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

Friday, June 25, 2010

Captain's chair

Did you know that the captain's chair was built using this 1960s modern office chair? It's called the Madison chair.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Meet the newest cast member of our summer show!

Trina the Tribble! She worked hard at the Academy and is now a full-fledged member of Star Fleet. Right now she holds the rank of yeoman. Captain Kirk is not quite sure where on the bridge to station her. If she's too close to Uhura, Trina will distract the Communications Officer. On the other hand, he knows definitely to keep her away from the cafeteria and food replicator areas of the Enterprise!

Friday, June 18, 2010

These are the Voyages, these are the voyages . . .

That's the title song of the show we picked for our summer musical theatre workshop. Everyone seems excited so far. I'm busy re-working the script. The original had to be kept to under an hour, but now I'm free to expand it, to have Randy write new songs, to explore new characters, to boldly go where this musical couldn't quite go before. (CUE: rising music.)

One other difference in this show is cast size. The original had about 40 cast members. The challenge then was to create a few extra parts - maybe just a couple of lines or as part of a small ensemble - so that the kids felt they had something to do. Now, with 19 actors, I'm taking some of those extra parts and re-apportioning them to the other characters. We'll also have a fair amount of doubling and even tripling of roles -- which is great fun for the actors, who get to play not one but three roles. Three costumes, three identities.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Failed gunshots and other live theatre mishaps

In the show that Randy is in, And Then There Were None (at Driftwood Players, go see it!), a gun has to fire. I won't say how many times. It's a real gun that uses blanks and they have a gun master to keep watch over it. But if it fails to fire, he can hardly leap onto the stage to fix it. That's up to the actors to deal with - and deal with it they have.

The worst time was Saturday night when it failed to fire each time. When someone is charging at you and you have a gun in your hand and it fails to fire, what do you do? You can't rewrite the play and have the wrong person die. You can't say "bang" -- this is a moment of high tension and drama, not a cartoon. One actor proved resourceful and chose to conk the other person on the head with an ashtray. None of the actors blanked and it worked out.

Ominously enough, in the theatre lobby is a sign that reads, "Warning! There may be gunfire during this performance." For this show, new emphasis on "may".

Addendum note: they have a new gun.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

And the Murderer is . . . .!

We're still settling down after watching Randy's preview performance of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. It was fabulous watching Randy act in a full play. He did a great job, although he says he dropped two lines. Hey, it was only the preview and he'd had such a long, busy work day. I've been running lines with him and I didn't notice it.

Tomorrow is opening night. That should be very good.

The show was great. It has mysterious and puzzling parts, comic bits, action, suspicion, and builds to an intense ending. I wish I could write more about it, but it is a mystery and it would spoil the fun if I divulged anything I shouldn't.

If you live in Western Washington, do come. Go to to enquire about tickets. The show runs June 11 to 27.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Preparation is 90% of Creation

I'm sewing a curtain for my daughter's room and it occurs to me that sewing is like painting is like writing.

Before I can actually sew the material in my sewing machine, I need to measure (twice, thrice!), cut it at just the right spot, and iron the hem so that it will be straight. Then I can sew.

Likewise, when I paint a wall or a flat, I have to measure, check for dents and fill them, put down drop cloths, tape the edges, then I can use a brush to cut in, then I can do the big roller painting.

As with writing: I never merely sit down at the computer and the words flow from my fingertips to the screen. Hah. That'll get you if not gibberish, then blather. I research, I figure out my characters - their wants and needs, their obstacles and strengths, their quirks - and I figure out my plot. And, once I've begun to picture it and can hear the characters in my head, then I begin writing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raise your hand if you're kinesthetic

. . . and if you're not, you can just sit. I won't make you move.

Randy's show opens in a little over a week (Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None at Driftwood Players in Edmonds; do you have tickets?) and the biggest issue he's having right now is blocking.

Randy is not kinesthetic. A kinesthetic person remembers body movement well. That's not him. He can listen to music and pick out the key and the instruments and all sorts of stuff I can't - but that's not a help in this particular show. So, he's working extra on his blocking, which for those of you who don't know, is an actor's movements during the show. At which lines does one walk upstage right, or sit on the couch, or rush towards the butler downstage left? And if the butler forgot his blocking and is not downstage left, where do you go?

It's made a bit more difficult by the fact that the actors are still in their rehearsal space, which is more cramped and doesn't have stairs . . .

One lesson I learned from helping Randy is that next time I direct, I need to be very specific about where to tell the actors to be. Randy was looking at his notes and saying, "Well, he said to go downstage here, but I think he meant to go to the window since that's where I talk to this other person . . . " It's hard to memorize something that one is vague on in the first place. So, yes, I shall try to be very specific.