each time this happens, he grows a little bit more and he loves it. People are fooled and there are some audiences in which they don't know.
|Brian Charles Rooney as Dionne Salon with Danny Bolero|
When there is a new production starting from the ground, the actor sometimes has to know what to ask for. The more Brian works, the more that becomes something he is better capable of.
"Not everyone's ideas are always good, including mine!" It is a beautiful thing to work with artists who desire to collaborate. It makes theatre more exciting.
|Brian in ThreePenny Opera|
It raises the bar higher and it makes it less about "pop culture camp" and makes it more of a story that can last for years. It is a timeless kind of story. A character starts out unhappy and without love and without self love and ends up finding those things by the end. A lot of people go through that.
As stated before, Brian is very proud of this team, especially those who have been part of this since day one. He also loves those who have joined on and been part of this journey for a while. This company have risked their reputations in terms of promoting it and telling those they trust in the business to come see it. Credibility can go out the window with people if you invite them to something and they don't think it is worth their time.They have stumbled along the way, but they love each other and they value each other as friends also in addition to be business associates.
|Carly McLean and Colin Scott Cahill|
Order Tickets TODAY!
|Cast of BEDBUGS!!! bottom left. Costumes: Philip Heckman. Photos: Rex Bonomelli|
New York Times ✓ CRITICS’ PICK
“A theatrical blast of fresh air, Bedbugs!!! is an audacious rock-’n’-roll concoction that never stops surprising. The sci-fi slapstick tradition of Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Show is alive and well and, now, six-legged.”
Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,
Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!
NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!
Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!
|NYMF.org: A publicity photo from the musical Bedbugs!!!|
Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
|“Bedbugs!!!,” a rock 'n' roll musical comedy at the ArcLight Theater, finds these giant mutant insects terrorizing New York City. Credit Rex Bonomelli|
IF you like this blog, please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook
Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com