Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Get out the vote!

Seattle Children's Theatre has been nominated for Nickelodeon's Parents Picks Award, and while it is an honor to be nominated, we want to win! If you'd like us to win, too, why don't you mosey on over to Nick's ParentsConnect.com and give us your vote. Fair warning, you do have to register to vote, but can do it daily until June 30th.

If you'd rather not register, but still want to vote and support your favorite children's theatre, why not take a trip over to NWSource.com's People's Picks and vote us favorite local theatre company. You can vote once daily until June 1st.

Vote early and vote often!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What do these ladies do all day?

Today, instead of just one staff member, you get three! The fact that they are three of Behind the Curtain's very favorite people in the whole building is just an extra added bonus.

What does the box office staff do all day? We sell and print tickets, of course – about 200,000 of them each year!!! We also spend lots of time answering questions and providing our patrons with all the information they will need to have a great time at the theatre.

We are the only office in the theatre that is open 7 days a week – we have a staff of 9 (2 full-time and 7 part-time people) -- but only 3 of us are here at one time since our office is only 166 square feet!!!

Cindy Wilder
Ticket Office Manager

Combining surly with sweet...

I deal with the uninformed public.
I answer calls from frantic stage parents. I deal with people asking me about the copier all day. I have very important conversation about dinosaurs and dragons. Everyday one little boy screams boo! at me while I am in the middle of doing something else.

Kimberly Rabb

And the award for most packed into a single sentence...

I come in at 9 and check my 103 email messages while my supervisor is getting me coffee and then I run downstairs at 9:30 and count children for Busytown and then at 10:00 I run across the lobby and count children for According to Coyote and then at 10:30 I come upstairs and listen to my 43 phone messages and try to call the teachers back and then at 12:00 I run back downstairs and count children for According to Coyote and then at 12:30 run across the lobby to count children for Busytown and then I run upstairs and stand in line to use the microwave to heat up my “Lean Cuisine” lunch and then I answer emails and make up seating charts and go to the bathroom and visit a few staff members - until I go home at 5.

Sue Brekke
School Shows Assistant

To find out what people in Busytown do all day, stop on by SCT and check out Busytown, running through June 15th.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Guest Reviewer Ema and Busytown

Behind the Curtain welcomes back guest reviewer Ema M, originally referred to us by the fine folks at Hugo House. Ema came down to see opening night of Busytown, and shares her thoughts with us below.

The most notable feature of Busytown was the extraordinarily bouncy, catchy songs. The small children you likely brought to the play will probably be singing “The Pickle Song” for the next two weeks, so it’s a good thing it’s a cute tune.

The cast was impressive; carrying off strong musical numbers and coherent children’s dialog is surprisingly difficult, perhaps the reason that it’s rather difficult to find plays directed at the three through six age group that their adult escorts can sit through. Busytown succeeds admirably. High energy, engaging characters and fun songs make this one guaranteed to entertain even the most easily distracted three year old for the hour and something minutes it runs.

The adventures of Huckle Cat, looking for ways to help around the town and plan Betsy Bear’s grandma’s birthday are sweet, but not sickly. The play is pretty fast-paced which is appropriate for the age group, but not so fast that it loses the audience.

For fans of the Richard Scarry books - don’t worry, Busytown the play isn’t going to ruin them. The play does not take ridiculous liberties with the original text but the musical element removes the play enough from the book to enjoy them both in different ways and not constantly compare the two.

The diversity in the cast is very well used and celebrated; never feels forced or unnaturally politically correct, perhaps because it is allowed to be subtle (although clearly visible) and take a secondary seat to the species of the character. The actors did skillful switches between characters assisted by fun costumes.

Fun would probably be the best word to describe Busytown in general; although it contains some educational themes like jobs, maps and basic anatomy, it never takes itself too seriously. If you’re looking for an engaging Friday or Saturday night out with kids, Busytown is a vivacious, entertaining romp.

Busytown runs through June 15th in the Charlotte Martin Theatre at Seattle Children's Theatre.

All photos by Chris Bennion.

What Does Torrie Do All Day?

Our journey through the daily lives of SCT staff continues with a stalwart of the Marketing and Artistic staffs, Torrie McDonald.

Every time I tell someone my job title, Literary & Publications Manager, I get a pretty standard response, “Oh. Neat. So, what is that? What do you do?”

And every time I’m asked that, I realize that I do a lot of different things in places you might not expect to find me based on the job title, and I do a lot of stuff that may look like I’m not really doing anything. But definitely, there is no one average day.

For example, today I checked email and responded to inquiries from other theatres wanting to know about rights to shows we’ve done in the past; shows we haven’t done, but they think we did; and shows we haven’t done, they know we never did, but just want my help anyway. Then I responded to the playwrights who sent me emails and/or scripts to read, thanking them for their interest, but I’m sorry, SCT does not accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from playwrights. That part kind of sucks. It’s hard to say no, but if we said yes to everyone, I’d be buried under an even larger mountain of paper than the one growing in my office now. And some of the stuff that comes my way…well, let’s just say that a gritty, obscenity-laden script on the horrors of the Vietnam War is maybe not so appropriate for the 6-year-old set.

Then I sent an email to our web design/host company with some changes and fixes for our website. I hope they get done in time.

After that, I did some online research on animal rights for a talk I’m going to give our C.A.S.T class next week—for their fundraiser. They thought I’d just talk to them about marketing and posters, but since their efforts are going to support PAWS, and it’s a cause near and dear to me, I thought I’d do a little extra on this, whether they’re prepared for it or not.

Next, I tested the changes to our site that I had requested a few days ago, making tweaks and suggestions in hopes that they’ll get done in time.

Oh, then someone needed me to take a look at something they’re working on, so I can make edits and art direction suggestions.

While I’m at it, I wrote some copy for and designed a postcard to be mailed soon.

Then I avoided a couple of calls from sales people wanting to get me to use their print company. I’d love to take/have the time to talk with these folks and get a really juicy bidding war going, but no such luck. Instead, I have to (get to, really) read scripts. This is one of the absolute best parts of the job. Reading plays. The ones we know we’re going to produce I read and then write synopses, copy for the brochures, and curriculum connections to fit the themes (not all in one day, of course). Scripts that we may be interested in or received from someone we know, like an artistic director or literary manager, I read with a critical eye to see if I want to pass it along to Linda, our artistic director, for her to check out. She is the one who picks the plays we produce, but even my little part is so rewarding. Being able to read, evaluate, and suggest things to her and see the fruits of our labors on stage as the kids watch with rapt attention—I may not have a typical day, but I sure am lucky to have such atypical ones.

Torrie McDonald
Literary & Publications Manager

Check back soon for more of our "What Do People Do All Day? series.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What Does Linda-Jo Do All Day?

The next installment of our "What Do People Do All Day?" series comes from one of the longest-tenured folks here at SCT, the lovely, talented and incredibly organized Linda-Jo Greenberg.

People are always surprised that a lot of my job sounds like any other business - email, phone calls, meetings. I do lots of budgets and scheduling; I type up contracts and do the payroll for artistic staff who are working on shows. But then there are the more unique parts of my job. Right now I am in the midst of the many layers of hiring actors. For each show I find out who the director wants to consider, set up the appointments, make lots of phone calls and answer questions about the shows, provide music and scripts to read, and then mop up afterwards - offer jobs to the lucky ones who get cast and make the sadder "no thank you" calls to the ones who don't. For any given show, it can be between 40 and 140 phone calls. Since we are casting a show a week for the next 6 weeks, mostly what I do all day right now is talk on the phone.

Another part of my job is to understudy the stage manager and production assistant for each show. We just opened Busytown, so this week I am sitting in the control booth next to Amy, with a copy of her script in front of me. That script has every light cue, sound cue and set move written down - what it is and when it happens. I have to make sure that her notes make sense to me so that I can step in if she gets sick. So far this year I have had to cover High School Musical and The Hundred Dresses. It is a challenge and exciting and scary to step in - because I don't get rehearsal! I just have to dive in for a performance and hope I don't make any mistakes big enough for the audience to notice. I also have to train backstage on the prop and set moves the assistant does. I had to do that for The Hundred Dresses also. In that role, I want to make sure to do everything right for the cast - if I miss something, they may have their performance affected.

I'm also company manager which means making plane and hotel reservations, picking people up at the airport and giving them their per diem cash. And I assist [Artistic Director] Linda Hartzell with her schedule and correspondence.

Linda-Jo Greenberg
Production Stage Manager/Company Manager

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Hundred Dresses Drawing Contest

In The Hundred Dresses, the students in Miss Mason's class competed in a drawing contest, designing their own dresses and motorboats. SCT's Education Department sponsored the same contest during the run of the play, and received over 160 entries.

The results were really incredible, especially when seen all together. All of the entries were displayed at SCT while the staff was invited to ooh and ahh and vote for the winner.

The overall winner is currently on display on SCT's website, but there were just too many good entries not to share some more. Here we have the next three highest vote-getters:

by Susanna

by Isabella

by Libby

Thank you to all of our participating artists!

What does Dave Misner do all day?

With a little encouragement, the submissions from SCT staff for our "What do people do all day?" series have been rolling in. Today, our first submission from our Backstage Crew.

What does Dave Misner do all day?

Dave starts a busy day at 7am, when his cat wakes him up to get her breakfast. After eating all his cereal, Dave gets ready to go to work at Seattle Children’s Theatre, where he plays the sound effects and manages the microphones for Busytown. When he gets to the theatre, he turns on all the sound equipment – a computer, a sound mixer, amplifiers and speakers. He checks everything to make sure it is all working before all the people arrive to watch the show. If there is a problem with anything, Dave needs to fix it quickly!

After the audience is all seated, Dave heads to the control booth with Amy, the Stage Manager, and Lauren, the Light Board Operator. When everything is ready, and the actors and crew are all in place, Amy starts the show and tells Dave, Lauren, and the Stage Crew when to play the sounds, or change the lights, or move the scenery. At intermission, while the audience is taking a break, the crews are all working to put everything in its proper place for Act II. When the second act is over, Dave turns off all the amplifiers and speakers, shuts down the computer and sound mixer, and puts away the microphones. Then he drives home where his cat is waiting for him to get her dinner.

Dave does this job six days a week, and sometimes he spends his whole day at the theatre, from 9 in the morning until 9 at night! On his day off from the theatre, Dave works for a famous glass artist named Dale Chihuly, putting up lights and making the glass look pretty.

When Dave has some spare time, he likes to go hiking in the mountains and taking pictures of waterfalls.

And that’s what Dave Misner does all day!

Dave Misner
Lead Sound Engineer

Many thanks to Dave, and don't forget to check out "Busytown", running through June 15th at Seattle Children's Theatre.