Behind the Scenes of Arts Collective @HCC’s Workshop Production of ‘House’: Part 2: Cast Members Gabrielle Amaro, Alex Becker, Courtney Branch, and Jordan Colea

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In Part 2 of 4 interviews with the Playwright/Director and cast members of House at Arts Collective @ HCC, meet Gabrielle Amaro, Alex Becker, Courtney Branch, and Jordan Colea

Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you on our local stages and who you play in HOUSE.

Gabrielle Amaro.
Gabrielle Amaro.

Gabrielle Amaro: My name is Gabrielle Amaro and I play Andrea Thomas. I most recently performed with Arts Collective in Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Eat the Runt and with Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre in Catch Me If You Can.

Alex Becker.
Alex Becker.

Alex Becker: I’m Alex Becker and I play The Camera Man in House.  I’m a full-time student at Howard Community College studying film and media.

Courtney Branch.
Courtney Branch.

Courtney Branch: My name is Courtney Branch. I play Lucy Gray in House. I played Rose Fenny in Red Branch Theatre Company’s Dogfight and Kelli Poshkinozovich in Red Branch Theatre Company’s Dear Edwina.

Jordan Colea.
Jordan Colea.

Jordan Colea: My name is Jordan Colea and I play a “TV Crew” member in House. – Hair and Make-Up! My most recent show was The Addams Family with STAR Ltd. Theatre in Catonsville in which I played Wednesday Addams.

What inspired you to audition for this show? Have you worked with Arts Collective previously?

Gabrielle: I love working with Arts Collective and was immediately drawn in by the concept of the piece. Plays like this one are very hard to find, so I leaped at the chance to be a part of it with a company that I adore.

Alex: This is my first production with Arts Collective and I’m thrilled to be a part of such a fantastic original show.  

Courtney: I’ve been friends with Daniel (playwright and director) since high school, and when he told me the concept of the show, I just had to be a part of it! It’s such a creative and fun idea to put on stage. I went to Howard Community College from 2008-2010, and while I was there I was in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Chorus Line, and W.I.G. (What Improv Group?!?!).

Jordan: I was super intrigued by this show because it was an original and also by the fact that the idea was and is so new and fresh; I’ve never seen anything like it, which highly influenced my decision to audition. This will be my first show with Arts Collective and I am looking forward to more!

How has this workshop production experience been different than previous productions?

Gabrielle: There have not been any major differences between this workshop production experience and others I have been a part of. The amount of work, dedication, and love that has been put in this production mirrors (if not surpasses) any other production experience. Each actor has devoted an immense amount of energy into their characters and to the piece.

Courtney: This show is completely brand new. All of these characters are coming to life around me, and it’s fun to see the progression from the first day. If there’s something we try that Daniel doesn’t like, we can easily change and adjust it since he wrote the play.

Jordan: This production has been a bit different from previous projects because of the table work involved. We spent a couple rehearsals just talking about our characters which really helped to craft them into the people they are now.

What has it been like to work on an original play as an actor?

Gabrielle: Working on an original play sets forth a slew of mixed emotions: liberation, nervousness, excitement- the list goes on! It is such an amazing experience to breathe new life into a character for the first time and mold that character around discoveries that you have made.

Courtney: It’s been really fun! There’s a lot of creative freedom to try different ideas with character choices and interactions. I don’t think we’ve had a rehearsal where we haven’t ended up laughing at something that one of us has tried out, and it really brings great levels to the show.

Jordan: Working on an original piece is such an amazing experience. We really get to create the characters from the ground up and also watch them evolve along the way, especially with my character because I really got the chance to do a lot of the creating.

How has your character changed since day one?

Courtney: Lucy’s definitely gotten a lot louder! She is the type of person that will be loud and obnoxious without meaning to be, so I get to have a lot of fun with interjections within scenes. She’s a lot of fun to play.

Jordan: I gave my character the name Jade, and in the beginning, that’s really all I had for her. As the rehearsals went on, Daniel really helped me explore so many different ideas and characteristics for her that made her who she is today.

What have you enjoyed the most about this particular process?

Gabrielle: Working with the writer of the play has been a first-time experience that I cherish so much. It is such a joy and privilege to watch the writer (and in this case, director) delve into the world he created and spew that love out in the rehearsal space and creative process.

Alex: The most enjoyable part of this process for me was watching all these wonderful actors create characters that have never been seen before. Seeing the characters come alive from the page really was a new experience for me.

Courtney: I’ve loved seeing Daniel be a director of his own work. He has been my friend for almost ten years, and he’s always been creative with writing stories and plays. I’ve loved watching him live in his element and seeing the enjoyment he has with seeing his work coming to life.

Jordan: Overall, I have enjoyed working with this incredible group of people the most. Their hard work and focus continues to amaze me. We have all become a

What’s been the most challenging part of the process?

Courtney: The most challenging part of this process is my high heels! I’m not a big high heels wearer, and Lucy definitely is. I’m rocking some pretty tall heels in this show, so I’ve been wearing them throughout the rehearsal process just to make sure I don’t fall during the actual show!

Playwright and Director Daniel Johnston with the entire cast: Top Row, Left to Right: Iris Shih, Christian Preziosi, Alex Becker, Sierra Young, Chaseedaw Giles, Courtney Branch, Jordan Colea, Colin Riley, and Taylor Purnell. Bottom Row, Left to Right: Thomas Matera, Warren Harris, Wesley LeRoux, Gabrielle Amaro, Daniel Johnston, and Brandon Furr. Photo by St. Johnn Blondell.
Playwright and Director Daniel Johnston with the entire cast: Top Row, Left to Right: Iris Shih, Christian Preziosi, Alex Becker, Sierra Young, Chaseedaw Giles, Courtney Branch, Jordan Colea, Colin Riley, and Taylor Purnell. Bottom Row, Left to Right: Thomas Matera, Warren Harris, Wesley LeRoux, Gabrielle Amaro, Daniel Johnston, and Brandon Furr. Photo by Shannon Willing.

What do you hope the audiences will take away after seeing it on stage?

Alex: After seeing this production, I really hope the audience takes away a new found respect for original theatre and the comedic irony of reality television.

Courtney: I hope the audience will just enjoy the show! Daniel has written a great play, and it all ties together really well. Reality television is a way for people to sit back and escape the troubles in their life and enjoy seeing other people go through drama. I want people to come to the show and get invested in the lives of these characters and choose a favorite to win, just like they would watching a show at home!

What do you hope to leave the process with?

Courtney: I always leave a show with new friends and experiences, and I’m hoping for the same with this one. I’m also leaving with super high heel-wearing savvy, and the excitement that I got to be a part of creating something that no one has seen before. That was always something on my theatre wish list, and I get to cross it off!

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House plays on March 11-12, 2016 at Arts Collective @ HCC performing at , at Howard Community College’s Studio Theatre –  10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.

LINKS:
Behind the Scenes of Arts Collective @HCC’s Workshop Production of ‘House’: Part 1: Playwright/Director Daniel Johnston by Joel Markowitz.

Behind the Scenes of Arts Collective @HCC’s Workshop Production of ‘House’: Part 2: Cast Members Gabrielle Amaro, Alex Becker, Courtney Branch, and Jordan Colea by Joel Markowitz.

Behind the Scenes of Arts Collective @HCC’s Workshop Production of ‘House’: Part 3: Cast Members Brandon Furr, Chaseedaw Giles, Warren Harris, and Wesley LeRoux by Joel Markowitz.

Behind the Scenes of Arts Collective @HCC’s Workshop Production of ‘House’: Part 4: Cast Members Chania Hudson, Tom Matera, and Christian Preziosi and Crew Member Taylor Purnell by Joel Markowitz.

Behind the Scenes of Arts Collective @HCC’s Workshop Production of ‘House’: Part 5: Cast Members Colin Riley, Iris Shih, and Sierra Young by Joel Markowitz.

HCC’s Arts Collective Premieres Local Playwright’s Original Comedy, ‘House’ on March 11 and 12, 2016 by Susan G. Kramer.

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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.