When Bryan Mercer was a student at Vangaurd High School in Ocala, he auditioned for “Godspell” on a dare.
Since then, he’s lived in New York and Atlanta, working as an actor and musical director, composer and teacher. He prefers central Florida over those larger cities for its abundance of trees and moss.
Currently, he is channeling his Florida roots and love for the swamp as Frog in “A Year with Frog and Toad” at the Hippodrome Theatre, now on the Mainstage.
Mercer started working at the Hippodrome as a musical director in 2006, beginning with “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” His first acting role at the theatre was not until in 2015 in “Mr. Burns: A Post-electric Play.” Now, he a company member at the Hippodrome and calls it his home theatre.
“Some of my best roles, some of my best work has been down here,” he said. “This has a community, a village to support this amazing place. It’s everything I want.”
Throughout his career, Mercer has played leading love interests, drag characters and monsters. Among them all, he said Frog is the closest role to himself he has ever played. Mercer said he relates to Frog’s his joy for music and harmony and understanding of nature and stillness.
“I am very much of a frog. I must have moss and water and springs and trails.”
This is Mercer’s fifth time playing the role. This time, Frog is older, wiser, simpler and more kind, he said.
“He’s made friends with his problems, his emotions, his past and his future.”
Friendships are serious relationships, and Frog honors them in a way audiences can admire, Mercer said. In Frog’s ballad, “Alone,” he explains gently to toad that because of their friendship, he is not alone.
“That’s the most beautiful thing about the production,” he said. “Frog is a character that’s learned, no, nothing in life is exactly as we wish,” Mercer said. “No friend is perfect. If we are to have friends, if we are to have relationships, we must accept them unconditionally for what they are.”
Ultimately, Mercer said he hopes the audience finds kindness, gentleness and healing in “A Year with Frog and Toad.”
“When’s the last time you can say you went to the theatre and felt better about yourself? Or had hope for the future? Or made you want to do something nice? Or hug your parents just a little extra longer?”
For reservations, call 352-375-4477 or visit thehipp.org/holidayshows.
“Once I put up the decorations, everyone at the Hipp gets into the Christmas spirit,” Sharon Wary Patton said. “Everyone seems to care about each other a little bit more.”
Patton has been visiting the Hippodrome Theatre during the holidays to spread Christmas cheer with dazzling decorations for the past six years. A former employee peaked her interest in the gig, and since then, she has been returning every year.
“I think the Hipp is even more special during the holidays because of all the festivities and programs they put on,” Patton said. This holiday season, family-friendly “A Year with Frog and Toad” and the 40th Anniversary production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” share the Mainstage and open Thanksgiving weekend.
This magical time of the year would not be the same without Patton’s efforts.
When she is not at the Hipp, Patton works as a full-time caregiver and selflessly spends her time ensuring the wellbeing of her patients.
Patton is inspired by serving and helping others. She says that she keeps coming back to the Hipp every year because she recognizes that people appreciate her work.
The Hipp and Patton have collaborated on many decorating projects, and recycle most of the same ornaments and lights every year. Decorating the Hipp is not the only holiday tradition she likes to celebrate.
“I love getting together with my family and watching the classic holiday movies,” Patton said. “I’d say that’s my favorite part about Christmas — spending time with my loved ones.”
One thing is for certain, holidays at the Hipp are even brighter with Patton!
For reservations to one of our holiday shows, click here or call 352.375.4477.
After-school classes at the Hippodrome are the best way to foster your child’s enthusiasm for art and theatre. Our after-school series focuses on acting skills, improv and playwriting. We believe that these subjects will expand your child’s storytelling abilities by developing character study, writing exercises and performance techniques. Join us for an action-packed and enriching experience your kids won’t want to miss.REGISTER ONLINE
The Hipp provides quality arts education for all ages. The region’s most dynamic and experienced teachers lead our camps and classes. Children are supported as an individual in a non-competitive, enriching environment through a spirit of inclusion, acceptance, and positivity. The Hippodrome also offers Hipp-provisation classes and a Spring Play Observership for adults.
The Hippodrome has also introduced such innovative programs as the New Play Reading Series, the Teen Playwright Festival, Theatre Arts Series and has hosted more than 200 visual arts exhibits, artistic residencies, master classes, festivals, and guest artist presentations.
Through all of its combined programs, the Hippodrome serves more than a quarter of a million patrons annually.
Want to learn more and register? Visit the links below for specific program information and registration forms. To contact the education department, call 352.373.5968 ext 241 or ext 230 or email email@example.com.
It takes months of planning and dozens of theatre professionals to produce a play on the Hippodrome mainstage. The Hippodrome Mini Play Observership offers the opportunity for the public to go behind-the-scenes at a professional regional theatre. Alongside the director, designers, actors and staff, participants are immersed in the theatrical creative process and experience as the production team takes a play from page to stage.
In this engaging Mini Play Observership, you will be led through the creative process of our new hilarious high-stakes comedy by David Lindsey-Abaire, Ripcord. Come explore with us as we bring this heartfelt and deliciously inappropriate comedy to life on the stage!
Participants in the Observership will witness designer presentations, the cast table read of the script, additional rehearsals, a backstage Hippodrome tour, and the chance to experience a press run of the show. This Mini Observership culminates with a preview performance and post-show discussion with the cast and creative team. Cost for 3 classes is only $70 and includes 1 ticket to the preview performance.
3 MEETING DATES AND TIMES:
Friday, February 9, 2018 (12:45-3PM) – Meet the cast and Director, attend the first read-through, see design presentations
Friday, February 16, 2018 (3-5PM) – Get a behind-the-scenes look as the set and costumes come together in a rehearsal with the actors
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 (7-10PM) – Preview performance and discussion
To sign up: Call the Hippodrome Box Office at 352-375-4477 or go online to www.thehipp.org.
Register by January 31st and save $10 with our Early Bird Special.
It takes months of planning and dozens of theatre professionals to produce a play on the Hippodrome mainstage. The Hippodrome Play Observership offers the opportunity for the public to go behind-the-scenes at a professional regional theatre. Alongside the director, designers, actors and staff, participants are immersed in the theatrical creative process and experience as the production team takes a play from page to stage.
In this engaging Play Observership, you will be led through the creative process of a challenging and deeply personal new play by Lucas Hnath, The Christians. Come explore with us as we bring this beautiful exploration of a church struggling with its faith to life on the stage!
Participants in the Observership will witness designer presentations, the cast table read of the script, additional rehearsals, a backstage Hippodrome tour, and the chance to experience a press run of the show. The Observership culminates with a preview performance and post-show discussion with the cast and creative team. Cost for 5 classes includes 1 ticket to the preview performance.
5 MEETING DATES AND TIMES:
Friday, March 23 (3-5PM) – Crash course on the classic novel and behind-the-scenes at the Hipp
Friday, March 30 (12:45-3PM) – Meet the cast and Director, attend the first read-through, see design presentations
Friday, April 3 (3-5PM) – Get a behind-the-scenes look as the set and costumes come together in a rehearsal with the actors
Thursday, April 12 (3-5PM) – Full run through of the play on the Mainstage
Wednesday, April 18 (7-10PM) – Preview performance and discussion
To sign up: Call the Hippodrome Box Office at 352-375-4477 or go online to www.thehipp.org.
Register by March 9th and save $10 with our Early Bird Special.
The Hippodrome’s Spring Break Camp explores various facets of performance: improv, storytelling, costuming, prop making, voice, movement, acting for theatre and film, and much more. At the end of the camp, family and friends are invited to a reception and showcase highlighting scenes and artwork the campers created.REGISTER ONLINE
In these three-week, full-day theatre camps, students will explore a wide range of aspects of what it takes to produce a play, from acting and dance to costume design and marketing, all while learning collaboration, building self-esteem, and exercising their imagination. The camps culminate in a full-scale production on the Hippodrome Mainstage! Camps are 9 am-5pm. Early drop-off begins at 8:40am; pick-up runs through 5:20pm.
For this year’s Summer Spec plays, we’ve chosen to produce C.S. Lewis’ wonderful piece of literature, “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” to the stage.
Set in the mythical land of Narnia, a land of talking animals and fascinating creatures, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe tells the story of four childrens’ adventures through a magic wardrobe into the land of Narnia.
There, they learn that they are intended to fulfill an old prophecy and are soon adventuring both to save Narnia and their lives.REGISTER NOW
This week-long intensive will cover a wide range of topics, including production management, lighting, sound and video technology, structural design, acoustics, theatre engineering and computer applications. In addition to the Hippodrome’s staff of theatre-teaching artists, we will be joined by Artistic Director Lauren Warhol Caldwell and Lightning Designer in Residence, Robert P. Robins.