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.)
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Around the World in 80 Days

     Who wouldn’t love to travel the Around the World in 80 Days?  Well, now’s your chance!  The Junior Girl Scouts of20141106_181022 Troop 30593 will be hosting a fundraising event at Savannah Children’s Theatre on Saturday, November 22nd from 10:00am – 12:00pm.  The girls are working on their Bronze Award, the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can achieve.  Among other things, the Bronze Award must leave a lasting impact on their local community.  For their project, Troop 30593 has decided to focus on a renovation project in the front lobby of Savannah Children’s Theatre!

     We are still in the planning process, but the improvements will include homework areas for students, a mural painted by a local artist, and upgraded concessions and merchandise areas.  The girls have been diligently calling, sending letters, and visiting local and national businesses to seek out donations for this unique project.  In addition, the girls will be hosting this wonderful fundraising event, Around the World in 80 Days, for children of all ages!

     When you arrive, you will create your own passport, then begin your adventure!  You can travel to India for a henna tattoo on your hand, then move on to Papua New Guinea for traditional face painting.  If you are feeling a bit more crafty, you could visit Japan to create some origami art, or design a Brazilian headdress for Carnivale.  Your travels do not end there; you could learn a Norwegian polka, participate in an interactive story of Australian folk tales, and take time to explore other cultures by visiting their crafting stations.

     Wrap up your travels with some tastes from around the globe.  You will snack on egg rolls, hummus and many other yummy bites to satisfy your taste buds.  There will even be a traditional Venezuelan punch to quench your thirst after your adventure!

     Not only will you have an afternoon filled with lots of fun, but you are supporting a wonderful cause.  Helping the girls to reach their goal, not for a campout or trip to the movies, but for a project supporting Savannah Children’s Theatre!  The girls have big ideas that they would love to see brought to life, but it cannot happen without the support of the Savannah Community.  So, please consider joining us on November 22nd on a world-wide adventure for an amazing cause!

girlscouts

For questions or additional information, please contact Gloria Rigsbee, troop leader.

2014 Auction & Gala, by Chris Bass

     This post is supposed to be about the upcoming Gala & Auction, but like all things SCT, it is about so much more than that.  Because in order to tell you why I think it’s so important for you to go to this event, I have to first tell you why I think Savannah Children’s Theatre is so important.  If you want the Cliff’s Notes (do people still read those?) just skip to the bottom for the Gala information, or, you know, click the link for tickets!  If you want the whole story, keep reading.

casablanca

2014 Auction & Gala, October 25th at 6:30pm, Knights of Columbus Hall in Downtown Savannah

     Still with me?  Great!

     Five years ago, my wife told me that there was a theatre in town putting on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Knowing that my wife loved the music, I looked into it and bought tickets to a Saturday night performance at Savannah Children’s Theatre.  I was skeptical because I didn’t know a lot about the theatre and it had been a long time since I had seen a live community performance.  After their amazing performance, all of my skepticism disappeared.  See, I had always dreamed of performing on stage.  Watching that show, I heard a long forgotten voice speaking inside of me.  This cheesy voice of mine said “don’t be afraid to go after your dreams.”

     I enrolled our eight-year-old son in SCT’s after school classes, although theatre wasn’t really his thing.  I also started to listen to that inner voice once again and auditioned for the Winter Main Stage musical Cinderella.  Part of my intention in doing the show was to encourage my son to get up on stage and perform.  It didn’t work quite the way I thought it would.  But wouldn’t you know, our six-year-old daughter couldn’t wait to get up on stage!

chris&mollybass

Molly & I in “Shrek”

The following summer, my daughter, Molly, participated in the SCT summer camp Disney’s Aladdin, Jr.  When  I watched her perform, I saw a light come on in her that I recognized in myself and I couldn’t wait until we could perform together.  At that moment, we became part of the SCT family, and when I say “family” I mean just that!  There are few places where you can feel the love and support that is felt at Savannah Children’s Theatre.  It’s an amazing place where I can watch my daughter shine and grow in ways I didn’t know were possible.  I promised myself that if I were to do another show with SCT that I would do a show with my daughter by my side.

mollymouse

Molly and Abbey Kate in “Goodnight Moon”

That opportunity came when we were both cast in The Music Man, and sharing the stage with my daughter was just as amazing as I’d hoped.  Since seeing that first show at SCT, I have been part of five different productions and Molly has been in a whopping fourteen, including this weekend’s Goodnight Moon the Musical. (Shameless plug, I know. The whole show is great…but that Mouse is really something!)  With every show our family grows closer and that inner voice my daughter and I share grows louder and stronger.  We both have formed friendships and bonds that we will have forever because of this theatre.

     This year, I wanted to find a way to give back to SCT for all that they have given my family.  I decided to chair the 2014 Auction and Gala, which is SCT’s biggest fundraiser of the year.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but with the help of our supportive volunteers and Board of Directors, I believe that this year’s event will be an exciting night for everyone involved.

     In just eleven days, we need everyone who loves Savannah Children’s Theatre to come out and support our Gala!  This year’s event will take place Saturday, October 25th, at the newly renovated Knights of Columbus Hall on 3 West Liberty Street,  Starting at 6:30pm, this elegant evening in Casablanca will feature music from Savannah’s own Trae Gurley, great food, entertainment, and the chance to bid on some amazing items like the ones listed below:

  • Puppy with 1 Year of Complimentary Veterinary Service
  • Oyster Roast for 100
  • Sail Boat Trips (Both Fishing and Non-Fishing Adventures)
  • Wine Tasting for 12
  • Dr. Pearl Cool Sculpt Treatment
  • Sunset Cruise for 8
  • Theatre Tickets
  • Local Restaurant & Business Gift Certificates
  • Much, Much More!

     If you can’t attend the event, please consider making a donation or becoming a member of our Annual Fund.  Your contribution to this amazing organization will not only help children to experience the joy of the performing arts, but it will help families to experience the joy of each other.  SCT is a place that excels in encouraging people to follow their dreams.  The thing is, SCT also helps to make them come true.

mollyandchris

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

The Envelope, Please…

     We are thrilled to announce the cast* of our Winter Main Stage musical, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG! This high-flying production will open January 23, 2015, with a stellar cast of talented singers, actors, and dancers. Take a peek!

Ford Headshot

Caractacus Potts – Ford Phillips

Lauren Cusker Headshot 2

Truly Scrumptious – Lauren Cusker

Jamie Keena

Baron Bomburst – Jamie Keena

laurenheadshot

Baroness Bomburst – Lauren Baxter

Lane McCullough – Jeremy

Molly Bass – Jemima

Grandpa – Jake Kawatski

Boris – Ali Wambold

Goran – JoJo Ward

Violet / Inventor 1- Gloria Rigsbee

Miss Phillips / Inventor 2 – Catie Casey

Inventor 3 – Michelle Negley

Inventor 4 – Maia Strickland

Inventor 5 / Coggins – Corey Hollinger

Greta – Taylor Rigsbee

Ensemble – Jamie Dease, Sarah Hennessy, Carina Hoelscher, Sarah Maples, Maeve Mobley, Liam Padgett, Zoe Poole, Maggie Rabitsch, Dylan Roberds, Sydnie Roberds, Ellie Strickland, Xavier Williams, Olivia Aubrey, Adam Davis, Philip Dease, Scout Holden, Sarah Iocovozzi, Zachary Kole, Skyler Lanier, Kealan Neal-Farr, Jasmine Robertson, Sarah Rose, Hope Strickland, Anna Tredway, Emily Toma, Hezekiah Williams, Olivia Williams

     *There are some actors who have not yet formally accepted their roles. Names will be added as our cast members confirm their involvement in this exciting new musical!

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.

Stage Light > Sun Light, by Jeremy Kole

     What’s your favorite part about summer in Savannah?  Hot Tybee days?  Time to hang out with friends?  Endless opportunities for sleep?  While all of these are valid and very enjoyable, I’ve decided that the Savannah Children’s Theatre Summer Camps are your new favorites!

And you can register for them HERE

     Subtlety has never been my strong suit.

     While schools shut their doors during the summer, SCT keeps their’s open to continue creating fantastic shows for audiences of all ages!  Guided by a crew of immensely talented counselors, campers will learn the fundamentals of musical theater (singing, dancing, art, acting, etc.), while auditioning and rehearsing for a full-length musical comedy. Their productions will run for a full weekend of three performances, complete with costumes, scenery, lighting, playbills, and most importantly, popcorn and cotton candy!

     This year we have four sessions of camp for 2nd-8th graders. It is important to note that, as of this blog post, Stories of Scheherezade, Princess Whatsername and Disney’s The Jungle Book are completely full.  If you really have your heart set on one of those shows, you can add your name to the wait list, or get outside of your comfort zone and do a new show you’ve never seen before!

     For teens who also have the theater bug, we are starting a brand new program called Summer at Arts!  Using the fantastic (and huge!) theatre space at Savannah Arts Academy, we will be producing an entire summer season of shows just for 9th-12th grades.  See?!

brand_poster_highschool season

   For the wee ones who like to play make believe, we have Camp Creative Adventures at Savannah Country Day.  Each week, PreK-1st grade students will tackle a new theme to let their imaginations run free. Activities include theatre games, story time, puppet crafts, and music lessons. This half-day camp is a great way to get little ones involved!

You can register here for those.

     Summer is the perfect opportunity for newcomers!  I know that new experiences can be daunting, especially to young people, but there is no place more open and accommodating to newbies than good ol’ SCT.  I can guarantee that any shy kid will slip into a smile by lunch…maybe sooner.  Also, everybody gets a chance!  Shows are auditioned for and cast during the camp, and while I cannot promise lead roles to everybody (a truth that saddens many), I can assure you that experience is not a requirement.  Even if you don’t get a “leading” role, TRUST ME, you’ll have plenty to do!  Inversely, campers who don’t feel ready for the limelight  will not be forced to do anything that makes them uncomfortable.

     My very first show at SCT was playing Tom Sawyer at summer camp, so this season has my head filled with nostalgia. Seven years later, I now have the opportunity to Stage Manage at SCT and share some of the things I have learned within its walls.

See that handsome devil in the straw hat? The cutie in the bonnet is SCT veteran Emily Browne..and the world may never know who is hiding behind that chalk board...

See that handsome devil in the straw hat? That’s me! The cutie in the bonnet is SCT veteran Emily Browne…and the world may never know who is hiding behind that chalk board…

     If you have been entranced by my praises for SCT Summer Camps (and how could you not be?), why not trade sun light for stage light?!  Sing some songs, dance some dances, even take a bow or two!  Yeah, receiving applause is always an adrenaline rush, but when the curtain drops for the final time and summer camp comes to an end, one of the most valuable things a camper takes home with them is a sense of community. Casts become families, ensembles become inseparable, and lifelong friends are made in the process.  So, what are you waiting for?

REGISTER!

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.

spellingbeebanner3

            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.

star

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.

tarzanfamily