Friday, Dec. 12, 2008

Stage Actors On Film

By Russ Bickerstaff
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I and a number of other people recently received an email from local actor Cesar Gamino. There wasn’t much in it. He’d mentioned recently completing work on the following short promo for the United Adworkers 208—the local end of a marketing communications union:

Clever. Evidently, he’s also recently finished work on a short film called The Violinist,which apparently filmed in various locations this past fall including, of all places, Riverwest. The film also stars recent emerging Milwaukee Rep star Emily Trask, (I could’ve sworn was off studying acting at Yale this past fall) . . . the Myspace page for The Violinist lists it as being in post-production. With talent like Gamino and Trask (who, in spite of extensive work in the Milwaukee theatre scene, have never appeared onstage together) this could be a fun short.

Reading about The Violinist reminded me of another film prominently featuring local stage actors that I’d read about this past summer. Checking back again on the feature film Madison, I notice that it was in this past April’s Wisconsin Film Festival and, presumably, is currently touring the festival circuit looking for a major distributor. IMDB lists the US Release date as, "August 1, 2008." As near as I can tell, the film hasn’t made it to Milwaukee. Shot in an around the title city by writer/director Brent Notbohm, Madison features a cast almost exclusively drawn from Milwaukee/Madison/Spring Green stage actors. James DeVita stars as a journalist back in Wisconsin after covering the war in Iraq. The cast also includes Sarah Day, Richard Halverson, Brian Mani, Gerard Neugent and Jonathan Smoots, among others.

Madison may never reach Milwaukee screens . . . it’s even possible that a project like this, regardless of how professional it looks, may not even be commercially released on DVD. If nothing else, it’s interesting to watch the trailer on the website—there you see DeVita as a screen actor. It’s a bit surreal to watch him playing out a bit of dialogue with Mani and Neugent on location in a bar somewhere with fairly decent cinematic lighting and everything . . . these are actors who are alarmingly familiar Milwaukee theatre audiences. It’s strange enough seeing them in a trailer online. It’d be really interesting to see them on the big screen . . .

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