Posted by Bruce Miller
Rehearsals for Thoroughly Modern Millie began this evening. An eager cast of 22 assembled under the knowing eyes of director / choreographer Patti D’Beck, musical director Paul Deiss, and stage manager Ginnie Willard. I welcomed everyone. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking that nine of the Millie cast members are new to the Barksdale family, including two of the leads. Other than seeing them at auditions, I met these nine for the first time tonight.
One of the leads who is NOT new to Barksdale is Zak Resnick (pictured above and to the right). Zak arrived at rehearsal tonight directly from his drive down from Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh, the prestigious university theatre program from which he just graduated. His car was still packed to the roof with everything he owns.
There must be something special about Richmond’s relationship with C M. Other Richmond theatre notables who went to Carnegie Mellon and then vaulted almost immediately into their professional careers include Tony nominee Emily Skinner and Hollywood superstar Blair Underwood. Like Zak, both Emily and Blair shared their talents with Theatre IV, Barksdale and other Richmond theatres before making it big on the national scene.
Like Emily and Blair, Zak seems destined for great things. Many Richmonders remember Zak for his memorable portrayal of Rapunzel’s Prince in our 2007 summer musical Into the Woods. But in New York, Zak is known by his growing fan base as one of the Broadway Boys, a six-man super group comprised of Broadway’s hottest tenors. (Six sing at any one time. There are actually 25 or so talented young men who have been selected for the ensemble.) “A fusion of funk, soul and gospel, the Broadway Boys create an out-of-control energy that makes you want to just get up and dance,” states Amy Birnbaum of the Jujamcyn Theatre organization. “Their arrangements of Broadway and pop tunes give way to a myriad of sound, color and grit. An experience you can’t afford to miss!”
You can hear and see Zak and the Boys singing "Defying Gravity" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJfIYzhLnt8. Zak is the guy to the far left of the screen (stage right). The camera-work is a little shaky, but you'll get the gist.
Taking time off this summer from his develop-ing NYC career as a Broadway Boy, Zak will be playing the male lead of Jimmy in our production of Thoroughly Modern Millie at the historic Empire Theatre. Last Monday, just before leaving New York for Pittsburgh, Zak took Broadway by storm one more time before heading south. After being selected as one of the 16 rising stars to be featured in this year’s Leading Men benefit concert for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, Zak performed onstage last Monday side by side with fellow “leading men” including Jonathan Groff (Tony nominee for Spring Awakening), Nick Adams (currently achieving major celebrity buzz in the Broadway cast of Guys and Dolls), and Michael Kadin Craig (now starring Off Broadway in Altar Boyz). Lest you miss the import of being included in this august group, let me remind you that previous Leading Men concerts have featured the talents of current stars including Matt Cavenaugh, Cheyenne Jackson, Aaron Lazar, Matthew Morrison, Hugh Panaro and Christopher Sieber.
You can catch Zak’s star-to-be turn on YouTube, singing "The Streets of Dublin" from A Man of No Importance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIBomyh5cAg. The last time I heard Zak sing this song was in the cabaret that the cast of Into the Woods performed on Barksdale’s Willow Lawn lobby stage to benefit the Richmond Theatre Artists Fund. This time he sounded just as great, but he was introduced by Tony nominee John Tartaglia (Avenue Q, Shrek The Musical). I loved hearing John announce to the packed Broadway audience that Zak would be appearing this summer at Barksdale Theatre in Richmond, VA.
Those of you who listen to the Broadway channel on SIRIUS satellite radio will be interested to know that Zak was accompanied by none other than Seth Rudetsky.
As the Broadway in Richmond series reopens this fall with David Copperfield’s magic show at the new CenterStage, it’s good to remember that more Richmonders get their Broadway at Barksdale than anywhere else. If you really want to catch Broadway stars past, present and future, head on downtown this summer for Thoroughly Modern Millie, and catch the Best of Broadway with the Benefits of Barksdale.
See you at the theatre!