Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hunter Herdlicka Hits Homer with Henrik

Posted by Bruce Miller
Two of the friends Hannah and I stopped to visit on our recent theatre weekend in New York were actors in shows we went to see. Hunter Herdlicka plays Henrik in A Little Night Music, and the second friend appeared in the ensemble of Ragtime, which closed on Sunday.

I'm being presumptuous when I call Hunter Herdlicka a "friend," although I certainly now consider him to be one. Hunter was a classmate and friend of Zak Resnick's at Carnegie Mellon. When Zak appeared in Into the Woods in the summer of 2007, Hunter came down to Richmond to see the show. He loved it. He and I may have met during that visit; neither one of us is sure.

When Facebook entered the consciousness of guys in their 50s like me--not too long after Into the Woods--I decided it was in Barksdale's best interest for me to "keep in touch" not only with close personal friends, but also friends of friends--professional actors and other theatre artists who had the potential to work with us here in Richmond one day.

I "friend requested" Hunter and several other of Zak's classmates at Carnegie Mellon. I did the same thing with talented theatre students at other universities. I'd send a note with the "friend request" that went something like this: Hunter - I'm shamelessly networking on behalf of Barksdale Theatre, the leading professional theatre in Richmond VA. AEA SPT. I'm the artistic director. I'm trying to strengthen connections and communication with the national talent pool. Thanks.

Truth is, most of these young theatre artists are trying to strengthen their own connections, and so a lot of them accepted me as a friend. Now I know that being a Facebook "friend" isn't the same thing as being a real friend. But in a business where networking and contacts are really important, there's nothing disingenuous about casting a wide net among respected professional colleagues.

For example, when we were casting the role of Trevor in Thoroughly Modern Millie, I turned to my Facebook friends and found Tim Ford. We wound up casting him, he moved to Richmond for the summer, was terrific in the show, and won a Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. Now he's a friend for real.

Anyway, back to Hunter. When he was cast in Night Music, I wrote him a Facebook message of congratulations. When Hannah and I were making plans to see Night Music, I messaged Hunter again and asked if Hannah and I could stop by after the show.

Part of what I'm after is maintaining my family of professional contacts. The other part of what I'm after is scoring dad points. If you're a freshman in college and interested in theatre, it's got to be at least a little cool to have a dad who knows people in the business.

After exchanging a few nice messages with me, Hunter suggested that Hannah and I approach the stage doorman after the show, mention his name, and come backstage to say hi. We did. He couldn't have been nicer. We talked a while about Barksdale and Into the Woods. Then he showed us all around the Night Music set--really crowded by the way, even more so than the notoriously crowded Empire. We stood onstage and looked out into the house. Once we were off the set, I took his picture with Hannah, and then we all headed out into the cold.

Hunter is now an official Friend of Barksdale, and friend of professional theatre in Richmond in general. I encourage all of you to try to catch his performance in A Little Night Music. Not only is he terrific in the show, he's a heck of a nice guy. I can't thank him enough for being so friendly and gracious.

The second friend we met at the stage door of Ragtime is a young man who first began working at Theatre IV when he was around eight years old. He did several shows with us as a child, and now he's on Broadway. We had a GREAT visit. I'll tell you more tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you for your support of Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV. We couldn't do it without YOU.

--Bruce Miller

No comments: