Well, here we are. Off the stage and down near the dressing rooms where we can all be ourselves and relax. I’m Jeff, the creator/writer and director of Upstaged, and welcome to the first edition of The Green Room, where I’ll periodically post as we build towards the release of Episode one of Upstaged – the Series. I’ll share stories and secrets from behind the scenes, post news and information, and answer any questions that you may have. So. Why Upstaged? First, let me tell you a story. As a high school sophomore and somewhat of a dork, I auditioned for Arsenic and Old Lace. It didn’t go well. I thought my performance was ok, but throughout the audition process I felt I wasn’t really considered because I had no experience. Plus, the drama club was very clique-ish, which sucks when you are not part of the clique. At the end of that year, I transferred to McHenry West Campus High School, where in my ignorance and desperation to get on stage I did the one unthinkable act an actor must never do, but which happens more often than you might think. I lied on my resume! Now, when I say “lied”, I mean I did it in the lamest, worst way possible. As I dutifully filled out my audition form, I couldn’t remember the name of the lead role in A and OL. So, committed and willing to follow it to the bitter end, I wrote “the lead.” To this day, I don’t know why the director didn’t read that and toss me out then and there. When I got on stage, the conversation went something like this: Director: Jeff Cook? Me: (In high, warbly voice) Yes? Director: You played the lead in Arsenic and Old Lace? Me: (Breaking out in cold sweat) Yes? Director: Mortimer? Me: (Feeling faint) That’s the one. And somehow, I got cast. Now, I don’t remember much about that production except that I am 100% sure I was terrible. But it didn’t matter. I’d met some of the people in that show who would become my lifelong friends and, even more importantly, I found a place I could call home. Theatre is unique in the sense that it brings together a group of mostly strangers who come together for a brief and incredibly intense period of time with a common goal; to create something that, hopefully, connects emotionally with an audience for two hours. There’s an incredibly bond that forms in that process, among the cast and crew, which I’ve never found anywhere else. Life got in the way, and I didn’t act again after high school until I came to the Woodstock Opera House in 2005 for a production of Kiss Me Kate. This time, I didn’t have to lie; they needed guys and genetically that made me a perfect fit. Since then, I’ve been a part of more than a dozen shows there. I’ve ventured out into other theatre companies in the Northwest Suburbs, but always come back to the Opera House. It’s a beautiful theatre, a historic landmark, and another place I can call home. Although set in a fictional theatre and filled with fictional characters, Upstaged is a love letter to the Opera House and the men and women who run the theatre; the crews, the staff, and others who are integral to the production of any performance. In my next post, I’ll write more about how Upstaged came to be and what I hope to accomplish with the series. In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to visit this page for all the latest updates and let us know what you think. Your feedback is so important! Don’t forget to also like us on Facebook and Instagram!