Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Overheard at "Goodnight Moon"

Our Assistant Production Stage Manager, Sarah Mixson (you might remember her from her Peeps-homage to A Tale of Two Cities), reads every show report (submitted by the Stage Manager after each performance) and watches about as many shows as any person in at SCT. She's been collecting fun, and funny, moments noted in the show reports for us from the run of Goodnight Moon.

Auston James, Matt Wolfe, Sharva Maynard and Jayne Muirhead. Photo By Chris Bennion.

"At the beginning of the second singing of Hey Diddle Diddle, a member of the house said 'We’ve already done this!'"

"During the post-play discussion Matt Wolfe, who plays Bunny, asked the audience how the Hey Diddle Diddle song makes them feel, and a little girl raised her hand and answered 'It makes me feel like a superstar!'"

"After Old Lady said the line, 'You know what happens when you drink water late and night,' a kid responded with 'You pee your bed!' It was quite hilarious."

"After Cat’s line “Whose idea was it to cast that cow?” a child in the audience shouted out 'MINE!'."

"Lovely show tonight. We are pretty sure we had Clarabelle’s [the cow who jumps over the moon] biggest fan in the house. He was a little boy who became more and more excited by Clarabelle’s attempts and was so surprised when Clara actually made the jump that he had to let it sink in for a moment. He then let rip the most astonishing squeal I have ever heard. He began leaping up and down and throwing his arms in the air, it was really adorable."

Only two weekends left to share in the magic - Goodnight Moon closes June 7th.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2009 Nickelodeon Parents' Picks Award Nominee

We just got word from the fine folks at Nickelodeon that Seattle Children's Theatre is a 2009 Parents' Picks Award nominee!

Voting is underway and runs through July 15th, with winners announced in August. Take a moment to visit the Parents' Picks Award site and show your support for SCT.

Vote early and vote often - you can vote once every day!

Best Theatre for Kids
in Seattle

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our Teen Reviewer Tackles "I Was a Rat!"

Another review from teen reviewer Kathryn L., who previously reviewed "A Tale of Two Cities" and "Goodnight Moon".

When I was in 5th grade, I took part in the Global Reading Challenge at B.F. Day Elementary School. One of the books we had to read was I Was a Rat! by Philip Pullman. Immediately, I fell in love with the poor innocence of Roger, the hospitality of Bob and Joan, and the craftiness of Oliver Tapscrew.

Peter Crook, Caety Sagoian and Don Darryl Rivera. Photo by Chris Bennion.

So, when I came to the play, it was only to fall in love all over again with the characters I had loved back then. Not only were their personalities brought to life and made even more believable then they already were, but the set was a story in itself. The idea of making the set out of the Daily Scourge added to the story by so much. It showed how a community and their actions can be fueled by a misprint in a paper, and how gossip can sometimes rule the lives of many.

Over all, the play was a very good, very believable adaption of the book by Phillip Pullman. It highlighted all of the important aspects from the book and gave personality to even the inanimate objects, such as the set, and the tiniest characters that really have no role at all, like the Philosopher Royal’s cat.
I highly recommend it to people of all ages - to adults because it helps to capture lost youth, and to the youth itself because it is set in a fantasy-world only imaginable to young minds.

"I Was a Rat!" runs through June 7th in SCT's Charlotte Martin Theatre.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A look back with the new kid at SCT

From Kanani in the Ticket Office:

Wow! What a year! As we wrap up our 2008-2009 season and begin work on 2009-2010, I am celebrating the anniversary of my first year out of college. My first year on the work force was a big year for SCT. We had an unprecedented nine show season, which was trying for all of us, including you (trying to fit in the time to see all our great shows was hard work!). We started the season with three shows (Bluenose, The Green Sheep, and Night of the Living Dead) all playing at the same time. Some days we would have as many as seven performances in one day!

With the winter came The Wizard of Oz and of course the awful snow. I missed several days of work and the one day I made it in, I had to walk home 3.5 miles (in the snow, uphill- both ways!) We had to cancel shows and reschedule a huge number of people for January. More people didn’t even get to see the show, which was a terrible shame, because it was such an amazing production. Not being in school, it was my first year without a three week vacation for the holidays. Spirits were low, but I kept on trudging.

In the early months of the new year we brought you Tomas and the Library Lady and Pharaoh Serket and the Lost Stone of Fire. These two shows ran almost the same dates, which made scheduling hard for some of our busy subscribers. I celebrated my 23rd birthday dressed as a zombie in the middle of February. I was dumped the day before my birthday, so the “My Bloody Valentine” theme seemed appropriate.

After this, things settled down a little bit at the theatre. This allowed me some free time to do more enjoyable things, like get my wisdom teeth pulled out. I wasn’t able to fully open my mouth for over a month (not common in most recoveries), so performing my job, which mostly consists of answering phones, was very difficult. Luckily, we were only showing one play at the time, A Tale of Two Cities, so the number of calls coming in wasn’t as high as usual.

Now, of course we are showing Goodnight Moon and I Was a Rat, and we have begun taking subscription orders for the 2009-2010 season (Hint: Renewing subscribers get a lower price and a free ticket if they renew by May 31st.) I can’t wait for next season! Thanks to the great leadership of our new Managing Director, Tim Jennings, the season is much less frantic in terms of scheduling. We will have less overlap of shows, which will allow for extensions with our more popular shows. We’ve also gone to full general admission seating, instead of A and B sections, which will make life a lot easier for me, and I think will make life easier for ticket holders too. The shows I am most looking forward to are Getting Near to Baby and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend and all of SCT will get a well deserved vacation. This might be sad for some of you, as we will have no shows, but most of us are pretty excited. I, along with two of my coworkers/friends in the ticket office will be going on an adventure to the Olympic National Park, with stops at Elwha Hot Springs, Hoh Rainforest, and Forks, WA (be jealous, Twilight fans). I hope you enjoy your weekend as much as I will! And thanks for making my first year a great one!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More on "Rat" from the SCT Review Crew

Before we share more from the SCT Review Crew, I thought I'd take a moment and explain these "spoiler tags" you're seeing.

"I Was a Rat!" has something of a surprise involved in the story. It isn't a secret if you've read the book, and the more astute members of our audience will probably pick up on the clues and figure it out quite quickly. And, anyway, the surprise isn't really what the story is about.

But, to make sure we preserve the surprise for anyone so inclined, I'm putting spoiler tags on reviews from our Review Crew that might let the secret slip. Just click the spoiler button for the full tale.

All that being said, let's get on to the review from SCT Review Crew-er Nadine S.

SCT's new production, "I Was A Rat!," is a twisted fairy tale.

What happens if one of the rats turned into a footman by Cinderella's godmother doesn't revert back to a rodent at midnight? The main character of "I Was A Rat," is in this fix, and he suddenly finds himself a boy, with no idea how to act like a human and no one to care for him. Bewildered and afraid, the rat/boy knocks on the door of a kind, childless couple and with the explanation, "I was a rat," the story begins. Like the couple, we don't learn until later how the rat became a boy or why (he ran off from his post as Cinderella's footman to take her to the ball and was never reverted to his true self at midnight), so that we, too, are thrown confused into a world in which the rich live in a fairytale castle and the rest of the people live in a depressed, gray, and poor world, populated with unscrupulous grifters and desperate orphans who have to live hard to get by.

Through a series of mishaps, the boy, named "Roger" (Don Darryl Rivera) by the kind couple, finds himself on display as a "monster," vilified by rumour and fear spread by newpapers that serve not to inform, but to make a buck. It takes a princess to save him, leaving us with the relief and hope that fairytale endings can happen anywhere.

Don Darryl Rivera as Roger the rat-boy. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Roger's journey is staged by the SCT like a Dickens novel. The set is dark, gray and urban with lurid newspaper headlines slashed all over the stage. The kind couple are dressed in depression-era clothing and their warm, cobbler's cottage is the only homey place on this stark set. The other characters are dressed in Victorian rags and tags, ruffians straight from Oliver Twist. A fairytale castle looms behind, far in the distance. Some characters in the play, such the evil Fagin-like grifter who attempts to put Roger on display as the monstrous "Rat Boy," and the street urchin who, like the Artful Dodger, has a good heart but steals and connives to survive, make us fear that Roger will come to a tragic end.

The play shows the best and the worst of humanity and, thankfully, all turns right for Roger. The SCT once again lightens the story with humor and the actors made this crazy fairy-tale seem real. Our daughter (7) loved this play and so did we. It gave us the perfect chance to talk with her about how to decide if what you read in the newspaper is always true and how sometimes fear leads people to do the wrong things. The happy ending left us with the feeling that even in such a difficult world, most people are really good at heart.

"I Was a Rat!" runs in SCT's Charlotte Martin Theatre through June 7th.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

SCT Review Crew's first review of "I Was a Rat!"

Our first SCT Review Crew review of "I Was a Rat!" from veteran Review Crew-er Aimee W. and daughter Kira W.

From the newspaper wrapped set, to the marvelously talented cast, to the incredibly quick costume changes, I Was A Rat! is a not-to-be-missed show! My daughter Kira (age 7) and I (age withheld), thoroughly enjoyed this delightful, surprising romp. This is both a funny and touching story of a rat who turns into a boy and all the adventures of misunderstanding and prejudice he encounters.

Luckily, he first encounters a cobbler Bob (Rob Borgess)and his wife, Joan (Marianne Owne), who makes the most delightful toasted cheese sandwiches and ginger “snap” cookies. They decide to call him Roger. Roger (Don Darryl Rivera) eats everything... really! He nibbles through newspapers (The Daily Scourge), pencils and even his mattress and bed clothes. This delighted my daughter to no end, as did his bizarre, rat-like habits.

Rob Burgess, Don Darryl Rivera and Marianne Owen. Photo by Chris Bennion.

Unfortunately, Roger ends up in some sticky situations – even getting thrown in jail because he is suspected of being a sewer monster. An amazing thing since Roger still looks a lot like a boy, clearly indicating that people choose their own context even if there is evidence to prove otherwise literally staring them straight in the face.

This tale is told with punctuations of headlines from the local, tabloid newspaper, The Daily Scourge. The cast plays multiple characters so well it feels like a cast of thousands. Each character has his or her own musical theme. I must admit, I didn’t notice this feature, but it was called to our attention when the cast came out on the stage at the end of the show to answer questions and talk to the audience. It makes me want to see the show again so that I can pay special attention to that detail.

The things my daughter loved are listed below – her top ten but in no particular order:
[Editor's note: This list has some spoilers in it, so be warned before you click the list name to reveal it.]

Kira W.'s Favorite Parts

1. The headband on Roger’s head at the end
2. When Roger hid in the trashcan
3. Eating pencils!
4. When Billy rescued Roger from Professor Tapscrew’s
5. The sewer guy’s costume was great because it was dirty like he was from the sewer
6. Liked how Roger stood straight like a pole when he was hiding from the police
7. Loved it when he ate the peppers – it was funny!
8. Liked it when the princess turned the rat into a cleaned up boy to get him out of jail
9. Liked how the picture had Roger in it
10. Liked the scene where Bob and Joan gave the princess the red shoes.

We both loved the show and could have probably created a much longer list than this. This show is fun for ages 6+. And unlike some toys with a starting age that really represents a range of about 2 years beyond, the plus here really means 6 and up. My 11 year old would have loved this, and, well, that plus includes me and I loved this, too.

"I Was a Rat!" runs in SCT's Charlotte Martin Theatre through June 7th.

An actor and parent reviews "Goodnight Moon"

Another family review, this time from local actor Dan Spiegelman, who joined us with his son for opening night of "Goodnight Moon."

Sharva Maynard, Matt Wolfe and Jayne Muirhead (operating the Mouse puppet). Photo by Chris Bennion.

I was super excited to be bringing my almost four year-old Ben to see "Goodnight Moon." I have an affinity for SCT; I feel like I grew up there between the plays I saw as a kid and the classes I took.

Ben has always enjoyed the book and was pretty excited about going to a show also. As soon as the play started, he was completely engaged, smiling and laughing the whole time.

After the show, he went down to meet all of the actors and was stoked that Matt Wolfe (Bunny) signed his poster. We have the poster hanging in his bedroom now and he voluntarily tells the story of how we went to see the play "Goodnight Moon," and how it was very, very funny.

"Goodnight Moon." runs through June 7th, 2009.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Activity: Late for Class, or Out Too Late

Another great activity from SCT's Drama School, Late for Class is a basic game structure onto which we have built themes from I Was a Rat!

Late for Class, or Out Too Late (the I Was a Rat! version)

Choose one player to be Roger, the rat-boy. Roger is being interrogated by the Police Man (activity leader) about why he is out late with no parents. The Police Man says that if Roger explains himself, he will take Roger back to Bob and Joan. If not, he will take Roger and all the Rat Children to the Sterminator! The rest of the players are the Rat Children who try to help Roger.

Roger leaves the room while the leader and the rest of the class decide an outrageous story that is Roger’s excuse for being out late (for example: a space ship took him away, etc.).

Roger returns to the room and the Police Man demands his story. The rest of the group, standing or seated behind the Police Man, mimes or gives other clues to Roger about what he/she should say to the Police Man. If the Police Man turns around, the group must immediately start doing their “work” and not get caught signaling to Roger.

Once Roger has figured out the story, try again with new actors and a new story.

NOTE: The first couple of times you do this, keep it pretty simple. As the players refine their miming skills and understand the exercise better, add more details to the story.

Added layer: Moving Around the Room

Moving Around the Room is a warm-up activity we use to help students get used to using their voices and bodies. Students walk around the room slowly and silently, and when the group leader gives them one of the following prompts, they respond with the corresponding gesture and words.

Prompt / Gesture / Phrase

Pencil / Mime eating a pencil / Delicious!

Bread and Milk / Mime sticking face in bowl / Sluurrrrp

Wash up! / Rub face like a rat cleaning / Rub-a-dub

Make your bed / Students circle and curl up / Snore

Spoon / Hold an imaginary spoon / Spoom!

To incorporate Moving Around the Room into Out Too Late, have the Rat Children stay where they are (actually moving around the room will just make it hard for Roger to follow the Rat Children's hints). Whenever the Police Man turns around to try to catch them signaling Roger, he/she should use a sentence with one of these prompts (e.g. "Children, pull out your pencils!" or "You children are grubby - wash up!"), and the Rat Children should respond with the corresponding gesture and phrase as their "work."