Alex Keiper is playing “Roz” in Moon Over Buffalo at Gulfshore Playhouse.
Comedy is hard! After being cast as “Roz” in Moon Over Buffalo, I had some fears. I had never worked on a Ken Ludwig play, or any kind of farce for that matter, and knew that difficulties were on the way. It’s all meant to look easy and quick, but there is a science to comedic timing. There is a wrong and a right, it’s not just about being honest and listening to your fellow actor, it’s about honoring the jokes as they are written. This lesson is one that I have been so grateful to learn in my time here, working with an incredible company.
I’m from Philadelphia, and as they prepared for the worst snow storm in years, my boyfriend, Michael Doherty and I prepared to bask in the sun of Naples Florida by packing for our two month stay at Gulfshore Playhouse! We had our bathing suits and flip flops, though we knew there wouldn’t be too much time for the beach.
Rehearsals began on January 21st, where we got to meet our new family: our fellow cast mates. The other actors in the show had resumes that any young actor would dream of. We were completely in awe the more we got to know these artists. People who had auditioned for Larry David, voiced our favorite cartoon characters growing up, and worked with the most influential and important theatre makers of all time. They embraced us in rehearsals, led by our very funny and very smart director, Matt Pfeiffer. Each day was filled with laughter as we watched these experienced comedians work. Often the joke would come first, then we would decide why the character was doing what they were doing. This is called working from the outside in. I remember watching our leading actor, Steve Vinovich, work a prat fall onto a chair. He fell on it 5 different ways, trying to decide which way was funnier. Should he fall sideways? Straight over? Or maybe he should stand up from the chair and then fall onto the foot stool? Once he and Matt decided which one was funniest, he went back and justified how his character, “George Hay” could get into that particular position so he could fall just so. Watching it happen now in the show, it looks completely natural, seamless, though so much time was spent constructing it. This production is filled with moments like that, from the first gag to the last.
It’s also been a thrill getting to know my character, “Rosalind Hay”. She’s a woman in 1953, so there are certain modern physicalities that I had to focus on getting out of my body, but once I was able to tap into her physically, I realized that we had a lot more in common than I thought we did. “Roz” was raised by exuberant theatrical parents, who taught her that her voice was valid even though society often told women of the time that they were, in some ways, less valid than their male counterpoints. She’s an independent woman who didn’t want to blindly follow in her parent’s footsteps. At the top of the play we find that she has branched into a new career, but through the hijinx that ensue, she discovers that the theatre is not only in her blood but also in her heart. I’m so grateful to experience that journey every night.
Now that we have opened, Michael and I have a lot more time during the day. That has meant that we finally get to enjoy all that Naples has to offer. Our time here has been, not only artistically fulfilling but like making art in paradise. We two goons from Philly, have been amazed, since day one, that we could call this our job. That we have been invited here to laugh, love and grow with this group and this terrific company, and though it seems crazy, “…it is a gift to be that reckless and insane.”