Coogs take on the Big Apple

Walking past the Jose Quintero Theatre any of the nights between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2, one could hear laughter through the walls as alumnus Robert Wuhl’s satire “Hit-Lit” entertained the audience.

Alumnus Greg Cote, who played the lead’s best friend, Kelso, testified to Wuhl’s genius. “He knows what he wants,” Cote said. “He knows comedy.”

Cote will be playing Kelso on stage at Queen’s Theatre when the play debuts in New York next month.

He won’t be the only one leaving Houston; two current UH students have been picked to go with Wuhl to New York: theater senior Rachel Dooley and junior Christly Guedry.

“The actors were all selected by audition, including the equity actors who came from New York to work on the production,” said Steven Wallace, director of the School of Theatre and Dance and co-director of “Hit-Lit.”

“So it’s talent and skill. Being ready at the right time and the right place. There is no real formula nor are there any shortcuts — just hard work.”

Dooley is going to New York to work as a tech for the play.

“Rachel will go as an equity stage manager. In other words, she will receive her union card and enter the profession working as a union member on ‘Hit-Lit’ in New York,” Wallace said.

“This is not an opportunity someone gets at my age,” Dooley said. “I don’t often work with two directors, so that was new.”

She recalled her freshman year, when the stage management program was still small. Now she teaches younger students.

“Now, I have two ASMs (assistant managers). I help educate them about how things work and how we communicate,” she said. “We’re continuing to grow and produce bigger and better things. We’re not just doing college theater, we’re preparing for the outside world — the professional world.”

Guedry will be traveling to New York as an understudy.

“She will understudy and watch an equity actress play the role. That should be a great learning experience,” Wallace said. Guedry agreed that getting to see the play from an outside perspective, as an audience member, would be helpful to furthering her career.

Guedry worked with Wallace before on “Cripple of Inishmaan,” and described the director as “intuitive” and a “great team.”

She, like Cote, said Wuhl “knew comedy,” and she thought that gave the cast a lot of confidence.

“His jokes were just there,” she said. “We didn’t have to work hard to make it funny.”

Coincidentally, Cote, Dooley and Guedry have worked together before, on “Our Lady of 121st Street,” a play directed by Keith Byron Kirk, that debuted at the Jose Quintero Theatre in October.

“Christly’s best quality is that she’s talented and works really hard. She’s not satisfied with (underperforming),” Cote said. “Rachel works hard, too. Rachel’s always doing things for the actors.”

About Cote, Wallace said, “It is a great vehicle for him to be seen in New York City and to use it as a bridge to the profession. He was selected because he can stay play the entire show; the rest of the actors would have to come back and continue on in their classes after Spring Break.”

“A supporter of the School of Theatre and Dance – and UH in general – has provided his private plane to fly 10 of our cast and crew to New York to attend the opening and UH Alumni Day at ‘Hit-Lit’ at the Queens Theatre,” Wallace said.

“It’s a generous act to fly our students to New York so they can experience the process of transferring a production from academic theatre to professional theatre. It’s through the generosity of individuals like this gentleman that the arts continue to grow and thrive at UH. We are grateful for his support of our undergraduate and graduate students.”

Whether the trip to New York enables the beginnings of a career or not, the chosen few said they will benefit from and be thankful for the experience.

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