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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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!

We’re a Trip, by Tim Reynolds

     Even though a swan glides across the water, beneath the surface, it’s legs are pumping.  A lot of hard work and effort goes into each field trip that we host at Savannah Children’s Theatre because we want to ensure that our students have the best experience possible.  But it’s not just dancing and silly hat wearing, even though that’s important.  Here’s a quick peek into one of our field trips, from start to finish.

my office

My Office

     Schools usually book far in advance, scheduling their field trips months ahead of time to ensure that the musical they pick aligns perfectly with subjects they are teaching.  When we arrive for the day, we already know what show we’re doing, what props and costumes need to be pulled from storage, what roles need to be cast, how many scripts to grab…and this is with the first cup of coffee.  Roles and songs are divided up and assigned ahead of time so that each instructor has the chance to learn the material, devise their own choreography, and understand how it relates to the school curriculum.
we do what we can

Ms. Laura, Ms. Cheri, Ms. Lauren

     Ms Cheri, our Field Trip Coordinator, does a great job keeping everything on track!  We make sure that everything is set just the way each school requests, and we always accommodate any special needs that individual students may have.  While we try to cast the kids in as many speaking roles as we can, wordier parts are still performed by us, the *ahem* professionals.
     Of course, no musical is complete without costuming!  Hats are quite important to us, as they help our young actors to visualize the characters they are portraying.  We have a wide variety for nearly any occasion, including:
TimSillyHat– cowboy hats
– berets
– baseball caps
– compost hats
– disco hats
– skunk hats
– flower petal hats
– Jupiter hats…what’s that?  You’ll have to come to find out.
     When the kids arrive, it’s go time!  School groups range in size from 15 students to 125 students, depending on the day.  The children are quickly divided among the SCT Team so we can work with them in smaller groups.  Together, they learn to dance and to sing as loudly as they can about American History, Earth Science, Shakespeare or other subjects.  Sometimes there are so many kids, the classes are spread out all over the theatre; some are on the proscenium stage…
mainstage
others are in the smaller black box theatre…
blackbox
or on the dance floor…
dance floor
…really anywhere there is room!  When it’s almost show time, we gather in the proscenium theatre to rehearse one last time before the audience arrives.
     Once the teachers and chaperons assemble (parents, too!), we cue the maestro (that’s Ms. Renee) and the show begins!  We’re singing!  We’re dancing!  We’re learning!  We’re having a blast being silly!  After a performance well-done, the kids take a bow to their adoring fans.  Photos are taken, cheers are given!  Alas, all good things must come to an end.  Back to the buses they go, and we clean the theatre to get ready for our after-school classes.

conked out

     Or we pass out…  whichever comes first!
     (Only 3 of our 9 field trip staff are pictured here…because only 3 were present the day I took these photos! Our full staff includes Cheri Hester, Laura Keena, Lauren Baxter, Gloria Rigsbee, Evan Goetz, Cason Richter, Mary Caitlin McMahon, Justin Reynolds, and of course, Yours Truly.)

WHO WANTS A COOKIE?

     Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t want a cookie? byrdcookies

     Especially if that cookie is one of Savannah’s famous Byrd Cookies, served up with some ice-cold milk and a side of glitter!

     This Saturday, following our first matinee of Goodnight Moon the Musical (yeah, you can click that link for tickets…we won’t mind), we’ll be hosting an intimate Cookie Party for our little guests!  After seeing the show, join the cast for a magical pajama party, which will include story time, crafts, face-painting, games and, of course, cookies!  Party guests will also have the chance to meet the characters of Goodnight Moon, learn a song from the show, and take plenty of silly photographs.

     Sponsored by our friends at the amazing Byrd Cookie Company, our cast and volunteers are really looking forward to sharing this Saturday with you.  So go ahead and reserve your tickets for one sweet afternoon!

cookieparty

What SCT Has Given Me, by Jason Rigsbee

     While many people “find” themselves in the theatre, growing up I avoided anything that required me to perform in front of others.  I was always comfortable speaking in class, playing sports and taking on leadership roles in school and college.  There was something, however, about performing as a character that I found uncomfortable.

     As fortune would have it, I met my wife while in college and you guessed it, she was a theatre person.  She had grown up her whole life performing and singing.  She was so passionate about her experiences and how it had shaped her life.  Little by little I learned more and more.  Fast forward and I now have three daughters, 9, 7 and 4.  It is no surprise, but each one loves to perform and as each has come of age, gravitated towards the Savannah Children’s Theatre.

     When my first daughter auditioned for Little Women, I really had no idea what to expect.  We showed up as a family and as we waited in the lobby, I looked around at all of the kids and families and was truly amazed.  There were groups who clearly had been in the theatre and knew each other and there were those that it was their first time; what amazed me most was the diversity within the group and how welcoming everyone was.  When we got the call she was in the show, the excitement on my daughter’s face told the whole story.  Life was about to change for my family.

     Now as the shows have continued and my second daughter will appear in her first show this year, I have learned a few things about myself and my family.  First, the theatre is a second family where anyone can find true friends and a support system beyond your hopes.  It does not matter your age, your ability or who you are, it only matters that you are family.  In a world where you worry what your child will face, this brings amazing comfort and joy as a parent.

     Secondly, even as a “non-theatre person” there is a place for you.  During the first show, I hung out in the lobby during rehearsals and I had the chance to meet some great people and form relationships, but also realized how many ways you can volunteer and interact to support the kids and theatre.  I now regularly work concession for shows, help clean up after shows when I can and the list goes on with all of the things you can do behind the scenes.  I have found incredible joy in doing little things that support such a great experience for kids.

     Lastly, my family has grown closer, crazier and happier through our two plus years at the theatre.  Everyone sings the songs leading up to the show (watch out the radio gets taken over by the musical CD for a show months at a time), looks forward to rehearsals, even if it is just to drop someone else off and celebrates the family member on stage.  The feeling is overwhelming when you have another child turn to you during the show and say her sister was so amazing, even if she said a line or not.

     So from a father’s perspective, I can only say my life would not be what is without the theatre (never thought I would say that!).  Before the theatre I had no idea what I was missing.  Now with the theatre, I cannot imagine a time where it will not be an integral part of my family’s life.  Maybe one day I will take the plunge (my family bugs me all the time), but for now concessions is cool for me!  On October 10th I’ll get to pop the popcorn and then take my seat with my wife and youngest daughter, and I’ll enjoy the smile that lights up her face as she watches her sisters perform in Goodnight Moon the Musical.  Surely, it will be a good night.

Shall We Dance? by Jenn Doubleday

hallmark2

___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.

savchildblur

Talk Like a Pirate Day, by Christopher Blair

     Ahoy! Avast! En garde! Today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Ye scalawags.

     When I first heard that Creative Dramatics II was doing Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance this year, I could barely contain my glee!  You see – many, many, many years ago I got to play Frederic in Pirates at Asbury Memorial Theatre.  It was a production of firsts – Asbury’s first show, my first lead and my first good review (thanks Jim Morekis!).

Me backstage at Asbury Memorial Theatre, dressed as Act I Frederic.

Me backstage at Asbury Memorial Theatre, dressed as Act I Frederic.

     I remember the thrill and frustration of learning all the topsy-turvy lyrics. It was like learning a foreign language. I also remember getting to live out swashbuckling daydreams in the form of stage combat and fencing.

Me with a sword!

Me with a sword! Ha-ha!

     But I digress. Learning that Miss Maggie and I would be directing this fantastic piece of theatre, I did get nostalgic. But more than that, I thought, “These kids are going to have a blast!”

     We’ve only just begun, but already we have some wonderful moments starting to form. The language, (that can be difficult for adults to wrap their brains around – let alone, middle schoolers), is starting to take hold. And the kids are starting to infuse their own goofy and fun humor into it. We can’t wait to work with the big pirate ship and swords!

     I am so proud of them and excited to show you all the hard work they have done.  I also look forward to the day when they can look over old photographs and reminisce fondly on their days as pirates.