Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FROM THE ROAD: VT and CT - Hurricane Irene Edition!

Like the postman, I will brave all weather for the sake of musical theatre and NAMT, but thankfully Irene held off long enough so I could swing by the Weston Playhouse Theatre Co., in Weston, VT and see the opening night of the world premiere of Saint Ex, by Sean Barry and Jenny Giering (Festival

Alumna from Princess Caraboo). The Weston Playhouse received a $15,000 grant from our National Fund for New Musicals for this production, so I was honored to represent NAMT on opening night. It was a beautiful production of a sweeping and touching musical about the life of the man who wrote The Little Prince, directed by Kent Nicholson. Resident Producing Director Steve Stettler and his team did a wonderful job of nurturing this show and bringing it to life. The night was capped off with the late-night cabaret performance downstairs from some of the cast and staff entertaining the elated crowd.

After a quick stop by the Vermont Country Store for cheese and maple syrup, it was off to see the matinee of The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown at Goodspeed Musicals. I was
supposed to see the evening performance but with Irene in Virginia, I thought it would be best to catch an earlier show so I could get home and avoid the hurricane. Sam Brown is by Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan and is about a young woman on the morning of her first day of college who can’t decide between school and finally doing what she wants. It was a great production and the small audience, of those willing to brave a storm for art, loved it!

Sadly, the actualities of the storm started to set in after that show. It was supposed to be Sam Brown’s third-to-last show, but because of Irene…it became their last show during the performance. They had a great run but it was sad to hear that they and the audience would be deprived of the final two performances.

After Irene passed, the effects of the storm really hit home when I heard that the Weston was flooded, halting their production of Saint-Ex until the theatre was cleaned up and what was able to be saved was salvaged. As the photos on their Facebook page started to come in, it became clear that while flood was horrible, the Weston staff, volunteers and actors were resilient and wouldn’t let a little water and mud get in their way. By the end of the week, the show was back up (modified to embrace some necessary changes); an amazing feat! And I know that, storm or not, Saint Ex will fly again at many theatres around the country!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FROM THE ROAD: Pacific Northwest Tour- Part 2: Seattle/Issaquah

Portland was just a warm-up for the next few days in Seattle and Issaquah for the Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals. But before Issaquah, there was an exciting pit stop to spend a night in the W hotel in Seattle,our home for the Spring 2012 Conference. Adam has chosen very well and the hotel was amazing. I can’t wait for the conference (and that hotel!). Look at the photo of the lobby to the right...beautiful and comfortable!

This was my 2nd time at the Village Festival, the first being for the 2009 New Works Summit, and they never disappoint. Under the leadership of Steve Tomkins and Robb Hunt, the Village is one of the leaders in new musical development. This year, their Festival felt very “NAMT” all around. They presented staged readings of:

The Giver and Lizzie Borden from our 2010 Festival, Hello! My Baby by two Festival Alumnae (Georgia Stitt and Cheri Steinkellner), Sundays at Tiffany’s with book and lyrics by Festival Alumna Susan DiLallo, and Trails. They also presented a breathtakingly beautiful production ofCloaked by Danny Larsen and Michelle Elliott, who also wrote The Yellow Wood from our 2008 Festival. The whole Festival was fantastic and it was amazing to see so many of our alumni all in one beautiful place! Also at the Festival were Greg Schaffert from 321 Theatrical Management, Laura Little from Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, and David Ira Goldstein from Arizona Theatre Company, who did a great job directing The Giver.

It was a perfect NAMT trip filled with new musicals and our amazing alumni and members. This is why we should all travel around to see each other’s work…you expand your horizons, get to see a different part of the country, and be inspired!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FROM THE ROAD: Pacific Northwest Tour- Part 1:Portland

Some trips are quick little excursions to see a new musical and visit a couple members. But every once in a while, the stars align and I get the opportunity to see a lot of everything in a short period of time. In my recent trip to Portland and Seattle, I was able to see 4 members, 6 shows, 11 Festival alumni; all while enjoying 3 planes, 2 rental cars (which included a free upgrade from a compact to a new mustang!), and 1 train. These are my favorite trips, even though they are quite exhausting. Nothing makes me happier at NAMT than getting out to support our members’ new musicals and seeing them in action on their home turf.

Up first was Tigard, OR (just outside Portland) to catch the world premiere of Ripper at The Broadway Rose Theatre. Ripper was in our 2009 Festival of New Musicals and is written by Duane Nelsen. Luck would have it that when I was out there, Duane was back in town to see the show so I got to have dinner with him and Sharon Maroney, Producing Artistic Director of The Broadway Rose, pre-show. The dinner gave us a chance not only to catch-up but also to talk about the process for both Duane and Sharon. This was Broadway Rose’s first large-scale new musical and world premiere—a bold and brave undertaking since Ripper is not a small show. If you want to start producing new work, definitely call Sharon (listed in your Little Black Book) as her company learned a lot in its first go-around. The production was really great and fully realized…what more could any writer ask? The production was not only educational for the theatre but also for Duane who was able to learn so much about his show that he was not able to glean before from just readings. Now, Duane is ready to work on the script while looking for the next-step production, and Broadway Rose can start the hunt for their next new musical, both wiser from the experience!

The next morning, it was off to Portland’s Union Station to take a train up the coast to Seattle and Issaquah, WA for the next stop on my Pacific Northwest Tour…