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The Folger Spotlight

Your Backstage Pass!

Brian Dykstra (left, as Lord Capulet) and Joe Mallon (as Paris) in Romeo and Juliet.

Brian Dykstra (left, as Lord Capulet) and Joe Mallon (as Paris) in Romeo and Juliet.

Dykstra Blog: Your Backstage Pass 


Dykstra here. Once again.

I thought ya’ll might enjoy a tour through the mind of the actor (a semi-dangerous proposition) during performance. So, this is not as much a “backstage” pass as a window into dressing room behavior. I mean AFTER the dressing part has been completed. Cheese & Beefcake pics from my hidden lipstick camera costs extra.

So, there’s 13 of us. And most of us aren’t playing Romeo or Juliet.

So that means we have time backstage between scenes. Sometimes LOTS of time. So, what do actors do?

Sure, it seems glamorous to get to hang out with a pack of working actors and all that geo-political, social, and liberal awareness that most actors are famous for.

Joe Mallon at work in his dressing room.

Joe Mallon at work in his dressing room.

But once we’ve solved healthcare and what to do in Syria, things settle into a slightly more mundane existence. So the following is pictorial evidence of a typical performance for when we’re not onstage (and remember, we actually get paid for this…)

Joe Mallon (who plays Paris here in Romeo and Juliet) is writing a book. That’s right, a BOOK! Like, a novel. He’s also on some rabbit food diet and is dropping weight like a beauty pageant contestant, but that’s not the point. The point is, he’s writing a book! Joe hopes to be done fairly soon, but, alas, he doesn’t yet know the title, so all you readers of this blog who COULD have been book-buyers won’t know what to purchase when it becomes available. Which, of course, is on Joe. Now this picture of Joe…that’s how I’m going to think of him (we share a dressing room) and I’ve seen him from this angle WAY more than any other.

Allen McCullough (Lord Montague) reading through Twelfth Night.

Allen McCullough (Lord Montague) reading through Twelfth Night.

Here’s Allen McCullough (with Joe in the background – notice the same angle as he continues writing his book). Allen is pouring over Twelfth Night because he’s preparing for an audition for a production in Baltimore…which he ended up booking! So, whenever it is that Baltimore Center Stage is doing Twelfth Night, you can travel out there and catch the wonderful Allen McCullough playing Malvolio – such a terrific role.

We actually have quite the future working cast. Joe and Rex Daugherty (he plays Tybalt here in R&J) are going to go into Sheer Madness! Erin Weaver is going to do Mother Courage, Shannon Koob (Lady Capulet) is about to disappear to Florida and do a great Pinter play called Old Times, Matt McGee is working till August in too many projects to mention. I’m off to San Francisco to do Jerusalem. Brad Koed (Mercutio) is coming back to DC to do Stupid F**king Bird, and that’s just what I remember as I sit to write this blog.


This is Erin Weaver’s dressing table.

She’s not there.

Erin is playing Juliet. And Juliet don’t have but a minute and it’s all filled with costume changes, so she ain’t do nothing backstage except get ready for her next entrance.


So, yeah, here’s the other ladies (all four share the same dressing room – but, again, Juliet’s not in it most of the time). So, from left to right, that’s Michelle Osherow (Lady Montague) getting some knitting done. I think she’s knitting me a scarf. Or maybe mittens. It could be for someone else, but that’s hard for me to imagine.

Jennifer (these pictures were taken during a performance where we had an understudy on for Lady Capulet – which is too bad for the reader because the things Shannon does backstage between scenes are borderline illegal – …no, no they’re not) but Jennifer is doing a crossword puzzle while Sherri Edelen…?

Well, Sherri (Juliet’s Nurse) has one of those unhealthy relationships with her cell phone. Or, more specifically, with the myriad solitaire games in whatever App she’s downloaded.

So, to recap: Michelle is using the time constructively, Jennifer is keeping her brain sharp and theoretically staving off dementia because crossword puzzles are good for that, while Sherri is totally and obsessively wasting time. She does come in with the greatest baked goods imaginable though…so, that’s cool.


This is Romeo’s dressing table. Michael Goldsmith has a similar experience as Erin in that Romeo is too busy to hang with us undesirables downstairs. Oh well, our loss.

Dykstra_6_9Rex works out…

Dykstra_6_10…or plays Boggle with Brad…

Dykstra_6_11…when he’s not watching cartoons with Matt and Aaron.

As for me…I’m taking pictures and formulating blog ideas.

And somehow, I missed Eric Hissom who plays Friar Lawrence, The Prince, The Chorus and the Apothecary. But I guess with a part like that, he’s almost as busy as Romeo & Juliet.

Anyway, that’s a day in the life of the backstage actor.

We do things that you’d get fired for if you got caught doing them at your job.

Not quite as thrilling as one might imagine.

But it sure beats working for a living.