On Friday, February 11th, God of Carnage opens on the Garza Mainstage. Not familiar with the show? Playing on societal norms, this work of Yasmina Reza was first published in 2008. Successful the world over, it won a 2009 Laurence Olivier Award, a Tony Award, and a Drama Desk Award. Stageworks Theatre is proud to present this critically acclaimed work!
Presenting this hard-hitting, and topically loaded show are four Stageworks veterans: Jeff Brown, Mark Mendelsohn, Casey Radle, and Devin Whitten. Let’s get to know them!
Is this your first show at Stageworks? If yes, what drew you to our theatre? If not, what made you return, and what has been your favorite role here thus far?
Jeff: This is my fifth show here at Stageworks: Trip to Bountiful, Our Town, The Crucible, and Raisin in the Sun.
Casey: This is my sixth show here at Stageworks, and I have loved every experience I've had on the Stageworks stage. It's difficult to pick a favorite role, but if I must choose just one, I'd say playing Texas, one of the Kit Kat Girls, in Cabaret was particularly fun and special. I absolutely love that show, and I really bonded with my phenomenal castmates in that production. The memories from Cabaret are ones I will cherish for as long as I live.
Mark: This is my fourth show at Stageworks! Previous ones are The Three Musketeers, Damn Yankees!, and The Odd Couple. I attended a citywide audition and got a call for Musketeers, and the rest is history. Stageworks is filled with creative, talented, and dedicated people who also happen to be extremely nice, so it's always a pleasure to be cast in one of their shows. And while I have a fondness for all the characters that I've played, Mr. Applegate from Damn Yankees! has to be the most fun I've ever had on stage. The bad guys always get the best lines, and I got to wear a shiny suit with black/red spectator shoes, so what's not to love?
Devin: In 2018, I played the title role in Sylvia at Stageworks (directed by the lovely and talented Lisa Garza)! I've been behind the stage since, coaching & directing, but have been itching to return. After some encouragement from a friend of mine, I bit the bullet and auditioned! I am so thrilled to be back on stage again playing with other talented creatives and being at Stageworks, where everyone is so positive, kind, and professional has been the best way to make this return!
What enticed you to audition for "God of Carnage"?
Jeff: I needed something to fill my time while my family was in England over the Christmas break.
Casey: I had never seen a production of "God of Carnage," but I knew the play had won the Tony for Best Play and that Marcia Gay Harden had won the Tony for Best Actress. I was drawn to the story, as I really enjoy dramedies that tackle important social issues. I was quite nervous about auditioning but am so incredibly glad that I did! Straight plays are challenging for me but are also fabulously rewarding.
Mark: I'd seen a production of God of Carnage and loved the play, so auditioning was a no-brainer when I saw that Stageworks was producing it.
Devin: I’ve always been fascinated with this script. I was so excited when I saw it in the season lineup and truly came to the audition just to get the opportunity to play again! I wasn’t really sure if I was right for any of the roles in this show, so getting cast was a huge compliment and surprise. It’s been an incredible journey to work with this creative team and to be surrounded with so much passion and talent.
How do you connect, or NOT connect, with your character/why do you like the role?
Jeff: The only connection I have with my character is that we are both lawyers, Alan represents all of the things I despise in lawyers...and men in general. It's quite possible that he has some redeeming qualities...but you'll have to see the show and figure that out for yourselves.
Casey: I connect with Annette in that I am fiercely protective of my friends and family and tend to passionately defend those about whom I care. Admittedly, I can get a wee bit feisty at times but certainly not to the extent that Annette does. I also can relate to Annette's feelings of being overlooked, ignored, or dismissed. Those are difficult feelings to experience on a regular basis and can breed resentment and bitterness. It's painful not being a priority to those you yourself prioritize in your life. While I can relate to her feelings, I cannot relate to her behavior! I like the role because she is a complex character with multiple layers and depth. It's also pretty fun misbehaving in such outrageous ways that I otherwise never would!
Mark: Michael might be the most dissimilar to me than any character I've ever played, so that, of course, makes the role irresistible. Michael, like all the characters in the play, can sometimes act in a childish and over-the-top manner, so it's my job to find those moments of pain and vulnerability, so matter how rare they may be. No matter how alike or unlike me a character is, the challenge is always the same: clearly communicate the character's desires to an audience and make sure that I'm present and available to my fellow performers while onstage.
Devin: Veronica is such an enigma. This show is interesting because in a way everyone is the hero and the villain; I think that’s something all human beings can relate to. We all try our best to put on a brave face and do what we feel is right, but at the end of the day, I think each of us has a little gremlin inside of sorts. I love getting to play someone so complex - there are bits of Veronica that make total sense to me as a human being and others that just baffle me. Having Matt as a director to help guide those impulses and deficiencies has made this character one I will cherish.
When you're not on stage, what occupies your time?
Jeff: Other than working as an Attorney Advisor for the Social Security Administration, when not on stage I spend my time making content for my YouTube channels...That Black Guy With A Drone and Always Be Cruising; traveling, and spending time with my lovely family.
I grew up in Los Angeles and have been acting for more than 20 years. Prior to becoming an attorney I flew AH-64 Attack Helicopters in the Army, served as an Aerospace Medical Technician in the Air Force, and worked as a Studio Guide at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Mark: My job as a full-time high-school English teacher takes up a lot of my time, but I do find ways to keep myself entertained and occupied. One example is a Zoom album club that I started over a year ago. Two members choose an album for the rest of us to listen to, and then we virtually meet and discuss what we thought about the music. It's been a lot of fun to re-discover my inner music geek and chat with other nerds!
Casey: I work a lot, so getting to perform in shows at Stageworks is a huge honor, privilege, and gift. In my free time, I enjoy doing puzzles and hanging out with my sassy cat, Miku.
Devin: I’m a private acting coach (devashwhit.com), podcaster (thepopcastpod.com), and director. Outside of my creative endeavors my favorite things to do are relax with my dog, Patronus, knit, meditate, and be a good (and goofy) sibling to my brother! I’m very passionate about advocating for accessible mental health and inclusion in the arts and will be working towards my Masters in Psychology in the fall in order to make an impact on the community that I can be proud of.
I’d like to take the opportunity here to thank everyone at Stageworks for making this show a possibility. It’s scary to return to the stage after such a long break but I’ve been able to work with unmatched talent and grace throughout this process. This cast and crew is truly something special and the story we have feels incredibly important and real. So come laugh, cry, and gasp in disgust with us!
Thank you so much for getting to know the cast of God of Carnage. This show opens on Friday, February 11th. Get your tickets, now!