Thursday, August 23, 2012

Prelude to a Gala

This season’s Gala Ball is set for September 8, but the celebration began just before twilight on August 16, when Barbara and David Cline opened their bayside home for the traditional Patron Party to thank Gala underwriters.

The elegant event included welcoming steel pan drum music, imaginative cocktails and fine wine (thanks to Bluewater Grill, Sophie and Larry Cripe and DANUTA Label Cabs), and sumptuous hors d’oeuvres—all in a glorious bayside setting.

The evening’s picturebook sunset was perfectly timed for welcoming words from Gala Chair Beth Phelps, encouraging words from Managing Director Paula Tomei and Artistic Director Marc Masterson and thanks all around—to the hosts, the Gala Committee and the underwriters.

Throughout the night, partygoers posed for photos, but not without a little impromptu fun (see slide show) which all goes to prove that Gala supporters like to party.

And they’ll be partying again at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa on September 8.  For more information about SCR’s “Setting the Stage” Gala Ball, call Director of Development Susan Reeder at (714) 708-5518.

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

And We’re Off! Season Rehearsals Begin for "Absurd Person Singular"

Cast members have a laugh for our cameras during the first week of rehearsals. Left to right: Alan Smyth,
Kathleen Early, JD Cullum and Colette Kilroy.
Rehearsals started this week for our season-opener: Absurd Person Singular. This gem is Alan Ayckbourn’s first big hit—earning rave reviews at its debut in 1972 and continuing to receive popular and critical acclaim on into its 40th anniversary year. Set over three successive Christmas Eves in three different kitchens, the play listens in on the relationships of three couples as they experience fortunes that rise and fall.

Things started Monday in SCR’s rehearsal room with a read-through of the script. We’re excited to have a wonderful cast working with Director David Emmes: Tessa Auberjonois as Eva; Robert Curtis Brown as Ronald; JD Cullum as Sidney; Kathleen Early as Jane; Colette Kilroy as Marion; and Alan Smyth as Geoffrey.

Says Emmes: “Ayckbourn’s genius is in creating characters with whom we can identify; everyday people who have dreams and ambitions not dissimilar to our own.”

The production runs Sept. 7-Oct. 7 on the Segerstrom Stage. Learn more and get your tickets now!

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Seussical" Through the Eyes of a Summer Player

By Jamie Ostmann

“Alright guys!” announces Deb Chesterman, the superhuman stage manager of South Coast Repertory’s biggest Summer Players show, Seussical, “Go to dressing rooms, get dressed, then come sit in the house!” This is how she starts a typical day during tech week.

Tech week is when costumes, scenery, lights, make-up, props, and sound are added to the show. And what a show this is!

Kelsey Bray (Jojo) gets her body mic put on. Kailyn Dunkleman (Mayzie) looks on.
Hamilton Sparks (Who/Ensemble) and Brooke Boukather (Jungle/Ensemble) prepare for a rehearsal.
Everything about Seussical is huge, starting with the sheer number of bodies in the cast: 31 people ages 10 to 22. And everyone is expected to do his or her part to make the show run. 

“If one of you is at 50% energy level, it brings the entire cast down from 100%,” Hisa Takakuwa and Erin McNally, our dedicated directors, constantly remind us.

Erin McNally gives notes to the cast. In the background, choreographer Kelly Todd works with the Bird Girls (Shane Iverson, Shannon Booth, Lauren Cocroft, and Taylor Serafin.)
Seussical requires a lot of energy. It’s a story told through movement and song, with about 20 musical numbers. And for the first time, Summer Players has its own choreographer, Kelly Todd! Kelly, assisted by dance captain Kailyn Dunkelman who plays Mayzie, makes sure the movements are flawless. They incorporate different styles of dance into the show: from a salsa “Amayzing Mayzie,” to a boogie in the opening number, to a Charleston in “Green Eggs and Ham.”

In addition to looking good, we have to sound good. As musical director, Erin McNally works with all of us not only to get the notes right, but also to put “heart into our voices.”

Arranger and orchestrator Bobby Nafferette teaches us the notes to the songs, making intricate four-part harmonies easy to sing. However, no matter how loud you sing, it’s hard to make your voice heard in a big theatre like the Argyros. So this year, thanks to the helpful sound technicians, actors who sing a lot of solos wear body mics.

Christopher Huntley and Guy McEleney (Wickersham Brothers) are all set to "Monkey Around" in the amazing costumes created by designer Sara Clement.
Some aspects of Summer Players shows remain year after year, but never cease to amaze us. The perfect examples are the costumes and set designed by Sara Clement. The actors look like they stepped off the page of a Dr. Seuss book, for sure! And the set—from its red-and-white circus tent to its green and orange climbable vines—makes inhabiting a Seussy world so much easier.

So we “Seussians,” as stage manager Deb calls us, continue to try to make the world of Dr. Seuss come alive through words, color, song, and light.

Every day, we get better, striving towards the perfection we dream of one day reaching, working hard, creating memories, and most important, enjoying ourselves. And as Dr. Seuss himself said, “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one!”

Jamie Ostmann plays several different roles in Seussical, a production of SCR’s conservatory. Excerpted from her summer blog.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Places! Places! … for SCR's Production of "Setting the Stage"

On September 8, when the curtain goes up on “Setting the Stage,”  South Coast Repertory’s 2012 Gala Ball, it also rises on the theatrical and social seasons in Orange County.  And everyone is ready in the wings for a stellar opening—Saturday, September 8, at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa.

Here’s what the Gala co-chairs have planned for “Setting the Stage” …

Beth Phelps, Gala Chair:  “At our final committee
meeting, I was wowed by updates from
the co-chairs—what a great job they’ve done!”
Pam Muzzy, Co-chair, Graphics:  “Beginning
with the very theatrical invitation—complete
with sets, costumes, lights and sound…”
Laurie Staude, Co-chair, Hospitality:  “We’ll be
waiting for our cue to greet partygoers and
send them on their theatrical adventure.”
Olivia Johnson, Co-chair, Entertainment:   “From the
backstage reception to the onstage ball (with
dancing to the beat of J.T. and the California
Dreamin’ ), our guests will be the stars.”
Sophie Cripe, Co-chair, Décor:  “Wait until you see
the sets for our production!  And look up:  real
props will be ‘flying’ overhead!”
Elaine Weinberg, Co-chair, Cuisine:  “There’ll be filet
mignon…and Maine lobster…and a grilled
vegetable bundle …
Bette Aitken, Co-chair, Cuisine:  “And the signature
drink—Stage Door Johnnie, a secret concoction
that will match one of our theme colors—purple or
Mimi Holcombe, Chair, Underwriting:  “Orange
County’s movers and shakers will be ‘Setting the
Stage’ for SCR’s first hit of the 2012-13 Season. 
We invite you to share the spotlight with them!    

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Seussical" Cast Has a Great Day

Choreographer Kelly Todd works with the cast.
At their first full run-through on SCR’s Argyros Stage on August 3, Seussical Director Hisa Takakuwa and Musical Director Erin McNally were all smiles—and no wonder, after three weeks of rehearsals for the Summer Players’ biggest musical ever, according to Hisa, everything came together beautifully.

“It’s always a joy for the cast to get on stage as we fit all elements together.  We call the first run a ‘stumble through’ but we all kept our footing!”

Musical Director Erin McNally
Director Hisa Takakuwa.

Musical Director Erin McNally and Assistant Director Jordan Bellow, right, work with Nick Slimmer (Cat in the Hat).