This year marks a major milestone for DreamWrights – its twentieth year anniversary. Founded in 1997 as a community and family theatre, DreamWrights was built on the values of collaboration, perseverance, dedication, responsibility, leadership, and education. Now, twenty years later, DreamWrights still upholds the same basic tenants as it did all those years ago, but with a broader focus. Just last year, DreamWrights expanded from a youth and family theatre to an inclusive center for community arts by offering new programming that includes open mic nights, art classes, and improv for older adults.
Joan Bitzer and her family of four were part of DreamWrights from the start. Joan has seen many changes as she’s participated and volunteered her way through the past twenty years. “Watching DreamWrights grow from an idea in 1997 to a huge and successful educational arts facility has been an absolute joy. When we started planning, we had a vision that has been far surpassed in both the size and scope of what DreamWrights is and does.” Joan’s daughter, Allison Witherow agrees, “What started as a few families in a small church basement has turned into an arts organization that has touched the lives of thousands in our community.”
Since 1997, DreamWrights has had an impact on literally thousands in the community. The magic of DreamWrights has reached more than 206,000 audience members with its touring and traditional shows and has engaged more than 200,000 people through camps, classes, workshops, casts and crews. Joan says that she hopes DreamWrights continues to grow and meet the needs of the community while retaining the values, opportunities, and wholesome atmosphere that has helped shape community leaders and strengthen family relationships.
Allison started at DreamWrights in 1997 as Janet Mara in Miracle on 34th Street and now holds a seat on the Board of Directors. Allison shares, “DreamWrights has been a part of my life for each of the 20 years of its own life. It has taught and continues to teach me life lessons about responsibility and collaboration. I think I would truly be a different, less driven person if it weren’t for the lessons I’ve learned at DreamWrights.”
Throughout its history, DreamWrights has proven that there is a passionate audience for its valued programs. As a center for community arts, DreamWrights is poised to more fully realize its vision of broad access to its transformational programs and greater engagement with the community. To that end, DreamWrights has launched a capital campaign to raise funds to revitalize and reimagine its building and offerings to be able to attract new participants, audiences, and partnerships.
Joan has seen many changes to the DreamWrights building throughout the years, but she says construction doesn’t change the foundation of what DreamWrights is. “I would like people to know that through participation in DreamWrights, they can find a place in their community where people are welcoming and inclusive, where their children can be among good role models, and where adults can find a group of peers with whom they can share quality time and make life-long friendships.”
As we countdown the days to 2017, our twentieth year, we take a moment to relish our accomplishments and great memories from 2016.
10. Our transition from a Youth and Family Theatre to a Center for Community Arts
In March we began to transition our identity from a Youth and Family Theatre to a Center Community Arts. Building characters for life became our mantra while putting growth center stage was identified as the inspiration behind our capital campaign. As a Center for Community Arts, a new Innovative Programming Committee was formed and wasted no time sponsoring DreamWrights’ first Open Mic Night. Budding comedians, talented musicians, and a friendly faced magician graced the stage of our relaxed and casual space. We had so much fun we are planning to do it again soon!
9. New camp and event programming
This year, DreamWrights offered a wider array of art and performance based camps as well as a few new events. Our first ever DreamFrights Haunted House was a huge success! With different fright levels, we were able to entertain young ones up through older kids and adults who enjoy the thrill of the scare. We hosted a tea parties during the runs of The Secret Garden and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit and we had cookies, cocoa, and caroling with Santa, Dorothy, and the Wizard in Oz earlier this month. Flippin’ Broadway, a cabaret of Broadway show tunes with a fun twist, was a crowd pleaser in February.
7. The enthusiasm and energy that Guest Directors bring
This year, DreamWrights benefited from the expertise of five guest directors: Andrea Unger (Our Miss Brooks and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit), Nic Ecker (Legally Blonde), Michelle Denise Norton (As You Like It), Kirk Wisler (The Beverly Hillbillies), and Jaci Keagy (The Wizard of Oz). In anticipation of the upcoming season, where we will be using six guest directors and three guest assistant directors, a formalized guest director process was introduced. The first introduction and kickoff meeting for guest directors was held in early December. Please join us in welcoming Guest Directors Rodd Robertson (directing Pride and Prejudice), Andrea Unger (Peter Pan and Mary), Michelle Denise Norton (The Taming of the Shrew), Timothy Storey (The Mousetrap), Chris Quigley (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), and Jaci Keagy (It’s a Wonderful Life) as well as Guest Assistant Directors Amanda Nowell, Kevin Alvarnaz, and Andrea Unger. We hope that our improved processes for these guest directors will make for an even better experience for our crews, casts, and audiences!
This year we honored the career of founding member, Diane Crews, and we welcomed Hilary Adams, our new Director of Artistic Programming. Diane’s DreamWrights career was memorialized in the naming of our black box theatre. Hilary has hit the ground running as she is currently finalizing the crews and casts of her first DreamWrights production, Babe, the Sheep-Pig.
We ended the year with a bang as we enjoyed our 4 minutes of fame on Fox 43‘s morning show on December 1. It was a great way to kick off our run of The Wizard of Ozas nearly every show was sold out. Our hearts, minds, and confidence was renewed as we remember that there’s no place like home – or your second home – as many of you call this place known as DreamWrights.
What began as a dream took a foothold in reality this year with the funds we have raised towards our capital campaign. We brought our message to the broader community through fundraising events like Hats at the Hound. Although we have not met our goal of $2.5 million dollars, we are standing strong at $1.8 million with phased construction plans and approvals from the appropriate local municipalities to begin moving forward with our construction this spring. We are excited for the opportunities the future holds with the new studio space, upgraded building enhancements, and expanded programming. We have received some amazing support from businesses and individuals alike. We thank you for your support. If you have not done so already, we graciously ask you to consider helping us get closer to our goal.
1. You walking through our doors
Your involvement is what makes DreamWrights the amazing community it is. People of all ages, from all backgrounds and experiences are welcome to safely explore the arts, try new things, and be part of something bigger than themselves. DreamWrights builds characters for life. We look forward to working together with you again in the coming year to create our best, brightest, and biggest year yet!
At first, Maddie Herrington wasn’t sure theatre was for her. Her younger brother, Jack, gave it a try first when he was cast in Young King Arthur. Jack had so much fun coming home and discussing it with his family. So when Jack decided he wanted to try out again for The Wizard of Oz, Maddie decided to audition too, “I just really wanted to be a part of the show but I didn’t want to act because I was afraid of singing in front of people.” She says her mom suggested working behind the scenes on the set and since “moving stuff around the stage” sounded fun to Maddie, she signed up for set crew. Maddie’s mom, Katie, was recruited too.
Katie is pleased with the new skills that Maddie and even she herself are learning, like how to use different power tools. Katie enjoys watching Maddie grow from the experience. “The confidence in saying, ‘I don’t know how to do this but I’m willing to learn’ then coming home and going, ‘Hey Dad! I learned how to use a jigsaw tonight!’ Realizing that you just gained that new experience…that new skill set… it’s been great.”
Maddie beams when asked about the power tools – her favorite part of working on set crew. “I liked doing the drill. I finally got the hang of it. I had to learn how to use power tools to build the scenes. The people who help us are really nice. If we forget to do something they will always help us out.”
Katie says it has been a fabulous experience. “Just being able to do something new like [learning to use power tools]. And it’s been fun to make it a family experience. Because we’re busy anyway, we might as well be busy together!”
Maddie Herrington is in 5th grade at Dallastown Area Intermediate School. Come see the beautiful set Maddie, Katie, and the rest of the amazing DreamWrights set crew have crafted when The Wizard of Oz takes the stage. You might even get a glimpse of Maddie and Katie shifting set pieces, dressed in black, in between scenes. Keep your eyes open on stage for Maddie’s brother, Jack, who plays the Mayor of the Munchkins. Show dates and times: 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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’”
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.”
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.
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.”
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?!
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 musicalThe 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.
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.
The Adventures of Peter Rabbit opens at DreamWrights Center for Community Arts with some hidden surprises for the audience to discover. These “Easter eggs” help to knit the scenes together, adding another layer to the story. This is an aspect of the show that really excites Guest Director, Andrea Unger. “In our production meetings, we’ve discussed visuals and sounds that tie Beatrix Potter’s real life – reality – to her imagination – her stories. For instance, the jacket that Peter Rabbit wears is the same jacket that Noel Moore, the boy for whom Peter Rabbit was written, also wears. This particular production offered many opportunities for this extra layering. Not everyone in the audience will consciously notice these subtle details. Hopefully, those who do will find as much delight in discovering them as we did in making them.”
Unger admits that at first she was unsure about directing this production because she thought the play was about Peter Rabbit. But then she read the script and realized she was mistaken. Unger explains, “I was captured by the depth of the story, which is actually more about Beatrix Potter, the author of the Peter Rabbit stories. The play portrays her life, and how some of her stories came to be, in an imaginative and playful narration.” Unger says the storyline moves quickly enough to keep the attention of younger children while being complex enough to keep the attention of adults, too. “You will learn something and you will laugh. And the mice are just so darned cute!”
DreamWrights is offering the chance to enjoy tea and confections with Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit on Saturday, October 22 from 1:00 – 2:00pm. The tea is open to all ages and attendees are encouraged to wear their garden party finery. The cost for the tea is $10 per person. Stay for the 2:30pm matinee and save $3. Tickets for the tea are available through Oct. 21 at 4:00pm.
The Adventures of Peter Rabbit and its delightful surprises opens Friday, October 7 and runs October 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 6:30pm and October 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23 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.