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Archives for : Cue Zero Theatre Company

Thankful for 2015

I write this while still recovering from Thanksgiving dinner, so I figured it would be appropriate to talk about what I am thankful for in my professional life in 2015, as well as talk about what 2016 will hold for me.

I am thankful that 2015 was the most successful year of my theatrical life ever. I was fortunate to direct seven productions this year, each one teaching me valuable lessons about myself as an artist and as a person. I closed out the directing year with “Into The Woods” and I have never been more proud of myself, nor the cast and crew that I have worked with. To not only finally get to work on Sondheim, but to work with such wonderful people was a dream come true. I cannot wait for another opportunity to work with the Actorsingers, as well as work on more Sondheim.

I would like to thank everyone who gave me opportunities this year, everyone I collaborated with, and everyone who I learned from in 2015. The lessons from this year will stick with me for a life time, and I feel like I am finally coming into myself as an artist.

My 2016 is already quickly filling up. I will once again be working with the Maskers Drama Club of Central High School, first directing their winter drama, Antigone, which I have written an original adaption of which we will use. I will also be returning to the Windham Actors Guild to direct Fiddler On The Roof, which has been on my list of shows to direct for years. My 2016 will also include the spring comedy with Maskers, and I am hoping to self-produce at least two shows with Cue Zero in 2016.

I do have one final project for 2015, though not directorial. I will be returning to the place where I got my start in the theatre world: Manchester’s historic Palace Theatre, where I will be working backstage on their annual production of A Christmas Carol. I am overjoyed that I will get to be going “home for the holidays.”

Hope 2015 was as kind to you all as it was to me, enjoy your Christmas season, and have a happy new year!

An amazing start to 2015

Haven’t posted an update in a while, and there’s been a lot going on so I really should get something up here. Few major announcements:

First, I have accepted the position of Managing Director with Little Church Theater of Holderness, New Hampshire. It’s a job where I will wear many hats, including day-to-day operations, managing staff, producing the shows, public relations, as well as possibly directing a production. I do have some year round duties, and will be basically living at the theater from June through August. We have our first big meeting at the end of the month, and I can not wait for the summer to be here.
So what will I be doing in the meantime? Well, I have signed on to direct three productions this winter/spring! First, I am directing Timothy Mason’s Beauty and the Beast with the Maskers Drama Club at Central High School in Manchester. It’s a very interesting adaptation of the original fairytale (and predates Disney’s version by about five years.) I am working with some very excited students who I look forward to getting to know over the next month.

After B&B goes up, my focus will be shifted to directing one of my absolute favorite shows: Avenue Q! I cannot believe that only two short years after playing one of my dream roles (Trekkie Monster) I will now get to direct a production. I will be working with ACT Theatre Company in North Andover, MA on this show, and am at a loss for words over my excitement for this production.

Finally, shorty before Avenue Q opens, I will be in the director seat at auditions for Legally Blonde: The Musical, which is the Majestic Theatre’s spring teen show. I have performed several times with the Majestic, and am very glad to accept their offer for the teen show. The show will go up at the end of May, and then it’s on to Holderness.

So my 2015 is already almost completely booked, and it’s only day 12. I still will be mentoring FRC team 3467, as well as carrying out all my other duties for Cue Zero Theatre Company, who should be putting on at least two productions come the fall.
Thank you to everyone who is providing me with the great opportunities, 2015 is going to be a fantastic year!

Exciting Week Ahead

Just want to write a quick post updating all the crazy things going on right now in my life.

This past weekend, I took in two great shows: UNH’s production of “Comedy of Errors” and my mentor David Kaye’s one man show: “How I Brought Peace To The Middle East: A Tragicomedy.” Both shows were wonderfully enjoyable. “Comedy of Errors” was delightfully hilarious, and David’s show was a brilliantly written and performed piece. After studying under Professor Kaye for years, it was still mind-blowing to watch the master at work. He effortlessly portrayed multiple distinct characters, made the audience laugh, cry and think, and was simply inspiring.

Now on to this week.

On Friday night, I will be heading back to my old high school for the selection processes of 24 Hour Play Festival, presented by TheatreKapow and Wax Idiotical Films. The five playwrights will be given their prompts, pull directors out of a hat, and then assigned their actors. We will all return the next morning to begin rehearsing on the plays the writers will spend all night slaving over. I have been asked to guest-blog for TheatreKapow about Friday night’s process, so be on the look out on their website for that. I cannot wait for this unique directing challenge.

After the 24 Hour Play Festival will have concluded, and I have gotten some much needed rest, I will head to 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee rehearsal. We will have the entire show staged and be having our first full run-thru of the show. I am extremely proud of how well the show is coming together, and that we will have just under a month to polish this musical. Mark your calendars for Nov 21-23rd so you do not miss what is going to be a very special show!

Also, we have been getting everything in place for next year’s Cue Zero Theatre Company productions. News and updates to come soon!

Hope to see you all at both of my next two performances.

More publicity for CZT

Project Zero has come and gone and it was a wildly successful weekend. I will do another blog post about how everything went, but right now I just wanted to share another article that ran about the show/myself. This appeared in the July 10th edition of the Nashua Telegraph, written by written by Emily Kwesell

Back in November, Dan Pelletier set a goal for himself: “Before I turn 24, I want to direct an original piece,” he thought. This weekend, this goal will become a reality for Pelletier, as his acting troupe, Cue Zero, will be showcasing two original pieces in their “Project Zero” show, Thursday- Saturday at the Adams Memorial Opera House in Derry. The presentation of Pelletier’s own piece, “Future Endeavors,” will satisfy his goal of directing an original piece before he turns 24, as his birthday is the end of this month. Pelletier, of Auburn, graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2013 with a degree in theater. Through his studies at UNH, he was able to find like-minded people who shared his devotion to drama. It’s all about “finding people who are passionate about what they do,” Pelletier said, about getting people interested in participating in his group. Using this network of passionate artists and actors, Pelletier was able to form the Cue Zero Theatre Company. The company seeks to support young, talented artists who need a venue in which to showcase their works. Every Cue Zero show has an element of “newness” – whether they are using an original script, a new director or a different technique, all their shows will aim to be different. “They’re very unique pieces … they’re not your average piece of theater,” Pelletier said. The idea to use new techniques, actors, directors and stories was centered around the desire to “create our own opportunities,” he said. Sometimes creating these opportunities can be risky, especially for first-time business owners. Despite the risks involved with starting a business, Pelletier believes Cue Zero is being run professionally. “I did my homework and figured out what it would take. … We’re being very self-observant,” he said. Whether he is writing plays, going to dress rehearsals or trying to raise money for opening weekend, Pelletier has had a blast turning his dreams into a reality. “It’s been a wonderful process; it’s what we want to do. Not a single second of it has felt like work,” he said. Pelletier is optimistic of his and his coworkers’ hard work and hopes their opening shows will be the first of many as, Pelletier believes, the versatility of their shows will entrance all audience members. “Don’t think it’s just a show for dorks … everyone will get something from these shows. There’s something for everybody,” he said. “Future Endeavors” is a play about change, growing up and what we are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve our dreams. The other play, “We Could be Heroes,” written and directed by Joe Nelson of Manchester, looks at the life of a nerd as he uses his favorite fictional characters as life guides. Pelletier is confident that Cue Zero’s inaugural weekend will be successful, but he also promises consistent growth for the group. “I’m a big dreamer, I want this to be successful … I want every show to be the best show,” he said.

Making Noise About Cue Zero

We are a week away from Cue Zero Theatre Company’s opening night and I could not be more excited. There is a great buzz in the air about the show. We recently received some great press from Manchester’s The Hippo magazine. I have included the wonderful article below.

“Heroes On-Stage”

If you’re a recent theater grad who doesn’t have the time or financial stability for an unpaid internship, there aren’t a lot of options — particularly if you want your play produced or if you want to sit in the director’s seat. So, University of New Hampshire 2013 grad Dan Pelletier decided to take matters into his own hands.

Pelletier is the founding member of a new theater group in Southern New Hampshire called the Cue Zero Theatre Company, whose inaugural production, Project Zero, takes the stage for the first time on Thursday, July 10. It will contain two hero-themed original one-acts, Future Endeavors, written and directed by Pelletier, and We Could Be Heroes, written and directed by Joe Nelson. They’ll be performed back-to-back, July 10 through July 12, at the Derry Opera House.
Pelletier, an Auburn native and Pinkerton Academy grad, ultimately decided on this course while driving to a lighting design rehearsal for Taming of the Shrew at UNH in Durham last fall, which he did as a favor for the director.
“I decided that, before my next birthday — which is coming up in July — I wanted to direct an original piece. I started researching the best ways to get that done, and that was to start my own company,” Pelletier said.
He stocked up on books and took advice from local companies like the Windham Actors Guild and theatre KAPOW!, whose monthly open training session he often attends. He gathered his theater friends from school, put out open calls and wrote press releases for the company’s auditions and upcoming performances. He pulled in a few UNH grads, including Nelson and Danielle Pancoast, who works as co-producer, set/costume designer and stage manager. Right now, the cast and crew numbers total 15, and they have been working diligently at rehearsals in his basement.
“There’s this old saying that if opportunity doesn’t knock, make a door. Throughout our schooling at UNH, every professor said you’re going to have to start with your own work to break out,” Nelson said in a phone interview. “You’re going to have to make your own opportunity. It’s something that’s stuck with me. … And I think new works are really what the theater scene in New Hampshire needs right now.”
Future Endeavors is about a small-town wrestler named Kyle Jordan making his way to the big leagues. Pelletier wrote it as part of his senior capstone project.
It wasn’t hard to create the character; if you know pro wrestling, then you probably know it’s more a performance than it is a sport. So in a way, Pelletier and the cast members relate very well to the character.
“When I looked at the script, I saw a lot of parallels between myself and Kyle Jordan,” said Nate Shaw, a Lowell resident who plays the lead role. “It’s easy to become absorbed and really get into the character.”
Nelson’s is a one-man show, to be performed by his good friend (also a recent UNH grad) James Fay. He wrote it last winter. The scene is of a kid living in a “nerd cave” in his parents’ basement. (Think superhero shrines.)
“It’s a one-person show, essentially a ‘nerd’ sharing with the non-nerd world what it means to be part of this demographic, the triumphs and struggles one would come upon while reading comic books and playing video games,” Nelson said.
It’s a lot of work, building a new theater company from the ground up. First there’s the job of finding a location, which Pelletier secured with a pretty successful indiegogo campaign. Then there’s publicity.
“You can have the best show in the world, but if people don’t know about it, they won’t show up,” Nelson said. “You don’t have the name recognition that other organizations in the area might already have.”
But there’s also a wonderful excitement to a new company and a new theater.
“In that mindset, we can bend  and create something that’s completely new for us,” Nelson said. “If somebody’s seen Hamlet six times, it’s uncertain to how the seventh time will be any different. With a new play going on, you have no excuse  not to check it out.”
Pelletier doesn’t expect to make a lot of money with the inaugural show; he said he’d be happy just to break even. But of course, he hopes this first performance will create opportunity for future shows this year.
“It will be a phenomenal learning experience, if nothing else,” Pelletier said.
As seen in the July 3, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

Countdown to Zero

Rehearsals for both pieces in “Project Zero: A Night of Original One-Acts” have begun and I could not be more excited. This semi-scary bold adventure is taking off at a million miles per hour and there is no stopping it now. I am so glad I have the support of my wonderful friends who have made this process so much easier. From stepping up and taking on very important roles in the company, to helping find actors, to just spreading the word about the show, I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of generosity.

In the year it’s been since I first put up “Future Endeavors” (at the time titled “Cheap Heat”) as my senior project, I have forgotten just how much I love these characters, and what exactly they mean to me. During last night’s rehearsal, it all came flowing back. I had a fantastic one-on-one session with our new leading man, Nate Shaw, who is going to bring some amazing dynamics to the character of Kyle Jordan. This cast is full of some very talented performers who all bring unique perspectives to their work. I guarantee this show will not disappoint.

I don’t want to write an overly long piece just yet. Tho we only have 24 days, 8 hours until opening curtain as of writing this, I don’t want to drown on and on about the rehearsal process. There is so much to do in such little time, and I am looking forward to every moment of it.

See you all at the Opera House in July!

One Full Trip Around The Sun As A Real Person

May 18th 2013, at about noon time I was handed something I had worked extremely hard for during the previous four years… well sort of. I was given my University of New Hampshire diploma…holder. The actual diploma would come in the mail about a month and a half later, but the symbolism was there. I was officially a owner of a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. I was now what I joking refereed to as “A Real Person.” I am an adult, with debt, a need for a career and a whole bunch of scary life choices sitting in front of me. One of my favorite teachers in college, Dan Raymond, usually made us write a “What I learned in this class” reflection paper to end every semester, which was always extremely insightful. Since today is sorta like my “first birthday” with respect to the diploma, I would like to reflect upon everything I have accomplished professionally and personally since graduation.

I guess my first major accomplishment was making my professional directing debut, which took place not long after graduation. The entire process that was “Bye Bye Birdie” was certainly an adventure. It was the first true test of my education while at the same time one of the most valuable learning experiences I ever had as a person. It tested my character. It tested my work ethic. It tested my ability to handle pressure, deal with many of the lesser than enjoyable parts of show biz, and made me realize a lot of things about myself. All things considered, we put on a damn good show. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I got, for the moments of self-discovery, and the continuous affirmation that the world of theatre is the world I belong in.

I also served as lighting designer on two very different productions. Both of these experiences involved me being a bit out of my comfort zone (for different reasons each time) which I find is one of the most important things when wanting to grow as an artist. Risks need to be taken, acceptance over the fact that you don’t always know 100% what you’re doing needs to be had, and you need to alway trust in yourself, and your fellow artists. I never want to accept easy tasks; challenges are where the real fun lies. My fulfillment in life comes from accomplishing, not necessarily the impossible, but the improbable. Now, is lighting design what I want to do forever? No, but it is something that pushes me artistically. Also during the two productions (as well as my time as “emergency technical director” for another production) I believe I earned the deep respect of a lot of people, which is something I value highly. I have nothing but respect for my craft, and I want to be respected for my craft and work ethic. When I lose either of these things, I will need to seriously reevaluate where I am in life.

Something I did not expect to be so life changing were the two major trips I took this year, first to NYC, then to Disney World. Both trips woke me up, allowing me to see there is so much more than just the world just outside my window. For a while I think I had set my goal as being a major player in the arts and entertainment scene in New England, but now I’m not so sure that’s the best thing for me. I think this guy has to go out and see the world as a whole, experience many different places, cultures and people. I can’t let my geography limit myself. So when the time comes, I’m going to explore all of my options across the country, and possibly even globally. I’ve said it for a while, but now I truly accept it: I’ll go wherever the road of life takes me.

Had I not made a pit-stop on an impulse, I would have missed out on an extremely important experience this year, and that was my joining of FRC Team 3467. FIRST shaped a major part of who I am, and I am always in favor of giving back to the community, so the partnership just made sense. What I originally envisioned as a minor amount of helping out burst into a full on mentorship of the team. I really feel like my year with the Windham Windup was very much like Kevin Garnett leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves for the Boston Celtics. I love (the now no longer active) FRC Team 241 of Pinkerton Academy with all my heart, but 3467 was just the right place for me. Everyone on this team has a great mindset, understand the culture, and wants to achieve big things. I don’t want to take more credit than I deserve, but I really did enjoy coaching the team to some major awards, as well as being along for the ride when it came to the robot’s successful season. I hope all of the students learned as much from me as I did from them. I’m not certain that my career path will allow me to continue being as active with the team in the future, but I will give them everything I can for as long as they will have me.

On a purely personal level, it has been a very crazy year when it comes to friends and family. Going back to slightly before graduation, I’ve spent the last 14 months solidifying some amazing bonds with people from all parts of my life. I have surrounded myself with the right people, cutout those hurting me or holding me back, and I love all of them deeply. My friends and family always go above and beyond for me, and for that I will always be forever thankful.

I’ve also put in another year as a mobile entertainer/master of ceremonies/DJ with Sowa Entertainment. The wedding industry is always an interesting place to work, and I have met some wonderful individuals. It’s kinda strange, I never wanted a job where wearing a tie was a requirement, but I never thought there were jobs this fun that require formal wear. I’ve had a very good eight years in the DJ biz. I take pride in the fact that I have had such a successful run since starting to do my own events. I hope the remainder of my events this year are all memorable and exciting for my clients and myself.

So the last thing item to reflect up is the fact that in little over a month and a half, I’ll be making my debut as an independent theatre producer. Creating Cue Zero Theatre Company has been a tremendous undertaking, and against all logical judgement, I knew this was the next step for me. I’ll go into longer detail later as to what exactly sparked this need to produce, but I’m really excited for this, in every sense of the word. I’ve gotten all the encouragement and support of some great people, and I cannot wait for July. There’s so much to do between now and then, but I am not afraid. I say “Bring. It. On!”

So, that’s where I am one year later. Where do I go from here? I honestly have no idea. As I said in a text message to Dani Pancoast the other day: “I feel our entire existence right now is ‘Well, I have several sets of plans for the next six months that may or may not happen… and beyond that I’ve just got some hopes and dreams.” It’s kinda nice knowing most of my friends are in the same boat, unsure if they have under or over achieved, and uncertain of the what the future holds.

I’ve got my goals. I want to be a successful theatre artist/director. I’ve got some ideas on how to accomplish that. I’m never going to stop working until I’m the best. How do I define “successful” or “best?” I don’t know. I don’t think I ever will, but I’ll know it when I reach it.

Thanks for reading.

Recapping a Super Busy March and April

So it’s been a long while since my last update. I really want to get back to making this a weekly (or at least bi-weekly) update on all things me, so I’ll just need to make it a priority.

Theatre related happenings:

April started off with the great experience that was light designing for the Windham Actors’ Guild production of “Oliver.” I had never lit a show quite as big, nor in this big of a space, so it was an exciting challenge and grand learning opportunity. Sticking with my commitment to always challenging myself, I tried a few new things, used bold colors, and experimented a bit with what I could do with the lights. The two parts that made the entire tech process extra “fun” were having less instruments that I thought I had, and the “Murphy’s Law” moment when I spent six hours getting my Act One cues perfect only to mistype a few commands and erase all my work. Despite all of these mishaps, the show still went up with the lights being a hit. I would like to thank WAG for the opportunity to work with them, and hope we can continue to have a good working relationship in the future.

Cue Zero is rolling right along. Being an independent producer has proven to be a little bit more difficult than I had anticipated, but we are still in great shape to open our inaugural show in July. Auditions are this Wednesday night, and I can’t wait to get to share my beloved script with some wonderfully talented actors and actresses.

Non-Theatre related happenings:

My vacation to Orlando was wonderful. It was great to spend time with my family, watch my sister play softball, and hangout with some very good friends of mine at Disney. I was really inspired by the trip, with the countless things to do. Before the trip, I had never really entertained the thought of working down there like many of my fellow theatre friends, but after the trip, I finally understood the appeal and have added it to my list of possibilities for future paths, although I know there is very stiff competition to be apart of any major attraction in the Sunshine State.

FRC Team 3467 had an extremely adventurous end to our season. After being ranked number one in New England going into the event, the team had a solid showing at the New England Championship event, making it to the quarter finals of the event, and taking home the Engineering Inspiration award. Between the award, and the robot’s performance, the team qualified to compete at the world championship event in St. Louis, Missouri. Getting to St. Louis as pure insanity, as we had our coach bus breakdown on us with no replacement available. We were informed of this shortly after midnight the night before we were scheduled to leave. The team somehow managed to find three twelve person vans to carry our team, another team that agreed to transport all our equipment on their bus, and extra funds to cover any additional costs in eleven very stressful hours. Once the team completed the two day journey to the event, our bad luck continued for our first few matches. Luckily our students are very resilient, and never let any of our misfortunes get them down. We came back from some bad losses to still qualify for the playoffs in our division (which had one hundred teams competing, compared to the 40-60 teams we saw at all our other events). Our alliance played brilliantly and we upset the division favorite to take home the team’s sixth medal on the year. We were eventually defeated in the final four by the eventual world championship alliance, but that didn’t take away from how much we enjoyed the entire weekend. I am extremely proud of all our students, and I am very happy I decided to come out of “retirement” from FIRST to be a part of this very special team.

That’s the super brief version of March and April. My life doesn’t get any less busy, between Cue Zero rehearsals and funding finding, wedding and prom season, and figuring out what I’m doing with my life beyond the month of August, the adventure never stops! Thanks for reading.

Project Zero Crowd Funding Is Live!

Super quick post to let everyone know that our crowd funding campaign for CZT’s Project Zero is underway. Please check out the video below for more info. Here’s the link to the funding campaign:

Bucketlist item checked off

This past week, I checked off both a goal for 2014 and a life goal. FIRST Robotics Competition Team 3467 took home both top honors at the UNH District event. Not only did the team win the tournament itself, but we were awarded the Chairman’s Award, FIRST’s highest honor. The Chairman’s award is given to the team that “that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST.” Since joining FIRST all the way back in 2003, it has been a goal of mine to be apart of one of those special teams that is recognized for all of its efforts. When I came out of “retirement” from FRC back in October, I semi-jokingly said “I’m here to win you guys a chairman’s award.” I saw what great things team 3467 had accomplished in such a short time and knew this was a team on the verge of achieving greatness. I hoped with my special set of skills, I could get the team over the hump. I do not want to take too much credit for the team’s win. If anything, I was the 1% extra the team needed to go from “almost” to “there.” The incredible foundation had been laid over the past four years by some amazing individuals and I hope they are as proud of themselves as I am of them. I’m not really certain where the road of life is taking me, but I hope it is a path that allows me to continue to be a part of such an amazing organization. A huge thank you to my dear friend Scott Kukshtel for letting be apart of this team, and having the faith in me to lead his students to greatness.

This week I also attended the New Hampshire Professional Theatre Association job fair. I met some very awesome individuals all involved with various theatrical organizations around the state. The prospect of getting to work with any of these great groups is very exciting and I am eagerly waiting to hear back from them in the coming weeks.

Well, this week’s post was short, simple, and to the point. Got a lot of Cue Zero stuff to be working on over the next few weeks, on top of things for WAG’s “Oliver” (which opens April 4th, buy tickets!) and getting ready for family time in Florida. We will be spending a week just outside of Orlando to watch my younger sister play softball for Keene State College (as well as part at the “House of Mouse.”) It’s going to be a very busy couple of weeks, nay busy couple of months coming up, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!