My experiences writing, directing and producing Christian musicals for kids through adults.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Play without Props is a Day without . . .

My husband says he thinks the real reason I write musicals is so that I have an excuse to make props.

Every one of the 15 or so musicals I have written has used lots of props -- until this Easter show. As I was re-reading it, I realized, I have no props mentioned in the script! Not that I'm looking to include them. Despite what my husband says, I don't feel compelled to make props for every show . . . it just usually happens that they need them.

As I sit in my living room, I can see three of our old props hanging out as knick-knacks. There's the fake videocamera I made for Flight 714 to Wimbleyvale on a shelf with musical scores, and the Pictish cross for The Saga of Saewyn on our mantlepiece, and finally, the 10-inch star made out of York peppermint patty wrappers. That prop is from our first show in 1999, and we bring it out every Christmas. (Somehow it didn't make it back into the box yet.)

But this Easter show will have none of that. No fake portrait of an explorer with a hamster on his shoulder, no statue of Thor, no giant 'take a number' device, no ancient stone stela, no intergalactic beacon . . .

Just a 5-foot diameter 'stone' for the angels to roll away.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Comments fixed

I found out from my son that comments were open to only certain accounts. So, I have changed that. If you're not a gmail person, or any of the other things they list, you can click on "anonymous". But you can also sign your post with a name, or pseudonym!


I've been posting sotto voce, so to speak, while I was getting used to doing this. But as of today, I've launched this blog on the internet ether, or to put it in theatre terms, rehearsal's over and the curtain is up.

One of the neatest things God has done in my life is to bring me into a ministry in which I can write and see my writing take shape on the stage, and in which I can work with teens, tweens, kids and adults. I love writing, but I also love the process of putting on a show. Writing a show and seeing it through to completion can be exciting, frustrating, enlightening, aggravating, exhausting, and joyful. I hope to share some of that with you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How Delays Can Be Part of God's Plan

I usually have my shows written before we have our first rehearsal/ orientation. I may after auditions make some changes - add a character or two here, change the gender there, trim that part - and that's a great benefit of writing the shows I direct. I know I can always change it to suit the cast.

However, for this show, things kept coming up that slowed me down. Another commission, the printer problem, just the busyness of life driving three teen/tween homeschoolers to their not-at-home classes . . . But it was okay that I wasn't totally done, because it's a younger cast and mostly newbies, so I felt they needed time, and I needed to get to know them. Well, tonight, at the end of my second rehearsal, less than 5 minutes after I told the cast I would give them their parts next week, I got two new members of the cast. Yes, I could have said No. But I said Yes. We ran them through quick mini-audition and will see them next week.

The biggest reason I could say Yes was because frankly it's not totally done yet. I was already thinking of how to give a few lines to these two cute 2nd grade girls who are loud and can act, and one can sing as well. Since the show wasn't cemented in my head, I can still add a few small parts.

If the show had been really set in my mind, or if this had been any other bigger show, I would have had to say No, but because of the delays, God enabled me to say Yes, and two more kids get to participate in theatre ministry.

The theme of my last show was, "God causes all things to work together for good for those that love Him," and here it is in practice.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Experience is a great teacher

I sang back-up vocals during worship at church on Sunday, and found myself thinking through some of the advice I've given over the years to kids in my shows. Stand up straight to give your lungs room. Smile, to brighten the tone. Use your abdominal muscles to push that air out for long notes. Oh, and listen to the music and yourself to make sure you sound good. Of course, I warmed up first, both vocal chords and mouth.

All that, and remembering the words, the repeats and loops, the dynamics. It's good as a director to have experiences actually doing what I tell my actors to do. That way, I know if my advice works. Plus, I have more empathy for them!

Close to becoming a Luddite!

Wireless printing sounds so simple. I pictured Maggie working on my laptop in her room, and Aaron working on his laptop in his room or up in the living room, and they can both send their documents to the beautiful new Photosmart printer downstairs. Ha. I've set up lots of technology in the house, including other printers and wireless. They were all relatively simple. This was supposed to be simple. "Push the WPS button on your router and push this button on your Photosmart printer," the directions say. But no. Instead, I have spent hours troubleshooting, researching unhelpful Q&A sites on the web, inputting various codes. I did find out how to access my router - big problem there was the Norton firewall, as opposed to the IE firewall, and now the router recognizes the printer but that's still not enough. What happened to technology making life easier?

And that's what I was doing yesterday instead of writing.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What's the show about?

This is the first time I'm producing a show specifically about the Resurrection of Jesus. It's exciting in that this is the most important event in all of human history, but, well, that makes it pretty daunting as well. How do you write a 20-minute show (my shortest show ever) to be played by a cast of elementary kids that is both interesting to watch and honoring to the Lord?

We shall see . . . as this is still in process.

Maggie's observations

Hey to the world!
So last night was the first rehearsal for the little peoples and it went pretty well. I am the Stage Manager/Choreographer for the show, which means that I get to set all the props, move set pieces, and teach the young'uns how to all do the same dance at the same time! *gasp!*
But seriously, I think that there are some kids in the cast that are capable of learning their parts and getting some good feeling into the lines.
Despite the insistances of a few of the kids that they didn't want to dance or sing, and the fact that they don't know how to stay on topic, I think that the show will be a good one.

First rehearsal for Easter show!

Last night we held the first rehearsal for our first younger kids show at City Calvary. The last few years, I've worked mostly with junior high and senior high aged actors, plus some 4th and 5th graders. This show is for 2nd to 6th grade.

I'm calling it my Newbie Show, since of the 16 kids, only 4 have been in shows with us previously!

Running the first rehearsal for newbies adds a different element of fun than usual rehearsals, because I had to explain what a musical is. One of the youngest girls kept insisting that she did NOT want to sing. I assured her that it's possible to be in a musical and not have to sing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19. Rehearsals for Easter Show begin January 20
We're beginning rehearsals for our Easter show this Wednesday. Daughter Maggie is going to be my Stage Manager, a first for her. She will also help choreograph. This will be a shorter show than most - only about 20 minutes long - but a great start for our mostly newbie cast.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My First Play Without Music

My First Play Without Music
I was asked by a friend of mine to write a show for her junior high acting class. Carie Fagan is an experienced actress who teaches acting to a group of homeschool students. My only specifications were to write a show without songs for 7 male and 7 female. That blank slate allowed me to have some fun with a genres my own kids enjoy -- adolescent mystery adventure. It's called The Seven Keys of Arabella. Carie begins production soon.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Wise Men Worship Him - by Commission

The Christmas kids show I wrote for Calvary Fellowship in Mountlake Terrace, WA, called Wise Men Worship Him, was a great success. Debbie Oglesby, the director and producer, asked me to write a show using some songs of Annette Oden. I was happy to do so, since I loved her songs, "Joy Joy Joy" and "Glorious!" and "I Will Bow to You." You can click on Musicals above to read about the show. Because Debbie mentored me in running musicals, I was happy to not only write the show for her, but to be there for auditions. And one night, she asked me to guest-direct for her. Getting to know the kids a little made me all the more excited to see the show. There were some great kids involved and they did a wonderful job. One other fun aspect of the show for me was that this was the first time my 14 year-old daughter Maggie teched a show. She was assistant choreographer and did a lot of other stuff as well.