Perfecting The Puzzle

Casting director finds joy in furthering careers

Posted: January 28, 2018 at 1 a.m.

Courtesy Photo Stephen DeAngelis created "At This Performance...," a showcase of Broadway and off-Broadway standbys, understudies and alternates, in 2003. He'll bring a special performance to the Walton Arts Center Jan. 29.
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Courtesy Photo Stephen DeAngelis created "At This Performance...," a showcase of Broadway and off-Broadway standbys, understudies and alternates, in 2003. He'll bring a special performance to the Walton Arts Center Jan. 29.

It's impossible not to share Stephen DeAngelis' enthusiasm -- three parts proud parent, two parts carnival barker and 95 parts a fan of the mediums he populates with people.

DeAngelis is an extremely successful casting director -- but that wasn't how he fell in love with theater. He was the young actor whose grandparents were British, the kid who played a lot of roles in "Oliver" and was often Anna Leonowens' son in "The King and I." He was also a sports fan -- especially baseball -- and spent a lot of time "memorizing every roster, knowing who was in the farm system, making imaginary trades, figuring out how certain teams' problems needed to be handled."

FAQ

‘At This Performance…’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Jan. 29

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $15 and up

INFO — 443-5600

FYI

‘At This Performance…’:

An Exclusive Show for WAC

• Jessica Hendy (“Cats”; “Amour”; “Aida”)

• Mykal Kilgore (“Motown the Musical”; “Hair” and a member of Post-Modern Jukebox)

• Linda Mugleston (fresh from covering Better Midler in “Hello, Dolly!”)

• Wade Preston (“Movin’ Out”)

• And musical director/accompanist Eugene Gwozdz: “You’ll forget there’s not an orchestra. He doesn’t play the piano, he plays the score,” DeAngelis says.

In other words, "I exhibited all the skills of a casting director when I was a kid," he says. "I just didn't know it at the time.

"As I grew older in the business, I transitioned into directing and producing, and as a result of that, I realized I really loved putting the puzzle together, the problem solving, the idea of taking what the composer has written and the lyricist has written, and the creative team's point of view and putting them all together to make sure that everyone in the creative process is happy with the result," DeAngelis says. "Whether it's for a commercial or a film or a TV series or a play, it's all about the possible combinations of performers that will unleash the potential of the event."

In this case, DeAngelis has put together a collection of New York talent that is rarely in the spotlight. "At This Performance...," coming Jan. 29 to the Walton Arts Center for one performance only, showcases Broadway and off-Broadway standbys, understudies and alternates. They might not be famous yet, but DeAngelis' batting average says they will be. On Jan. 15, he says, he passed his 904th performer since "At This Performance..." debuted in 2003. Those 904 actors have covered 4,941 roles in 480 Broadway and off-Broadway productions, he says.

"When you look at those alumni and count all the Tony nominees and Tony winners and all those who have moved on to TV or film? I'm really happy doing what I do."

DeAngelis admits he also gets a more personal satisfaction from his success.

"I was lucky early in my career I got to do some fun stuff," he says, including national tours of "Grease" and "Godspell." "But I realized even when I was performing, the rehearsal process always meant more to me than the actual applause. I found my journals from when I was out on the road, all filled with entries that talked about what I learned from the performance. Never, 'oh, I was really funny tonight.' As a casting director, I get to prepare in my mind for every role and think about all the qualities that are needed to play it. I'll never play Don Quixote in 'Man of La Mancha,' but I can think through and enjoy everything about that character as I cast it.

"And it's always a chance to create an opportunity for an actor -- for someone to get recognized, to grow into the next phase of their career, to do their dream role perhaps," he adds. "It's never a bad experience."

Mykal Kilgore

Jessica Hendy

Wade Preston

Linda Mugleston

Eugene Gwozdz

NAN What's Up on 01/28/2018