Coming Home, by Laura Keena

     I am so glad to be home!

     I am also glad to say that working here at Savannah Children’s Theatre is one of the reasons why.  I loved growing up here in this enchanting place and, like so many of us, my life was forever changed after auditioning for a Kelie Miley production (Peter Pan, to be specific).  After that summer in **cough cough** it was all over!  The theatre bug had seriously bitten me, and I was forever to be a lost boy.  A theatre kid to the bitter end!

     In high school I knew that I wanted to leave Savannah (isn’t that what everyone wants in high school?), and I did.  I went to college in Washington DC, home to a surprisingly vibrant and thriving theatre community.  I studied in London and New York.  I worked in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, anywhere that would allow me to do what I loved!  For a long time Savannah was behind me.  Not forgotten, but not in focus.

     I think of our recent graduates, some of whom are now in their first year away from home, and I remember that bittersweet time in my own life.  Simultaneously loving being away from home, meeting new people and learning so many new things, but also being surprised by how deeply I missed my home.  I’d go about my days, happy to be out on my own, until a sudden craving for my dad’s homemade spaghetti sauce (affectionately known in my house as “the nectar of the gods”) would hit me in the gut.  I was a strong, independent, career-oriented woman…until I came down with the sniffles.  Nothing says “you’re an adult now” quite like buying your own Kleenex and cold medicine.  Eventually, you find your way and you build your home wherever you are, and a while after I left, Savannah stopped feeling like my absolute home.  Until this year.

     Since I moved back in January, I have had the honor and pleasure of working alongside my best friend, my first director, and countless former cast mates.  Like everyone else who works at Savannah Children’s Theatre, I think it best to say that I wear many hats.  Since starting to work here I have been challenged and inspired daily, and it’s only been nine months!  One day Assistant Music Directing 42nd Street, the next Stage Managing Charlotte’s Web, another day rehearsing Jane in our upcoming production of Tarzan, and starting today, Directing And Then There Were None for our burgeoning Teen Theatre class.  I am so glad to be home, doing what I love with the people I love, and being a part of this wonderful arts community!

     So for those of you recently gone, or for those of you preparing to go, know in advance that it’s going to be hard.  And know in advance that it does get easier.  And know that, sometimes, you can go home again. 

Behind the Web, by Carmel Cowart

Terrific! Radiant! Humble! Some Pig!

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     That’s right folks, Charlotte’s Web opens this Friday, October 18th! In honor of tech week (that’s what we call the last week before the show opens), I thought it’d be nice to give you a closer look at all of the preparation that goes into producing a show like this one. Step “behind the web” with me to see a few of the projects we’ve been working on after-hours!

     When most people think about musical theatre, rehearsals and opening nights are what come to mind. However, there is SO MUCH MORE that happens outside of rehearsal in order to get a show fully ready for an audience. Before that opening curtain, all the “t”s must be crossed and all the “i”s must be dotted; and in Wilbur & Charlotte’s story, there are a LOT of “t”s and “i”s! (Take the word “terrific”, for example!)

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___As the Production Assistant for Charlotte’s Web, my main focus for the last two weeks has been preparing the set by painting and decorating the world in which the Zuckermans and their famous animals will live. To give you an inside look at how many hands it takes to bring a wonderful show together, I’ll share with you the simple events of just one afternoon.

     Yesterday, as I painted the Zuckerman’s barn, our Technical Directors, Mike and April Prow, came in to create one of the two intricate (and very cool!) spider webs in the show. Once the barn was dry, Mike started hanging the rope web that he made himself, and I began crafting the web words…an interesting project, to say the least! I used garden wire to shape each letter, then spray painted them white to match the web. I’d like to tell you that I made the letters perfectly on my first try. In reality, I’ve had to recreate each word three times to get just the right look!

      After the letters were painted, the Director, Kelie Miley, asked me to glitter the web words so that they would “sparkle like morning dew.” On my way upstairs to obtain said glitter, I passed Bonnie Juengert, Board Member and Costume Volunteer Extraordinaire, as she was putting the final stitches on the Little Lamb’s costume. With glitter in hand, I made my way back downstairs through the workshop, and observed Eric Mitchell, our Carpenter, as he was building a ticket booth for the fair scene in Act Two. I then ran into our Stage Manager, Laura Keena, who was busy shaping the fabric used to make Charlotte’s egg sac.

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     Once the web words were glittered and finished, I returned to painting another set piece. While working, I couldn’t help but think to myself, what a talented team! It’s rather amazing to think about how much detail it takes to pull together a production like this one. Over the course of one afternoon, there were many theatre artists scattered throughout the building, each creating something specific for our show. On opening night, all of these beautiful creations will be woven together to help the cast and crew share an inspiring story with the audience.

     From the costumes to the scenery, the lighting to the sound, each element will help bring E.B. White’s treasured words to life before an audience of young theatre-goers. This may be the first play that some of these children will ever see! We want to make sure that all of the details, all those little “t”s and “i”s, are just right so they can have the most amazing experience possible. The volunteers and artists who make all of this possible are terrific, radiant, and humble, indeed!

     Be sure to come see all the web-spinning details this weekend and next at SCT!
Performances are October 18 & 25 at 7pm, and October 19, 20, 26 & 27 at 3pm.
Tickets are $12 for children (1-19), students, seniors, and military, or $15 for adults. 

Behind the Curtains, by Jenn Doubleday

   As we enter the (slight) chill of October, I thought it appropriate to share a darker, more frightening tale suitable for the season. So I’m going to take you deep, deep into the belly of Savannah Children’s Theatre, past the grey curtains, past the shop, and into…

THE PROP ROOM

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   Cue the scary music.

   Back when our building was a department store, this room was the storage closet for the shoe department. Since they left behind all of their shelving units, we thought this room would be perfect for organizing all of our theatrical sundries. I’m sure the shelves worked beautifully for stacking neat and tidy boxes of shoes, but we’re a children’s theatre, and we don’t do neat and tidy! We do tambourines and toy trains, swords and rubber chickens. Not surprisingly, objects like giant sandwiches and tiny rocking chairs don’t fit easily onto standard shelving units.

   Over the years, we’ve tried everything possible to organize this space. We tried organizing by size, by color, and for about five minutes, alphabetically. For a time, Muse Arts Warehouse’s Director, Jin Hi Rand, helped me in my pursuit to organize the prop room by category; kitchen items, foliage, armory, animals, animal puppets, animal puppets dressed like people…you get the idea. But no matter how well we categorized, there was always a shelf labeled “miscellaneous” that managed to slowly take over the entire room. We even had an Eagle Scout organize the prop closet as his final project! I saw him walk in, but I’m not sure he ever came out.

   Several college interns have wisely advised us to catalog our items by photographing them and putting them into a book, assigning them with a number, and assigning each number a spot on a shelf. It’s a beautiful idea, like unicorns eating ice cream, but it just isn’t practical. Not only are there hundreds (dare I say thousands?) of items to be cataloged, but the items themselves are constantly changing.

   Take, for example, this cartoon-inspired bomb:

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   Made out of a Styrofoam ball, a length of paper towel tube, some rope and some mylar, it will surely vanquish any handlebar-mustachioed foe! Previously, this same ball has been part of a prisoner’s ball-and-chain, a giant cherry, and the head of a snowman.  Within the next two weeks, we will take a matching ball and a length of PVC pipe (probably repurposed from a super-long Ogre arm) to create a 100K dumbbell for use in the fair scene of Charlotte’s Web. Cataloging the life cycle of each prop would be a full-time job all to itself!

   SCT is a non-profit organization, and while our donors and sponsors are exceedingly generous, we still operate with finite resources. We recycle, reuse, and repurpose set pieces and costumes as well as our props. As our small (but mighty!) staff hops from show to show, we need volunteers to help us transform for each new production. If you are an analytical mind, we would love your assistance with sorting, organizing, and making order out of our beautifully glittered chaos. If you are a creative mind who can look at a few paint cans and see their potential to become drums, flower pots, or giant binoculars, we need you to share your vision . Stop by and fill out a volunteer sheet today! Just don’t go in the prop room by yourself…