Friday, November 20, 2015

How a Phantom (Tollbooth) and Spirits Led to Acting Success

Alex Knox in Euyrdice.
Molly Gutman and Knox in the 1995 Theatre Conservatory Players production of Mother Goose on Trial.
For Alex Knox, a stopover at a tollbooth started his path to an acting career, and it began at South Coast Repertory. He was nine years old when bounded onto the stage as Tock the Watchdog in SCR’s Young Conservatory Players’* production of The Phantom Tollbooth. He took his acting lessons to heart and now enjoys a lively career in theatre, film and television.

Knox initially sought out theatre as an opportunity to be part of an ensemble, something he readily found through acting classes in SCR’s Theatre Conservatory.

“We were a team, but without having to compete against other students,” he recalls. “We focused on listening to each other. That was very useful as I started my career and, I have to admit, I loved the group warm up games. That’s where we could jump around, make noise and not get into trouble!”

In 1995, he auditioned for SCR and was cast as Peter Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, a seminal experience for him because he workedworking with founding company members like Hal Landon Jr. as Scrooge, Richard Doyle as the Spirit of Christmas Past and others.

“I remember watching the ‘grownup’ performers waiting backstage quietly for their cues and seeing how sacred each performance was for them,” he remembers. “That taught me what a privilege it was to perform onstage. I still feel that way.”

In 2013, he played Orpheus in SCR’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice—a performance that earned raves from StageSceneLA, which called him and co-star Carmela Corbett, “two talented, charismatic young actors we are sure to be hearing much more from.”

The 1995 production of A Christmas Carol with Knox, third from left, Hal Landon Jr., John Ellington and Laurie Woolery.
Knox is a member of Antaeus Theatre Company, where he has performed in shows from Macbeth to the hit radio play, “The Thin Man.” He received kudos on both coasts for his one-man show, No Static at All, and he played Freddy in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the Pasadena Playhouse. He earned a BFA in acting from the University of California Santa Barbara and his graduate degree from the Yale School of Drama. 

In 2013, he returned to A Christmas Carol as a ‘grownup’—Ebenezer as a Young Man—a role he has again in 2015.

“It’s amazing now to be an example for the young actors. I try to set the tone with a reverence for the theatre, the play and my fellow performers. I also love bonding with the kids. When there’s a sense of fun and trust backstage, that shows up in the play onstage. Being with them all is a great reminder that working in the theatre is fun. There’s a reason it’s called a ‘play.’”

Check out current acting classes at SCR.

*Now called Summer Players

Monday, November 16, 2015

An "A Christmas Carol" Kid All Grown Up

Sanaz Toossi first came to South Coast Repertory as a curious teen in the Theatre Conservatory. There she found her love for theatre—and a home. As a conservatory student, Toossi performed in many Players' productions and twice in A Christmas Carol.

Toossi (far right) in a Teen Players production.
These days, she's now one of the conservatory assistants and also has worked in the Literary Department as festival assistant for the Pacific Playwrights Festival; she also recently completed a literary internship. In November and December, she is adding another SCR credit to her resume as she returns to A Christmas Carol in an entirely new role—child wrangler. What is a child wrangler? Toossi explains and recounts some of her favorite SCR and A Christmas Carol memories.

What exactly is a child wrangler?
It sounds like I herd horses, but in general, a child wrangler basically keeps track of the child actors backstage. In A Christmas Carol, the wrangler leads a pre-show warm-up, assists with quick changes and makeup...most importantly, does not lose the kids. This might involve herding.

You practically grew up at SCR. When and how did you first get involved?
I did! I could not hold down an extracurricular activity. I tried everything, and I was either terrible or completely uninterested. When I took ice-skating lessons, everyone in my group—except for me—kept getting bumped to the next level. We played this game in which we were supposed to skate through the teacher's legs, and I found that game absurd and had a breakdown on the ice (which is hilarious to me now). So I went home and told my mom that I hated ice-skating. She said, "You hate everything; you have to find something". I thought I might like acting, so I Googled "acting classes orange county" and guess what I found...

Toossi in A Christmas Carol in 2006,
with Jennifer Parsons.
What is your history with A Christmas Carol?
I played Martha Cratchit twice when I was a student in the conservatory when I was 14 and then 16. Martha is the oldest of the Cratchit bunch, and she's awesome. I know the show and many of the actors in it very well, so my mom and I go see the show every year. We like to discuss little changes after.

What’s your favorite A Christmas Carol memory?
I can't think of anything specific, but what has stuck with me all these years is how fun it was being onstage with Danny Blinkoff and Jennifer Parsons, who play Bob and Mrs. Cratchit. After all these years, I still have dreams where I'm onstage, Jenny's looking at me, and I cannot remember my lines.

What are you looking forward to the most this time around?
I'm looking forward to working on the show while not being a hormonal teenager with homework! Also, this show really gets you in the Christmas spirit—I'm going full Christmas this year. Hats, tinsel, all of it. I'm going to be a Christmas terror. Get ready, friends and co-workers.

You work in many aspects of theatre—is there a favorite part of theatre to work in?
That's tough because I've been fortunate enough to work with really great people who have made each job enjoyable. But a few things...I will tell you that it'd be a tough sell to get me to act on a stage again (to no fault of anyone's). Acting is hard and scary and I'm getting lazier with each year. The responsibility of stage management would probably send me into cardiac arrest. I've loved working in literary—seeing playwrights' brains work, witnessing a new work develop, seeing a director's take on things. But I think working in our conservatory has been very rewarding for me. Giving kids a place to be themselves—the same place where I got to be weird—is important to me.

Sanaz with playwright Dipika Guha during her literary internship.
You’re also a playwright; can you tell us more about that?
I grew up in the conservatory and I loved acting here. But I always secretly knew I didn't want to be an actor, and yet I knew I loved theatre. I realized what I loved about the theatre were the words, the page coming to life. It was more fun for me to imagine what the actors would say in my head than it was to say it myself. So now I write plays! Some are funny and some are really not funny. I always try to include inappropriate jokes. I love writing more than anything. Maybe it'll be something I pursue, maybe it won't. And some days everything I write is stupid and pointless, but it's still what I love most in the world.

What has been your favorite show at SCR?
Vietgone by Qui Nguyen. Hands down, 100 percent, I have never seen a show so impactful and bright and important. My parents, like Nguyen's, immigrated to this country from a conflicted area, and as a writer, it's been really important to me to tell their story. Until I saw Vietgone, I had never seen a story like that treated with such passion, and humor and sincerity. It changed how I think about my own writing.

Sanaz in rehearsal for her play Nobody's Child.
Have you had a mentor who has provided you with guidance on theatre issues?
I met Theatre Conservatory director Hisa Takakuwa when I was 13 and I knew immediately that I wanted to be friends with her. Aren't those the best friendships? The ones where you sort of pick each other? She cast me as an evil troll in a Summer Players and we've been friends ever since. She has supported me through everything. I have come to her with every rash decision and crazy idea and she talks me through it, always truthfully and always with love. She's the reason why I'm in theatre; she encouraged me to write. I cannot imagine what my life would have been without her. While she's been my best teacher and best director, what's been really cool for me is how I've gotten to know her as a friend. Because she's brilliant and sharp, of course, but Hisa is hilarious and just so fun to be around. And one of my favorite things to do is just kick it with her in her office and make weird jokes. There are lots of people who can shape you as an artist, but it's so cool, I think, to be able to call that person your friend.

Learn more and buy tickets.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Slideshow From "A Year with Frog and Toad"

Oh, what fun—check out this slideshow from the delightful musical A Year with Frog and Toad.

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Unwrapping "A Christmas Carol"

For 11 months out of the year, the sets, costumes and props for A Christmas Carol are carefully packed away, waiting for their time to shine in the spotlight. Now they’re out of storage and waiting patiently to be used in rehearsals and be loaded onto the Segerstrom Stage for performances that run Nov. 27-Dec. 27. View the slideshow to see the set pieces as they wait in SCR’s scene shop.

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Snowy Night at SCR: Auditioning For "A Christmas Carol"

The kids of A Christmas Carol from left to right, Lauren Lyons, Rachel Bailey, Catherine Mitchell, Aoife McEvoy, Jamie Ostmann, Kennedy Haynes, Carissa Diller, J.T. Casey, Colin Root, Jack Matthews, Sean Kato, Hudson Mattingly Stefanello and Louis Alvarez Tonkovich (missing: Rachel Charny, Kiana Kamm and Nick Trafton.)
“It’s Christmas Eve. Imagine what’s around you—a snowy night, crowded streets, festive decorations. It’s just you and your imagination. Have fun!”

That’s Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa, inspiring young actors as they take part in an improvisational pantomime (a street scene in 19th-century London), the first step in auditions for A Christmas Carol.

As many as 75 students in the Kids and Teen Acting Programs try out, and 16 are chosen (double-cast in eight roles). Auditions are open to all students in the third year of training and above and second-year students recommended by their instructors. (First year students may audition for the role of Tiny Tim, which is cast separately.)

In class, they’ve been taught the importance of process over product and reminded that auditions should be a learning experience. “I encourage them to listen, be flexible, try new things and show a positive attitude,” Takakuwa says. “If they do all that, they’ll feel really good— no matter the outcome.”

During step two of the audition, the young actors read scenes from A Christmas Carol. They’re called in groups that represent the ages of the characters they’ll portray—from the youngest Cratchit daughter, Belinda, to the oldest boys, Peter Cratchit and Ebenezer as a student.

A week later, everything is repeated—in front of a larger crowd. (Takakuwa is joined by Director John-David Keller, Casting Director Joanne DeNaut and Casting Assistant Stephanie Marick for “callbacks”).

Within a few days, Takakuwa sends personal letters to those who didn’t make it. “I remind them to be proud of doing their best and most confident work. They’ve learned how to audition!”

But if the phone rings—you’re in!

Those who made it range from first-timers to more experienced young actors.

Nick Trafton and J.T. Casey
Kennedy Haynes
Colin Root and Hudson Stefanello
Carissa Diller and Kiana Kamm
J.T. Casey and Nick Trafton, who alternate in as Boy Ebenezer, are “old pros,” having been in the Summer Players production of Mary Poppins. In that audition, J.T. learned, “You have to be prepared. I was expecting the unexpected this time, and the first audition felt good. I thought I nailed it in the callback, but there were a lot of kids who were really good.”

Nick had been nervous at the Mary Poppins audition because it was his first play. “I was a little more relaxed this time since I knew what to expect,” he recalls. “After the first audition, I was hopeful. When I walked into the callbacks and saw Mr. Keller I thought to myself, ‘stand up straight and look professional.’”

Kennedy Haynes is a third-year student, who has been waiting for the chance to audition for A Christmas Carol since she was eight years old. “I felt confident about my improv,” she says. “But I walked out of the callback thinking there was no way I would get a role—it was so quick, and I thought quick usually wasn’t good!”

Hudson Stefanello and Colin Root alternate as Turkey Boy. Hudson is in his second year and was recommended by his instructor. “It was an honor to be chosen,” he said. “I was excited about auditioning because I love the play and was dying to meet the man who plays Scrooge.* I wasn’t nervous because I blocked out everyone to focus on the character and the improv.”

This is Colin’s second time auditioning for A Christmas Carol. “Looking back on last year, I realize that I wasn’t ready,” he admits. “But this time I felt I would get a role because I took the director’s advice and applied it to the audition. I made better decisions and was more open.”

Second-year students Carissa Diller and Kiana Kamm were recommended by their instructors. Kiana, who likes sewing, pantomimed making beautiful dresses in a tailor’s shop. “I felt confident doing the pantomime again in callbacks, but I didn’t think I would get a part. This was my first audition, and I was just very happy to have the experience.”

Carissa thought she might have made it to the callback. “SCR has a very good audition process because they treat you well and make you feel comfortable. I learned to be calm and listen to instructions. I felt like I did a good job, but didn’t expect to get a role because so few kids get chosen.”

How did they react when the phone rang?

Carissa: Super happy.
Hudson: Screaming, “I’m Turkey Boy—I get to meet Scrooge!”*
Kennedy: This is completely RAD.
J.T. It was like a dream come true.
Kiana: So excited—I was ready to pass out.
Nick: Excited—and relieved. It’s going to be great working with professional actors.
Colin: Beside myself with joy—excited to meet the cast.*

*And, of course, they’ll all get to meet the cast, led by SCR’s Scrooge—Hal Landon Jr., playing the role for his 36th season.


A Christmas Carol runs on the Segerstrom Stage Nov. 27-Dec. 27, 2015. 

Children’s roles are double cast. Actors with † appear Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at noon. Others appear in balance of performances.
FAN, the sister of Ebenezer:
J.T. Casey, Nick Trafton†
Sean Kato, Louis Alvarez Tonkovich†
Carissa Diller, Aoife McEvoy†
Kiana Kamm, Kennedy Haynes†
Jamie Ostmann, Lauren Lyons†
Hudson Mattingly Stefanello, Colin Root†
J.T. Casey, Nick Trafton†
Jamie Ostmann, Lauren Lyons†
Jack Matthews, Catherine Mitchell†
Carissa Diller, Aoife McEvoy†
Sean Kato, Louis Alvarez Tonkovich†
Rachel Bailey, Rachel Charny†
Kiana Kamm, Kennedy Haynes†
J.T. Casey, Nick Trafton†
Hudson Mattingly Stefanello, Colin Root†
Learn more and buy tickets.

Monday, November 9, 2015

You’re Never Too Old for Acting Classes at SCR

Acting student Ginger Nelson (on lap) works on an improv piece with other students and teacher Greg Atkins (standing).
Who are the Instructors?

When SCR touts its Adult Acting Program as being taught by working professional actors, some might be inclined to say, “prove it!”

Gladly! Take the program’s newest instructor—and Nelson’s Act II teacher—Emily Heebner. Her career has taken her from L.A. to New York and in between, as an actor, director and instructor.

Emily Heebner
Heebner had a leading role in the first national tour of the Broadway hit, Noises Off and has worked at regional theatres across the country. (The New York Times called her Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival “fascinatingly foxy”). She was a resident artist at LA’s A Noise Within, where she won Drama-Logue Awards for her roles as Belinda in Engaged and Belise in The Learned Ladies.

But in a way, Heebner’s career began when she made her Equity debut as Jennie Mae in SCR’s production of The Diviners, directed by Founding Artistic Director Martin Benson. “I had just completed my first regional show—as Maggie in After the Fall at Berkeley Rep—and I used a piece from that show when I auditioned for The Diviners,” she recalls. The actor Randy Oglesby and I drove down from L.A. for the open call—and Martin cast us both! I learned a great deal during that show, and just a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to direct The Diviners at Antelope Valley College. That was a thrill—to come full circle.”

Which she’s doing again—as an SCR instructor.

BTW, Nelson’s first season as a student was Emily’s first as an SCR instructor, which worked out well for them both.

“That class was a great introduction to the Adult Acting Program for me," Heebner says. "Everyone was very close and supportive of each other, and Ginger worked so hard and grew so much. It was a pleasure having her with us. I think having students of multiple ages is a gift. Everyone benefits, including the instructor!”
Who are the Students?

SCR’s Theatre Conservatory includes a variety of acting classes for ages 8 and up. The littlest students attend the Kids and Teen Program, and the most serious/career-minded adults opt for the seven-week Acting Intensive Program.

Who falls in between? Everyone else! If you’re 18 years of age or over and interested in personal growth and development, meeting new people, polishing communication skills, developing spontaneity or all the above, the Adult Acting Program has a class for you.

Ginger, left, works with more students and teacher, Greg.
Thinking about an acting career but need a solid program to polish up your skills? There’s an advanced classes for you.

Just as there’s no age limit on enjoying life, SCR knows that you’re never too old for the Adult Acting Program. “Senior citizens” prove that year after year. Take Ginger Nelson. At age 77, she worried about being the oldest student—and not being great at memorizing dialogue. What made her decide to take the plunge?

“I told Di and Emily about my nerves, but haven’t told Greg yet. I plan to grit my teeth and simply do it.” (Uh-oh…now he knows!)
“I’d been thinking about it for a long time,” she says. “My husband and I are subscribers and I’ve seen the signs for acting classes in the lobby. I finally figured that I might as well do it while I can. After all, I’m not getting any younger!”

When she first signed up for Act I (Basic Skills), she was a little nervous. Well, more than a little. “I was scared to death!” she admits. “And I still get nervous. But the instructors have been very supportive, starting with Di Bubano, my first teacher.”

When Nelson completed the Act I, a couple of her classmates suggested she take Act II. “I automatically said ‘no way,’ but after I thought about it, I figured I had nothing to lose. And I loved it,” she recalls, “even though there was more memorization and my memory stinks!”

Again, her instructor made all the difference. “Emily Heebner took up where Di left off. She treats every student with the same kind of importance, respect and interest. I feel very fortunate to have been in her class.”

And that wasn’t the end for Nelson. She’s now in Greg Atkins’ Improvisation I class. “Improv is so much fun. It’s challenging but in a different way.”

Learn more about SCR's Theatre Conservatory classes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Five Questions with Paige Lindsey White

Beth Henley's Abundance is an epic tale of two women in the Wild West and their friendship that spans a quarter of a century. Paige Lindsey White portrays one of those women—the spunky Macon Hill. White, a favorite on numerous Los Angeles stages, makes her SCR debut in Abundance and answers our five questions.

Tell us about the character you play.
I play Macon Hill, a mail-order bride who travels west to seek her share of adventure. She's confident, eager and headstrong. And though the west is untamable, it never defeats her.

What are three words you would use to describe Abundance?
Epic. Tall. Tale.

Lily Holleman and Paige Lindsey White in Abundance.
How do you approach creating a character? 
Read the script multiple times. Question what the character wants. How do they pursue that objective (with what words and/or actions)? Who or what in script is preventing them from achieving or helping them achieve what they want? What do they ultimately get?

What first drew you to performing? 
Shel Silverstein poetry. His reading of it. My teacher played us a tape, and I loved how it made everyone laugh. I wanted to do that. It was a great escape.

What do you love most about Macon?
I love her flaws and contradictions. She is full of them. And unaware of most—like all of us.

Fun fact: This isn't White's first time in a production of Abundance! In college as an undergraduate, she portrayed Bess Johnson—Macon's best friend.

Learn more and buy tickets now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

SCR's 2015 Gala: Taking an (Almost) Final Bow

SCR’s 2015 Gala season officially came to an end on Thursday, October 29 with a wrap-up and thank-you luncheon for Chair Socorro Vasquez and her “Encore!” committee, hosted by David Yurman at Marché Moderne in South Coast Plaza.

On hand to offer their thanks were SCR Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei. Gift bags at the celebratory event included a (beautiful) jewelry box from David Yurman; and a (beautifully-framed) photo of the committee, along with a split of Le Grand Courtage champagne, from Socorro.

So much to unwrap!  But everyone agreed that the party highlight was watching Socorro unwrap her gifts—a hand-dyed silk jacket and matching enamel necklace and a commemorative book of photos, which she held up for everyone to admire, page by page.

Did we say that the Gala officially ended at the luncheon?  Our mistake!  On November 12th from 6 to 8 pm (just in time for the holidays) Yvonne and Damien Jordan will host a special in-store shopping spree at David Yurman, with a portion of the proceeds going to SCR’s education and outreach programs.  Tell your friends—and shop ‘til you drop!

Finally, Socorro reminded everyone to get set for the next Gala, coming up on Saturday, September 10, 2016. Details to follow!

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Inside the Scenic World of "A Christmas Carol"

The cast of the 2013 production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Jim Cox.
South Coast Repertory’s annual production of A Christmas Carol is a tradition for many families in the Orange County area. For more than three decades, parents and children have come to look forward to the Charles Dickens classic on SCR’s stage. Some parents now were the children who first experienced the wonder of the classic holiday tale. And during the passing decades, the production has had few changes. Hal Landon Jr. has played as Scrooge since its inception, many cast members regularly return over multiple years and the designs have largely remained intact.

Although, some audience members with hawk-like eyes may have noticed a few changes to the set design within the last decade.

Originally designed by Cliff Faulkner in 1980, the set design began to be updated over a five-year period between 2002 and 2007. Scenic designer Tom Buderwitz took on the task of refreshing one section each year from Scrooge’s bedroom to the Cratchit’s House to the proscenium arch.

“I was fortunate that the machine of this design—how it moves and functions—as originally designed by Cliff works really well,” says Buderwitz. “I was then able to focus on the character and details present in each of the individual set elements I was updating. Charles Dickens has long been one of my favorite writers. His descriptions of places and characters are so detailed and evocative. My favorite part has always been trying to make those descriptions come to life with truth.”

These descriptions even extend to the images found around the stage and lining the proscenium. They may have caught your eye, but exactly what are they?

They come from a series of etchings called "Pilgrimage to London" by Gustave Dore. They depict the difficulties of life in early Industrial London during the mid-nineteenth century. Faulkner incorporated them to represent the hardships many of the characters faced during that time. Buderwitz also updated a few of these images during his revision on the design. Find out more about the images and see a gallery of the “Pilgrimage to London.”

Check out the comparison of changes before and after the update:
Learn more and buy tickets

Theatre: All in the Family

Editor’s Note: This is part of a recurring series that looks at the behind-the-scenes staff at South Coast Repertory.
SCR's General Manager Lori Monnier.
Lori Monnier’s twins were a few months away from being born when South Coast Repertory first produced A Year with Frog and Toad. It was 2009 and Monnier was two years into her job as SCR’s general manager.

Now six years old, Kate and Gigi finally will see A Year with Frog and Toad, along with their entire kindergarten class.

Monnier was seven or eight years old when she had her own introduction to theatre through a production of Annie. Her mother took her to see the show in Tampa, Fla., where the family lived at the time.

Kate and Gigi meet Larry Bates as Wilbur from Charlotte's Web.
“I loved going to that show because it was such a big event for me,” she says. Through junior high and high school, she came to realize that her love for theatre didn’t mean that she should be onstage, but rather in the backstage world—“I realized that there were many people who were better actors than I was, but I had much better organization and management skills, which are definitely needed in the theatre.”

Monnier earned her BA in theatre from Florida State University and then went to work: she assistant stage-managed at a variety of locations, did summer stock in Virginia and was in an apprenticeship program at a theatre in Philadelphia. Then she landed a job with The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., where she worked several seasons as a production assistant and assistant stage manager and eventually joined the Actors Equity Association, the union for professional stage managers and actors.

But as much as she loved backstage work, she found the schedule wasn’t sustainable for one of her desires in life: to have a family.

So, she went to graduate school at Yale University, home to one of the nation’s top theatre program, where she earned an MFA in theatre management. In her final year at Yale, she met scenic design graduate student Fred Kinney, whom she married in 2003.

Following graduation, she was hired as general manager by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. She then received a two-year grant from the Theatre Communications Group, as part of its New Generations Mentorship program, to be associate managing director at Arizona Theatre Company and, after a short stint at a small classical-type theatre in Pittsburgh, she accepted the job at SCR and moved to California in 2007.

Gigi and Kate with Gander (Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper) after a performance of Charlotte's Web.
Like Monnier, Kinney has found great creative and professional opportunities in California, including design work at South Coast Repertory, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara, The Chance Theatre and A Noise Within. He also is on the theatre faculty at California State University, Fullerton.

As general manager at SCR, Monnier negotiates contracts for each production and negotiates details for co-productions with producing partners (such as Berkeley Repertory Theatre for One Man, Two Guvnors). She also handles the theatre’s internal operations, including business and budgets, information technology, facilities and security, and the front of house staff.

“I think I was drawn to being a general manager because of the big picture view and the organizational aspect of what I do,” she says.

SCR has been a perfect fit for her in many ways.

“I love the vastness of what we do—the new plays, working with playwrights—and, of course, our history,” she adds. And, since 2009, she has an even greater appreciation for productions geared for younger audiences.

The first show that the family saw together was the 2013 Summer Players production of Seussical. Since then, they have brought the girls to see many of SCR’s Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) shows including Ivy +Bean: The Musical, Charlotte’s Web, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and OZ 2.5, as well as the Summer Players Conservatory shows Annie, Peter Pan and Mary Poppins.

TYA productions are opportunities for Monnier and Kinney, whose mothers were librarians, to read the books with Kate and Gigi ahead of each show.

“Gigi especially will say something like ‘Oh, I remember that!’ or ‘That wasn’t in the book!’” Monnier says with a smile. “Having those conversations with the girls is fun.”

And this production of Frog and Toad is especially sweet for the family because Kinney designed the sets. The girls are even more excited to show off not only where Mom works, but what Dad designed.

Fred Kinney's set for the 2009 production of A Year with Frog and Toad.
Monnier wants the girls to grow up with a balance of experiences for a well-rounded education and life. They go to the symphony family series concerts, like to dance, take piano lessons, sing in the church choir and like to put on shows.

“We’re proud of them!” she says.

In her office, while Monnier has adorned the walls and windows with theatre memorabilia and with Kate- and Gigi-created art works, she remains much-focused on the business of SCR.

“It takes a lot of work in the background to make the theatre experience come to life for our audience members,” she says. The success of the theatre includes not only what is seen on the stage, but everything that happens just out of sight: the backstage work in the scene shop, costume shop, props, wigs, paint and more; the facilities crew; the front of house staff; marketing, development, administration and more.

“I feel blessed to work at SCR because it’s such a strong and solid organization,” she says. “As a non-profit, our community has the chance to invest in our work and we have great support from that community and from our Board of Trustees. We revere our long history, but we also work in a forward motion and we do innovative things. It’s exciting!”

Look for her, Kinney and the twins in the audience this month at A Year with Frog and Toad.

Learn more and buy tickets.