In The Camelot Theatre's production of "The Producers," Nathan Monks plays Franz Liebkind, a volatile former Nazi who wrote the "worst play ever written," "Springtime for Hitler." A trained actor and singer, Monks is new to Camelot Theatre. We met at Starbucks on Crater Lake Highway in Medford.
NM: I've been fortunate enough to be cast in multiple shows for the upcoming year. I'm very excited about that.
EH: What was the audition process like?
NM: We were asked to prepare about a 2-minute monologue and 16 to 32 bars of a song. Then they gave you a slip of paper with just a single musical line on it and the starting pitch. They asked you to sight read it: a little testing of your overall ability to read music.
EH: How do you practice your singing?
NM: Usually it's on the drive wherever I'm going. I always have some sort of music that I'm playing and listening to, learning new shows, learning new genres of music, things like that. I have a 5-CD changer and an iPod auxiliary port, so I can get a variety of different things to listen to. If you're driving down the freeway, it's a good time to just let loose.
EH: As an actor, what do you look for in a director?
NM: I like someone who has a very clear vision of what they want the show to be, but who is willing to have an open dialogue with you, someone who is willing to work with you as far as making your character come to life. What I like about Livia is that it's a very flexible process. You can move within the character, and you aren't confined. She has her idea, but it can be flexible as far as how and when you're getting there. That's a nice thing to have as a performer.
EH: How are you preparing for your role in "The Producers?"
NM: With Franz Leipkin, there's not really a back story. While Mel Brooks is a fantastic writer, he likes to just go to the absurd, so you have to try and find a couple of moments of truth. The most genuine moment Franz Leipkin has is when he comes in firing the gun, that's really the truest moment that he has in the entire show. It's actually a genuine moment for him. You have to find those true moments in any character, no matter how many or how few there are. You have to try to find something that they can connect to emotionally and just go from there.
The great thing about theater is that something horrible can be going on in your life, but you step into a theater and for a couple of hours you get to be transported into this totally different world with totally different set of circumstances and just really enjoy what is happening in that moment. No matter what's going on in the real world, you get that chance to let it go and just have fun for a little bit. If it's a 2- or 3-hour show, or an 8-hour rehearsal, it's a great release because by the time you're done with it, you kind of forget what it was that you were feeling so bad about when you went in there. It's a great stress reliever.
Camelot Theatre Company's "The Producers," directed by Livia Genise and starring David Gabriel, Kelly Hammond and Peter Wickliffe, opens March 21 at 8 p.m., and plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 20, For tickets and information call 541-535-5250 or visit www.CamelotTheatre.org.
Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director living in Ashland. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Reach her at email@example.com.