Jens Rasmussen was prepared to work with director Lisa Cesnik again.
In his first Springer Opera House production, Rasmussen performed in the Reduced Shakespeare Co.’s play, “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged).”
Cesnik made cast members shave their heads.
When he discovered Cesnik was directing “The Complete History of America (Abridged),” Rasmussen shaved his head again.
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He was a bit premature, though.
Fellow actors JJ Musgrove and Adam Archer refused to shave their heads and Cesnik decided it wasn’t necessary for this production, which begins its run on the Springer Mainstage tonight. It’s the final show of the season.
Fortunately, Rasmussen doesn’t care about his bald head. It makes taking wigs and hats on and off that much easier, he said.
Small cast, many roles
Cesnik is pleased with her three-person cast.
“From the general auditions (last spring), I made a list of the potential cast,” Cesnik said. “I looked at videos. I pretty much have a perfect cast.”
As with the other Reduced Shakespeare plays, this one is very funny, Cesnik said.
“I get to laugh all the time, which is very healing,” she said. “It’s nice to have a job where you can laugh.”
Rasmussen agrees. “I think it’s funnier than ‘The Bible.’ ”
Cesnik said costumes and props are such a big part of the show that together they serve as the fourth actor on stage. She called the audience the fifth actor.
Without the audience’s reactions, the play simply won’t work, she said.
Because the three stars and Cesnik have worked together before, Cesnik said it’s almost a sort of shorthand that makes directing easy for her.
Each actor takes on at least 18 different roles throughout the American history lesson, which begins with Amerigo Vespucci’s discovery and continues to current events.
In fact, before the rehearsals began, Cesnik said she got revisions that included current events that had been added to the play.
Musgrove’s favorite role is that of the late President Richard Nixon.
Musgrove said he plays the “leader” of the ensemble as someone who “loves to hear himself talk.”
Archer, on the other hand is the youngest and “gets picked on.” He also plays all the female roles.
Advice to the audience
Rasmussen said this play is perfect for someone who loves musicals, but wants to try other forms of theater.
“It’s the perfect play for people who are 18-25,” Archer said.
“Especially for people who think plays are stuffy,” Musgrove added.
Older audience members will understand jokes that the younger ones may not, and vice versa, Archer said.
The actors and director agree that the show is rated PG-13. Not so much because of language, but the content may not strike a chord with anyone younger than 13.
Since the play’s authors allow local theaters to add area history, there are plenty of references to Columbus, Georgia and Alabama in the Springer script, Cesnik said.
What other play, Cesnik asked, has a car chase, food fight, music and a fly-over?
Just “The Complete History of America (Abridged),” she answered.