is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Timothy Hull : Man of Many Faces; One Voice


After attending dozens of shows over the past few years as I've covered local theater, I may not be any more acute at deciphering scripts or discerning a good actor from a not-so-good one, but there are a few things that I have observed.  

First of all, I don't want to squirm in my seat, waiting for the show to end.  I love it when the dialogue is snappy, the plot is such that I don't have to write one in my head to fill in the gaps, and most importantly, I must be able to understand what is being said on stage.  For whatever reason, sometimes it's a bit of a challenge to hear it all clearly.

Not so, however, with one actor whose face may change, but whose voice is always undeniably identifiable, and that is Timothy Hull.  When he speaks, I hear every word he says, his diction is clarion clear, and he fully owns every character, whether it's comical or condescending.  There's certainly nothing nebulous about his portrayals, and I never have a problem believing that whomever Tim Hull is playing, he indeed is that character.  Most recently, I saw him in True West, where he played the (seemingly) more responsible brother to Bob Singleton's slackster who drops in unexpectedly in more ways than one -- and even though I knew it was 'just' Tim and Bob up on the stage in Sam Shepard's fabulous play, I was totally wrapped up in the bottleneck of banter, the uncomfortably familiar struggles of siblings, and the inevitable role reversal that occurs before all is said and done (and destroyed).

 

In the past few weeks, watching SummerFest's Pride and Prejudice take shape, it's been a real treat to watch all the players -- who I regrettably cannot profile individually, but they are all most entertaining and brilliant in what they do -- and there he is again: Tim Hull playing the naughty suitor, Tim Hull with his dancing voice and twinkling eyes, putting the "play" back into the play.  It's quite a genuine performance that he continuously provides, and  watching the show in its entirety Wednesday, I noticed the Arboretum audience around me appreciated his presence as well.  Every time he made an entrance, peeked through a curtain in a rather Laugh-In reminiscent setting, the crowd would snicker and nudge each other, tickled to see what his character would come up with next. 


Accordingly, I was thrilled when Hull agreed to explain a little more to me about where he's been and where he's going once the Bennetts and their daughters bid him adieu when the show closes on Sunday (because Rent is due).

Hull tells me he auditioned for Pride because he loves working for Summerfest, "and I wanted to support it and KCTC. They chose some great shows and had three fantastic directors, two of whom I worked with (and loved working with) in previous shows (Sully White in Big Love and Ave Lawyer in Another Part of the Forest). I’m not particularly a Musical Theater person, so there was no way I was getting in Rent, but I hope to do another Musical at some point."


Good news is that Hull may be seen again soon at the Bell House in a Brian Hampton work.  "I’m planning on auditioning for The Jungle Fun Room, and would love to work with Bob Singleton and Studio Players again (Auditions are on Sunday and Monday - but of course, at this point I have no idea if I’ll be cast)."

[Note:  I'll be blogging soon about Brian Hampton's thoughts on his play coming to Studio Players, so stay tuned :)  kjt]

Tim is originally from Lexington, and played his first role at 12, "when my mom (who was the Drama teacher at Bryan Station Senior High) cast me in a small part in Bryan Station’s Carousel. I later studied theater for four years at Western Kentucky University, and from 1996-1999 went to Graduate school at the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco, where I received an M.F.A. in Acting. I did a few plays in San Francisco and San Jose, then did several plays in New York City (then I got fed up, joined the Army, and afterwards moved back to Lexington a little over three years ago)."


"Since you mentioned my diction, I received Speech training at the ACT under Deb Sussel, and while I was in school, I used to spend about 15-30 minutes on my own almost every day doing speech (and voice and t’ai chi) exercises (with the great help of Edith Skinner’s book Speak with Distinction). I had to cool it after a while though, I was starting to sound too much like an over-articulating Brit in my real life."

So, just what have we seen him in before in the great outdoor theatre experience now known as SummerFest?  "I played Worcester in last year’s Henry IV Part I, and Cheever in The Crucible a few summers ago. I was also Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet years ago at Woodland Park (I think 1995? with Tom Phillips as Romeo).   I worked with Sully last summer in a KCTC workshop production of Big Love - we trained and worked primarily with Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints technique, and it was an absolutely fantastic experience."

Like all the others who play at the Arboretum, his only real concern for the remainder of Pride and Prejudice "is that we don’t get rained out. The heat isn’t too bad in the evening, and it cools off fine when it darkens. The actors just learn to live with the sweat."
 
Tim agrees that script whisperer Sully White, as director, has aligned all the best talent and elements necessary for Jon Jory's delightful adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.  "It’s been a wonderful treat to work with such a terrific cast. Every single actor fits their part just perfectly, everybody’s excellent, and they’re really nice people too. Sully, the Joes (Ferrell and Artz), the designers and the crew (led by the nonpareil Stage Manager Gretchen Shoot) make it all such an easy, pleasant and fun experience. Theater is a collaborative art form, and the best productions always grow out of everybody doing their best to help each other out and work toward the common good -- and that’s certainly felt like the case with Pride and Prejudice."
 
Timothy J. Hull confesses he does have a secret talent:  "I can make great brownies and a mean bowl of cereal."

I hope you'll be there tonight, tomorrow or Sunday to watch him as Hull pours out his lucky charms -- after all, he's magically delicious, dramatically speaking, of course! 

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SummerFest continues a 29-year tradition of outdoor summer theatre at The Arboretum: State Botanical Garden in Lexington, KY. This year's season includes:


THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (July 7-11)

by William Shakespeare

Directed by Ave Lawyer


PRIDE & PREJUDICE (July 14-18)

adapted by Jon Jory

Directed by Sullivan Canaday White



RENT, THE MUSICAL (July 21-25)

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Directed & Choreographed by Tracey Bonner

Music Direction by Mark Calkins


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The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare will open 2010’s SummerFest on July 7 and play through July 11, 2010. Ave Lawyer (recently seen directing On The Verge’s productions of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes and Another Part of the Forest) will make her SummerFest debut directing one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing tales of love, greed and revenge. Audiences can look forward to a unique and timeless interpretation of this classic that hasn’t been produced in Lexington for over 20 years.


The Merchant of Venice Cast Includes:

Shylock - Adam Luckey
Portia - Lisa Thomas
Antonio - Carmen Geraci
Bassanio - Bob Singleton
Gratiano - Evan Bergman
Salarino - Ryan Briggs
Lorenzo - Tanner Gray
Jessica - Joe Elswick
Nerissa - Rosanna Hurt
Launcelot - Patrick Davis
Duke - Jack McIntyre
Aragon - Jeff Sherr
The Prince of Morocco/Stephano - Whit Whitaker
Salerio - Nick Swartz


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Sullivan Canaday White (2008’s The Lord of the Flies) returns to SummerFest to direct a critically praised adaptation of one of the most beloved novels of our time, Pride And Prejudice. The adaptation is written by Jon Jory, well known in Kentucky as the celebrated, former, longtime Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Pride And Prejudice will play July 14 through July 18, 2010.

Pride And Prejudice Cast Includes:

Mrs. Bennet - Trish Clark

Mr. Bennet - Walter Tunis
Elizabeth Bennet - Ellie Clark
Jane Bennet - Holly Brady
Mary Bennet - Annie Barbera
Kitty Bennet- Erin Cutler
Lydia Barret/Georgiana - Avery Wigglesworth
Mr. Darcy - Tom Phillips
Charlotte - Sarah Levy
William Lucas/Mr. Collins/Mr. Gardner -Tim Hull
Miss Bingley/Mrs. Gardiner - Vanessa Becker
Lady Catherine - Stephanie Peniston
George Wickham - Drew Davidson


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SummerFest concludes with the show that transformed the definition of musical theatre, rocked a generation and changed Broadway forever, Jonathan Larson’s blockbuster musical, RENT, playing July 21 though July 25, 2010.

Tracey Bonner, no stranger to the Lexington musical theatre scene, makes her SummerFest directing debut with this Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning musical.


RENT Cast Includes:


Mimi Márquez -Jessica Lucas
Roger Davis - John Dawson
Mark Cohen - Chip Becker
Maureen Johnson - Caroline Griffeth
Angel Dumott Schunard - Emanuel Williams
Tom Collins - Nick Vannoy
Joanne Jefferson - Sheronda Piersall
Benjamin 'Benny' Coffin III - Thomas Gibbs
Seasons Of Love Soloist - Andrea Johnson


The Ensemble Includes:

Taylor Eldred
Casey Mather
Justin Norris
Sarah Matthews
Brandon Smith
Cate Poole
Beth Kovarik
Wood Van Meter
Katie Berger
Nick Covault

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All SummerFest 2010 performances will begin nightly at 8:45 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, at the Arboretum: State Botanical Garden of Kentucky on Alumni Drive. SummerFest tickets will go on sale in June 2010 and will once again feature very affordable single ticket prices of $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Season Passes to see all three shows will also be available at $25 for adults and $12 for kids.

For more information on SummerFest, or the Conservatory programming, please visit them the web at www.kctcsummerfest.com.





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