Sports editor Ryan Dowd bravely ventured into the world of theater when he sat down with seniors Christian Probst, Tom Blood, and Jordan Bollwerk, three of the four seniors (Jean-Paul Angieri was unavailable) who starred in their last Dauphin Players production Filthy Rich last Sunday.
Ryan Dowd: So when the lights went out on Filthy Rich Sunday afternoon, what was your initial reaction? What were you kind of thinking at that point?
Jordan Bollwerk: It was kind of like one of those, “well, it’s over’ feelings. Kind of in the sense of how you completed something, but you still had more to do because we had Senior Follies going on.
Christian Probst: I don’t want to use this comparison, (long pause) but I do: It was kind of like a book, like the end of the chapter, but I’m going to pursue acting, so it’s not the end of acting, but the end of this phase of acting in high school with these people. [The chances of us doing a show together (again) are kind of slim. It could happen, but you know it’s sort of the ending, but still know that I’ll have theatre to hold on to, but not these people or these teachers.]
Tom Blood: My reaction at the end was far more intellectual than emotional because I feel like I had my emotional reaction at the end of Where’s Charley?, because I felt that was my last show. So I had released all of my tears, and I was just dried up. But I had a similar reaction to (Jordan and Christian) in that I sort of just had to step back and realize that this was the way we were going out, and there’s no more to it.
RD: And the character that you were in at that moment may not have been susceptible to tears. (Blood played a gangster in Filthy Rich.)
TB: I don’t think that would have been the problem.
RD: I guess, just a rough estimate, how much time did you guys actually spend in and around the theatre the past four years?
JB: Like hours or days?
CP: Let’s just do this year. This year, basically it’s the auditions or it’s the rehearsal for Of Mice and Men and as soon as Of Mice and Men ended we auditioned for Odd Couple, and so Odd Couple rehearsals started, then Odd Couple rehearsals ended, and we still had rehearsals for the dance concert and the singing concert, plus the circus club. Then right before Christmas Break, we auditioned for Where’s Charley?
JB: You could literally say that we spent one to two actual years of our lives inside the theatre. That’s how much time we spent there.
CP: Because people always go home right after school, but we never go home because we’re either have rehearsal or practice.
TB: And even funnier, when I actually have the opportunity to go home at about three o’clock, I almost never do because I feel I almost have to stay, like I have to check in to the Danis Lobby to see if anyone’s around or go down to the theatre to see what’s going on with theatre tech in there.
JB: It’s like classical conditioning.
TB: I think we’ve all spent so much time that it’s almost an unconscious reaction.
JB: We always walk down that hallway.
TB: Walk outside, open up the doors to the Danis Lobby and regardless of whether or not we’re in a production, we’ll go to the theatre to see what’s going on. I think that definitely speaks to how much time we spent there, because I’m sure after school you just kind of, by instinct, come up to the Prep News office.
RD: Yeah. You guys had some pretty important roles pretty early in your career. How did it feel kind as an underclassmen but also having a major role in a production? Was there a lot of pressure at that point?
JB: Definitely. Well, at least I felt it because being a sophomore I didn’t expect anything, but when it happened I was like, ‘oh God.’ The first reaction was, I think I pissed some people off in a way just by getting a part, so I felt like I just had to prove myself in a way. It may not be the same for everyone, but our freshman year the seniors had the theatre, and then once they left our class kind of stepped in. I felt we kind of, I don’t know, had to get our sea legs going. We kind of just had to get used to the situation pretty quickly, get used to the amount of pressure that was going to be there.
CP: For me, I didn’t feel that way. Freshman year, the first part I had I played a 10 year old. So I wasn’t really taking parts away from people, because I still had my high voice, and I still had some baby fat. So I didn’t think I was taking anyone’s part or anything. It is competitive, but I think people realize their limitations, like they couldn’t play that part. You just realize that people are right for the roles they’re chosen with, and it’s a waste of time to get mad at each other because ultimately you’re a cast together and you have to work together to get the show done.
RD: Are there any moments from the plays you’ve done that really stick out?
TB: My favorite moment as an audience member was sophomore year in the spring show House of Blue Leaves and the flower petals fell from the ceiling from the rafters. When they just descended from up above it was the perfect ending to the production, and I was left with a great feeling of completion for that senior class because they had some really talented people in the show itself.
Almost every show I’ve done, there’s been at least one stand out moment out on stage. Obviously, one of my favorite moments on stage was any time during Of Mice and Men, especially in that opening scene. That’s always been a very touching scene for me. Having the opportunity to perform that so many times made it extra special.
CP: Mine, similarly having to do with something falling from the ceiling of the theatre was the end of White Christmas. The last show we were singing the song and the snow came down over the audience. I don’t know, it was just very magical because the girl that was playing opposite me was a really good friend of mine, so being with her and singing White Christmas with your classmates, even though it’s February and everyone’s smiling… I don’t know, it was just a very, very, magical moment.
JB: I have to say Urinetown as that show that I would love to go back and do again. I feel like Urinetown, I was a sophomore at that point, I feel like I could go back and do that show again, I would just love to. And the people that were in it, they were a great cast, they were such a great community. We were all friends, and it was a nice time. Another was assistant directing the one-acts because for once, I was seeing how it was on the other side of the table. I feel like after that I was kind of, like, I have a level of understanding with my director. I think it will help me in the future to know that like there are certain things that do work and don’t work with the director.
RD: What are you going to miss about the theatre? Because it’s kind of been your home the past couple of years.
JB: The directors. I’m going to say the directors. I believe we’ve all learned so much of what we know from every single one of them. Like I wouldn’t be the actor that I am today if it wasn’t for Mr. Schulte, Mrs. Whitaker, Mr. Pagano and just all the teachers and directors that help out with all the shows. I’m going to miss it a lot. Like they made it such a great learning experience, like even though we go to a Jesuit, very academic school, you’re getting really great theatre along with that, which is very, very rare to have both, and that’s a main reason that I came to SLUH in the first place.
TB: Yeah, I’m not just going to miss the directors, I’m going to miss all the time that I’ve spent with Mrs. Whitaker and Mr. Schulte. They’ve both been very helpful and informative, and they’ve been helpful and informative with regards to acting itself and with regards to developing through high school. They just care so much. I also, an aspect that’s far too overlooked, the technical side of theatre. I’m going to miss Dan Becvar assistant stage managing, I’m going to miss Tim Moore cracking jokes backstage and creating these marvelous set pieces. Ever since Urinetown, I’ve been really attentive to how spectacular Tim really is at the set and bringing it all together. I’ll also miss all the people, because they’re the people that bring our work alive. Because of them, it’s been fantastic.
CP: I think I’m going to miss the sense of community the most in that place that you can go to with this cast and everything. It’s sad after a show, when you know that some people are going to move on, and now we’re moving on, and we’re not going to have them anymore as much as they’re not going to have us. So yeah, I’m going to miss Mrs. Whitaker and Mr. Schulte for giving me life lessons and everything, and I’m going to miss my classmates, and not even about theatre but relationships and friendships. And I love the discussions we have in the dressing rooms about philosophy, whatever, like I’ve learned so much from these people, and it’s kind of sad that I realized it’s taken me so long to appreciate them and our relationship so much, and I think I’m not realizing how important they are to me and how much I’m going to miss them.
RD: Okay. So what’s next for you guys?
JB: College. (long pause) I mean, like Christian and I are going to pursue musical theatre at college in our respective colleges. And Christian’s got economics, so he’s going to be working hard in college, but at the same time he’s going to have something to fall back on but I have nothing to fall back on. (long pause) I’m just taking a gamble, I’m rolling the dice just to see what happens, but I’ll keep pursuing (acting).
CP: But Jordan, we’re doing Muny this summer, those two shows, Joseph and Pirates. So yeah, I’m going to Yale, and at first glance, it’s not a musical theatre school, but they have the top theater school in the country and so that whole decision was hard because it was whether I wanted to pursue just musical theatre or do academics as well. And talking to people, I realized that it’s very important in the theatre to be a well-rounded person and to have that academic stronghold. The actor is such an intellectual and logical and thinking person, to get your mind around characters and analysis of them, and to get yourself into those roles, so that’s sort of the route I’m taking, but I’m still going to be keeping my dance classes up in New York City, it’s like an hour and a half train ride, but that is my plan.
TB: I am mostly unsure of where my future lies with regards to theatre. I’ll be up at SLU next year, so when the auditions of the play come around, I have to consider whether I’m going to do those, but they have a pretty good department down there, and Mr. Hussung has told me about one of the directors. He spoke pretty highly of him so that’s something that I’ll sort of have to play by ear. So I’ll have to see if I want to get involved in the St. Louis theatre scene. I feel sort of inclined, so I might continue, or I might just put my attention elsewhere, in music, or in whatever I end up studying.
RD: All right, thank you, and good luck.