5, 6, 7, 8!

We hope you’ve had a wonderful summer, full of music and dancing!  If you caught one or more of our 7 shows this summer, you’ll know that our 2015 Summer Camp Series was a huge success!  Thank you for supporting performing arts in our community, and for doing it with such style!

As Savannah Children’s Theatre continues to grow, we are expanding our Dance for Musical Theatre program.  This year, we will be adding another level of Aerial Silks, as well as welcoming a new teacher into the SCT Family!  Please meet Elizabeth Brookman!

elizabeth   Originally from South Carolina, Elizabeth began her training with Ann Brodie at the Carolina Ballet.  She had further training at the Atlanta Ballet SchoolAmerican Ballet Theater, and Joffrey Ballet, then graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts and joined the Morgan/Scott Ballet Company in NYC.  Falling in love with the performing and traveling, she performed on luxury cruise ships for five years and was able to visit over one hundred countries.   Shows included the classical ballets Swan Lake, Aida, and Carmen, as well as musicals Cats, Cabaret, Chicago and Thoroughly Modern Millie.  Elizabeth moved to China in 2007 to join the Suzhou Ballet Theater.  After one year with the company she moved to Shanghai to perform and teach for Jazz Du Funk until 2015.  Elizabeth looks forward to calling Savannah her home and sharing her experiences to inspire future performers.
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We are thrilled to be able to give SCT students the opportunity to learn from theatre artists from all walks of life.  Elizabeth has already choreographed for this year’s Dance Camp, The Colors of My Life, and our Summer Camp production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. She is warm, kind, incredibly talented, and definitely a little on the goofy side!  Our resident choreographer, Jenn Doubleday, will continue to grow and develop our Aerial Silks program, as well as providing choreography for all Junior Company, Kids on Stage, and Main Stage productions.

Of course, dance is faaaaaar from the only thing SCT has to offer!  This year we have Creative Dramatics for PreK – 1st graders, Creative Dramatics I (The Emperor’s New Clothes) for 2nd-5th graders, Creative Dramatics II (Great Expectations the Musical) for middle schoolers, and Junior Company (A Servant of Two Masters) for high school students!

   To register for classes, click HERE! 

   Come on.  You know you want to.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about classes or scheduling, please feel free to write to us.  We hope to see all of you soon!

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What We Did on Our Summer Vacation

 

Y’all. 

We had a busy summer. 

Between May 1st and August 3rd, we did 52 performances of 15 different musicals. Most theatre companies do 5 shows a season…but I guess we’re not most theatre companies! From Shakespeare to Fosse, Disney to Dreamworks, we offered our community a little bit of everything, and a lot of opportunities to smile. Here’s a glimpse at our 2014 summer theatre mania! 

Dreamworks Theatrical’s SHREK, the MUSICAL

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STAR STRUCK DANCE CAMP

 

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A CHORUS LINE

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Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK, KIDS
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SWEET CHARITYIMG_6537

Disney’s BEAUTY and the BEAST, JR.
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In addition to these wonderful productions (which include many others that are not pictured), we also had a few special events. Dr. Allan Taaca and Jenn Doubleday took home 1st place for Judge’s Choice and 1st place for Audience Choice at this year’s Ballroom Extravaganza, while raising over $11,000 to kickstart our 2014-2015 season! We also had our first ever Fairy Tale Festival (quickly nicknamed FairyFest), which offered the tiny pirates and princesses in our community the chance to experience a small taste of what SCT has to offer. Thanks to Renee McMahon and the folks at Enchant My Party, we had a magical time! 

2014 DANCING with the DOCS BALLROOM EXTRAVAGANZA
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2014 FAIRYFEST

fairyfest arielWe know what you’re thinking. What’s next?! We have so much in store for this year, and we look forward to sharing it with you! Keep checking our Facebook page and our website for information about classes, auditions, and the multitude of ways that your family can become a part of SCT. We can’t wait to make your fairy tales come true! 

 

Shall We Dance? by Jenn Doubleday

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___This card, given to me by the incomparable Mary-E Godfrey, holds a special place of honor on the wall above my desk.  I have seen these faces, and others like them, staring back at me at many a rehearsal.  This week’s recital rehearsals are no different!  Since January, my dance students and I have been learning and rehearsing on SCT’s incredible dance floor, complete with a mirrored wall, excellent sound system, and sprung marley floor.  But on recital week, everything changes!  They are now expected to do the same choreography on a slick, hardwood floor, under constantly changing lights, in itchy-tickly costumes, and without the benefit of a mirror.  All of this, and their teacher can’t even answer their one question.  What is this year’s theme? 

   Shall We Dance.  When I first approached this working title I was stumped.  In the past, SCT’s Dance for Musical Theatre showcases have been styled around many themes including Broadway, Hollywood, poetry, and most recently, holiday music.  However, Shall We Dance breaks the mold, sauntering in boldly without a theme; it might as well be titled Songs Ms. Jenn Likes. 

    Everyone thought this show would be ballroom dancing, but no!  Not enough boys to go around and my tall girls are really tired of pretending to be macho.  Then I chose songs about dancing, a few of which made the final cut (Land of 1,000 Dances and Music Box Dancer, for example).  Growing tired of the same “dance-even-when-you-don’t-feel-like-it” mantra, I sought yet another direction.  I decided to tackle a different dance style with each song; one country western (Some Days), one jive (C’mon Everybody), one lyrical (Let it Go), and so on.  As the weeks progressed, the playlist became more and more eclectic.

___At first I felt compelled to apologize for this blatant disregard of tradition, but then these amazing young people that I am blessed to call my students challenged me.  “Sometimes you’ve gotta dance to your own music,” they said.  And we do!  We created our own music for our homage to Stomp, and we choreographed a beautiful canon without any music at all and then found the perfect song to fit it (Life Uncommon).  We also threw in some of our favorite trend songs (Royals, anyone?) and some Cirque du Soleil for our newest addition, SCT’s Aerial Silk Artists.

___Once we stopped trying to limit ourselves to a certain genre, we became liberated to dance to our own beat.  These precious young dancers may not find a need for grande battements or pirouettes  in their grown-up lives, but they will always find the need to be bold.  This weekend, as you watch them fearlessly leap, twirl, and climb to new heights, I hope you will enjoy our eclectic mix of music and personalities, and I hope it will inspire you to dance to your own music.

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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?

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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!

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

Read, Set, FIELD TRIP! by Carmel Grace Cowart

100 excited children
5 talented instructors
2 fun-filled hours
1 hilarious script
Too many silly hats to count
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1 Unforgettable Theatre Experience
(No one ever said actors were good at math.)
Cheri Hester, Chris Blair, Carmel Cowart, Laura Keena...just a few members of our amazing field trip team!
Cheri Hester, Chris Blair, Carmel Cowart, Laura Keena…
…just a few members of our amazing field trip team!

A Day in the Life of an SCT Field Trip Instructor

8:30am – The SCT field trip staff arrive at the theatre to prepare for the day’s show.  We gather props and costumes, mend broken bunny ears or create new bug hats if need be, review notes and choreography, all whilst sipping our coffee.  Each of our 27 curriculum-based musicals has at least 8 songs and dances to be learned, smart and funny dialogue to memorize (“Sedimentary, my dear, Watson”), plus separate props and costume pieces to prepare for each number.  I’m not sure if anyone has done an official count, but I’d guess that we have over 5,000 hats and props in our field trip storage area!

10:00am – We activate Field Trip Mode, a unique mode that requires the utmost creativity, the ability to think on your feet at lightning speed, the flexibility to go with the flow of a kindergartner or the reticence of a 6th grader, a big smile, and lots of heart!  The schoolchildren and teachers are buzzing with excitement as they enter the building.  The students are divided into smaller groups, and each group follows an instructor to a designated rehearsal space. For many students, especially those from rural areas or Title I schools, this is the first live theatre experience they will ever have!  The kids have quite a lot to say upon entering the building.

“Whoa, this place is HUGE!”

“When does the MOVIE start?”

“Are we gonna be on TV?”

“Wait…I think I’ve BEEN HERE before!”

10:15am – This is when the students get to flex their creative muscles!   Each group gets a crash-course in theatre; what it means to be in a play, to rehearse, and to perform in front of a life audience.  They learn their musical numbers and speaking roles, and even get to experience a brief audition.  They work on character development, choreography, lyrics, and try on some of the silliest hats you’ve ever seen in order to “get into character!”

Rehearsing Aesop's fable "The Ant and the Dove" with some sweet bird hats.

Rehearsing Aesop’s fable “The Ant and the Dove” with some sweet bird hats.

     While we rehearse, the teachers get to take a break in our lobby, or head to Starbucks.  (They say their favorite part of our field trip is watching the children perform, but I’m guessing this mid-morning coffee break is a close-second.)  We want the performance to be a surprise!

10:45am – After rehearsal, all student groups meet on SCT’s proscenium stage for a final dress rehearsal.  This gives the students a chance to release any last-minute jitters, and helps them feel more comfortable onstage before their audience (teachers and chaperons) arrives.  This dress run also enables them to understand the fluidity of the entire show, like which group performs first or last, what hat to wear when, and so on.

11:15am – SHOWTIME! This is the moment when the live theatre magic happens!  It’s amazing to watch what children can do with only an hour of prep, especially when it’s the first time that many of them have ever been on a stage!  They sing, they dance, they laugh, they smile, they learn, they teach, they entertain, they inspire!  Whether they’re acting like pirates, princesses, pilgrims, or (in one show) volcanoes with a gas problem,  I am continually tickled by how much FUN these kids have on our stage, and I’m grateful that I get to be a part of it.

The Lion does a victory dance!

The Lion does a victory dance!

12:00pm – The new, young performers all take a well-deserved bow, smiling ear to ear.  Many proud parents and teachers clap and cheer for them, encouraging their brave performances.  We collect all our props and costumes, and we tell them what a wonderful job they did performing.  Now the field trip is over and the students have to go back to school…boo.  As they are exiting, I often get to hear some of the most joyful remarks while they relish in what they just experienced, rather, what they just created.  Here are some of the students’ words from this week:

“This was the BEST day of my WHOLE life!”

“Remember, JAZZ HANDS!”

“That was AWESOME!”

“I wanna perform ALL day, EVERY day!”

“I LOVE this place!”

     Hopefully, these kids will go home with songs to sing and stories to tell.  One child at each field trip will win a free ticket to an upcoming production; right now each class gets to participate in a coloring contest for TARZAN!  We certainly hope that many more of them will be bitten by the acting bug and visit us again in the future.

     If you’ve never experienced a SCT field trip before, you should remedy that ASAP!  If you’re a teacher and would like to bring your grade level, send us an email, or call (912) 238-9015.  If you’re a parent, tell your child’s teacher about SCT , and please encourage them to contact us!  More field trip info can be found on our website. Come and put on a play with us! 

Field trippingly,

Carmel Grace Cowart