Jack Aernecke asks questions and guides the conversation during TheatreTalk, but he doesn’t consider himself the host.
“I call it verbal traffic cop,” Aernecke said.
He’s directed traffic between cast and audience members at Proctors for the last seven or eight years. But the program has been in existence since 2004.
The Henry Schaffer TheatreTalk series pulls back the curtains on productions, allowing audience members to engage with the artists on a personal level.
Jon Peterson, who played Emcee in Cabaret, was one of three artists who volunteered for Cabaret’s TheatreTalk in May. He spent most of his time on stage practically naked, but walked into GE Theatre wearing sneakers and comfortable athletic clothes.
“I think it’s a little bit of vicarious voyeurism on the part of theatre goers,” Aernecke said. It’s an opportunity to see what the actors are really like off-stage.
Company artists from Broadway shows visiting Proctors volunteer for TheatreTalk. They’ve been together so much in a traveling show that they get along and usually play well off each other, Aernecke said.
“If the dynamic all works there’s very little for me to do,” Aernecke said. “It’s all between the folks from the audience and the show.”
Artists talk about their history as a performer, their role, how they got started and anything else the audience can come up with.
Audience members shouldn’t be shy, Aernecke said. It’s good to have a question in mind and be ready to laugh, too.
“I try to make it as entertaining as possible,” Aernecke said.
The Henry Schaffer TheatreTalk series is free to ticket-buyers.
This season’s schedule is available here.