A Summer With the StarKids: Team StarKid's Robert Manion Blogs About the Cast of New Musical Twisted

By Robert Manion
11 Jul 2013

It's such an energizing and incredibly inventive environment, and it hasn't been until these few days off that I've had the time to stop and realize what a whirlwind of adventure I've been lucky enough to fall into and really appreciate the amazing people I've been able to work with on this project. This talented group of writers, directors, actors and designers are damn good at their jobs, and I'm so grateful that fate threw these guys — whom I've grown to love so much — into my life!

I'm originally from Tasmania, a lonely piece of land shaped like a broken heart that lies just off Australia's southern coast (literally, the opposite side of the globe to the cornflake-shaped Illinois). So, while I had seen StarKid's work online before, even just from a geographical standpoint, I never considered the possibility of being involved with the University of Michigan-originated group.

Last year I began studying screen acting in Los Angeles, and I was going to America quite frequently. During that time, the StarKid members involved with A Very Potter Senior Year at LeakyCon 2012 heard some of my song writing, and we kept in contact over the winter. We admired each other's work, and that ultimately led to my audition and casting in Twisted.

Having no preconception about what the creative process with this company would be like was both relaxing and mildly terrifying. I didn't have any expectations of how the development of Twisted would compare to my theatre training and experience in Australia and whether there would be any sort of international barrier or clash of preparation technique. Fortunately, the main focus of a StarKid production is to guarantee that everybody is enjoying themselves, even if sometimes that means being a little silly.

The greatest jokes and characters in the show come from mucking around with voices and joking with each other. The real gift that Team StarKid has is being able to create a level of comfort in a rehearsal and performance space where everyone feels like they can be as inventive as possible and not feel embarrassed about the wild characters or ideas. It's such an invigorating performance experience and has made me 100 times more comfortable with myself — not only as a performer, but also as a human being embracing my individuality.

Less than a year ago, I was just an audience member and have somehow jumped the fence into the other paddock and am performing with people whose craft I respect so highly. What's even more awesome is finding out that they are just as wonderful and inspiring off-stage as well as on.

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