"Hustling" Web Series Is Studded With Broadway Stars

By Kenneth Jones
11 Nov 2011

LaCause in "Hustling."

Starting in June, LaCause wrote the eight episodes and shot all of the footage over the weekends in August and September. Shooting began Aug. 1.

"It's basically like making eight short films," he explained. "It definitely has an improvised feel to it. It's all about the characters and the relationships and the dialogue. I [was in] the improv program at the Groundlings when I was in L.A. last fall, [and] when I came back to New York I jumped into classes at UCB, which is a totally different improv style — based more in reality. I was inspired by the art form and wanted to incorporate it into a scripted series. So I made sure the actors knew that they should feel free to improvise if they felt. Some did and some didn't."

Working with associate producer and friend Andreas Anastasis, LaCause's duties on "Hustling," aside from being shirtless a lot as an actor, included directing, lighting, production design, costumes, scheduling and, for some of the shoots, director of photography.

"For most of the shoot I had my small but mighty crew of three, consisting of myself and two other actors in the series, Max Carpenter and Gary Cowling," LaCause said. "I had no idea what I was getting myself into, which I think was a good thing. Had I known, I think I'd still be sitting at home with a script."

When he wrote the show, did he have actors in mind for the roles or did he audition?

"I wrote almost every role with someone in mind — people that I enjoyed and knew that I would have fun playing with," LaCause said. "Once the scripts were done, I sent them out with offers, and fortunately everyone said yes. There were a few roles that I had written without someone specifically in mind and I did read a few people for those roles."

View a "Hustling" video teaser (directed by Andreas Anastasis) here:



Daphne Rubin-Vega in "Hustling."

Here's what LaCause said of some of the performers and characters in "Hustling":

"I first met Brent Barrett [Chicago, Off-Broadway's Silence! and Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Follies] when I was playing Harry in the Broadway revival of Chicago and Brent was playing Billy, of course. This was 13 years ago! We have remained somewhat friendly over the years but I hadn't seen him in quite a while. When I started writing the role of Conrad, and I was thinking about who this man was, elegant, handsome but with a naughty side...for some reason, I thought of Brent, ha!"

"I finally had the pleasure of working with Shannon Lewis [How to Succeed in Business...] on the first national tour of A Chorus Line. We had known each other for many years but had never worked together, and now we were Zach and Shelia. We had a blast playing in the scenes, so I knew I wanted to write something for Shannon, and the role of Cary was a perfect fit."

"Daphne Rubin-Vega [Rent, Anna in the Tropics] and I met during the Rocky Horror revival and hit it off and became quite close. I absolutely love everything about this woman. She's sexy and charming yet full of complexities and depth. We had fallen out of touch over the last few years after she had her son but when I was thinking of someone for Rosa Juarez, I thought of Daphne. It was the perfect opportunity to rekindle our friendship."

"Stephen Guarino [ABC's "Happy Endings," "The Big Gay Sketch Show"] is not known in the theatre world, but the man is a genius. A comic genius. He is a master improviser, and I admire his work immensely. His role, Don Dixon, was a last-minute addition that is really a stand out."

Other "Hustling" cast members include Jessica Press, Gerald McCullouch, Gary Cowling, Brian Keane, Max Carpenter, Andrew Glaszek, Gregory Gunter, Emily Shapiro and Todd Riegler. Original music is by SirPaul and Okai.

The web series has a fan page at www.facebook.com/HustlingTheWebSeries.

Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.