Show Opens Tomorrow Night

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This just in from Assistant Director, Lori Chapman:

“So I have a few minutes to let you know some of the challenges we have faced this week. And there have been many. LOL.

Starting with the kid who emailed me on Monday five minutes before she was due at rehearsal and said she was out of town and might be back by Wednesday but if not, she’d see us Saturday. Did she not remember we open on Friday?

We lost our spotlight operator for opening night and are in the process of trying to find someone now. All the other shows are covered except tomorrow night. (Update…a spotlight operator has been found.)

Our Sandy really fell off the ladder on Tuesday night. He’s fine. LOL. But the crash noise was the best it’s ever been.

Trying to turn the lights on the Christmas tree in the Hawes house on and off at the right moments is proving to be a huge challenge. Nothing like turning the tree on and lighting people frantically trying to get in the right places or having the lights left on to illuminate set changes that are supposed to be hidden.

The set changes for the finished set and burned set are harder than we thought and require tall people. Hopefully we will get much faster with those. And moving set pieces on when the entire cast is exiting the stage is like running through an obstacle course.

And I didn’t even mention the teen whose dad came and picked her up halfway through our rehearsal on Monday night and didn’t tell her mom who is also in the show that he was taking her. Panic ensued when we thought we had a missing 15 year old.

Brandeee is right. Never work with kids or dogs. LOL.

Tonight we run with costumes and makeup. Hopefully things will go smoothly. Although they do say bad dress, great opening night so maybe I should be hoping for lots of problems.”

Thanks, Lori. It’s going to be a great show. Laura and I are so appreciative of all the hard work of everone on and off stage. We can’t wait to see it.

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/.

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/.

The Lohrfink Family Takes the Stage

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The Chapman family is not the only family to have multiple generations involved in the current production of The Santa Diaries.

Kimberly Lohrfink tells me that their family first got involved in theater in 2004 when older son, Nick (now married and out of the house), was cast as Daddy Warbucks in his school’s production of Annie.  As Nick went through high school, he was in various productions, and the acting bug took hold of the whole family. The kids became involved with STAR, LTD., a  community theater in Relay, MD, in 2007 – Nick was 16, Sarah was 8 and Philip was 4.

Kimberly took on many  roles such as costume coordinator, make-up artist, stage manager – “anything and everything offstage,” she said.  In 2008, STAR announced that they were doing an “all ages” production of Scrooge and Marley, and Kimberly, thinking that it would be a great family bonding experience,  convinced her husband, Dan, to audition. She thought they would just be in the ensemble, but were cast as Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit.  Kimberly said,”It was a wonderful show, and we had a blast.”

Lohrfink family

In 2010, Sarah and Philip were both cast in St. Gabriel’s Miracle Player’s production of Wonderland. Kimberly was again behind the scenes as the Stage Manager for that show, and Dan helped out with lights and sound.

In this production of The Santa Diaries, Dan Lohrfink fills the role of Sandy Hawes, the small-town Santa who comes from a long time of Santas and hopes his son, Will, will put on the Santa boots.

Lohrfink, Dan as Santa  Lohrfink, Dan

Normally, when Dan takes the stage he’s not wearing a red suit, he’s playing bass  or guitar with a band.  He said, “my stint as Bob Cratchit was quite a change from playing a dumb ol’ shepherd in my 1st grade Christmas play.”

Kimberly Lohrfink is playing Edna (one of the Casserole ladies) and also appears in the ensemble cast. Offstage, Kimberly works as a Program Director for Johns Hopkins CTY, volunteers as a Girl Scout leader, chauffeurs her kids to their various activities, and she makes the BEST sweet potato casserole. Can we get the recipe, Kimberly?

Lohrfink, Kimberly

Dan and Kimberly’s son, Philip, is a 6th grader at St. Agnes School.  He enjoys playing the piano and trumpet and singing.  He’s in his school choir and band. Clearly this kid loves the stage!

Lohrfink, Philip

His previous roles include Colin (Secret Garden), Tiny Tim (Scrooge and Marley), the Red Knight and the Lion (Wonderland).  In his free time, Philip enjoys Origami, drawing and Legos. In The Santa Diaries production he is playing Boy Ebenezer, and five different ensemble roles. Keeping track of those costume changes is going to be a challenge.

High school Sophomore, Sarah Lohrfink has been cast as Rose, along with two other ensemble roles. Sarah is no stranger to the stage. She’s been involved in theater since she was eight.  Previous roles include Biddy Haggerty (The Ghost of Rhodes Manor), Little Boy Blue (Babes in Toyland), Ruth Taylor (Don’t Say No to the USO), Captain Bree (Lady Pirates of Captain Bree) and Alice (Wonderland).  In addition to theater, Sarah enjoys singing, and she plays flute in the TCHS Band.  Her dream is to someday be on Broadway.

Lohrfink, Sarah

Due to schedule conflicts, jobs, etc., the Lohrfink family has not been able to all do a show together since 2010 – until now.  Sarah, Philip, Dan and Kimberly are having a great time taking the stage together again in The Santa Diaries.  One of the themes of our play is family coming together. What better way than parents and kids participating in this wonderful family show!

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.

Joe Bohrer Cast as Will Hawes

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Live theater is magic for the actors and the audiences. Joe Bohrer, who has been cast as Will Hawes, tells us he is very excited to be in this production of The Santa Diaries being produced by Liberty Showcase Theatre. Joe says he has really enjoyed getting into this character and seeing how best to portray Will.

This is Joe’s third production since returning to the stage (since high school). His last two performances were in Rent and The Full Monty at Silhouette Stages. After high school, Joe focused on the technical side of theatre including lighting and sound design. He is currently an Event Coordinator at Stevenson University and says he is happy to get a chance to return to the stage!

Joe Bohrer 2

The Santa Diaries is the story of Sandy Hawes who has been a small-town Santa for years. His fondest wish is for his son, Will, to follow in his footsteps. But Will followed a different path and became a hugely successful (albeit self-absorbed) Hollywood actor. When Sandy breaks his leg hanging Christmas lights, Will makes an unplanned stop on a flight to New York. A snow storm strands him, his fiancé and business manager and Will reluctantly agrees to start the community Christmas play his father usually directs. He only plans to stay until he can fly out. As fate would have it, the assistant director of the play is his high school sweetheart, Jessica, the girl he left behind to follow his dream of becoming an actor. Old sparks are ignited and in the process Will rediscovers his small-town roots, the joy of Christmas and learns to embrace his inner Santa.

Last year’s production at The Avalon Theatre in Easton, Maryland featured Casey Rauch as Will. He had to sing and dance in the production which he hadn’t done before, but he was terrific and his brief rendition of Gangnam Style during one of the songs Laura wrote for the show brought the house down at every performance.

Casey Rauch 2

Liberty Showcase found another Hollywood-handsome guy to play Will and Laura and I are so excited to see what Joe does with the role.

Joe Bohrer photo 1

We’ll be attending a rehearsal in a couple of weeks and will get a sneak peek. Every character will have a new interpretation in this production – that’s the magic of live theater.