Patrick Schmitz: Pt. 3 of The Rudolph Trancsripts
In this, the final part of of my interview transcripts with the writer/director/promoter/producer of Rudolph the Pissed-Off Reindeer, Patrick Schmitz talks about working with child actors, expectations and the importance of confidence when jumping off a cliff.
Me: I ran into Kirk from the Alchemist at the Boulevard opening on Wednesday and heâd mentioned that there are kids in this.
Patrick Schmitz: Yes. Yes . . . the five young actors Iâve got on board are five kids that I teach here. [âhereâ being First Stage. I guess I didnât mention Patrickâs day job . . .] I talked to all of their parents beforehand. I agreed if [they] wanted to see the script, by all means, I will send . . . a copy. So I got the approval from the parents first. That was very important to me. And so . . . I wanted Rudolph to be a younger person. I wated Clarice to be younger. And once Rudolph came-in ( . . . and heâs Joel Boyd heâs wowing the adult actors. Heâs creating his own comedy club at In Tandem. Very funny. Very sharp guy.) And it just sort of trickled . . . once I had one child actor . . . I had to have Clarice, the love interest be a child as well. (Child, teenager, whatever..15 or 16 year olds) and then if Hermey and Rudolph were going to be best friends, it would be a little creepy if there was a 43 year old guy being friends with this 16 year old boy. And then I had to make Hermey a student of mine as well . . . and then Nevin [Langhus] is playing Fireball, the other reindeer who Rudloph befriends and now THAT has to be a child actor, too.
Me: and it quickly became a rather large child cast.
Patrick Schmitz: Yeah, thereâs five of them. In the nineteen character show thereâs eighteen actors. Iâve got one person playing two parts, but . . . theyâre [the child actors] five people I brought on board due to first-off: the parents [permission] their maturity level, their talent level, their being able to commit to the show and the times and the rehearsal dates. I Took a bit of a risk, but, yâknow . . . itâs great. No regrets.
Me: Has the schedule of the child actors been difficult to work with?
Patrick: I only rehearse three days per week. The actors are only asked to be there twice per week. Because Monday is everyone EXCEPT for the interrogation room. Tuesday is JUST the interrogation room. And then Wednesday is everybody combined. [at this point, I will remind anyone who started reading with this part 3 of the transcripts that they should probably go back and start from the beginning, as this likely sounds very strange out of context.] So itâs only two nights per week and it only goes technically from 6 to 8 [pm.]
Me: So this is the first thing youâve ever directed?
Patrick: Yes. And full-length written as well.
Me: Youâve never tackled anything quite this big before.
Patrick: No. [Sketch and Improv group] Gentlemenâs Hour is the closest Iâve ever sort of done with writing or directing.
Me: And you wouldnât consider that directing?
Patrick: No. I mean, if youâre writing, you direct it, but. . . itâs not really directing. So yeah, this is my first full-length thing. I just kind of went step by step, I said, âall right, hereâs how Iâm going to do the audition process and then it just happened. I got people around me who know what theyâre doing, so any advice that I needed . . .
Me: But youâve worked with child actors before with Organized Chaos [Patrickâs child actor Improv group through First Stage] but there youâre not actually directing them?
Patrick: No . . . Iâm a coach more than a director. A director has their vision and the kids better be on board with that vision where as coaching is, âwhatâs youâre vision? Okay, letâs alter that. Letâs work with that.â
Me: But now youâre working with child actors AND adults. Sort of bridging the gap.
Me: Now with that and . . . everything else, did this project turn out to be more work than youâd expected?
Patrick: No. I mean, the budget . . . the funding was the only thing that I wasnât expecting . . . that Iâd have t pay this much. Yâknow . . . now I need this much more. But, [itâs] not a problem, I just wasnât expecting that. And I do want to pay my actors. I want to pay myself. I want to pay the staff, my assistant director . . . and the thereâs money towards advertising, thereâs the props and the costuming, the set-building and . . . so all of this is kind of catching me off a little bit, but Is et-up a budget from the beginning and Iâm pretty tight and close to the budget as of right now, s Iâm in a good place. [right now being the week of November 19th. The show has since come very close to selling out]
Itâs been fairly problem free up to this point. From everyone having their lines down to getting the programs done and . . . flyering. Iâve gone through 3,000 flyers now. And just going to different businesses and yâknow . . . giving little piles here and there. We tried to get sponsors in the beginning and I was told I Wouldnât have a lot of luck with that, but I had one restaurant say, âSure. Letâs do it.â It was worth it to have that one . . .
Me: So, theyâre advertising in the program?
Patrick: Yes. And then Matt Kemple with the Milwaukee Sketch and Improv Comedy Festival, heâs in it as well . . . and so I have my three âsponsors,â there and then with the Fund raiser tomorrow . . . [there was an event at the Alchemist Saturday November 22nd. Iâm told in went well] . . . Iâm not risking so much, but itâs really been worth it. Even if I lose money on this, itâll have been worth it.
BUSINESS AND SELF-CONFIDENCE
Me: But initially [the funding] was all you.
Patrick: Yes. Oh, yeah . . .
Me: But isnât that KIND OF LIKE jumping off a cliff? I mean . . . yâknow . . .
Patrick: Honestly, I had that much confidence in the show itself because everyone who read it was like, âwow. This is going to sell out.â A: Everyone loves Rudolph. B: Itâs Christmas Time. C: Itâs kind of a thriller. And youâre going to have all these actors who are going to know people. The Alchemist only seats 51 people. So there was just this constant . . . donâtworryaboutit, donâtworyaboutit, When I was contemplating doing it, I had al these voices, people whoâd been down the road saying, âyouâre not going to have a problem.â And [crosses fingers] weâre sold out opening night. We have 245 tickets sold already. And I wasnât expecting pre-sales to be more than 50 or 75. I though maybe in that range. And to have 250 sold already is . . . Honesly, I think thatâs where weâre going to be. I think that if weâre going to sell out, weâre going to just barely sell-out . . . because thatâs 563 tickets . . . 663 tickets total.
Me: For the entire run.
Patrick: Yes. For the thirteen run . . . fort thirteen shows. Iâd be really surprised if we didnât have that many more people want to come see this show. I know, like 70 people who are coming. Ad thatâs about it. Thatâs on my end and yâknow . . .and obviously bringing out young performers . . . they have a lot of their friends still and yâknow . . . living around here, they have their family and friends, so thatâs gonna help, too.
Me: And how does the child actor thing work with the logistics of the Alchemist being a bar?
Patrick: I think the biggest concern is that itâs smoke-free. I Canât speak for the parents. I donât know what theyâre biggest concern is. I think thatâs it, though. Itâs the Alchemist THEATRE. I it was the Alchemist BAR there might be more of a . . . itâs called the Alchemist Theatre and they just happen to serve alcohol there. Theyâre in a trusting environment. Everyone on board in the cast with one exception are all people I know. Itâs all people in the comedy world that Iâve known fort he past 2 . . . 3 or more years. So theyâre good people. Theyâre nice. I take pride in my friends and the people I surround myself with.
Tomorrow: My coverage of Rudolph ends with a full review of the show.