Andy’s Candy Apothecary: The Sweets of B Street Theatre

Sarah Maren Photographers

Andy’s Candy Apothecary has been one of Sacramento’s hottest candy stores in recent years. They also happen to be sold at B Street Theatre. Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill sat down with the owner of the store, Andy Paul, to discuss his store and the collaboration he’s had with B Street Theatre.

How did Andy’s Candy Apothecary begin? How long did it take to obtain the success you now have?

Andy: I’ve always been very passionate about seeking out cool and unusual candy and high quality chocolate. It’s been a hobby of mine my entire life. The business started in 2013, with the help of a downtown competition [called Calling All Dreamers] for new small businesses. We won and were granted some startup business services, as well as free rent for a year. We entered the competition with an idea, but the process helped us shape it into a solid reality. And the business has grown every year since we’ve begun.

How did B Street Theatre and your candy store’s collaboration begin?

We were fans of B Street–we attend often–and a good friend of ours, Bill Blake, was the Managing Director. He came to us because he wanted to bring something a little extra special to concessions, to raise the quality of what they were offering.

How in the world do you make those dark chocolate sea salt caramel balls? Those are my favorite.

We don’t make them! This is a common misconception of our store. My specialty is finding all of the most high quality confections and chocolates from all over and assembling them into one amazing collection in our shop. This way we aren’t limited by what I could make. Instead I try many, many different things and then I handpick only the best items for our shop.

The Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels are made by a wonderful company called Marich. They make a high quality caramel, which is rolled into balls, then tossed with a luscious dark chocolate in panning machines that gradually give them a smooth even coat of chocolate.

andy-candy-choco-balls

How do you feel about the amount of growth Sacramento has been through in the past couple of years?

It’s been super exciting. I’ve lived in Sacramento since 2001 and have been watching it take off. The food scene especially is showing incredible acceleration. I’m a foodie (for all kinds of things, not just sweets), so I love all the new chefs and their restaurants. And this also leads to new candy makers popping up, too, which is good for our business–we love featuring local quality candy makers, and strive to carry a lot of locally made products.

How important is it that local businesses support each other?

Critical. Sacramento is too small to make trouble by acting too territorial or competitive. I was pleased to find that the downtown business community was super welcoming of us. There’s definitely a feeling of “we’re all in this together.”

What has been your favorite B Street Theatre Production over the years?

I loved the Jack Gallagher production, Five Songs. And then way back, there was a show whose name I can’t remember. It was about two sort of eccentric brothers living in an old house. I don’t remember much more about it, except that the characters did an amazing job living inside their characters.

What’s the best part of being a candy maker? Sorry, I mean Candy Curator?

A few great things:

One, Since I’m a passionate consumer of candy, I love having an enormous collection of the world’s greatest hits of candy and chocolate around me at all times.

Two, I like making people happy, and the candy and chocolates in our store do that–because everything is chosen because it’s uniquely great. So beyond the normal delight you get from sweets, we hear lots of surprised squeals and “Ooooh, that’s AMAZING!” from our customers.

Lastly, I get free samples from new candy makers! Companies reach out to me all the time and say, “your shop looks great and might be a great fit for our candy. May we send you some samples?” I say, YES, and then a few days later, an amazing box of candy arrives. I never get tired of that.

Advertisements

Fond Memories: A missing prop in Escanaba in Da Moonlight

Escanaba

As B Street Theatre prepares for the move of a lifetime, we thought it’d be nice to recollect our time here at 2711 B Street. So for the next few months, we’ll have staff members, company actors, and others share their funny, embarrassing, and memorable times here at the original location.

In this first entry, Greg Alexander, company actor and head of the Department of Outreach & Education, relays the problems that occur when a prop goes missing.

There was a bit in Escanaba In Da Moonlight where Rueben – played by Richard Zoebel – had to fetch Da Jimmer – my character – a mason jar of homemade whisky. He’s supposed to exit and return immediately, as there is no dialogue to cover his exit and re-entrance. After a few seconds passed, and Richard had not returned, Jim Doer, Kurt Johnson, and I realized something was wrong. I concluded the jar that’s supposed to be pre-set for me to drink from wasn’t there. This means that the only jars available were ones that had been sitting back stage for weeks.

Sure enough Rueben returns with a jar of what appears to be some weird biology experiment gone haywire. In the middle of this cloudy jar of brown goo is a furry ball of green & yellow… god-knows-what. He looks at me as if to say, “Sorry….” And sets the jar in front of me to chug. I roll my eyes, reach for someone else’s unfinished shot glass, and down that instead. The play continues without need for a stomach pump.

Actor Rich Hebert on his career and getting the role of 9 characters in Leonard Pelkey

Rich-Hebert-blog
Rich Hebert has had a long, successful career on stage and screen. He has performed multiple times on Broadway, including replacing Terrance Mann in the original production of Cats, being a part of the original Broadway cast of Sunset Boulevard composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and starring Glenn Close, and performing with the legendary Sting as a cast member of the Broadway musical, The Last Ship. His multiple television credits include: The Sopranos, NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, and 21 Jump Street. He is currently starring in B Street’s production of The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey and receiving rave reviews. In this blog, Rich unfolds the story of how he came to Sacramento, about his relationship with B Street Theatre, and what Leonard Pelkey has taught him.

My first time performing in Sacramento was with the first national tour of Billy Elliot (in which I played the role of Dad for three years) at The Community Center. I realized that I had a friend who lived here. We had first met in New York City and he was working at the Sacramento Music Circus at the time. He told me about the active theater community in Sacramento. My young daughter had just moved here with her mom and I wanted to see her as much as possible so, I started concentrating on finding work here. I was lucky enough to get work at The Music Circus for the next few summers and was even luckier to meet Dave Pierini in a production of West Side Story at the Circus. Dave is one of the driving forces at The B Street Theatre and asked me if I would be willing to work on a smaller contract at a place where they didn’t have a guy in my age bracket.

That next February I was out here in Sac to be my daughter’s date at the Father/ Daughter dance and I decided to go see Dave in a show at B Street. Dave was great and the quality of the production was top notch. That winter while I was auditioning in NY, Dave called and asked me to send a tape of me doing a monologue from Clever Little Lies so that Buck Busfield could see my work. I got the role of the Dad in Clever Little Lies and started to think about basing myself out of Sac to be near my daughter. After I played the role of Beverly in the Capital Stage production of August Osage County, I realized that it might be possible to find fairly consistent work in California and be with my girl.

B Street amazes me with the amount of creativity that exists within its company and its educational and children’s programs. My daughter has been part of Kurt’s summer theater camps and has benefited in a myriad of ways from it.

With the new theater and all, I am hoping that I’ve found a home in which I can even begin showing a bit of my musical chops that have let me experience some of the highest highs of a 35+ year career as a professional actor. From being part of two Grammy Award winning albums to developing new musicals with Cy Coleman, Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber to performing with some of my rock music heroes Sting and Brian May in their respective musicals on Broadway and in Las Vegas, it has been a rewarding and exciting career so far.

I have to admit with all that I have done so far, nothing tops the moments that I have performing onstage with my daughter Neely once at a fund raiser for The Music Circus and once at Tony LaRussa’s annual ARF benefit in Walnut Creek. Ever since I played the role of Valjean in 89-90 at the Curran Theater in SF (Bay Area Critics Award for Best Actor), I have been great friends with Baseball Hall of Famer Tony LaRussa. He began a crusade to build an incredible Animal Rescue and adoption facility in Walnut Creek. Each year he has a star studded concert at The Lesher Center where I have been lucky enough to perform with everybody from John Foggerty and Emmylou Harris to the Eagles. Two years ago Tony allowed me to have my daughter sing a couple of songs from Annie with me. We also sang with Timothy B. Schmidt of The Eagles and Eric Church in the finale. Watching the joy of watching Neely grant requests for autographs was unforgettable.

I tell my daughter that having been part of an original production of a Tony Award winning show is like winning The Super Bowl in my line of work (although I didn’t win MVP). But, just when you think that you’ve done it all in a career, something new comes along to inspire or reinvigorate you. I was offered The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey at B St after I had just finished doing an incredible production of Man of La Mancha at the McCoy/Rigby Theater in LA directed by Glenn Casale. I had just wrapped up giving my daughter a dream summer tour of LA featuring 2 days at Disneyland, a taping of one of her favorite TV shows Fuller House, where she got to meet the cast and meeting a former co-worker Rider Strong, who was a favorite star of Boy Meets World. Also lots of time at the beach.

Pelkey-Rich-dramatic

It was while I was in LA that Dave Pierini offered me the roles of nine different characters (four of them female) in a one man show. I have never done a one man play in my long career. I was excited and terrified at the thought of memorizing 25 pages of text and portraying nine very different people without costume or hair changes, particularly with only two days before rehearsals began.

Saying, ‘yes’ has been a miracle of a decision for me. As the character Ellen Hurdle says in the play, “People can do all kinds of things that they didn’t think they were capable of.” That is what I found out and continue to learn every night. Neely told me to take this job and leave my comfort zone. I couldn’t have done it without her. It makes me believe that I can do a lot more things than I thought that I was capable of. This play is written so well. Leonard Pelkey teaches me every night, even though he is only seen in an out of focus photo. He has brought my art, career and fatherhood more into focus.

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey is showing on the B3 stage until September 9. Call the Box Office for tickets.

A Look Inside B Street’s Summer Camp Program

Camp-Activity

For 12 years now, company member Kurt Johnson has run a summer camp here at the B Street Theatre, teaching Sacramento kids the fundamentals of acting. This summer, the B Street Summer Camp taught over 150 kids between the ages of six and 17, produced five different showcases, and had loads of laughter all the while. Artistic Associate and fellow Camp Instructor Sean Patrick Nill sat down with Kurt to discus the history of the camp, philosophy of teaching acting, and ways in which The Sofia will make the summer camp even better.

When did the Summer Camp at B Street Theatre begin?

KURT: I approached Buck Busfield in March of 2005 about starting a program for children. The B Street Conservatory had been going for about two years but there weren’t any offerings for kids. I had been teaching school workshops and various classes at local community centers. I felt like the time was ripe for The B Street Theatre to offer a summer program.

How has Summer Camp changed since 2005?

We’ve learned a lot over the years and expanded the program from just two workshops in 2005 to the five workshops we offer now. My philosophy is to focus on fun as much as learning. Kids need to experience acting and not just be lectured to about it. They also need to be guided. “Football Directing” is something I learned to avoid in summer stock theatre. Often directors just “Block and Run.” It’s what I see in a number of other local offerings. Kids are directed to “speak up” and “walk over there,” but never explore the inner workings of theatre and acting. I try to teach concepts in an approachable and entertaining way while still producing a showcase in a limited amount of time.

What’s the difference between the summer camp here at B Street and other summer camps for acting?

In the B Street Theatre Summer Program we do straight plays. We have very little (if any) singing and dancing. We also lean toward comic and serio-comic scripts, but we do explore dramatic material. Many of the other local workshops concentrate on the final product. This is a great experience because kids are part of producing a show, but at the B Street Theatre we also play around with actor training. The first three days of both the Youth & Teen workshops are dedicated to acting concepts like stage picture, non-verbal communication, ensemble, super objectives, and status. These ideas are the fundamentals of college theatre programs and can easily be explored, in a fun way, through improv and acting exercises.

Camp-counselors
L to R: Sean Patrick Nill, Kurt Johnson, Alex Foxwell

What’s a typical day like at Summer Camp?

The kids tend to laugh a lot. Things move fast. Depending on the workshop, we have one or two weeks to put up a show. I think the overarching experience may be one of managed chaos and humor. Kids, and really people, learn best when they enjoy the experience. At B Street we play games like ‘Roommates’ to teach status, ‘Yes Lets’ to teach ensemble, and ‘I Am a Tree’ to introduce the idea of a stage picture. Each activity is about fun and learning, in that order.

What’s the most rewarding part of teaching kids theatre? What’s the most challenging?

The logistics of the program are the most challenging. We have to find scripts, build scenery, make programs, keep parents up to date, inspire students, organize rehearsals, and a dozen other things. But the learning process is its own reward. I know it sounds cliché, but I learn as much from the kids as they learn from me. The workshops make me explore the nuts and bolts of acting because I have to explain it to my students. You’d be surprised by the insights you gain when trying to figure out how to explain a concept to an eight year old. There is a saying out there, “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it(-Yogi Bhajan).”

How important is it for kids to learn about theatre and acting?

This is my soap box. If anyone wants to talk about the importance of what I call “present communication,” please give me a call. My wife is an English teacher and I have tremendous respect for the written word, but soooo much of our success in life is based on our ability to express ourselves in real life situations. Think about job interviews, presentations, phone etiquette, sales, team building, pitching sessions, and more. And that doesn’t even touch on interpersonal skills like relationships and parenting. Learning to express your ideas verbally and immediately in an engaging and precise way takes skill and practice. Plus… it’s fun. Acting builds confidence. It teaches kids that their ideas are important, that their voice should be heard.

What will the new space on Capital 27th do for the Summer Camp?

We will have dedicated classrooms at the new space on Capitol Ave. We could even teach during a show if we wanted to. I am very excited about all the offerings that Greg Alexander and the B Street Theatre team will develop over the next few years. The possibilities are huge.

The last showcase of the 2017 B Street Summer Camp will be happening tonight at the B Street Theatre Mainstage at 6:00 and 7:00. This’ll be the last Summer Camp Showcase at the B Street location. Don’t want your child to miss out acting class opportunities at B Street? The Kids Fall Conservatory courses are available for enrollment.

The Stars of Bloomsday on Love: Part Two

 

bloomsday-outdoors-old

In Stephen Dietz’ new time traveling romance, Bloomsday, a romantic meeting in Dublin is re-lived and dissected by Robert and Cait, while their young selves, Robbie and Caithleen experience the chance meeting for the first time. In Part One of our interviews with the cast Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill spoke with Brittni Barger and Steve Sherman (who play Robbie and Caithleen). Part Two is Nill’s interview with the elder versions Robert and Cait, played by Dave Pierini and Rebecca Dines.

When and how did you meet your first love?

Dave: For me, the great loves of my life have been marathons, not sprints. My first love had to be convinced, slowly over a period of time to enter into a relationship with me. She did eventually and we fell hard.

Rebecca: Primary School… 6 years old… Graham Woods was so cute.

What’s the perfect song for a romantic dance?

Dave: “Native Melody (This Must Be the Place)” by The Talking Heads is great and was in fact the song that was playing during my first kiss. David Byrne was a regular at the bar I tended in the East Village in NY and I always wanted to thank him for that, but I left him alone and would buy him the occasional glass of wine.

Rebecca: “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison

Why do you think the Irish are considered romantic?

Dave: The Irish are natural storytellers. And they of course have the ‘ache; the sad, gloomy psyche that permeates everything. They don’t necessarily feel more
than any other ethnicity, but they have the ability to express that feeling with authority and through the lens of the unlucky.

Rebecca: Are they? Miserable, dark drunks,maybe… even the poets are dark given half the chance.

bloomsday-blog-star-room-older

If you met your younger self today, what advice would you give them? Would it make a difference?

Dave: I don’t think any advice to my younger self would matter. Plenty of people gave me advice when I was young and I did what I wanted to anyway. That’s the glorious thing about youth. The arrogance followed by the pain of being wrong. It’s what stimulates growth.

Rebecca: Don’t smoke. Get out of ‘that’ relationship sooner. But I probably wouldn’t listen.

What is your opinion on James Joyce’s Ulysses?

Dave: Tried to read it twice in my life. Haven’t been able to finish it yet. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man is an easier and more satisfying.

Rebecca: I’ve read other Joyce novels, but I ain’t never gonna read Ulysses.

Perfect meal for a date is…

Dave: I mean, if it’s a date, I hope goes well…then nothing or something very light. At my age, I don’t want to wrestle with a full stomach.

Rebecca: Sushi… followed by gelato down the street.

What foreign accent is the most attractive to you?

Dave: Any. Or none. I’m pretty much attracted to everything.

Rebecca: Welsh is fascinating to me.

What’s a romantic book, movie, or play that you find yourself going back to?

Dave: It’s not a romance, but The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides to me perfectly captures the feeling of being a young man completely mystified and drawn to women, the soul wrenching ache of desire. And the song “I Want You” by Elvis Costello. It’s not romantic, it’s a tortured song about unrequited love. I can relate to the emotion behind it.

Rebecca: Pride & Prejudice.

What’s the best location for a romantic walk?

Dave: If you’re with the one you love, then anywhere is romantic.

Rebecca: City? Nah! The beach!

BLOOMSDAY is on the Mainstage until September 10.

The Stars of Bloomsday on Love: Part One

bloomsday-outdoors-young

In Stephen Dietz’ new time traveling romance, Bloomsday, a romantic meeting in Dublin is re-lived and dissected by Robert and Cait, while their young selves, Robbie and Caithleen experience the chance meeting for the first time. Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill sat with the Brittni Barger and Steve Sherman (who play Robbie and Caithleen), and with Dave Pierini and Rebecca Dines (who play Robert and Cait) to ask their opinions on love, Ireland, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Part One begins with Brittni and Steve.

When and how did you meet your first love?

BRITTNI: The summer before my freshman year of high school I was over at a friend’s house and we were looking through her older sister’s yearbook to see who are our upperclassmen would be, when I saw a picture that made me screech to an angsty pubescent halt. For some reason, this dark-haired sophomore made me feel all weird and goopy inside, and a little voice inside my head said “I’m going to be the girlfriend of that Portuguese Adonis.” Flash forward to the first day of school, right after my first class (or homeroom, I should say) I crossed paths with yearbook guy in the hall. He took one look at me and asked me out right then and there. Lol jk. Life’s not that cool. But the year after that we did end up dating… for 7 years, in fact. And it all started from seeing his picture and visualizing a future. It was like The Secret before The Secret was The Secret.

STEVE: Checking coats at a restaurant in New York City. I met her at a meeting and didn’t see her again for well over a month. The next time I saw her it was like time stopped for a second.

What was the craziest thing you ever did for someone you loved?

BRITTNI: Stayed up all night talking. I know that doesn’t sound crazy, but if you knew how much I love to sleep, you’d immediately award me a medal of triumph.

STEVE: Does buying a diamond engagement ring count?

Perfect song to share a romantic dance is…

BRITTNI: “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. It ends up being more jumping up and down with your head bobbing side to side, pointing repeatedly at each other and the sky than it is “dancing” per se, but it’s still romantic af.

STEVE: I love a good rock power ballad like “Always” by Bon Jovi or “When You Love a Woman” by Journey.

Why do you think the Irish are considered romantic?

STEVE: Perhaps it’s the water, or the green, the history or the faith. Perhaps it’s the weather. I think rainy days are quite romantic: the sound of it coming down, the smell of it after it hits the fresh pavement. Taking a walk and kissing in the rain… it’s probably the beer and whiskey.

BRITTNI: …alcohol.

bloomsday-blog-star-room-young

If you met a younger version of yourself today, what advice would you give them? Do you think it would make a difference?

BRITTNI: You sleep too much. Go outside and make cool sh*t.

STEVE: I would say not to care so much about what other people think. Trust your instincts, follow your heat, it’s ok to take the road less traveled by.

What are your opinions on James Joyce’s Ulysses?

BRITTNI: It’s much easier to enjoy after letting go of what you think lit should be. It’s especially enjoyable (to me) reading it along with literary criticisms, because that’s exactly what it was intended for (according to Joyce), to be pulled apart by experts. If you read it with that discerning eye, beautiful phrases tumble out and stand at the forefront. Little wispy strings of beauty that have the power to inspire and awe. Joyce can turn a phrase with the best of them, that much is fa sho.

STEVE: …umm… I’m never gonna read that thing!

Perfect meal for a date?

STEVE: Great seafood with a view of the water, a glass of wine and of course, a tasty desert to share.

BRITTNI: Alcohol.

What foreign accent to you is the most attractive?

STEVE: French. The ‘Southern Belle’ accent also melts me.

BRITTNI: High Valyrian.

What’s a romantic movie, book or play that you find yourself going back to?

BRITTNI: Sabrina, but the one with Julia Ormond, Harrison Ford, and Greg Kinnear. That moment when Linus asks Sabrina to teach him some French phrases and then he asks her how to say “I’m looking at what I want” is my JAM.

STEVE: When Harry Met Sally. I also enjoyed La La Land this past year and the ‘What could have been?’ them relates nicely to Bloomsday.

Perfect city for a romantic walk?

STEVE: Any ocean beach at sunset.

BRITTNI: Midtown Sacramento. Especially in fall when the leaves are turning and the air is crisp and you can walk down 21st Street, get into an epic leaf pile fight and get pegged hard in the face by your boyfriend, while your best friend looks on and laughs like a steaming tea kettle. That may be too oddly specific to be relatable, but I still like to think it proves my point.

Stay tuned for Part Two with Dave Pierini and Rebecca Dines.