Monday, December 29, 2008

2009 theatre-related resolutions

1. I will not roll my eyes when people refer to The Man Who Came to Dinner as "that nice movie from the 1960s starring Sidney Poitier."

2. I will not be impressed just because a play has won the Tony or the Pulitzer.

3. I will judge a book by its cover and buy a play script because of the cover design. I will buy the CD of a cast recording for the same reason.

4. I will buy an original cast recording of a show produced before I was born.

5. I will crash the opening night cast party of at least one production I wasn't involved with.

6. For every Civic Mainstage production, I will invite one person to attend a show with me. For every CYT production, I will invite three people to attend a show with me. For every staged reading, I will invite five people to attend.

7. I will check my address book to make sure I know enough people to make these invitations.

8. I will not care whether people spell the art form with an "er" or "re."

9. I will attend at least three performances outside of Tippecanoe County.

10. I will congratulate as many crew members as I can after a show.

11. I will not participate in a standing ovation because of peer pressure or mob mentality.

12. I will keep blogging until someone tells me to stop. And even then, I may continue.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette

Warmest wishes to you and your loved ones this Christmas day from Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Top 12 memorable moments from Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette shows in 2008

End-of-the-year lists sprout like weeds through concrete as topics from "Most Interesting People" to "Best Movies" to "Overrated Technology" are up for discussion in late December. People feel compelled to add their 2 cents to the noisy dialogue.

This is where I add my 2 cents and create even more noise.

My Top 12 moments from Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette shows in 2008 are listed in alphabetical order by show name. Every Mainstage, Civic Youth Theatre and Civic Under the Stars show that appeared in the Monon Depot Theatre, Long Center or Tippecanoe County Amphitheater in the 2008 calendar year is included.

Crowns – The women remove their church hats at the end of the show and replace them with new ones while reciting their personal mantras.

Disney's High School Musical – The cast sings the Mega-Mix at the end, highlighting the major songs and choreography in the show while fireworks explode over the Amphitheater.

Honky Tonk Angels – The Angels harmonize for the first time during a long bus trip to Nashville, serenading their fellow passengers – the audience.

How to Eat Like a Child – The cast explains that when parents say things like "We'll see," they really mean "No."

Proof – Catherine reveals to Hal and Claire that she wrote the mathematical proof.

Rudyard Kipling's The Just So Stories - Elsie explains to her make-believe friends that her sister Josephine died long ago.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing – Peter has a nightmare that recounts how his younger brother, Fudge, has ruined his life at every turn.

The Crucible – The "bewitched" girls scream in terror during the trial, which leads Mary Warren to accuse John Proctor of practicing witchcraft.

The Giver – Jonas, after receiving memories of real warfare, collapses in anguish when his young friends play a game of "War."

The Odd Couple – Oscar recites the things he hates about Felix, concluding with a note he found on his pillow that read, "We're out of corn flakes. F.U."

Young Directors Project: Final Dress Rehearsal – The authoress brings rehearsal to a complete stop, humorously waxing poetic about her adaptation of Cinderella.

Young Directors Project: The Bald Soprano – Two actors speak the same dialogue at the end of the show that is spoken by two different actors at the beginning of the show, starting a continuous loop.

This list is subjective and the opinions are entirely my own. My choices probably won't mirror your thoughts on the top moments of the year. Which leads to this: What did you think were highlights of the 2008 shows produced by Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukkah from Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette

Warmest wishes to you and your loved ones during The Festival of Lights from Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What theatre-related items are on your gift list this year?

Now that we're one week from Christmas, it's time to share: what theatre-related items are on your Christmas gift list this year? Does your list inculde tickets to a show, a cast recording on CD, an anthology of plays by your favorite writer or maybe a show poster/program from a Broadway hit?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A book for anyone interested in theatre


In his commentary on the DVD for WALL-E, director Andrew Stanton shares that the movie's first act was written earlier than the other two. He explained that it is easier for a screenwriter to know the ending of the plot, however, and then build the actions of the script to lead to that final point.

In his book Backwards and Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays, David Ball suggests that working backward can benefit not only writers, but also actors, directors, designers, audience members – anyone interested in the craft of theatre. They can learn much about a script by starting at the end, then moving backward to see the domino effect of actions that led to the conclusion.

Knowing how the play is structured, a person will gain insight about not only the plot, but other elements as well, including character. Ball shows through an analysis of Hamlet why the titular character isn't depressed and incapable of action, as some theatre practitioners and critics claim. Rather, he is shaken out of his stasis by an unnerving event, works through several actions and scenarios, achieves his goal and returns to stasis. (Rather permanent stasis, thanks to Mr. Shakespeare, but stasis nonetheless.)

At 96 pages, not including a forward by Michael Langham of The Juilliard School, Backwards and Forwards is a quick read that can enhance people's understanding of a script and influence their reactions toward a production, whether they collaborate to create it or are members of the audience. It creates a solid foundation from which people who love theatre can build their knowledge and appreciation for the art form.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter/Spring 2009 Acting Classes from Civic Youth Theatre: There's No Business Like Show Business!

Civic Youth Theatre Director Melanie R. Buchanan will be teaching four classes in late winter/early spring 2009: After-School Fun, Raise the Curtain, Welcome to the Theatre and There's No Business Like Show Business! Each class has two separate sessions. Students can choose one session or the other.

There's No Business Like Show Business! is for students in Grade 6 and higher. The first session of the class begins January 15 and runs through February 19, with classes from 4:30-5:30 p.m. each Thursday. The second session of this class begins April 9 and runs through May 14, with classes from 4:30-5:30 p.m. each Thursday.

Students will learn a variety of acting techniques in this class. One focus of this class will be on auditioning, and students will be ready to audition for future shows at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette and elsewhere. Improvisation and characterization will be other aspects of this class. There will be a Share Day on the last day of class so parents can observe and understand what students have learned.

The cost of this class is $60 for Civic Friends, $65 for Non-Members.

For more information about this class, e-mail cyt@lafayettecivic.org, call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Melanie comes to Civic Theatre from Chicago, where she studied graduate acting at DePaul University. She has a theatre degree from Creighton University and has worked in Los Angeles. Melanie, who has lived all over the world with her family, has a wealth of experience in musical theatre, improv and acting.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Share Your Thoughts: The Giver

Now that The Giver has closed, share your thoughts about the production on this blog.

What will you most remember about the show? What were your thoughts about the performances? The design? The story and theme? What were the standout moments?

Winter/Spring 2009 Acting Classes from Civic Youth Theatre: Welcome to the Theatre

Civic Youth Director Melanie R. Buchanan will be teaching four classes in late winter/early spring 2009: After-School Fun, Raise the Curtain, Welcome to the Theatre and There's No Business Like Show Business! Each class has two separate sessions. Students can choose either one session or the other.

Welcome to the Theatre is for students aged 4, 5 or 6. The first session of classes begins January 14 and runs through February 18, with classes from 4:30-5:15 p.m. every Wednesday. The second session of classes begins April 8 and runs through May 13, with classes from 4:30-5:15 p.m. every Wednesday.

This class is designed for the younger student who has little to no experience with the theatre. This class will use music and basic characterization techniques to teach students to use their creative energy on stage. Parents are welcome to attend this class with their young actor.

The cost of this class is $40 for a Civic Friend, $45 for a Non-Member.

For more information about this class, e-mail cyt@lafayettecivic.org, call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Melanie comes to Civic Theatre from Chicago, where she studied graduate acting at DePaul University. She has a theatre degree from Creighton University and has worked in Los Angeles. Melanie, who has lived all over the world with her family, has a wealth of experience in musical theatre, improv and acting.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter/Spring 2009 Acting Classes from Civic Youth Theatre: Raise the Curtain

Civic Youth Theatre Director Melanie R. Buchanan will be teaching four classes in late winter/early spring 2009: After-School Fun, Raise the Curtain, Welcome to the Theatre and There's No Business Like Show Business! Each class has two different sessions. Students may choose either one session or the other.

Raise the Curtain is for students in Grade 1, Grade 2 or Grade 3. The first session of class begins January 13 and runs through February 17, with classes from 4:30-5:30 p.m. every Tuesday. The second session of class begins April 7 and runs through May 12, with classes from 4:30-5:30 p.m. every Tuesday.

Students will learn how to take their imagination and use it in the theatre. They will learn basic characterization techniques, and learn acting games and skits. The final day of class will be a Share Day, when parents are invited to watch and see the skills their child has developed.

The cost of this class is $60 for a Civic Friend, $65 for a Non-Member.

For more information about this class, e-mail cyt@lafayettecivicl.org, call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Melanie comes to Civic Theatre from Chicago, where she studied graduate acting at DePaul University. She has a theatre degree from Creighton University and has worked in Los Angeles. Melanie, who has lived all over the world with her family, has a wealth of experience in musical theatre, improv and acting.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter/Spring 2009 Acting Classes from Civic Youth Theatre: After-School Fun

Civic Youth Theatre Director Melanie R. Buchanan will be teaching four classes in late winter/early spring 2009: After-School Fun, Raise the Curtain, Welcome to the Theatre and There's No Business Like Show Business! All classes include two separate sessions; students can choose either one or the other.

After-School Fun is for students in Grade 4 or Grade 5. The first session of classes begins January 12 and runs through February 16, with class time from 4:30-5:30 p.m. every Monday. The second session of classes begins April 6 and runs through May 11, with class time from 4:30-5:30 p.m. every Monday.

This class will focus on character development as well as basic acting techniques. Students will learn how to read a script and create a character and scene from the lines. The class will conclude with a Share Day, when parents will be invited to observe.

The cost of this class is $60 for a Civic Friend, $65 for a Non-Member.

For more information about this class, e-mail cyt@lafayettecivic.org, call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Melanie comes to Civic Theatre from Chicago, where she studied graduate acting at DePaul University. She has a theatre degree from Creighton University and has worked in Los Angeles. Melanie, who has lived all over the world with her family, has a wealth of experience in musical theatre, improv and acting.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Announcing the cast of Children of Eden

Director Kate Walker has announced the cast of Children of Eden, the fourth production of the 2008-2009 Mainstage season. Paul Addison will provide musical direction. The music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz. The book is by John Caird.

The cast includes:

  • Father – Jeff Spanke
  • Adam/Shem – Chris Myers
  • Eve/Aphra – Sara Tyner
  • Cain/Noah – Ryan Wellner
  • Abel/Japheth – Michael Zelaznik
  • Mama Noah/Storyteller Soloist/Snake Septet – Justice Marie Fuller
  • Yonah/Storyteller/Snake Septet – Liz Bruni
  • Ham/Snake/Storyteller Soloist – Jaymes Osborne
  • Aysha/Storyteller Soloist/Snake Septet – Lisa Stanforth
  • Storyteller/Seth – Thua Ly-Pham
  • Storyteller/Seth's Wife – Tabitha Gaskill
  • Storyteller/Young Cain – Jordan Friend
  • Storyteller/Snake Septet – Hannah Lazarz
  • Storyteller/Snake Septet – Amanda Walker
  • Storyteller/Snake Septet – Becky Bruni
  • Storyteller/Snake Septet – Morgan Wyat
  • Storyteller – Paul Allen
  • Storyteller – Julie Dennison
  • Storyteller – John Morphew
  • Storyteller – Sharon Morphew
  • Storyteller – Barbara Tyner
  • Storyteller – Cheri Vondrasek
  • Kid's Chorus/Young Abel – Tori Rosa
  • Kid's Chorus – Madison Mathias
  • Kid's Chorus – Mary Page
  • Kid's Chorus – Aaron Walker
  • Kid's Chorus – Abigail Wall

The production of Children of Eden will open Friday, March 6, and run three consecutive weekends through Sunday, March 22, at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Friday and Saturday evening performances will be at 8 p.m.; Sunday afternoon matinee performances will be at 2:30 p.m. There will also be a performance on Thursday, March 19, at 8:00 p.m. For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Announcing the free New Volunteer Orientation, Jan. 10, 2009


The most important element in all community theatres, including Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette, is the community. Civic Theatre has tremendous professional staff members, but community theatre cannot exist without community support.

The people in and around Lafayette and West Lafayette support Civic Theatre not only by attending performances, but also by volunteering their time and talents to the organization. From the president of the Board of Directors to the person who places address labels on mailings, everyone involved with Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette is a volunteer.

Civic wants to strengthen its ties to the community. To do this, a free New Volunteer Orientation will be held Saturday, January 10, from 10 a.m. to noon at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. People interested in volunteering with Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette will have the opportunity to speak with several Civic veterans who can share their experiences as actors, directors, designers, committee members, office volunteers and more.

The New Volunteer Orientation is open to everyone, regardless of age or location. Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette is a member of the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, which serves the population of 14 counties in Indiana: Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Howard, Jasper, Montgomery, Newton, Pulaski, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Warren and White. These are also considered part of the community in our community theatre.

The New Volunteer Orientation will start in the historic Monon Depot Theatre, located at the corner of 5th Street and North Street in downtown Lafayette. Although walk-ins are welcome, people are encouraged to RSVP so organizers can better plan the flow of the event.

To learn more about the free New Volunteer Orientation or to sign up to attend, please either call Civic's office at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or e-mail steve@lafayettecivic.org.

All new volunteers who attend the Orientation will receive one free ticket to that evening's performance of One Size Fits All Improv, which begins at 8 p.m. in the theatre.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Announcing the cast of The Man Who Came to Dinner

Director Scott Haan has announced the cast of The Man Who Came to Dinner, the third production of the 2008-2009 Mainstage season. The script is by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman.

The cast includes:

  • Sheridan Whiteside – Arliss Jeffries
  • Ernest Stanley – Ted Hingst
  • Daisy Stanley – Kathy McGraw
  • Lorraine Shelton – Crystal Coulson
  • June Stanley – Erin O'Connor
  • Miss Preen – Haley Samuelson-Couchman
  • Harriet Stanley – Trish Peterson
  • Beverly Carlton – Tim Fox
  • Banjo – Kyle Bushre
  • Mrs. Dexter – Jane Hampton
  • Mrs. McCutcheon – Linda Jeffries
  • John the Butler – Bob Haan
  • Sarah the Cook – Ellie Haan
  • Maggie – Pam Adams
  • Bert Jefferson – Eric Adams
  • Richard Stanley – Alan Hertz
  • Dr. Bradley – Dean Hunter
  • Professor Metz – Harry Brown
  • Sandy – Eric Taylor

The production of The Man Who Came to Dinner will open Friday, January 30, and will run three consecutive weekends through Sunday, February 15, at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Friday and Saturday evening performances will be at 8 p.m.; Sunday afternoon matinee performances will be at 2:30 p.m. For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why I love Civic Youth Theatre

I saw the Pay What You Can performance of Civic Youth Theatre's production of The Giver tonight, and I came away with a reminder of why I love the program. It isn't a question of whether the young people involved with these shows become theatre professionals later in life; such training is the focus of colleges and professional theatres. I love Civic Youth Theatre because young people have another venue in which they can express themselves artistically, they learn skills like being part of a team, they increase their self-confidence and they have the opportunity to play and socialize with people their own age without being told to "stop acting up."

I also love Civic Youth Theatre not only because of how it encourages young people, but because it entertains audiences. Stories told in Civic Youth Theatre productions are some of the most imaginative and inventive you might imagine. The Giver takes place in a future Utopia that turns out to have achieved its perfection by forsaking certain liberties and adopting strict guidelines for daily life. It isn't an easy show thematically or technically, and it stretches the actors and the crew to find their peaks. And you know what? They do. The same can be said for numerous CYT productions, including Romeo and Juliet, The Bald Soprano, Still Life with Iris and several others. There are some tremendous performances and stunning moments in CYT productions -- The Giver included -- that truly rival work done in Mainstage shows. I love that young people are brought into the theatre as audience members and can be exposed to a broad range of ideas and entertainment.

I'm proud that Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette offers the CYT program, and prouder still that the extended Greater Lafayette community supports it. New worlds open up when Act I, scene 1 begins, and the young people who experience them create new worlds of their own.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Theatre in San Jose in trouble.


For the second time in two years a major theatre in San Jose California is in trouble. Unlike the situation two years ago, this time there is no saving the company.

First, take a moment to read this article from the San Jose Mercury Star here. To give a basic summary, the American Musical Theatre of San Jose has announced an immediate closure of the company. They blame a theatre in Atlanta, Georgia (Theatre of the Stars) for their troubles. Theatre of the Stars, American Musical Theatre of San Jose and Dallas Summer Musicals were to be co-producers of a production of Disney's Tarzan. The show was to open in Atlanta in January, transfer to San Jose in February, and Dallas later in the spring. The companies also hoped that Disney would purchase the production and make it the national tour of the show. Both San Jose and Dallas companies paid Theatre of the Stars $225,000 towards the production. According to news reports Theatre of the Starts pulled the plug on Tarzan and spent the money instead on another production (rumor has it a production of High School Musical 2) that lost a lot of money. The lose of $225,000, not to mention the lose of $800,000 in pre-sold tickets to Tarzan are the reasons sited for the closure.

The problem is that the theatre had been in trouble before.

Two years ago, San Jose Rep., a very prominent Regional Theatre in San Jose announced that they were in trouble. Deficits of several million dollars, decreased ticket sales and a major downturn in giving had nearly brought this cultural icon to its knees. The city of San Jose decided to save the important institution by giving a large low interest loan, and some grants to infuse cash into the organization and give it a cushion while restructuring occured. All indicators seem to point towards some success in the plan. However while the talks were going on in the city council, it came to light that several of the area arts organizations were in trouble as well, including American Musical Theatre of San Jose. The city opened up the credit to several of the groups, again with the idea of boosting their cash to allow a basic re-structuring, thus saving the arts and cultural sector.

All the articles I have come across on the closure of American Musical Theatre of San Jose, mention two things, that while not the focus of the articles, need to be highlighted I think. One, that the theatre was carrying a deficit of $2.5 million on a budget of roughly $9 million. And that $1 million of their debt was a tapped out line of credit from the city. A lot of reporting will happen in the coming weeks on this closure, and I am sure that more details will come out.

Two theatres were bailed out, one took advantage and seems to be rebounding, the other just closed its doors. More disturbing is that this is not the first large theatre to close its doors in recent memory. Milwaukee Shakespeare just announce closing its doors because it lost a single donor. Charlotte Rep (in North Carolina) closed its doors a few years ago due to large deficits, TheatreVirginina (in Richmond) closed its doors a few years earlier due to a whole slew of issues, poor budgeting being a big factor (a retiring Artistic Director left the theatre having forgotten to budget for one entire show) and several other less spectacular, although just as devastating closures have happened as well.

What does all this mean? How does it affect Civic? Are we in trouble? are just some of the questions you may have.

Civic Theatre has run in the black for two years in a row and after a record breaking summer, we are running in the black this year as well. We have a line of credit that we have not had to use in recent memory. We hold NO debt. Season ticket sales are up this year. Donations, while a little lower in some areas, are steady or growing in other areas. All in all we are in good fiscal shape. That all being said though, we are still vigilant with our finances. Several years ago the Board of Directors wisely appointed a permanent finance committee. The hard working members of Civic Theatre's finance committee closely follow and oversee all financial activities of Civic Theatre. Thankfully though we are in good shape, they are helping to make sure that we remain that way. We also have a generous and loyal base of supporters, many individuals that have been giving to Civic Theatre since the days we were still known as Lafayette Little Theatre (pre-1965), and we continue to produce quality theatre.

So although Civic Theatre is currently sheltered and safe from the financial difficulties that other companies are facing, it is important that we are aware of the fact. As I am writing this I am also hearing about the latest on the Auto Industry Bail out, let's face it, times are tough. The Arts and Culture Industry as a whole is not safe, we depend on the rest of the economy doing well. If companies are losing money, they will not donate, as people fear for their own jobs they may minimize or even eliminate giving, and people out of work do not generally go to the theatre. Not to fear though, the staff and Board are well aware of the current fiscal situations, and are watching everything to assure that what has happened in San Jose, will not happen here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Announcing auditions: Children of Eden

Auditions for Children of Eden, the fourth production in Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2008-2009 Mainstage season, have been announced. They will take place Sunday, December 7, and Monday, December 8, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The auditions will be held at the Monon Depot Theatre at the corners of 5th Street and North Street in downtown Lafayette.

Director Kate Walker is looking to cast the following:


  • 10-12 men – ages 15 and up
  • 10-12 women – ages 15 and up
  • 8-10 young actors – ages 8 through 14

She asks people auditioning to prepare a song that is not from the show; an accompanist will be provided. People who are auditioning will also be asked to read from the script.

Musical direction for the production will be provided by Paul Addison.

Children of Eden opens March 6, 2009, and runs each Friday, Saturday and Sunday until it closes on March 22, 2009. Additionally, there will be a performance Thursday, March 19.

For more information about Children of Eden, including volunteer opportunities and buying tickets, please call 765-423-PLAY (7529).