Tri-State Theater

Let's discuss upcoming shows, secrets behind the scenes, things you never knew about the theater and why live theater is so darn entertaining.

Friday, November 30, 2007

On Stage Tonight - You Have Three Choices

A wealth of theatre to choose from tonight!

You can:

- see A Christmas Carol: The Musical tonight at 8:00 p.m. at Huntington's City Hall auditorium;

- watch Picasso at the Lapin Agile tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center (the old Camelot Theater);

- or catch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at 7:30 p.m. at (the new) Huntington High School.

Is this a great country or what?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

He's No Einstein - Oh, Wait - Yes, He Is

For our final interview let's hear from actor / writer / director / all-around swell guy Mike Murdock, who plays the part of Albert Einstein, who meets another legendary figure in the play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a comedy which runs this weekend at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center (the old Camelot Theater). Here's what he had to say:

Q: Why did you decide to be part of Picasso at the Lapin Agile?

A: "Picasso" is a very funny, intelligent show that I've wanted to be a part of for a long time. I'm a long-time fan of Steve Martin, both as a performer and a writer, and when Jon Joy, the director, proposed the show, I had to jump at the chance to do it. Not often in community theatre do you get the chance to do not only a non-musical, but also a show that's as smart as this show. I've wanted to do the show for years, and I'm lucky enough to have finally gotten the chance.

Q: Just who is this Steve Martin guy and why does he think he's funny?

A: Does he think he's funny? Yeah, he probably does. Steve Martin, for those who, for some crazy reason, might not know, is a comedian / actor / writer / banjo player. Although he was never a cast member, he has appeared on Saturday Night Live quite a bit - he and Dan Aykroyd were the two "Wild and Crazy Guys"... he sang a song called "King Tut" and he has appeared in such films as The Jerk, Three Amigos, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Roxanne and the film that eventually became a new Broadway musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Of course, many may also know him from his more family-friendly films such as the Cheaper by the Dozen series, the Father of the Bride series or as the latest incarnation of Inspector Clouseau in the remake of The Pink Panther. He's won numerous awards for comedy and writing, has an extensive art collection, which explains his fascination with Picasso. So, basically, the real question is "Is it really THAT Steve Martin that wrote it?", to which the answer is, "YES. It's THAT Steve Martin!"

Q: How intimidating is it to play such a famous historic figure as Einstein?

A: As this question suggests, I'm playing Albert Einstein at age 25 in the show. The play bends time a little and posits on what could have happened if Einstein and Picasso had met while they were around the same age and both on the verge of producing what were arguably their master works. It's tough playing someone that actually existed because you want to get the little things right. You want to have the accent. You want to have the eccentricity. You want to have the costume and mannerisms down. At the same time, you have to make it your own. We're not playing caricatures here. These are real people, for the most part, even though some of the comedy is absurd. Luckily, with real people, there's a lot of history and information about them, so it makes knowing who you are and what you're doing a bit easier. I just hope I do a passable job. Einstein is one of my heroes, and always has been. It's a great honor and challenge to bring him to life on stage.

Q: Why would you urge people to come out and see this show?

A: This is a quick night of GREAT theatre (the show only runs about an hour and twenty minutes with no intermission). It's a wonderful show, and we've collected some fantastic talent. Everyone in the show is great and we've all worked very hard to bring this to life. As I said, it's not often you get to see something around here that isn't a musical (not counting Marshall's productions, obviously), and this is a great precursor so what 2008 will bring for the Tri-State. It's a very smart show that will not only make you think, reflect, and talk about it long after, but it will also make you laugh out loud. What more could you ask for?

Q: What are the dates and times and place for the show?

A: The show runs this weekend: Friday, Nov. 30 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:00 p.m. at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center (the old Camelot Theater downtown in Huntington). Tickets are $8.00.

And that Sunday evening performance even gives the good folks performing in Fifth Ave.'s A Christmas Carol a chance to see it, and I hope they do!

As a final note, Jon has put together a wonderful show, with a superb cast. This isn't a show you want to miss! See you there!!

Strike Ends On Broadway

Good news to those planning to visit New York over the holidays - the strike is over and things should be back to normal starting today! Here's the story from the Associated Press:
Shows to Resume on Broadway; Strike Ends

AP Drama Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Curtain up. Broadway raced to reopen for business Thursday after stagehands and theater producers reached a tentative agreement, ending a crippling strike that kept more than two dozen shows dark for 19 days.

The settlement came Wednesday night, the third day of marathon sessions between Local 1 and the League of American Theatres and Producers to end the lengthy work stoppage that has cost producers and the city millions of dollars.

Most plays and musicals that were shut during the walkout, which began Nov. 10, were expected to be up and running Thursday evening.

"The contract is a good compromise that serves our industry," said Charlotte St. Martin, the league's executive director. "What is most important is that Broadway's lights will once again shine brightly, with a diversity of productions that will delight all theatergoers during this holiday time."

Union President James J. Claffey Jr. was equally effusive in signing off on the agreement, saying, "The people of Broadway are looking forward to returning to work, giving the theatergoing public the joy of Broadway, the greatest entertainment in the world."

Details of the five-year contract, which must be approved by the union membership, were not disclosed.

But negotiations, which began last summer, were difficult, right up to the last day, as both sides struggled with what apparently was the final hang-up: the issue of wages. It concerned how much to pay stagehands in return for a reduction in what the producers say were onerous work rules that required them to hire more stagehands than are needed.

Until then, the talks had focused on how many stagehands are required to open a Broadway show and keep it running. That means moving scenery, lights, sound systems and props into the theater; installing the set and making sure it works; and keeping everything functioning well for the life of the production.

The strike couldn't have happened at a worse time for Broadway. Such popular shows as Wicked, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia! and The Lion King were shut during the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday week. It's normally one of the best times of the year for Broadway when the city is filled with tourists and Christmas shoppers.

Financial losses were staggering. But it wasn't just producers and stagehands who were hurt. Actors, musicians and even press agents lost paychecks, too. And theater-related businesses also suffered.

City Comptroller William Thompson estimated the economic impact of the strike at $2 million a day, based on survey data that include theatergoers' total spending on tickets, dining and shopping. The league put the damage even higher.

Eight shows remained open during the strike (their theaters had separate contracts with Local 1), and they were joined by a ninth when Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! got a court order to let it reopen.

The end of the walkout means a scramble for new opening nights for several shows that were in previews when the strike hit. They include Aaron Sorkin's The Farnsworth Invention, August: Osage County from Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company and an adaptation of a long-lost Mark Twain comedy, Is He Dead?

Disney's The Little Mermaid already has announced it would push back its scheduled Dec. 6 opening—with a new date still to be set.

"We are so excited," said Tituss Burgess, who portrays Sebastian the crab in the lavish musical. The actor said he hadn't anticipated the strike would last as long as it did.

"We hope everyone's satisfied ... the atmosphere around our stage door was: We tried to remain positive," Burgess added. "We're just happy to be going back to work."

Alecia Parker, executive producer of Chicago, said tickets to the musical's Thursday reopening would be sold at the box office at a discounted $26.50 and that she wasn't worried theatergoers might not come back to Broadway.

"I think people have been very disappointed to have Broadway dark," Parker said. "I think we'll see an outpouring of support from the community."

Parker said rehearsals were planned Thursday to get the cast back up to speed, but she anticipated few problems. "You can imagine the adrenaline for coming back after 19 days," she said.

Broadway's last strike occurred in 2003 when musicians staged a four- day walkout. The musicians also struck in 1975, shutting musicals but not plays for 25 days.


Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Dino Hazell contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Scrooge" Speaks Out

OK, we've heard from the director, so now let's hear from the star of A Christmas Carol: The Musical, which runs this weekend and the next at Huntington's City Hall auditorium. My pal Clint McElroy has starred in a number of local productions, and now that lovable scamp is tackling the role of one of the all-time nastiest stage characters - Scrooge! So let's hear from Clint:

Q: Why did you decide to tackle Fifth Avenue's A Christmas Carol: the Musical?

A: I blame Mr. Magoo. Ever since I saw Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol when I was a kid in the '60s, I've wanted to play the part. It is such an amazing tale of redemption and grace through love... who can resist that?

Q: This isn't your first time being part of this play - what other roles have you tackled?

A: I played Marley when the show was done by First Stage Theatre Company... (12 feet of real, honest-to-goodness chains wrapped around me... THAT was fun), and in the recent Marshall University production I was the ghost of Christmas Present... (in a green fur robe and wreath on my head... I think it's how Liberace always envisioned Santa Claus).

Q: You're a naturally cheerful guy - how much fun is it to play the ultimate grouch, Scrooge?

A: I am having a ball. I'm not used to doing a show where all the little kids are frightened of me. It's a bit unnerving... but I do get first crack at the snack table.

Q: Why is Christmas Carol such an enduring classic?

A: EVERYBODY feels like Scrooge at some point. Maybe you don't say "Humbug!" Maybe you say: "I don't WANT to go to the carol singing at church." Or "Do we HAVE to go to Aunt Bonnie's this year?" Or "I'm not getting him a gift because he took my parking place." It isn't really your nature, but sometimes the holidays can just wear you down to a nub. Scrooge's story tells us that "It's never too late to change"

Q: Why would you urge people to come out and see this show?

A: The music is remarkable. The cast is one of the best ever put together for this region. Mary Smirl has such a wonderful director's vision for this show. Every age will be captivated by it. And the message is so important. AND, there are dancing candies.

Q: What are the dates and times for the show?

A: November 30, December First, Seventh and Eighth at 8pm.... Sunday matinees December 2nd and 9th at 2:30pm.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Talking About "Picasso..."

For our next interview, we hear from Jonathan Joy, a multi-talented writer, actor and director who's tackling the comic play Picasso at the Lapin Agile this weekend at the Jeslyn Theater in Huntington.

Q: For those who haven't heard of it, tell us about Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

A: The play takes place in a bar (the Lapin Agile) in Paris in 1904. It is a comedy/fantasy revolving around a meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein just years before their work changed the century. Bar patrons add even more humor to the fast paced show, each throwing in their own comedic viewpoints about life, love and work. The play is written by Steve Martin, who many people know from his film work and his days on Saturday Night Live.

Q: Why did you decide to tackle "Picasso?"

A: I've been a big fan of Steve Martin since I was a kid. This play is witty and well written. It's one of my favorite contemporary comedies. And the characters are so much fun. I thought it would give us an opportunity to showcase a nice ensemble of actors. I had the opportunity to perform in this play seven years ago and I had a great time. It's one of those plays that I think I could do over and over again.

Q: What actors are appearing in the play?

A: We have an awesome cast. Mike Murdock plays Einstein at age 25 and Travis McElroy play a young Pablo Picasso. I play a 62-year-old barfly named Gaston and Dwight Slappe plays Freddy, the bartender. Others include Melissa Langham as Freddy's girlfriend, Germaine, Michael Sullivan as idiot inventor Charles Dabernow Schmendiman, Karah Markins as Suzanne, Mark Cohn as Picasso's art dealer, Josh Jannotta as a time traveling visitor from the 1950's and Jen McComas and Cabrina Pierson. And on the technical end of the show, my wife, Rissie Joy, has designed the set, posters and program.

Q: You're putting on the play at the Jeslyn Theater (the old Camelot Theater in downtown Huntington). Does it lend itself to this kind of production?

A: It's a perfect space for this play. We have a large stage at our disposal and comfortable seats for the audience. This is our second play in just over five months at the Jeslyn and I'm looking forward to many more. I grew up in this area and I saw many movies at the Camelot in my youth. It's nice to see it getting a second life as a performing arts center. That's great for the community.

Q: Why would you urge people to come out and see this show?

A: It's very funny. We have a great cast performing a wonderfully written script. The audience is going to have a lot of fun. And $8.00 is a bargain for an evening of live theatre.

Q: What are the dates and times for the show?

A: We have 3 performances. We open this Friday, November 30 and continue our run Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2 at 8:00 p.m. each night. Tickets will be available each night at 7:30pm when the doors open.

Who's the Fairest...?

Once again my pal Stephen Vance has my back. Huntington High School's theatre class is putting on a show this weekend, and luckily Stephen sent this information and jogged my memory. He wrote:
Huntington High is opening Snow White this week for a limited run. This version is a one act children's show based on the familiar fairy tale. This production is the first semester project for HHS's theatre classes.

The show is directed by Helen Freeman, and features both new and old faces.

Snow White is played by newcomer Hilary Cornell. While the Prince is played by High School Musical's own Elliott Imlay.

The Seven Dwarves are played by Hailey Bellomy, Sarah Clark, Sara Wolfe, Alli Knight, Deidra Blackburn, Josh Adkins and Sable Blevins. Sable won best supporting actress in the state last year and Deidra won an all state actor award as well.

There are two school shows this week. Public performances will be Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $5 and students are $3.

This is a great show for children especially under for those under the age of 12.
ADDED: You can find more information in this article in Tuesday's edition of the Herald-Dispatch.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Talking About "Christmas Carol"

As promised, here's our interview with Mary Smirl, the director of 5th Avenue Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical, which starts this Friday at Huntington's City Hall auditorium.

Q: Why did you decide to tackle Fifth Avenue's A Christmas Carol: the Musical?

A: I directed A Christmas Carol for 5th Ave. Theatre last year and had such an amazing experience that when they asked me to do it again I had no choice but to accept.

Q: The cast is a bit different this year - how does that change things?

A: This year's cast is different but the same if you will. It is as if we took all the folks from last year and rotated them around a bit, adding a new actor here and there. Last year's Bob Crachit is this year's Ghost of Present, our last year's Ghost of Present is this year's Marley, and our last year's Marley is this year's Bob Crachit! We have last year's Mr.Fezziwig playing Scrooge and last year's Mrs. Crachit playing Mrs. Fezziwig, so you can see much of the cast is seasoned and familiar with the show. I wanted one thing only and that was with a new actor - Clint McElroy - playing Scrooge, we would have different ghosts play off of him, I felt this was very important for the whole dynamic. We do have some new faces this year bringing the excitement of a first time run to the production as we help make the local talent pool of experienced actors expand. I would say that every one of them is bitten by the bug and we both know that is a good thing. We have the multi-talented Lara Donahoe returning as our vocal director but we could not have gotten this far without the help of Ron Short and Eddie Harbet to get us started.

Q: You've done choreography for lots of shows, but for this one you have someone else teaching it - is that difficult for you?

A: The dance in this show is amazing, it moves all over the place all the time, thanks to our new Choreographer Miss Tiff McCullagh. As a choreographer myself I thought it would be tough to let go of the dance, this music is so much fun that it is hard not to want to jump in and begin creating! I have found that, to my surprise, as much as I love to dance and create dance, I absolutely adore the directing aspect of the process. It is a real treat as well as an education for me to see how the music motivates another's perception of the dance. Tiff teaches at my studio and we are very much in sync, she is the only other choreographer I know that uses tiny "post its" onstage when teaching, she is a very good instructor and a beautiful dancer as well.

Q: Why is "Christmas Carol" such an enduring classic?

A: I feel very blessed to be able to direct a retelling of this classic story of love and redemption. My first time to help direct a Children's Theatre show was this very story, with my dear friend Jim Stone playing Scrooge, it was then, and is still a real treasure. This story reminds us all to dig down deep and find our ability to be tolerant and find compassion for others. The most beautiful song in the show and the number that will brings tears to the eyes of the "scroogiest of scrooges" has a string of little angels coming down the center isle with candles singing "Let The Stars In The Sky, Remind Us Of Man's Compassion, let us love till we die and GOD BLESS US EVERYONE, till each child is fed, till each man is free".... I can't think of a better message for a better time than this.

Q: Why would you urge people to come out and see this show?

A: I urge everyone to come out and see this show, it is filled with love and laughter and the cast will pull you in as they walk all over the fourth wall shaking hands and singing as they go. You will laugh, you will cry and you will be filled with The Christmas Spirit as you go on the journey with Scrooge while he learns the lesson we all need to embrace, time is short, make the most of every precious moment!

Q: What are the dates and times for the show?

A: We open on the 30th of November and have shows on the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, and 9th, with a school show on the 6th. Sunday shows start at 2:00 p.m., evening show at 7:30 p.m. One last thing, this year we have a new Pre-Show, with 35 little ones from around the area singing and dancing to your delight! The show is directed by new comers, Wendy Goodenough, Amy Coughenhour, and Sara Dick. COME SEE US!!!!!

Building The Set

In the last post I talked about taking down the set, and it occurs to me that I haven't spent enough time talking about the difficult task of putting together a set.

In a community theatre show, just about everything you see on the stage (not including the actors or the actual theatre) is part of the set - and believe me, it doesn't just spring into existence. Groups like First Stage Theatre or Huntington Outdoor Theatre (and a few other local groups) usually don't have access to a stage until the week of the show, so the set must be built elsewhere, and then transported to the stage and assembled there.

At First Stage, we're lucky enough to have Jack Welch, a board member who oversees the construction of the set. It's a huge undertaking, and takes up a lot of time - but you couldn't ask for a better (or nicer) guy to tackle the job.

In general, it works like this (at least on the last couple of shows I've directed): before the show begins rehearsal, I sit down with Jack and we talk over ideas for the set. Since each show is different, each set requires a different design. We sketch out the basic concept, kick around ideas, and then Jack turns those doodles into actual designs.

Some shows actually arrive with the set already designed - but with most, it's up to the directing team to cook up a design that will work on the stage space you have available.

Then the real fun begins. Jack works with our parent volunteers and cast members as they construct the various pieces that makes up the set. For example, for High School Musical, they built and painted the flats that, when assembled, formed a 45-foot-long wall at the back of the stage. They painted a backdrop (the same size, only taller) that towered above the back wall. They built three movable flats that had lockers on one side and painted backdrops on the other. They built a booth for the radio announcer, a science table - well, you get the idea. It's a lot of work.

None of that would happen without someone like Jack taking the lead and keeping the troops organized and moving in the right direction. It's a huge job, but Jack tackles it with great enthusiasm and energy. He's part taskmaster, part big brother, and all workhorse!

That's why I'm always thrilled to have him on the team - every theatre group needs a Jack Welch (but hands off, you lot - he's ours)!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Week Later...

It's hard to believe that we wrapped up the First Stage Theatre production of High School Musical a week ago! It takes up to 12 weeks to prepare a community theatre show, and it becomes so much a part of your life, there's always some decompression required after it's all done.

After the show ended last Sunday we immediately struck the set (in a "strike," you take the set apart, load it onto the truck(s) and take it back to your storage facility). However, this strike was a bit different, because about half the set didn't go back to our facility. Everyone at Wayne High School was a big help to us in our production, and they're planning to stage HSM in February, so to thank them for their help we offered to let them use our set.

So they brought a truck to our last show and carted away a significant portion of the set, which we'll get back after they're done early next year. It's one of the things I love about community theatre - the way each group is willing to offer a helping hand!

We're all in this together, you know!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Coming Up Next Week

Since two community theatre shows open next weekend, we'll offer up a preview of both performances next week by running interviews with the directors (and others) who are involved.

So there, you have something to look forward to! In the meantime, enjoy your holiday weekend!

Cue the Grinch!

Despite the strike on Broadway, at least one show is back on the stage. Here's the story from the Associated Press:
Curtain Goes Up for Broadway's 'Grinch'

AP Drama Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - The Grinch—not to mention all those singing and dancing Whos—came back to Broadway Friday, two weeks after the musical about Dr. Seuss' celebrated green meanie was shut down because of the stagehands strike.

When actor Patrick Page, dressed in his furry chartreuse costume, slunk on stage at the St. James Theatre, the crowd erupted in cheers. It was the first performance of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! since Nov. 9, the musical's opening night.

The walkout by Local 1, the stagehands union, the following day shut down more than two dozens plays and musicals.

Said producer James Sanna just before the 11:00 a.m. performance (the first of four on Friday) began: "This may be the first time in Broadway history a producer has made a curtain speech on two consecutive performances. The first one was a traditional one on our opening night and now 14 days later on our reopening. ... We have faced lots and lots of obstacles and we are very happy to be back. But if there ever was a show and a company that deserves to be back, it is ours. I am very proud and humbled the way the whole company rallied around us on this."

Theatergoers milled in front of the theater, working their way through reporters and TV crews to get into the theater. Meanwhile, across the street at the dark Majestic Theatre (which houses The Phantom of the Opera) pickets from Local 1 quietly walked in a circle.

Vendors hawked $20 souvenir programs (which includes a "Grinch" knapsack) as audiences streamed into the theater.

Mark Cleveland, his wife Karla, and their two sons, 10-year-old Adam and 8-year-old Connor, had come from the Netherlands Antilles to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and then maybe some shows. They were leaving for Los Angeles immediately after seeing "Grinch."

"The weather doesn't look very nice, and there are no other shows to see, so we are going to Disneyland," Karla Cleveland explained.

Proud father, Sam Micalizzi of Brooklyn, was also out front. His 13-year-old daughter Marina, is in "Grinch," playing Scallop Who. He had brought along Marina's 10-year-old sister, Gianna, as well as the girls' aunt, Carol Davis of San Diego, to see the musical.

"We think `Grinch' is an important show" Davis said. "It has a really good message."

The reopening of the $6 million production was ordered Wednesday by state Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman, saying: "I think one Grinch in town is enough."

Her ruling came a day after she heard arguments from producers of the show and Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns the St. James. Producers, citing a special contract between the show and Jujamcyn, wanted the show to go on.

The judge said her decision was based on a provision of the theater lease, adding that she believed the production company would be irreparably harmed if the show wasn't permitted to resume its run.

"Grinch" is on a limited holiday run through Jan. 6. It had 15 performances scheduled for Thanksgiving week, one of Broadway's most lucrative times of the year.

The dispute between Local 1 and the League of American Theatres and Producers has closed 26 other Broadway productions.

Stagehands—who include scenery and prop handlers, carpenters, electricians and lighting and sound technicians—have been working without a contract since the end of July. The labor dispute is focused on how many workers are required to open a Broadway show and keep it running.

Eight other shows, whose theaters have separate contracts with the league, remain unaffected by the walkout: Pygmalion, The Ritz, Mauritius, Cymbeline, Young Frankenstein, Mary Poppins, Xanadu and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. All off- Broadway productions are open, too.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

There are a couple of great shows starting next weekend in Huntington:

Just in time for the holiday season, 5th Avenue Theatre will present A Christmas Carol: The Musical for two weekends - Nov. 30 and Dec. 1,2,7,8 and 9. The shows will be presented at the Huntington City Hall auditorium.

Also running next weekend (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 2) is Jonathan Joy's production of Picasso At The Lapin Agile, a hilarious play written by Steve Martin. It'll be presented at the Jeslyn Theater (the former Camelot Theater) in downtown Huntington.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks All Around

Happy Thanksgiving, gentle readers!

I have a lot to be thankful for, including a wonderful family, great friends, good health and a terrific job.

I’m also grateful for my recent experience as the director of High School Musical - it was a tremendous success for the First Stage Theatre Company, it was (I hope) a great experience for the young people involved, and it gave First Stage a chance to give back to the community by offering its support to the historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

As a holiday treat I’m going to take you backstage. Just before the last show on Sunday, I continued a tradition that I’m going to share with you - a talk with the cast about all the people who deserve recognition for their work to create the show. Working on a show is a true team effort, and it only works if everyone does their part.

So here’s what I said to them:

High School Musical has been an incredible experience! You’ve made new friends and performed before some amazing crowds - Wednesday’s school show was the most energetic and fanatical audience I’ve ever seen.

There are lots of people to thank, like:

- Your family, friends and loved ones who supported you being part of this show.

- everyone at the Marshall Artists Series and the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center for their kindness and hard work in allowing us to perform in this great facility.

- the union crew of Local 369 of the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees who ran the rails and lights for us...

- Jeff Riley and his crew for an amazing job of managing the mics and sound.

- your tech crew, they’ve done an incredible job behind the scenes, moving sets, managing props and special effects - Zach Davis, Daniel Phillips, Jessica Handloser, Joseph Enders, Emily Goetz, Christopher Crawford, Claire Boyles, Lindsey Cremeans and Mary Frances Wilkes. - they make the on-stage performers look good, and you should thank them for it.

- even our talented leads couldn’t do this show without everyone in the cast doing their job and pulling their weight... so congratulations to:

- the Skaters - Troy Nicely, Sarah Clark, Marissa Clayton, Chloe Donahoe, Brooke Estep, Chloe Herrold and Ashlee Matthews;

- the Thespians - Alissa Fetherolf, Morgan Jacobson, Sydney Pay, Sarah Wolfe, Clark Lewis, Mary Kate Young, Courtney Cremeans, Emily Davis and Amy Klim;

- the Brainiacs - Maggie Saunders, Jacob Smith, Todd Childers, Sophia Berhie, Rachel Enders, Ashley Johnson, Alisa McGrony, Christa Navy and Ashlee Simkins;

- the Cheerleaders - Allison Bartram, Hailey Bellamy, Grayon Collins, Allison Harker, Angel Harrison, Morgan Raines and Meg Riley;

- and the Jocks - Eric Newfeld, Caleb Donahoe, Garrett Gaunch, Avery Kitchen and T.J. Thompson for a job well done!

- a special thanks to the adults in the cast - there are actually five - including Ryan Riegel; our Mascot, Zach Davis, who keeps going despite illness and having to wear the fur suit; and of course, our faculty - Bill Bartlett, who stepped in late in the game and saved my hide - and my pal Debbie Wolfe, who keeps reminding me that I told her that Ms. Darbus was only in a scene or two - hey, I miscounted! I’ll talk more about "Ms. Tenney" in a minute...

I’ve been so impressed with this cast! We’ve seen great work from everyone... but I want to shine the light for a moment on three guys who’ve gone beyond the call of duty, both in their part and helping out in many other ways... namely Jacob Smith, Morgan Jacobson and Caleb Donahoe.

I always enjoy seeing the natural cast leaders emerge - the ones who lead by example, by hard work and by their dedication. I’m talking about Alissa Fetherolf, Maggie Saunders, Hailey Bellamy, Eric Newfeld and Mary Kate Young.

Now I want to talk about our leads. For Drew Sowards and Hannah Boyles, this is their first show, but you’d never know it. They’ve both done a fantastic job rocking the house, and I’m so proud of both of them.

You’ve all been lucky enough to see an acting clinic put on during rehearsals, and Jordan Sager and Josh Meredith have demonstrated what it is to get the maximum impact out of your role. It’s been a blast to watch you guys at work!

Last but not least, the stars of the show - Elliott Imlay and Angela Pino. You know, everyone who tries out for a show wants the lead roles, but they usually don’t realize how difficult those roles can be. The leads shoulder much of the responsibility for the show. Troy and Gabriella are the heart of the show - so much of whether or not the show works depends on the two of them being sympathetic, believable, convincingly in love with each other - not to mention great singers and dancers. You two were perfect in the roles, and I am so proud of the great work you’ve both done.

Now we want to take a moment to recognize the Seniors in our show - we have two seniors this time around. That means this might be their last time on stage as a member of First Stage. So let’s get Daniel Phillips up here! He’s my hero - he’s all over this stage, moving set pieces, managing slo-motion effects - all while maintaining the coolest hair of any guy in the show! (Daniel has his hair spiked up high in the air.)

Our other senior is a First Stage veteran. Jordan Sager has played dozens of roles, including a cowgirl in “Schoolhouse Rock”... she got “killed” on stage in her last two shows - Les Miz and Cats... and she’s had another star turn here as Sharpay. But all that aside, she’s always impressed me with her dedication, her hard work and her sheer talent. You won’t find a cast member more dedicated to making the show better... so let’s hear it for our seniors!

OK, now we need to talk about the first ones in line to make this show happen - your directing team - like our marketing director, Justin Minsker; our tech director, Schotch Donahoe; our costume director, Jeanette Bills; our Stage Manager, Ashleigh Bills, who has done an incredible job running all the tech elements that make up this show; our set contruction director, who’s responsible for this amazing set you’re performing on, Jack Welch; and our Producer, who not only coordinated a million details that made this all possible, but she also took on a stage role (Ms. Tenney) to help make the show happen! Let’s hear it for our producer, Jeanette Rowsey!

You can’t have a musical without the music, so let’s hear it for the master of the keyboard... the sultan of song... our musical maestro... you know him, you love him.. give it up for Mr. Mark Smith!

And finally, my usual line about Amy Browning is that she’s like a Swiss Army Knife, in that she can handle a hundred different jobs without batting an eye, whether it’s teaching dance steps, fixing hair backstage, finding props that no one else can dig up, tweaking performances., adjusting costumes, mediating misunderstandings... heck, I’ve seen her sweeping up the auditorium between shows. She’s absolutely been dedicated to making this show the best it can be.. and she’s dedicated to making it a great experience for you all. Every show has its stars and its supporting cast, and when it comes to this show, Mark and Amy are your directing stars!

As for me, this is the eighth show I’ve directed, and each show is special in its own way - but given the size of the job... the size of the stage... and the fantastic job you’ve all done... I have to say that I don’t think I could be more proud of a cast than I am of this one. This is one of the best shows First Stage has ever done, and that’s because of your hard work and dedication, and it’s been an honor to be part of your show.

For almost a year this show has been in the works... and it comes down to this. So get your energy up... focus on where you have to be and when to get there... and most of all... have fun!

Saturday’s show was awesome - the best yet! You’ve got five outstanding shows behind you... you’ve been working on this for almost three months now... you have one more chance to bust up the joint! (and they did, too - in the best possible sense.)


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Rave Review

Over at her Stay Tuned blog, my pal Angela Henderson just posted an awesome review of the First Stage production of High School Musical!

You can read her review right here - and many thanks, Angela, for the kind words. Speaking for the cast, crew and directors, it makes all that hard work worthwhile!

(By the way, since she's such a big fan of the character, here's a photo of Josh Meredith, playing the part of Sharpay's brother Ryan).

"Legally Blonde" and Strike Update

Legally Blonde is one of the shows that has shut down because of the strike by the Stagehands on Broadway, but according to this story, you have another chance to see the televised version. As I mentioned in this entry, the show is loaded with tons of energy, several terrific songs, some amazing feats of staging and a really talented cast. Recommended!

MTV will broadcast the final two airings of the show on Thursday, November 22 at 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., complete with sing-a-long lyrics on the bottom of the screen!

Embellishing TV musicals with subtitles and pop-ups is back in style, as you can see in this entry by my pal Angela Henderson at her excellent Stay Tuned blog. Looks like High School Musical 1 & 2 are getting the pop-up treatment.

The strike has shut down quite a few shows, but the ones that continue are doing quite well, including Mary Poppins and Xanadu. You can read more about that right here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Strike on Broadway

Another area I've been negligent is talking about the Stagehand strike that has shut down most (though not all) of the shows on Broadway.

It's causing some real concern in New York because the strike is not only shutting down most of the biggest shows, it's also happening during the normally-busy Thanksgiving holiday and it's hurting the restaurants and other businesses that depend on those crowds.

Go here to find more information about which shows are closed and which are still running.

And since I'm affiliated with the Associated Press via the Herald-Dispatch, here's the latest off the wire:
Bloomberg Plays Different Role in Strike

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Broadway was only four days into a strike in 2003 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg pressured both sides to come together and warned of the looming "severe economic impact" that could result from the dispute.

This time, theaters have been dark for more than a week and the mayor is not only refraining from wagging his finger in public, he's downplaying the potential damage the stagehands strike could cause the city and shrugging off some of the concerns he voiced four years ago.

The losses, he said Monday, are mostly contained to the theater industry, and theatergoers counting on Broadway shows may be disappointed. Otherwise, it's hard to quantify any sort of economic setback, and life goes on, he said.

"I think what it hurts more is our reputation, and it's the psychic things rather than dollars," he said. "Our hotels will still be full, our restaurants will still be full, mass transit will still be going along."

Estimates of the economic damage on the city vary wildly, ranging from $2 million to $17 million a day. Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman, dismissed any such figures as "guesswork" and said the sky is hardly falling.

"Is it a cataclysmic thing for this city? No. Is it bad for this city? Yes," he said.

Talks broke off Sunday between Local 1 and the League of American Theatres and Producers, and performances for more than two dozen Broadway shows were canceled through Nov. 25, the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Pressure has mounted for a solution to the work stoppage, which began Nov. 10, because this is typically one of Broadway's best weeks of the year. Many shows top more than $1 million for the week.

The stagehands—who include scenery and prop handlers, carpenters, electricians, and lighting and sound technicians—have been working without a contract since the end of July. Negotiations have focused on how many stagehands are required to open a Broadway show and keep it running.

The shows idled by the strike include some of Broadway's biggest hits, including "Wicked," "Jersey Boys," "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Lion King" and "Mamma Mia!"

Eight shows, whose theaters have separate contracts with the league, remain unaffected by the walkout. They include four productions—"Pygmalion," "The Ritz," "Mauritius" and "Cymbeline"—playing at nonprofit theaters, and four other shows: "Young Frankenstein," "Mary Poppins," "Xanadu" and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." All off-Broadway productions are open, too.

Bloomberg was in his first term when Broadway last shut down four years ago. That time, he was more publicly forceful in urging the two sides to come together, and when they accepted his offer of a neutral mediator and place to meet, he even showed up at 3 a.m. to urge them on. A deal was announced hours later and the curtains went up that night.

There are a number of possible explanations for his more low-key approach to this strike.

In the first dispute, the theater producers had somewhat of an upper hand over the musicians because there was the threat that the shows could go on without them, using recorded music. For this reason, Bloomberg might have wielded more influence when he called both sides to get together, because if the union didn't show up, they risked letting the producers win with canned music.

There is no such power play in this year's standoff. Aides say Bloomberg believes that the same public pressure that worked four years ago is not the right approach this time around.

Joshua Freeman, professor of labor history at Queens College, said Bloomberg also might be standing back because the two sides are farther apart and he believes his attempts could fail.

"Some of it is a recognition that he has relatively limited leverage," Freeman said. "These are private parties, and he may prefer not to stake out a position as a problem solver if he doesn't think he can solve a problem."

But City Hall is still involved, however quietly; Bloomberg and his deputies are regularly in touch with both sides, as well as labor experts. The mayor was also quick to have dinner at a theater district restaurant after the strike started, in a symbolic move to show that the area was still open for business.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Winding Down

Whew! I'm still recovering from the wrap-up to High School Musical - I took a vacation day from work because I knew I'd need it!

The theatre business continues to march on, though, so I should mention that there are several shows coming up in two weeks, including a holiday classic and a very funny play written by Steve Martin.

And before we know it we'll have to run down the shows coming up next Spring - some awesome stuff is on the way!

More on all that in the days ahead!

High School Musical - the Final Show

Today the curtain went up on the last performance of the First Stage production of High School Musical. The cast took the stage in front of a huge crowd at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, wrapping up a six-show run.

I certainly don't want to brag (well, maybe a little), but it was a great run! The shows all went extremely well, thanks to the dedication and talent of the cast and crew. The shows were enthusiastically received, with great crowds for every single performance. It was exhilarating to see so many people pour into that beautiful old theater.

Best of all, as near as I can tell, the cast had a great time, made new friends and had a positive experience - which is what First Stage is all about. The great thing about the theatre is the boost it gives to the self-confidence of the young performers - as I said recently, if you can sing and dance in front of 1000 people, you can accomplish anything!

And after each show the cast was mobbed by kids clamoring for their autographs! All in all, an amazing experience. I'll have more stories about it tomorrow and, who knows, perhaps I'll even start talking about other shows coming up.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

High School Musical - Shows #3 and #4

Whew, what a day! We ran two shows of High School Musical today - the matinee at 2:30 p.m. and the evening show at 7:30 p.m.

That's a challenge for any cast, and they were definitely showing a bit of fatigue during the matinee (although only the directors would notice). However, they brought their "A" game to the evening performance and produced their best performance yet!

More about the run tomorrow when I'm not quite so bleary-eyed. But what a terrific job on the part of these young performers - I couldn't be more proud!

Friday, November 16, 2007

High School Musical - Show #2

The second performance of the First Stage production of Disney's High School Musical wrapped up Thursday night, and once again the cast and crew did a terrific job! I'm so impressed with the polished, professional work being done by these young people. They're amazing!

Hey, we also got quite a bit of media coverage - there's a nice write-up in today's paper right here...

There's a new photo gallery with shots from last night's show right here...

There was a story on WOWK-TV last night, although it isn't up on their website yet...

There was a story on WSAZ-TV the night before, but it's also not up on their site yet (if you missed it, you missed hearing anchor Penny Moss sing a line from the song "We're All In This Together").

And you can see a video story on the Herald-Dispatch website, or you can watch it right here:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Making Headlines with "High School Musical"

There's a huge write-up in today's edition of the Herald-Dispatch about the First Stage Production of Disney's High School Musical (if you can ignore the fact that it includes lots of quotes from me). An excellent job by Dashing Dave Lavender! You can read it right here.

Even better, there a huge photo of Angela Pino (our "Gabriella") at the top of page one - and she joins five of the leads on the cover of the Entertainment Section! I was sorry to see they cropped out Josh Meredith ("Ryan") from the "Joy Jump" cover, though. And thanks to Allen Louden for taking that photo in the first place!

You can also see a Photo Gallery of the actors (including Josh) getting ready for yesterday's show right here.

Thanks for all the ink to my pals at the H-D!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

High School Musical - The First Performance

For this entry, I'm tempted just to write "WOW!"

But that doesn't really capture the amazing experience today at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

Let me back up a bit. Tuesday night we ran the final rehearsal for the First Stage production of Disney's High School Musical. Like most dress rehearsals, there were a few problems to be solved - but it wasn't a bad show at all. Still, we all knew we could do better - and theatre lore has it that a rough dress rehearsal translates into a great show!

So this morning at 9:30 a.m. the cast ran its first real show - with the theater filled to the brim with local school kids. For about five years now First Stage has made a tradition of offering a weekday morning performance where local schools can bring students to see a show at a reduced cost.

A show doesn't really come together until there's an audience - and what an audience they were! They screamed, they cheered, they laughed, they sang and clapped along - I half expected to see them dancing in the aisles! It made for an electric atmosphere, and gave the cast a real charge of energy. Orchestra Leader Mark Smith pointed out that it was the first show he could remember where the crowd manged to drown out the band!

I've been going to shows for a long, long time, and I've been directly involved with First Stage for about 13 years, and I've never seen a crowd like that - it was simply amazing!

Tomorrow evening: the first regular performance!

Comical Murders at MU

I apologize - in telling you about our efforts to bring High School Musical to the stage, I've neglected to mention the latest effort from Marshall Univeristy's Department of Theatre - The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.

Luckily, my pal Stephen Vance is on the job and has this review:
I went to see the show in previews tonight and it was wonderful. The director David Cook describes this show the best in the program: "a farcical romp which pays homage to the many cliches of the murder-mysteries of the period." And that it is. It is difficult to go long in this show without a laugh-out-loud moment.

Both new and familiar faces graced the stage and did it so well. I want to send out special kudos to our own Chuck Herndon who did a brilliant job in his debut on the Marshall stage. Anyone who has seen any theater in the Tri-State has probably had the privilege of seeing "Chuckie" in a show. He was hilarious and held his own among the talented Marshall veterans. In fact, the entire ensemble did a tremendous job.

This show, once again, had terrific sets, costumes, and lighting design. I love sitting in a playhouse and forgetting I'm watching a show. The tech design was second to none.

In this busy theatre week, I wanted to take a second and give an enthusiastic nod to the cast and crew of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. Well Done!
Thanks for the reminder, Stephen! I appreciate the review, and I certainly urge everyone to check out The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. MU's Theatre Department puts together incredible shows - I'm sure this one is no different!

And since Chuck Herndon played the lead in the first two shows I directed, you don't have to tell me how good an actor he is - he was a terrific actor then (six years ago) and he's only become better in the years since!

You can also read about the show in this story in the Herald-Dispatch by Beth Hendricks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"High School Musical" Tech Week: Day 2

It's ironic that actors spend weeks practicing for a show - and then when they get on the stage, most of the effort is in fixing technical problems with the lighting, sound and set pieces.

Today was the second day of Tech Week for the cast of the First Stage Theatre production of Disney's High School Musical, and it was a tough one for cast and crew alike.

It started at 11:00 a.m. as the cast ran through a rehearsal. Like most Tech Rehearsals, it involved a lot of stopping and adjusting lights, mics and the placement of set pieces. It makes for a slow and difficult rehearsal, but to their credit, the cast and crew kept their cool and worked through the problems. We finally wrapped up around 4:00 p.m., so everyone took a dinner break and then returned to the theater at 6:30 p.m. for another go-around.

It's unusual to do two rehearsals in one day, but we are crunched for time, with only three days to get ready before our first performance. Luckily, we had the advantage of today being a holiday for most of our cast (Veteran's Day, natch).

So how did it go? Frankly, it was awesome! Oh, there were a few minor tech glitches - set pieces that weren't quite set right, actors arriving on stage without the right props, that sort of thing - but for the most part, it was an excellent run-through. One good reason for that is the talent of our cast - it's an honor to work with a cast made up of some of the most talented performers in the Tri-State.

Tomorrow's the dress rehearsal (which is virtually identical to the actual show), and then Wednesday we do our first show in front of an audience. Keep those fingers crossed!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Taking the Stage at the Keith-Albee

Today was the big day - we loaded in the set for High School Musical into the Keith-Albee Theater and ran our first rehearsal on the stage!

And it wasn't easy! We started about 11:00 a.m., as a dozen or so parents and actors gathered at the First Stage storage and construction building to finish loading the set into two large trucks. Then at 1:00 p.m. we arrived at the Keith and started unloading the pieces and assembling them on the stage - a process that took about four hours and a lot of effort on the part of a small army of parents and union workers.

While that was going on, the cast learned about the historic theater and settled into their dressing rooms - the Keith features four stories of dressing rooms, and even so, it's just barely enough for our cast of almost 50 performers!

Then around 5:00 p.m. we ran our first tech rehearsal, where we start working out the technical issues of moving set pieces on and off stage, and the cast sings along with the full orchestra for the first time. As expected, there were a few problems to be worked out, but all in all I thought the rehearsal went amazingly well.

That's due in no small part to the amazingly talented cast and crew we have to work with - they're awesome! Tomorrow, round two!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Musical Man

I always enjoy talking about the members of the High School Musical directing team, because they're a great bunch of people - it's an honor and a pleasure to work with them!

In an earlier post I talked about the wonderful Amy Browning, who's the Choreographer and Assistant Director for the show (and those titles are woefully inadequate to describe the innumerable ways she makes the show better). Now let me take a moment to brag on another member of the team - our Music Director and Orchestra Leader, Mark Smith.

I've been lucky enough to work with Mark on four different shows, and if I have my way we'll team up on any other show I tackle. He's an amazingly talented keyboard player, an outstanding singer and a heck of a nice guy. He's also a fantastic teacher, and it's a joy to watch him guide the young performers through the process of learning each show's music. It's a task he manages with great skill and patience. He also has a fantastic sense of humor - the vocal warm-up exercises before each practice are always a hoot.

Because of his talent, he's in huge demand locally - he's the music director for Trinity Episcopal Church, and he travels around the area playing for professional bands and orchestras. He's also kept busy working with the music and drama departments at Marshall University - and that's just the stuff I know about! I'm so happy and blessed to have him on our directing team - when audiences hear how terrific the cast sounds while singing the songs from High School Musical, they can thanks Mark for showing them the way!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Roller Coaster Ride

Working on a show for the community theatre is sort of like being on a roller coaster. One night everything goes great and you feel like you're on top of the world. Other nights, not so much.

For example, last Monday the cast of High School Musical struggled through a rehearsal where we were trying to fix some assorted scenes and dance moves. It was a long, slow process and by the end of the night just about everyone was worn out and a bit aggravated.

The next night, we ran the show all the way through - and it went great! Oh, it wasn't perfect, but everyone could see that the show was almost ready to hit the stage (there's still some minor tweaking to be done). So we're riding high again!

But the next difficult hurdle is coming up - moving into the theater. More on that later!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Taking the Lead

Rehearsals continue for the First Stage production of Disney's High School Musical, and I have to say I'm just so darn proud of the work being done by these young performers.

The show features a good mix of experienced performers and young people who have never done theatre work before. Both groups (and the ones in between) have really worked hard to make this show something special.

I really enjoy seeing the veterans of the group demonstrating leadership skills. It's not something that can be taught, but in every show I've been involved with, at one point or another, one or more young performers take the lead. In some cases they lead by example; in others they actively work with the other actors, teaching dance steps, stage movements or just how to properly deliver a line.

At one rehearsal recently, I watched experienced young actors pull members of the cast aside and announce they were going to fix the problems in one scene (those problems were mostly a result of some performers missing an earlier rehearsal). It was a delight to see them take that kind of initiative, and when you've got that kind of help, it makes the job of the directors much easier.

Of course, sometimes they get a little too bossy - but that's when you step in as the director and reign them in. But that hasn't been a problem with this show - it's been a real team effort and I couldn't be more proud of the work being done by these performers. It's been a blast to work with them!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On Stage Tonight - "Peter Pan"

On stage tonight at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center is Peter Pan, the story of the boy who doesn't want to grow up and (literally) flies into all kinds of adventure as he battles the wicked Captain Hook.

It's a terrific show with great songs and lots of impressive effects - it's well worth seeing. But I hear tickets are scarce, so I hope you have yours already!

Get Ready

I've tried to show some restraint up to this point when it comes to talking about the First Stage Theatre Company production of High School Musical (since I'm directing it and all) - I don't want to abuse your interest or take unfair advantage of our blog here.

But I just wanted to give you fair warning - tomorrow, that's all going to change. For the next week-and-a-half, I'll be talking about it pretty much non-stop. It's been an amazing production to be part of, and there are lots of stories to tell - so be ready for it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Auditions at King's Island

Lots of local young people have found summer jobs working for King's Island near Cincinnati. In fact, a few friends of mine have been performers there.

Anyway, there's an article in today's edition of the Herald-Dispatch that tells you what you need to know to audition for the 2008 entertainment season at the park.

Auditions will be held on Nov. 8, 9, 10, and 11.

You can read more about it right here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Talking to Peter Pan

That's what my pal Dave Lavender did for a story in today's edition of the Herald-Dispatch. He interviewed the actress who plays the title role in the musical that will be staged in the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, and you'll find lots of interesting info about this terrific show.

Where can you read this fine article? Right here, of course.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I Won't Grow Up

One of my all-time favorite Broadway shows is flying into the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night - literally!

It's Peter Pan, the story of the boy who refuses to grow up and fights pirates in Never-Never Land. With its flying effects, great songs and a delightful story, it's a classic the whole family will enjoy.

I'll have more about it in the days ahead, but for now you can learn the basics right here.

Where Are They Now?

My pal Stephen Vance sent in this comment the other day, and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to print it on the "main page" of the blog in case you missed it:
A quick note about some local guys who have gone off to bigger and better things:

Owen Reynolds, who played Will Parker in this summer's Oklahoma, and skimbleshanks in Cats, is just finishing his first college production. He is at Wooster, where they are doing Cabaret. Owen was cast as Fritz in the very small but talented cast, and was also the understudy for the Emcee, which is unheard of for an incoming freshmen. I'm hearing great things from some friends who went to see him tonight in the understudy show.

Nick Husted, who has appeared locally in the Good Doctor, Oklahoma, and 1776, has recently been cast as Gonzalo in The Tempest at the University of Kentucky. Also, a huge accomplishment for a first year student in their program.

Thought you may be interested in the progress of a couple of our own.
Thanks, Stephen! It's great to hear the progress of the young performers who got their start on a local stage.

There are quite a few other graduates studying theatre in college (and doing quite well, thank you), including Emily Asbury, Laura LaCara, Michael Moore, Evan Price, Chuck Herndon and many others.

Updates are welcome and encouraged!

What Happened?

Sorry for the extended absence, loyal readers! My real-life job sent me out of town this week to a remote part of Ohio, and I thought I'd have Internet access there - but was I ever wrong!

But I'm back and planning some catch-up blogs over the weekend. There's no place like home!