Jonathan Davidson as Eddie, Krista Schafer Ewbank as May, Lindel Salow as The Old Man, Joshua Brown as Eddie. Directed by D.B. Schroeder. Lighting Design by Harley Miah, Scenic Design by Bradly Byrne. Fight Choreography by Patrick Nelson Hanley. Stage Managed by Danielle Gilbert.
 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a retrospective post

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (March 15-April 13, 2019) broke all our attendance records!  Adriane Galea won the Broadway World Award for her direction, and Joshua Whitson was nominated for both Broadway World and Wilde Awards for his performance as Christopher.  The feedback we received from the audience for this show astounding… from families and teachers dealing daily with people on the autism spectrum, from folks who had seen the Broadway tour and preferred our production.  It was a wonderful experience, to create such a powerful piece of theatre.

Some memories from the team:

Josh Whitson, brilliant and off book at the read-through and every night thereafter.  Harley Miah, who creates gorgeous and narratively impactful designs on modest budgets as if it ain’t no thing.  And maybe he’s right.  For Harley, doing the impossible is just Tuesday.  – Linda Rabin Hammell

I know it’s a little cliche, but Curious Incident was absolutely the most challenging and most rewarding play I’ve ever directed. It was a mammoth undertaking, and we did it in less than a month from start to finish. I will be forever in awe of how Josh brought Christopher to life and how the cast created multiple characters while simultaneously learning the ridiculously hard movement I threw at them (practically every step that was taken was choreographed!). Fun fact: did you know all of the songs used in the show were derived from math? – Adriane Galea, director

This was one of my favorite shows to have worked on, and there are so many wonderful memories from the experience. I was in awe of the cast throughout the process and loved getting to be onstage and watch them every show! Harley’s lighting was incredible. And the choreography by Adriane. And so was Danielle with those cues! And of course hearing the impact of the story from audience members at the talkbacks was so special. – Jaclynn Cherry, Siobhan

This was my first show at Open Book, after the fundraiser cabaret the year before. I loved being part of the incredible cast, crew and team. I was welcomed with open arms at Open Book. I expect audience members feel the same way: welcomed into the magical world of a play with warmth and grace. This particular play was so powerful. There was no separation between Christopher the character, and the brilliant Josh Whitson. Josh and Robert (as the father) made it easy to enter into the world of their family. I played Christopher’s mother, and I still feel a true maternal love for him. This may be the most I’ve ever felt simply and profoundly myself onstage, thanks to the brilliant and inspired direction of @Adriane Galea. All aspects worked together to make magic onstage, and I am so blessed and grateful to have been a part of it. – Carrie Jay Sayer, Jean Boone

It was an incredible experience to be part of a cast that worked as one organism, literally breathing all together. I’m amazed at the amount of focus and organization Adriane put into each movement to make that happen. It was never a challenge when I had to sit on my square and stay engaged, I loved watching it every night. As part of the ensemble, it felt natural to reflect the emotions and movements of Joshua. He played Christopher with such a passionate honesty, and each person on the creative team put their whole heart into each prop, line on the stage, and lighting cue. While we were rehearsing this show, my Mom was in hospice care, and she unfortunately couldn’t see it, so I read her the book. I tried my best while reading to reflect all the color and life my cast mates put into each character. Being part of such a hard working, compassionate cast helped me immensely during that time. – Allison Megroet

This was the most difficult show I’d done in years. It’s not normal for me to have to work 16+ hours a day to get a show ready, but this one had a few very long days to get it done. And I still could have used a week to put in everything I wanted for it. In the end, I was very happy with the choices we made, and that we were able to make this production totally unique. – Harley Miah, Lighting Designer

There are a handful of shows I’ve been a part of that I hold dear. This is one of them. This was my first company experience at Open Book. I was happy to be working again with old chums and fortunate to meet so many new chums. I learned something from each and every one of you. I will never forget Joshua’s incredible performance, Harley’s gorgeous lighting, the intricate staging by Adriane, and the exceptional ensemble work that everyone contributed. Two things stand out for me. I know I’ve never counted so much in a production and I’ve never seen an actor as “wrung out” as Josh was at the end of each performance. Talk about giving 150 percent! Thanks to all involved. It was certainly something special!– Jean Pilon
The show looked fantastic. The lights and set were perfect. I remember the choreography more than anything. Having to learn the movements, keep them exact was fun. It was a show that really from the jump…kinda kicked you in the face. It put you into Christopher’s world…and that’s a really good thing. – Joshua Brown
What i remember most was how busy that particular slot was that season. So many cool productions by so many southeast Michigan places and this was right up on the top with them all. My biggest bummer was being in a show that ran the exact same time and not being able to see y’all bring it to life. – Shane O-Connor, Scenic Designer

Fun Fact this show had the most cues in Open Book’s history. I’m pretty sure we passed 300? It was gorgeous. It is a show I could watch over and over and over again. Not just because I had too 😉 – Danielle Gilbert, Stage Manager

 

 

Based on the novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens. Directed by Adriane Galea. Featuring Joshua Whitson as Christopher, Jaclynn Cherry as Siobhan, Robert Schorr as Ed Boone, Carrie Jay Sayer as Jean Boon, with Jean Pilon, Lindel Salow, Joshua Brown, Jonathan Davidson, Allison Megroet, and Linda Rabin Hammell. Lighting design by Harley Miah, Scenic Design by Shane O’Connor with Adriane Galea, Prop design by Reyna DeSilva. Stage Managed by Danielle Gilbert.

Wonder of the World – a retrospective post

Wonder of the World (January 11 – Feb 9, 2019).  We’ll never look at Barbies the same way again.

Some memories from the team:

It was such a weird show. It was so kooky and hilarious, but also tragic. I loved the challenge of walking that line, and figuring out which side to dip my toe into at which moment. I’ll never forget the magnificent wine smell in that barrel when we first got it. I couldn’t get enough of it! I loved doing the soft shoe with Dan Morrison. It was such a privilege to get to work with Patrick and Linda for the first time. I loved Jill giving me such a hard time, all the time. I LOVED getting spun around in that chair during close to you. It was like an amusement park ride, scary and thrilling. I looked forward to it every night. And seriously, looking up at that disco ball and seeing all the lights as I spun around was nothing short of magical. Mandy broke me so many times during that restaurant scene, with her scream, her hysterical tongue choices. There was also the moment before the game show where I would scream out this list of things I didn’t like. When it came to staring at Mandy and shouting “And I don’t like clowns,” or something, her whole face would just drop into this frown. It was one of my favorite things to see. – Richard Payton, Kip

My favorite part was swinging Richard around in the chair. I was convinced one of the two of us was going to crash into the audience every night. Reyna’s costume design in general was stellar. But, that Puritain Red dress I wore at the top of Act II was perfect. It perfectly fit all three characters. I broke myself the night I made the fart noise with my chin…I loved that scene. I was so stressed about that scene from day one. Another part that cracked me up was Pat’s stuff on the boat. So dark, so hysterical…evey night I would laugh backstage. And Connie would go from bewilderment to sass so quickly. It was hard not to chuckle onstage. – Mandy Logsdon, Woman

Hands down, the sweetest, funniest stuff in this show was Krista and Linda and their peculiar journey to self-discovery. Dan Morrison as my bumbling idiot husband was perfection, as well as our ridiculous matching track outfits. Richard Payton holding a tray of jello shaped like a fish and looking pained: enough said. Patrick Loos and his sincere portrayal of the Captain, the only really nice person in the story, and he dies!! All of my friends who saw the show agreed with me that Mandy Logsdon in her multiple roles was comedy gold.  And the dancing, oh, the dancing. Anytime I hear “Close to You”, I break into a sweat. – Connie Cowper, Carla

The cast for this show was insanely talented.  Michigan comedy geniuses. I was just trying to keep up. Getting the helicopter scene to work was a challenge, but I think it ended up being an audience favorite.  The barrell!  Pulling it around, trying to keep it moist so the wood wooden shrink, trying to keep my legs from cramping in it during that last scene… I was more than happy to let that thing move on to its next home. I remember laughing so hard I was crying in the green with with the cast before the shows.  There was the day the circuit tripped and the lights went out during the penultimate scene… Jill flipped the work lights on and we kept going until Danielle was able to run to the back and get the stage lights back on just in time for the final sunrise.  The show must go on!  One of my proudest moments as a performer was never breaking on stage when Richard was weeping into my stomach.  It took LOTS of rehearsals before I could get to that point. – Krista Schafer Ewbank, Cass

This show was so much fun. The transitions were a blast, and Richard’s facial expressions were priceless. Mandy’s characters were so ridiculous and fun. #JusticeForCaptainMike – Harley Miah, Lighting Designer

So much hot glue, sandpaper, stick pins and jello. Like the nightmare date you can’t wake up from! Really, though.. the props were fun to make as crazy as possible. Costuming Mandy was a trip and the photo album, caricatures, helicopter and menus were a lot of fun.  I made aspic. So much aspic.  Viva Vivian! – Reyna Desilva, Costumes and Props Designer

My final set at Open Book (for now).  This was another one where I got to have a lot of fun with paint and flex my creative muscles.  I LOVED how the whirlpool floor treatment turned out (even though that dang barrel kept scuffing it) and making the rock benches and stools was a lot of fun.  Because the build was during my normal job’s Christmas break, I was able to bring one of my student workers in to help.  It was great to have a sort of melding of two of my worlds for this set.  This weird, fun show was quite a trip to design and work on, but I am overall very happy with the finished product (even the barrel). – Eric Niece, Scenic Designer

This show was so chock-full of fabulous people — who also happened to be fucking good actors – that it was always a little bittersweet to have to leave the dressing room and interrupt the great, hilarious conversations.  But doing the play in that company was definitely not too shabby.  This was the show that clarified for me that there is no skill of any kind at which Reyna does not excel.  This had long been the case, of course.  Sometimes it’s the umpteenth sunset that really hits you.  – Linda Rabin Hammell, Lois

What I remember about Wonder of the World is working with so many incredible long time southeastern MI talents for the first time, I think Krista was the only person I had worked with prior, and that cast was a who’s who. I can say everyone of them deserved their reputation after working with them. That script was crazy. The cast was crazier. Other memorable moments include pushing Linda out in the barrel in the dark at lightning speeds, the dance to “close to you,” and trying not to laugh when Richard was staring me down in the final scene. It was a weird, wild ride and the whole team embraced that fully. – Patrick Loos

Loved working with Sarah and this cast. Transitions ended up being amazing and it had to be a well oiled machine by the time we opened. Loved the dancing we got to do and everyone nailed them every night! The show had some challenges while we were rehearsing but it turned out to be amazing. Very tech heavy in certain areas and I always felt every accomplishment by the end of the show! – Jillian Joie Dahl, Stage Manager

 

By David Lindsay-Abaire. Directed by Sarah Hawkins Rusk. Featuring Krista Schafer Ewbank, Linda Rabin Hammell, Richard Payton, Pat Loos, Connie Cowper, Dan Morrison, and Mandy Logsdon. Lighting design by Harley Miah, Scenic Design by Eric Niece, Costume and Props Design by Reyna DeSilva, Choreography by Geri Conner, Stage Managed by Jillian Joie Dahl.

 

Doubt – a retrospective post

Doubt, a parable (Nov 2 – Dec 1, 2018) by John Patrick Shanley had our audiences debating “did he, or didn’t he” well after the show ended.

When the cast started sharing memories, one of the ones that kept coming up was their tape ball.  The cast named the ball after a character referred to, but never seen on stage:  Sister Veronica.  Also, the ball sometimes would roll under the seating platforms, and a broom would be used to get it out.  The broom was named after the church groundskeeper (also referred to in the play), Mr. McGinn.  Sister Veronica has since retired from her duties, and resides in a place of honor in the home of actress Margaret Gilkes (photo in comments). Mr. McGinn continues to help with cleaning duties at the theatre.

 

Doubt was my second show at OBTC. What a wonderful day experience! After every Sunday performance there was a talk back about the show. So many stayed and the conversations were deep and thought provoking. We were a small and mighty cast. Wendy was a great director. – Margaret Gilkes, Sister Aloysius

Oh, the tape ball and the stick. We had so many laughs. I didn’t know anyone before we started and by the end, I felt a true bond was created with everyone involved. Rehearsals were the perfect balance of depth and levity. Because we truly didn’t know what Joe’s choice was, it was an investigation every show. Some days I found him guilty and some days innocent. Then when he revealed his truth at the end… I think everyone’s mind was blown. – Meghan VanArnsdalen, Sister James

The first time I saw Harley’s lighting on Brad’s set I almost cried, it was so beautiful. This entire cast was so committed to their characters and the story, it was amazing to watch. I loved the contrast in Mrs. Mueller’s bright pink outfit to all the black and white on stage. It was like the current day (of the play) was fighting the old ways. Also Cheryl having the costumes done for the pictures when we had just started rehearsals! I’m glad that I made the decision to have Joe not tell us whether his character was guilty or not, so we could all have our doubts. I’ll never forget him revealing his secret at the cast party. Maggie used her own Bible for Sister Aloysius, and it had a prayer card from President Kennedy’s funeral. The perfect touch of realism for this play, set in the early 60’s. No one in the audience knew it was there, but SHE did.  – Wendy Katz Hiller, Director

Favorite line: “And that,’ said Father O’Rourke, ‘is GOSSIP!’” Father Flynn

Favorite backstage moments:
1) Maggie helping me steam my dress before each show.
2) Watching scene 5 on the backstage monitor with Sister Aloysius, Father Flynn and Sister James.

Best rehearsal advice: I was struggling with Mrs. Muller’s choices and at times judged her. At one rehearsal Wendy gave me some of the best advice yet. “Mrs. Muller has to make the tough decision to cut off her son’s leg to save his life.” From that moment I knew how to tell this woman’s story.

Overall favorite moment: playing tape ball before shows – Krystle Delihue, Mrs. Muller

This was kind of a challenge to reign in my “tricks” after doing a big expressive show like Ada and the Engine. I really wanted this to be grounded in reality and put the audience into this time and place. It felt really good to get back into more subtle choices and create “pictures” with light for the actors to play in. – Harley Miah, Lighting Designer

Going into this show I didn’t know anyone in the cast. I was so nervous to start, but I had Wendy and I knew it was going to be a wonderful beautiful experience. Playing tape ball before every show was fun even when Maggie would get into my space haha. The show had some of the most beautiful moments, and my heart broke was mrs. muller came on and fought so hard for her child. I had to miss one weekend for my best friends wedding and while I loved being at the wedding I missed the show and the cast dearly. – Jillian Joie Dahl, Stage Manager

Directed by Wendy Katz Hiller. Featuring Krystle Dellihue, Joe Sfair, Meghan VanArsdalen, and Maggie Gilkes. Scenic Design by Bradly Byrne. LIghting Design by Harley Miah. Costume Design by Cheryl Zemke.

Ada and the Engine – a retrospective post

 

Ada and the Engine (Sept 7 – Oct 6, 2018)  by Lauren Gunderson kicked off our 5th season, and earned Scenic Designer Eric Niece a Wilde nomination for his set, which included gears that spun.

This show was a perfect example of what can happen when you bring in an amazing team and allow them a chance to use their art to further the story.  I had given Eric a lot of room to play with the set design, and what he came up with was far and away better than any of the ideas I had thrown out. Then Harley took the lights to amazing heights. Geri choreographed a great closing number, and also helped breath life and joy into all the transitions.  I loved the choice we made to use Bryon in all the transitions, delivering letters and showing the constant presence he had in Ada’s life, even while being absent. I loved designing the sound for the show… all waltzes done electronically.  Cheryl’s costumes were gorgeous.  And every performance was top notch.  All the actors were willing to boldly try new things, and work to make the stylized visual elements combine with heartfelt, honest performances.  The moment at the end when the gears spun and the lights when on and off with the zeros and ones?  I threw my hands in the air like my team had won a touchdown the first time I saw it. Which they had. This creative team was amazing.  I kept saying how pretty the show was.  And it was all in service of the story – Krista Schafer Ewbank, director

When I auditioned for Ada I honestly thought I bombed the audition and I was too old for the role. So when Krista called to offer me the part I was floored. Despite training as an actor, the majority of the work I do now is in the director’s seat, so it was truly an honor to dust off my chops at the theatre that is my artistic home.  Ada is just cool. She is so much cooler of a person than I ever could be, and so to get to explore the human element of this badass woman — her self doubt, her fear, her low points, her triumphs, her aches for acceptance and love — was a gift. I am so thankful I had this experience.

Things I remember:
-how I completely spaced on the dance on opening night and Josh was a dear and just went with it
-the scene at the top of Act 2 with Lindel that terrified me and yet left me feeling so gratified as an actor
– “Perhaps I’m just a flightless bird.” “An emu.”’
-my pretty purple dress! (thanks Cheryl!)
-the rehearsal with Krista, Matt and I were we decided to chuck everything in the entire last scene and just play, and the magic that happened when we did
-Danielle’s gratitudes!
-feeling so connected onstage and off to the cast and crew
-the song at the end, and getting the chills every night as the lights when down on that last moment (and getting the chills now thinking about it!)

P.S. This is also the first show my now-husband ever saw me act in. The bar was set high. 😉   – Sarah Hawkins Rusk, Ada

 

There is so much that I love about this production. The set, the costumes, the lights, the sound, the direction, and the cast. I grew so much as an actor and as a human doing this show. It was my first foray in to playing a real person, and I wanted to do justice to Anabella as far as the script would allow. I want to commission Lauren Gunderson to write a show about her. She left quite a profound influence on the world today and more people need to know that! It was a challenge to dig in to her depths and justify why she was so hard on Ada. But through all the research I did it helped to find that path and also know Ada. I can talk your ear off about Ada and Anabella so be forewarned if you ask. 😊. But, what stands out the most, is the audience reaction and the lively talk backs. There were so many who came to see the show because they knew who Ada was and it was fun to hear their stories and how this show resonated with them. To top that off we got to share this with those who didn’t know Ada or her story, and to see their wonder after the show was magical. It was a great example of why we do what we do, and I cherished every minute of it. – Kez Settle, Anabella Byron

The first thing that comes to mind are Harley’s lights. Specifically when he timed the lights to the song. The first time I saw that, it got me. Learning the waltz with Sarah was terrifying but fun. And I appreciated the character, I really felt comfortable with the character.

Ooohhhh! The spider delicately descending between Lindel and me! And Lindel’s swift, graceful spider de-clinging. That was fantastic! – Joshua Brown, Lovelace

Oh man! Eric’s set is what really comes to mind. Those gears, though. That final movement piece with everyone, Harley’s lights, and of course the dream sequence right before the song at the end between Sarah and I was constantly fun. It is always a treat to work with Sarah because creating connection with her on stage is so natural and truthful. – Matt Wallace, Byron
I cannot begin to tell you what this show means to me…although each show I have been fortunate enough to be in at Open Book has had such a profound effect on me. About Ada, first and foremost the profound debt of thanks I owe to each member of the company, onstage and off, for allowing me to come into the show so late and allow me the time and space to create a character like Babbage. I couldn’t have done this without each person’s full support. It was humbling to feel so welcomed and supported. My hat is off to Geri who valiantly worked to choreograph me into the final moments of the show…and kept her cool when I was totally stressed out. Krista too was beyond gracious. I’m embarrassed to say that some of the pressure got to me. Thank you all for your kindness. To echo what Kez has already said, I have found myself working really hard to understand who these people were and how they fit into the times in which they lived. Then being able to see how they continue to affect us today is really incredible. Working with Sarah was truly a delight and yes we did have some “moments” during the shows….you know, those looks into each other’s eyes that say…where are we? Moments where you just wanted to say “it’s going to be all right” and hug the other actor. – Lindel Salow, Charles Babbage

This was such a wonderful show. Sarah Hawkins Rusk as Ada was lovely and her many expressions were the best. I used the purple tones in her costumes to reflect the her romantic style reminiscent of her father. Dance choreographer Geri Conner made my garments come to life with her movement coaching with the actors. My favorite moment was when the Cynthia came out in the rich blue tone attire I designed for her. She lit up the stage and looked stunning. She is such a devoted actress in anything she does.  I was so impressed when Lindel Salow came on weeks into the rehearsals to replace another actor. He caught up and excelled as Charles Babbage. – Cheryl Zemke, Costume Designer

I’m not ashamed to say that this is quite possibly my favorite of my set designs at Open Book. On our first production meeting, Krista essentially gave me permission to just have fun with this set, and I could not thank her more for that. The collaboration with Harley on the LEDs and scoops on the back wall really made this set pop, and it is one that will feature prominently in my portfolio for a long time. One of my fondest memories of this one is working on the small foam gears. I remember spending hours trimming and arranging them so that they fit together just right. The moment that all the motors were running with every gear spinning is one of my proudest moments as a technician. – Eric Niece, Scenic Designer

This was one of my favorite collaborations with a set designer in my professional career. I was so happy with the way this show turned out. It made me flex every muscle. A lot of what I learned to do for Ada will show up in This Random World this September. I’m really excited about that too. I just really loved the pace of this show. Just like the design elements, every thing just locked together nicely. – Harley Miah, Lighting Designer

I loved the last piece adding people into the machine and then watching them face as she faded. That was my favorite. And again….I loved working with all of you. Sincerely. – Geri Conner, choreographer

Directed by Krista Schafer Ewbank.  Featuring Sarah Hawkins, Lindel Salow, Joshua Brown, Kez Settle, Cynthia Szczesny, and Matthew Wallace.  Scenic Design by Eric Niece, Lighting Design by Harley Miah, Costume Design by Cheryl Zemke, Choreography by Geri Conner.  Stage managed by Danielle Gilbert.

 

Time Stands Still – a retrospective post

Time Stands Still (May 11 – June 2, 2018)

The cast and crew of Time Stands Still holds the tape ball record at Open Book (Tape Ball is a game we often play before rehearsals and shows to warm up our bodies, connect to each other, and just have fun.)

Here are some memories from the team:

The first full-length show I directed! I was scared to death, but I felt totally secure with the wonderful cast and production team. I’ll always remember poor Jill having to change the entire set over during intermission. The working sink was an amazing treat for the audience, as was the smell of the brewing coffee every night. But most important for me was the truth and honesty the actors brought to their roles. It was a joy to see them create these characters. – Wendy Katz Hiller, Director
As a performer it was interesting to jump from the heightened, period piece of Emilie into a much more realistic, modern drama. Sarah’s whole energy was so different from my own, and it was interesting to really explore that.  I loved learning about photojournalism, and read the book “It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War” by Lynsey Addario for research.  It really helped me build a backstory and an understanding of the world that Sarah and James inhabited.  I also remember having to drink a full cup of black coffee on stage every night, and pretend like I was thrilled about it (I don’t like coffee, and if I do drink it I drown it in sugar, cream, and some sort of flavor!).  We had a lot of fun real touches in the show, like the working sink (which often got audible gasps from the audience), the working television and DVD player, brewing coffee on stage, etc.  Wendy was great at building a very real world, both with the details of the physical world, and with the relationships between the characters. I also remember breaking a glass on the stage during a scene change and trying to pick it up in the dark… and missing a piece! Fortunately no one stepped on it with bare feet! – Krista Schafer Ewbank, Sarah

My first box set at Open Book.  Wendy came in with some pretty clear ideas of what she wanted, which made the design process pretty quick, and I was able to start building almost immediately.  The skylight with Harley’s lights and the sink with running water were probably my favorite parts of that set.  I’m glad to know that my setup for the sink that I spent so much time figuring out has been used in other shows. – Eric Niece, Scenic Designer

I remember fighting with video to get a good realistic “rain falling on window” look, and being the perfectionist that I am, and also being weak in the field of video technology, I decided with Eric and Wendy to scrap that idea, and go with a more suggestive and expressive effect. It worked out really well as a blue out effect for the actors to enter and exit safely as well. I especially liked the “breakup” scene. My original plan was to have the scene start in dim “moonlight” and have one of them turn on the lights at some point in the scene. But as I thought about these episodes in my own life, I decided, and Wendy agreed that this conversation happens by the light of the TV and the moon from the windows.  I was also very fond of Eric’s cornerstone at the downstage left edge of the set. It was a nice touch and it helped me hide my power cables for the TV in act 2. – Harley Miah, Lighting Designer

I was so happy to be back at open book for my second show. Before I was done with Time Stands Still, Krista asked me if I wanted to come back and be the other half of the stage management at open book. I loved working with Wendy, and since then I have done every show Wendy has directed. But just like the chalkboard for Emile I made Krista promise no more TVs being moved! Love the story in time stands still and the drive Krista’s character had to go and do something in this world. – Jillian Joie Dahl, Stage Manager

 

By Donald Margulies, directed by Wendy Katz Hiller. Featuring Krista Schafer Ewbank as Sarah, David Galido as James, Robert Schorr as Richard and Anna Doyle as Mandy. Scenic Design by Eric Niece. Lighting Design by Harley Miah. Stage Managed by Jillian Joie Dahl.

Vanya + Sonia + Masha + Spike – a retrospective post

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (February 23 – March 18, 2018).

 

Some memories from the team:

Angie Kane’s exquisite skills as she directed this wonderful comedy. The Red Hat lady who fell off her chair laughing. The fantastic Wendy Hiller and I circling each other in the sisterly showdown of our lives. Bantering with the incomparable Lindel Salow as my brother/love interest and the pleasure of smashing his cup every night on stage. How Cheryl turned a $6.00 thrift store dress that was 4 sizes too big into my beautiful evening gown. Harley’s lighting at the end of the show as we looked out hopefully on a new life. – Connie Cowper

Talk about a quick turnaround!  If I remember correctly, we had a little more than a week before we went into tech for this one.  I also found out (the hard way) that some of the measurements on my CAD file for the theatre were incorrect, and had to scramble to make changes to accommodate this.  The measurements have since been fixed, but that was a close one.  I remember Krista telling me that audience members thought that the patio was made with actual brick tiles which felt good to hear! – Eric Niece

Meeting the Nina to my Cassandra. ❤ Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the team on this show. This was the last production I had the pleasure of being a part before moving to Chicago to train circus full time. It truly felt like a family everyday going to rehearsal and I had such fun developing Cassandra. Such a talented cast, and solid technical team. So much love was given to this production. My favorite part was probably smudging the stage during intermission. Cheers my dear friends! – Alexis Barrera
Meeting the Cassandra to my Nina! ❤ That entire cast was amazing and it was so much fun getting to know everyone on and off-stage. Angie created a very free and inspiring rehearsal space that was a joy to play in. Also getting to play a dwarf, a princess, and a molecule all in one show was pretty rad. – Anna Doyle
Timing the scream with the voodoo doll was the best! Also, hearing the audience’s discomfort every time “Spike” undressed. Honestly, working and reworking the fight scene with Connie (that ended with us in tears) was one of my favorite rehearsal experiences. Connie and I are usually up against each other for the same roles, so getting to have her as a scene partner was a special treat! – Wendy Katz Hiller
editors note: the voodoo pricks and screams were done via closed circuit video.  Wendy was backstage and could see the doll being pricked, and would scream.  The audiences loved this trick, and often asked how it was done.
Oh, (C/N)VSM&S was a riot!! I have a lot of memories from this show. We had a really wonderful team. We played a lot in rehearsal- Doing things to get out of our critical brains and into our bodies and imaginations. I know I really challenged some people on this one, but they went with me. It would have been easy to cookie cutter these characters, but they all brought themselves into the process and it was wonderful. Comedy can be hard, and we really worked on things. There was a lot of repetition. It was hard work to keep it honest and simple, but they did it. There was also so much laughter and ridiculousness. Some of my favorite things I remember are Connie and Lindel’s relationship, breaking mugs every night, getting to see Anna as a dwarf and molecule (Cheryl really did a beautiful job with her costumes), Kyle’s careful attention and work on his reverse strip tease, Lexi’s completely awesome physical take on Cassandra, Wendy’s dry wit that would get you every time (she rocked that Snow White costume), Lindel’s INCREDIBLY IMPRESSIVELY LONG MONOLOGUE… but I think truly the thing about our production that was special is that underneath it all you got to see the real people and not just the sarcastic comedic characters. Lindel’s monologue was a wonderful example of that. Connie’s phone call when she finally gets a date, was one of the most incredible moments in the entire show for me. She just laid it out there every night. Gosh. I’m smiling thinking about it all. Thanks for the memories you guys. 😘 – Angie Kane, director
We had to break mugs on stage every night, and we went through a lot of practice mugs trying to figure out which ones gave us the safest, yet most satisfying breaks.  There are a lot of “these aren’t the right mugs to break on stage” rejects up in our attic! – Krista Schafer Ewbank, Artistic Director
What a wonderful time it was. Working with Connie was truly a delight. The awkward stares back and forth with Kyle. Watching Alexis create Cassandra was a highlight for me. The LONG LONG LONG monologue. Wendy’s vacant, self centered Masha left me in stitches every night. How Anna came up with the molecule bit was insanely funny. The self disintegrating nightshirt….the most comfortable costume I’ve ever worn on stage. The end…which nearly made me cry every night…hope. – Lindel Salow

by Christopher Durang. Directed by Angie Kane. Featuring Wendy Katz HillerKyle KelleyAnna Doyle Connie Cowper,  Lindel Salow, and Alexis BarreraCostume design by Cheryl Zemke, Scenic Design by Eric Niece, Lighting Design by Harley Miah. Stage managed by Danielle Gilbert.