The SCT Impact – Blair DeMauro

Earlier this year we reached out to a few dozen SCT alumni to ask them if they felt their time at Savannah Children’s Theatre had any long-term impact on their lives, their friendships, or their careers.  Of course, theatre kids (even grown-up ones) have a flair for the dramatic, so our former students couldn’t respond with a simple thumbs-up or note of thanks.  They wrote essays, letters, and made us tear up on more than one occasion.

One of those occasions was the message we received from Blair.  A self-proclaimed “shy child,” she has gone on to study baking and pastries, graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.  Back home in Savannah, she now works at Chocolat by Adam Turoni, working right alongside one of the top 10 chocolatiers in the country.  Here is what this now-bold and outspoken pastry chef has to say about the SCT Impact.

~~~

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SCT Dance Recital, 2011

As any 12-year-old girl may have dreams of Broadway lights, I walked into Savannah Children’s Theatre sharing those same dreams.  Now my path has changed, and my career as well, but my childhood wearing silly costumes and whispering backstage was not wasted.  Having a childhood surrounded by theatre and dance has made all the difference in my life today.  One must be confident on stage, and having been a shy child, “confident” and “courageous” were hardly words familiar to me.  I never would have had the courage to walk into my job interviews with intimidating typical French chefs, and believe that I could do the job at hand.

 

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Still dancing, this time in a kitchen!

I truly believe working and managing a kitchen is almost paralleled to a stage production. There is a “backstage” that is the kitchen, and there is organized chaos dancing throughout the work stations, taking chefs by surprise, throwing curves every which way.  It’s all about timing; almost as a missed light cue leaves your audience lost in the dark, a missed plating could leave your guests hungry.  The team in a kitchen is much like a cast and crew all working toward one “show,” and flawlessly getting to this goal no matter what it takes.  All the while, the audience never sees nor hears the chaos, only the polished finale.

Aside from having a plethora of bobby pins, knowing how to change my entire wardrobe in less than 30 seconds, developing a love of literature, amazing posture, great diction and some timeless dance moves, theatre and dance have helped me grow life skills.  When on stage one must have excellent decision-making and rapid problem-solving skills; improvisation is no stranger to my daily life.  When in a production one must work as a team to be successful; teamwork is relevant in my daily life.  I truly loved all the memories, friends and family that I have been so fortunate to encounter in my days at Savannah Children’s Theatre!  SCT was a wonderful part of my life and I never forget it!

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The SCT Impact – Stanley

Since 2004, SCT has provided performing arts education and opportunities to
Savannah’s youth.  Now in our 13th season, we are beginning to see the long-term results of growing up in an environment that aims to inspire, educate, and entertain; something we like to call the SCT Impact. This series will include words from SCT Alumni who feel that their time spent within our walls has had a positive, tangible influence on their lives, both on and off the stage.

stanley-simons-headshot   There is no one more fitting to launch this series than the amazing Stanley Simons.  Stanley first came to us under the impression that he was auditioning for a Shakespearian tragedy, only to find out that he had the wrong date and tried out for another show instead.  Too polite to leave in the middle of something, Stanley stayed, and found himself fitted for a bright pink pig-suit, complete with curly tail. (We’ve scoured the world for pictures, but he seems to have done a great job of destroying all evidence of this first amazing costume.) Over the years, Stanley became an invaluable member of SCT, performing on stage countless times, and working constantly behind the scenes. Now a small business owner, Stanley agreed to share a bit of his story, in hopes that it will encourage others to make bold choices!

      “I remember walking into the doors of SCT. I was about to audition for Romeo and Juliet (excited and nervous).  I was wrong.  The audition was actually for Charlotte’s Web.  Nevertheless, I put on my big boy pants, auditioned, and got a part.  However, it wasn’t just another play for me.

     This play, unlike all the others, was at a community theatre.  It was a real show.  A show where you met a new director for the first time;  that director puts a book in your hand filled with beautiful words written by someone else;  that director wants you to make a bold choice at a particular time to explain why you decided to use those beautiful words; that director wants you to explain why your body had to move to a place underneath the lights where it was marked weeks ago.

     Eleven years later a bold choice continues to move me.  Past community theatre.  Past student films.  Past short films.  Past state lines to New York City.  Past the front doors at a performing arts conservatory.  Past the president of that conservatory as I reach for my degree.  Past the long lines to the next audition.  All a bold choice.  The greatest thing I learned at SCT is that choices can take you anywhere.  Bold choices will take you where you’re suppose to be.

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DARE to BE

There’s this great phrase that our Artistic Director, Kelie Miley, uses in rehearsals. And in greenroom circles. And sometimes in staff meetings. For decades I have listened to this phrase, and for decades it has bolstered my courage. Now, as a teacher, I repeat it to my students on the regular. The phrase is simply:

DARE TO BE BAD

     That’s it. In all that we do, in all that we say, I think that’s just about the most important bit of wisdom we have to offer. Dare to be bad. So much of theatre is stepping outside of your comfort zone, but if we’re going to reach those heartstrings or hear those belly laughs or hit those high C’s, we all have to do something a little bit daring.

Every moment of live theatre has a 50% chance of being successful. The joke will land, or it won’t. The magic trick will fire, or it won’t. Toto will climb into Dorothy’s basket, or he’ll pee on the side of it. You never know. Every moment is happening live, and there are no second takes.

So why am I telling you this? Because this is the time of year that we need the most daring support from adults. When autumn rears it’s ugly back-to-school head, we charge in with our Masquerade Gala & Auction, and auditions for our Main Stage Musical.  Both events require adults to make the magic happen, and both events make grown ups shrug and say “gee, I just don’t know if I can.”

To that shrug, I say DARE TO BE BAD. You might sing off-key at your audition, but you also might be really great and have the opportunity to perform alongside your kids. You might share in a fun, intimate experience like nothing else imaginable. You might get out-bid on this year’s Low Country Boil, but you also might get invited to attend the next one, where theatre moms and dads all shell shrimp while lip-syncing to Hamilton, and the kids cover their faces in embarrassment. (Is it just me, or does that sound like the best party EVER?)

Yes, our name is Savannah Children’s Theatreand the children are our everything. We can be a place where you drop off your kids for a few hours after school, and we can be a sends them home happy and tired. We would rather be a family meeting place; a place where kids can learn and grown their talents while seeing their parents thriving in a new, creative light. Dads can wield hot glue guns and learn a soft-shoe dance right alongside their sons, and moms can paint scenery and sing harmonies with their daughters. Grandparents can volunteer at the concession stand, and your crazy aunt (you know you have one) can help solicit donations. You can lend us your time and talents, and you can share your financial resources with a local non-profit that is dedicated to building up and equipping the youth in this very community. 

We are here to serve the children. But if we are going to serve them well, we are going to need some stalwart goofball adults to step up, and dare to be the leading man, or the second banana, or the committee chair. Dare to be involved in your kids’ extracurricular activities. Dare to know their friends and their teachers. Dare to know their talents. Dare to show them yours. 

So…where to begin? How about auditions tonight at 7pm? How about our biggest fundraiser of the year, The Masquerade Gala & AuctionHow about an email that says “how can I help?” Go ahead. I dare ya.🙂

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Cast Announcement – How I Became a Pirate

Ahoy, thar, land-lubbers!  We suspect ye’ll be wantin’ ter meet the robust crew of our next Kids on Stage show, HOW I BECAME A PIRATE!  This fearsome group auditioned Tuesday last, and be gettin’ ready for a spectacular opening night just four weeks from now!

Jeremy Jacob: Truman Nash
Captain Braid Beard: Noah Edwards
Swill: Taylor Rigsbee
Seymour: James Wirick
Sharktooth: Dawson Cooper
Max: Kalie Swann
Scurvy Dog: Dylan Roberds
Pierre: Madalynn Learman
Pirate Crew: Brennan Bishop, Nathan Cochrane, Lauren Groover, Sophia Hashemi, Jordan McGarity, Reaghan Neal, Paris Prager, Braidyn Rigsbee

How I Became a Pirate Cast

Now, don’t let those nice faces trick you; they’re some o’ the fiercest pirates to ever sail the seven seas!  (Well, except fer that Jeremy Jacob fellow.)  We hope you’ll get yer boardin’ passes and join us for our voyage September 23 – October 2!

Be a Camp Counselor!

You guys, I don’t know how to break this to you, but this school year is almost over.  I know this is devastating news.  What are you going to do with all of that extra time that you normally spend conjugating foreign verbs and creating PowerPoint presentations?

For SCT, the end of school means the beginning of summer camp, which is our all-time favoritest-favorite thing to do.  For eight glorious weeks, kids and teens get to focus on simply being here and enjoying a fully-immersive theatre experience without the added pressure of homework assignments, test prep, or matching socks.  We adore getting to watch our students relax and enjoy their summers, with an absolutely 0% chance of sunburn.

Junior Counselors     One of the best events we offer during the summer is our Junior Counselor program for rising 9th-12th graders.  High school students get to act as production assistants during camps, and in return, earn tuition to attend the teen camp.  Pretty sweet deal, right?  Junior Counselors work hard at each camp session, assisting younger students, facilitating theatre games, and providing production assistance; everything from sewing costumes to hot gluing props to building and painting scenery.  Oh, and they get to pick theme days and dress up to come to “work.”

Rising 9th-12th graders need to apply for the program by filling out a JC application form and having it signed by a parent or guardian.  If accepted into our program, JCs must attend a mandatory training session, and be available to work an entire session of camp, including the show weekend.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them!  Over the years, our JCs have repeatedly told us that they look forward to working summer camps more than almost anything else during the year.  So…what are you waiting for?

Juniors

What We Really Do

Everyone who has heard of Savannah Children’s Theatre knows that we produce plays.  With 22 shows this season alone, sometimes our little place on Victory Drive seems like a veritable theatre factory!  But what we really do is so much more than audiences and actors, costumes and glitter.  (Though, make no mistake, the glitter is vital.)alienportrait3

    If you take away the microphones and the amber-gelled lights,  the live orchestra and the hot popcorn, what is left?  If you peel away the layers of make-up and wigs, choreography and harmonies, and get down past the outward beauty of a musical, past the firm skeleton of a play, down to the very heart of our theatre, what is left?

     The children.

     SCT exists to provide all children with a safe and creative environment for character development by teaching appreciation for performing arts.  All children.  Not “talented” children (that’s a post for another day) or “dramatic” children (and another), but all children.  Sometimes the shyest kid in class turns out to have the biggest voice, or the loudest attention-seeker turns out to have the most stage fright.  Our teachers live for those moments of self-discovery!  They celebrate the class-clown finally being able to play a serious scene without cracking up, and they loudly cheer the child with a lisp or a stutter who finishes their speech without giving up.

     Our teachers empower young people every day to try new things and feel new sensations.  They help the pint-sized diva to learn humility, and they build up the confidence of the socially awkward.  We try every day to meet every child where they are and hold their hand until they are ready to move to the next step.  Whether they be theatrically gifted, academically challenged, living with a disability, or just plain stubborn, we recognize that each of our students learn in different ways, and we do our best to speak to their strengths.

     A word about students with special needs. We have them and we love them immeasurably.  This season we have had 552 students in our theatre program, and 12,274 students in our field trip program.  We cannot tell you how many special needs students we have because we do not “track” them.  We do not single them out, tally them, or publish their numbers so we can get extra grant money.  Our students with special needs are treated just like everyone else; we meet them where they are and embolden them to perform.  All of our teachers have seen their special needs students make great strides in challenging areas; but the same wonderful transformations can be seen in our neurotypical/non-disabled students as well.

   The contents of the lives changed within SCT’s purple walls could fill a book, one that I hope is written and displayed in our lobby some day.  This book would tell stories of children with blindness learning to do choreography, students with Downs Syndrome learning monologues, teenagers with ukuleles writing their own music, and kids with broken homes learning how to be part of a family unit again; our theatre family.

     We don’t only make theatre. We make connections.  We teach children to look up from their screens and look into each other’s eyes. We teach them to look beyond their limitations and find themselves.  We strive daily to fulfill our mission statement; to inspire, to educate, and to entertain.  That is what we really do.

Spam a Little, SpamALOT!

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SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM!

We know.  We love Monty Python, too.

Since our auditions back in October, SCT’s halls have been filled with belly laughs, John Cleese imitations, and not a little bit of flatulence.  We’re happy to say that we’ve enjoyed every second of it!  When choosing our season, we quite literally “look on the bright side of life” to determine the reasons why we should produce a show.  Does it fulfill our mission to inspire, educate and entertain?  Does it provide new performance opportunities to artists in our community?  Does it have an inspiring message?

While “what happens in Camelot stays in Camelot” may not be the most inspirational quote you’ll see in your news feed this year, we believe that the over-arcing goal of Monty Python’s Spamalot is to bring joy and laughter to it’s audience.  From the French Taunter (“your mother was a hamster!”) to the Artists Formerly Known as the Knights Who Say “Ni!,” we hope you enjoy this farcical journey through the Middle Ages with King Arthur, and his Knights of the Very, Very Round Table.

connectcoverspamalot

Play While You Wait! by Jenn Doubleday

   As the parent of a three-year-old and as someone who does children’s theatre for a living, it’s no surprise that I adore taking my little one to the theatre!  I love every part of bringing our daughter to SCT; the buttery popcorn at the concession stand, the booster seats for little bottoms, the joy on her face as the red velvet curtain opens to reveal…anything!  Yes, my girl and I enjoy everything about theatre-going…

   …except…

   …waiting for it to start.

   The build-up of excitement is almost unbearable.  The purple seats in this theatre have been her gateway to everyone from Shrek to Pinkalicious, from princess castles to flying cars, so she knows that something amazing is going to happen.

   Eventually. jamiecurtain

   As anyone who has taken their kids to a restaurant or on a road trip can attest, waiting for the grand event can be a challenge.  Which is why we at SCT have decided to try a few new things for this month’s ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S WE ARE IN A PLAY, playing weekends September 25 – October 4.  While you wait for our perfect-for-preschool musical to begin, you can enjoy the sounds of kid-friendly dance music in our oh-so-colorful lobby.  (Is there a kid in Savannah who hasn’t made up a game jumping from one colored carpet square to another?)  After you purchase your tickets, you’ll receive two playbills; one for grownups filled with theatre information, upcoming events, and ads from our amazing sponsors, and another one just for kids!

   The kid’s program comes complete with crayons, coloring scenes, a make-your-own-comic-strip page for our budding authors, as well as Mad Lib’s for some pre-show giggles.  You can also get some great photos with our Elephant & Piggie cutouts in the lobby, or wait to have your photo with the cast at the end of the performance.  Just make sure you hashtag those photos with a big #iheartsct.

   If you’re the parent of a toddler or preschool student, and you’ve wondered if your kid is ready for their first visit to the theatre, the answer is YES.  Children are the main event at SCT, and we can’t wait for your kids to experience the joy of live theatre that is for kids and by kids.  So…

   …what are you waiting for?  Get those tickets today! 

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Save the Date!

masquerade

     Mark your calendars for this year’s Annual Masquerade Gala & Auction, on Friday, October 30, at the Johnny Harris Banquet Center on Victory Drive.  Doors to our biggest fundraiser of the year will open at 6:30 p.m. For this year’s Masquerade theme, we encourage you to be mysterious, creative, adventurous, and of course, glamorous!  It will be an evening of entertainment, food, and fun for a very worthwhile cause!

     In addition to attending our gala, there are many ways you can support Savannah’s premier youth theatre.  We are in need of volunteers in a variety of areas, including soliciting donations from local businesses, securing sponsors, publicizing our event, and setting up prior to the Gala.

     If you don’t have time to volunteer, but still want to help, consider submitting items or gift cards to be included in our Live and Silent Auctions.  Do you or your business want to make an even greater impact?  Become an event sponsor!  There are three levels of sponsorship; Bronze ($500), Silver ($1,000), and Gold ($2,500).  Each level includes Gala Tickets, program advertisements, promotion on our website and social media pages, and other great perks!  Keep in mind, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so donations to our theatre and event are tax-deductible.

magicshow     What about our theatre’s greatest champions, the children?  While adults are enjoying an evening out, the children are having a scary good time of their own at our Halloween Party for kids! From 6 p.m.-11 p.m. at the Savannah Children’s Theatre, kids will enjoy pizza, fruit, goodies, face-painting and a magic show!  Look for more information to follow.

     For more information on how to get involved with volunteering, donations or sponsorships, please contact Gloria Rigsbee.  Let’s work together to make fairy tales come true!

Meet the Cast of…

…ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S: “WE ARE IN A PLAY!” 

   Based on the popular children’s books by Mo Willems (of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus fame), this fast-paced, super-silly musical was an instant favorite with SCT Staff and Kids.  Last night we had our first read-through of the script, and we had to wait for the cast to stop giggling before we could even move past page 5!  We laughed our way through the entire play as Elephant, Piggie, and their friends enjoyed the thrills of parties (Gerald knows parties), ping-pong, and pachyderm puns.  By far one of the silliest read-throughs we have ever seen!

So who are these silly people?  They are kids, ages 8-14, from all across Savannah, who enjoy sharing their talents with our community.  They also really want you to come see their show, playing September 25-October 4 at Savannah Children’s Theatre!

Raymond Olivia Noah Hez ReaganMolly Zoe TaylorSquirrelles       Come see these kids strut their stuff in just five weeks! (And don’t forget your party clothes!)

elephant and piggie cast