June 24, 2014
Christopher Halsted (left), Ronnie Sperling (right)
When it comes to dynamic duos, these two are truly dynamite! Meet our friends Christopher Halsted and Ronnie Sperling, who just teamed up to write their latest original musical, "Cirque Des Pirates" premiering July 11, 2014 at the Teenage Drama Workshop at California State University, Northridge. You may also know Chris and Ronnie from "A Faery Hunt," Los Angeles' longest-running interactive show for children.
In this podcast, Chris and Ronnie take us through their collaborative process of writing a new musical from concept to completion. And they should know, because this is the fourth original show they've written for the Teenage Drama Workshop. Their previous titles include "Snow White and the Magnificent Seven" (no dwarves, just iconic film cowboys) and "Jacques and the Bean Stock" (in which young Jacques faces the giant threatening his fabulous French restaurant).
We like to say Chris and Ronnie's original shows are 'Fractured Fairy Tales'-meets-'The Simpsons', because they are chock full of clever wordplay, references and jokes that kids and adults can enjoy together.
When they're not writing original musicals, Chris and Ronnie are true renaissance men, working as actors for the stage, TV and film, as well as directors, teachers, writers, producers, musicians and more. Their many commercials have filled the airwaves for years. (You might recognize Ronnie as one of the sick PCs in those iconic Mac vs. PC ads, or Chris as the Chevy Silverado cowboy.) During our free-wheeling chat, Chris talks about his days in Imagineering at Disney and in the Wild West show at Universal Studios, and shares that today, when he's not acting or working with Ronnie, you can find him orchestrating custom corporate events or restoring the many vintage props, instruments or other treasures he acquires. Meanwhile, Ronnie tells us about his early career in acting, working alongside luminaries like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. And he tells us how all these years later, he's proud to still be a working actor, director, writer and comedian in venues around the country. (We might add that Ronnie's also a highly respected teacher of improv to young people, with many of his students appearing on The Disney Channel and in other TV and film projects.)
Of course, teaching young people is one of Chris and Ronnie's greatest passions. And in our interview, they talk about why theatrical training is so important for young people today. They also offer sage advice to aspiring performers on a variety of topics, from auditioning, to having many sources of income (writing, performing, teaching), and even why it's so important to watch a lot of TV so that you can learn from other actors. Be sure to tell that to your parents, kids!
Sit back and enjoy Chris and Ronnie. Then be sure to call the Associated Students Ticket Office at CSUN at 818/677-2488 to get your tickets for "Cirque des Pirates," because the performances will sell out! The show runs July 11-26, 2014 in Northridge, CA.
Top left: Ronnie and Chris perform together. Top right: Danielle, Ronnie, Chris and Brian. Bottom: Ronnie (right) in "A Faery Hunt."