Monday, March 30, 2009

Civic Volunteer Album: Meet Dave Lahr.

The "In the Wings" series of blog posts highlight the directors and actors of each Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette production. And while it makes sense to promote them on the blog for their hard work -- actors are the face of a production, and directors are the brains -- there are whole groups of volunteers who go unrecognized, not only on this blog but also perhaps by the playgoing public.

The "Civic Volunteer Album" will highlight various Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette volunteers who more often than not volunteer behind the scenes of productions as stage managers, designers, backstage crew and much more. They are the backbone of each production, working hard to support what everyone else can see and hear on stage.

In 1952, Dave Lahr attended a Little Theatre production of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! in which one of his friends played the youngest boy. The Little Theatre preceded Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette in mounting theatrical productions in the city.

“Little Theatre had its productions at Duncan Hall at the time,” Dave said. “Three of us bought tickets and sat in the balcony to see our friend. Of those three boys, I was the one who was bitten by the theatre bug.

“I’m still suffering from that bite,” Dave said, jokingly.

That initial exposure has led Dave to be involved with several productions at Civic Theatre, with all of those hours being spent building sets. His first experience was working with Tom Moran. The two still collaborate on several productions each season.

“I love to go to live theatre, and I knew that Lafayette had one of the best venues for live action. I was sure someday I would be helping somewhere,” Dave said.

Along with building sets, Dave has served on Civic Theatre’s Board of Directors for six years, serving as president for two. He also has been actively involved on the facilities committee.

A few seasons ago, Dave auditioned for the first time – for the 2006-2007 Civic Theatre season production of On Golden Pond – for a special reason.

”I auditioned as part of a deal with my 12-year-old granddaughter,” he said. “She wasn’t sure that she wanted to try out for a part with a group in Frankfort, Illinois. I told her that I would try out for Norman if she would try out for her show. Two weeks later she called and said she got her part, and asked when my auditions were. So I auditioned.”

Although Dave wasn’t cast as Norman, he said Arliss Jeffries did an excellent job in the role. He also said the production was his favorite in terms of working on the set, designed by John David Collier, and watching the show, directed by Mark Allen Carter. Other favorites include My Fair Lady, Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol and Jesus Christ Superstar. He said the largest set that he helped to build was last summer’s Civic Under the Stars production of Disney’s High School Musical.

Dave has several favorite Civic moments, but two especially stand out for him. The first was Gerri Fish’s performance in The Road to Bountiful. He said he shed a tear because she was so moving.

The second moment took place at a recent annual membership meeting.

Susan Kisinger tricked me into attending the meeting to give the Managing Director’s Award to Tom Moran and me,” Dave said. “Any time you share anything with Tom Moran is a special moment.”

Dave acknowledged the talent of the Civic Theatre volunteers and importance of the Civic Youth Theatre program, saying, “There are many talented actors, directors, musicians, dancers, singers, costume and scene designers, set designers, decorators and builders associated with Civic and I am blessed to work beside them in their quest for good theatre. And one of the things I’m most proud of is the success of the Civic Youth Theatre program. For those of you who have been around for a while, think of the talent that has emerged from the CYT workshops, classes and productions. We will keep growing with young people like that.”

Dave concluded by explaining what a prospective volunteer may experience when participating in a production.

“You will never have more fun in your life,” he said. “You will feel rewarded when a production is finished. You will meet some of the most talented people in the area. When I look back on the years I have spent at Civic, I feel fulfilled. I hope you will too.”

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Impertinence of Blogging Earnest: Week 5 of rehearsals -- moving into the theatre.

Sometimes there's no better feeling than knowing you're going home. For a production, that means leaving a rehearsal space to take up residence in the theatre.

The cast, Brian Carless, Cameron Johnston and I had our final rehearsal in the old Teachers Delight space in Market Square on Elmwood Avenue on Sunday. The three-hour-long rehearsal was divided into hour-long segments; actors were divided into groups and worked either with Brian, Cameron or me during that time. Every hour, the groups changed. We touched-up smaller scenes and did detail work on characters and relationships. Although the rehearsal had been scheduled to be a run-through of the full show, I think a lot was accomplished by using the time like this. Thanks to Jessica Hoffmann for suggesting it during a previous rehearsal.

We moved to the Monon Depot Theatre on Monday night, the day after Children of Eden closed. Brian led a tour of the theatre so that the actors who are making their CYT debut -- Nate Denson, Zack Nantz and Jake Ott -- could become familiar with the space.

The rehearsals consisted mostly of full run-throughs of the show. I was gratified that the actors' first rehearsal in the theatre went well; sometimes when I'm acting in a strange environment it takes me a moment to adjust to the space. But the actors in The Importance of Being Earnest were in command of their actions, their lines and their characterizations. I hope that having run through the entire show a few times in Teachers Delight made the transition easier for the actors -- there were no questions about what scenes followed others because they were already familiar with the entire show. And familiarity brings confidence, I find.

Several people attended rehearsals last week; all the crew members were asked to attend at least one rehearsal before Tech Week so they could get an idea of what the show looked like, how the acts differed and get an idea as to the length of the play. On Wednesday, dramaturg Cody Walker shared several interesting facts about Victorian England and information found in Oscar Wilde's script. Also on Wednesday, Marcos Cisneros took photographs of the actors, which will appear on the callboard when the show opens. The costume crew also had full access to the Civic costume shop and found additional items for actors to wear. The week was filled with a lot of unusual activity and the actors were generally good in maintaining their poise.

Saturday and Sunday are the Build & Paint Days in the schedule. All of the cast and crew, plus their parents, were strongly encouraged to be at the Monon Depot Theatre in order to build the remainder of the set and paint the floors and walls; these are usually very time-consuming tasks for any production, and this will be no different. On Sunday, whatever work remains from Saturday will be completed, then we're on to our first rehearsal of Tech Week: actors will be wearing their full costumes, the sound cues and light cues will be executed for the first time, and the whole production will come together for the first time. It's going to be exciting.

And then next Friday ... Opening Night. Difficult to believe it's moved this fast, but it's finally here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Civic Theatre Annual meeting and volunteer event

Please take a moment to fill in this very short survey about our Annual Member Meeting/Volunteer Dinner. We are working on planning this years annual event and would deeply appreciate your input.
Survey here

World Theatre Day - words of Augusto Boal

March 27 - World Theatre Day

Augusto Boal's 2009 World Theatre Day Address:
Follow Augusto Boal link to learn more about this very important theatre artist, the World Theatre Day Link will take you to the World Theatre Day 2009 Blog

All human societies are “spectacular” in their daily life and produce “spectacles” at special moments. They are “spectacular” as a form of social organization and produce “spectacles” like the one you have come to see.

Even if one is unaware of it, human relationships are structured in a theatrical way. The use of space, body language, choice of words and voice modulation, the confrontation of ideas and passions, everything that we demonstrate on the stage, we live in our lives.

We are theatre!

Weddings and funerals are “spectacles”, but so, also, are daily rituals so familiar that we are not conscious of this. Occasions of pomp and circumstance, but also the morning coffee, the exchanged good-mornings, timid love and storms of passion, a senate session or a diplomatic meeting - all is theatre.

One of the main functions of our art is to make people sensitive to the “spectacles” of daily life in which the actors are their own spectators, performances in which the stage and the stalls coincide. We are all artists. By doing theatre, we learn to see what is obvious but what we usually can’t see because we are only used to looking at it. What is familiar to us becomes unseen: doing theatre throws light on the stage of daily life.

Last September, we were surprised by a theatrical revelation: we, who thought that we were living in a safe world, despite wars, genocide, slaughter and torture which certainly exist, but far from us in remote and wild places. We, who were living in security with our money invested in some respectable bank or in some honest trader’s hands in the stock exchange were told that this money did not exist, that it was virtual, a fictitious invention by some economists who were not fictitious at all and neither reliable nor respectable. Everything was just bad theatre, a dark plot in which a few people won a lot and many people lost all. Some politicians from rich countries held secret meetings in which they found some magic solutions. And we, the victims of their decisions, have remained spectators in the last row of the balcony.

Twenty years ago, I staged Racine’s Ph├Ędre in Rio de Janeiro. The stage setting was poor: cow skins on the ground, bamboos around. Before each presentation, I used to say to my actors: “The fiction we created day by day is over. When you cross those bamboos, none of you will have the right to lie. Theatre is the Hidden Truth”.

When we look beyond appearances, we see oppressors and oppressed people, in all societies, ethnic groups, genders, social classes and casts; we see an unfair and cruel world. We have to create another world because we know it is possible. But it is up to us to build this other world with our hands and by acting on the stage and in our own life.

Participate in the “spectacle” which is about to begin and once you are back home, with your friends act your own plays and look at what you were never able to see: that which is obvious. Theatre is not just an event; it is a way of life!

We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.

- Augusto Boal

Special Thanks to Rick St. Peter, Artistic Director of Actors Guild of Lexington for posting this.

Announcing the cast of Private Lives

Director Sidney Pellissier has announced the cast for Private Lives, the fifth production of the 2008-2009 Mainstage Season at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The script is by Noel Coward.

The cast includes:
  • Sybil - Kristen Lesniak
  • Elyot - Alan Hertz
  • Amanda - Lisa Stanforth
  • Victor - Matthew Turczi
  • Louise - Denise Laussade
The production of Private Lives will open Friday, May 8, and run three consecutive weekends through Sunday, May 24, at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Friday and Saturday evening performances will begin at 8 p.m.; Sunday afternoon performances will begin at 2:30 p.m. For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

In the Wings: The Importance of Being Earnest. Photos of the set, some costumes and props.

The following photos show the set, some costumes and some props for The Importance of Being Earnest, the third production in Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre Season. These photos, including those of the not-then-completed set, were taken in late March.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reminiscing about "Raisin": Ruby Dee talks about "A Raisin in the Sun" at

Ruby Dee, one of America's finest actresses and an original cast member of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, spoke with The Root's Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr., about the play's relevance both when it opened 50 years ago and today.

A Raisin in the Sun was recently announced as part of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2009-2010 Mainstage Season. It will be directed by Managing Director Steve Koehler.

The video interview betwen Ruby Dee and Henry Louis Gates Jr., can be found here. Additionally, there are links to articles on a court case regarding housing integration that served as the inspiration for the play, the first mortgage crisis for black America, and the politics of Lorraine Hansberry.

In the Wings: The Importance of Being Earnest. Meet Kevin Barlow.

Kevin Barlow plays Jack Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest, the third production of the 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre season at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The play was written by Oscar Wilde.

The play is one of Kevin's favorites. He said it is a very witty script. As with Jessica Hoffmann, this is his final production with Civic Youth Theatre because he is graduating from high school soon.

Kevin shared details about Jack's character.

"He wants to be married to Gwendolen more than anything," he said. "He starts out a lot more like Algernon, but changes when he realizes that his cover is blown. Later in the show, he doesn't know how to deal with Algernon pretending to be his brother."

He concluded by suggesting what an audience may most remember from the production.

"I hope people will especially take note of the clever script and witty dialogue," he said. "It's a very well-written play."

The Importance of Being Earnest opens April 3 and runs through April 5. Friday and Saturday evening shows begin at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday afternoon shows begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth. For more information about the show, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The 2009-2010 season is promoted in the Journal & Courier.

Tim Brouk of the Journal & Courier, the daily newspaper of Lafayette and West Lafayette, wrote an article to cover the announcement of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2009-2010 season. Along with descriptions of the shows, their directors and their performance dates, the article includes quotes from Managing Director Steve Koehler, actress Sara Tyner and yours truly.

You can read the article here.

In the Wings: The Importance of Being Earnest. Meet Bryce Robinson.

Bryce Robinson plays Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest, the third production of the 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre season at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The play was written by Oscar Wilde.

Bryce auditioned for the show because he loves the play.

"It's also fun to participate in a Civic Theatre show," he said.

He explained who Algernon is and what he wants in the show.

"Algernon wants to marry Cecily," he said. "He turns on his charm and does everything he can to get her to fall in love with him. His love for Cecily is different than what he feels for other girls."

The Importance of Being Earnest opens April 3 and runs through April 5. Friday and Saturday evening shows begin at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday afternoon shows begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth. For more information about the show, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In the Wings: The Importance of Being Earnest. Meet Margaret Duvall.

Margaret Duvall plays Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest, the third production of the 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre season at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The play was written by Oscar Wilde.

Margaret explained that she auditioned for the show because she knew other people who were auditioning. Also, she loves the script.

"I also like that the play is a ensemble piece, that there is no one single main character," Margaret said. "I love plays like that. I think it's much more interesting when an audience cares about all the characters on stage."

According to Margaret, the central conflict that Gwendolen faces comes about because she is in love..

"At the start of the play, Gwendolen has a relationship with Ernest Worthing," she said. "He has come to town to propose to her, but her mother won't allow them to be engaged. Throughout the play, Gwendolen tries to establish her independence to get what she wants."

The Importance of Being Earnest opens April 3 and runs through April 5. Friday and Saturday evening shows begin at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday afternoon shows begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth. For more information about the show, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

Monday, March 23, 2009

In the Wings: The Importance of Being Earnest. Meet Jessica Hoffmann.

Jessica Hoffmann plays Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest, the third production of the 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre season at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The play was written by Oscar Wilde.

Jessica auditioned for the production because she loves the play.

"I have read the script again and again since my freshman year, and I have wanted to play Cecily since my freshman year," she said. "Also, this is my final production with Civic Youth Theatre because I'll graduate high school this year."

Jessica says that Cecily begins the play by loving the ideal of Ernest, someone she hasn't even met.

"Cecily only knows Ernest as Jack's brother," she said. "She doesn't know him personally, but she's fine with that. She's engaged with Ernest and he doesn't even know. She relishes her own little world and her diary."

The Importance of Being Earnest opens April 3 and runs through April 5. Friday and Saturday evening shows begin at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday afternoon shows begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth. For more information about the show, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Share Your Thoughts: Children of Eden

Now that Children of Eden 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?

The 2009-2010 Season

At long last we are ready to announce the 2009-2010 Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette season. A lot of people have worked very hard putting this together and I would love to thank them all. Three committees read probably more than 100 shows, listened to countless musicals and spent hours debating the best placement of each show. The following committees make each season possible:

Season Selection Committee (Civic Under the Stars and MainStage)
Mark Allen Carter (committee chair)
Laurie Russell
Mary Jo Sparrow
Ruth Moran
Jo Gelfand
Sue Lakin (President of the Board of Directors)
Steven Koehler (Managing Director)

Civic Youth Theatre Season Selection Committee
Laurie Russell (committee chair)
Denise Laussade
Larry Sommers
Steve Martin
Sydney Cason
Christine Furtner
Melanie R. Buchanan (Civic Youth Director)

Staged Reading Committee
Steve Martin (Committee chair)
Larry Sommers
Kate Walker
Steve Koehler (Managing Director)

Thank you to all of these dedicated volunteers, the actual season will be posted in the next post, so keep reading, and enjoy.

You will be able to renew your season tickets next week. You will also be able to order brand new subscriptions. As soon as we are able we will post an order form here, on our website, and through our various social networking sites.

Steven Koehler
Managing Director
March 22, 2009

2009 Civic Under the Stars

meta name="Generator" content="Microsoft Word 12">

Civic Under the Stars

The King and I
Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on Anna and the King by Margaret Landon
Original Choreography by Jerome Robbins

Directed by Robert Spaulding

July 10 – 18 at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheatre

East versus West makes for a dramatic, richly textured and ultimately uplifting tale of enormous fascination. It is 1862 in Siam when an English widow, Anna Leonowens, and her young son arrive at the Royal Palace in Bangkok, having been summoned by the King to serve as tutor to his many children and wives. The King is largely considered to be a barbarian by those in the West, and he seeks Anna's assistance in changing his image, if not his ways. With both keeping a firm grip on their respective traditions and values, Anna and the King grow to understand and, eventually, respect one another, in a truly unique love story. The dazzling score, including Getting to Know You, Shall We Dance, I Whistle a Happy Tune, and many more make The King and I one of the all-time marvels of the musical stage.

Tickets are $15 adults, and $10 youth (18 and under).

Tickets are available for season ticket holders on Monday March 23, June 1 for the general public.

Civic Theatre MainStage 2009-2010 Season

The Mousetrap

By Agatha Christie

Directed by Mark Allen Carter

September 4 – 20

From the pen of Agatha Christie comes the story of a group of strangers stranded in a boarding house during a snow storm, one of whom is a murderer. The suspects include the newly married couple who run the house, a spinster with a curious background, an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef, a retired Army major, a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in a drift, and a jurist who makes life miserable for everyone. Into their midst comes a policeman, traveling on skis. To get to the rationale of the murderer's pattern, the policeman probes the background of everyone present and rattles a lot of skeletons. The Mousetrap holds the world record as the longest initial run of a show, with more than 23,000 performances in London’s West End.

A Christmas Story

By Philip Grecian

Based on the motion picture A Christmas Story, © 1983 Turner Entertainment Co., distributed by Warner Bros., written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark; and on the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd.

Directed by John David Collier

December 4 - 20

Humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in Indiana in the 1940s follows nine-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher and even Santa Claus himself, at Goldblatt's Department Store. The consistent response: "You'll shoot your eye out."

All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the family's temperamental exploding furnace, Scut Farkas, the school bully; the boys' experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost, the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin, Ralphie's father winning a lamp shaped like a woman's leg in a net stocking, Ralphie's fantasy scenarios and more. A Christmas Story is destined to become a theatrical holiday perennial.

A Raisin in the Sun

By Lorraine Hansberry

Directed by Steven Koehler

January 29 – February 14

What happens to a dream deferred?

Set on Chicago's South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband's insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: to buy a liquor store and be his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. This play about sacrifice, trust and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration.

Winner of the NY Drama Critic's Award as Best Play of the Year

"A milestone in the American Theatre."-Ebony

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged]

By Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield

Directed by Laurie Russell

March 12 – 28

All 37 Plays in 97 Minutes! An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard's plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged] lives up to all the hype. The greatest playwright, 37 full-length plays including Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, and many more, all chopped up (Macbeth) eaten (Titus) and regurgitated (more titles than you might think) and…well you get the idea.

Warning! This show is a high-speed, roller-coaster ride of all of Shakespeare's plays and is not recommended for people with heart ailments, bladder problems, inner-ear disorders and/or people inclined to motion sickness.

"Pithier than Python... irresistible" - The New York Times

"If you like Shakespeare, you'll like this show. If you hate Shakespeare, you'll LOVE this show!" -The Today Show


Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse

Music by John Kander

Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Based on the play Chicago by Maurine Dallas Watkins

Directed by Kate Walker

May 7 - 23

In Roaring Twenties Chicago, chorus girl Roxie Hart murders a faithless lover and convinces her hapless husband Amos to take the rap...until he finds out he's been duped and turns on Roxie. Convicted and sent to death row, Roxie and another "Merry Murderess", Velma Kelly vie for the spotlight and the headlines, ultimately joining forces in search of the "American Dream," fame, fortune and acquittal. This sharp-edged satire features a dazzling score that sparked immortal staging by Bob Fosse.

"'A pulse racing revival ... that flies us right into musical heaven." – New York Times

"Wildly entertaining ... [with a] dazzling score."-NewYork Daily News

"As dazzling a demonstration of the craft of musical theatre as you're ever going to see on a Broadway stage."-NewYork Post

Civic Youth Theatre 2009-2010 season

Civic Youth Theatre Season

Our Town

By Thornton Wilder

Directed by Larry Sommers

October 2 – 4

First produced in 1938, this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover’s Corner is one of the most frequently produced plays today. Using a heightened theatricality to strip away the “artifice of theatre,” Thornton Wilder presents the lives and deaths of the inhabitants of a small New England town at the turn of the century.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Based on the Comic Strip "Peanuts" by Charles M. Schulz
Book, Music and Lyrics by Clark Gesner
Additional Dialogue by Michael Mayer
Additional Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa

Directed by Laurie Russell and Melanie Buchanan

November 6 – 8

This warm musical based on Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts comic strip offers a “typical day in the life of Charlie Brown.” The well-known characters of the comic strip come to life singing toe-tapping songs, including, My Blanket and Me, Suppertime, My New Philosophy and Happiness.

Snow White

By J. Michael Straczynski

Directed by Missy Freels

February 26 – 28

This humorous take on a classic tale includes a bumbling prince, a very involved mirror and not just one, but three attempts on Snow White’s life. Add a lot of dwarfs and a happily-ever-after ending and you have a great play for all ages.

Young Playwrights Project

April 16 – 18

Civic Theatre is proud to bring back the Young Writers Project. Chosen scripts written by the talented youth in our area will be given their world premiere in this ambitious project. A select committee will select the winning scripts from a fourteen county region. Each chosen writer will be given the opportunity to hone their script with a published playwright and see a fully realized production on the Civic stage.

Tickets are $10 - adults, $5 - youth (18 and under)
Season tickets are $32 - adults, $16 - youth

Season tickets are on sale March 23, 2009