Monthly Archives: April 2012

Fiddlin’ Fun with Shakespeare!

Our Fancy Fiddler

Our homeschool co-op drama classes did the test run on A Shakespearean Tale and did a fun and amazing job! We say amazing because these kids get ridiculously little time to rehearse, but manage the miracle of rising to the challenge of a pretty big production.

We have two drama classes — 3rd through 6th and 7th through 12th, with actors and singers ranging from 9 to 18. They tackled 7 songs, a little Shakespeare, and a lot of comedy.

Surrey Gas Station Gang

Our guitar and keyboard carried the musical day until we got to Stratford Corners, Alabama, where we were treated to the fancy fiddling of professional musician George Merritt. Thanks, George! The show ended with a little country swing dancing, with the cast invading the audience.

We played a trick on the cast when Rosie made her entrance with a rather large “bun in the oven.” Her very surprised stage husband, Will Surrey, rolled right with it and the audience had some good laughs.

Look for more pictures on our auditions page.

The Unlikely Actor

For the past 11 years, in our drama production classes, everyone who signs up for class commits to the end-of-semester production.

That is the purpose of the class.  Everyone’s in. No auditions. Our musical comedy for that semester must include each person in the class. Thus, the necessity to customize each script. If the actor is new to me, I have to guess the best I can, but it’s worked out amazingly well.

Most of the kids (ages 9 to 18) want to be in the class. Some have been regulars for the entire 11 years. Some come and go, depending on other activities or class needs in their lives. Many bound into the class at age 9 after waiting impatiently for years to qualify. They’ve watched the productions, hounded their moms, finally had “the” birthday, and they are ready! (It does make a writer/director feel good!)

Sometimes a mom will “persuade” a son or daughter to sign up for class (or just put them in it) because it will “do them some good,” “bring them out a little,” challenge them, push them out of their shy comfort zone, etc. Usually I go very gently on such a child and cast them where they can ease into the stage experience with just enough lines and not too much pressure. I get a variety of outcomes. The kid may be there one semester and never return. The kid may decide they enjoy it enough to continue and I bring them along slowly and steadily. And occasionally they discover they really love it! And mom tells me that drama is now all they talk about. And I’m talking about guys, not just girls.

I’ve got a couple of guys like that right now. I took a chance on the younger one because I needed to — I only had two fellas in the younger class (which is unusual — one time I had only one girl). This kid was new and drama was not his dream. But I put him in a starring role — and he blossomed! He decided he really liked it and he took direction well and he improved with every rehearsal, finally doing a great job in the performance.

The older guy was new the previous semester and did a decent job in a supporting role. I could tell he was trying and improving as class progressed. He liked it enough to return, to his mom’s great surprise and delight. I crafted a funny role just for him in a new comedy — it turned out to be my favorite character. He grabbed hold of it and became a star! And got rave reviews.

The unlikely actor — look for them, take a chance on them, and encourage them. It’s a rewarding experience!

Make Your Own Kind of Music!

Live Music Productions by FFPWe’re prejudiced. We like live music.

Not just because we’re musicians, but because there’s nothing like live music and musicians “on the spot” to inspire a performer and enliven an audience.

It makes the director happy because the performance is adjustable in so many ways: the musicians can follow the singers, the music can be dialed back for weaker singers or tender moments, and the musicians can adjust the scene-changing music to whatever reality presents itself, and so on.

Every production we have ever done, wherever we’ve been, has been with our own varying combinations of guitar, keyboard, drums, and bass players. And sometimes trumpet, violin, banjo, or fiddle players. They’ve always managed to be available, either within our own group, or closely associated.

The music in this summer’s A Shakespearean Tale will be live, complete with fiddle.

It’s a great experience for the singers to get to perform with a live band. And it certainly does a lot for the audience!

Captivate with Costumes!

Eye-catching costumes can lift a production from common to classy, and help captivate your audience, from the kids to the grandparents.

Bugsy Bigtime from Sam Shade and The Case of the True Meaning of Christmas by FFP

Bugsy Bigtime has fun at Rose Costumes

Costumes are fun! They help your actors “get into” their character and convey that role to their audience. Imaginative costuming is a powerful way to create the atmosphere you want for your script, and helps “carry away” your audience to another time and place.

Depending on our budget and the size of our cast, we try to accomplish whatever we can with digging through our closets, borrowing from friends, shopping at thrift stores, and designing and making our own simple costumes. It’s amazing what looks you can create on your own with a little imagination.

However, there are always those roles that demand special costumes — then we head for the experts, and Rose Costumes has been first on our list for some 10 years. From gangsters, to pirates, to cowboys and prairie girls, to socialites, policemen, news boys and Shakespeare, whatever time period or adventure we conjure up, Rose is always ready to help us dress it up!

As you can see from our own Mr. Bugsy Bigtime, a good costume shop is a great place to have a good time! It inspires your young actors and the cast always looks forward to visiting Rose in Denton, Texas. The staff is always very friendly and helpful, and we greatly appreciate the pizzazz Rose has added to our productions over the years.