Spotlight Series: Meet Bill Brochtrup Who Rose to Fame on NYPD Blue, L.A. Stages, and is now the Artistic Director of the Antaeus Theatre Company

This Spotlight focuses on Bill Brochtrup who rose to TV stardom as PAA John Irvin on the ABC television drama NYPD Blue and continues to dazzle audiences as an actor, most recently in the Ovation Award-wining Daniel's Husband at the Fountain Theatre, and planning programming for the Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale as its Artistic Director. And when he can, Bill enjoys traveling around the world and hiking in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Fountain Theatre Company's "Daniel's Husband" with Bill Brochtrup and Tim Cummings. Photo by Ed Krieger

Shari Barrett (SB):  What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Bill Brochtrup (Bill): I started working in Los Angles theatre as soon as I got to town in the mid-1980s and that led directly to my work in film and television. But I’ve always returned to the Theatre, first as an actor and more recently as Artistic Director of the Antaeus Theatre Company. I’ve seen LA theatre grow and deepen and thrive, and I’ve been very lucky to experience what a close knit and warm community this is.

(SB):  What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

(Bill): Antaeus had just opened a new production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, which is an extremely pertinent and timely play. Word of mouth was going very well and we had a number of sold out performances coming up, so it was a blow to everyone involved to have to shut it down.

(SB):  How did you communicate the shutdown with your cast and production team?

Opening Night of Antaeus Theatre Company's Native Son at CTG'S BLOCK PARTY with Bill Brochtrup, Ana Rose O'Halloran and Kitty Swink

(Bill): Early on I met with Co-Artistic Director Kitty Swink and our Executive Director Ana Rose O’Halloran to talk about our options — and it was pretty clear that for the safety of our actors, staff, and audiences we needed to close the show.  We spoke first to the play's directors, Armin Shimerman and Elizabeth Swain, and then I wrote a difficult email to the cast and production team.  Everyone understood because it was becoming increasingly clear what the world would be up against.  With sickness, death, and true hardship on the horizon for many people, closing a play is a small thing — but it was sad news nevertheless.

(SB):  Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(Bill): At this point it’s hard to say what we’ll do in the future because we just can’t be certain of any kind of timeline.  I will say that the set is still standing and the costumes are still in the dressing room, so it remains a possibility — I’d love for more people to be able to see our wonderful actors.

(SB):  What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Bill): We had just finished casting our next production, William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life which was meant to begin rehearsal this month. We’re still determining how we’re going to proceed. And we were in the midst of finalizing Antaeus’ next season, which will be our 30th and some of those plans are now in flux. We will obviously be following all guidelines from the county and state about when we can reopen and get things going again.

(SB):  How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Bill): Antaeus has numerous programs and many of those have been able to move online fairly seamlessly — a number of our Academy classes are meeting that way as is the Antaeus Playwrights Lab. We have weekly Zoom check-ins with our Company members, another with our staff, and we have also already enjoyed a really fun virtual Happy Hour with some donors and supporters.

(SB):  You mentioned what a close knit and warm community our L.A. Theatre world is. What thoughts would you like to share with them while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Bill): We believe that live theatre is about artists and audiences coming together in person to create a community, so we’re really looking forward to the time when we can gather together in real life. Antaeus isn’t going anywhere and we’ll be back with a vengeance as soon as we’re able.

(SB): I totally agree. Nothing can compare to being part of an assembly of people experiencing the magic of live theatre together. It’s so symbiotic, making each performance unique and special in its own right. Any other thoughts to share?

(Bill): On a personal note, I’m so proud to be a part of the LA Theatre scene in all of its vibrancy and diversity. I believe we’ll come through this stronger and more unified than ever.

(SB): Amen!

Featured headshot by Rory Lewis

This article first appeared on Broadway World.

Ashton's Audio Interview: Bill Brochtrup - John Irvin on the ABC television drama NYPD Blue and the cast of "Daniel's Husband" at Fountain Theatre

A bold commentary on love, commitment and family in our perilous new world.* Enjoy this interview with Bill Brochtrup - Dr. Joe Bowman in Major Crimes and the cast of “Daniel's Husband” at The Fountain Theatre, running until Jun 23rd. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here. *taken from the website

Bill Brochtrup Reflects on Antaeus' Contributions to LA Theatre & Revitalized Objectives in New Glendale Digs

The Antaeus Theatre Company has been a vital artistic component of the NoHo Theatre District for quite a few years now. Not only does Antaeus put on solidly-produced shows, they also provide theatre training for budding actors with community outreach to high schoolers and seniors. Now on the eve of staging an open house of their new facilities in Glendale the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, Better-Lemons grabbed the chance to talk to Antaeus Co-Artistic Director Bill Brochtrup.
Thank you for taking time out for this interview, Bill.
Antaeus has been at its various North Hollywood addresses for over 20 years. How did your new space in Glendale come about?
Honestly, there were so many programs going on at Antaeus that our old space in NoHo simply wasn't big enough to contain them all.  There were classes, readings, rehearsals in every nook and cranny.  So we began looking for a place that would be big enough to fit them all in.  We couldn't just rent a theatre because we needed space for the Academy, offices, library, etc.  There are a lot of zoning restrictions, parking restrictions, all kinds of things I had no idea about.  But the City of Glendale has been amazing — they helped us identify a building right in the downtown Art and Entertainment District that could be built out to fit all of our needs.  And throughout this time we had been raising money, first internally from our members and Board, and then externally in our Play On! Capital Campaign.  We worked with a wonderful architect who found a way to fit all of our wishes into what will be the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center.  This has been a multi-year journey!
Space-wise, do you have specific plan to take advantage of your increased square footage?
Our new home has been very carefully designed to include everything we needed to allow Antaeus to grow.  But the space is still tight, not an inch has been wasted.  We'll have two performance spaces, a lobby with an art gallery, library, comfortable green room and dressing room for our actors — and lots of bathrooms!
You are currently one of three rotating co-artistic directors (w/Rob Nagle and John Sloan). How did this leadership model evolve and how does it work exactly? Do you divvy up responsibilities?
We work as a triumvirate, making decisions together.  It's an unusual model, but it works surprisingly well.  We've built up a great deal of trust in one another, and we share a vision for Antaeus' future.  We like to have our hands in every aspect of the company. So while we each have varying areas that are of particular interest to us, it really is a group effort.  Which is emblematic of the way the company works.  We've been elected to represent the members' wishes.  It can be a little unwieldy trying to get all three of us to sign off on something, especially if one or two of us are out working as actors — which all three of us are — but as I said, there is a great deal of trust there, and a shared taste and outlook.  Rob is on his way to New York to open CHURCH & STATE Off-Broadway for an open-ended run.  Luckily, we have his email address and phone number.  He can't get away that easily!
Your inaugural season in your new digs opens with CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, followed by AS YOU LIKE IT and NATIVE SON. Does the recent Equity ruling requiring minimum wage to all small LA-based theatre companies affect your season in any way?
We are living in a challenging time for theatre everywhere, and for theaters in LA in particular.  Things are changing and we must to learn to adapt.  Antaeus will be operating under the AEA Membership Rule which currently allows membership companies to work with Equity actors without the benefit of contract.  Our membership is virtually one hundred percent Equity members, so naturally we will continue to follow all union rules regarding hours, breaks, working conditions, etc. — just as we always have.  We are an ensemble of Equity actors volunteering together to create the kind of work we want to create.  That hasn't changed.
I have seen many of your fellow Antaeus company members in Equity-waiver shows in various Los Angeles theatres, They and you, as Equity members, now can't do another small theatre show without getting paid, like you, yourself so wondrously did at the Fountain Theatre in THE NORMAL HEART in 2013, right?
It's a confusing time and every intimate theater in LA is facing tough choices about how they will move forward.  Our members can generally be seen on stages all over Southern California and beyond, from Broadway to South Coast Rep to the Taper to every 99-seat theater in town.  Some of my very proudest moments onstage have occurred in intimate theatre, like the Fountain's THE NORMAL HEART.  It will be a sad day indeed if we're shut out of those places — and it certainly will happen at some venues.
What would be the alternative to doing small theatre work be other than within Antaeus?
You mean like hiking or yoga?  I guess if I couldn't work in the theatre, I'd have more time for those.
Antaeus is well-known for its partner-casting in all its productions. Who would you credit this Antaeus practice to?
Partner casting has been with Antaeus from the very beginning.  It began as a way to answer the logistical problem of actors in LA wanting to work onstage but needing to make money in film and television — where they can be called away to Vancouver at a moment's notice.  This practice allowed actors to leave a production for a day or a week or even more without scuttling the show, since there was another actor just as rehearsed as you, sharing the role.  But we found that there are additional artistic benefits to working this way — if you can operate without ego, you find that partnering on a role allows you to find and explore many choices that likely wouldn't have occurred to you on your own.  It can forge deep bonds between partners who've created the work together.  I could go on and on about it, but that's for a different interview!
How does a new-to-Los Angeles actor or writer get involved with Antaeus?
It can be a little tricky getting involved at Antaeus quite honestly, as we try to cast our shows from within the ensemble.  Nevertheless, we often need to use guest artists when company members aren't available.  We find these guests from a variety of sources — from our Academy classes, from recommendations, from actors we've seen in other venues (between the three of us, we see a lot of shows).  We're pretty approachable — come to one of the shows and say, "Hello."
When did you, Bill Brochtrup, initially become involved with Antaeus? Was it after I saw you in Black Dahlia's SECRETS OF THE TRADE in 2008?
I met former Antaeus Artistic Director Jeanie Hackett when I was working on NYPD Blue.  She suggested I get involved with Antaeus and invited me to some workshops and then I was cast in PERA PALAS, a co-production with the Theatre @Boston Court in 2005. I joined the company right after that.
What are your acting plans regarding Antaeus' inaugural season?
Ha!  I begged director Cameron Watson to let me be one of the no-neck monsters in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, but to no avail.  But not to worry, there's plenty for me to do at Antaeus behind the scenes as we move in and get situated this year.
What are your goals you'd like to accomplish with Antaeus?
I would love to see Antaeus continue to grow and thrive in every sense.  I want to grow our audiences and donor base, nurture our ensemble, establish deep roots in the Glendale community, strengthen our commitment to inclusivity and Arts Education. Make great theatre.  And I'd like to do it without the fret and worry that is my normal demeanor!
What are you personal goals?
I'm very lucky to have a career as an actor which has allowed me to work in films, television, and on stage.  I'd like to keep that going.  Working as Co-Artistic Director at Antaeus has been an impactful personal journey for me.  Taking on leadership responsibilities has been eye-opening.  Making decisions that affect people's artistic lives is both daunting and highly rewarding.
Any roles you'd love to tackle?
I'm not one of those actors who has a long wish list starting with “Hamlet” and “Lear.”  I'm always surprised by the parts I end up getting and then by how much I end up falling in love with them.  When we did CLOUD 9 last season I didn't plan on playing “Betty/Edward,” but now it's one of my favorite roles ever.  And I have a recurring role on TNT's Major Crimes as savvy police psychologist, “Dr. Joe,” which I just adore.  He's awesome.
Anything you'd like to add regarding Antaeus?
I'd like to invite everyone to come to Glendale to join us for Open Stages, a 4-day celebration of the opening of Antaeus' new home at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center (March 2 thru 5).  There'll be tours, open houses, classes, a high school monologue competition, improv, music.  It's for the community, it's all free and everyone is welcome.  Come get to know us.
Thank you again for doing this, Bill.
For further info on Antaeus Theatre Company's Open Stages, as well as, and tickets and scheduling for their inaugural season in their new Glendale space, log onto