Thursday, April 5, 2012

Enchanted April & Membership Meeting

Enchanted April

After a frothy fun-filled opening musical of The Boy Friend, we at QCT are hard at work with our first straight play of the season, Enchanted April by Matthew Barber-based on the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim. I really hope this play will draw an audience, because as we work on it, I fall more and more in love with it! I find these women heroic in their desire to find themselves and to go against convention in order to become the person they hope to be. We’ve completed the table work portion of rehearsals (that’s where we analyze and discuss the wants, desires and objectives of the play and characters) and are now hard at work on the Blocking (staging) portion. We open on April 26 and close on May 6th, and with all of the flowers already in full bloom, elongate that wonderful spring feeling by coming to see our production. The cast includes: Kylinn Flesner, Derek Hauk, Lorraine Morgan, Ann Pfaffe, Phil Quevillon, Jim Rupp, Julie Schuetz and Vonda St. Clair. I think it’s wonderful that there are veterans, newcomers and folks who have done just one or two productions all involved in this. I also have a new stage manager Katie Rodemich, who has been a non-stop ASM since Yes Virginia! Those of you that have seen both Tom Sawyer and The Boy Friend know that our new costumer, Anna Grywalsky is fabulous. As a matter of fact, why don’t you all come to our Membership Meeting on Monday, April 16 @ 6:30 PM so you can meet the cast and crew members, find out more about our production and season, as well as spend some time getting know some of the incredible people in our community that just happen to love being involved with us here at QCT. As a matter of fact, for a paltry $5 you can become a voting member and have an actual say in what goes on. Either way, we really hope to see you here either as a patron or a volunteer.

See you at the theatre!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Season kicks off today!

So today officially kicked off my
first full season as Managing Artistic Director for Quincy Community Theatre! Now
a few of the handful of readers of my blog may say “didn’t theatre café kick
off your first season?” Technically,
yes-but that was a new experiment, which was very successful and that we will
certainly do again. So I’m thinking in a traditional way of the Kick off for
I watched the student matinée of Tom Sawyer-The Broadway Musical today
(Now thru Sunday, Feb. 5. Photo: Jay Stalder as Tom & Wes Friday as Huck)
. What fun I
had! I am always so proud of the work
our student theatre produces under the sure hand our student theatre director (Brandon Thomsen (who won the award for the Teaching Artist of the Year!!). We had a full house of area school kids and I
was fascinated by the responses we heard on their exiting the theatre. Seeing all their shiny faces made my
day. There is a very large gang of
adults and students involved in the cast, crew and pit—over 50 people all
told! It was great seeing many of the
performers I know up there doing excellent work, but also scoping the cast for
future actors for the QCT main stage.
We also started rehearsals for the
first “Season Ticket” production –The Boy
Friend by Sandy Wilson (March 8-18).
This was the first musical that QCT ever produced back in the 80’s. Sometimes I’m a bit frustrated at the small
turn out of performers at our auditions, so I am always beating the bushes for
new talent to grace our boards. The Boy Friend has five brand-new
performers and a few who just recently started acting with us. I get excited after the first few rehearsals
where we read and discuss what the play is about. It was very encouraging to hear all the
laughs from the cast.
I hope you have an opportunity to see these
first two productions –one student theatre, one main stage. If you aren’t a season ticket holder—you
should be, because we have a fun-filled season of excellent productions lined
up. Take a moment to go to our web site to
review the full line-up of offerings and make sure you sign up to receive our
email blasts. It’s the best way to keep
yourself abreast of what is happening.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Theatre Cafe and Freedon of Expression

I got an interesting call from a season ticket holder this morning regarding our Theatre Cafe, which is a series of short comedic plays, with strong language and adult situations, which we are stating is for "Mature Audiences" only. You see the reason behind doing this (besides helping to raise funds for three separate arts organizations) was to give our members a chance to stretch their artistic wings a bit. In order to satisfy our average season ticket holder, we do need to be a bit conservative in our choices for the main stage. But every once in a while, we need to challenge artists, as patrons, as human beings.
She was upset that we were doing something like this, and thought that the police should be on hand in case it gets out of control (it is a BYOB event). The sad part of this conversation was that this patron was informed by a friend who heard a radio interview and was disappointed that we were doing this. First off, how can someone complain about something they don't know anything about? All of her information was second hand. Secondly, the patron stated "us doing this show would jeopardize our area public TV station, and if someone bought tickets to Theatre Cafe, our station would close down!" How Bizarre! I don't see the connection, especially since a number of the patrons attending this event are the types that donate to causes like public broadcasting. She also mentioned that the head of the QNSFA Society was a menace and was bringing America down. How absurd, that someone who assists people to express themselves in a wonderful country like America, which was based on personal freedoms is bad for our country! One of the beautiful things about America is that if you don't want to come to a play...don't come! But if you do want to loose some the Sugary side effects of the holiday season, stop by with a beverage of your choice, spend a few hours with us and laugh a little bit. Laughter is good for the soul. So is compassion and understanding.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yes, Virginia

Soon, Yes, virginai...opens. Over 50 cast members! Yikes!! Having a great time, and how wonderful is it that we have many new cast members that have never been on our stage, along with many veterans. We open Thanksgiving weekend. What an inspiring way to spend the holiday with loved ones. Tickets are on sale now. We've also added a matinee on Saturday, december 3 at 2 PM!
I am amazed at how relevant this story is to our society today. Really hope you all have a chance to catch this production.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Fantasticks to Open

When I accepted the position as MAD at QCT, I was pleased to learn that The Fantasticks was one of the shows on the schedule for 2011. This is one of my favorite pieces of theatre. I felt that it was a perfect time to bring in a Guest Artist as a performer for the role of El Gallo, not because we couldn't find someone capable of performing the role here, but that it is good exposure for our members to work alongside someone who is pursuing a career in the theatre. It gives our members a chance to talk about their past as well as for our younger members to get some first-hand exposure to what it is like to be a working actor. I brought in Scott McGowan, who's voice is warm and rich and his range is just right for the role. We also have a Fantastic cast of Patrick Regner as Matt, Libby Ruth as Luisa, Jim Rupp as Hucklebee, Kevin Jobe as Bellomy, Paul Denckla as Henry, Paul Wood as Mortimer and Sarah Anderson rounds off the cast as the mute. Catie Hellige serves as the stage manager.
In October 1980, the original production sold its millionth ticket becoming the longest running show in American history, and the longest running musical in the world. The Fantasticks eventually ran 17,162 performances at the tiny Sullivan Street Playhouse in NYC before closing in January 2002, after an almost forty-two year run (more than twice as long as Cats). In the thirty-second year of its run, the show won a special Tony Award in 1992, and Schmidt and Jones won the prestigious Richard Rodgers Award in 1993. The Fantasticks is based on Edmond Rostand’s Les Romanticks, loosely using Romeo & Juliet as source material (Star-crossed lovers, Feuding Families) as well as other strong Classical influences. It was the beginning of the end of the Rodgers and Hammerstein revolution, and it paved the way for unconventional shows like Anyone Can Whistle, Cabaret, Company, Celebration, Promises, Promises, and others.

The Fantasticks utilizes the essence- the boiled down core of what makes musical theatre work. This was a musical born of one of the most fascinating periods in American history, the 1950s, when traditional domesticity was being challenged, when organized religion was being challenged, when the unquestioned authority of parents and other "experts" was being questioned, and when young Americans were becoming obsessed with individuality, with rebellion, with freedom, with art as a means to criticize social and political structures, and most disconcerting of all, with Modern Jazz. All this would find full bloom in the sixties, but the seeds were there in the 1950s with the Beat writers, when composer Harvey Schmidt and writer Tom Jones, two young New Yorkers were creating their masterpiece.

In order for The Fantasticks to succeed, it has to be real. It has to happen every night with nothing faked. The magic has to be real. It is cynical yet a clear-eyed view of Love and Marriage. Its simplicity allows us to connect with The Greater Truths. Its unconventionality allows us to let go of some of the the trappings of a big Broadway Musical and rejects conventions for convention’s sake such as the 4th wall and realistic sets…it is something very Pure, primal, truthful and in my opinion, beautiful.

Once again, I am so very pleased with the caliber of performances here at QCT and have had an enjoyable rehearsal process and hope you all have a chance to come support QCT and be entertained by one of the most enduring theatrical productions of all times! I hope you find the music, story and characters as charming and memorable as I do.

(Some of this BLOG was taken from an article by Scott Miller)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My First Musical @ QCT

Well, last week Joseph...opened. My first direction of a musical here at QCT. We had spectacular crowds, a wonderful opening party and superlative words for the production were heard by regulars and newbies alike. I recently received a card from a long-time subscriber who said "Awesome, great, fabulous, incredible, delightful at the top of all QCT musicals I have seen!" What more could a director ask for?
What I want to comment on is the professionalism of all involved. We are indeed a community theatre, where we depend on volunteers to help build the set, usher for performances, serve as running crew back stage and act upon our stage.
Yet, coming from the professional world, I can't tell the difference. We have an incredibly talented pool to draw from, as is seen by not only the leads in this production, but in every role, including our talented "kid Chorus."
One of the joys of working here is our staff. Everyone involved does such a great job, it makes me look good.
So to everyone, from the actors who rehearsed 20 hours a week for 6 weeks, to the production team that created such fantastic work to every audience member that helps to keep the arts alive in Quincy, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Moving to q

Watching my plane take off as the rising sun silhouetted the Manhattan skyline; I was reminded of that brash young man who 27 years ago landed in NYC for the very first time in his life. With very little cash in his pocket, no place to live, no job, just an acceptance to a classical training program for actors in the heart of the theatre district, this intrepid youth defied convention.
I feel only a few years older than that guy, even though my elbow creaks, my neck gets tight and I need to sport reading classes in order to screw a flat together.
I was leaving that Mecca of culture for the last time as a resident of that vibrant art scene and moving to the calm, quaint community of Quincy, Illinois, where rush hour lasts from 5:05 PM to 5:10 PM. Where, like cheers “everyone knows your name”. ..where the artistic community consists of a much smaller pool of fish...where the tastes of the average patron is, perhaps, a bit less adventurous.
And yet, this town of 40-some thousand supports so much culture, takes pride in the athletic youth and works diligently to maintain the beautiful structures that proudly stand on dogwood lined streets that I once again have those butterflies in my belly-just as that brash youth did way back then!
How exciting to be able to direct full-scale musicals. To select a play that has more than 4 characters in it. You see, in the professional world where I came from, the economic reality to producing theatre was strangling artistic options. We needed to find ways to more with less. Now, I feel honored to work with such dedicated volunteers and have a staff that I can trust and depend on to fulfill the mission to engage our community through the exposure of the arts.
I can’t wait for my wife to join me so I can share with her all of the wonderful things I have discovered so far.
I can’t wait to finish casting my first production.
I can’t wait to stretch and expand my artistic muscles and the community’s sensibilities.
I hope you are all ready to take that journey with me. Hop on the QCT express and let’s have the ride of our lives!