Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Herdman in All of Us

From left, (back row) Conner Ney, Olivia Rill, Sam Brown, (front row) Steven Ruffatto, Sophia Kearney and Alex Shelley in DreamWrights Family Theatre production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

In her 1971 story, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson introduced me to the Herdman clan. With eyes squinted, arm extended and fingers pinched to the thickness of a hair, my mother warned me that I was “this close” to becoming Ralph Herdman, and I am absolutely certain that my sister was Imogene incarnate.

1998 Best Christmas Pageant Ever (30)

I never thought about the redemptive qualities of our protagonists. They were rough and tumble, and, deep down (well, not too deep), I envied their mischievousness.

Beginning next week, the Herdmans are performing on large and small stages across the nation, from The Drama Workshop in Cincinnati to the Raleigh Little Theater in North Carolina and the Seattle Public Theatre. Even here in York, PA, this is the fourth time in our theatre’s history that we bring this classic to life on our stage.

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This show, and the 12 actors and members of crew returning from the 1998, 2003, or 2009 productions, are part of the fabric of our theatre’s tapestry. While other theaters may be larger, or more ornate, DreamWrights has what no other theater has; Diane Crews. In her 18 years with DreamWrights, I’m certain our Director has known her share of Herdmans, and we celebrate Diane Crews, her warm touch and steadfast character, that have transformed mischief into splendor before our audiences’ eyes. Welcome to DreamWrights; prepare to be inspired.

J.T. Hand
President, Board of Directors
DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre

Editor’s Note: DreamWrights’ The Best Christmas Pageant Ever opens December 4 at 6:30pm and runs for 12 shows: December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19 – 6:30 pm and December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 & 20 – 2:30 pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dreamwrights.org or by calling 717-848-8623. Seats cost $10 for general, $14 for reserved.

DreamWrights Alumni: What are Those Kids Up to Now?

Ann Noll used to say that she wished she could look into the future and “see what’s in store for our DreamWrights kids.” In an August 2000 edition of the Dream Dispatch “What are Those Kids Up to Now?” column, she writes, “It’s exciting to wonder what kind of amazing things they might accomplish or where they will end up, or what choices they will make with their lives!” The column has gone by the wayside, but not the accomplishments of the DreamWrights alumni. With Diane Crews’ impending retirement and our approaching 20th season, we thought it would be fitting to check in with some of those “kids” to see what they are up to, share some fond memories, as well as impart some of the life lessons and advice they have learned along the way since those early days at DreamWrights. If you haven’t yet responded or if we haven’t tracked you down yet, we would *love* to hear from you! Part 1: What are Those Kids Up to Now?

Dory Lerew
Dory Lerew in 2001
Calida Davis
Calida Davis c2001

It is remarkable how many DreamWrights alumni have gone on to pursue careers in the arts. To name a few, Dory Lerew, Calida Davis, Lexi Hubb, and Kate Harrison have all stayed close to the theatre. Kate is the Vice President of Twin Beach Players, a nonprofit community theater group based in North Beach, Maryland. After college, Lexi moved to NYC to intern, direct, and work for many theatre companies before moving to Chincoteague, MD and founding her own theatre company, the Chincoteague Island Theatre Company. She describes the experience of building a theatre company from the ground up as tough but rewarding. Dory and Calida find themselves in Missoula, Montana (as Calida says, much to her mother’s chagrin). Dory is the Tour Marketing Associate for the Missoula Children’s Theatre and Calida has retired from touring at the same theatre and has now moved on to being the Assistant Director and teacher at Clark Fork School, a nature-focused school in Missoula.

Rosa Terlazzo Our Town (2)
Rosa Terlazzo in 2005
Joe Nabholz
Joe Nabholz c1999
Brianne Good in 2002
Brianne Good in 2002

Speaking of teaching, several other alumni have also gone on to teach. Rosa Terlazzo is a Philosophy professor, Brianne Good is a preschool teacher, and Joseph Nabholz taught ESL in Taiwan, Mandarin Chinese at the Susquehanna Waldorf School, and is currently in school to become an occupational therapist.

Arlo Ehly Little Shop of Horrors
Arlo Ehly in 2011

Perhaps DreamWrights was where Melissa L. E. Baker and Arlo Ehly found their love of performing. Melissa tours professionally in a group she owns called Chaste Treasure that performs in Renaissance faires across the country. She also works for a music company that puts on the majority of the shows at Hershey Park. Earlier this year, Arlo accepted his first professional theatre contract as an assistant music director and pianist for The Days of ’98 Show with Soapy Smith in Skagway, Alaska. He will return to Gettysburg College as an accompanist when the Alaska gig ends.

Gary Hubb
Gary Hubb in 2001

Gary Hubb manages a production company in Los Angeles for 44 Blue Productions, a TV producing company that produces several Emmy nominated television shows such as Wahlburgers, Donnie Loves Jenny, and Nightwatch on A&E. Nick Ryan is the CEO of Xpogo, LLC, an action sports company. Wow! Your DreamWrights family is very proud of your accomplishments. Thanks to the alumni who responded. If we haven’t connected with you yet, it isn’t too late! We would love to hear from you! Contact hilary@dreamwrights.org to share your wisdom and your whereabouts! And remember, may you all find success far and wide, but never forget your way home!

Stay tuned for Part 2: Favorite DreamWrights Show

The Magic of DreamWrights: A Testimonial

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About twelve years ago, my father took me to see a production of Cinderella at DreamWrights. I was a small, awkward child, I’ll admit, but after seeing the live performance with its hilarity, its sincerity, its magic, I was enraptured. I auditioned for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and managed to land a role. Success! I was excited beyond belief. I, the reticent child, would be a part of a stage performance!

Over the years, I and my acting ability grew. Though I never landed a “lead role,” Diane’s wise words always clung to my skin: “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Everyone was important. Everyone played a role. Without each actor, the show would not be the same. It couldn’t be executed without everyone’s effort. Every performance was a collaborative effort, and the cast was more than a team of actors: it was a group of friends, a close-knit family.

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Under Diane’s warm and wise counsel, I never had a negative experience while within the walls of the old building. Though there were ghost stories about the building, and the rickety elevator was viewed as a death trap (which was problematic at times, as a group of young children, myself included, once got stuck on it), DreamWrights never disappointed me. I could live there, nestled in with the ball gowns and suits, the enormous puppets and the animal outfits.

Sydney Fuhrman

I have, unfortunately, not been able to participate in anything DreamWrights-related for the past year and a half due to my college endeavors, but I still hold DreamWrights in a very special place in my heart. I cherish my memories and my happiness that blossomed there, on-stage and behind the black curtains. I have played minor roles, like little Nancy in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and I have played larger roles, like the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland. I have worked with props and I have worked as a stage manager. I have laughed backstage through tight lips and clasped fingers as the show carries on, and I have cried with people of all ages at the strike parties. I have nothing but fond thoughts of DreamWrights, and I deeply regret not participating in the theater as much as I could have in the past.

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DreamWrights, holder of my heart, nurturer of my strength, friend of my soul, you are a beacon. You foster hope, love, resilience, endurance, well-roundedness, but above all, you foster fun.

DSC_7175 (3012 x 4512)

Though I have not been involved in DreamWrights since Alice in Wonderland, I would like to thank everyone who has ever participated, who currently is participating, and who will ever participate in a DreamWrights production, be it on-stage, behind the scenes, out front, upstairs, or in the kitchen. Diane called DreamWrights a “big fun machine,” and as usual, I could never say it any better than that.

Keep thriving, DreamWrights. I hope to see you in action till the end of days.

Sydney Fuhrman

Directors’ Advice: Character Development

DreamWrighters recently caught up with our resident artistic director as well as a few recent guest directors for some advice. Here is the first installment of wisdom and guidance from these esteemed directors. Today’s question is on the topic of Character Development.

DreamWrighters: Thanks for taking a few moments to share your advice and experiences with our audience. Hopefully this advice will benefit new actors, experienced actors, as well as directors. As a director, how do you inspire and motivate an actor to embody his/her character?

Diane as a duck

Diane Crews: It is the actor’s job to find out as much as they can about their character.  The script offers a good deal of information via what you say, what other say about you, and to you. I often supply a character questionnaire, which encourages the actors to delve deeper and create some back story for their character as well.  They need to know how the character is different and the same as they are, and what they want and how they think.  I find asking questions that allow the actor to ‘think’ is the best and most helpful tool.

Paige Hoke: Think about what your character wants in a scene and in the overall show. Does it change? How does your character try to achieve their wants? Do they achieve what they want? What do other characters say about your character? What do you say about yourself? Who are your character’s friends, enemies, family members? How does your character feel about the other people in the world of the play/musical? Observe people in real life. See how they move and interact with each other.

Michelle Directing

Michelle Denise Norton: First, I start with a good script — that’s the foundation of everything. Then I tell actors: learn your lines.  Listen to the other characters on stage and what they are saying about your character.  Try to see the director’s overall vision and then find ways specific to your character that you can add depth to that vision.

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Rodd Robertson:  I ask the actors to think about whom their character is; how does he/she walk, talk, look? Then, I ask them to consider how they are portraying that character.  Is their portrayal a portrait of the actor’s mannerisms, speech patterns, or look?  If they’re just walking through a scene as themselves and aren’t trying to transform themselves into their character, I ask them to stop and change things.  If they can’t come up with anything, I’ll help them work it out.  I don’t want to see Johnny Depp up on that stage; I want to see Captain Jack.  And, I praise the heck out of them each step of the way during their transformation. Praise and encouragement is a powerful motivator.

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Kirk Wisler: Positive reinforcement. Build up your actors. For every negative give them two positives.  Keep open lines of communication.

 

 

About the Directors
Diane Crews: Artistic Director and Playwright-in-Residence at DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre. Diane is currently directing The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Having directed well over one hundred shows at DreamWrights, Pageant will be her last holiday production as she plans to retire in the Fall of 2016.

Paige Hoke: Paige Hoke is 2010 graduate of Arcadia University’s BFA in Acting Program. She has experience directing, teaching, and acting in the York and Philadelphia areas. She most recently directed Seussical at DreamWrights.

Michelle Denise Norton: Founder and Director of DreamWrights’ Theatre Under The Trees program.  Along with all of her theatrical endeavors, Michelle is also a writer, artist and cartoonist.  In Summer 2016, Theatre Under The Trees will be bringing As You Like It to local parks

Rodd Robertson: Director and actor, Rodd lists “Leo” from Leading Ladies and “Prof. Koknitz” from The Mouse That Roared as two of his favorite roles.  He has directed a handful of productions including To See the Stars and Nancy Drew: Girl Detective at DreamWrights and elsewhere.

Kirk Wisler: Kirk made his directorial debut at DreamWrights this past summer directing The Mouse that Roared. He has taken part in over thirty plays from 2001 until the present day. He hopes to continue directing and acting at DreamWrights for many more years to come.