During the summer, I saw something so incredible; it almost made my heart stop. Of course, only those who are a part of the theater community will understand my unbridled enthusiasm, but, here goes…
My grandson graduated from high school this year. All during his middle and high school years he had been a part of the school’s theater group and they have put on some amazing shows with the most amazingly talented group of young people that I’ve seen in a long time. They have become a rather large, tight-knit group of friends that seem to understand theater, enjoy it, and are not afraid of all the hard work that it takes to get a production on to the stage.
Well?… One young man in particular has shown himself to be quite the leader. His name is Andrew Cohen and while he had only just finished 10th grade at the time of this show, there is no doubt in my mind that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the theater community. He decided to organize this group of talented stage-hungry friends into a finely tuned troupe, in a matter of weeks, in order to put on a summer show. Together, they performed the pop-culture hit, “A Very Potter Musical.”
For those who might not know about it, A Very Potter Musical was written by fans of Harry Potter as a parody compilation of all of the movies for theater. These fans wrote some seriously amazing and very professionally orchestrated music and put together an incredibly funny show that can be seen, in its entirety on YouTube. Such creative theater!
With the help of Andrew’s parents, these students ranging in ages from 10th grade to first year of college, rented a 140 seat venue, arranged for their sound, lighting, prop and costuming needs, rehearsed, got the programs printed, blocked the staging, rehearsed, and marketed the show to family, friends and the community at large, oh, and rehearsed some more … and when they opened, the 140 seat venue was SRO for all three performances.
The attendees were simply asked to give a donation to help pay for the cost of production and the formation and continuation of the student’s new production company. They were positively enthralled at the amount of money they were able to raise. They even auctioned off show specific props at the end to further enhance the bottom line. What an ingenious group of young people!
And the performance?… TOP NOTCH! It was painfully obvious that they were completely into what they were doing. You could tell by their grins and the twinkles in their eyes. That same enthusiasm and joy washed over the audience who were rewarded with an amazing show and a lot of laughs and in turn, rewarded the cast and crew with their laughter, applause, accolades and standing ovations! My grandson (who portrayed Ron Weasley) even told me that a total stranger approached him at the train station days later, to tell him they saw him in the show and loved it.
The moral of this story?… I hear so many people in Community Theater saying that they are concerned about a lack of interest on the part of today’s youth and a worry for whether live theater will be able to continue on in this age of computers and the internet. But, I am here to tell you… DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT!
Yes, my grandson is a “theater geek” but think about this a moment if you will. He is also an avid gamer. He and his friends wile away hours upon hours of time in games such as Destiny or Assasin’s Creed. My grandson is even in college right now to become a game designer himself however, thanks to the intense arts programs in our school district, these same students are motivated to get up off their dairy air’s and live their stage lives to the fullest. I cannot stress enough the importance of the arts and motivated, talented teachers in our schools!
These young people that I saw on the stage this past summer, are a testament to the fact that theater is alive and well in Bucks County Pennsylvania, home of the Bucks County Playhouse. AIN’T IT GRAND?
There’s nothing like being in the room and experiencing the live action of real “flesh and blood” people giving their “all” to perform just for you. Then there are those special nights when the magic seems to go a step further and you feel so well connected to what’s going on, it’s almost like you’re on stage with them.
And if you look closer, you might see someone you know up there. After all… that’s why they call it “Community Theater”. Those who get involved are there for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps they’re there to build friendships or just plain do something different. Maybe they need a place to vent, or they love the arts so much that they just want to feel what it’s like to be on the inside of what goes on.
And, then again, you never know when you might get a look at the next “Box Office Star”. They all have to start somewhere, you know. If you look at the bios of your favorite actor you’re almost sure to see the name of the local “Community Theater” where they originally got “the itch!” People like Barbra Streisand, Gene Hackman, Bea Arthur, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Harvey Keitel, Judd Hirsch, Gary Sinise, Jerry Stiller, Rue McClenahan, Roy Scheider, Frank Langella, Tyne Daly and Kevin Bacon. Impressed?
But, let’s not forget those that you never see. The results of their labors can be just the thing to make or break the performance. Where would the show be without the costumes, the props, the sets? Or how about the Stage Crew? There’s the lights and sound! A good Tech person is a real jewel. Then, of course, there’s the Director. A really good Director lends their talent and creativity to the expression of the script and takes a performance from “good” to “amazing”. The Producers are the ones that do all that detail stuff that nobody really notices but is crucial to making sure that the whole thing happens to begin with.
That’s what I’m talking about! It’s a whole bunch of people coming together with a passion to do something crazy and wonderful… simply for the fun of it.
I started out in Community Theater in 1981. The first time I entered my local theater, I didn’t have the first idea what I was doing. Somebody said “Stage Right” and “Stage Left” and I said, “Huh?” And “blocking!” What in the world was that? But, like many, I learned and was finally given the opportunity to wear a lot of hats. I acted in both Plays and Musicals. When I was given the role of “Mama Rose” in “Gypsy”, at first I was elated! However, then I got the script and came face to face with the size of the role and panicked. But, I did it! I conquered the part and even got my first newspaper review and it was great!
I tried out everything and loved gaining the experience. I worked in costuming, directed and even produced. But, then I found my niche. I was called upon to write. I co-wrote a show about Gershwin and I was hooked.
And now, after years of hard work, I have co-written several Plays and Musicals and I’m thrilled to say that they’ve all enjoyed the opportunity of being performed on the live stage in front of appreciative audiences all over the country. I can’t tell you what an amazing feeling it is to hear the words that you struggled to put down on paper being spoken on a live stage and getting applause, no less. (I’m not ashamed to say that the applause is addictive.) I’m living my dream! And it all started because, one day, I saw an ad in the paper for a theater that was holding auditions and I said to myself, “Why not?”
So, I encourage you! Get involved with your local Community Theater! Meet new friends! Do something different! Express yourself! You’ll be surprised to find how welcome you are. And you never know where it may take you.
At the very least, the next time you’re looking for a “night out” treat yourself to a new experience. Look up what your local “Community Theater” is performing and go see it… “Live!”
Stage Magazine wrote their performance up, two times, found here: http://bit.ly/1d436ww.
“Sapperstein and Murway have written a fun filled evening of Irish themed humor. The cast is having a ball and it radiates to the audience,” — Arnie Finkle, Stage Magazine.
Patty O’Toole has passed on and the town gathers at his wake to mourn and remember this mischievous trouble maker and his leprechaun inclusive events when it seems, Patty’s not done creating mischief. He shows up at his own wake rather than wait in line at the pearly gates for his turn at his interview.
Mother Truckers hits the road in Florida with the Crane Point Museum and the audience laughs all the way to “Rosie Mae’s Truck Stop” where they “eat here and get gas.”
Loretta Geotis of Crane Point shared her input on what she and her group did:
“I had the pleasure of working with J&G Unlimited in creating a fundraising project for my organization. I decided to have a dinner and a play. I had read “Mother Truckers” a few years prior while working as Executive Director at a community theatre. I remembered the script and decided to use it for my event. The script is well-written and very funny and has a small cast which was a necessity in my case.
I was able to enhance the story by adding funny signs and props including a sign that said “Rosie Mae’s Truck Stop – Eat Here and Get Gas.” I created a “truck stop” environment with checked tablecloths and toy trucks and I-95 signs incorporated into the centerpieces. My truck was carefully constructed and lit up which added to the ambiance.
The PressPlay CD sound track [provided by J&G with materials] finished off a great product and the audience was surprised at the first “truck engine” sounds and was still laughing when the toilet flushed for the final time. The truck itself got an applause.
My audience loved it from beginning to end. Judith at J&G was fun to work with and made the whole process worthwhile. Thank you J&G and keep writing those terrific scripts!”
As a result of the Crane Point production, J&G is receiving calls from other states as far north as New York, wanting Mother Truckers because they have been hearing from friends and theatre professionals that it is an extremely funny ride for audiences!
Thank you Loretta, you and your entire cast and crew. What a magnificent job you’ve done!
Well, here we are driving home from the TANYS Festival of 2013 with smiles on our faces, great memories from an amazing event, and a plethora of fabulous new friends and acquaintances.
Although our intention was to introduce the plays and musicals we represent to the New York Community Theatre market, we wound out accomplishing so much more! The people of TANYS (The Theatre Association of New York State) were warm, welcoming and genuine to the core, while being wrapped up in a thick blanket of creativity, talent and presence!
We had so much fun getting to know the amazing actors, directors, producers, members and friends of TANYS while sharing our stories and music and watching the playful arguments of “no you can’t do that one, I want to put that one on,” (ANN) it was truly heart warming and endearing.
Thank you from all of us at J&G to every single person of TANYS for reminding us just what it means to be a part of the amazing world of Community Theatre — people, relationships and a dedication to the craft and storytelling excellence! As I said in my short speech given while awarding the raffled free show, “You are what Community Theatre is all about, you, the people in this room and others like you around the country, make Community Theatre possible!”
Even the meetings and events were entertaining with the great humor and anecdotes from speakers like Rob, and 2013 TANYS President Bob Frame. To open the Festival’s closing board meeting, Festival President, “Big Rob” Sharman introduced the drawing of the J&G Free Show Raffle. The amazing and talented Elisa Hunt of Auburn Players won the Raffle and the room oo’d and ah’d when we described in detail just what she’d walked away from the event with … one free J&G production of her choosing, up to 6 shows, and it includes all materials and even printed posters.
We will release a short interview with Elisa soon where she announced her selection of our musical, Bloomin which should be on stage under her skilled direction in August of 2014. Be sure to check back with us here for updates and to visit TANYS’ site to learn about the TANYS performance winners who are now moving up to ESTA!
See you all in Maryland in January 2014 where J&G will be giving away ANOTHER free show, all materials included, of up to 6 performances!
The Rosarito Theatre Guild of Baja California signed to perform Dancer the Footloose Reindeer December 6, 7 & 8, 2013.
my “Dancer” Director is anxious to start working on his production yesterday. I must admit that he & I have giggled over Dancer’s hi-jinks and are looking forward to working on it,
–Sylvia Dombroski, Rosarito Theatre Guild.
As a director I appreciated the fact that with my recent production of Women are from Venus; Men are from Uranus, J&G provided flexibility in casting, script usage and script changes to accommodate my vision and the limitations of the venue.
Royalty fees are on a sliding scale including the estimated audience size which is a key consideration for community venues. Royalty fees also include a CD with all of the music and sound effects required for the production. This is done using the PRESS PLAY method developed by J&G. For any low budget community theatre, complex sets can also pose problems. J&G keep their sets simple, i.e., often a single room, to keep production costs down.
I found the J&G staff very accommodating. They reached out during the rehearsal period to make sure any problems were resolved easily and reasonably. Permission, royalty and photo usage forms were provided quickly and in an easy-to-use format. J&G wishes to build relationships with those who perform their works, and they have already sent me FREE perusal copies of three additional plays for my future consideration.
As part of my theatre work I also serve on the Board of Directors of the Delaware Theatre Association (DTA). DTA sponsors an annual short play festival showcasing work performed by community based theatres. Conversations with J&G have led to a commitment to re-write Women are from Venus; Men are from Uranus to a shorter length allowing submission at the 2014 festival which I will be directing with great enthusiasm.
In summary, my experiences working with J&G Unlimited, Inc. were delightful; and I will continue to consider and to recommend their works to other directors!
Women are from Venus, Men are from Uranus made its way to the Everett Theatre stage and the reviews are in from STAGE Magazine … WOW what a great job you all did! Starring Georgiana Staley as Woman, Wayne Meadows as Man and Allison Brooks and Stephanie Williams as the Genome Observation Department Lab Tech’s. Directed by the magnificent Ruth K. Brown with costumes by the lovely and talented Star Timney and sets from the artful and handy David Sokolowski and Ruth Brown. the entire J&G Team were present at the show last weekend and OMG this group put on an amazing production of Sapperstein & Murway’s Women are from Venus, Men are from Uranus! Thanks to Stage Magazine for the fabulous review! We’re so thrilled you had a great time!
Following a command from the Boss at the Genome Observation Department, two Lab Technicians spin “Woman” and “Man” into creation from a petri dish. These experimental subjects embark on a live journey of discovery that observers will find both witty and a touch of wistful. The subjects must learn to connect with one another, though (surprise) they find that they differ in many ways, and are not supplied with instructions. The Technicians cannot seem to help but meddle some, seeing that Man is in over his head. Talk about drama in relationships! There is something for everyone in this show, which is sure to have you laughing and perhaps sighing a little, as evidenced by opening night’s audience.
Rounding out the cast of WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, MEN ARE FROM URANUS are Allison Brooks and Stephanie Williams who portray the Lab Technicians.
Georgiana Staley, she is Woman! Her expressions, physicality, character interpretation and timing reaped much audience reaction. The scene where she is birthing away behind a partition (without much help from Man) just steals the show. Also well executed was the maturation sequencing as Woman progressed through various stages in life. Wayne Meadows plays the quintessential Man, evoking sympathy, and laughter, with his “deer in the headlight” reactions to Woman. The interplay and timing between the two is terrific and adorable. In an interesting switch, female lab techs are featured in this show instead of traditional male casting of these roles. Lab Technician #1, played by Allison Brooks, and Lab Technician #2, played by Stephanie Williams, don’t always agree. They sometimes ignore the Genome Observation Department dictates and are not perfect, but they do stir up the sauce to spill out the laughter. Also appearing on stage in lab coats to assist are backstage crew members Jenn Fleagle and Lukas Vacula.
This production runs under an hour, and there is a fifteen minute intermission. A minimal, but funky set (Ruth K. Brown, David Sokolowski) is used. Sports wear is worn by Woman and Man instead of body suits (Star Timney, Costumer), which seems to work just fine for this production.
The Everett Theatre is an historic building. It is lovingly kept with an old time theater concession stand with fresh popcorn, candy, assorted beverages, and friendly people behind the counter who make one feel welcome. A coupon for this fun show is available at http://www.stagemagazine.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Everett-May-Ad.pdf which also includes a free popcorn.
WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, MEN ARE FROM URANUS
Written by Judith Sapperstein and Gary Murway
Directed by Ruth K. Brown
May 10 – 19, 2013
The Everett Theatre
45 W. Main Street
Middletown, DE 19709
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