Upcoming ‘Shakespeare in Love’ Productions around the US and Canada

 

11/23/17 – 12/17/17 Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA)
1/10/18 – 3/28/18 Asolo Repertory Theatre (Sarasota, FL)
1/13/18 – 2/10/18 South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa, CA)
2/3/18 – 3/4/18 Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts (Smithtown, NY)
2/7/18 – 3/18/18 Orlando Shakespeare Theatre (Orlando,FL)
3/20/18 – 3/24/18 Saint John Theatre Company (Saint John, NB)
3/23/18 – 4/22/18 Austin Playhouse (Austin, TX)
4/4/18 – 4/22/18 Charleston Stage Company (Charleston, SC)
4/13/18 – 5/6/18 Omaha Community Playhouse (Omaha, NE)
4/25/18 – 5/20/18 Seattle Shakespeare Company (Seattle, WA)

 
 
 

  11/23/17 – 12/17/17 Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA) 1/10/18 – 3/28/18 Asolo Repertory Theatre (Sarasota, FL) 1/13/18 – 2/10/18 South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa, CA) 2/3/18 – 3/4/18 Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts (Smithtown, NY) 2/7/18 – 3/18/18 Orlando Shakespeare Theatre (Orlando,FL) 3/20/18 – 3/24/18 Saint John Theatre Company (Saint John, NB) …

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How To Make Mary Poppins Fly

One of Mary Poppins’s mysterious and fascinating qualities is her ability to fly using her parrot-handled umbrella. There are many theatrical ways to achieve this that do not require hiring flying specialists, rigging wires, or breaking the budget. Remember, flying can be symbolic; there’s no need to be literal. Let’s explore!

 

“There are an endless number of ways to portray flying onstage, many of which have been around for hundreds of years.”

 

Imaginative Approaches to Flying

There are an endless number of ways to portray flying onstage, many of which have been around for hundreds of years. The Victorians used a see-saw, placing an actor on one end and then lowering the other side, creating the illusion of an actor rising magically. Mary could very simply stand on a rehearsal block to indicate flying. Or her silhouette could be cut from foam core and raised in the air to achieve the same effect. And there are myriad ways to portray flight with creative choreography. Every license of Mary Poppins JR. includes a ShowKit® of materials designed as a “Show-in-a-Box” – perfect for first time directors. ShowKit® contents include a Director’s Guide with staging tips and rehearsal strategies, a Choreography DVD – with select numbers fully staged. Below are specific DIY approaches to “flying” Mary Poppins.

Staging the Effects, or “Selling It”

The greatest effects are only as stirring as your actors’ use of them to tell the story. If your actors are comfortable and confident enough with the effects to make them look easy, natural, and in control, the audience will buy the trick every time. Allow plenty of rehearsal time for any magical moments in your show so that your actors can finesse any intricate moments and are able to perform them perfectly every time.

 

“Use your actors to create the sky – build handheld clouds on sticks and use creative blocking.”

 

“Chim Chim Cher-ee”

In Scene 9, during the song “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” Mary Poppins “exits into the sky.” A fun way to achieve this is by using your actors to create the sky. Build handheld clouds on sticks for five actors. Stage them to enter using movement evocative of scudding clouds, and have them surround Mary Poppins, concealing her from the audience with their cut-out clouds. In the meantime, Mary Poppins can exit (unseen by the audience). The clouds open up to reveal that Mary Poppins is gone.

“Let’s Go Fly a Kite”

This number is featured on the Choreography DVD in its entirety, so be sure to check it out to see how you can stage your ensemble to help create the magic. Using the Kite Flyers to manipulate the various kites onstage, you can make Mary Poppins appear from the sky by choreographing her to be revealed from behind a cluster of kites. See Choreography DVD excerpt, above.

 

“Mary could regally ascend up a staircase, rehearsal blocks, or various platforms so she can hit her iconic pose at the perfect moment in the music.”

 

“Anything Can Happen (Finale)”

Many of the tricks used in “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” can be altered and used in Mary’s final departure. Mary could regally ascend up a staircase, rehearsal blocks, or various platforms so she can hit her iconic pose at the perfect moment in the music, significantly higher than any other actor on stage. Staging her alone on an upstage center platform would be effective. Remember to always employ the use of spotters any time an actor ascends levels onstage. Your ensemble can not only hide the set pieces Mary is stepping upon, but provide an additional level of safety for Mary. If you have any additional tricks or theatrical enhancements – like special lighting, atmospheric effects (like stage haze), or handheld practicals (like twinkly lights or small beam flashlights) – this is the moment to use them. With help from your entire company, Mary’s final flight will be the most magical trick of all.

To be clear, under no circumstances should you or anyone in your organization try to theatrically fly an actor without a licensed professional on hand who is an expert in theatrical flying. Remember, if you’re stuck, ask your actors for ideas! You will be surprised at their clever and innovative suggestions! Using a little theatrical thinking and a lot of creativity, making Mary Poppins fly is simple, fun, and engaging for your entire cast.
 
For more information about Mary Poppins Jr. visit the show page.

One of Mary Poppins’s mysterious and fascinating qualities is her ability to fly using her parrot-handled umbrella. There are many theatrical ways to achieve this that do not require hiring flying specialists, rigging wires, or breaking the budget. Remember, flying can be symbolic; there’s no need to be literal. Let’s explore!   “There are an endless …

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Upcoming ‘Newsies’ Productions around the US and Canada

 

11/15/17 – 12/24/17  Phoenix Theatre (Phoenix, AZ)

11/24/17 – 12/10/17  Centenary Stage Company (Hackettstown, NJ)

11/28/17 – 12/17/17  Maltz Jupiter (Jupiter, FL)

12/1/17 – 12/16/17  Pioneer Theatre Co (Salt Lake City, UT)

12/6/17 – 12/31/17  Arts Centre of Costal Carolina (Hilton Head, SC)

12/7/17 – 12/23/17  Springer Opera House (Columbus, GA)

1/5/18 – 1/28/18  Village Theatre (Everett, WA)

3/1/18 – 4/15/18  Fireside Theatre (Ft. Atkinson, WI)

3/2/18 – 9/22/18  Chanhassen Dinner Theater (Chanhassen, MI)

3/15/18 – 6/17/18  Toby’s Dinner Theatre (Columbia, MD)

4/16/18 – 6/10/18  The Media Theatre (Media, PA)

  11/15/17 – 12/24/17  Phoenix Theatre (Phoenix, AZ) 11/24/17 – 12/10/17  Centenary Stage Company (Hackettstown, NJ) 11/28/17 – 12/17/17  Maltz Jupiter (Jupiter, FL) 12/1/17 – 12/16/17  Pioneer Theatre Co (Salt Lake City, UT) 12/6/17 – 12/31/17  Arts Centre of Costal Carolina (Hilton Head, SC) 12/7/17 – 12/23/17  Springer Opera House (Columbus, GA) 1/5/18 – 1/28/18  Village …

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The Benefits of Expanding ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ For A Large Cast

I’m the Theater Director at Marist School in Atlanta, Georgia. We recently produced Peter and the Starcatcher.

It’s a show written to be performed by about a dozen actors.

We did it with 49. On purpose.

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Marist School (Atlanta, GA)

 

First, a little background:

Our school produces about 4 shows per year for grades 7-12, and we have an unofficial “no cut” policy. Our school does not dictate that we do this, but we simply feel that it is the best idea for our community. Our students have a thousand choices when it comes to extracurricular activities, ranging from robotics and debate to sports and academic teams. Therefore, if a student comes to us and wants to be in a show, we work very hard to find a way to make it happen.

This is an easy practice when it comes to musicals; one can always expand ensembles, divvy up solos, etc. The challenges are a bit more pronounced when it comes to plays.

“[Peter and the Starcatcher] is also a celebration of what I refer to as ‘analog theatrical magic’ – no automation, no digital projections, no lasers.”

Since there are not a lot of plays that involve a large number of actors, we had to get really creative in our solution to the problem of how to reconcile our casting philosophy with scripts that don’t call for big companies. One can only do Our Town, Anatomy of Gray, and The Diviners so many times (there are certainly other shows that have large-ish casts, but you get my drift). Additionally, we want our students to have a meaningful experience in the show, and not just serve as “human set dressing” – “Hey, kids!  We’re going to do The Glass Menagerie, and all of you will be portraying the glass figurines in Laura’s collection!”

Peter and the Starcatcher was the perfect piece for us. Though only written for a small company of actors, the structure of the show is such that there are dozens – if not hundreds – of opportunities to contribute to the storytelling in meaningful and important ways. The show is also a celebration of what I refer to as “analog theatrical magic” – no automation, no digital projections, no lasers, etc. Big blue silk sheets represent the ocean. Dozens of lanterns become the starry night sky. A jungle is populated by an army of creatures, creating a rich and diverse soundscape. And don’t forget the sailors, pirates, and mermaids. Lots and LOTS of mermaids.

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Marist School (Atlanta, GA)

 

None of these are revolutionary ideas, but they can be employed with this script in a way that both involves a lot of actors and assists in the storytelling, rather than get in the way of it.  Thankfully, we have the world’s greatest team: our technical director, music director, costume designer, choreographer, and scores of generous parent volunteers all rose to the challenge of doing this show in this way.

One other solution that we found to be helpful concerned the narration that occurs throughout the show. We found that spreading out the narration amongst the ensemble served several purposes. First, it gave lines to students who otherwise would not have a solo speaking moment in the show. Additionally, it prompted our audience to pay very close attention to the narration, as they had to follow their eyes and ears in order to know who was speaking. It also drove our actors to be very present, clear, physical, and, frankly, loud in order to distinguish themselves as that moment’s speaker.

 

“…our cast is a team. We all work together to create something that is larger than ourselves, and each actor/component/element is valuable.”

 

One of the big themes in our work here is that our cast is a team. We all work together to create something that is larger than ourselves, and each actor/component/element is valuable. When the narration is spread out amongst the company, the action grinds to a halt when someone isn’t there to do their part. When someone isn’t there – mentally or physically – to hoist a drape or manage the shadow puppets, the story is interrupted.

Were there hiccups? Absolutely. We used a massive green drape to suggest the jungle in Act II, and one night the preset was incorrect and it got tangled up while rising in the air. It only delayed us for about 45 seconds…but it felt like 45 minutes. The magic of this particular problem was in watching the ensemble quickly diagnose the issue, come up with a solution, and continue with the story – all while keeping it in the world of the play. Another benefit of having a lot of actors in this show was that there were always a lot of hands available to help out in a pinch.

 

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Marist School (Atlanta, GA)

 

At the end of it all, Peter and the Starcatcher is a celebration of magic: the magic of youth, the magic of belief, the magic of friends, and the magic of theater. The Broadway production that I saw was absolutely magical for its doubling, quick character work, and stunning environment.  Our students grabbed a few handfuls of starstuff and worked their own magic with this show.  The waters may have been a little rough at times, but I cannot imagine navigating them without all 49 of them.

 

Eric McNaughton 

Eric McNaughton holds a B.A. in Theater from Wake Forest University, and apprenticed at Actors Theatre of Louisville.   He is the Theater Director at Marist School in Atlanta, GA, where he has worked on over sixty plays and musicals as tech director, co-director, or director.   During the last few summers, he has performed at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, in shows ranging from Ragtime to Big Fish to Les Miserables. Last summer, he worked as Assistant Director for Disney’s When You Wish: A Celebration of the Disney Songbook, also at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. 

I’m the Theater Director at Marist School in Atlanta, Georgia. We recently produced Peter and the Starcatcher. It’s a show written to be performed by about a dozen actors. We did it with 49. On purpose. Marist School (Atlanta, GA)   First, a little background: Our school produces about 4 shows per year for grades …

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Hellfire to Heaven’s Light: Creating a Dynamic Sound in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

When the Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame premiered in 1996, its score was hailed by critics as some of the best work by composer Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Twenty years later, Menken and Schwartz returned to their score and expanded it for the stage, this time bringing it closer to the tone and themes of the classic novel by Victor Hugo.

The stage musical features a Choir, present onstage throughout the show, very much the way the cathedral looms above the world of the novel.

Even professional artists may find the show musically challenging, but the results are well worth the effort put in to master this score. Due to the amount of music and the level of difficulty (including several songs in foreign languages), music directors may want to budget a few more weeks of rehearsal than usual for a musical. Here are some tips and strategies to maximize whatever time you have and set you up for success:

altArchbishop Stepanic High School (White Plains, NY)

 

1. CHARACTER ASSIGNMENTS IN THE SCORE
Since there are several different ensembles (or combinations of ensembles) throughout the show, the libretto utilizes the following nomenclature to help you along the way.

Congregation: a troupe of storytellers, who serve as narrators; performers from this ensemble will become the principal characters, Gargoyles, Statues, Revelers, Soldiers, etc.

Congregant: solo member of the Congregation

Congregants: a small group from within the Congregation

Choir: a group of performers separate from the Congregation

All: both the Choir and Congregation singing together

 

“The musical features a Choir, present onstage throughout the show, very much the way the cathedral looms above the world of the novel.”

 

2. THE CHOIR
The Choir is an integral part of the show and should be treated more as a character than an extension of the orchestra.

When casting your Choir, consider how this production can act as a bridge between your school’s theater and choral programs, strengthening each while encouraging collaboration between different student groups; or, how it can be an opportunity to partner with and learn about other performing arts organizations in your community.

 

altJesuit High School (Portland, OR)

 

3. VOCAL WARM-UPS
The ranges required for both the Congregation and Choir are about two to two-and-a-half octaves. In order to stay vocally healthy while singing this material, it is vital that performers incorporate a vocal warm-up into their routine. Use passages from the score or simple scale exercises to prepare for the rehearsal ahead. While in rehearsal, encourage singers to “mark” or sing at half-voice when they are learning notes and rhythms. This will help them preserve those high notes for when they’re needed most and alleviate vocal strain.

altJesuit High School (Portland, OR)

4. PERFORMING WITH AN ORCHESTRA
Michael Starobin had the rare opportunity to orchestrate this score for the animated film, the first stage adaptation in Berlin in 1999, and this new stage version. The orchestration for The Hunchback of Notre Dame requires 14 players, plus conductor, as follows:

Violin 1
Violin 2
Viola
Cello
Reed 1
Reed 2
Reed 3
Horn
Trumpet 1
Trumpet 2
Trombone
Keyboard 1
Keyboard 2
Drums/Percussion

Menken and Schwartz have created a dynamic score where your cast  and orchestra can perform in styles as varied as Gregorian chant (“Olim”), Broadway ensemble (“Topsy Turvy”), Wagnerian opera (“Hellfire” and “Kyrie Eleison”) and contemporary pop (“In a Place of Miracles”).

Now you can perform Menken’s melodic music and Schwartz’s nimble lyrics.  Listen to the Original Studio Cast Recording via iTunes or Spotify.

For more information about The Hunchback of Notre Dame visit the show page. 

When the Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame premiered in 1996, its score was hailed by critics as some of the best work by composer Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Twenty years later, Menken and Schwartz returned to their score and expanded it for the stage, this time bringing it closer to the …

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5 Ways to Use Theatre to Engage Your Entire School Community

In the collaborative art of musical theater, there truly is a part for everyone! While not every student enjoys tap dancing and singing solos, theater can appeal to all types of learners and engage a variety of skills. Because of its collaborative nature, your musical is a fantastic way to bring a community together. Here are a few tips to engage your entire school community:

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1. Community Night
Many hands make light work! With sets to build, costumes to sew, and programs to fold, there is no shortage of work when producing a school play. Host a community night to help check it all off your to-do list. Invite parents and community members to paint the set, fit costumes and enjoy a sneak peak of a song from your show.

2. Fundraising Group
Organize a group of students and put them in charge of raising funds to keep your theater program sustainable. Students can sell ads in the show program or playbill, organize bake sales, and sell concessions to help fundraise for future productions.

3. Marketing & Publicity Crew
Drum up excitement for your production by engaging a group of students as the marketing team. Students can work in groups to create posters, promotional videos, online blogs, and social media posts to promote your show.

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4. Stage Crew
Many students prefer the challenge and responsibilities backstage to performing. Capitalize on this enthusiasm by creating a student stage crew. Backstage responsibilities can include operating the curtain, orchestrating scene changes, managing props and costumes, and operating lights and sound.

5. House Staff
You’re in the entertainment business, so hospitality is a must! Recruit students and parent volunteers to serve as ushers, ticket takers, and box office representatives for your show. This group of students and adults is responsible for ensuring a smooth audience experience at each performance and can additionally be responsible for creating your show’s program and tickets.

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In the collaborative art of musical theater, there truly is a part for everyone! While not every student enjoys tap dancing and singing solos, theater can appeal to all types of learners and engage a variety of skills. Because of its collaborative nature, your musical is a fantastic way to bring a community together. Here …

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4 Tips on Recruiting Kids for Musical Theatre

Get the word out: There’s a role for everyone in the theater! Take time to build your musical theater program through active recruitment. Here are a few ideas:

1. Hold a pre-audition workshop where you teach everyone an audition song and some fun choreography. This is a great way to introduce kids to the audition process without all the pressure of an actual audition.

2. Offer a backstage tour and a technical theater workshop, then recruit your stage crew from the kids who show interest.

3. There’s nothing like a personal invitation. Simply approaching a student and saying, “I really think you’d have a great time in our upcoming musical – will you audition?” can really make a difference.

4. Have your students perform a number from last year’s production at an assembly, the mall or any place families gather. Hand out flyers announcing your auditions for this year’s show.

Get the word out: There’s a role for everyone in the theater! Take time to build your musical theater program through active recruitment. Here are a few ideas: 1. Hold a pre-audition workshop where you teach everyone an audition song and some fun choreography. This is a great way to introduce kids to the audition …

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