Break a Leg!

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Break a leg! Why in the world would theater people say this to one another before a show starts? I went to Wikipedia for an explanation of the derivation of this expression, but although there are many ideas, there is no conclusive evidence as to why it’s “break a leg” instead of “may you be attacked by hippos” or some other ill wish. But I will not be one to mess with traditions. Theater people are a superstitious lot.

The Santa Diaries opens tonight at Glyndon United Methodist Church. Last night was the final dress rehearsal in full makeup and costume. Assistant Director, Lori Chapman, sent me this photo of Lizzie as Marley and I just had to share it.

Marley-Lizzie-for-web

The costume is wonderful as is the make-up.

So, from Laura and me goes a shout out to all the actors and behind the scenes crew…

Break a Leg!

Be Thankful for Community Theater

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Today is a day to be thankful for many things. One of them is community theater and the people who work so hard to bring live theater art into our lives.

I blogged recently about how impressed Laura and I were that so many people do so much more than perform. It takes a lot of people to get a play to opening night and one of the important tasks is getting the word out about the show. Thatcher and Melita Brinton have two small daughters in the show and have generously donated signage made by their company, Signs by Tomorrow (Timonium location). We are thankful for the Brinton family.

Lori-Chapman-with-lawn-sign

The two-sided yard signs, one held above by Lori Chapman, are a brilliant idea.  They get information about the show into neighborhoods. We are thankful for Lori and all the others who will spend Black Friday hanging the show.

Lib-Showcase-sign-Laura-Mal

Here Laura and I are holding one of the street banners. How cool is that! I am thankful to have such a wonderful writing partner. Laura Ambler is my BBF.

Thatcher and Melita Brinton, like other parents of kids in the show, know that driving and waiting are a fact of life when you have kids interested in theatre. But they, like other parents, are doing more than just that, and I wanted people to know about their business located at 2105-B Greenspring Drive in Timonium, MD. Check out their website to see everything they do, and if you need their services, consider sending them your business. The Brinton’s can be contacted at timonium@signsbytomorrow.com or by phone at 410-252-8235.

I am thankful for Liberty Showcase Theatre and it’s production of our play, The Santa Diaries.

Performances dates are as follows: Friday, December 6th and 13th at 8PM; Saturday, December 7th at 2PM and 8PM; Saturday, December 14th at 8PM and Sunday, December 15th at 2PM. The venue is Glyndon United Methodist Church, 4713 Butler Road, Glyndon, MD 21071. For tickets visit the Liberty Showcase Theatre website at http://www.libertyshowcasetheatre.org/.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

An Impressive Rehearsal

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Yesterday Laura and I drove to Glyndon, MD to attend a rehearsal of The Santa Diaries – an hour and a half drive from Easton. We arrived a little before the time rehearsal was to start (one o’clock) but the parking lot already had cars in it. Inside we saw why. Dan Lohrfink and his son, Philip, were busy screwing casters to platforms that will carry sets. I recognized them from the photos I’d used on the blog about the Lohrfink family. On the stage, ladies were on ladders painting. I recognized some of them as well. The participants in this show don’t just show up and say their lines. They are helping with everything. Somebody even brought in pizzas and soft drinks. Sustenance is really important when you’re putting on a play.

actors building sets

painting-sets-1

We were impressed at how organized the Liberty Showcase Theatre people are. Promptly at one o’clock the music directory, Liz Kanner, gathered people around the piano and began a vocal warm-up.

vocal-warm-up

Then they went all the way through Act 1. Seriously…all the way through. There were a few hiccups, but opening night is two weeks away. Plenty of time for tweaking. At the end of Act 1, the director, Barb Gasper, sat everyone down and gave notes – praise where due and suggestions, blocking issues and reminders to everybody about not clomping up and down the stairs to get on stage.

director's-notes

There was a ten minute break and the cast went all the way through Act 11, followed by more notes from the director. Because there still was a little time left before the scheduled end time at 4pm, the director asked for a run through of one particular scene. While that was going on children were being fitted into elf costumes by the costumer. We couldn’t get over how well behaved and professional these kids were. They knew their lines, where they were supposed to be on stage and we didn’t see any drama. You’d have to be a real Grinch to resist these cuties.

wardrobe-mistress-and-elf  elves-for-web

It’s just two weeks to the opening and according to Lori Chapman, Assistant Director, everything is on schedule. They’ll hang the lights on Black Friday and the final week will be all tech. She told us there would be two complete dress rehearsals. Laura will be there opening night, Friday, December 6th at 8PM. I’ll go the next day. We are over the moon that The Santa Diaries lives on.

Other show times are as follows: Friday, December 13th at 8PM; Saturday, December 7th at 2PM and 8PM; Saturday, December 14th at 8PM and Sunday, December 15th at 2PM.

The venue is Glyndon United Methodist Church, 4713 Butler Road, Glyndon, MD 21071.

For tickets visit the Liberty Showcase Theatre website
at http://www.libertyshowcasetheatre.org/.

Elves, Ballerinas and Firewomen

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In community theater you must accommodate your play to the available talent pool. In the Avalon production last year, we had two male and one female firemen who were part of the play’s community theater.

Liberty Showcase has a woman fireman, too. Her name is Sara Hampt and she is playing Woody (now Wendy) in the Liberty Theater’s production of The Santa Diaries. Sara is in her 7th year of teaching music in Baltimore County. An active member of Glyndon United Methodist Church, she leads worship for their early morning worship service and sings in the choir. This is her first return to musical theater since her performance in The Boyfriend her senior year of high school (that play originated on Broadway with Julie Andrews playing the role of Polly). Sara says she’s excited about this opportunity and hopes to take part in future Liberty Showcase Theater productions.

Sara Hampt

One of my favorite parts of our play was seeing the kids blossom as they become more confident in their roles. During rehearsals last year I was in awe of the adults in charge of the kids. It was like herding cats, but the minders kept the kids on task and made being in the play enjoyable. Some of the older kids had been doing Avalon plays since they were little guys. This happens in every community theater. Sometimes those kids are like Lori Chapman who came back as one of the Liberty Showcase Theatre’s directors and whose children are in the show.

Because it is community theater, roles sometimes have to be switched up to allow more kids to participate. In the December 7th, 2pm production, the role of Timmy becomes the role of Tammy and will be played by Makenna Brinton. This summer she acted and danced as Princess Phailin in GAP’s, The King and I.   Makenna has studied with Baltimore Actors’ Theatre Academy,  Pumpkin Theatre and Karen Sachs Dance Academy.  Her passion is singing, dancing and dreaming of Broadway.  When she’s not playing Tammy, Makenna will be on stage as a ballerina/Elf.

Makenna

Makenna’s younger sister, Tessa Brinton, who just turned five, will also be a ballerina/Elf in this production. She is currently in preschool and is thrilled to join her big sister on stage for the first time. Her mom, Melita, says her young daughter loves being front and center. Tessa loves riding her bike, singing, dancing and is always full of energy. These girls are  going to shine on stage.

Tessa pumpkins 2013

The changes needed for each production are what keeps the play fresh. Who can resist little ballerinas, adorable elves and firewomen?

A Boy and His Dog

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A child and a stuffed dog are just two of the characters in The Santa Diaries who begin to penetrate Will Hawes emotional armor. Timmy Darling has a problem and it’s one to which Will can relate. Other people know about it, but Timmy only confides his feelings to his stuffed animal, Marley, a toy from which he is inseparable.  As Will lets Timmy in, he becomes a mentor and protector of this little boy who, at the beginning of the play, is afraid of Will. And as Timmy let’s Will into his life, Marley can  occasionally be relinquished.

James Stranger, age 6, is playing Timmy in the upcoming production of The Santa Diaries at Liberty Showcase Theatre. This is his first play and his mom, Michelle, tells us he loves to entertain. A first grader at The Chatsworth School in Reisterstown, James takes ballet and tap classes and it was his dance teacher who recommended he audition for the role of Timmy. Mom says he is very excited and loves practicing his lines! In his free time, James likes playing with friends and dressing up in a variety of costumes. “He’s always wearing something crazy,” his mom says. We like his style! James is only the second person to play Timmy and he’s going to bring his own charm and enthusiasm to the role.

James Stranger

For staging purposes, Marley, the stuffed animal has to be big enough to be visible from the back row. And since there are several scenes when Marley comes to life and is a costumed actor, the stuffed dog and the dog costume have to match. At the Avalon Theatre last year, a Dalmatian was chosen and a costume with detachable head was purchased. Liberty Showcase switched things up and chose a lovely brown dog with floppy dark ears and white paws and snout. A costume is being made for the actor who plays Marley. I’ll post a photo when I can.

Liberty-Showcase-Marley-for

Laura and I will be attending a rehearsal of the show on Saturday, November 23. That’s just two weeks before the opening. We remember how chaotic things were at Avalon rehearsals last year around the same time.  It’s the time when you think there’s no way everything can come together. There’s a reason live theater is called DRAMA! But then it happens – the lights go up and magic happens.

Performances dates for The Santa Diaries are as follows: Friday, December 6th and 13th at 8PM; Saturday, December 7th at 2PM and 8PM; Saturday, December 14th at 8PM and Sunday, December 15th at 2PM. The venue is Glyndon United Methodist Church, 4713 Butler Road, Glyndon, MD 21071. For tickets visit the Liberty Showcase Theatre website at http://www.libertyshowcasetheatre.org/.

Becoming Martha

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Fran Desha has been cast as Martha in The Santa Diaries being performed at Glyndon United Methodist Church this coming December in Maryland.  Liberty Showcase Theatre is producing the show.

Performances dates are as follows: Friday, December 6th and 13th at 8PM; Saturday, December 7th at 2PM and 8PM; Saturday, December 14th at 8PM and Sunday, December 15th at 2PM. The venue is Glyndon United Methodist Church, 4713 Butler Road, Glyndon, MD 21071. For tickets visit the Liberty Showcase Theatre website at http://www.libertyshowcasetheatre.org/.

Fran DeSha

Laura and I loved writing this character. Like many of us, Martha especially misses her family at the holidays and hopes that if she can make Christmas perfect, they might come for a visit. She’s afraid to ask. What if they say “no.” Martha loves Sandy, the father in the play, and has to fend off her friends…the interested-in-any-single-man Casserole Ladies. She feels responsible for Sandy breaking his leg. After all, he was on her roof stringing Christmas lights when he tumbled to the ground. Martha is everyone of us who yearns for the holidays to sync with our fantasies.

Fran told us she did a lot of theater in high school and then took a 35 year break!  Professionally,  she works as a Regional Sales Manager for an insurance company.  She came back to theater a couple of years ago when her daughter got involved in theater at her college and convinced Fran to audition with her that following summer. The theater bug bit her again, and she has now been involved in several shows with various community theater groups – sometimes on stage, sometimes behind the scenes painting scenery, running curtain, moving props, or selling tickets.

Fran’s show credits include Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz, Assistant Stage Manager of Narnia the Musical. and my favorite… a Zombie extra in Night of the Living Dead. That must have been so much fun!

 

In her spare time Fran enjoys reading, antiquing, going to auctions and flea markets, and spending time with her daughter and friends. She told us she’s having a lot of fun doing The Santa Diaries which she calls a “wonderful heartwarming show.” We love that description. When it premiered at The Avalon Theatre last year, people laughed and cried. Something about the show touched audiences more deeply than we had anticipated. We think it might be that innocent holiday magic we had as children, and for which we still long.

The Chapman Family

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Community theater is a multi-generational affair for the Chapman family.

Lori Chapman is a lady who wears a lot of hats. She is the Assistant Director of The Santa Diaries as well as the choreographer. She’s also playing Alice so she says life has been a little hectic lately. Lori is excited for Laura and me to see what Liberty Showcase does with the show. We’re excited, too, but quite calm – we know our baby is in good hands.

Lori Chapman

Another hat Lori wears is that of VP of Liberty Showcase Theatre. She says this theatre has always been such a huge part of her life that moving into the role was just natural. She literally grew up doing her homework and sleeping in various auditoriums as her parents were very active in community theater.  Both of them started off as performers and her father moved into technical theater (sound) and her mother became a professional costumer. Her dad was president of the theater for many years, and her brother, who also performed in shows, is now a high school drama teacher.

Lori made her stage debut as a bunny rabbit in 1978 in Liberty Road Community Theatre’s (now Liberty Showcase Theatre) production of Free to Be You and Me.  On top  of all of this, she has a full-time day job where she works for The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Nursing Homes Division.

Lori told me that Liberty Showcase Theatre has faced huge venue challenges over the past several years and became a fully sponsored program of Baltimore County Recreation and Parks in the hopes that would help. “Unfortunately the local schools do not want the hassle of having theater in their auditoriums and several of them have even cut their drama departments completely,” she said. What a tragedy. Not all kids are cut out to be rocket scientists!

So Liberty Showcase is a group that has been around for 40 years and has no permanent home – yet.  Lori and her board are hopeful that, with this production, they can secure a home for their Fall and Spring productions, but they are still looking for a venue to do their big scale family musicals in the Summer.

Echo Chapman

Lori’s youngest daughter, Echo, has been cast as Tory, one of the teens in The Santa Diaries. Echo has truly grown up in the theater/music world.  When she was a baby, she came to rehearsals in a front carrier while her mother taught choreography, danced, ran lines and sang. Not quite born in a trunk, but close. Echo attended many performances that her mother was in and she made her debut as a baby angel in a production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Her father is a musician and she had the opportunity to hang out at band practices and go to some of his gigs when he was playing and opening for national acts.

Echo

Echo has taken dance since the age of three and has studied ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap, lyrical and musical theater. She loves to sing and plans to audition for the X Factor.  She is in the theater magnet at Deer Park Middle Magnet School and wants to pursue a career as an actress and/or a singer.  She is active in Girl Scouts and a straight A student. Besides being in The Santa Diaries, she is also in rehearsal for her school production of the play Big Bad.

Lori’s older daughter, Kaylee, who is 15, is not in this show, but Lori wanted to mention her. Proud Mama says Kaylee is an amazingly talented artist who attends George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson, MD.  She wants to be a comic book artist and hopes to attend MICA. She also grew up performing but chose to focus on her art.  She still loves musicals though.  Kaylee will be in the audience for several of The Santa Diaries shows, and no doubt will be on her feet with the rest of the audience for multiple curtain calls for her mom and sister.

Multi-generation family involvement in The Santa Diaries is not new. Last year we had a three generation family all with speaking parts in the premier production at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, Maryland. Love of theater is often a family affair, and it just so happens that’s one of the themes of our play.