Monthly Archives: December 2015

DreamWrights Alumni: Favorite Show

As we tie up the year of 2015 and embark on 2016, the year in which our founder and Artistic Director, Diane Crews, will retire from DreamWrights, it seems appropriate to check in again with our beloved alumni. This time, we wanted to share some favorite show memories from some of our favorite people.

1998 Best Christmas Pageant Ever (32)

Lexi Hubb’s favorite was playing Gladys Herdman in the 1998 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. “I remember hamming up how unruly Gladys was.  I was flying around the stage preparing for my role as the Angel of the Lord and Mel Eyster runs up behind me and catches me as I was flailing around the stage.  Tons of fun for a 12 year-old, well-behaved kid to have.”

Christiana Lipsitz lists Pageant as her favorite as well because it was her first lead role (Beth Bradley) and because of the sentiment of the story. “And, it was the first show I’d ever done with my dad… He played my dad!”

Melissa Baker (1)

Melissa L. E. Baker loved the 2001 Miracle on 34th Street. She remembers, “It was the first time I ever got to play a lead character. It was just so much fun and so rewarding. And, I got to have a daughter.  She was so cute.”

1997 Miracle on 34th St (1)

Dory Lerew  and Gary Hubb’s favorite was Miracle on 34th Street, but the 1997 experience. Dory says, “I think it was one of the first big DreamWrights productions and it was in a cool building with a huge cast and the audience moved around the building for each scene.” Gary

Dory Lerew Miracle 1997

remembers it similarly and fondly, “The run was held in an old city school and the audience moved from room to room to watch each scene performance. It was a play that involved a breakfast show, Santa Claus, and a collaboration of new faces mixed with the veterans of DreamWrights.  Two very important people who took part in this play are now sadly no longer with us: Ann Noll and Chris Davis, two of many amazing people that worked on the play.”

Nick Ryan’s favorite was Tom Sawyer Sings. “It was a great experience as a young kid to work with so many people and be involved in a fun production process.”

Rosa Terlazzo Our Town (3)

Rosa Terlazzo has a soft place in her heart for Our Town. “It’s such a beautiful play, and I think that it required the whole cast to really push ourselves. It certainly made me push myself more than any other show I was ever in – that play brought tears to my eyes at every single performance.”

Arlo Ehly has two favorites. As a performer, he enjoyed You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown and as a music director, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. “Charlie Brown was my favorite as it was such a sweet and charming show, and I landed my first big role (Charlie Brown) in a musical. It was also a show during which I made many new friends, whom I still keep in touch with today! Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was my favorite as a staff member as I felt it showcased the growth of the teen musical program. It was the first time we had a full orchestra for the show, and I piloted the newly installed A/V system now used for larger musicals. I also got to work with a bunch of talented teens and production staff members. The show itself was a big step for DreamWrights in terms of production values and some edgier content, all of which have continued to be staples of the teen musical.”

Rupert Meets Mrs Tales (2)

Calida Davis, Joe Nabholz, Brianne Good, and Dory Lerew (yep, she has two favorites) claim Rupert Meets Mrs. Tales as their favorite DreamWrights show.  Calida says, “I have a soft spot for Rupert… I performed almost all the roles at one time or another, and was one of the first Ruperts. I still have the bright red converse shoes that I wore for the part, whenever I wear them I think of performing Rupert!” Joe says,” I was also in the Rupert touring show from the beginning for probably ten or so years.  I was a founding member, and even though I was quite young I’m very happy that I was involved with DreamWrights from the very beginning.  There was an intense camaraderie with the founding families that was tangible.”

Rupert Meets Mrs Tales (3)

Brianne says, “Rupert was my favorite because I really enjoyed changing up what part I played. Also, because it was a touring show, the people I saw each time were different. I also think that it challenged me to be a better actor.” Calida agrees, “I LOVED the interactions with the kids in the audience and the versatility of all of the cast members playing whatever role fit for that particular show.”

Brianne, Dory, and Calida all enjoyed the challenge of the touring aspect which included never knowing in advance on what kind of stage (or floor) they would be performing. Brianne remembers, “We had to adapt to all kinds of different audiences, from preschool all the way to elder care and venues including outdoors, giant auditoriums, and stages so small they only fit a small portion of the set.”  Dory remembers it similarly, “We performed in all sorts of places, elementary schools, libraries, parking lots.”

Joe Nabholz You Can't Take it With You (2)

Besides Rupert, Joe Nabholz’s favorite experiences included You Can’t Take it With You and A Christmas Carol.  “Several times I was in the rare situation in which I had to fill in for an actor who was suddenly ill or had an accident and where their ‘other’ also couldn’t cover.  Those were thrilling experiences that I remember to this day–learning their part as best I could, literally hours before curtain time.”

Kate Harrison couldn’t choose just one favorite. There are several shows that are dear to her: Robin Hood (performed on Sumner Street), Miracle on 34th Street (performed at The Bradley Academy), and Arkansas Bear (traveled to a conference in South Carolina). She perfectly sums the sentiment of most, if not all of our alumni, “I couldn’t possibly decide! I loved any reason to be with our theater family!”

Thanks to the alumni who responded. If we haven’t connected with you yet, we would love to hear from you! Contact hilary@dreamwrights.org to share your wisdom and your whereabouts! Best wishes for a fantastic 2016!

Top 10 Things DreamWrights Techies Cannot Get Enough Of

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Tape – Masking tape, glow tape, scotch tape, double-sided tape, electric tape, spike tape, mic tape (surgical tape), hem tape, pretty silver tape, magnetic tape, police tape, Velcro® tape, friction tape, tape measures, and gaff tape (a fancy duct tape that holds most theaters together)

Help – As in, “I’ll help!” or the more common, “Help me!”

Anonymity – Why else would we dress in black and hang out BEHIND the set?

Teamwork – “Can’t get that screw in?  Get another person in there pushing on the drill!”

Learning & Experience – “Angle the drill upwards with a downhill ‘fermature’…. Just keep trying.  You’ll get it.”

DSC_6378

Imagination – “We need to find a (cheap) way to:  flood the stage, blow up the world, etc.”  Just another day at DreamWrights.

Drills – “Bob, I would be working but we’re out of drills.”

Pins – Safety and bobby

FOOD – But this might just be a York thing. (Or “Bob, Is it snack time yet?”)

YOU! – We miss you when you are not here!  And bring a friend!

Bob “T. Builder” McCleary
Technical Director, DreamWrights

Directors’ Advice: Audition Etiquette

With auditions for The Secret Garden just around the corner, DreamWrighters turned to our resident director as well as a few of our recent guest directors for some advice. Here is the second installment of wisdom and guidance on the topic of Audition Etiquette.

DreamWrighters: Thanks for taking a few moments to share your advice and experiences with our audience. Hopefully this advice will benefit new actors, experienced actors, as well as directors. As a director, Can you give us a few pointers on audition etiquette? What to do? What not to do?

Auditions

Paige Hoke: For me, the biggest “do’s” are being as nice, outgoing, confident, and prepared as possible. Act this way from the moment you enter the door to the moment you leave because directors and audition helpers do talk to each other and directors tend to be super observant. <wink>  Most directors look not only for talent, but for people they want to work with!

Also, make sure you say thank you after your audition! Always try to read the play or musical, or at least a synopsis, beforehand. This helps a lot if you are not given materials to use ahead of time. But if you are given materials beforehand, practice them a lot and be comfortable with them!

As far as don’ts…. don’t hide any conflicts you have, and don’t apologize or make excuses if you do mess up! Just keep going and recover from the mistake. 🙂

Rodd Robertson

Rodd Robertson: Have fun with it.  If you are nervous it will translate to the audition panel.  Someone who is having fun, is relaxed and handles any audition situation with poise will be remembered as someone with whom directors will want to work. Roll with the process.

Diane Crews: Dress comfortably and appropriately.  You need to be able to move freely.  No high heels, tight/short skirts/pants, not a lot of skin, and please don’t dress like the character you want to play.  The latter will usually be a negative for a director.  Casting is the director’s job! Be yourself … have energy … project … if asked to read different characters, make sure there is a difference.

Kirk Wisler: Be professional, listen to the panel, have your phone off, not doing this could really hurt you. Don’t give the audition panel any reason not to cast you. Have good eye contact with people in scene.

Michelle Denise Norton: Listen.  Be nice to other people.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand.  Be yourself, which may seem counterintuitive but actually works.

About the Directors

Diane Crews: Artistic Director and Playwright-in-Residence at DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre. Diane is currently directing The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Having directed well over one hundred shows at DreamWrights, Pageant will be her last holiday production as she is set to retire in the Fall of 2016.

Paige Hoke: Paige Hoke is 2010 graduate of Arcadia University’s BFA in Acting Program. She has experience directing, teaching, and acting in the York and Philadelphia areas. She most recently directed Seussical at DreamWrights.

Michelle Denise Norton: Founder and Director of DreamWrights’ Theatre Under The Trees program.  Along with all of her theatrical endeavors, Michelle is also a writer, artist and cartoonist.  In Summer 2016, Theatre Under The Trees will be bringing As You Like It to local parks

Rodd Robertson: Director and actor, Rodd lists “Leo” from Leading Ladies and “Prof. Koknitz” from The Mouse That Roared as two favorite of his favorite roles.  He has directed a handful of productions including To See the Stars and Nancy Drew: Girl Detective at DreamWrights and elsewhere.

Kirk Wisler: Kirk made his directorial debut at DreamWrights this past summer, directing The Mouse that Roared. He has taken part in over thirty plays from 2001 until the present day. He hopes to continue directing and acting at DreamWrights for many more years to come.

All in the Family

Any time of year is a wonderful time to get involved with your family at DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre. However, a holiday show at DreamWrights with your family is extra special. A handful of families participate in the theatre as a complete (or nearly complete) family.  Because they love it so much, they keep coming back for more.

Natalie Smith as Grace Bradley, center in navy
Natalie Smith as Mrs. Grace Bradley, center in navy.

Natalie Smith and her three children have done three shows at DreamWrights including The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which is currently running. After living abroad for many years, Natalie looked for something to help her family get oriented with their new community when they moved into the area. Natalie explains, “DreamWrights offers a place for all of us to feel welcome and connected. The people involved with this theatre are so friendly and family-focused. It’s a fun way to spend quality family time together and the holiday show definitely puts us in the holiday spirit!”

Andrea Unger, far left as Mrs. Irma Slocum. Her husband, David Unger, center as Reverend Hopkins
Andrea Unger, far left as Mrs. Irma Slocum. Her husband, David Unger, center as Reverend Hopkins.

Andrea Unger, her husband, and her youngest son have participated in ten DreamWrights shows together, including The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. “Since we are a small family (our two oldest boys are out of state as are our other relatives) being in the Christmas shows has been like celebrating the holidays with an extended family,” she jokes, “…one that you actually like and want to spend time with!”

Natalie says there are many perks to participating together as a family. “It gives us some fun conversation topics at home. We all enjoy meeting new people at DreamWrights and also seeing other families we’ve been with before.” Andrea’s son, Jonah explains, “Being together gives me an opportunity to talk over the play with my family, to receive critiques and suggestions….and also to give them.”

Jonah Unger
Jonah and Dave Unger on stage together.

After rehearsals and the performances the Ungers pile in the car and go over the show in detail, all the way home. They discuss any mishaps that may have occurred, (Andrea discloses, “Live theatre! Yes, it happens!”) talk about audience reactions, as well as things upon which they could change or improve.  “We talk and laugh and tweak all through the run of the show,” Andrea reveals. Over the course of the shows in which the Ungers have been involved, they have developed some family traditions:  Handel’s for ice cream after auditions, recording the script to help with memorizing lines, and giving little surprises to each other instead of flowers after the last performance, to mention a few.

All three of Natalie Smith's children perform in the play along with her.
All three of Natalie Smith’s children perform in the play along with her.

Natalie loves having the opportunity to participate in activities like live theatre with her children. “I hope someday they will look back on this experience and want to participate in activities like this with their own children.” Andrea gets right to a big reason why DreamWrights is special. “While we participate in theatre as a family, we do this at Jonah’s lead; theater is where he wants to be. DreamWrights has made it possible for us to do this together.  I don’t know of any other theatre that considers the entire family during the selection process.”

To see how much fun the Smiths and the Ungers are having this holiday season, join us for a performance of the The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on December 11, 12, 18 & 19 – 6:30 pm or December 12, 13, 19 & 20 – 2:30 pm. Then bring yourself (or even better –  the whole family) to audition for The Secret Garden on December 15 or 16 at 6pm.  Visit dreamwrights.org for more information.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

This holiday, DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre will present The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a classic Christmas comedy written by Barbara Robinson.  It’s a story about hardship, discovery, and making a difference in the lives of others, which in turn makes a difference in our own.

DreamWrights' 'Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

As six delinquent siblings with the promise of donuts, find their way to church at Christmastime shenanigans, misbehavior, mishaps ensue. Through the comedy of it all; however, is the reality that we all know kids like the Herdmans – naughty, misguided, but good at heart. We’ve crossed paths with them in our lives. Artistic Director, Diane Crews, was attracted to direct this production for this very reason. “Just like the church ladies in the play point out, ‘Real is what they were.’ We all know these characters.”

Speaking of characters and families, this production is family friendly to audiences, cast, and crew alike. Of the 80 cast and 65 staff and crew members, 30 of our families involved have multiple family members participating. Four families have four and ten families have three members involved. Of course, these individuals make up a myriad of cast and crew combinations ranging from a father Food Coordinator and daughter actress, to a father Production Stage Manager and son actor, brother and sister on set crew, a mother actress and son sound designer, and so on. Seventeen year old Kalie Stroup says she’s excited to participate in this show with her dad “because this was the first show we did together six years ago!”

1998 Best Christmas Pageant Ever (16)

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever has previously played at DreamWrights in 1999, 2003, and 2009. Not only will this be Diane Crews’ fourth time directing this show, it will also be the fourth time acting in it for several cast members as well. Four timer Joan Bitzer says that she’s enjoyed playing the different “church ladies” and this time she’s having fun being the bossy one. “I love this show. It has moments that offer the audience, as well as the cast and crew, a good, warm Christmas feeling,” explains Joan. “Plus, it’s funny! It’s got everything a Christmas show should have.”

Cast-C-268

Diane agrees that this show is special. “Each performance is as unique as the actors in it, and each actor is unique in his or her own way.”  Diane also reminds us that this production is extra meaningful to her because it is her last holiday production at DreamWrights as she will be retiring in 2016. She recalls directing her granddaughter in the 2009 production,” She was one of the smallest baby angels and now she is the tallest non-baby angel!”

Even if you’ve seen Pageant before, you won’t be disappointed to see it again. Those Herdman kids are an awful lot of fun, and the story is as touching as it is funny.  Even Diane never tires of it, “I always laugh and cry, and I have seen it hundreds of times, if you count all the rehearsals. It is what the season is all about!”

DreamWrights' 'Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

DreamWrights’ The Best Christmas Pageant Ever opens December 4 at 6:30 pm and runs for 12 shows: December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19 – 6:30 pm and December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 & 20 – 2:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dreamwrights.org or by calling 717-848-8623. Seats cost $10 for general, $14 for reserved.

The Power of Giving

York County Cares

Here’s a secret I’ve learned over time – when I support the causes that I believe in by making a donation (no matter the size of that gift), I feel the strength of my influence as I help to make a difference in my community and in the world. That’s powerful in these uncertain times when it feels as if so many things are out of our control. Sure, I’d love to be able to write those really big checks, but the reality is – a gift is a gift no matter how small – and those small ones can still make a difference.  Besides, giving can be contagious, it will make you feel good, and those small gifts can add up quite quickly.

#GivingTuesdayYork is a great example of community members pulling together on one day and making a bigger statement by supporting the nonprofits they believe in. This day is about giving unselfishly and follows all of those annual days of spending money on ourselves and others – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday.

coffee cup giving

So today, whether you choose to contribute the loose change in your pocket, forgo your morning coffee, or you are able to make a big fat donation – you are joining millions of others in a powerful way and making a difference that truly counts.

DreamWrights would be pleased to benefit from any gift you are willing and able to give. Tax deductible donations may be made online here or by mailing your contribution to DreamWrights at 100 Carlisle Avenue, York, PA 17401. We thank you for your generosity. A gift is a gift no matter how small.

Ann Davis
Executive Director
DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre