Spotlight Series: Meet Holly Baker-Kreiswirth and Bill Wolski, the Dynamic Duo Who Call Little Fish Theatre Their “Home Away from Home”


Anyone who has attended a production at Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro has most likely met Holly Baker-Kreiswirth and Bill Wolski, the dynamic duo who call Little Fish Theatre their “Home Away from Home.” As well as appearing onstage together, the married couple also work behind-the-scenes with Holly managing the theatre's Press Relations and directing shows while Bill often takes on the roles of Director and Producer when not acting onstage.


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

Bill Wolski (Bill): I'm a veteran of over a hundred plays and a whole host of other projects and performances. I cut my teeth on the small theatre circuit in greater Cleveland, Ohio, where I grew up. I'm primarily known for my work at Little Fish Theatre, which has been my artistic home since 2007, and for being the husband of the equally talented and prolific Holly Baker-Kreiswirth.

Holly Baker-Kreiswirth (Holly): I started out in television before I worked in theater; the very first paid job I had was in the acting category on Junior Star Search which led to various roles in shows such as Chicago HopeGia (HBO), and Private Practice. I studied theater in college, but took a 10-year break to work on a career in TV production, and then had my kid.  In my early 30s, I started with Palos Verdes Players as a sound tech, then worked my way up to directing, producing, and finally acting again.  When PVP sadly went down, Bill and I appeared onstage in The Tender Trap at Long Beach Playhouse (when we started dating!) and subsequently found our artistic home at Little Fish Theatre, where we produce Pick of the Vine and act in or direct roughly 1/3 of the productions every year.

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

(Bill): I was working on a show called Becky's New Car, written by Steven Dietz, and directed by my wife. It was scheduled to open on April 9th. I was playing Becky's steadfast, not-as-dumb-as-he-looks husband, Joe.

(Holly): We were both deeply into rehearsals for Becky's New Car. I pre-block the shows I direct before rehearsals even begin; we had ten rehearsals under our belt with our lead actress, Amanda Karr, already off book.  Costumes/props were bought, lights/sound were being designed... everything was in motion.  Our stumble-through was the last rehearsal we had, and the show was already in great shape.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Bill and Holly): First, the sports teams postponed their seasons. Then, it was gatherings over 250 people. Then, gatherings over 50 people. Being a very intimate theater, there was still a possibility that LFT could limit ticket sales and hold performances, but the conclusion was reached that we didn't want to put our fan base and company members at risk. Emails went out to those involved that everything was going to be put on hold.

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

(Bill): Becky's New Car will open at a later date, once we've been given the all-clear.

(Holly): We're thrilled that the work we've already put into the show will be seen by an audience someday.  I believe the message will resonate with them.

(SB): I have seen the show before and was really looking forward to seeing the production at Little Fish. So I am happy to hear that eventually that will happen. What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Bill and Holly): We are involved at LFT all the time in a volunteer capacity. The shutdown has affected our entire season. Shows and special events that have not yet been cast or started production may be canceled entirely to give the shows that were already in progress a chance to be performed.

(SB): I know Bill is an avid hiker, but how are the two of you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Bill and Holly): Little Fish Theatre and its company members are doing a lot to bring theatre to a virtual audience. We're promoting and reaching out to our subscribers with videos and newsletters, and writing and sharing original content through our social media platforms. Specifically, we have a 5-part original web series called "Little Fish" that features hilarious portrayals of our artists.  We've produced multiple virtual readings of everything from comedic short plays to screenplays to a play about the shootings at Kent State 50 years ago this month.  And coming up next month we have a reading of a M*A*S*H* script donated to us by one of the writers, Ken Levine!  All of our readings are free -- we're so happy to be able to provide the arts to everyone in this format.

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Bill and Holly): Please, be safe. Follow the rules and the health guidelines and limit the risk posed to yourself and your loved ones. In Shakespeare's time, theaters were closed due to the plague, and 400 years later, theatre is still alive and well. As long as there are stories to tell, there will be people to tell them. We'll all be together again soon enough. From our theater to yours, here's a big hug from Little Fish. We love you!

Here's how to stay in touch with Little Fish Theatre:


All production photos credit: Miguel Elliot


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Actor Bill Wolski on the Ever-So-Fleeting Magic of Live Theatre


This morning as I was compiling my Spotlight Series on Bill Wolski and his equally talented wife Holly Baker Kreiswirth of Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro, Bill shared an amazingly wonderful description of the ever-so-fleeting magic of performing live theatre which brings a playwright’s scripts to life and often unites a cast as life-long friends.

His post centers on his first-hand experience in the Little Fish production of The Country House by Donald Margulies, which was directed by Holly and featured a talented cast of six, including Belinda Howell, Frannie Morrison, Richard Perloff, Maire-Rose Pike, Patrick Vest, and Bill Wolski. His post spoke so clearly to me that I immediately reached out to him, and have been given permission to share his words as a Spotlight Series today.


Bill Wolski: “As a younger, newer actor, closing night was a victory lap. I treated my final performance the way an athlete might treat the waning moments of a lopsided win, where the only thing between them and certain victory were the seconds ticking off the clock. I indulged in pranks, I luxuriated in the final utterance of a favorite line, I let my foot off the gas, I celebrated prematurely.

But as I matured, I learned that the best way to savor a final performance is to go out on top. Stay focused, do what you were trained to do, don’t bask in the spotlight. Don’t let up.

My thoughts take me back to The Country House, which closed one year ago today (in April 2019). I consider it to be my favorite role and my best work. Everyone did everything right in that show. Our director’s vision was bold and gentle, deep and clear. Our cast was talented and cohesive, both onstage and off. Our performances crackled with humor, sizzled with sexual tension, and hummed with vibrant life. Characters picked fights with each other. Deep feelings and long held grudges boiled to the surface and spilled over in full view as these beings struggled and pleaded for acknowledgment of their pain. Real tears of grief and heartache fell on the stage and in the audience alike. We were all-in, every night, and on the day we closed, I was melancholy that our time had come to an end.

The cast of The Country House at Little Fish Theatre: Back row, left to right: Richard Perloff, Patrick Vest, Bill Wolski. Front row, left to right, Maire-Rose Pike, Frannie Morrison, Belinda Howell. Photo credit: Mickey Elliot

But those emotions did not alter my performance. As much as I may have wanted to savor every line, beat, and look as I performed them for the last time, we still had an obligation to an audience full of people who were seeing the show for the first time. We also had an obligation to the script and its playwright, our director, each other, and frankly, ourselves. We had all put in so much work, and we had to see it through one last time. It had been such a beautiful experience; it would be criminal to diminish it now.

Every actor develops an ability to seemingly detach and step out of one’s body to take stock of a moment onstage and make objective evaluations. I relied on that gift to take in and bear witness to these final moments of The Country House as they were acted out. No line was hammed, no moment onstage languid, no scenery chewed. Like a driver winning his last race, I watched each urgent moment whiz by, wishing I could capture them forever, but hellbent on keeping the pedal to the floor and doing what I had come here to do.

And that was it. We crossed the finish line, and when the show ended, it disappeared. It wasn’t recorded for posterity or archival purposes, wasn’t preserved or immortalized in any way. It just...ceased to exist. As one of the characters in the show put it, it went “the way of all ephemera.”

But it was here. It existed. And it was our little band, our village, who brought it into being. And I loved it. And every single time we touched it, from the beginning of the first rehearsal to the end of the final performance, we did it justice.”

Holly Baker Kreiswirth

Holly Baker Kreiswirth: "Everything aligned in this show: words, actors, designers. I was incredibly lucky to have found the script while browsing through Samuel French, lucky again to have had it chosen for production by LFT, and then won the lottery with this cast and team that put their all into this love letter of a show. Thank you for all of your thoughtful talent — you make my heart happy."

Holly and Bill also want to share the latest news from Little Fish Theatre on their online Virtual Stage series:

Little Fish Theatre (LFT) is hosting a Virtual Stage where company members are posting various forms of content. Including musicals, songwriting, comedy bits, shorts films and more. There's even an ongoing web series happening with material from legendary television writer Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier), prolific playwright Rich Orloff, best-selling author Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen). Holly and Bill invite you to join LFT Company Members and enjoy a full slate of live stream readings, an original web series, classes, and interviews which are now available on Little Fish Theatre’s Virtual Stage website:   LittleFishTheatre.org/pond/virtual


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Ashton's Audio Interview: The cast of “The Lonesome West” at Little Fish Theatre

Journey to the west of Ireland where McDonagh’s vision of small-town despair, restlessness, and plain old boredom inspire behavior of the homicidal sort. Two brothers squabble over the inheritance left by their recently deceased father. Also, there’s a rumor about town that one of them may have murdered the father over a haircut-related insult. The local parish priest and a young girl from the community, also their bootleg whiskey supplier, make futile attempts to keep the brothers from quarreling.*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “The Lonesome West” at Little Fish Theatre, playing through Sep 15th. 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

 


Ashton's Audio Interview: The cast of “The Country House” at Little Fish Theatre

The Country House is a clever and compelling love letter to theater, focusing on a multi-generational family of actors and a reunion that reveals long pent-up frustrations and unrequited love in an ultimately healing narrative.* Enjoy this interview with the cast of “The Country House” at Little Fish Theatre, playing through Apr 28th. 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

Ashton's Audio Interview: The cast of “Pick of the Vine” at Little Fish Theatre

Harvested from over 800 short plays submitted from around the world, Little Fish Theatre uncorks its 17th season of Pick of the Vine

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Pick of the Vine” at
Little Fish Theatre, running until Feb 3rd. 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.