Monday, December 24, 2007

A few minutes with Sven Nelson

Behind the Curtain once again brings you up close and personal with a wonderful member of our staff: House Manager of the Charlotte Martin Theatre, Sven Nelson.

Keep checking back here for profiles of the people that make SCT go. And if you've ever asked yourself "What does a Stage Manager do?" or "What are SCT teaching artists really like?" drop us a line and we'll turn the camera on them next!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shout out to TeenTix!

Have you heard about TeenTix? This is a great program that offers teens aged 13 to 18 access to $5 day-of-show tickets to local theatre, dance, music and visual arts.

Not only are these fine folks cultivating the next generation of arts patrons (something we believe we do here at SCT, as well), but they also run this fantastic blog of reviews written by their interpid team of teen reviewers. TeenTix has been very supportive of our programming this season, posting reviews of High School Musical, The Big Friendly Giant and The Neverending Story.

TeenTix deserves a big shout out for the work they do, and Behind the Curtain is going to give them just that.

We love you, TeenTix!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The season of giving and getting

In this case, it was SCT doing the getting, which, frankly, we just love. And the giving? Well, Steven Vande Griend's 6th grade class teamed up with Al Lyon's 2nd grade class, both from Lynnwood Elementary, to create this incredible life-size Big Friendly Giant.

They presented SCT with this truly giant (notice the tiny SCT staffer in the background) gift when they came to see The Big Friendly Giant this week.

GIANT thanks to both classes for our new large friend!

Monday, December 10, 2007

10 Questions for... Morgan Rowe

Morgan Rowe currently appears in SCT's production of The Big Friendly Giant, running through December 10. Reviews of The BFG are posted on our website.

How did you get cast in this show?

I simply auditioned when the director called me in. I had never read The BFG and was supposed to go to Europe this fall. But while auditioning I fell madly in love with the play, the language and the character and was thrilled when they offered me the part.

Who are you in this play? Tell us about your character(s).

In the first act I play a mean giant and a character in a dream caught by the BFG. In the second act I play the Queen of England. To play the Queen of England is a dream come true for me. When I was a kid I knew everything about British royalty. I was convinced that I would be Queen one day. Lo and behold, I am... only without all the responsibility and with all the glory. My Queen is an adventuress who is thrilled to meet a giant since she has met everybody else, I figure. She is strong and sassy and very British. I adore her. And not just because I am her. What Roald Dahl wrote is genius and easy to play.

How has the play been received by audiences? Any surprising reactions?

I think they like it. Some people want it to be scarier and a handful are too scared. No way around it with man-eating giants. But for the most part The BFG is so lovely and the world is so fantastical that everyone, kids and adults, seem genuinely swept away by the story.

Are there particular challenges working with large costumes and puppets?

You can’t act and react the same way you would without those things. You can’t play the scene with your fellow actors; you have to let the puppet act the scene. This was frustrating at first. But now I really love the challenge of filtering my actions through the puppet. It forces me to be more specific with my voice and my actions, which is always a good thing.

Do you identify with any particular aspects of the story?

I think we all know, at one time or another, what it is to want to run away from our lives. I remember diving into fantasies as a child that took me to far off places where everything went my way in the long run.

In terms of playing the Queen, I am at a point in my life where I am really loving the challenge that comes with embracing the large obstacles that might come my way as a means to adventure, to a more passionate life. I like to think that if a dream I had started becoming real around me and I was given the opportunity to meet the BFG in person that I would say Yes with as much enthusiasm and as little hesitation as the Queen does.

What dream would the BFG deliver to you?

Oh, this is a hard question as I have a fantastic dream life, so I think the BFG is already working overtime to bring me dreams.

How and why did you become an actor?

My parents were both actors and directors so I grew up in the family business.

When not in the theatre, what are you most likely doing?

Writing. Playing scrabble online with friends from all over the world. Walking my dog.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Living in a foreign country, writing and performing around the world.

You have the audience’s ear – what would you ask them?

I would ask them to embrace theatre with the wide-eyed innocence of a child, to relax and let the story lead them to undiscovered countries within themselves. This goes to the adults and even the children, who often try to forget that they are children because it isn’t cool anymore.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Activity: The Book Expert

Bastian, the young hero of The Neverending Story, is a true lover of books. They provide him a way to escape from his ordinary life and the cruelty of his peers, and one particularly powerful book connects him to the magical world of Fantastica.

Our Education department has developed an exercise that a book expert like Bastian would enjoy, entitled, not coincidentally, The Book Expert. This activity was originally designed for the classroom, but works for any group of perhaps five or more.

The Book Expert

Assemble your participants and tell them that you have some special guests eager to meet them. These people are so smart that they have two heads. And they are experts at books; they know everything there is to know about reading books and writing books, and they just love anything that has to do with books!

Ask two participants to come to the front of the group and become the two-headed book expert. (Have some fun with it if you like - have them sit together with one's head over the other's shoulder, or squeeze them into a giant oversized sweater.)

Choose one member of the group who has a question for the wise book expert, and ask him/her to share it with the group. All together in one voice, the group asks the question of the book expert. The question should always begin with "Oh, Great Book Expert..." and then into the question. For example, "Oh Great Book Expert, what does it take to be a fast reader?"

The Book Expert has to answer the question one word at a time, one person at a time. If the Expert knows the real answer, then they should answer with that, otherwise they must make it up.

You can mix it up by adding more heads to the Expert, and can get everyone involved by swapping out whichever Book Expert "head" slips up in their answer.

This is a great activity for building cooperation, imagination and spontaneity.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Costumes of Fantastica

"If a person were to try stripping the disguises from actors while they play a scene upon stage, showing to the audience their real looks and the faces they were born with, would not such a one spoil the whole play? And would not the spectators think he deserved to be driven out of the theatre with brickbats, as a drunken disturber?"
Erasmus, The Praise of Folly

Now, of course, we would never advocate violence against fellow theatre patrons, but costumes are an incredibly important part of a production. Particularly when one is trying, as SCT will with our upcoming production of The Neverending Story, to create a fantasy world onstage. Fortunately, we have the wonderfully talented costume designer, Cathy Hunt. Here's a sneak preview of some of her designs for the denizens of Fantastica.

Falkor the Luck Dragon

The Childlike Empress



The costume designs for "The Neverending Story" were inspired by many great artists: Gustave Klimt, Salvador Dali, the Japanese graphic artist and illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. Strong bold shapes and fanciful colors of the Fantastica world are contrasted with the monotone colors and textures of the real world.
Cathy Hunt, Costume Designer

Good Fairy




The costumes for this show are stunning, and truly help bring Fantastica to life. Which is not to downplay the work our actors do once they have donned them, but if anyone should try to strip them onstage, we'll have the brickbats waiting.

All drawings by Cathy Hunt.

We have a winner!

Behind the Curtain is pleased to announce the winner of our first-ever Family Reviewers contest! Randi Harper and her son Ben Milne have won four tickets to opening night of The Neverending Story and a chance to have their review of the show published right here on Behind the Curtain.

Congratulations to Randi, Ben and their family, and thanks to all the families that entered. Check back here in February when we will run our contest again for our next Charlotte Martin Theatre production, The Hundred Dresses, and stop by next week to read Randi's review.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Neverending Blog - Tech Begins

Behind the Curtain welcomes guest blogger Gabriel Baron, playing Bastian in SCT's production of The Neverending Story, which opens December 7th.

Tech, Day 1

Tech is usually my favorite part of a rehearsal process. You finally have all the physical elements you’ve had to imagine in the rehearsal room: the props, the set, the costume, the lights, the sound. Your character’s situation really starts to come into light. And the best part is that since everyone is paying attention to the technical elements, you get to run moments and scenes over and over again without those pesky directors telling you what to do. So it really does become a great time for exploration and specification with what you’re doing as an actor. And because you are being asked to run a scene mainly just for the tech folks to learn what they have to do, you feel the freedom to have fun being goofy and silly with your acting (as long as you say the right lines for the cues), which can sometimes wind up being better than what you were doing when you were trying to get it “right” in the rehearsal room.

None of this, however, was applicable to me on this first day of tech for The Neverending Story. Since my character basically just sits up in the attic of his school the whole show and doesn’t actually talk to another actor or even move around, on this day I found myself just sitting in the audience of the Charlotte Martin Theatre, while everyone focused on the exciting and technically difficult parts of the show: flying and puppets.

2:00 - Safety meeting and tour of backstage with [Company Manager] Linda Jo Greenberg. Ooh look! The candy drawer already has candy in it! Thanks Brad. Then a testing of the stage platform. Yup, it’s walkable alright. I don’t know about that downstage ramp, a little shaky if you ask me. Luckily, I don’t use it the whole show. Whew.

2:45- I finally get to go up in my attic! Yup, it’s a high platform. All the fun dressing that the designers and prop people found really make it feel like an old school storage area. Old tennis rackets, a science class skeleton, are those ice skates? And of course, books. Director David Bennett and I decide that with just a few items of clutter near my main playing area removed, the attic is good to go.

3:15- David has me try a variety of positions in the attic to maximize my visibility to the audience. Which is good, because with a face like mine I need to be seen by as many people as possible. These tickets don’t sell themselves you know.

3:28- We’re done with the attic for today. Now I just have to wait around to do my flying rehearsal. My favorite part! Just after these next two scenes, says Stage Manager Claire Zawa.

3:36- There’s a giant turtle on stage. She looks sleepy as her neck lumbers up and down, left and right, while puppet designer and creator Doug Paasch makes minute adjustments.

David Bennett steps on that downstage ramp and requests some extra support.

Mikey Place as Atreyu perches on Chad Jennings’ back. As the hero’s faithful horse, Artax, there has been much concern about Chad’s back carrying a full grown man on a raked (slanted) stage 11 shows a week.

Hans Altweis enters with his flying harness strapped over his street clothes. He looks like some kind of special forces MacGyver. He’s ready to review his intricate and difficult flying choreography as the Luck Dragon, Falkor, with the spider Ygramul.

4:10- Haven’t gotten to my flying yet. Right after Mikey and Hans, says Claire Zawa.

Mikey and Hans hang in mid air dead center of the proscenium, while movement coach Kathryn VanMeter adjusts the blocking of the wind giants.

Understudy David Goldstein sits toward the back of the house studying his many lines for the roles of both Atreyu and Bastian, but he is clearly more interested in the flying on stage. And who can blame him? Who hasn’t wished they could fly? And how often do we get to see live and in person even the illusion that someone is hovering in mid air? It’s magical even though we know there are wires. You can’t take your eyes off them.

In my brief time practicing my simple flying for the show yesterday, I could barely contain the giddy playfulness of my eight year old self which was brimming to my ears. The mild discomfort of the harness quickly fell away when I was lifted up and flown back and forth, up and down. I felt like a superhero, or Luke Skywalker, or Neo. I wanted to act out every imaginable gag of silliness in the air, but here in this professional theater, I had to force my adult self to limit my shenanigans to just a few Chaplinesque arms and leg movements. I got some laughs, I was satisfied.

5:17pm- Still sitting in the audience. I’ve played a few rounds of Star Wars - Rogue Squadron on the N64 in the green room, eaten a Bumblebar and wandered the theater a few times. My flying is coming up right after this next scene, says Claire Zawa. Sure, sure, I say, no problem.

On stage, five actors manipulate the four body pieces and one head of the giant spider Ygramul. David, Doug and Kathryn want to see two body pieces move along with the head as the spider tries to sting Falkor. It’s a tricky illusion to create, having five actors work together to manipulate one creature, doing one fluid action. And even though the pieces of the body are relatively light, holding them up for so long is taxing on the actors.

Meanwhile, over stage right, Hans hangs 15 feet in the air, practicing flipping in place. It’s a beautiful and graceful motion. He controls the action as though he were born on the air. We’ll see if he maintains that grace in performance, adding lateral movement to the wires, lights, sounds, costume and adrenaline. Knowing Hans, I have no doubt he will.

6:28pm- Ten minute break. When we return we’ll only be working the Gmork fight, so everyone except Mikey, Hans and Brad are released for the day. We never got to my flying. I am bummed. Not that I sat and did nothing for five hours, but that I didn’t get to be my eight year old self as a superhero. That’s what tomorrows are good for!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We are thankful

At SCT, we're a pretty happy bunch. We get to do what we love, interact with incredible artists, and make a difference in the lives of children (and the wise and young-at-heart, too). We have much to be thankful for, and wanted to share a little of that with you this Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for my family, my community and my health! I'm thankful for the laughter and joy that children bring, the beauty of Mother Nature, and all animals. Thank you for coming to SCT!
Linda - Artistic Director and Fearless Leader

I'm thankful to being able to work with wonderful people who all share the goal to make children's lives richer through the arts. I'm also thankful that I have a healthy and happy family who don't take the simple things for granted.
Anthony - Education

I am grateful for being healthy and done with cancer, for dates with my beau, for my charming cat and for having recently finished paying off debts.
Linda-Jo - Stage Management

I'm thankful for warm fires, cozy blankets, a comfy couch and a big screen T.V. for watching football.
Deanna - School Shows

I'm thankful for my mom, for blackberry pie, for beaches and mountains, for my health, for all of my fabulous friends, for Irish Breakfast Tea, for the peace that does exist in the world, and for pick-up trucks.
Leslie - Marketing

I am truly thankful for my 3 sons! My oldest 2 are getting married this coming summer (June and July) so I will have 2 beautiful new daughters! My youngest, Tim, has been performing in High School Musical and I have been so excited to have him stay with me for the past few months. We've had a wonderful time being together!
Phyllis - SCT Gift Shop

I'm thankful for rainy days, because I know that's what makes the sunshine so special around here and keeps everything green instead of "concrete" color!
Jan - Marketing

I am really thankful for the extra time off to spend with my family!
Andrea - Education

I’m thankful for getting my heart’s desire to work at the Seattle Children’s Theatre full time, something I have wanted for the last 20 years. SCT has always been my favorite theatre because of the shows they do and the dedication of the people who work here.
Sarah - Stage Management

I am thankful that, in a difficult world, I have the luxuries of comfort and time to sit and contemplate about what I am thankful for.
Rita - Artistic

I am thankful for my loving and (especially) patient wife, for my beautiful and intelligent daughter, for places like SCT where real people tell you incredible stories, and for the Green Bay Packers.
Jim - PR (and your humble blog moderator)

Happy Thanksgiving from Seattle Children's Theatre and Behind the Curtain!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Joy of Surprise

I didn’t imagine writing many posts for this blog when first we started it, but I’ve been moved by a recent experience to write.

One of the reasons I read as much as I do, go to as many plays as I do, engage with art as often as I do, is the opportunity to be surprised. Not shocked, which is easy and unfulfilling, but shown something I didn’t expect to see in myself and others.

This past weekend, I took my young daughter and a bunch of our extended family to see High School Musical. The trip was originally planned to be just me, my wife, our daughter and her older cousin; initially, we didn’t invite her younger cousin because we didn’t think he’d be into High School Musical as much as the girls are, and weren’t sure he’d be able to sit through the whole show. But, he didn’t want to be left out, and so we ended up expanding the party to include him, his mother and the kids’ grandparents.

He impressed me right away with how patient he was waiting for the play to start and how attentive he was once it did. But, that wasn’t necessarily surprising, because he’s a good kid and had his mother and grandparents along with him. I was just pleased he seemed to be enjoying it.

And then the play ended with its great musical finale, balloons dropping from the ceiling, this huge cast taking their bows, and my nephew is standing up, applauding wildly and literally screaming at the stage “I love you guys!” I take issue with the forced standing ovations I often see from Seattle audiences, but this was nothing of the sort. This was pure, spontaneous joy. He wasn’t standing because he thought he should but because he couldn’t do anything but.

And this was the kid I thought wouldn’t appreciate the play.

It was a great reminder of several things, not to underestimate kids and their ability to appreciate new things for one. But most poignantly for me, a self-professed lover of theatre, it was a reminder of just how powerful and surprising art can be, whether deep and existential or bubblegum pop and romance.

It’s why I keep coming back.

Jim Jewell is PR Manager at Seattle Children's Theatre and moderator of Behind the Curtain.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Neverending Story begins

Behind the Curtain welcomes guest blogger Michael Place from the cast of The Neverending Story. Rehearsal began this week, and the show opens December 7, 2007.

First day of rehearsal for The Neverending Story! Finally. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this day for months, mostly because we all have been waiting that long. We switched around the schedule a bit to do an evening meet and greet so that more connected and interested individuals could attend. No complaint on my end, we started rehearsal at noon today.

I have worked at SCT before as an undergraduate at the UW in The Outsiders back in 2003 but since then most of my excuses to come to this amazingly wonderful theater were to see my good friend and colleague Lathrop rock the Charlotte Martin or Eve Alvord. Today’s approach to the building was slightly different.

My heart pounded as I arrived much too early for our noon rehearsal. I was really nervous. Are you kidding Atreyu!? One of my childhood dreams turned reality. And there’s all of those first day of rehearsal fears and worries, wanting to do good work, wanting to get along with the cast and director, I keep hearing that first impressions are important. With 20 minutes to kill before showing up casually on time I sat across the walkway from the theatre, on a conveniently provided chair, and watched the fountain for 15 minutes while I received instructions via text message from Gwen, Marya Sea and my mom to “Go! Play! Love!”

I entered the west rehearsal hall to a very welcoming table of my new comrades and after [director] David Bennett, our articulate and fearless leader, gave a short speech we hit the text. I am blown away by the talent at this table. Let's see, the table was arranged with David and Claire Zawa, our lovely SM [stage manager], at the head, and then (clockwise) sat Anne Hitt, Hans Altwies, David Goldstein, Gabe Baron, Lisa Estridge, Chad Jennings, Tim Hyland, myself, Brad Farwell, Sarah Hartlett, Betsy Schwartz, Emily Chisholm (whose Childlike Empress charmed me day 1). It quickly became very clear to me that I will learn quite a bit by working in the presence of these multifaceted, experienced and joyful actors. I know that somewhere they must all be experiencing the familiar first day of school feeling that I am, but all that is reading is…ease, professionalism. As Tim Hyland (who, if you refer to the above seating chart, you will notice was sitting next to me) literally vibrated my chair with his resonance as he read the Bookseller. I knew I was truly lucky to be in that room.

We took dinner and then returned to wine, cheese and several of SCT’s staff including [Artistic Director] Linda Hartzell and the design team for NES. The design presentations blew me away but rather than go into too much detail I suggest coming to see the show. I will say that I was so impressed with the range of influences in the design and how grand a scope they are working with. Creating Fantastica in its entirety is, after all, no easy feat. I am continually impressed, finding myself self-aware at times thinking, "look around you, take this in, you are a part of something beautiful and magical." We then read a few scenes. It was awesome to have some SCT students there as well.

The evening ended pretty quickly but I think we were all ready to head our respective directions and process the day’s work. Tomorrow we go again. This time 10am. I cant wait to go back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

10 Questions for... Caety Sagoian

Caety Sagoian currently appears in The Big Friendly Giant at SCT. The Seattle Weekly said "it’s an exuberant Caety Sagoian who really steals this show with the hilarity she evokes as, among several small roles, a superstitious maid and berating Swedish queen."

How did you get cast in this show?

Well, I was asked to come in and audition for this show and I have to admit I was beyond nervous while I was waiting to go in for a callback! Although intimidating, it was one of the funnest auditions I've ever been to. Rita Giomi is an incredible director who really encourages her actors to play, and I ended up reading with Morgan Rowe and Jenny Sue Johnson, and we all ultimately got cast in the roles we read for. This is by far one of the most dreamy cast/crew experiences I've ever had!

What kind of artistic training & experience have you had?

I am a 2006 graduate from Cornish College of the Arts with a BFA in theater and an emphasis is jazz vocals. It is an amazing school that has really prepared me for the rigors of the theater world!

Who are you in this play? Tell us about your character(s).

I play Bonecruncher, one of the goofy mean giants, Rebecca, the little girl who has the golden phizzwizard dream, Mary, the Queen of England's maid, and the Queen of Sweden!

Are there particular challenges working with large costumes and puppets?

It takes some getting used to at first with our giant heads - what with focusing through the mesh and all, but our costumers are awesome and they've worked SO hard to make our costumes and giant heads comfortable, so we owe them a huge round of applause for making us look and feel as pretty as we do!

Do you identify with any particular aspects of the story?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the language in this story! Roald Dahl is an absolute wordsmith! His language is so much fun, and totally engaging - we know we're going to have a good audience when the BFG says 'crocodowndillies' and all the kiddies start to giggle!

What dream would the BFG deliver to you?

I love the idea that someone somewhere out there is giving me lovely golden dreams, so I think the BFG would give me something incredibly funny and silly to keep me laughing!

Why do you do what you do?

I don't know exactly why I do what I do, but I remember the first time I wanted to do it. It was my first time seeing a play, and it was Charlotte's Web at SCT. At that time, I wasn't aware of what it was to be in actor in a play, but whatever it was that I witnessed that day, I loved it. This feeling grew even stronger when I saw Romeo and Juliet just a few years later. I was about 10 years old and I knew at the end of that show what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I remember going down to the front of the stage and getting autographs and how exciting that was and how special it made me feel getting to talk to the actors. I feel absolutely, and unbelievably honored to be working with the same theater that forever changed my life as a child.

When you aren’t at SCT, what other jobs do you work or have you worked?

When I'm not doing theater, I do voiceovers. I'm the voice of a lot of video game characters on games like the Mario Nintendo games, Backyard Baseball, and I also voice and do on camera work for a national PBS show called The Biz Kids!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Ohmygosh. I have NO clue! Hopefully Happy, and doing fun things!

You have the audience’s ear – what would you ask them?

If you could give a dream to anyone in the world- who would it be, what would it be about, and why would you give it to them?

Monday, November 5, 2007

A few minutes with John Patrick Lowrie

The cast of High School Musical has been especially generous with their time, and here is just one more example: John Patrick Lowrie plays Coach Bolton and spent a few minutes with Behind the Curtain.

SCT's production of Disney's High School Musical runs through November 24th.

Friday, November 2, 2007

1 Year of HSM with Mo Brady

Behind the Curtain welcomes guest-blogger Mo Brady, currently playing Jack Scott, the Velvet Fog of East High, in SCT's production of Disney's High School Musical.

This year, I have worked on three productions of High School Musical. Yes, you read that correctly. In the winter, I directed a 60-minute one-act version for a middle school. During the summer, I staged the full-length musical for a summer youth program. When you combine planning, rehearsing, and performing, I've been working on HSM for eleven months. In a row.

This confession might make some grown men blush. Or at least some grown men groan. However, directing the show twice gave me a great perspective on the High School Musical story: the perspective of the SCT audience.

Kids love High School Musical. The students I worked with, mostly
middle schoolers through high school sophomores, LOVE LOVE LOVE HSM. And their enthusiasm for these characters rubbed off on me. I was able to see the phenomenon through their eyes. And, in turn, I shared my professional and critical eye with them, exploring characters' motivations for sticking to the "Status Quo" and "Breaking Free."

When I walked into the first day of SCT rehearsal, I already felt like I had a leg up. I mean, I already had my lines memorized. And not only my lines, but most of the other lines in the show. Not to mention five different versions of the music on my iPod. Suffice it to say I felt prepared.

Before the SCT rehearsals began, I was worried that I might doubt some the work of our directors, solely on the basis of its difference from my previous versions. However, Linda [Hartzell, Artistic Director], Mark [Rabe, Music Director], and Kathryn [Van Meter, Choreographer] truly helped this cast create a unique retelling of the now-familiar story. We've twisted the plot even further away from the movie, and made some tweaks that keep the audience engaged but the characters truthful (in my semi-expert opinion.) In addition, Linda had a clear and unique vision for my character (including some gymnastic feats and a lot more stage time) to which I was happy to oblige.

I'm almost a year into my HSM experience, and I'm not tired of the show yet. I think that what helps me perform eleven shows a week is the excitement of our young audiences. Hearing the kids cheer at the end of each performance thrills my heart, and helps me look forward to the next show with anticipation.

Not to say I'm not looking to a new challenge. This winter, I'm directing The Pirates of Penzance, so maybe I'll spend next year with Gilbert and Sullivan.

Photo: Mo Brady as Jack Scott in High School Musical. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Activity: I'm not the giant you think I am

This activity was originally designed by the fine folks in our Education department for classrooms, but it is appropriate to any fairly large group (you probably want at least six to eight participants to make the activity work).


In The Big Friendly Giant, several actors play multiple roles, and they change their voices to show that they have become a different character. Try your hand, or rather mouth, at becoming a different person by changing your voice.

1. As a warm up, sit in a circle and talk about vocal disguises - ways to disguise yourself by changing your voice. Each participant should try experimenting with different voices before you begin.

2. Once everyone has warmed up and stretched out their voices, choose one participant to be the guesser and have them sit in a chair facing away from the rest of the group.

3. Choose one participant to disguise his/her voice and say the sentence "I'm not the ginat you think I am!"

4. Have all of the participants say to the guesser, "Come on back!" The guesser then rejoins the group and has three tries to guess who the disguised speaker was.

This activity helps develop listening, focus and concentration skills, and encourages vocal participation. For those interested in performance, the activity helps to teach them to make strong and specific vocal choices.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

HSM at the Key

On Tuesday October 23rd, the cast of SCT's production of Disney's High School Musical hit the hardwood at Key Arena to provide halftime entertainment for the Seattle Sonics. They performed the basketball-dance number "Get'cha Head in the Game," and were fantastic. The entire routine had been re-tooled that day to fit the venue.

Photos by Khanh Doan (Sharpay Evans in High School Musical) and SCT's Production department.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

10 Questions for... Mickey Rowe

Mickey Rowe currently appears on the SCT stage in Disney's High School Musical, and he kindly agreed to be the first of our artists to face 10 Questions.

What were you doing before being cast in High School Musical?

Before being cast in High School Musical I was a full-time student. When I found out that I might get to do the show, I had a long conversation with my mom about whether it would be okay for me to stop going to school for a few months to get to be a part of the Musical. Now the set of East High is my school. Instead of learning by sitting at a desk and listening to lectures, I get to learn by watching the older actors in the show and experimenting on stage. It’s a really wonderful experience.

How did you get cast in this show?

This summer I auditioned for a class at the Seattle Children’s Theatre and they asked me if I would like to be considered for High School Musical. I just checked the “yes” box not really thinking that anything would come out of it. A while later I got a call from SCT and they invited me to come in and audition. At the audition there were a lot of kids my age and we got to learn a dance combo and sing one of the songs from the show. Then they picked which kids they thought would be a good match for the show. I was terrified during the auditions because I had convinced myself that I couldn’t dance. I would have never believed that now I would be doing some of the dances from the show everyday.

Be honest – had you seen the movie when you auditioned for the role?

Haha, I had not seen the movie until I found out about auditions.

Who are you in this play? Tell us about your character(s).

I am in the ensemble of this play, what that means is that I get to help fill the halls of East High and make it feel more like a real school. For a lot of the show I get to be a brainiac with Gabriella and then I also get to be a fun unicycling character during the audition scene.

What kind of artistic training & experience have you had?

Besides doing shows at my high school and around the community, I have also taken a lot of classes at the Seattle Children’s Theatre. Last year I spent the summer at SCT’s Young Actor Institute where I learned how to “act better” from Rita Giomi (Director of SCT's production of The Big Friendly Giant). When the show is over, I will be studying drama at the University of Washington.

What is it like to work with a cast this large and with so many people close to the same age?

Just like a real high school. We have a very diverse cast so its always fun to get to have so many different people to act with on and off stage. Its nice because everyone knows that there is always someone who has their back, no matter what happens. This is the largest cast that SCT has had before, so there are a lot of people backstage. It is like a party every day.

How does East High compare to your own high school experiences?

East High is a lot like my high school. We had all the same cliques. I was definitely a thespian at my high school. I was always in the drama room, either in class rehearsing or helping to paint sets after school. My high school was also much different than East High because the cliques did a lot of things together. There were quite a few jocks and cheerleaders who would do plays with me in the Drama department… haha, and EVERYONE was in the band. (Even skaters)

Why do you do what you do?

That is a hard question to answer… Why does a Business Man do what he does? Well, I’m not in it for the money. I guess I do theatre because it is what I am passionate about. It makes me tick. I like people, and theatre is people collaborating ideas with each other and coming together to create a story to tell to other people and hopefully through that story I can share some insight on life with the audience. It makes me think of the quote, “Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.” -Robert Motherwell

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I see myself still doing theatre. Who knows, maybe I’ll get another chance be in a show at the children’s theatre. : )

You have the audience’s ear – what would you say to them?

Keep seeing shows (or taking your children to see shows). Allow your own ideas and way of thinking to be questioned, step out of the status quo and do things outside of your comfort zone that you usually wouldn’t do. That’s how we grow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Activity: The Dream Jar

In The Big Friendly Giant, the BFG has an interesting hobby: he collects pleasant dreams in jars to deliver to sleeping children. SCT's Education department has developed the following activity, The Dream Jar, based on The BFG and his favorite pastime - perfect for family game night.

The Dream Jar

Part 1 - Create a Dream Jar

Take a clean, empty jar and decorate it in a way that reminds you of a dream

Write the following words on small slips of paper and put them in your dream jar. Some of these words might seem a little out of the ordinary, but they are the BFG's favorites.


Then, add some words of your own!

Part 2 - Create a Story

Roll a die. The number that you roll is the number of words that you should pull out of your jar.

Create a story using the words from your jar and some of your own words. For a different challenge, act your story out or write it down. Be sure to include all the words you drew from the dream jar!

If you'd like, you can download a pdf of this activity.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Our first staff interview

This is something we'd like to feature regularly on Behind the Curtain - video interviews with members of our fabulous staff.

And it just made sense that the first interview we would share is the first face you would see as you walk in our office door. So, without further ado...

Introducing SCT Behind the Curtain

Welcome to SCT Behind the Curtain!

We created this blog because we love where we work. We love the artists and staff, the productions on stage, the kids that see our shows and enroll in our Drama School. And, we wanted some way of sharing what goes on behind the curtain with you.

Our plan is to fill this blog with interviews with staff and artists, photos of set and costume production, games and family activities, and educational materials to enrich your visit to the theatre. All that, and anything else we can think of along the way.

But, we also want this to be a place that works for you, where you can find not only what we want to share but what you want to find. So, we welcome comments and suggestions about content you’d like to see.

Rest assured that this will always be a kids-safe zone. Comments are moderated, so all content will be reviewed before it's published. Still, we envision this as a place kids and adults will visit together to get the best experience.

So, take a look around SCT Behind the Curtain, and welcome to the theatre!