Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In the Wings: The King and I. Meet Shellie Johnson.


Shellie Johnson portrays Lady Thiang in The King and I, the Civic Under the Stars production of the 2009-2010 season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

Shellie auditioned for the show because "it always has been dear to me. The soundtrack was one of the only 8-track tapes that my parents had in the car when I was younger. The score is some of the first music I heard a lot. I also have memories of listening to the music when my oldest daughter was just a toddler; my mother often danced with her to the song 'Shall We Dance,' which made my daughter smile."

Shellie explained that Lady Thiang is the king's head wife.

"Lady Thiang is absolutely devoted to the king and wants to further his purpose in Siam," she said. "She is his absolute servant, and she is in charge whenever he is not around."

Shellie concluded by explaining what she thinks audience members will take away from a performance of the show.

"The music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II will stick with the audience after a performance," she said. "Also, if audience members are interested in world history, they might decide look into this historic period more because a lot of questions are raised."

The King and I runs July 10, 11, 17 and 18 at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheatre on State Road 43. Shows begin at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for youth aged 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, please call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

Monday, June 29, 2009

In the Wings: The King and I. Meet Rob Spaulding, the director.


Rob Spaulding directs The King and I, the Civic Under the Stars production of the 2009-2010 season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

Rob was attracted to directing the show because of its scope.

"It's a wonderful show with a wide range of different things that go on. There are so many different elements to the show," he said.

Rob also portrays the king in the production. He complimented volunteers who have taken on duties during the rehearsal process to work on details about blocking, characterization and other performance elements while he acts onstage alongside the rest of the cast.

He concluded by explaining what he hopes audience members will take away from the show.

"I want the audience to have a real sense of enjoyment and pleasure," he said. "This story has an uncommon, bittersweet ending but before that I want the audience to have a sense of wonder and some cultural understanding. This is a massive production with a 30-piece orchestra and the Lafayette Ballet Company doing a real ballet in the context of the show, and we're looking to give the audience an all-around good theatrical experience."

The King and I runs July 10, 11, 17 and 18 at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheatre on State Road 43. Shows begin at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for youth aged 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, please call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WLFI produced spot for The King and I. Ticket sales are strong 765-423-7529 or http://lafayettecivic.tix.com

Grant Fredericks' poster design for Pump Boys and Dinettes


Grant Fredericks designed the poster above for Civic Theatre's production of Pump Boys and Dinettes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grant Fredericks' poster design for A Streetcar Named Desire


Grant Fredericks designed the above poster for Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Monday, June 22: Final day to RSVP for the Annual Civic Celebration

Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's annual, end-of-season celebration will be held Friday, June 26 from 6-8 p.m. at Duncan Hall in downtown Lafayette. There'll be good food and awards handed out that evening, including Rising Star Awards, Shining Star Awards and the Justin M. Newell Scholarship.

Monday, June 22, is the final day to R.S.V.P. for the evening. You can call Civic's main office at 765-423-7529 by 4 p.m. in order to reserve your spot.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Grant Fredericks' poster design for Red, Hot & Cole


Grant Fredericks designed the poster above for Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's production of Red, Hot & Cole.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grant Fredericks' poster design for Moon Over Buffalo


Grant Fredericks designed the poster above for Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's production of Moon Over Buffalo.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grant Fredericks' poster design for Blue Skies


Grant Fredericks design the poster above for Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's production of Blue Skies.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Grant Fredericks' poster design for Greater Tuna



Grant Fredericks designed the poster above for Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's first production of Greater Tuna.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Grant Fredericks' poster design for You Can't Take It With You


Grant Fredericks designed the poster above for Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's production of the Kaufman and Hart classic comedy You Can't Take It With You.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Grant Fredericks


In this post, we honor Grant Fredericks, former Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette technical director. The information was provided by Alice Schwind, director of The Grant Fredericks Gallery. In future posts, we'll show images of the posters that Grant created for Civic Theatre productions.

Grant Fredericks was raised in Minnesota, spent his teenage years in Texas and moved to Indiana in the early 1980s.

Grant was an accomplished artist and musician since childhood. For several years during his late teens and early 20s, he toured the United States as a bass guitarist for well-known country and western singing stars such as Sylvia and Reba McEntire.

Although he never gave up being a musician after moving to Indiana, Grant began to make his living as a commercial artist, designing and creating image and identification materials, as well as memorable large-scale mural projects, landscapes, wildlife drawings and portraits. Grant is remembered for his Columbian Park Zoo poster "The Mother Goose" and the portraits of "dead rock stars," as he called them, that for several years surrounded the exterior of JL Records on the Levee. Grant is also well-known for a wonderful series of original show posters he created for Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette over the years, many of which have been framed and preserved through the generosity of Civic patrons.

After volunteering as a set designer and painter, a performer and as the director of both Civic productions of Pump Boys and Dinettes, Grant became Civic Theatre's technical director, a position he held and enjoyed for three years.

Tragically, Grant became ill with leukemia and, after a valiant battle, passed from among us in July 2001. He was a larger-than-life presence, full of energy and enthusiasm, and is remembered fondly by those who were privileged to know and work with him. One Civic friend said, "Grant was everything good in the world – always making something beautiful, whether it was music or art or barbeque, or his amazing way of making people laugh." Another described him as "the warmest 'cool guy' I've ever known."

The Grant Fredericks Gallery in the Monon Depot Theatre was created to give a wide variety of artists, both young and not-so-young, the opportunity to showcase their work, artists who might never otherwise have had an opportunity to exhibit their work publicly. We thought it was appropriate to invoke Grant's memory on their behalf.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Share Your Thoughts: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fair(ly) (Stoopid) Tales

Now that The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fair(l)y (Stoopid) Tales 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?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The New York Times theatre critics select their choices for the Tony Awards.

Ben Brantley and Christopher Isherwood, theatre critics at The New York Times, have expressed their opinions about which actors, directors, writers and productions will be recognized during the Tony Awards broadcast on Sunday, June 7 beginning at 8 p.m. on CBS. Along with listing who will win, Brantley and Isherwood also list who should win and who should have been nominated.

If they are correct, it looks to be a "Billy Elliot" night.

You can read the predictions here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley recaps the Broadway season.

Critic Ben Brantley of the New York Times annually writes a recap of the Broadway season. In the 2009 version, Brantley expresses what a truly good season it was. Although I still claim that focusing only on Broadway can skew a person's view of theatre, it's interesting to learn what shows were of interest because they may experience a boom in popularity and be produced locally.

You can read Brantley's entire article here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Urgent Support of Indiana Arts

Arts Action Alert: Governor Slashes Arts Budget AGAIN

Governor's New Budget AGAIN Slashes the Arts by 50% Take Action!

Contact your Legislators Now!

As you may know, Governor Mitch Daniels rejected the budget the Indiana Legislature presented to him at the end of April. In both the House and Senate versions of the budget, the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) was treated fairly, with an 8% cut like other state agencies. This was in response to Governor Daniels initial budget proposal which would have slashed the IAC's budget by 50%!

Today, Governor Daniels released a new budget for the special session of the Legislature that will be called for later this month. His budget AGAIN calls for a 50% reduction of the IAC, from approximately $4M to $2M a year for the next biennium. This loss of support for our state's arts infrastructure will put community and regional arts organizations of all sizes and types at risk of going out of business.

Your legislators need to hear from you NOW. Only they can create a budget which treats the arts fairly. Only they know the many constituents and organizations which will be irreparably hurt by this proposed, massive cut.

All of us who understand the value of the arts were shocked that the Governor would ignore the message sent by both Houses, by legislators on either side of the aisle. That message is the arts in our state need to be treated fairly when it comes to governmental support as they are a vital piece of the solution to our economic downturn and highly valued by our citizens.


Click here to send a letter to your elected officials supporting the arts in our state.

Why I hate the Tony Awards … and why I love them.

The 63rd Annual Tony Awards, which recognize the best of Broadway theatre, will be broadcast on CBS on Sunday, June 7 beginning at 8 p.m. For those of you who live in the Greater Lafayette area, you'll be seeing them on WLFI TV 18.

I lately have developed a love / hate relationship with awards shows, which seem to be more hyped and overproduced and underwhelming than any other event in popular American culture except the Super Bowl. The love and the hate for the Tony Awards go a little farther than with other awards shows however.

  • Love: The Tony Awards honor the best of theatre.
  • Hate: "Best" is a nebulous term, a subjective term. Two is larger than one, but who can rightfully say that "Billy Elliot" is better than "Next to Normal"? Or that Angela Lansbury deserves a nomination while Kristin Scott Thomas does not? Most people can tell if a show is good or not, but to determine what is the best of a disparate lot ... it's comparing apples and oxen.

But despite all that, I will watch the Tony Awards broadcast on Sunday evening for the same reason I watched them as a kid growing up on a farm outside Remington, Indiana: I want to know what's out there. I want to know what may be coming my way in the future. I am woefully unaware of the careers of playwrights Alan Ayckbourn, Horton Foote and Yasmina Reza, but now I know a bit about their plays "The Norman Conquests," "Dividing the Estate" and "God of Carnage" because of the Tony Awards. I can look forward to the possibility that Purdue Convocations may bring in a touring company performance of "Billy Elliot," "Hair" or "West Side Story," or perhaps Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette may mount a production of one of these someday.

So I'll turn on the television Sunday night at 8 p.m. – or find someone who owns one and camp out in their living room – in order to feel connected a bit more to theatre.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Civic Volunteer Album: Meet John Collier.


The "In the Wings" series of blog posts highlights 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.

John Collier has been involved with dozens of productions at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. His first show was the Dick Jaeger-directed production of The Sound of Music in the 1985-1986 season.

"I chose to get involved because I had just begun my professional career at Purdue a couple of years earlier, and I was looking for an opportunity to get more involved in the community," John said. "Civic filled that void."

John was cast as Franz the butler, which he noted was one of the few non-singing roles in the show.

"Based on my horrible singing auditions -- an a cappella version of 'Lydia the Tattooed Lady' -- I was lucky to get the part!" John humorously recalled. "I had a great time, I met many new, interesting and fun people, and I've been involved ever since."

John's involvement with Civic Theatre includes being an actor and director, and also a set designer and scenic painter. Some of the shows that John fondly remembers include Pump Boys and Dinettes, Little Shop of Horrors, Sylvia, Eleemosynary, Always Patsy Cline, The Prince and the Pauper, Moon Over Buffalo, Squabbles, A Chorus Line, Honk!, Jesus Christ Superstar, and both Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas. This season, he designed the set for the upcoming production of Children of Eden. He also had been on Civic's Board of Directors for several years, working on numerous committees and serving a couple of terms as the group's president. John will direct the 2009-2010 Civic Theatre production of A Christmas Story.

While John has enjoyed working on several different productions at Civic Theatre -- including a non-stop, four-day session to finish painting the set for Kiss Me, Kate 10 minutes before opening night -- he remembers a key moment in the development of all of them: opening night performances.

"Seeing everything get in front of an audience for the first time is always an incredibly good feeling, particularly after all the hard work by everyone involved," John said. "I absolutely love to watch the audience's reaction during the show."

John concluded by offering several reasons why people may enjoy volunteering at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

"Civic Theatre is a great place to get involved because it’s a fantastic outlet for creativity; it’s a wonderful place to meet fun, talented and dedicated people; it’s one of the few places in this community where amateurs can get involved in live theater and it enhances the quality of life for our community in the process!" he said. "What more could you want from a volunteer opportunity?"