'Upstate' sitcom actors excited about shooting in Syracuse

Upstate actresses Eddie Richard and Christiane Noll. / Photographer Brian Erb.

A large truck in the driveway of a typical home in the Eastwood neighborhood blocks some of the lighting gear that would tip off a passerby that something unusual is going on inside. That's where the newly gathered cast is shooting a pilot episode for a sitcom called "Upstate". A typically gray damp Syracuse fall day was an unusual sight for many of the actors who are from the west coast.

Tony Award nominee Christiane Noll gives a quick tour through her character Hunni Michael's kitchen. She shows off the cutting board on the center island and the temporary lighting grid in the ceiling above. "I was a Broadway performer," said Christiane Noll with a grin. "I got the opportunity to speak for the first time without singing which is very exciting for me." Noll plays the wife to the lead character who has just lost his job at a old manufacturing plant that closed.

She was part of the read through of the script at Syracuse University in the fall of 2010. She is in a unique position of still being with the show as the rest of the cast has assembled around her. "A year later here we are actually shooting this silly thing," said Noll."I'm beside myself that I'm still able to witness it."

Noll has great praise for the script written by Tom Seeley of Cazenovia. Seeley has two Emmy awards to his name including writing credits on Cheers, Murphy Brown and Newhart. He also serves as the Executive Producer along with Steve Kimatian. "I t's rewarding to see them do it so well and capture the spirit of the characters ," said writer and producer Tom Seeley. " Without good acting, that magic, even Shakespeare drops dead. So it's a lot of fun to see them use the words and bring them to life. "

The cast ranges in age from the family children in their late teens. The neighbors in their thirties and the parents in their forties. The actors have an understanding for the struggles of Upstate New York and other places like it across America that have had difficult economic times. Larry Lau sa id, "There's humor and love coming through this story to get through the day to day. Courage. They're not giving up. Despite the anxiety about how we're going to make it."

The sentiment that comes from the story line is peppered with comedic moments. Shooting on location in this Syracuse home has kept the set relaxed. The actors say it has made it easy to deliver their characters lines.

Shooting will wrap up this week. Editing commences after Thanksgiving. Producers hope to have the final product in the hands of networks and cable in the first few months of 2012.