Acting Up – School Shows!

I live in a small town that has a big city love of the performing arts. With three community theater companies, two high schools and a community college with active performing arts programs, two museums and a variety of community music groups that perform regularly, the arts community has options!

Iowa Central Community College will be featuring a show written by Aaron Westrum who is himself an alum. The show is titled “Falling Awake” and opens this Thursday under the direction of my talented friend, Teresa Jackson. I had the opportunity to meet Aaron at a director’s workshop this summer – he’s a fellow musical theather director in an Iowa high school! – and it was such fun to hear his excitement. The show, in a nutshell, is about a girl who is in a coma but wakes up in a sort of “holding place”.

Fort Dodge Senior High presents “A Little Piece of Heaven” on November 1st and 2nd. The story is centered on a curiosity shop that always seems to have exactly what each customer needs. Even if they don’t know they need it. Students are hard at work bringing this touching story to life.

Whether you live in Fort Dodge, Iowa, or not do some digging and go out and support the performing arts departments at your local schools. Trust me – the performers will appreciate having you there!

Acting Up – Speech Season

It won’t be long and I will find some of my time occupied with teenagers preparing for Speech competition. Large group contest is up first which means I will be spending time working with groups of students preparing to compete with musical theater pieces. Staging, music, storytelling . . . the whole package presented for adjudicators with the goal of making it from District Competition to State. Once large group is over, it’s on to individual performances which means some one-on-one coaching with performers.

But what makes this speech season extra special is the fact that my youngest daughter will be coaching a team of her own! She is in her first year as a teacher, working at the local Catholic school where she will also be in charge of the speech team. As a first year coach, she has already warned her former coach that she will be asking all kinds of questions and, needless to say, her former coach is more than happy to help! And I’m looking forward to seeing her at speech events!

Acting Up – The Nutcracker

One of my favorite moments happened this past week – the first meeting with the cast of a show I’m directing.

This particular show is a twist on the Russian folktale that most of us know as a ballet frequently staged at Christmas time.  In THIS version, Fritz is the focus.  Obsessed with beating the next level in his favorite video game, he accidentally frees the Mouse King who is determined to destroy Christmas.  As in the traditional story, the Nutcracker is determined to stop the Mouse King.  But in THIS version, the Nutcracker is a girl.

I have a cast of 39 ready to start rehearsals this coming week.  Some of them have been on stage a few times before while others are gearing up for their very first show ever.  They range in age from Kindergarten through high school (I believe the oldest performer is a Junior).  Some of them are old friends or family – have a few sets of siblings and even a set of cousins – and a few have even shared the stage together before.

I am facing several hours of rehearsal, teaching rookie actors what terms like “blocking” and “counter cross” mean, designing and painting the set, deciding on costumes, collecting props, . . . and I cannot wait to get all the insanity started!  Watching students hone and polish their performance skill is always such a fantastic experience.  And a show during my favorite holiday of the year?  Sounds like perfection!