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Casting filled in for The Blank’s SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE

March 8, 2010

See What I Wanna See first appeared in 2005 and makes its West Coast premiere April 10 at Noah Wyle’s The Blank Theatre. Daniel Henning directs a cast of five: Jason GraaePerry Ojeda, Lesli Margherita, Suzan Solmon, and Doug Carpenter.

“Casting was pretty easy,” Henning says. “I knew most of the actors from seeing them in other projects over the past ten years, and it was just a matter of making phone calls to see if they were available.” The exception was Doug Carpenter, who recently played Lancelot in the Pasadena Playhouse’s swan song, Camelot.

Carpenter brings a killer voice. His resume boasts a range that extends from a low Eb bass to a high B tenor with a strong falsetto to soprano high A. “This show is like preparing for an opera,” Carpenter tells me on his drive home from a recent rehearsal. “We’re breaking it down to text, rhythm, melody, the accompaniment. Daniel [Henning] pointed out that each of the notes is specific to the intention of the piece. Cheat a note, and you cheat yourself and everyone else.”

The show  focuses on lust, greed, murder, faith, and redemption. It’s based on three short stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa and actors play multiple roles. “In the New York run,” Carpenter tells me, “Marc Kudisch took on the roles of Merito, the CPA, and the husband. Here, I play Merito, the thief, and the reporter. The material is unique. It’s a meaty show with quite varied music.” Henning says Michael John LaChiusa’s music floats from one genre to the next. “Some of it is jazz influenced, some [Arnold] Schoenberg, there’s chorale music. There’s a fantastic rock-and-roll groove in there along with pop ballad sound.” Like anything he’s done before?

Carpenter draws in a breath and a slow “Noooo” escapes. “The closest would be The Last Five Years. But SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE is so risky because it’s so complex.  

Carpenter took his Master’s in vocal performance from UCLA and originated the role of Skip in Life Could Be A Dream at the Hudson Theatre. He’s performed in Carmen, Turandot, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, La Boheme and other operas; and most recently as Lancelot in David Lee’s reduced population run of Camelot at the Pasadena Playhouse. “I’m just trying to make steps,” he says. “Trying to do things that interest me with people who fascinate me. I’m still putting together my own package of singing, acting, and dancing.”

He’ll be in strong company. Jason Graae, for example, was seen in Los Angeles in Ragtime;  Lesli Margherita (who also trained at UCLA) received an Olivier Award last year for Zorro in London’s West End.

SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE runs at The Blank from April 10-May 23.

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