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.

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2nd Annual Fairy Tale Festival Fundraiser!

Where else in Savannah can you dance with pirates, sing with princesses and play in the snow in July?

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The Little Mermaid shares treasures with one of our Little Guests!

     Everyone at SCT is excited for another fabulous Fairytale Festival!
Last year was such a great success that this year we have created two sessions to allow more one-on-one interaction between the characters and the children.  We will have even more characters, including some storybook favorites like Alice in Wonderland and Jack, of Beanstalk fame.  There will be live theatre performances every 30 minutes, and a brand new Royal Boutique!

        Choose tickets for either 10am-12pm OR 2pm-4pm! 

     Upon arrival, guests will receive a Map of Storybook Kingdom, and will begin their journey through Mermaid Lagoon, the Enchanted Forest, Fairy Hollow and more!  They can stop by the Royal Boutique where boys and girls will make crowns and tiaras, or receive a royal makeover by palace artisans!  Along Storybook Lane they will meet Snow White, visit with Cinderella and her Prince in front of her golden carriage, and buy magic beans from Jack. On Wonderland Way they will visit with Alice to ‘pin the grin’ on the Cheshire Cat.  Look below to find the way to your favorite fairy tale spot!

Storybook Lane Map

A few of our 115 guests at Fairy Fest 2014!

A few of our 115 guests at Fairy Fest 2014!

     Last year’s most popular land was The Snow Castle where children played in the *snow,* created necklaces and keychains, made marshmallow snowmen, and visited with the Snow Queen and the Ice Princess. Snow Castle is back again this year with more snow and even more frozen magic!  Another favorite returning this year is Pirate’s Cove, where young buccaneers will join the pirate crew to swab the deck, load the cannon, and dig for buried treasure.  Better follow Captain’s orders, or you’ll have to walk the plank!

    FairyFest 2015 is sure to delight children of all ages but is designed for ages 2-10.  Tickets are available online or you can call our box office at 912-238-9015.  To insure that the children have a special and memorable experience, we are limiting the spaces.  We expect to sell out, so please purchase your tickets early!

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Deck the Halls with…Wait…Did I Miss it? by Jenn Doubleday

   We sort of forgot we had this blog.

   Actually, that isn’t true.  I forgot we had this blog.  Mea culpa.

   But there were back-to-back tech weeks, and back-to-back holidays, and  I hope that the time you would have spent reading our updates was spent drinking hot cocoa with your family instead.  At least, that’s what I did!

   The holidays are a lot like tech week.  The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or say, planning a birthday party for your almost-two-year-old that may have gotten slightly out of hand, are enormously difficult and enormously rewarding.  You spend all week planning for the big day; shopping, cleaning, decorating, and failing to live up to your Pinterest board, all in the hopes that your dozen family members will enjoy themselves for a few hours.  It’s a week full of rushing and bustling, trying to perfect every tiny detail for a few moments of holiday bliss.  And that, in a nutshell, is what we attempt every week at SCT.

   Of course, instead of a few family members we invite 150 strangers, and instead of having them over once in December we perform about 210 days a year.  And they don’t clean up after themselves. Theatre, like the holidays, is an ephemeral pastime.  All the hard work and effort to plan that one magical moment is here today, and in the prop room tomorrow.  We rehearse three-minute musical numbers for hours at a time, and spend weeks rigging special effects that last only one second of each performance.  In doing so, we hope to create memories that will last a lifetime.

   Long after the cookies have been devoured and the wrapping paper has been thrown away, the memories of entertaining your loved ones remain.  You can laugh that the turkey was still slightly frozen in the middle, and you can start planning to make next year even better than this one.

   On opening night, sometimes the paint is still a little wet. Sometimes the magic trick doesn’t work like it should.  No matter what, we get the unique opportunity to make each show better than the one before it.  We get to see smiles on  children’s faces and delight in their eyes all year round!  Yes, tech week is just like the holidays, and I for one, am exceedingly glad that I get to live them all year round.

   This holiday season, SCT got an amazing gift in the form of a newly refinished stage!  Thanks to Mike Prow, Vann Doubleday, Eric G. Mitchell, Mark Padgett, Glory Padgett, Chris Bass, Josh Riggs, and Corbin Hernandez, our 7-year-old stage got a facelift, and boy, does she look beautiful!  You can check out photos of the entire process here…and while you’re there, don’t forget to like our page!  Thank you for being part of our zany SCT family.  Happy New(ish) Year!

Inaugural Post!

_____Congratulations! You are reading the first words of The Savannah Children’s Theatre’s new blog! Yippee! Here’s a picture to show you how excited we are to have you:

The Pirates of Penzance, Jr. _____See?! So excited.

_____We are about to enter our 10th season at SCT…I know, right?! Ten years! One decade!  One-tenth of a century! I guess that last one doesn’t sound as impressive.

_____Throughout the year, this blog will be used to promote upcoming events and to show you, our loyal patrons, a more thorough view of what goes on behind the scenes at SCT. But we’re not here to talk about any of that right now. Right now, I’d like to take you on a little tour of the photo above.

_____This photo is from our 2008 production of The Pirates of Penzance, Jr, directed by Jenn Doubleday & Megan Youngblood. Our Creative Dramatics II class will be presenting that zany Gilbert & Sullivan musical again this fall, under the amazing direction of Maggie Lee Hart and Christopher Blair. But wait! We aren’t talking about that either!

_____The students that you see in the photo above have, for the most part, graduated high school and moved on with their lives. Why is that significant? Well, because they’re all SCT alum, and they’re all doing amazingly creative things with their burgeoning adulthood. Of the students photographed above, one is currently working summer stock at The Lost Colony in North Carolina and studying musical theatre at Elon University. Other students, who are rising college freshmen, will be studying performing arts at The New School, SCAD, Valdosta State, and College of Charleston, and other prestigious universities.

_____The students in this photograph who have not yet graduated are still involved in SCT, cultivating their talents and serving their community. 5 years ago they were singing, dancing pirates, and now they are singing, dancing young adults who willingly volunteer their nights and weekends to make our town a brighter place.

_____My hope is that five years from now (10! 20! 50!), I will be able to say the same about the next generation of young performers. I hope that they will grow with us as we fulfill our mission statement to inspire, educate, and entertain.

_____And to be the very model of a modern children’s theatre. 🙂