Young people today are bombarded by images of what they ‘should’ look like, due to social media exposure. The ‘perfect’ body is just a societal construct and this unhealthy ideal needs to be eradicated. Young people should be encouraged to accept themselves no matter their shape and size, and to be confident in themselves as people. No one likes horrible people, even if they are a size petite. The popular movie musical Grease is still hugely popular today, and while the songs are undeniably catchy, I don’t think the message portrayed by Sandy’s drastic change at the end of the movie is entirely the right one to be sending out to today’s impressionable teens and young adults.Read More
What's one more red rose? No, I'm not talking about Hadestown.
You know how you can hear something and have it change your life forever? Well, in typical art kid fashion, I heard a poem. It was sprung on me by my acting teacher my sophomore year of high school. She was monologuing about something I couldn't even begin to remember, and all of a sudden she segued into the most beautiful piece of text I had ever heard. It was a big metaphor comparing love to everything and anything you could could imagine and trying to figure out just what it was that made love so special. The piece is called “Little Word, Little White Bird” by Carl Sandburg, and after hunting for a few years, I finally found it in some obscure corner of the internet. Read it for yourself here (I would recommend reading it aloud):Read More
“It’s my fifth year. I just want a line.” Written on audition form by a girl in a musical theater summer program.
There is a glaring achievement gap in children’s theater. Every town seems to have a handful of girls who could go on America’s Got Talent (ATG) and get an impressed nod from Simon Cowell. They are the budding Rachel Berry’s in our lives. These girls, (I call them the ATG girls), through a combination of genetics and opportunity have golden voices and a surfeit of self-confidence. They are amazing. Most of them work hard and show up on time and they get all the leads from the time they are ten years old. And they nail these parts almost every time. They are joyful to watch.Read More
It’s true that musical theatre has never been afraid of trying new things, and this seems to be especially true today. Whether it’s the diverse hip-hop influences in Hamilton, or the electro-pop opera that was Great Comet, or the musical melting pot of Hadestown, new musical landscapes are constantly being explored. That said, there remains one genre largely untouched by Broadway: heavy metal.Read More
In 2010, one of my closest friends passed away after an 18 month battle with cancer. She and I were both a sweet 12 years old. I was finishing 6th grade; she had been homeschooled for over a year. Her loss was a brick wall of emotions and realities that my 12-year-old mind was not equipped to handle. This time in my life could have been far more tumultuous than it was, thanks to one random day.
After being home sick with the flu for three days, my mother walked me into school with a signed doctor's note. One of my teachers stopped us in the hall and asked my mother if she had signed the permission slip for auditions. What auditions? Well, for the upcoming fairy tale play! We shrugged our shoulders, and my mom signed off on my appearing at auditions. One of the beauties of middle school theatre, everyone was given a role. I started attending rehearsals twice a week in February. In April, the news broke that our darling friend had lost her cancer battle. Our classmate, our friend, had passed away. The emotions of the 6th-grade hallway were palpable.Read More
It is through telling stories that humans communicate, and problem solve. We tell stories to gain empathy, to make money, to steer one to action, to gather support, and (not nearly often enough) to teach. When I purchase a newspaper, I expect to find the facts presented without bias. When I find out that I have been misled or flat out fed false information, I feel manipulated and betrayed.
Readers have expectations, some of which writers have a responsibility to acknowledge. If one picks up a novel from the romance section, there are specific points that the story must hit on for a reader to feel as if they have indeed read a romance novel. The storyteller has a bit of flexibility, but at the heart of the story, there needs to be, well, heart. When I write a play, I know there are certain things that the audience expects, and some things that I have the power to change to convey the message that I wish to send. I have certain obligations as a storyteller that I stick to for me to feel like I have done my job.Read More
Be More Chill has everything you could want in a musical- teen angst, a party scene (everyone loves a good party scene), catchy songs, and lovable characters. But at some point, everyone around you is going to get tired of you playing it every time they give you the aux cord. So- here’s a list of musicals you’ll fall in love with if you like Be More Chill.Read More
This past weekend, I had the immense pleasure of visiting the Walter Kerr Theatre with a high school theatre company to see “Hadestown.” Going in, I had seen bits of the promo video, I had heard a few of the songs, and I knew the premise of the plot- Orpheus, and Eurydice set in a bluesy coal mining town kind of style. I knew, basically, what the production looked like, and I knew what it sounded like.
What I did not know, is what it would feel like.Read More
For over forty years, I have been performing and directing in community theatre, and one thing has been a real concern to me…censorship of a published work.
I guess for me; it is about presenting the piece as it was written for the stage. By not doing this, you are not giving an audience the real product as it was meant to be. I was involved in a production of The Full Monty, and we did THE FULL MONTY at the end of the show. Audiences loved it! You do need to have the right lighting effects in order to pull this off, of course. But we did, and it went off without a hitch.
When allowed to direct it for another theatre company possibly, I asked if they would be going all the way. Their answer was, “No.” That cemented my answer for that opportunity.Read More
The Crazy Feminist on the Board Who Believes in the Bechdel Test
I didn’t set out to become a stage mother. I quit theater when I was 19, and it was quite liberating. I did not have a thick enough skin to be an actor, and I never would. Once I learned that about myself, I walked away and focused on other things like horses. But much to my surprise almost 30 years later, here I am on the board of a local repertory theater.
Three summers ago, I enrolled my then 11-year-old daughter in the Wakefield Repertory Theater’s production of Shrek. She was ambivalent. She was downright furious when she was cast in the ensemble. But the program was less than a mile from my house, reputable, and really, really affordable. Within a week she was hooked. She made friends, and she found her passion. Great! I thought. There are our next few summers. All set. Done.
Then in November of the same year, I learned that the theater’s nonprofit board had morphed and they didn’t have enough folks on the board to run the program. This is the way of nonprofit boards. They are all volunteer. People bicker, they burn out, their kids age out and they change over time. I don’t know what made me raise my hand. It was probably though the thought of telling my daughter that her beloved summer program was no more.
Suddenly I was in a position to help pick the show. Due to the timing of the new board coming on, we had to choose a show and secure the rights before we hired a director. Suddenly my priorities were front and center. What were they?
1. No princesses.
2. Gender neutral casting opportunities
3. More good parts for girls than boys
4. No princesses
Why this passionate bias against princesses? To put a group of middle school kids in a show that glorifies cis/het relationships seems quaint and outdated. These kids ask each other, “What are your pronouns?” like they are asking what kind of coffee they want for their Starbucks order. They have a much more evolved and practical view of gender than I did at their age. So to put on a misogynist Disney princess ode to heterosexual romance musical is antithetical to everything I believe in as both a mother and a board member. What is the underlying message of these shows? Beauty and the Beast: You can change him if you love him enough! The Little Mermaid: If you are pretty, you can just bat your eyes, and the prince will fall in love! Don’t get me started on Cinderella. Women are evil except you, Cinderella! Most of those shows require that certain parts must be played by a girl or a boy. We have ten times as many girls as boys in our productions, and I want our casting opportunities to reflect that.
I know I irritate the crap out of my fellow board members with my No Princesses! stance. But they are a tolerant lot, and we tend to back down when someone feels really strongly about something. So, for now, we choose shows where almost every lead can be played by a kid of any gender. Last summer we did Alice in Wonderland. This summer we are doing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the first time in the history of our 20 year existence. We are very excited. And I sure as heck don’t see why Caractus Potts can’t be played by the best actor for the job regardless of their gender. But now it is time for me to step back and let our director do her thing.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own.