#43 Tony Amendola – live theatre in LA

Armageddon Auckland 2013. A few days before the event, a Facebook post inviting people to An Evening with Tony Amendola – having a chat, doing some Shakespeare and other dramatic readings. One of my favourite actors in Stargate SG-1 – so I added the Evening to my mental itinerary.

Friday night. Just before heading to Armageddon. Jump on their website to find out where An Evening with Tony Amendola is being held. Couldn’t. Find. Anything. Weird.

Walk to Armageddon. Ask at the information counter. Nobody. Knew. Anything. Walked away. Came back. New person on the counter thinks it might be on Stage Two. Go to Stage Two. Massive posted sprawled across the door with the weekend’s events printed on it. An Evening with Tony Amendola was not on there. Decided they must have cancelled it.

Walked back downstairs. People everywhere. E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. I’d had such a week of dealing with people at work, I thought, I need some solitude. Oooo – Stage Two. Nothing’s happening there. Went back up, and sat in the front of the room. Just chillin’.

A voice from the back of the room. “An audience of one? Well, I’ve had worse.”

I turn around. “Well,” I said, “That answers that question.”

“What question?”

“Is An Evening with You on?”

Turns out, it was a last minute idea cooked up by Tony, and Bill and Adele (the Armageddon organisers). Too late to put on the posters. And no one thought to update the volunteers on the information counter.

My phone rings. It’s my agent. *sigh*.

“I’m really sorry,” I say to this legend of an actor, “But work has tracked me down – I have to take this.”

“Go ahead.”

Quick discussion about a … difficult .. client we’re dealing with. The last thing I say before hanging up … I haven’t worked at an organisation this disorganised since I worked on the cruise ships!

“You worked on the cruise ships????” ( Bra’tac pulls up a chair.) “How exciting. Please tell me all about it.”

So, I tell Tony what life on the cruise ships is like, and we end up having a lovely half hour chat before other people who had seen the Facebook post manage to navigate their way to the Unknown Room – about 30 in total.

What. A. Night.

I was privileged, and delighted, to attend An Evening with Tony Amendola at Armageddon Expo Auckland in 2013.

As with many TV and movie actors, Tony has a long and distinguished stage career. A founding member of Antaeus Theater in Los Angeles, hbe;s alos performed at Mark Taper, South Coast Rep, ACT, Old Globe, La Jolla, Williamstown Theater, CenterStage, and the Oregon, California, and Utah Shakespeare Festivals … plus … was an associate artist, actor and director at the Berkeley Rep Theater for ten years.

When you see TV and/or movie actors doing live theatre you realise the travesty of moving pictures – so much of a live performance is lost on screen. Since that night I’ve seen Sir Ian McKellen live on stage performing some of Gandalf’s scenes, and Peter Capaldi giving the War Doctor’s Speech from The Zygon Inversion.


Both. Stunning. And what you saw on screen was not a patch on what you saw on stage. Which is no disrespect to the talent of any of these men. You just can’t beat live theatre.

AS a result, when I wrote my “50 for 50” list, one of the items was “Tony Amendola – live theatre in LA”. I wasn’t sure about the logistics when I wrote the list … but the timing worked out perfectly.

I scored a house-sit in New Orleans from August 23 – September 7. My cousin Del’s band, Locomotive Breath, played a gig near Santa Cruz on September 8. (Ticked that item off!) September 9 was the final night of Tony’s six-week run in As You Like It at Antaeus Theater in LA.

What. A. Night.

I love Shakespeare. But mostly, I don’t get Shakespeare. I don’t understand the language, and half the time, they might as well be speaking in Spanish for all I comprehend. But I love the vibrancy, and the interplay between the characters, and the fact that it is all about acting, and never about clever set design and special effects.

Tony was brilliant. The other actors were brilliant. The venue was brilliant. It’s a small and intimate theatre – maybe 100 seats – and I was front row centre – literally centre-stage. The performances were amazing. You realise how few great actors we actually get to see on the big screen.

Such a treat to see Tony Amendola in the role of Jaques in As You Like It at Antaeus Theater in Los Angeles. Photo used with kind permission of Daniel G. Lam Photography www.danielglamphotography.com.

Hollywood hypes the Big Names, like *mumbles* – who has made over 50 films, and mostly portrays the same wooden character whether he’s in Mission Impossible, Jack Reacher, or that dreadful remake of The Mummy.

If you want to see real actors, performances that will blow your mind, then get yourself along to live theatre in LA. It’s spectacular.

Elyse Mirto as Audrey and Adam J. Smith as Touchstone – two performances that far out-stripped any Oscar-winning ones I’ve seen on the big screen. Photo used with kind permission of Daniel G. Lam Photography www.danielglamphotography.com.

It was lovely to catch up with Tony after the show. (We’ve kind of kept in touch since Armageddon – although I’ve been a little slack in my communications – sorry Tony! Life gets busy, you know!) And I was so chuffed when he informed me that the pounamu he was wearing onstage that night was an homage to me being in the audience. Such is the thoughtfulness of the man.

Wonderful to catch up with Tony in LA … so far from home.

I didn’t stay too long – I’ve been onstage myself, so know that the last night of a show’s run is a special time for the cast, and not a time for outsiders. Plus – I’d only had four hour’s sleep, and in two days had travelled from New Orleans to San Jose to Santa Cruz and Los Angeles. But so wonderful to see this charming soul again, and for sure, I’ll time my next visit to LA with another of his performances.





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