With the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series on Broadway World which features interviews with some of the many talented artists who make our Los Angeles theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the Arts alive in the City of the Angels. And just like all of us, I wondered how they are dealing with the abrupt end of productions in which they were involved.
This Spotlight focuses on Bill Brochtrup who rose to TV stardom as PAA John Irvin on the ABC television drama NYPD Blue and continues to dazzle audiences as an actor, most recently in the Ovation Award-wining DANIEL’S HUSBAND at The Fountain Theatre, and planning programming for the Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale as its Artistic Director. And when he can find the time, Bill enjoys traveling around the world and hiking in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Bill Brochtrup (Bill): I started working in Los Angles theatre as soon as I got to town in the mid-1980s and that led directly to my work in film and television. But I’ve always returned to the Theatre, first as an actor and more recently as Artistic Director of the Antaeus Theatre Company. I’ve seen LA theatre grow and deepen and thrive, and I’ve been very lucky to experience what a close knit and warm community this is.
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?
(Bill): Antaeus had just opened a new production of Shakespeare’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE, which is an extremely pertinent and timely play. Word of mouth was going very well and we had a number of sold out performances coming up, so it was a blow to everyone involved to have to shut it down.
(SB): How did you communicate the shutdown with your cast and production team?
(Bill): Early on I met with Co-Artistic Director Kitty Swink and our Executive Director Ana Rose O’Halloran to talk about our options – and it was pretty clear that for the safety of our actors, staff, and audiences we needed to close the show. We spoke first to the play’s directors, Armin Shimerman and Elizabeth Swain, and then I wrote a difficult email to the cast and production team. Everyone understood because it was becoming increasingly clear what the world would be up against. With sickness, death, and true hardship on the horizon for many people, closing a play is a small thing – but it was sad news nevertheless.
(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?
(Bill): At this point it’s hard to say what we’ll do in the future because we just can’t be certain of any kind of timeline. I will say that the set is still standing and the costumes are still in the dressing room, so it remains a possibility – I’d love for more people to be able to see our wonderful actors.
(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?
(Bill): We had just finished casting our next production, William Saroyan‘s THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE which was meant to begin rehearsal this month. We’re still determining how we’re going to proceed. And we were in the midst of finalizing Antaeus’ next season, which will be our 30th and some of those plans are now in flux. We will obviously be following all guidelines from the county and state about when we can reopen and get things going again.
(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(Bill): Antaeus has numerous programs and many of those have been able to move online fairly seamlessly – a number of our Academy classes are meeting that way as is the Antaeus Playwrights Lab. We’ll have a weekly Zoom check-in with our Company members, another with our staff, and we just enjoyed a really fun virtual Happy Hour with some donors and supporters.
(SB): You mentioned what a close knit and warm community our L.A. Theatre world is. What thoughts would you like to share with them while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(Bill): We believe that live theatre is about artists and audiences coming together in person to create a community, so we’re really looking forward to the time when we can gather together in real life. Antaeus isn’t going anywhere and we’ll be back with a vengeance as soon as we’re able.
(SB): I totally agree. Nothing can compare to being part of an assembly of people experiencing the magic of live theatre together. It’s so symbiotic, making each performance unique and special in its own right. Any other thoughts to share?
(Bill): On a personal note, I’m so proud to be a part of the LA Theatre scene in all of its vibrancy and diversity. I believe we’ll come through this stronger and more unified than ever.