The Amazing Ensemble Cast and Crew of Vampire/Coma!

The West Side Show Room's production of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom was recently reviewed in The Rock River Times. The review was super positive and showed many photos from the production. I'm excited and grateful to have such a supportive article written about us, but I must admit that I'm a more than a little embarrassed that there weren't more photos of the whole cast.

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Sleeping Beauty, Or Coma are ensemble shows and featured strong performances by the entire cast, not just one or two people.

Thomas Luna with Chad Brazzle (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Thomas Luna (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Thomas Luna, played office temp Enid Wetwhistle in Sleeping Beauty, or Coma. Thomas is a fearless actor who is willing to take risks and fully inhabit a character. He brought a warmth and humanity to Enid that went beyond the typical female impersonations, and he brought the house down with his physical comedy scenes. Thomas heads out soon to NYC to continue his actor training.

Kevin Poole, an alum of the training program at Chicago's Second City, played maniacal London fashion designer Sebastian Loré in Sleeping Beauty, or Coma. Instead of playing the stereotypical effeminate fashion designer, Kevin hinted at Sebastian's flamboyance which made him feel very much like a closeted relic of the past– and made his breakdown in scene two much more delightful than it otherwise might have been.

Kevin Poole (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Kevin Poole (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Alex Ruano (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Alex Ruano (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Alex Ruano brought a wonderful intensity to both of his roles: Craig Prince in Sleeping Beauty, or Coma, and Etienne the butler in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. As Craig Prince, Alex emerged with a whirlwind of energy, propelling the play to it's hilarious satirical conclusion. He absolutely nailed the character of a dumb blond infomercial pitch-man hawking his vitamins, books, and health schemes. Alex received his theater training at the University of the Pacific.

David Mortenson brought an incredible naturalism to both of his roles: up-and-coming fashion photographer Ian Mackenzie in Sleeping Beauty or Coma, and silent film star King Carlisle in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. David claims he doesn't like doing comedy, but you would never know it. He's a very talented physical comedian who brings a specific sense of his surroundings to all of his scenes. Whether he's subject to the forces of an evil vampiress, shivering after coming in from a cold fire escape, or shaking water droplets from his umbrella after walking in the rain, you really believe that he is there.

David Mortenson (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

David Mortenson and Thomas Luna (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Vickie Lynn (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Vickie Lynn (Photo provided by Vickie Lynn)

Can you believe Vampire Lesbians is Vickie Lynn's first time being in a play?? I can't– and neither could audience members who raved about her three wildly different character performances. Vickie played British socialite Anthea Arlo in Sleeping Beauty, or Coma, as well as the Sodomite guard Ali, and young republican student Tracy, both in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. Vickie is a complete natural and we're all hoping to see her back on stage soon (and she took all of these great photos!)

In addition to costuming both shows(!), Genny Bonavia brought her marvelous comic sensibilities to two radically different characters: Fauna Alexander, the earthy proto-hippie/fairy godmother in Sleeping Beauty or Coma, and Renee Vain, a vapid nasal Hollywood starlet looking for her big break in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. Willing to try anything in the name of comedy, Genny is fiercely funny and daring in real life and brought her infectious charm to both of these roles.

Genny Bonavia (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Genny Bonavia (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Chad Brazzle with Mike Werckle and Liz Newman (Photo by Jim Hagerty)

Chad Brazzle (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Chad Brazzle, a veteran performer who is also literally a veteran of the USAF, brought the house down with the three roles he played. Chad is so talented, he could read the phone book and be funny, so it's no wonder that he made so many delicious moments out of NYC beatnik fashion exec Barry Posner in Sleeping Beauty, or Coma, as well as queeny Vegas chorus dancer Danny and the hilarious Hollywood gossip columnist/vampire killer Oatsie Carewe/Gregory Salazar in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. Chad was instrumental in bringing these plays to life by finding all of the wonderful props, and graciously loaning us furniture and set pieces from his art gallery/house aptly named ArtHaus.

Liz Newman, a graduate of the theater training program at SIU and member of bluegrass band The Stragglers, brought her impeccable comic timing to the shrewish secretary Miss Thick in Sleeping Beauty, or Coma, and Virgin/Broadway star Madeleine Astarte in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. As Astarte, Liz found humor in many unexpected places and struck the perfect balance of vulnerability and chutzpah. Her performance underscored the play's heart: we are the most dangerous when we are hurt, and the path to healing is through forgiveness. In addition to preparing two roles, Liz produced both plays. She secured cast and crew, found lighting, sound system, and chairs all seemingly out of thin air.

Liz Newman (Photo by Jim Hagerty)

Liz Newman (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

left to right: Liz Newman, Mike Werckle, Thomas Luna, Colton Crain, Vickie Lynn, Chad Brazzle, Carla Towns, Erik Myles (Photo provided by Vickie Lynn)

I'm incredibly proud of the cast.  They came in at the last minute, with very little preparation time and pulled of a great show.  It wasn't all easy, but hopefully we'll look back and be very proud of our work bringing The West Side Show Room to life!

And while I'm talking about our cast, I also want to mention our crew.  

Laurie Oliver, production manager of Rockford Dance Company, jumped in at a moments notice to help provide organizatonal assistance and to arrange the construction of our set.  There is no doubt that without her help our happy little cardboard set would have fallen down the first night.  She stayed on board to help make sure the house ran smoothly and was an all around indispensable motivational asset to The West Side Show Room.

Jesus Correa not only donated his unique style of artwork to our stage, he helped tend the bar too! Thank you Jesus!

Sleeping Beauty, or Coma set (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Erik Myles with Vickie Lynn (Photo by Vickie Lynn)

Colton Crain arranged the donation of light and sound equipment from Creative Audio.  He designed and hung the lights during his scant free time.  What was originally going to be a simple white wash of light turned into a rainbow of psychedelic colors, perfect for our neutral cardboard set.  Working with Colton was Erik Myles, the Head Electrician at the Coronado Theatre, who graciously donated his time to help hang lights and run our light board.  Opening night he picked up a mop and cleaned the entire floor without being asked-- something way above and beyond what he was asked to do.  Both Colton and Erik's contribution is greatly appreciated.

And finally Carla Towns stepped in to be our Production Stage manager.  She organized the team of volunteers who came in to help us with the donation bar, box office, and ushering. She oversaw the cash box and made sure everything was run professionally-- and in addition to all that, she ran the sound board.  Carla was a miracle, we appreciate her help so much!  Look for Carla and her amazing singing voice to appear at The West Side Show Room on stage in the not to distant future.


-->Mike Werckle
Director: Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, and Sleeping Beauty, or Coma.

January 9, 2014

Carla Towns with Vickie Lynn (Photo by Vickie Lynn)