is the grass any bluer...

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Affable Alex Maddox Returns in Studio Players' Kitchen Witches

Alex Maddox as Newvester Trevor in The Jungle Fun Room
Is It Soup Yet?

When I saw that Alex Maddox had a part in Studio Players Kitchen Witches,  Caroline Smith's tale of two culinary comrades, I knew I wanted to find out more about this young upstart who's proven himself to be a key ingredient in local comedic concoctions.  There's just something about his work that instantly makes him affable and trustworthy. 

With popular veteran actors Pat O'Neill and Debbie Sharp
facing off in their roles as two long time frenemies,
Alex has his work cut out for him in Kitchen Witches, 
described as "Paula Dean meets Rachael Ray"
 His likable stage presence fills the air with a harmonic feeling - kinda like the cinnamon in Cincinnati chili -- and according to those with whom he has worked, he's just a pleasant addition to any on-stage recipe.   He has a certain warmth and reminds you of something fun and comforting, yet he can mix it up with the more pungent parts that are somewhat sassier and sillier.  

For example, as Trevor in Brian Hampton's hilarious The Jungle Fun Room, Maddox was the perfect foil for Allie Darden's diva character, Shelly, who is an ambitious bit of a bossy bones (but Trevor eventually wins her over through his sheer optimism and the blessings of being oblivious to sarcasm).  

Maddox made the role his own and immediately won the audience over when matched up with Darden's strong and serious songstress who steals the show, but Alex's Trevor puts his foot in the door and opens it for her.  The two had great chemistry and timing, as did the entire cast (which included Matt Seckman, Jennifer Workman and Amy Faust Mayer) -- they blended perfectly together under Bob Singleton's meticulous direction, and all of that combined with a wonderful script and is what made The Jungle Fun Room such a raucous success for Studio Players.  

Caitlyn Capriette and sis Courtney Waltermire, my
parallel daughters in a perpendicular universe.
I'm going to pause here a moment for a few words about the new talent I've seen this past year.  Maddox is another up and coming talent that you simply must notice, like newcomers Schann Mobley (AGL's Dead Man's Cell Phone) and Johnny Dawson (SummerFest's Rent) -- oh, and the Waltermire girls, Courtney, Kelsey and Caitlyn (who I like to say are my parallel daughters in a perpendicular universe :)  I mention them because I only saw them on stage for the first time this past year, and yet all gave memorable performances.  Their work, and many of the other new faces brings me the best feeling, the feeling as if I'm seeing a new Olympic gymnast bring new and exciting routines to their performances.  I also mention them in particular, because they're  incredibly nice kids...which is refreshing!  It's very cool to watch as they develop their own stage persona and pepper up their productions.  

Bravo to them, by the by, and to all who are part of any cast and crew of our local theatres -- I've always been impressed by the time and effort that go into any production I've seen.  I don't go to the theatre to find fault, I go there to get lost in the story and forget about the cable bill for a few hours.  After all, it's up to me to just enjoy what's good about entertainment.  Coz...if I didn't enjoy it, that would pretty much suck, now wouldn't it? Why go to a show if you're just going to be a snarker?  I don't get that...
Alex Maddox and Ashley Smith in
Bluegrass Mystery Theatre's On Track For Murder

So I don't know why I'm yammering on about all that, because I want to talk about Alex Maddox, this new kid on the block who's so fun to watch. I decided to find out more about this silly mister who is giving everyone a case of the giggles. 
Allie Darden (Shelly) and Alex Maddox in Brian Hampton's
The Jungle Fun Room ("Aw...gee whiz, Ma!")  

Although he has substantial stage experience, my first chance to see him was of course in The Jungle Fun Room, that zany oasis of laughter that came just in time to counteract the doldrums of late summer, when the days were growing shorter and so were people’s spans of attention.  As always, Director Bob Singleton assembled a stellar cast and as Trevor, Alex brought an adorable connection to the mix, showed his vulnerability and played the part in a way that all of us who have ever been the new kid on the block could relate to in oh, so many ways.

With Witches running through February 6 at the Carriage House, locals will get yet another chance to see him in action, along with perennial favorites Pat O'Neill (who will always be Mother Superior in Nunsense to me) and Debbie Sharp (who is fresh off a successful run in Christmas Belles).

So enough of what I think about Alex Maddox, let's see what some of his esteemed peers have to say about him...
Nobody sings Happy Birthday like
Allie Darden did as Shelly in The Jungle Fun Room
Amy Faust Mayer, Alex Maddox, Jennifer Workman,
Bob Singleton, Brian Hampton, Allie Darden and
Matt Seckman - the cast & author of The Jungle Fun Room
The always gracious and gorgeous Allie Darden was all too happy to explain why she likes to work with Maddox.  "Alex is very appealing to audiences because he's hilarious, humble, and relate-able; and that John Cusack thingy he's got going on doesn't hurt either.  He's an absolute dream to work with. So professional, so polite -- and fun! He's always in a good mood. He gives so much on stage, and when I had scenes with him in The Jungle Fun Room at Studio Players last fall, I couldn't wait because I knew they were going to be electric.  He has a comic timing ability that normally comes a bit later with age and experience...but he's already got it. I'm so glad you asked me to discuss Alex, because it's easy to rave about him."

Playwright Brian Hampton
Brian Hampton echoes Allie's sentiments, but from a playwright's perspective. "I was super impressed to see how Alex interpreted and pretty much reinvented the role of Trevor. As a writer, it’s awesome when an actor surprises me and finds things that I didn’t know were there. Alex has got great comic timing, yes. But more than that, he’s an extremely smart actor with razor sharp instincts."

"Not only did I love how committed Alex was to the role of Trevor, but how committed Trevor was to the role of Newvester.  I think we’ve all been put into a situation where we were the new kid on the block. And I’m quite sure that none of us would’ve tackled it quite the way Alex’s Trevor did. It wasn’t just funny, but sincere...and, as a result, we all really felt for him."

According to Hampton, "Alex’s future is bright. He’s not only a good natured guy, but the thing that’s obvious about his talent is that it’s clear he’ll never take the easy way out in his acting. He’s got a long career ahead of him, lots of great roles to tackle, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say secretly I hope Alex will remember Trevor in The Jungle Fun Room as one of his favorites."

St. Peter directed Allie Darden in Hampton's Checking In

Former AGL Artistic Director Rick St. Peter also has high praise for Maddox. "I really enjoyed working with Alex when he was a student actor at UK.  He was the first person I cast in Weak/Side/Help and I was impressed with him throughout the process.  He was inquisitive, hardworking and eager to learn and he ultimately crafted a credible performance while originating his role in the show.  I would work with him again in a heartbeat and hopefully will down the road somewhere.  He has a bright future beyond Lexington."

When I asked Alex a few questions for my blog, he responded with his usual cheery enthusiasm, and tells me he plays Stephen Biddle, "the producer and director of a low-budget cable access cooking show. He's a very particular guy, in that he needs things to be done in a certain way.  He's one of those guys who follows the same mundane routine everyday. If something happens to interrupt or break his routine, his stress level flies off the charts. His mother, Dolly Biddle (played by Pat O'Neill), is the star of his show. The hostess of Baking with Babcha.  Dolly is a spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kind of character. So, naturally she causes a lot of stress for Stephen. Something is always going wrong or not going 'as planned' for Stephen."
"This character, as compared to Trevor in The Jungle Fun Room, is definitely a step in the opposite direction. Trevor was very spontaneous. Almost as if he had A.D.D. - something would grab his attention and he was gone.  Whereas, Stephen is a little tightly wound, maybe a little O.C.D. So, there you go.. I guess you could say the difference between the two is about the difference between A.D.D. and O.C.D. - haha!"

Since The Jungle Fun Room, Alex also performed in the sold-out run of Christmas Belles at Studio this past December.  "I played John Curtis Buntner, the Deputy Sheriff of Fayro, Texas. Talk about a character-driven show -- Christmas Belles was chock full of characters -- and I had the great privilege of portraying Elvis at the end of Belles. Now, that was a blast!"

Grateful for his Studio Players affiliation, he points out, "Witches marks my third consecutive show down there.  It's definitely my home away from home!  The biggest challenge when tackling The Kitchen Witches would have to be handling all the props. This is an extremely prop heavy show.  I'm talking lists and lists of food, kitchen appliances, and utensils. You know you're in for a prop-heavy show when the script calls for a working fridge and cabinets in the scenery.  Although, I must admit I enjoy working with props. I like to call myself a prop-actor. Using a prop onstage can express so many varieties of emotion.  Plus, I got off easy in this show. Unlike Pat and Debbie, I don't have to actually prepare and cook food onstage!"

"In the show, we have a scene where we perform our version of the Iron Chef Challenge. Well, one Saturday we had a rehearsal devoted to working this scene. Dolly and Isobel (played by Debbie Sharp) have to scramble through the fridge and cabinets to gather as many ingredients as they can to create three dishes for our Celebrity Judge, a poor soul who's chosen from the audience.  However, they have to create these dishes within the two-minute time limit., so we had a lot of fun working out how to create dishes that were edible in two minutes.  After all, the girls have to force-feed the Celebrity Judge once the dishes are complete, and we didn't want to ruin someone's theatre experience by force-feeding him a bunch of junk!"

Alex was born and raised here in Lexington, attended Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary for elementary and middle school. “Then, I was off to Lexington Catholic for high school. Finally, I've made it to the University of Kentucky, where I'm a senior theatre major. I first caught the theatre-bug when I auditioned for The Princess and the Pea as a 6th grader at Mary Queen. I ended up getting cast in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Back at Mary Queen, we had one show a year - a musical in the spring. When I attended Lexington Catholic, I was little nervous and ended up chickening out of auditioning for productions until my junior year, where the theatre-bug came back and bit me again. This time though, it never left. I did a bunch of shows my junior and senior year of high school. My favorite has to be The Odd Couple by Neil Simon. I played Felix - the neat-freak, neurotic roommate of the sloppy Oscar Madison. I always knew, even as a young kid, that I wanted to act. I never had those childhood dreams of being a lawyer, a doctor, a fireman. No, I've always wanted to be an actor. I can remember impersonating Jim Carrey as a kid – in fact, Dumb and Dumber was my favorite movie growing up... not a lot of people are surprised by that,” he laughs.
Now a senior at the University of Kentucky, he’s appeared in several shows. “Mostly in our Studio Season, which is our student produced and directed season. But, I have been in two shows on the Guignol stage. I was cast in the lead role of Jack in the world premiere of Weak/Side/Help - which was directed by Rick St. Peter.  T
hen, I got cast as Victor Chandesbise / Poche in A Flea in Her Ear, where I had to portray two main characters. The show was a farce that dealt with mistaken identities, which is why I portrayed both parts. The two characters are supposed to look exactly alike.
Oddly enough, I am about to start rehearsals for The Odd Couple at the University of Kentucky. This time, though, I'm playing Oscar. I'm really excited to be given the chance to do the show again. I've always wanted to do a show a second time, to see what I could do differently."

It’s no surprise that Alex is thoroughly enjoying his work with Studio Players, which always hits its mark with its quality selection of shows.  “Working with everybody down at Studio has been a complete privilege. They really are my second family down there. Reinee Dunn, Tonya Spears, Bob Singleton, Allie Darden, David Bratcher, David Senatore, Mylissa Crutcher, Bob Kinstle... I could go on and on. I'm working with the best talent in Lexington. I'm very lucky.

As far as Kitchen Witches goes, he’s gaga over working with Pat O’Neill (who I remember from Nunsense years ago when my sister was the accompanist for that lovely comedy), and Debbie Sharp, who brings new and exciting facets to every role she plays. “Working with Pat and Debbie has been an adventure, let me tell you! I worked with Debbie in the previous show, Christmas Belles. She's a hoot, on and off the stage. There's never a dull moment when Debbie Sharp is around. Now, working with Pat O'Neill has been wonderful. We really have grown to a mother-son relationship throughout this entire process. Hell, I'm even calling her ‘Ma’ off stage! They are both extremely talented women and a whole lot of fun to work with. They gave me a lot to work off of!”

One more great thing about working on this show: the fact that my father, Rob, is working backstage. My parents have always been extremely supportive of my career choice. They are always in attendance at my shows, always asking about what crazy antics happened in rehearsal - they're just my biggest fans! And quite honestly, if it wasn't for my father letting me know about The Jungle Fun Room audition, who knows where I would be?

DOES ALEX HAVE A SECRET TALENT? "To be honest, I don't really have a secret talent! But, I do have a secret obsession. I am completely obsessed with The Office. I own all of the seasons and I've been watching them non-stop for nearly 3 years. Re-run after re-run. I just can't get enough of it! Then again, I'm a huge Steve Carrell fan."

That's what she said, Alex :)


The Kitchen Witches (through February 6)  just another fabulous sampling of what Studio Players has to offer.  Studio Players is Kentucky's oldest community run theatre, and it consistently brings quality shows - drama, musicals, comedies, a dash of everything - to the Carriage House, where's there's not a bad seat in the place.

Studio Players
Kitchen WItches
by Caroline Smith

Directed by Gary McCormick

Cast List

Stephen Biddle....  Alex Maddox

Dolly Biddle.........  Patricia O'Neil

Isobel Lomax......   Debbie Sharp

Rob..............   Cameron Thompson

Isobel Lomax and Dolly Biddle are two "mature" cable-access cooking show hostesses who have hated each other for 30 years, ever since Larry Biddle dated one and married the other. When circumstances put them together on a TV show called The Kitchen Witches, the insults are flung harder than the food. Dolly's long-suffering TV-producer son Stephen tries to keep them on track, but as long as Dolly's dressing room is one inch closer to the set than Isobel's, it's a losing battle, and the show becomes a rating smash as Dolly and Isobel top both Martha Stewart and Jerry Springer!

Studio Players will be collecting donations of food for God’s Pantry at all performances of The Kitchen Witches. Please bring non-perishable food items (no glass containers), and drop off in the God’s Pantry Barrels in the theatre lobby. God’s Pantry is in need of all types of food. This is a great time of need in our community.
Production Dates

January 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30, February 4, 5, 6, 2011*

Opening night, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8:00pm

Sunday matinee performances begin at 2:30 pm

The Carriage House Theatre is located at 154 West Bell Cout

*(I hear there's been an additional February 3 date added, check it out....kjt)

Ticket Prices

All performances$16.00
(plus applicable fees)


We accept all major credit cards at the box office, as well as cash or check.

NOTE: Please arrive at the carriage house 15 minutes before the performance time. In the event that the performance is sold out, Studio Players reserves the right to sell unclaimed reserved seats at that time.


For reservations please call (859) 225-0370 or purchase tickets online

More about
Isobel Lomax and Dolly Biddle are two "mature" cable-access cooking show hostesses who have hated each other for 30 years, ever since Larry Biddle dated one and married the other. When circumstances put them together on a TV show called The Kitchen Witches, the insults are flung harder than the food!  Dolly's long-suffering TV-producer son Stephen tries to keep them on track, but as long as Dolly's dressing room is one inch closer to the set than Isobel's, it's a losing battle, and the show becomes a rating smash as Dolly and Isobel top both Martha Stewart and Jerry Springer!

"Canadian playwright Caroline Smith has whipped up a hilarious tale." -- Simcoe Times-Reformer

"Take a handful of animated actors, add a lively and responsive audience, let the plot thicken and you get a savory show that's sure to please even the fussiest palate." -- The Orangeville Banner

Winner of the 2005 Samuel French Canadian Play Contest


Alex Maddox burst on the scene (well, okay, on MY scene) as Trevor, the new kid on the block in Brian Hampton’s Jungle Fun Room, the hilarious award-winning show that Studio Players brought to Kentucky back in the Fall.  Since theatre is a collaborative effort, it takes a special artist to leave a positive and lasting impression upon both the audience and those with whom he shares the stage, and by all accounts, it's easy to see why Maddox will be in great demand for future shows.  

It's nice to see that he appreciates every opportunity, gives credit to his parents, and has retained his good manners, and polite way of treating others.  I think in this world, especially in the world of dog-eat-dog drama doings, it’s refreshing to meet someone like Alex, who doesn’t always expect a call back but is infinitely grateful when that happenstance occurs. 

I hope I see you at the show!
peace, y'all,

No comments: