Put on a Show!

Crazy Fun with Noah

Build an Ark ending

Starting Over Again

“Hey, Dad. What is rain?”

Starting Over Again is FFP’s fresh and funny perspective on an ancient and mind-boggling story — Noah and the Ark.

Major General Angel inspects new recruits

Major General Angel inspects new recruits

Here are some moments from the recent upper-grade drama class production for our homeschool co-op program. The kids had a great time and did a fantastic job. You can see that the costumes are not exactly “historically correct”! That’s all part of the fun.

A number of the songs in this musical are drum-driven, so we brought in our own “Vic the Stick” Cleaver with his electronic drum set to provide the upbeat rhythms we needed, plus some great sound effects. Added to our regular keyboard and guitar, we were cookin’! Live music is always the best way to go if you can do it! And most groups either have, or can find, willing musicians.

Look for Vic in the blog posts about our recording sessions for Sam Shade. And, if you’re in the Denton, Texas, region, look up Vic Cleaver for drum, piano, and guitar lessons. He’s a great teacher!Noahcast


Seasick?! We have enough to clean up already!

Seasick?! We have enough to clean up already!

Does Noah have both oars in the water?

Does Noah have both oars in the water?

No Mystery It Was a Fun Show!

RKClumpgroupTheRadioKidsFFP’s own Radio Kids revealed The Mystery of the Clump in the Night at our end-of-semester, homeschool co-op program and had a great time! And so did the audience!

A co-op of some 50 families draws a substantial audience, but there wasn’t any nervousness visible in this performance by our lower-grades drama class (elementary grades). The kids did a wonderful job, and they only get to rehearse once a week, for about 50 minutes, for only 10 weeks, with two quick dress rehearsals. Anyone who has ever put together a reasonably substantial show knows that’s insane. It is. But we do it anyway. And it works. The bar stays high, in spite of our limitations. And the kids reach for it!

RKClumpIntheMicA radio play is something of a “different animal.” It is a skill in itself. It requires the actor to hold a script and read from a script, always into a microphone, while acting for two audiences — the imaginary one, and the live one in front of them. And The Clump is a radio play within a play. It begins as a regular play, with no scripts, as the audience gets to know The Radio Kids as everyday kids who are local radio stars in 1940 America.

Our modern-day, cell-phone-using, television-watching, internet-using, elementary-school-level kids had to learn some things about American culture in 1940. It was fun! And they enlightened the audience with a little cultural literacy in an entertaining way. Nan may have her dad’s Popular Mechanics magazine with a story about the 1939 New York World’s Fair and the amazing new “telly-vision,” but, as Swell Sammy Sakowitz makes clear, “It’ll never replace radio!”

RKClumpBobAnother new challenge was the use of pantomime. The actors met the challenge of helping the audience (and themselves) “see” a bologna sandwich, a baseball bat, and “the clump”!

And, of course, with a radio play, you have to have sound effects (SFX)! Our SFX actor did an amazing job of playing 5 parts, as a Radio Kid who also played “Mom,” and as Bob the Bologna Man, and Bud the Baseball Slugger, while doing physical SFX with wood and pans and cans and other SFX with her voice into the microphone. She literally wore several hats (and coats).

RKClumpsingThis was the “world debut” of this brand-new play and it features two radio jingles (yes, we added one). It is perfect for elementary-school plays (public or private schools), but it could also easily be done by middle school, junior high, or senior high students. It would really be funny with adults dressing and acting as kids!

Did we find out what “the clump” is?! I think we have to wait for the next show!

Sam Shade Solves the Case!

Listen up, Bugsy Bigtime! Sam Shade does it again! He solves the Case of the True Meaning of Christmas!

Sam and orphans rehearse

It’s a jazzy, action-packed, laugh-loaded musical with a message, and a track record for pleasing both casts and audiences. It’s fun for the whole family. It’s a show that can be made as professional and grand and sophisticated as you have the resources to do so — or it can be scaled down for a class of youngsters.

Armed with his signature lollipops, our tough but charming detective led a cast of 30 for our own homeschool co-op drama classes, both upper and lower grades. Our 3rd through 6th graders played the “urchins,” while all other parts were played by our 7th through 12th graders.

The nice thing about this script is, if you happen to have two classes like that, you can actually work with them separately and then put the whole show together during the last extra rehearsals. It works. We’ve done it more than once.

Bugsy Bigtime and Sylvia Songbird

We did the “middle-level” version of the script (see the Catalog Page)  that features all 7 songs with a simpler story for a smaller Backstage Crew. If you produce either of the 7-song versions, you can easily schedule your cast in three sections during early rehearsals.

The “basic” version features 4 songs and is ideal for a younger cast (as opposed to high school or adult) and/or a smaller cast. The “full-blown” version is 7 songs with a true play within a play, involving more characters in the Backstage Crew (the Broadway Wannabes) and more interaction between the “front stage” and backstage.

Pesky gangsters Joe and Moe

The basic version is ready to go into the Catalog. We are working to schedule another recording session to finish the songs for the other two versions. Keep checking. We should have them ready for business in January.

Of course, we did ours with live music — keyboard, piano, guitar, and drums. Future plans are to have it scored for a full jazz band!

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!

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.