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.

New Heights! by Jenn Doubleday

     I’ve always wanted to be in the circus.greensilks

     Coming from a carnie family, the desire to run away with a caravan runs deep.  Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t trade my SCT family and the life it has allowed me to lead for anything.  Buuuuuut if some sort of Quantum Leap happened and I got to live in a tiny trailer next to a trick seal, I wouldn’t complain.

     Which is why, in my spare time, I have frequently devoted myself to learning some sort of carnie sport.  I watched jugglers, bought scarves, and tried teaching myself. Not good.  I watched unicyclists, got a unicycle, and tried teaching myself. Really not good.  I’m not too bad at tightrope, and while I’ve never had a tiger to train, I think I’d manage. When aerial dance came on the scene, I knew I wanted to try that, too.

     A relatively new art form, aerial dance (sometimes referred to as aerial tissu or aerial silks) is a form of movement that involves climbing and posing your body on fabric that is suspended from the ceiling.  It was developed by Montreal’s peerless Cirque du Soleil in the mid-nineties as a means of exploring dance and contortion without the limitation of gravity.

     The first opportunity I had to play with them was at SETC in Chattanooga, TN.  Not being known for my patience, I immediately spoke with the director about taking lessons and asked her how she got her start.  Her answer?  “I saw them in the circus, so I bought some fabric and taught myself.”  We got along pretty well.

Aerial Silks

First lesson back in the day! Whee!

     Last year, when we were choosing our 2013-2014 season, our Artistic Director had only one criteria for each show.  Every production had to include some element that we, as a theatre, had never used before.  After settling on Tarzan and Shrek as our Main Stage shows, we decided to make Tarzan vertical.  Utilizing the silks as vines and climbing nets as the jungle canopy, we took our show to new heights, and I fell in love with the aerial arts all over again.     tarzan1  jenntarzan

     Less than a year later, our new aerial program has grown beyond our expectations!  We have a Friday class that, truthfully, is the highlight of my week, and I have many students of all ages (10 to 55) who take private lessons.  Soon, we hope to get a lyra (aerial hoop) as well!

     So what kind of person does aerial arts?  Anyone.  My group class (ages 10-18) includes a 5th-grade gymnast and an 11th-grade baritone.  In my private lessons I have taught a massage therapist, a news anchor, and a fitness instructor, among others.  The one thing all of these people have in common is their desire to experience something new.

annasilks1  weeksonsilks1

     Of course, like any physical activity, there are some requirements.  The rig does have a weight limit, and since you are binding your body with fabric you want to make sure you are in good health, with no prone to dizziness, circulatory disorders or severe skin conditions.  A fear of heights could be a potential setback, but as these things go, our rig is pretty low with a maximum ceiling height of fifteen feet.

   This year, we’ll be using our silks in two different dance shows.  The first is the student-choreographed Jack and the Beanstalk in February, and the second is our annual dance showcase in May.  The theme for 2015 is Dance Around the World, featuring dance styles from all over the globe.

   Never has Canada been so cool.


                                            Anna Smith & Matthew Weeks, SCT Aerial Students

Everybody Wants to be a Cat…Literally! by Carmel Grace Cowart


     “Wow! Forty-eight… FORTY-EIGHT students! Wow!”

      That was the thought in the forefront of my mind on the first day of Fall classes.  I teach Creative Dramatics I, which is a 12-week musical theatre program for elementary school students, commonly called CD1.  We are so happy to have this many young children interested in the magical art of live theatre!  I’m pretty sure it’s the highest enrollment we’ve had for a class show in the six years that I’ve been teaching at SCT, and we could not be more EXCITED about it!


      Upon hearing about our enormous enrollment, many people have been asking me two simple questions…

 1) What show are you doing?

 2)  How are you going to do it with that many kids?

       Well, I’d be happy to tell you! Our CD1 class show this Fall is Disney’s Aristocats Kids.  It’s a high-energy musical, set in Paris, about a family of cats trying to find their way home after being cat-napped by the jealous butler of their owner, who has decided to leave her fortune to her precious pets.  On their journey, assisted by a smooth-talking tomcat, they encounter a dog brigade, gabbling geese, and a whole gang of jazzy alley-cats who explain to them (in song and dance of course) why EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A CAT!

      To accommodate such a large group of students, I decided to double-cast the show.  This means that there are two separate full casts of Aristocats! Woo-hoo! Isn’t that exciting!? Each cast rehearses in the same two-hour class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and each cast will have a full weekend of performances in November.  To direct two full casts simultaneously is actually quite do-able. It simply takes some creativity and organization.

      During class, all forty-eight students are led in a physical and vocal warm-up and then play a theatre game together.  Here’s all of them (well, almost) posing in a game called Family Portrait… 

Cast A as a portrait of Cats

Cast A as a portrait of Cats

Cast B as a portrait of Geese

Cast B as a portrait of Geese










     After warm-ups, we split Cast A from Cast B.  For about forty-five minutes, one group works on either learning their music or blocking, while the other group learns choreography.  Then, they swap!  This way, each group gets a well-rounded class period filled with learning the three most important aspects of being in a musical; dance, music, and character development.  Here’s Cast A circled up and learning their music for Thomas O’Malley with Ms. Lauren, our Musical Director.  Because of the size of our group, we have to do some of our rehearsal in the costume department! 


       Here’s Cast B learning choreography for the opening number with Ms. Ali, our Choreographer…. 


      At the end, I like to wrap up the rehearsal with both casts together.  We typically play a theatre game and each cast gets to perform what they just learned for the other cast.  Not only is this fun for the students, but it also helps them retain everything they’ve been taught.      

    We are thrilled to have this many children participating in a class show, and they are very much looking forward to sharing their experience with you!  Please mark your calendars for November 14-16, and come out to see these awesome students in Disney’s Aristocats Kids, because EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE A CAT!  Don’t you!? 

     If you’d like to learn more about SCT classes, just visit our website…and be sure to “like” us on Facebook! 

Costume Land! by Bonnie Juengert

     Trying on costumes is one of the most exciting parts of being in a show! Adults and children of all ages revel in the transformation that occurs when you put on that costume and become another character. Let me introduce you to the world of costumes at SCT.

One of three complete walls of double-hung costumes.

One of four walls completely covered by costumes!

     You may or may not know that most of the second floor of our building is dedicated to the construction and storage of costumes. We are very proud of our ever-growing collection of costumes, some donated, but most made right here in our shop! From three-piece suits to bunny suits, you’ll find just about everything you can think of in Costume Land, even a few things that defy explanation.

We're here for you, for all your scary clown needs.

Yeah…we’re not sure either.

     You also may or may not know that the entire costume process, from design to implementation to laundry, is run by volunteers. We are always looking for help! Knowing how to sew is a big plus, but you can help even if you don’t know how. Painting, hot gluing, beading, paper mâché, and many other crafty talents are needed, oh yes, and don’t forget cutting; both scissor and rotary skills! If you don’t feel comfortable cutting into cloth, we are also in need of assistance with our costume rental program. Sometimes we just need a team of people willing to sort and fold fabrics by color, or people who can help put every piece in the right place. 

A few of our round racks, filled to overflowing!

A few of our round racks, filled to overflowing!

     Consider joining us this season. Along with the thrill of creating part of the magic of the performance, you will not regret the camaraderie that develops over the course of a show, or many shows! While sewing and sorting, we laugh and talk, swap stories about our children and the tales they tell of late-night rehearsals. I have made life-long friends in Costume Land, and I hope to make many more.

     In just a few weeks we will be starting a volunteer project to organize and sort our growing costume stock. To prepare for this undertaking, we’re looking for a few items:

  • Hangers – all shapes and sizes (some department stores, like JC Penney, actually give them away!)
  • Clear Plastic Storage Bins – shoebox size or larger, with lids
  • Quality Safety Pins

      How do you get involved? Make sure you’re following SCT’s Facebook page for updates, and contact the office for a schedule of when our costume volunteers will be working. We’d love to see some new faces and welcome new ideas. See you soon!

What to Expect at the Fairytale Festival Fundraiser, by Renee McMahon

When I was first given the task of turning Savannah Children’s Theatre into a Fairytale Fantasy Land, it seemed a bit daunting.  How could I envision so many themes in one event?  I needed a map, a guide, to help me begin.  So I made one!  Every magical kingdom needs a map, and our Fairytale Land is no exception.  The completed map has many different kingdoms including Pixie Hollow, Snow Castle, the Enchanted Forest, Pirate’s Cove and more!  To see the finished product you’ll have to attend (hint, hint), but here’s a photo of my first draft.

SCT Fairytale Festival map-page-001

When the children arrive, they will be given a copy of the map, a book of tickets for all of the activities, and a bag to hold their treasures and crafts they collect along the way.  While little pirates and princesses aren’t busy crafting, digging for treasure or playing in the snow (yes, snow!), they will be on the stage creating their own stories, singing and dancing with their favorite fairytale characters, or enjoying delicious treats & sweets in Pixie Hollow.

Pink Marshmallows

There truly will be something for everyone!  For those little ones that want to be a princess, they will have fun crafting a beautiful necklace and learning how to curtsy, sing and dance like a princess.  They will also have opportunities to meet Cinderella, Rapunzel, the Snow Queen and more fairy tale royalty!  Be sure to have your cameras ready!

For those not into wands, tiaras and everything pink, visit our Pirate’s Cove!  Young buccaneers will join our crew to swab the deck, toss cannonballs and dig for buried treasure.  Better follow Captain’s orders, or you’ll have to walk the plank!  Pint-sized pirates will make a loot bag to hold all the booty they find, as well as crafting a sword and a pirate hat.

pirate's wheel

     The most talked about kingdom in Fairytale Land is Snow Castle. Our black box theatre will be transformed into a frozen wonderland with snowflakes and icicles.  There will be tubs of *snow* for children to play in where boys and girls alike can try their luck at pinning the carrot on the snowman.  Children will enjoy crafts and chilly treats and meet the Snow Queen herself!

blue wands

     We can’t give away all of our surprises, so let’s suffice it to say that there is so much more to see and experience in Fairytale Land!  We hope you come explore our magical world. Where else in Savannah can you dance with pirates, sing with princesses and play in the snow in July?

     The Fairytale Festival is sure to delight children of all ages but is designed for ages 2-10. Tickets are available here or you can call our box office at 912-238-9015.  To insure the children have a special and memorable experience, we are limiting the spaces and we expect to sell out. See you at Pixie Hollow!

When: This Saturday, July 26th, 10am-12pm
How Much: Adults-$5, Children- $25.
Where: SCT in the Crossroads Shopping Center at 2160 E. Victory Drive.

Fairytale Festival poster-page-001 (1)





The Commitment to Wear Tights, by Maggie Lee Hart

     It’s tech week and our Creative Dramatics II students are pepped up to share their work of Once Upon A Mattress, Jr for their friends and family this weekend.  The excitement that is felt within SCT’s walls will be focused on the last remaining elements of our production including; completion of set construction, lighting and sound design, and full runs of the show in costume!  So pull up your tights and put on your dancing shoes!

     What makes a production successful?  It is the organization and commitment by all people associated with creating the show.  This is true not only for SCT, but for any show being produced.  It takes every single person and student to understand the commitment they have agreed to when signing up to be involved with a show.  The absence of a cast member affects every single element of a production.  Many adjustments need to be made. New formations of a dance must be choreographed and the absentee’s lines and lyrics redistributed so the story may be told.  The microphone plot must be redone, and the scene change list revised. . But most importantly, the loss of their voice and energy within the ensemble can be felt within the morale of the cast.

     From the start of creating a production, our process consists of a group of artists who wish to create a unique and unified show.   SCT classes are offered to be a learning experience, and I hope we have illustrated how important every single person and every single role is in the success of production.  It is commitment as a whole that makes SCT glitter and glow.

     To see the outcome of this wonderful team-building process, visit us this weekend during one of our three public performances. Friday at 7pm, or Saturday and Sunday at 3pm, we will be at the theatre popping the popcorn and swirling the cotton candy, ready to delight and entertain!  Tickets can be purchased here or at the door and are $12-$15.  The memories are priceless.

Keeping it S-I-M-P-L-E, by Corbin Hernandez

             The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is not a show one would expect a children’s theater to produce, even in the hands of teens.  The music is difficult, there are many elements of the show that can change on a whim, and the emotional journey of the show is kinda rough, to put it lightly.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being around here for only a brief 9 months, it’s that Savannah Children’s Theatre is no ordinary children’s theater, and challenges like this are exactly what they like to face head-on.


            If you’re unfamiliar with the show, here it is: Putnam County is having its representational Spelling Bee Championship.  The grade school spellers include a kid who spells with his foot, a “perfect” Girl Scout, an overwhelmed lisper with two dads, a girl who speaks six languages, a boy who wears a cape, and a girl whose best friend is a dictionary.  Two adults with problems of their own wrangle the kids through the Bee with the help of a convict on parole doing community service as a “comfort counselor.”  Sound like fun?  Now throw in four audience members as ‘guest spellers’ every night and you have one wild show!

            With so many elements to juggle, I decided to stick to an old acronym: K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid.  After all, what better way to tackle this show than to spell it?  My role in this class show is to handle all things tech and to act as stage manager.  Thanks to the work of Mike Prow with On-Site Services, lights aren’t usually much fuss when working in the Black Box Theatre.  Fun work, though!   F-U-N.


The “star” of the show.

            Teen Theatre Director, Laura Keena, and I had great communication and came up with lots of ideas together about the set.  Overall, we’re keeping it simple.  The setting is a gymnasium: championship pendants on the walls, 2D set pieces, and a basketball floor with a giant school mascot in the middle.

            With the help of Eric Mitchell, we brainstormed on what kind of mascot Putnam High School would have, and we decided on the ever-elusive Snipe.  This may or may not be a terrible idea, as paint on the floor of the Black Box has a tendency to not want to be paint on the floor of the Black Box for very long, but how could I say no to that face?

One decent sketch after many failed attempts.

One decent sketch after many failed attempts.

          Joined by the amazingly talented Brandon Kaufman as Musical Director, the members of our creative team are all very familiar with the show and have seen it multiple times.  I’m very excited about the work we’ve all put in so far and how unique this production is going to be.  Join our Facebook Event to keep track of our progress.  If you’ve never seen The 25th…Spelling Bee before, you’ll really enjoy it – but even if you have, you’ve never seen it like this.

Family Life at SCT, by Gloria Rigsbee

     “Welcome to the Savannah Children’s Theatre!”  are words you hear at the start of each production.  Being welcomed into a place is very common, but being welcomed into a family is a rare occurrence.  When they are spoken at SCT, your entire family is being welcomed into the amazing world of theatre and the family that is housed within their walls.

Taylor with Corbin (Tarzan) and Brandon (Musical Director) at the cast party

Taylor with Corbin (Tarzan) and Brandon (Musical Director) at the cast party

     For us, the theatre bug bit our oldest daughter in April of last year and our family has loved every moment since!   If you take advantage of each moment leading up to opening night, you can really get the entire family involved and excited about the upcoming experience.  It can begin as simply as putting the soundtrack of the show into your CD player and by the time the curtain is up, everyone knows all the words and can sing along (in their head, of course) with the cast or at home in the shower!  In fact, here’s a video of what goes on at my house when we’re all rehearsing for a show!

     When a production is in the works, there is a role for everyone.  At SCT, the roles available go far beyond those of the actors that grace the stage.  There are so many magic makers the audience never sees!   There are always hands needed back stage, sewing costumes, building sets and in the prop room, because a show could not function without an amazing tech crew.  Once the show starts, there are still many ways to get more involved.  You can sell tickets in the box office, help usher guests into the theatre, hand out playbills and work the concession area.  My husband, Jason, is a regular behind the concession counter and has become a pro at making cotton candy!

Taylor and I after opening night of Disney's Tarzan

Taylor and I after opening night of Disney’s Tarzan

     I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the greatest opportunities offered by SCT:  Main Stage productions.  Auditioning for one of these shows gives you the chance to share the stage with your child.  You are also given an inside look at the amazing care and passion put forth by the staff.  My daughter convinced me to audition for Disney’s Tarzan this year, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  Having an opportunity to take part in a show with many talented actors and most importantly, share in the joy and excitement a show brings to my child was a real blessing.

     While I was aware of how connected my daughter felt to the staff at SCT and casts from the shows she has been in, being part of Tarzan reinforced the beauty of her extended family.   Getting involved at the SCT has provided exposure to so many people and great opportunities to learn from and about each other.  My daughter right away found a place where she belonged, but even more importantly, my family found an environment that brought  us closer together and connected us to so many more families, making SCT our second home.

     After watching a show opening night and watching my entire family be as excited as my little actress, I know without a doubt that SCT has done its job.  They certainly live their mission “to inspire, educate and entertain children and families through the experience of live theatre both on and off the stage.”  Without hesitation, the fulfillment of that mission has been seen in my family countless times this year alone.  Now that Tarzan is over, we have moved on to Shrek, which opens May 30th.  I am thrilled to once again share the stage with my daughter, and other truly talented adults and children.  My younger girls are counting the days until they are old enough to audition for a show!  Jason and I have loved that we have all become a part of such a wonderful family.



Once Upon a Mattress, by Maggie Lee Hart

     How fitting that The Savannah Children’s Theatre makes fairy tales come true, as we embark upon our Creative Dramatics II class production of Once Upon A Mattress, Jr!  Princess Winnefred’s main desire is to find her “Happily Ever After” and claim a prince who will love and accept her with all her perfect imperfections!  Along with a haughty Queen and a mute King, this musical was based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale The Princess and the Pea.

     Co-Directors, Mr. Christopher Blair and I, agreed to begin this session a little differently because of one notoriously comedic, red headed woman.  She made her Broadway debut as Princess Winnefred in 1959 and, thankfully, archives of her performance can be found online.  She also reappeared as Queen Aggravain in the 2005 TV Movie.  Who is this woman?


1974 Broadway production of “Once Upon a Mattress.” Music by Mary Rogers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, Book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller & Marshall Barer.

     Why, the one and only, Carol Burnett, of course!  Her universal comedic timing still speaks to us, and spoke to the students as well.  By watching specific archived scenes and dance numbers, the students were able to understand the style of the production, along with the exaggerated emotion and physical mannerisms within each character.  The writing is witty with sharp remarks and quick comebacks. Physically, the show is very demanding, replete with dance numbers and physical comedy.  The Spanish Panic, which was the choice for our dance audition, is full of vigor and fun.  With a very upbeat tempo, the students have found joy in partner work, and the importance of breath support!

Our own Larken & Sir Harry!

Our own Larken & Sir Harry!

     While we have thoroughly enjoyed researching and exploring our characters, we have also found great benefit in utilizing SCT’s dance floor to observe our posture and dance formations.  The ability to view the full body while dancing is crucial in creating a look that lends towards the time period of this production.  The ladies are encouraged to extend their necks while walking in a smooth and proper manner, and the gentleman are encouraged to be “on-guard” with a strong stance showing their calf muscles and upper body strength.  This is a lot of fun for our girls-cast-as-boys to explore a more masculine demeanor within themselves.  Our boys are always outnumbered by our girls, but everyone seems to embrace this fact with enthusiasm and acceptance.

Don't be fooled! The young ladies you see on the right (stage left) are acting as Knights!

Don’t be fooled! The young ladies you see on the right (stage left) are acting as Knights!

     As is with all productions with SCT, it is imagination and creativity that brings these shows to life.  SCT productions build their success by all the volunteers, staff and encouraging parents who have given their children the opportunity to explore the art of theatre.  Thank you for all that you do in supporting our theatre.  This is a class show surely not to miss!


     “Once Upon a Mattress, Jr.” opens Friday, May 9th at 7:00pm ,with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm. Click here for tickets! 

To Eat, or Not to Eat? by Carmel Grace Cowart

     To eat or not to eat? This is NEVER a question in my everyday life.  I love food!  However, if you are acting in a play in which you must eat while performing, this becomes a vitally important question.

     The stellar teen cast of our Junior Company comedy, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, are learning just how challenging it is to eat on stage and still deliver an earnest performance.  It is much harder than most people assume.  By tomorrow’s opening night (click here for tickets!), they will all have broken grandma’s rule about not speaking with your mouth full.

     In this particular show, set in nineteenth century England, there is an array of delicious snacks, including fresh cucumber sandwiches, tea cake, four varieties of english muffins, bread with butter, and of course, traditional english tea with milk and sugar; ALL of which is consumed onstage at one point or another.  (By the way, do you know how hard it is to find sugar cubes?!)


Algy’s afternoon tea waiting on the prop table, ready to be devoured in Act I.

     There are two important factors for an actor to consider when developing how their character eats on stage.

1) Timing
Timing is everything.  In many plays with foodie scenes, like EARNEST, the writer includes humor and plot lines involving the food. This forces the actor to figure out how to, for example, devour an entire plate of cucumber sandwiches in less than five minutes so that the punch line is funny.  Do we succeed in EARNEST, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to come and see!

2) Amount
When an actor is deciding how to deliver lines while eating food in a scene, they must carefully consider how much to consume in each bite.  If they simply nibble away at the same muffin for twenty minutes, the scene may lose its’ intended humor andor the audience’s interest.  If they bite off more than they can chew, literally, then the audience may not understand the dialogue and lose part of the story.

All gone!

Intermission; all gone!

     Finding a unique balance of when and how much to eat, all the while feeding those details into the overarching theme of the play so that the audience enjoys the journey, is quite a challenge.  I must say though, it is a challenge that this cast has earnestly sought, and in my opinion, they have earnestly succeeded!

     I do hope that you will come see THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.  You don’t want to miss this hilarious show.  I promise you, it is quite deliciously entertaining!


Fridays, March 21 & 28 — 7pm
Saturdays, March 22 & 29 — 3pm
Sunday, March 23 & 30 — 3pm