Spotlight Series: Meet Christine Joëlle, a Versatile Actor Who Also Runs a Successful Pet Care Service


This Spotlight focuses on Christine Joëlle, an actress I first saw onstage in the summer of 2004 as Madge Owens in Picnic, directed by Gail Bernardi for Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse. Christine and I went on to work together in many productions for the community theatre group, both onstage and on production teams. Since then, I have been fortunate to follow her path across the stages of professional theatre companies all over town, always enjoying her ability to transform herself into a great variety of characters – often during the same show!  And I am also a very happy customer of her pet care service, Movin’ Paws.


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

Christine Joëlle (CJ): I graduated from James Madison University and attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Since moving to Los Angeles, I have worked in several theaters all around the city, having performed in over 60 stage productions. I am a proud theatre company member of THE ROAD and THEATRE 40 and union member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA.

Jennifer Laks, Lary Ohlson and Christine Joëlle in "Night Watch" at Theatre 40. Photo by Ed Krieger

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

(CJ): I was currently working on Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda by Jerry Mayer at The Santa Monica Playhouse. We were on its 4th extension before having to postpone until a future date.

Christine Joëlle in “Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Photo by Evelyn Rudie

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

(CJ): Via emails and phone calls. Ultimately, we came to a mutual decision to close the theatre for our and our patron’s safety.

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

(CJ): Our producers, Evelyn Rudie and Chris DeCarlo will most likely resume running the show. I have no doubt that all the cast members would be delighted to return.

(SB): I really enjoyed Mistakes Were Made: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda and all the characters you played in it. It’s so much fun to attend a show that keeps you laughing - and crying - at the same time from start to finish at such universal human foibles! Here is my review on Broadway World.

What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown? 

Christine Joëlle in the immersive theatre show “Delusion”

(CJ): I was not planning to be in other shows at the moment. But I do have a strong feeling many fall shows and activities may not happen either. For example, the Haunted Play production staff of the immersive theatre show Delusion will most likely not take place this year because it’s the type of show where you must secure and rent a location by May/June in order for production planning to commence.

Caleb Slavens, Alison Blanchard, Christine Joëlle and Christian Pedersen in "Flare Path" at Theatre 40. Photo by Ed Krieger(SB):  How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(CJ): I’m definitely becoming a master of ZOOM chats! Ha! And am putting my self-tape skills to good use as well.

I am also the owner and CEO of a successful pet care service called Movin’ Paws. So, I’ve been busy keeping it movin’ during these crazy times. If you need any dog/cat care for your furry ones, we’d be delighted to lend a helping paw. Check out our services at MovinPaws.com 

(SB): My dog Cody, bird Ernie, and I all highly recommend Movin’ Paws for their excellent service and personal care of your pets! 

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?

(CJ): Stay Strong and Safe. Without our health, our return to the stage shall take longer. The Arts and our creative community shall never die. We shall need it now more than ever. Keep that creative flow going!

(SB): And in closing to you personally, Christine – windmills!


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Los Angeles-Based Playwright Phil Olson


This Spotlight focuses on Phil Olson who was born and raised in Edina, Minnesota before he moved to Los Angeles. He has won over 30 playwriting and theatre awards with his 16 published plays that have had over 400 productions in seven countries around the world, with ten of his plays published by Samuel French/Concord Theatricals. This past Christmas, his new play, A Twisted Christmas Carol, had its world premieres in eight cities, concurrently, across the U.S. including a production by Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in NoHo. But what’s he up to now with such a vast theatrical quarantine in place?


After graduating from Dartmouth, Phil Olson tried out for the Chicago Bears. After his "summer with the Bears," he went on to receive an MBA from The University of Chicago and pursued a business career while writing stage and screenplays. So far, he has written 16 published plays that have had over 400 productions in seven countries around the world, with ten of those plays published by Samuel French/Concord Theatricals. His screenplay, Sioux Falls, is currently under option. And he has sold two screenplays and script doctored three screenplays that were produced. Phil also went through all four levels of The Groundlings, writing and performing with many talented people including Maya Rudolph.

Phil's play Mom's Gift was set to open at the Western Ontario Drama League Festival in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, on March 20, but was canceled due to COVID-19. The Western Ontario Drama League communicated the cancellation with the cast and crew, and since the entire Festival isn’t taking place, there are no plans to bring back the production.

 

So what's he up to now, I asked. "I wrote a new play and will soon be doing a Zoom reading of it with five actors. If that goes well, I'll do more Zoom readings with theaters around the country. For me, the quarantine has been a good time to write. I'm sort of a hermit anyway, so the shutdown hasn't affected me that much other than motivate me to work a little harder at writing. I would just encourage all the playwrights to keep writing, and don't let the shutdown discourage you. We'll get through this. But it certainly saddens me that theaters are dark right now. It encourages me to see actor and director friends of mine do live Facebook feeds, blogs, and Zoom rehearsals to get through this. The creativity I've seen in using social media to continue with the arts is a shining light."

Phil and I both send a big Thank You to everyone who supports live theatre, and we ask that everyone please continue to support your local theaters so they can remain open to welcome you back when the "Stay at Home" quarantine is over. After all, they need your support now more than ever.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Actor Rob Nagle from 'Human Interest Story' at the Fountain Theatre


This Spotlight focuses on Rob Nagle, a proud member of the Antaeus Theatre Company and the Troubadour Theater Company, who was in the fourth week of performances of the world premiere of Human Interest Story at the Fountain Theatre when the production was forced to postpone the run.


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

Rob Nagle (Rob): I’ve been performing in the theater for nearly 40 years, the past 23 of them while based in Los Angeles. Cut my teeth at Northwestern University, then in the incomparable Chicago theater scene, before heading to New York City to play on the stages there.

Rob Nagle and Aleisha Force in Human Interest Story at the Fountain Theatre. Photo by Jenny Graham

Rob Nagle and Aleisha Force in Human Interest Story at the Fountain Theatre. Photo by Jenny Graham

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

 

(Rob): I was performing at the Fountain Theatre in our fourth week of the run of Human Interest Story, written & directed by Stephen Sachs. The show has been suspended, but not cancelled. Producers intend to continue the run once we return to some kind of normal.

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

(Rob): The Fountain Theatre was in remarkably close touch with us, the cast & production team, keeping a keen eye on our safety as well as that of their loyal audiences. They made plans, and changed them accordingly, all based on the best recommendations of Mayor Garcetti and Governor Newsom.

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

 

(Rob): I’m thrilled that the Fountain chose not to cancel the production. The plan is to reopen Human Interest Story as soon as we are all able to gather again, and do it safely. My fingers and toes have been crossed for two and a half weeks straight, and they’re starting to cramp. But this too shall pass.

(SB): I certainly enjoyed the production and I really enjoy that the cast meets the audience in front of the theater after the performance. Sharing a link to my review of the show, which I hope lots of people will go see when the ban is lifted on public gatherings.

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

(Rob): From my understanding, the Fountain Theatre hopes to slide the schedule to accommodate more weeks of Human Interest Story and then lead into their production of If I Forget. Personally, everything is at sixes and sevens, so who knows what’s next or how plans will be affected. I know today, and most of tomorrow. That’s about it.

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

 

(Rob): I am astonished by how inventive people have become in this “Life in the Time of Corona.” I have taught acting classes, taken part in several virtual readings and a playwrights lab, watched live interviews, live podcasts, musical performances, and even drag shows; all through Zoom, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, and StageIt. These opportunities are truly strange and wonderful, all at once.

(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?

(Rob): This is our new reality - at least for now. I know it’s challenging and it hurts some of our hearts that our art has become relegated to this. But I am reframing this time as a gift; as an opportunity for me as a creative person to be inventive in different ways, to be a braver explorer, and live in the uncomfortable part of now, as well as to encourage myself to change how I look at and relate to the world, and to my work. I can choose to accept this amazing RESET for what it is, or I can choose to let it destroy me, and my “art heart.”  But I believe complacency is the greatest enemy of creativity.

The Persians had it right when they said, “this too shall pass."


Yes, please stay at home, everyone. Wear a mask and gloves when you go out.  Carry hand sanitizer. #WashYourHands Do what you can to #FlattentheCurve so we can all get back inside the world of theatre in Los Angeles.

Featured Photo by Stephanie Girard


This article first appeared on Broadway World.