Kirov By Night

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Written by Andrew Kirov, Executive Producer/Host

I’ve always been a huge fan of comedy. When I was a kid, I’d stay up every week night to watch David Letterman and, if I could make it, Conan. On Saturday nights, I’d watch MadTV and Saturday Night Live. I always thought the hosts and cast members of those shows had the best job in the world. I couldn’t think of anything more fun than producing and performing in a comedy television show. And I still can’t.

Andrew Kirov

Andrew Kirov

I started Kirov By Night in fall 2008. I was a senior at Northwood High School in Minong, WI. Several friends and I had the idea of combining the formats of a late night talk show, like The Tonight Show or the Late Show, and a sketch comedy program, like Saturday Night Live. We produced two episodes at Northwood, complete with original live comedy sketches, short comedy videos and live interviews with local “celebrities” like our high school band teacher and a reporter from the Spooner Advocate. I was never more proud of anything I’d accomplished in my seventeen years. It was great.

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Alphabet Time Sketch on Kirov By Night

Kirov By Night took a hiatus of about three years, but it was always in the back of my mind. As a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, I restarted my original comedy show with a much larger staff, access to more equipment and the backing of the Communicating Arts Department and Theatre Program. Kirov By Night performed five episodes at UWS from March 2012 until May 2013, thus beginning the current reign of the show. We were very successful at UWS, garnering local media stories in the Duluth News Tribune and KBJR News. We also attracted the services of Emmy Award winning actor Martin Sheen, who has since recorded Kirov By Night’s introduction as well as several promotional videos and voice overs for the show.

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Andrew Kirov interviewing KBJR News Anchor Kevin Jacobsen

Because of our success at UWS, Kirov By Night was able to secure a recurring spot at The Underground. To date, we have performed five episodes at The Underground, have a sixth coming on April 25th, and have no plans of slowing down with more coming in the future.

Over the years, Kirov By Night has maintained the format it started as. It is a hybrid of a late night talk show and sketch comedy program. We write and perform our own original live comedy sketches about subjects as diverse as German techno bands, dancing street gangs, Santa Claus, and Jim Carlson. We produce original comedy videos making fun of topics like Duluth tourism, Taylor Swift, Bigfoot, and 1980s sitcoms. Plus, we have interviews with local celebrities such as Duluth Mayor Don Ness, news anchor Kevin Jacobsen, DSSO Music Director Dirk Meyer, The Duluth Playhouse cast of Spamalot, and meteorologist Justin Liles.

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Andrew Kirov interviews Duluth Mayor Don Ness

If you’re a fan of comedy TV shows, I know you’ll love Kirov By Night. It’s The Tonight Show of the Twin Ports. It’s the Saturday Night Live of Duluth/Superior. Check us out on April 25th. We have guests Dan Hanger from Fox 21 and Blake Thomas from The Underground’s Take It With You live radio show. And I mean, come on, it’s only $5. You won’t find better entertainment value anywhere. Give Kirov By Night a chance. You won’t regret it.

 

Take It With You Episode 1

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Take It With You: Episode #1 – “Things To Look Forward To”

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Written by Blake Thomas

There were a few years there when I used to do a fair amount of touring as a singer/songwriter. 120-150 dates a year. Nothing to shake a stick at (unless you just really enjoy stick shaking, in which case, by all means, shake). Sometimes I’d be on my own. Sometimes with a band. Often with my friend Josh Harty. And it was during these long car trips around the country that I started getting into old time radio shows: Gunsmoke, Escape, Have Gun Will Travel, The Shadow. And of course things like “The War of The Worlds.” Also Groucho Marx did some just beautiful stuff on the radio. But my favorite was a show called “I Was A Communist For The FBI.” Part of the reason I liked it so much was because it was so very bizarre. So obviously made during the red scare it ought to be laughable in the 2008. But it wasn’t. It was actually a really well made show, despite the fact that it had these incredibly overt, probably socially damaging, anti-communist messages woven into the fabric of every show. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much… It’s just a strange little part of history.

Skip ahead 60 odd years and the media landscape has changed rather dramatically. Sure, radio still exists as radio: sounds being disseminated on waves. But when I use the word radio, I’m referring to more than what is actually broadcast. I often listen to modern radio programs like “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” or “This American Life,” but I’m not necessarily tuning in to NPR to do it. I listen to it as a podcast. And I listen to it when I want and completely by my own choice. And although the convenience of this technology may not offer the same kind of romance that I associate with the golden age of radio, it does provide opportunity for a show such as “Welcome to Night Vale” to find an audience.

Enter Take It With You: Live Radio Theatre From Duluth, MN My wife, Mary Fox, and I have been together for 4 years now, although we’ve known each other since pre-school (because we are just that adorable). We’re also fairly new to town, having moved up from the cities last October. I think she would describe herself as an actor/director, and I a musician. But these two worlds have become increasingly intertwined. To a certain extent Take It With You is an extension of the musical Stay Tuned, an original work that premiered in April 2013 at Yellow Tree Theatre, written by Mary, myself & our friend Andy Frye. That show was centered around a fictitious radio program called “The Emerald Coffee Radio Hour” and the age old struggle that many artists go through of how to honor the past while still moving into the future. And I suppose, in a nutshell, that’s our goal with Take It With You.

I’ll be the first to tell you that what we’re doing here, although unique, is far from revolutionary. Radio theatre is nearly a century old and it’s roots in vaudeville can be traced back even farther. We’re very much working within a well established tradition. But one of the things that I’ve been missing in fictional radio today is the feeling that I’ve made a connection to a set of characters that I can spend some time with. As much as I love A Prairie Home Companion, a character like Guy Noir doesn’t really grow or change from show to show. It’s a great vehicle for comedy, but I wonder if it’s possible to create a modern radio program that’s almost closer to a sitcom, like Cheers. Taking some of those Prairie Home elements but grounding them more thoroughly in a world our listeners can live in as well. In fact, I think the best way to describe our show is that it’s “CHEERS meets A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION meets MISTER ROGERS meets AUSTIN CITY LIMITS.” It’s set in a tavern/music venue. I play the owner/bartender. I also jump on stage and sing to the patrons from time to time. I’m joined by Andy & Mary as well as this larger cast of extraordinary, multi-talented, Duluthians: Robert Lee (whom I met from working on “Peter Pan” at the Playhouse. He directed, I wrote the original score). Andy Bennett & Katy Helbacka (the heart and soul of Renegade Theatre). Zach Stofer (most recently in “All New People” & “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson“). And Ryan Nelson (also awesome, although twin ports residents may not know him yet as he’ll be commuting from Minneapolis).

A big part of our mission with the show is to promote Duluth as a whole, and specifically the incredible arts scene that’s up here. Don Ness will have a cameo on every episode, and on this first one we’ll also be talking with Brian Schanzenbach, head brewer of Blacklist Brewing.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of these various ramblings I hope you’ll attend our first show on April 15th at 7:30pm (Doors @ 7pm) in The Underground. And stick around afterwards for our launch party.

See you on the 15th!

-blake thomas (04.09.14)

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Welcome to the final Sixties Saturday!

Since the opening of the show, we have had 17 shows, (with one being the parent sponsor preview, and four of them being school matinees), and we will have to today with our closing show tomorrow.
They have been great audiences, and we have been glad to have people of all ages come and enjoy our show!

For the last interview, we have the person who is behind one of the hardest, (yet most fun) characters to play!

Edna Turnblad played by Corey Riley

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Corey Riley is 14 years old and plays the part of Edna Turnblad in HAIRSPRAY. He likes the show because of all of the good messages that are within in it, and how all the characters contribute to the show so well. When asked what the hardest part about playing Edna was, he said, “Edna is a woman, and I am not, so that is sometimes hard, but keeping the balance between when I am portraying myself as a woman to the audience, or when I am using different “man things” like lowering my voice can sometimes be a challenge, because I still want to be a believable woman, but I want the point to get across that I am a man playing a woman.” He likes the character of Edna a lot because, “Although at the beginning of the show she has a hard time accepting herself by the end she realizes that it doesn’t matter what makes you different you’re beautiful no matter what.”

Thanks for joining as we have traveled back to the sixties to get an inside look at HAIRAPRAY!

Special thanks to Kate Horvath, Paige Kohler, Beth Wilson, Mallory Cleveland, Mindi Esla, Allegra Henderson, Robin Washington, our sponsors and the Playhouse staff.

If you are (or you are a parent whose child) is thinking about getting involved at the Playhouse, come to the auditions for the Playhouse’s junior or teen intensives, which are School House Rock Jr.! and Thoroughly Modern Millie/ Hamlet ! Auditions are April 28th and 29th, from 4-8pm in the Conservatory at 230 W. Superior St. (Wells Fargo Building). Hope to see you there!

Sixties Saturday – Opening

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Welcome back to #SixtiesSaturdays: Opening week! The week started on Tuesday with or final dress rehearsal, followed by our parent/sponsor preview Wednesday night, opening on Thursday night, and show on Friday night!

This week’s research topic has to do with some Baltimore specific info around the time that HAIRSPRAY is taking place.

Did You Know?

  • Baltimore was actually one of the front runners for the Civil Rights Movement in the US, with many of the areas in the city desegregated
  • In the early 1950’s, African Americans were allowed to be hired by taxi and bus companies
  • Baltimore schools voluntarily desegregated shortly after
  • Many restaurants were still segregated however, which led to…
  •  Morgan State College students were involved in a sit in, that lasted about 3 weeks

This week for interviews, we have the host of Tracy’s favorite TV show, The Corny Collins Show, and the woman who many believe to be the “villain” of HAIRSPRAY.

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Check back next week for more from the HAIRSPRAY cast next Saturday, and hopefully see you at either of the two shows today, one at 2pm and 7pm, or tomorrow at 2pm! We do recommend that you purchase your tickets in advance

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Sixties Saturday

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Welcome back to the Sixties! The past two weeks have been activity filled for the cast, crew, and band of HAIRSPRAY. The company left the conservatory, and got situated into the Underground space! Every piece of tech for the show, (lights, costumes, sound) has been integrated into the show now, (as last week was our official “tech” week) and THIS Thursday, the show opens.

This week we have 2 new cast members for you to meet, Seaweed and his sister Little Inez!

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That is all for this week in the Sixties, check back next week for more actor interviews, show pictures, and another research topic!

HAIRSPRAY opens Thursday, March 13th and runs through Sunday, March 30th at The Underground, which underneath the Depot. All shows start at 7pm, with the exceptions of Saturday and Saturday matinee times which are at 2pm.

Here’s an update on ticket sales – student pricing is now available online!!! Also note, we have the most availability for opening week. Once we open the show and word of mouth spreads, the final 2 weeks will sell out fast – so make sure to reserve now! There is limited seating in The Underground.

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I have sat through enough auditions to know what to look for in a performer. Some people may be nervous about auditioning. But to help calm the waters, I came up with a little list. This way you know exactly what I will be looking for in the audition room.

When I run an audition I look for these things:

  1. I look for excitement!! If you come in excited about the show, about the audition, about your song, I instantly take more interest than someone who is shy and nervous. I promise that I will do my best to make a comforting and welcoming environment, while at the same time, keeping it professional.
  2. Remember, I want you to be amazing!
  3. I want someone who knows the story, and is ready to tell it. I might ask you questions about the music and about the show, so come familiar with the script.
  4. Make strong choices, and be bold! In other words, make yourself stand out. Whether it be in how you dress, or the song you chose. Make me remember you!
  5. Ask Questions! If you are not sure how you should perform, how you should dance, or sing, just ask! That shows me that you are thinking about your character, and that you are really interested in this part.
  6. Most of all, I look for someone who has fun. I appreciate if you are serious and professional about your craft, as am I. But theater is meant to be joyful, and imaginative! Come in, ready for a good time.

I am very excited to see you all audition for this show, and I cannot wait to begin rehearsing! I hope to see a full room come audition day. Best of luck to all who wish to audition. See you soon!

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Auditions will be this Saturday, March 8, from 3:30pm – 7:30pm. To sign up for an audition slot, call the Playhouse Office at 218-733-7555. And don’t forget to grab your audition packet for more information!

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Spring Break

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I am so excited to share that this year, we here at the Playhouse have been working hard to bring our spring break camp experience to not one, not two,  but THREE locations this year!

In an ongoing attempt to be a part of not only the Duluth community, but to extend the reach of our arts education programming further into the Northland, we will be coming to the Superior Public Library and the Cloquet Middle School for the first time ever, as well having our third year of Duluth spring break camp at the Playhouse Conservatory.

Even more exciting? We are delving into the animal kingdom for all three of these Poetry Panda-monium Spring Break sessions. That means we will be playing with character movement and discovery; becoming different animals, studying how they move and communicate and finding ways to costume ourselves to look like these creatures. This sort of character discovery is great for the brand new actor, ready to give their creativity a work out for the first time and for the seasoned young actor ready for the next challenge.

The week of camp will consist of character, poetry and language exploration building to our final showcase for family and friends on Friday.

Come play with us during your spring break for an exciting and fun-filled week that is sure to spark your creativity and unleash your inner animal! Contact Sarah to register, or if you have any questions!

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