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Actor dives in feet 'first'


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POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2009

There are first times for everything, and veteran actor Guy Merola marks another personal “;first”; when he appears in Manoa Valley Theatre's Hawaii premiere production of Gerard Alessandrini's off-Broadway satirical hit, “;Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit.”;

The “;first”; for him will be in a role that requires dancing.

“;I'm not a dancer, I've never had any dance training,”; Merola admitted. He joined the show when one of the actors who had auditioned for the ensemble cast had to drop out several days after rehearsals started. (Jack Galliano was subsequently recruited to join Merola, Kelly Fitzgerald, Tricia Marciel and pianist/musical director Kenji Higashihama when another member of the original MVT cast dropped out.)

Drama aside, Merola has enjoyed the learning process despite the challenges posed by learning the choreography.

“;It isn't particularly difficult stuff; it's just a whole different language, (and) it takes me longer to pick up the moves than it would take me to learn music or dialogue or even just plain old blocking. As soon as you start putting movements to beats, it becomes a different animal for me.

“;It's been fun, though. It's stretched me,”; Merola said. “;I've enjoyed the process. I think you're going to see me in a variety of characters the type of which I've never played before—from Jean Valjean in a white hair and beard all the way down to Billy Elliott, who is a 13-year-old boy. It's fun to go from character to character to see how you can differentiate them and turn on a dime, not just costume-wise, but the whole thought process (involved). I've got to sing like this big dark baritone one minute, and then later on in the show sing like a little boy, so we'll see how successful we are at characterizing all these different types.”;

               

     

 

'FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT'

        » Where: Manoa Valley Theatre, 2833 E. Manoa Road
       

» When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 20

       

» Cost: $35 general admission; $30 for military and seniors, $20 for those 25 or younger

       

» Info: 988-6131 or www.manoavalleytheatre.com

       

 

       

Merola was a cast member in MVT's first staging of “;Song of Singapore”; in the '90s, but until now he has been known for his work in dramatic rather than comic roles. He received a Po'okela Award for his performance in 2001 in “;Chess”; at Diamond Head Theatre. His other credits include dramatic roles in “;Master Class,”; “;Carousel”; and “;The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”;

“;These are all heavy dramatic parts that have appealed to me, but it's nice to do something light. ... It's been a fun process.”;

The show is the ninth version of the “;Forbidden Broadway”; franchise. The targets this time include musicals that are cobbled together from the pop chart hits of big pop acts or well-known composers, the use of puppets in shows and British directors on Broadway.

Merola says that although the show will be most accessible for people who know something about Broadway musicals, many of the situations are universal.

“;The writing is so clever that I think it translates well to virtually anyone who enjoys theater. ... Even if you don't know every show, you're going to get the joke.”;