Behind the Scenes of the Alhambra’s ‘1776’

New York actors aspire to win a Tony, film actors want to win an Oscar. What do Jacksonville community theatre actors covet most? A role on stage at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre.

An actor may perform with every theatre group in town, doing a variety of roles but when they finally land a role at the longest-producing dinner theaters in America, Jacksonville’s Alhambra Dinner Theatre, you have reached the top in this area.

Why? As Jacksonville’s full time professional theatre, you know you can perform with the pros. I know this question comes to mind. You thought the Alhambra is an equity house using actors from the actor’s union known as Equity. That is true, but Equity has an agreement with dinner theaters that allows them to use a certain percentage of non-union actors in each production. This is like an apprentice program, developing new actors and giving them an opportunity to earn their equity card by performing so many hours.

wed17oct(oct 17)7:00 pmsun18nov(nov 18)10:00 pm1776 A MUSICAL REVOLUTION

The cast of the current production of the wonderful “l776” has 25 actors and when you read the playbill you will see that Director Tod Booth has selected a number of non-union performers who are making their Alhambra debuts in this play. Some of the new performers are even new to me, as they came from other cities for the opportunity to advance their careers and get “1776” on their resumes.

The Alhambra performs many musicals and if you audition for one of them, you had better have a better-than-average singing voice that is for sure. The voices in the current production are excellent and when all the men on stage sing together, it seems like the roof of the theatre rises a bit.

Coming from community theatre to do a show, you immediately notice that the rehearsals to get the show ready are much shorter. Most productions run at least a month, and the only day off you will get will be Monday when the theatre is usually dark. On Saturday and Sunday you may have 2 shows each day.If the musical is one that children like, you may also have a mid-week matinee show as well.

The current “1776” is loaded with talent. Lee Hamby and Kenneth Uibel are two actors in this show who are doing the exact same roles on this very same stage in April l999, or 20 years ago. Kurt McCall who plays John Hancock is a local actor who earned his equity card through the Alhambra and as a result has been several shows over the years. Mr. McCall also was a costume designer for the Alhambra several years ago.

Dave Gowan who plays James Wilson and Kevin Roberts as Caesar Rodney are well known for roles in local theatres and has appeared in other Alhambra productions. Rodney Holmes after three outstanding performances on local stages is now in his third Alhambra show in a row as the courier for the Continental Congress. If you go to community theatres, the names of three actors will be familiar to you. Brice Cofield, Alec Hadden and Neal Thorburn all make impressive debuts as first timers on the Alhambra stage in “l776”

Want to be on the stage of the Alhambra? Then prepare. Do as many community theatre plays as you can. See “l776”, and read the credits of the actors in the show. Contact them for their advice. Most of them have facebook pages and so are easy to contact. Audition! The Alhambra publishes audition notices on their facebook page or check out the Theatre Alliance of Greater Jacksonville on facebook for a list of most auditions locally.

Yours truly did two plays at the Alhambra some years ago in “The Impossible Years” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”. It was my “Oscar” and my “Tony Award” and if I never act again, I have had my day in the sun. I played with the “pros”.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.