The Wizard of Oz is a Family Affair

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Billy (center) as a munchkin at age 11

This holiday season, DreamWrights invites families to enjoy The Wizard of Oz. And what’s better than watching this iconic adventure story with your family? Bringing the story to life with your family! Many DreamWrights crew and cast members are working to stage this show along with family members. It is a wonderful way to spend quality together time during the busy holiday season.

Billy Ferrell, who plays the Cowardly Lion remembers, “I have loved the Wizard of Oz since I was a child. I was fortunate to perform as a munchkin when I was 11 years old, and it has been a dream of mine to perform in it again since then. I never could have imagined performing in it alongside my daughters. We are making lifelong memories together.” The Ferrell girls can be seen onstage, Elizabeth and Rebecca as snowflakes and Julia as a Jitterbug.

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Billy Ferrell with his daughters

Like Billy and his three daughters, DreamWrights productions often draw talent from multiple generations of families. Families cooperating together as peers is a hallmark of DreamWrights. Guest Director Jaci Keagy explains, “This was my first experience working with a multi-generational cast and I LOVED it!” She adds, “Some are on stage, some are off, but everyone contributes to the show, and no one has to stay home!”

Billy agrees, “Where else can parents and children participate in activities together as peers? It’s an amazing experience to be a part of a creative process along-side my kids — to see them interact with other kids and adults and vice versa. The creative process of making a live theatrical production happen is valuable, but the life lessons and social experience are invaluable!”

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The Fraser Family

Kristen and Scott Fraser are in the show with their three kids. William and Anna are on costume crew while Sophie is on stage with her parents. Kristen says, “DreamWrights is the one place where my family can collaborate to create something great. This place is a second home to us.”

Fifteen year old Anna says that she is the envy of many of her friends, “My friends talk to me about this a lot. They will say, ‘Wow, I wish my family did these kinds of things together like your family does’ and ‘You guys are so lucky.’” Sixteen year old William agrees that doing a show all together is a great family experience. In fact, the Frasers have done so many shows together as a family at DreamWrights they can’t agree on exactly how many it has been. Twelve? Fourteen? But all agree when Sophie, a wise young lady of eleven, declares, “DreamWrights is the most amazing thing I ever do. It is the most fun.”

We invite you to see the Frasers and Ferrells in The Wizard of Oz. It runs December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, and 17 at 6:30pm and December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 2:30pm. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 717-848-8623.

And why not join the fun yourself by rounding up your own family and auditioning for our next show, Babe, the Sheep-Pig?! Auditions will be held December 13 or 14 at 6:00pm. No prior experience necessary.

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

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(l.to r.) Doug Walters, Waverly Speranza holding Daisy, Brandon Flemmens,  and Billy Ferrell

This holiday season, DreamWrights Center for Community Arts is staging the Royal Shakespeare Company’s version of The Wizard of Oz.  This classic story, in which a Kansas farm girl travels over the rainbow to discover the magical power of home, has been entertaining audiences for generations. The R.S.C. version is described as a more “faithful” adaptation of the film that many know and love. Guest Director Jaci Keagy explains, “Some of it will be very familiar, but there will be a few new things as well.”

Keagy, who directed more than 60 productions at Dover High School before retiring last April, makes her directorial debut at DreamWrights. In fact, about a quarter of this show’s crew and cast are new to DreamWrights.  Keagy admits, “I love directing and knew I wanted to get involved as a director in community theatre when I retired. I accepted the challenge of this double casted musical with trepidation, but I’ve loved every minute of the experience and, even after all of my other shows, I’ve learned so many things.”

Chris Quigley, a familiar face (and voice) in York’s musical and performance scene, appears for the first time on the DreamWrights stage playing the cowardly Lion. Ironically, Quigley’s first experience with The Wizard of Oz was when he played the braggart munchkin at the age of ten when he attended York Catholic. But, his Oz history doesn’t stop there. In 2005, he directed the show at Susquehannock High School and most recently, he tapped his way into hearts as the Tinman at Acts of Kindness Theatre in a sheet metal costume. Chris says, “I love being the Lion now. So happy I wasn’t picked for the Tinman. I’ve done that before and I was afraid they’d pick me for that.  It’s so nice doing a comedy part.”

Making their performance debuts are Daisy Raymond and Pepper Hollabaugh, both of whom play Toto during separate performances. The whole crew and cast is excited to add these two adorable distractions to the performance and, as Keagy points out, “The cute kids and dogs create an instant aww factor!”

The Wizard of Oz opens Friday, December 2 and runs December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, and 17 at 6:30pm and December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 2:30pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dreamwrights.org or by calling 717-848-8623. Seats cost $10 for general, $14 for reserved.

 

Thankful

This Thanksgiving, we pause to recognize many of the great things that make us thankful.

We are thankful for our Board of Directors that steers our non-profit company, navigating regulations, scooping up opportunity, and setting a course for success and longevity.

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We are thankful for our DreamWrights community. When we come together, we are so much more than the sum of our parts. It is you who makes DreamWrights so special. We are proud to call you family.

We are thankful for our tireless volunteers. You are the heart and soul of DreamWrights. We sincerely appreciate all of your time, effort, and enthusiasm.

We are thankful for our founding members who built DreamWrights’ strong foundational pillars, encouraging personal growth, inclusivity, and making DreamWrights a safe place to try new things and discover new interests and talents.

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We are thankful for our members. We greatly appreciate your ongoing support and vote of confidence.

We are thankful to those who make monetary and in-kind donations of all sizes and shapes. Among other things, we are happy to have lights, heat, and licensed scripts to keep our day-to-day operations running.

We are thankful to the larger York art community. We are inspired by your courageous participation in the arts and proud to be a part of this circle.

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We are thankful for our capital campaign donors. Without you, DreamWrights would not continue to grow, be relevant, draw new participants and audiences, and serve our community.

We are thankful for the opportunity to stage such a magically iconic musical, The Wizard of Oz, this holiday season. We appreciate the time and effort put forth by the crews and casts of this show, all working as a team to present our best show yet.

Critter Crew

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Bethany Mortorff (seated center) surrounded by the Critter Crew.

Have you seen the adorable handmade critters that are for sale at DreamWrights during the shows? They are created under the direction of Bethany Mortorff. You might say she heads up the DreamWrights “Critter Crew.”

It all began when she joined the costume crew in spring of 2015 for Tom Sawyer Sings. She remembers, “Rebecca [Eastman] taught me to sew and at the end of the show I made some of the turtle patterns she had. I just assumed making critters was something she did for every show so when I came back for the next show, I said, ‘What are we going to make’ and she said, ‘I don’t know.’”

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That’s when Bethany began designing concepts and patterns for critters beyond turtles. She started making mouse patterns and crafting cute stuffed mice but when she realized there weren’t going to be lobby sales for The Mouse that Roared, she started designing for Seussical. It took off from there.

For Seussical she made elephants and giraffes and other characters that were in the show. “I just started experimenting and making things up.” The popularity of the Seussical critters caught on quickly. They completely sold out in the first several days.

Bethany expects the critters she’s currently making for The Wizard of Oz to sell quickly as well. “I started designing the patterns months ago because I knew this show was coming. I’ve been trying to have them ready to go so that when the show came along it would be easier to make them.”

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Many of the patterns are her own, including the popular Ozian tree which has gotten a lot of attention and interest from the cast and crew. Bethany explains, “I wasn’t planning to make trees until they had people show up and get cast as trees then decide they didn’t want to be a tree and dropped out. I thought, for the people who are excited to be a tree, I’m going to make them a tree! And they got popular!”

Participating for the first time at DreamWrights, Andrea Mariano has found her way onto Bethany’s Critter Crew. Her three kids Julianna, Mason, and Taryn hold positions on the costume, lights, and props crews respectively (10 year old Mason will be operating the follow spot!). After dropping her kids off, Andrea decided to stick around and help out. She laughs, “Last week I showed up and Bob [McCleary] handed me a power drill. I had high heeled boots on. So now I just sneak up the back to the costume shop.” She says she feels more at home with scissors and fabric than with power tools and wood.

Although Bethany has made a big impact in the costume shop, she’s been on stage twice: Anne of Green Gables and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. She says with a chuckle, “Every now and then they let me out of the costume shop but mostly I reside somewhere up here.”

Be sure to check out the Critter Crew’s creations for sale in the lobby before, during, and after The Wizard of Oz shows. Prices range from $5 – $25 each, while supplies last.

The Proverbial Fly on the Wall

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If you’ve done a show at DreamWrights, you probably know Rebecca Eastman, the costumer. Many people, especially the kids, think she lives in the costume shop. Some days she feels like she does. But because she’s a normal fixture behind the sewing machine or under a garment with needle and thread, she blends right in and is privy to many a green room conversation. As the crew and cast create the splendor and magic of The Wizard of Oz, Rebecca shares some of the magnificent things that have caught her ear.

I’m a tree!!! I’ve never been a tree before! How cool is that?!”

“WE GET UMBRELLAS!!!”

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Question: “I wonder what the poppies do?”
Answer: “WE HAVE UMBRELLAS AND WE DANCE!!

“Mom, I’m so excited! I am the MAYOR!”

Rebecca working on monkey wings turns around to see herself surrounded by a sea of three foot tall munchkin eyes, all open really wide.
Rebecca: “May I help you? Does Andrew need you for practice?”
Munchkin: “Not right now. We like to watch.”
Rebecca: “That’s ok. Just listen for Andrew. You can come do costumes when you are 10.”
Munchkins: “YAY!!”

From a parent passing through the green room during singing rehearsal: “Wow! They sound good already!”

Monkey wings!!! And weird hair! Which one is mine? Can I try them on?

Lion: “I feel like I am in my jammies. SO soft.”
Rebecca thinks to herself: Wait until the stage lights come on!

“Monkey jackets are cool!”

While jumping up and down: “Can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait! This is soooo much fun!

Whether you’re a tree or a munchkin, a costumer or on props, there is fun and excitement to be found in every part of staging a production. Just ask Rebecca.

Never Too Old for Halloween

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Last week, with the help of her daughters and a beautiful dress from DreamWrights, 101 year old Rebecca Woodward’s fairy tale came true. It all began with a discussion about Halloween. Rebecca announced to her daughters that she wanted to dress up like Cinderella and participate in the Halloween party at her senior living community. Rebecca’s daughters set into motion to make Rebecca’s wish come true. Daughter Faye Kroh turned to DreamWrights for wardrobe help. She explains, “The gown DreamWrights provided to Mother was a perfect fit. We topped it off with a lacy scarf, long satin gloves, jewelry, sparkly slippers, a blonde wig, and of course, a tiara! She truly looked royal.”

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When the Activities Director at her assisted living residence got wind of Rebecca’s plan, he decided to dress up as Prince Charming. During the Halloween party, Rebecca’s daughter, Linda Dyson, played “Someday My Prince Will Come” on the piano as the couple danced. They even took first prize in the costume contest. The staff and residents loved it!

Faye says that at 101 years old, her mother’s memory is failing. “She may not even carry this memory into the future, but for the moment, she felt young, beautiful, and very special.” It gave Faye and Linda a lot of satisfaction to see their beautiful mother so happy.

Cinderella reminds us, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” Isn’t it wonderful when dreams really do come true?!

Announcing our 2017 Season Lineup and 20th Year Milestone

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Not only does 2017 offer what promises to be a highly entertaining year of theatrical programming for DreamWrights Center for Community Arts, but also marks the theatre’s 20th year anniversary. “2017 will be an exciting year for us at DreamWrights,” comments Ann Davis, DreamWrights’ Executive Director. “Especially for those of us who are founding members and have been involved since the beginning, it is great to see the organization grow and develop. Since the beginning, DreamWrights has been offering educational and mentorship opportunities across multiple generations, while constantly strengthening our reach and impact on the greater York community. The 2017 season is well positioned to continue this growth.”

With shows from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, to the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Hilary Adams, Director of Artistic Programming, says that this season will provide opportunities behind the scenes or on the stage for the seasoned DreamWrights participant as well as those thinking about trying something new. Adams explains, “We have comedies, dramas, and musicals. We have classic and modern text. On the technical side, we will be creating a diverse variety of theatrical worlds. We look forward to engaging the community and welcoming people to DreamWrights.”

This season, DreamWrights is proud to stage a world premiere by local playwright, Paige Hoke, Peter Pan and Mary or, the Girl Who Would Not Be a Lady, a prequel to J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. For anyone familiar with Hoke or her work, this anticipated event promises to be popular for crew, cast, and audiences alike.

In addition, the 2017 season brings to life theatrical adaptations of books and films, including Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, family favorite, Babe the Sheep-Pig, and holiday staple, It’s a Wonderful Life. Adams reports, “In terms of education, adaptations provide an opportunity to experience a story in different forms. You could see the stage version first then work backwards, for example, watching the movie then reading the book, and then compare and contrast the differences between the various art forms.” She suggests this season provides plenty of inspiration for launching a reading club. “These adaptations would be fun to read and study. It would an excellent educational opportunity to look at an age appropriate theatrical adaptation, ask questions about the differences in the forms of the story, and then play with adapting a scene from the book or film to the stage.”

For summer time programming, DreamWrights’ Theatre Under the Trees brings Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew free to York County parks. Since 1998, Theatre Under the Trees has provided classic Shakespeare with a modern twist to fans and families.

DreamWrights 2017 season kicks off with Babe, the Sheep-Pig which runs February 10 – 26, followed by Pride and Prejudice (March 30 – April 1), Peter Pan and Wendy or, The Girl Who Would Not Be a Lady (May 5 – 21), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (June 22 – 25), The Taming Of the Shrew (July 21 – 29), The Mousetrap (August 11 – 20), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (October 6 – 22) and It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec 1 – 17). For further information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.dreamwrights.org.

Learning More than Just Lines at DreamWrights

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Katy Newton in 2007

Twenty-four year old Katy Newton says that DreamWrights was her first artistic endeavor in life. “It taught me how to use art to impact the community. It showed me how a large group of people can come together and produce something fun and entertaining! It taught me teamwork skills and respect for hard work.” After studying theatre and English in college, Katy went on to pursue a few art internships and now works in the art world at Whitney Museum of American Art.

Katy’s interest for theatre began in 1999 when she came to see DreamWrights’ production of Miracle on 34th Street. She remembers, “I was in first grade and my first ever crush was in the show! It was cool because we got to go to different rooms and walk around. All of the Christmas shows are special because the whole community comes out to see them and it’s a magical time of year.”

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Katy Newton (front) in The Clumsy Custard in 2002

Katy’s DreamWrights “career” began in 2002 with The Clumsy Custard when she was just nine years old. But she credits M*A*S*H (2007) and Welcome to the Monkey House (2008) as her favorites. “With M*A*S*H, I got to learn a lot of history about the Vietnam War as well as a few swing dancing moves. ”

A departure from the more traditional DreamWrights programming, Katy enjoyed Welcome to the Monkey House because of its unique take on four Kurt Vonnegut stories, complete with subtle societal messages. “It was one of the first DreamWrights teen shows, and was great to see literature brought to life on stage. The director, Jay Schmuck, was a lot of fun and the whole cast was great to work with because we were all about the same age.”

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Katy Newton (center front ) in M*A*S*H in 2007

Art appreciation, philanthropy, history, literature, dance moves, and life skills like teamwork and respect were all learning opportunities for Katy at DreamWrights during her formative years. Now that she’s a young adult, she finds that these experiences have benefited her in life and in her career. “Being able to improvise and adapt to different roles and fields of study is invaluable. Being able to use art as a way to give back to the community was one of the most important things I learned and is something I still try to do in my current career.”

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Katy Newton’s head shot for Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House in 2008

As for advice she gives to rising DreamWrights kids, Katy says, “Take chances; don’t second-guess yourself. Put yourself out there. Remember there is no timeline or correct way to do things — everyone goes at their own pace. It’s okay if you don’t have an idea of what you want to do when you grow up — nobody really does! You make it up as you go.”

Choose Your Fright Level at DreamFrights Haunted House

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Who doesn’t love a spooky story on a cool autumn night, with leaves blowing, and pumpkins grinning? This year, DreamWrights Center for Community Arts will be telling a theatrically haunted house story: DreamFrights! Designed by Ray Olewiler, this 350 foot haunted house maze will employ many theatrical effects to appeal to the senses. DreamFrights design volunteer and York City Solicitor, Jason Sabol explains, “You don’t find many haunted houses produced by a theater, so our technical ability to use lights, sounds, sets, and actors to create a frightening and fun – or mostly fun for the younger kids – walkthrough is at a higher level than your everyday local haunted house production. Not only that, the location itself is perfect! DreamWrights is going to be transformed into a creepy old theater and it certainly doesn’t hurt that we already have a resident ghost – or two!”

Concerned about it being too scary? Don’t be! DreamFrights will be performing at different levels of fright, so this is an event that the whole family can enjoy. DreamFrights starts off with the scare level ramped up the eve of Friday, October 26 from 7:00 – 9:00pm. So, the suggested age for that evening is 13+. But on Saturday, October 27 from 2:00 – 4:00pm DreamFrights will have a walkthrough designed for young children under age 7 where it will be more entertaining and humorous than scary. From 4:30 – 6:30pm, DreamFrights will crank the scares up a bit for kids between the ages of 7 and 12 (suggested). Then DreamFrights will go all out with frights from 7:00 – 9:00pm for the teenage and adult crowd!

Sabol says, “We wanted kids of all ages to be able to enjoy one of the best Halloween traditions, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure that it was scary enough for older kids to enjoy it. That’s how we came up the three levels of terror for the different age groups. We can make the haunted house as scary or mild as we want. So for older kids, we can amp up the terror – and blood – while the little ones still get a fun maze walkthrough. It really is the best of both worlds.”

DreamFrights Haunted House Fundraiser will begin spooking people on Friday, October 28 from 7:00-9:00 pm at the menacing level. Younger kids may prefer the mild fright level on Saturday, October 29 from 2:00 – 4:00pm. Medium frightfulness can be found from 4:30 – 6:30pm followed by menacing 7:00 – 9:00pm. Cost is $10.00 per person. Tickets are good for any of the 4 open house times and are available online through October 27 at 4pm or at the door. Proceeds will benefit DreamWrights. Suggested fright guidelines: Mild – under age 7, Medium – 12 and under, Menacing – 13 and up.

Designing Young Men

Sewing costumes in the theatre is not where you might expect to find boys. But eleven year old Daniel Perkins and thirteen year old Gianmarco Febres love the skills and experiences they are gaining while working on costume crew. Both of these bright and capable boys are putting their talents to work creating costumes for The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.

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Daniel Perkins (back) and Gianmarco Febres (front)

Gianmarco says he likes costumes equally to acting on stage. He was first on stage in 2013 for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow but he gave costuming a try earlier this year for Young King Arthur. He enjoyed it so much he’s doing it again now for The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. “I never thought about costumes that much until I actually got into costumes and then I realized it is really fun. Ironically I’m making a vest for my friend, and last time I made an apron thing for the same friend.”

This is Daniel’s first show in costumes but his second show at DreamWrights. He was previously on stage for The Secret Garden but now that he’s discovered how much fun costume crew is, he says he prefers it. “I would choose costumes over acting because actors have to memorize lines, blocking, and do quick costume changes. In costume crew you just have fun making the costumes.”

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Daniel sewing a costume

Daniel discloses that another reason he loves costume crew is because he likes being in charge of what the actors look like. “Even though many people think the actors are the best, the backstage crew honestly is. If it weren’t for the crew, the actors wouldn’t have anything. So that’s why I wanted to do costumes.”

Gianmarco says that thanks to his work in costumes he has discovered that he really likes to iron. “I like the heat of the iron best. I though t it was more complicated than it looks.” When asked about his favorite part of costume crew, Daniel emphatically answers, “Sewing! That is honestly my favorite part!” He credits DreamWrights and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit for teaching him this valuable skill. He explains, “Because now that I know how to sew, doors have opened up to me with opportunity. In school we had to make a costume for a project but now that I know how to sew it made it a lot easier.”

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Gianmarco working on the lining for his friend’s costume

Both boys agree that they enjoy theatre because it brings people together. Daniel says, “All these people you’ve never known before now you’re best friends.” Gianmarco adds, “What I like about it is that it connects the community. DreamWrights is a place that spawns more friendships than just in school and neighborhoods.”

Daniel recommends costume crew to anyone. “For someone who is hesitant about going into costumes, it might seem weird at first. But with all the skills you learn, later on you’ll appreciate that you learned them.”