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Lack of summer theater provides plenty of time to hit the books

The perplexing lack of summer theater continues in Vegas, but at least it presents an opportunity for local theater geeks to catch up on their reading. Three new publications are worth a look.

“How to Be a Working Actor,” by Mari Lyn Henry and Lynne Rogers (with a foreword by Joe Mantegna), is a nuts-and-bolts approach to survival in a brutal industry. This easy read takes you by the hand in baby steps, with chapters like “What You Will Need to Get Started,” “Finding a Vehicle to Showcase Your Talent” and “Suggestions for Script Analysis.” Even if you’re not interested in being a professional actor, the book is an interesting take on what a pro wannabe has to go through.

Robert Blumenfeld’s “Using the Stanislavsky System: A Practical Guide to Character Creation & Period Styles,” is written in the belief that “actors should immerse themselves completely in the era in which a play or film is set.” Blumenfeld helps out by describing the daily-life feel of the major periods of history. The text is rich in the kinds of detail an actor needs.

And the complete book and lyrics of Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” finally has been put to the page. Included are a glossy insert of 15 photos and an introduction by Larson friend (and producer) Victoria Leacock Hoffman. No matter your opinion of the show, there’s no denying the importance of “Rent” in musical theater history. …

The New York Times recently had an interesting tidbit about a Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts student. Critic Charles Isherwood, writing about the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Neb., noted: “At one point (Academy student) Jeff Zicker, the unofficial heartthrob of this year’s festival, who appeared as both Link Larkin in “Hairspray” and Anthony Hope in “Sweeney Todd” (an Academy production), walked past a table of girls, inciting a burst of pandemonium of adoring praise and autograph gathering. ‘That was insane,’ he burbled to the table of kids next to me when he returned, sheepish but also delighted by the attention.” …

Cockroach and Atlas theaters sponsored last weekend a staged reading (with plenty of movement) of a new take on an old play — “American Hamlet” by Dan Decker — which is likely to be produced next season. The excellent turnout at the Flamingo Library’s Jewel Box Theatre reminded me that Sin City has its share of serious-drama fans. …

Los Angeles’ Academy for New Musical Theatre is looking for composers, lyricists and playwrights from Nevada who would like to be involved in a national series of musicals exploring American themes and cultures. There’s prize money and concert readings involved (info: anmt.org).

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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