A Pirates’ Tale

Did You Know You Teach Your Audience to Give You Those Laughs? Or to Hold Them Back?!

Full house DVD watch party

Full House for the DVD Watch Party

Now that A Most Fantastical Pirate Tale! production is Opera House history, and we are all enjoying watching the wonderfully edited DVD that draws from all 4 performances, let’s see how the DVD can improve our acting and, in particular, the laughs we get from our audiences!

Yes, young actors, there are a number of ways that you actually cue the audience to laugh, or not to laugh. If you pay attention to the DVD, you will begin to see the most obvious laugh killer ~ it’s not stepping on the lines of your fellow actors ~ it’s stepping on the laughs of your audience! Watch and learn how you actually train the audience to hold back their laughter (in all but their most boisterous moments) because the audience is afraid their laughter will drown out your next line. They want to hear you, so they chuckle quietly. When you charge ahead too quickly, without a slight pause to see if the laugh comes and for how long, you actually teach the audience to hold back to avoid laughing over your next words.

You can see it best in television shows that are recorded before a live audience. Now, those are edited ~ and scenes, even though live, are shot and reshot. The audience is prepared for that. The audience is also “warmed up” and actually has cue signs. But you can tell a real laugh, and you’ll note the actors pause just long enough each time, allowing the audience to respond.

Now, “you lot,” on the stage ~ no cue signs, no retakes. The stage is true actor/audience interaction. It’s the real deal. And that’s why all the best actors love it the best ~ and often go back to it, during and/or following successful movie and television careers.

So,…observe the DVD carefully and think about the most important thing about the performance ~ the live chemistry and energy exchange between you and your audience. It is certainly something that comes with experience and practice ~ the feel for audience response. How long to pause for a laugh, without pausing too long and slowing or even disrupting the flow of the play.

Want more laughs? You got quite a few, but you can get even more! Watch and learn, pirates. Watch and learn!

Our Pirates’ Tale Transformed into “Most Fantastical!”

Most Fantastical Pirate Tale full graphicThe 6th public production for FFP ~ the 4th to be staged at our new home, the Pilot Point Community Opera House ~ turned out to be the biggest, best, most spectacular show we have ever done. Our Christmas 2014 performance of A Shakespearean Tale! was a huge success and very well received, with some of our best acting to date ~ and some exceptional singing. But this latest “Tale” has generated the biggest “buzz” ever. Four large audiences (over 425 counted) heartily agreed with four spontaneous standing ovations!

Fri PT The Sing OffWe had a large, new influx of cast members, including an exceptional singer and actress who led our “pirate crew” to unforeseen heights. We went all out on the multi-level set, which became a star unto itself, including Bob the Octopus and three sails swinging from the rafters. We added several new Broadway-style musical numbers for a total of 9 original songs (plus one transformed traditional pirate ditty). Characters and story were greatly fleshed out and reworked, and some new characters added ~ including our favorite butler Jeeves who sailed in from last summer’s The Girl I Left Behind Me. He was a hit, to be sure. “A lint roller?! Westerly, are you responsible for this?!”

So we now have A Most Fantastical Pirate Tale!, with its own soaring song, in classic Broadway style, “a most fantastical, most magnificent, most peculiar, pirate tale!!” delivered each time with inspiring energy and enthusiasm.

Much more to come, on this and other subjects. The action has been centered on our Facebook page this past year, as the casts and audience members tend to hang around that neighborhood. But we’re determined to revitalize the blog and integrate it more with the Facebook. Please join us!

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Recording Songs from A Pirates’ Tale

Singing and Waiting for Your Cue!

Singing and Waiting for Your Cue!

As a number of our singers have discovered, recording is a discipline unto itself! It is not easy. It definitely is not the same as performing on stage!

There is no audience and no cast interaction and so there’s a lot of energy missing. The recording talent have to create their own energy. Plus, they need to do their best to sing with the full expression of their character while staring at the right spot on the microphone. They can’t make noise with their music/word sheets which they need to hold because metal music stands bounce sound.

Jackie & Kelsey await their turn while Taylor solos

Jackie & Kelsey await their turn while Taylor solos

We have to select the smallest number of performers possible to do all the songs, due to limits of microphones and studio size. And, we have to select the ones who can best “perform on command” and hold up under the pressure.

We do a “live” style recording because we don’t have the luxury of an expensive, professional sound studio. However, it gives the recordings a livelier feel — we can all hear and see each other, singers and musicians — it can be even more difficult to record with headphones. So, appreciate those professionals!

It can be tiring and tedious and a little nerve racking. One mistake by anyone and it’s “oops, do it again.” “And again!” But our kids have truly risen to the occasion, through a number of sessions over the past year. With no training or experience, at their young ages, these kids have done an amazing job, smiling all the way. We have all been pleased and impressed at their willingness and their attitudes. And they’ve worked together and supported each other with a generosity of spirit.

Our good friend Doug Raney does an amazing job with the kids. If you ever need a great guitar teacher, give him a call!

Doug Raney educates about singing into the mic

Doug Raney educates about singing into the mic

Our pirate guys — Brandon, Ben, Zach, and Isaac — did their Pirate King song. All but Zach were new to the process, but they all did a great job. Emily and Bekah came in to do Dindercella and the Dread Pirate Roberta. Taylor, Jackie, Josh, and Kyle pretended to be 16 orphans, and our three “experienced pros,” Jillian, Aly, and Kelsey, came in to do their Where’s the Man Who Will Rescue Me song, plus sing leads and backup for a number of others.

We should have gotten pictures of the whole crew, but it’s easy to overlook when under the pressure of getting the recordings done in the time allowed. Sorry, guys! However, they all have good pictures on previous posts.

And, we’ll add those songs to the FFP site as soon as we can!

Pirates’ Tale Production a Roaring Success!

Call me Dindercella!

Call me Dindercella!

If Gunpowder Gertie could have set off the ship’s cannons to close the show, she would have! And if the whole cast could have come back on stage and repeated Saturday night’s performance, they were ready and willing to do so! It was just too much fun to stop.

Dread Pirate Roberta

Dread Pirate Roberta

However, we had to stow our gear, return our magnificent costumes, raise anchor, and set our sails for new adventures — a swinging, jazzy detective mystery for this Christmas season! Get ready for Sam Shade and all his crew! Stay tuned for details!

Somehow, all 41 (!) actors in this cast of A Pirates’ Tale — from ages 7 to 17 — got their heads and arms around their lines, the songs, the choreography, the staging, and each other, and pulled with all their might and landed a wonderful performance on stage all 3 nights.

Thursday started off great, but Friday and Saturday nights got even better and bolder as they truly started acting and reacting, working together, helping each other, recovering a dropped line, keeping the action moving, and having an obvious good time with their characters and the audience.

Confidence blossomed, and charisma followed!

I had to make myself take my eyes off the script and the music and just sit back and enjoy the show (when we weren’t playing for a song). It now genuinely belonged to the kids. “We got this!” their performances demonstrated, with flair.

As the writer, I always hate to see a good line dropped, but as the director, I thrill to see my actors take that “negative” opportunity to actually stay in character, think on their feet, help each other, and keep the script on track!

It’s also a treat to see an actor express their character or a line in an effective way that I never could have directed — I never would have thought of doing it that way, but they did! Now, they’re really acting!

Samantha Axe, Smee, and Fee take on Bob, the resident octopus

Samantha Axe, Smee, and Fee take on Bob, the resident octopus

A Pirates’ Tale was not originally written for 41 cast members — I’m not that crazy! But our unexpected blessing of such a large turnout at auditions became an opportunity to add what have become some grand new characters, two new fun songs, and a boat-bursting load of energy on stage.

It was quite a staging challenge, especially since the majority of the cast is on stage most of the show. It made for some tiring rehearsals, especially for the youngest, but this cast was outstanding in their patience and willingness to cooperate. Thanks, guys!

Speaking of thanks, the Global Spheres Center went graciously above and beyond to support our project. All of their help is greatly appreciated by cast, crew, parents, audiences, and FFP!

We also want to thank all of those who advertised in our program — the Music Academy & Performing Arts of Denton, Point Bank, Ray of Sunshine Sitting Service Registry of Denton, Turning Pointe Dance Studio, Dave’s Foreign Car Service (Dave’s a theater veteran!), Sky Guitars, Krum Friends of the Library, Maidpro, Amitea, Eagle Express Courier, Rose Costume, Excalibur Muffler & Automotive, and Old House BBQ.

We are especially grateful and pleased that many of our cast members are already lining up for the next production, and that a number of new people in our audiences or through our website have asked how to get into one of our productions.

Well, that’s easy! Just check our website, sign-up for our special email notifications, and keep up with our blog!

Kidnapped from the London Docks

Kidnapped from the London Docks

 

Kidnapped Teachers

Kidnapped Teachers

 

The Gentlemen Pirates

The Gentlemen Pirates

 

The Lady Pirates!

The Lady Pirates!

 

PT Whole Cast Bigger

A Pirates’ Tale Opening Night a Success!

Wow, what a cast!

Wow, what a cast!

Did I say before that we have 41 actors on stage, often all at the same time, in this production of A Pirates’ Tale?!!

The Gentlemen Pirates

The Gentlemen Pirates

Needless to say, it was a LOT for this director to wrap her head around in getting everyone and everything shipshape. Wow! Plus we had the largest and youngest group of kids we’ve ever worked with — 16 “poor and orphaned” kids kidnapped off the London docks, some of whom had stage experience, and some didn’t. And these kids had a lot of rapid-fire lines and were on stage almost the entire play. That’s a lot to ask of a bunch of youngsters from 8 to 11 (one is 7, only one is 12). It’s also a lot to ask of our young stage manager, Elaina, who had to line up all these “little varmints” for at least 3 entrances. I considered giving her a sword!

BUT, these little troopers hung in there and hunkered down and studied hard and pulled together and burst out like a real team on Thursday night. In fact, the energy level from everyone on opening night was such that our wonderful, incredible sound guy, Chip, was scrambling to turn down the mics! This was true for the entire cast, the older ones ranging from 12 to 17.

Clowning on Set

Clowning on Set

The really wonderful thing was to watch ALL of them help each other, cover for each other, improvise when things didn’t go quite right, and turn possible negatives into positives. They genuinely rose to the occasion! Now that warms a director’s heart, for sure!

So, through a very short month of not-that-many rehearsals, we toiled, and worried, and almost despaired, and pushed and drove and coached and encouraged — and they worked and studied and waited around and practiced and got tired and hungry and suffered info overload — and it finally, at the last minute (literally) all came together.

There was hope. Then, Thursday, there was success. They did a really good job, and had fun doing it. But the story isn’t over. Stay tuned!