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.

stanely-simons-at-work

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. 🙂

galagold

 

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

Save the Date!

masquerade

     Mark your calendars for this year’s Annual Masquerade Gala & Auction, on Friday, October 30, at the Johnny Harris Banquet Center on Victory Drive.  Doors to our biggest fundraiser of the year will open at 6:30 p.m. For this year’s Masquerade theme, we encourage you to be mysterious, creative, adventurous, and of course, glamorous!  It will be an evening of entertainment, food, and fun for a very worthwhile cause!

     In addition to attending our gala, there are many ways you can support Savannah’s premier youth theatre.  We are in need of volunteers in a variety of areas, including soliciting donations from local businesses, securing sponsors, publicizing our event, and setting up prior to the Gala.

     If you don’t have time to volunteer, but still want to help, consider submitting items or gift cards to be included in our Live and Silent Auctions.  Do you or your business want to make an even greater impact?  Become an event sponsor!  There are three levels of sponsorship; Bronze ($500), Silver ($1,000), and Gold ($2,500).  Each level includes Gala Tickets, program advertisements, promotion on our website and social media pages, and other great perks!  Keep in mind, we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so donations to our theatre and event are tax-deductible.

magicshow     What about our theatre’s greatest champions, the children?  While adults are enjoying an evening out, the children are having a scary good time of their own at our Halloween Party for kids! From 6 p.m.-11 p.m. at the Savannah Children’s Theatre, kids will enjoy pizza, fruit, goodies, face-painting and a magic show!  Look for more information to follow.

     For more information on how to get involved with volunteering, donations or sponsorships, please contact Gloria Rigsbee.  Let’s work together to make fairy tales come true!

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.

Costume Land! by Bonnie Juengert

     Trying on costumes is one of the most exciting parts of being in a show! Adults and children of all ages revel in the transformation that occurs when you put on that costume and become another character. Let me introduce you to the world of costumes at SCT.

One of three complete walls of double-hung costumes.

One of four walls completely covered by costumes!

     You may or may not know that most of the second floor of our building is dedicated to the construction and storage of costumes. We are very proud of our ever-growing collection of costumes, some donated, but most made right here in our shop! From three-piece suits to bunny suits, you’ll find just about everything you can think of in Costume Land, even a few things that defy explanation.

We're here for you, for all your scary clown needs.

Yeah…we’re not sure either.

     You also may or may not know that the entire costume process, from design to implementation to laundry, is run by volunteers. We are always looking for help! Knowing how to sew is a big plus, but you can help even if you don’t know how. Painting, hot gluing, beading, paper mâché, and many other crafty talents are needed, oh yes, and don’t forget cutting; both scissor and rotary skills! If you don’t feel comfortable cutting into cloth, we are also in need of assistance with our costume rental program. Sometimes we just need a team of people willing to sort and fold fabrics by color, or people who can help put every piece in the right place. 

A few of our round racks, filled to overflowing!

A few of our round racks, filled to overflowing!

     Consider joining us this season. Along with the thrill of creating part of the magic of the performance, you will not regret the camaraderie that develops over the course of a show, or many shows! While sewing and sorting, we laugh and talk, swap stories about our children and the tales they tell of late-night rehearsals. I have made life-long friends in Costume Land, and I hope to make many more.

     In just a few weeks we will be starting a volunteer project to organize and sort our growing costume stock. To prepare for this undertaking, we’re looking for a few items:

  • Hangers – all shapes and sizes (some department stores, like JC Penney, actually give them away!)
  • Clear Plastic Storage Bins – shoebox size or larger, with lids
  • Quality Safety Pins

      How do you get involved? Make sure you’re following SCT’s Facebook page for updates, and contact the office for a schedule of when our costume volunteers will be working. We’d love to see some new faces and welcome new ideas. See you soon!

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

 

Putting it Together, by David I.L. Poole

 (Read the first part of my design process here!)

      So did my design of the ape costume meet approval?  Yes, it did!  Artistic Director Kelie Miley loved it!

     The next phase of design is the actual implementation, which is where things can become a little tricky.  Transferring the costume from a drawing to the finished product is a process called “draping.”  Draping is a method of dressmaking in which fabric is pinned and hung on a mannequin form in order to create a pattern.  This is usually done with inexpensive fabric, like muslin, so there is no real loss if a mistake occurs.  This process is done with much trial and error, and there may be many drapings depending on the complexities of the garment.  Once a pattern is determined from the draping, then more expensive materials can be cut and sewn into a finished costume.

Draping and pinning one of 28 ape costumes!

Draping and pinning one of 28 ape costumes!

      One of the exciting materials being used is coming all the way from Hawaii!  We ordered traditional Tahitian bark skirts in a variety of colors.  These will be deconstructed and sewn onto the edges of the ape costumes to give a full fur look without it using actual fur, which is very expensive, heavy, and difficult to maintain.   The Tahitian bark will be used on principal characters, while we are using raffia that has been painted and dyed to costume members of the ape ensemble.  With 28 apes to costume, we aren’t just talking about small quantities here; we’re talking loads and loads of material!

A sea of raffia!

A sea of raffia, divided into baskets for each performer.

     After settling on the designs for the apes, the director also asked that I design tropical flower costumes that could bloom on stage, and a hybrid butterfly/puppet costume for some of the featured dancers.  I love these opportunities to create fantastical creatures!  That is why I love to volunteer at the Savannah Children’s Theatre where I have a place to let my imagination soar.

     Thanks to our army of volunteers, including Karen Clark, Pam Edenfield, Chann Givens,  Bonnie Juengert, and Marcia Karp, we are making quick progress.  Main Stage productions are a team effort, and our volunteers are the best in town!  We talk and laugh, sew and hot glue.  Spending time with these creative, talented minds makes the work go by so quickly.

     If you haven’t reserved your seats yet for TARZAN, do it now! Tickets are available on our website, or by calling the box office at 912.238.9015.  The next post you’ll see from me will show the finished product.  But trust me, you’ll want to see it on stage and in action!

What Color is Your Glitter? by Georgette Ford

     Six years ago my children and I walked through the doors of the Savannah Children’s Theatre to audition for the 2007 production of Charlotte’s Web.  I knew we had walked into something special, something vibrant, and something so alive.  What I heard was that this was a community theatre, a place where the community was encouraged to be involved.  There were numerous volunteer opportunities given to me; they all sounded so interesting I didn’t know which one to pick first!

      Turns out I didn’t have to pick an activity, it picked me.  One day, a fabulously creative volunteer mom who was glittering letters for a window display asked for my help. I dove right in; I loved working with purple glitter.  Who knew there were so many colors of glitter?!  When I saw the finished product hanging in one of the SCT windows I was blown away by how creative people can be. I knew I was involved in something big.  I also knew that my pitifully glittered letters meant that I should try to find another area to apply my volunteer expertise.  Leaving the windows in the hands of Heather Kingery, Suzanne Findley, Renee McMahon, Lisa James and Rhonda Davis was definitely the way to go.  In the meantime I swept the theatre, cleaned the bathrooms, and vacuumed.

dancewindowtoadwindowvillagewindow

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa 
A few beautiful window displays, designed and crafted by
volunteers!

     I didn’t have to wait too long before another volunteer parent quickly had me hanging up costumes.  I hung up costumes for weeks.  I then started gathering and asking for hanger donations.  Acquiring a costume rack was like discovering gold!  A parent dropping off a bag of hangers made us do a happy dance!  As more parents jumped into their passion with the costumes I watched piles of costumes on the floor turn into a full-fledged costume shop upstairs, complete with a sewing area, rental department and thousands of costumes.  Volunteers like Celeste Cobb, Terri Sparks, Becky Keith, Patty Paul, Beth Ballance, Janet Wagner, Chann Givens, Renee McMahon, Bonnie Juengert, David Poole, Pam Edenfield, Michelle McRorie and countless others, worked at making SCT’s costume department one of the most amazing volunteer community projects I have ever seen.  

SCTSeussical1

Can you believe that each and every one of these costumes was designed, sewn and fitted by volunteers?!

     I decided after burning myself on a hot glue gun and never really achieving sewing on a button correctly, that my passion for SCT could be found somewhere else.  There was always sweeping, cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming.  If only one of the donated vacuums would last longer than a month!

     So I decided to help with concessions.  It seemed to me that the concessions area was run by top CEO’s.  There was cleaning, ordering and inventory of popcorn, meeting delivery trucks coming from Jacksonville that sometimes couldn’t make it all the way to SCT, fundraising for the purchase of a second popcorn machine, wishing for a donation of cash registers, finding materials and building a new concession area.  The work load was so great, I was positive these people got paid to do what they did. Turns out they just had a passion for SCT. They knew they were in a place that was larger than themselves, a place that had a huge heart, and a place that did wonderful things for families.  I left the executives with the big hearts; Vivian Willis, Marty and Caroline Scott, Ruth Sales, Christina and Terry Edwards, Bettie and Cary Negley, Allison Cole, and kept cleaning the theatre and organizing costumes.

Bonsignoris

My family, in front of one of SCT’s two concession stands, built and managed by…volunteers!

    My next adventure was volunteering on the tech crew.  I was able to be part of the magic of the show along with my children and I loved it.  Dressed all in black, I was able to run on stage between scenes in a black out and change the sets.  This was thrilling and exhilarating being so connected to the show!  Backstage I was involved with the children, kissing boo-boos, getting band-aids, getting water for sweaty, thirsty dancers, hugging excited performers who feel they nailed their scenes, and wiping away tears of young actors who felt they messed up their lines or didn’t go on when they were supposed to.  As time went on, my volunteer exploits grew from working tech, to painting sets, gathering props, even running the spot light and the light board.

dogsincars

You can’t see me, but I was behind that dog house, pushing the actors back on course when their toy cars went astray!

    I can’t count the amount of times I was overcome with emotions while watching the amazing things that happen on stage.  I may have been giving volunteer hours, but I was getting so much more in return.   I learned so much working tech with Mike & April Prow, Vann Doubleday, Carrie Negley, Stewart and Danielle Pinkerton, Al & Cindy Williams, Mark Padgett, Cynthia Holmen, Eric Mitchell, Troy and Lee Brantley.  SCT’s heart could be found in all of these people and it was an honor to volunteer with them. I was still sweeping, cleaning bathrooms, and YES, it was a glorious day when Fred Miley donated a Dyson vacuum!  Then a lovely parent volunteered to pay for a part time cleaning person to help clean the theatre!  The building is in top shape now, thanks to Josh Riggs. (I wish I had some pictures to post of these amazing people hard at work behind the scenes, but that’s the tricky thing about techies. They’re behind the scenes because they don’t like being in the spotlight.)

     After my experience on the tech crew, there was nothing stopping my volunteer passion.  There were fundraising meetings, phone calls, letter writing, sponsor searches, and annual Gala meetings to attend. I made SCT brochures, and flyers, and with the help of Cheryl Lauer, took them all over town selling ads to businesses.  We gathered families and participated in the downtown Christmas parade, and the annual Children’s Book Festival.  We had to spread the word about this amazing little gem in the community!  I wanted people to know about the heart and soul of SCT, how I have watched it shape children and change my family’s lives for the better.  Savannah needs to know what a treasure they have in SCT.  Savannah also needs to know that SCT will only survive through community support, donations and volunteerism.

christmasparade

The annual Christmas Parade on River Street, with a trolley full of SCT volunteers spreading their joy!

     I now have the most amazing job as the Office Manager of SCT.  I am surrounded by some of the most creative people in the world.  I have learned so much from Kelie Miley, Jenn Doubleday, Cynthia Holmen, Keena Charbonneau, and the rest of the amazing staff that have touched the lives of this community.  I get to watch children blossom and grow into amazing, confident young adults, all because of the dedication to joy and character building that exists within these walls.  I would like to encourage you to come find a place to share your creative side, your technical side, your administrative side here at SCT.  Come and show us your favorite color glitter…

 staffphoto2013