New web series features talents of local actors

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published October 7, 2015

 Cast members of “In Retrospect” pose on the first day of shooting the series in Astoria, New York.

Cast members of “In Retrospect” pose on the first day of shooting the series in Astoria, New York.

Photo provided by Christian Schulte


ST. CLAIR SHORES/GROSSE POINTE WOODS — In retrospect, he should have seen it coming.

Frank Leone grew up in St. Clair Shores, graduating in 2003 from South Lake High School and then in 2008 from Wayne State University. Trying his luck in the big city, he bounced from New York to Los Angeles trying to start his career as an actor.

When a mentor suggested he create a web series as an outlet to showcase his work, he decided to give it a try, never dreaming it would grow into the project it is now.

Now back in New York City, Leone began writing a show in 2014 — and then he started writing songs as well.

“It became a musical too,” he said. “It’s a musical comedy web series.”

Working with a cast and crew of more than 40 people in New York, Leone created, and stars in, “In Retrospect,” a web series centered around a husband and wife who are polar opposites who visit an unconventional therapist each week, who encourages them to reimagine their first meeting in an effort to rekindle their marriage. The show is directed by Amanda Jane Stern.

Each hypothetical first meeting, Leone said, is a musical number, and each is told through a different style of music and dance. The series debuts at noon Oct. 15 at, and a new episode will be added each Thursday at noon after that. There are nine episodes in the series.

Leone, 30, said he’s hoping the audience will connect with the characters and their struggles. In addition to being the show’s creator and producer, Leone also plays the husband heading to marriage counseling.

“Maybe they’ll see some issues in these characters that they’ve dealt with themselves as well, and they’ll relate and find a way to come out of it as well,” he said.

Working as an associate producer on the show, as well as an actor in its final episode, is Christian Schulte, 25, of Grosse Pointe Woods. He graduated from De La Salle Collegiate High School in 2008 and the University of Michigan in 2012, and he and Leone met in 2005, when they were both working as lifeguards at the Grosse Pointe Woods Lakefront Park.

“I know that Frank had this idea about a year ago, (and) he was interested in the fact that I had just come off a show I had done myself in the summer of 2014,” said Schulte, who now also lives in New York.

Schulte’s series “Dating & Auditioning” was produced with two fellow University of Michigan colleagues, Emma Donson and Alex Eden. It is the Official Selection at Miami Web Fest and Brooklyn Web Fest this month, and Schulte has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Miami.

“Creating original content is an integral part of an actor’s journey now,” said Schulte. “So many actors have had the opportunity to become independent filmmakers and tell these original stories and grow audiences in ways that weren’t available before.”

Leone also wrote all of the music for the show, but since he doesn’t know how to write musical scores, he hired arrangers around the country and would send them video clips of him singing the music, a cappella, and then instruct them as to the style that he was looking for.

“It was an interesting process because I had never done that before,” he said.

The series is self-produced with help from an Indiegogo fundraiser.

“There’s so many talented actors and dancers and singers involved in it,” said Leone. “Everybody’s always looking for an outlet and way to show what they can do, so I’m hoping this can be (that) for everybody involved.”

Schulte said he likes the fact that “In Retrospect” is different from a typical comedy show.

“This is such a different story. It comes out of a completely different place, which I love,” he said. “The fact that it’s a musical will, of course, appeal to a younger audience, but the fact that it’s also about a marriage ... it will bring in an older audience too.”

And he said Leone has done a great job with it.

“I’m proud of him for not only following through on a story that he was passionate about telling, but also for doing so much of the work himself,” Schulte said. “I know how hard it is to ringlead the production without sacrificing optimism or energy.”

“I always dreamed that I would be in New York City, but I never thought that I would be creating my own work and writing and songwriting — those are all new things,” Leone said. “I like it because you kind of have an artistic freedom, and you can create what you want to do and steer it in the direction that you would want.”

Watch “In Retrospect” beginning Oct. 15 at