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!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Trip to Chicago

The alarm was set for 4:30 a.m. and after a night of rehearsals for Joseph and the…and a champagne toast for the purchase of our new home, it was a bleary-eyed morning. But we didn’t care because my wife and I were off to Chicago on the train for the first time since moving to Quincy.
I was asked to serve on a grant review panel for the Illinois Arts Council, and being new to the area, jumped at the chance to get to know some of the players in the Chicago theatre scene. My wife on the other hand, was doomed to wander the streets during the day, forced to venture into museums, dine in a wide array of ethnic eateries and last but not least, be subjected to some of the finest theatre in the country (next to QCT of course!).
My days were spent gathered around a table with other key executives of theatres from around the state, reading and discussing the incredible programs that are offered at every level--from Tony-winning theatres to small rural barns sewing a couple of cows together to make a curtain. The one thing all of these groups have in common is a desire to put on the best darn show they can, with whatever resources they have on hand.
That is why I am so excited about being the MAD of QCT because we have such wonderful resources at our disposal: a beautiful facility, a caring board, a dedicated staff and talented members of our community and region to grace our stage, and last but not least, an incredible supportive business and patron base.
I had a blast in the windy city, experiencing all that fine city has to offer, but it’s good to be home, ready to return to rehearsals, decorating our historic home and planting roots in our new hometown.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Boeing Boeing Cast!

Well, I've cast my first production here at QCT. The play is Boeing Boeing- a classic French farce by Marc Camoletti translated by Beverley Cross. The cast is as follows: Bernard-Bill Twaddle, Robert-Greg Ellery, Bertha-Vicki Dempsey, Jacqueline-Emily Jones, Janet-Bobette Cawthon, Judith-Amethyst Zelle. It is listed in the Guinness World book of records as the most produced French play in history! It's about a French Lothario, Bernard a successful Parisian architect juggling three-that's right-THREE- fiances. All of them are "Air Hostesses" as they were called back then ( 1960). He tracks their timetables and with the assistance of his long suffering housekeeper Bertha, they change decor and menus. An old school chum, Robert arrives, and Bernard proudly explains his system for romance. However, a faster jet arrives, throwing this timetable out of kilter, weather helps to complicate the plot and Bernard, Robert and Bertha have a hard time keeping everything straight. I won't tell you how it ends, suffice to say it all works out in the end. You'll just have to come see it.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous, not knowing the caliber of performers the Quincy area produces. Having come from the professional world, where we get the full range from genius to awful, I was hoping we would Vere towards the former! The day before the auditions we only had one guy, so we had a phone campaign to recruit actors to audition. Fortunately, we had a great turnout, and it was sad to turn down so many wonderful actors. I'm looking forward to the first rehearsal next week.

Don't forget about ordering your tickets for The Drowsy Chaperone. Tickets go on sale this coming Monday (March 7).

See you at the Theatre!

Lenny Bart

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Managing Artistic Director

Greetings to everyone in Quincy and the surrounding areas. My name is Lenny Bart and I am delighted to be the new Managing Artistic Director for Quincy Community Theatre. I originally hail from Minneapolis, Minnesota, but have been working and living in New York City/New Jersey for the last 27 years. I am a professional actor, director and designer. I've taught theater at the middle, high school and college level. I've toured to 46 states, performed in Europe twice and have performed or directed in many off & off-off Broadway venues, as well as in many of New Jersey's finest theatres (feel free to log onto NY Times web site or Google me if you are interested in reading some of my acting or directing reviews).

For the last 10 years I was Artistic Director for 12 Miles West Theatre Company as well as an actor and director for Pushcart Players (both in NJ). 12 Miles West led a nomadic existence for a while due to the volatile real estate market, and the company was having difficulties maintaining funding and developing an audience base or being able to offer educational programs due to the fact we were sharing other groups' spaces. When Pushcart Players offered me their Artistic Director position, I took it. I loved the company, but I discovered that I was in a place where 95% of my time was dealing with administrative duties. I felt a need to be more involved on the artistic side.

I came across the ad for the MAD position a few months back and decided to apply for the job. When I advanced to the next round of consideration, I began to do some research on Quincy. I just couldn't believe my findings: A town of approximately 40,000 that supported a theatre, a symphony, an art center and opera company, a blues festival, a film festival, multiple museums major media outlets and more! How could it be? When the Search Committee flew me in for the final round, I decided to bring my wife Tricia along so we could see if this town was for real-and it was. Everyone has been so nice and supportive that I can only try my hardest to do a great job! I know that Barbara and Dominic had both done an exceptional job in the past and that I have big shoes to fill. But fill I will with the help and support of this exceptional community. I look forward to learning from our fantastic staff and board of directors (current & past) and in continuing to work in a cooperative manner with all of our generous donors, season ticket holders and sponsors. I know how the arts can make an impact on peoples lives, and I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work on producing and presenting some of the finest theatre Quincy can provide.

Please come on by and say hello. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone.

Lenny Bart