Category Archives: Alumni

Directors’ Advice: Proudest Moment

DreamWrighters recently turned to our resident and several recent guest directors to hear about what makes them most proud. As we get ready to launch a capital campaign, we notice that like the campaign, these wonderful directors are proud about Putting Growth Center Stage!

DreamWrighters: Thanks for taking a few moments to share your thoughts with our audience. As a director, as you reflect  on your directing experiences, what makes you most proud?

Diane Crews (5)
Diane Crews in 1997 with Youth Theatre Director of the Year Award

DIANE: This one is easy … I love to watch people grow!  And growth is not exclusive in any way.  The magic of the theatre is love, according to William Saroyan, and I agree.  All the world is a stage and we are all players, but only in live theatre do we have the opportunity to work and create together, not to win anything or beat the other team, but to share that creation with others the audience. You come together as strangers and depart as family.  Everyone has the opportunity to grow his/her responsibility, self-confidence, interpersonal communication, knowledge, and emotional levels/skills. The results are huggable!!  And often make me cry – good tears – of pride and happiness at being allowed the chance to see the multiple metamorphoses!!

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Paige Hoke directing rain forrest critters

PAIGE: What makes me most proud is watching people grow and discover things about their characters and themselves. I love seeing the world of the show come to life fully! And I love seeing people from all walks of life come together and create a show!

RODD: I’ve worked solely with kids and teens. I am most proud of my casts and crews.  It have been a joy and privilege to watch them blossom during rehearsals and shows.  When I get a thank you note at the end of a show and the kids thank me for casting them in a role that they didn’t think they’d ever get, or they thank me for helping to grow their self-confidence.  Man! That is beyond any hassle that may come with putting together any production. That’s goes way beyond being proud, that touches me and encourages me. It builds me up and pushes me to want to be better for the next cast I direct.

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Michelle Denise Norton with cast and crew of The Tempest

MICHELLE: I am proud of the relationships people continue to have even when they’re no longer involved in Theatre Under The Trees or DreamWrights.  Last year, my brother Beau’s best friend (who he met during Comedy of Errors) was in town for his father’s funeral and when we were talking afterwards, he mentioned that he’d left his car in Los Angeles for another friend (he met during Much Ado About Nothing) to use.  Earlier this year, two people who had played villains in one production were swapping stories about both Much Ado and their respective children on Twitter.  It really brought home to me that one of the most important things about DreamWrights is the connections you make and the conversations you have.

Kirk
Kirk Whisler inspiring his cast and crew with a purple hair challenge

KIRK: I find pride in the end of rehearsals each day, seeing the work that was accomplished, and knowing that the cast and crew are making me look good.

About the Directors

Diane Crews: Artistic Director and Playwright-in-Residence at DreamWrights. Diane is currently directing Young King Arthur. Having directed well over one hundred shows at DreamWrights, Young King Arthur will be her last production as she is set 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 most recently appeared in the Flippin’ Broadway musical revue at DreamWrights.  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.

Young King Arthur’s Ten Year Quest

DreamWrights strives to give as many participants as possible the opportunity to experience our interactive art. Young King Arthur is comprised of two casts of 40 each and two crews of 20 each plus staff, making an approximately 120 people involved. These 120 people set out on their quest to bring the story of a young King Arthur to stage, opening on April 8.

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On right, Artistic Director, Diane Crews in 2006

This quest has been paved by an earlier community of cast, crew, and staff. Young King Arthur was written by Diane Crews and performed at DreamWrights in 2006, the premiere show in its then new black box theatre space. “Ten years is a long time,” Diane Crews, DreamWrights Artistic Director muses. “Most of the [former]cast will have finished their schooling and now are busy raising their own children.”

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Jerry Young, front left, in 2006

There is only one actor who is actually reprising his role as Merlin. He is Diane’s son-in-law and the father of her grandchildren, Jerry Young. Diane has a soft spot for this character, “Merlin, was my kind of teacher. He is patient enough to let his students learn, and he knows that experience is indeed the best teacher. Plus he cares enough to let go when, ‘It is time.’”

In addition to Jerry, the staff has five returning members. Rebecca Eastman is designing costumes again. In 2006, Jan Ruman was a Props Mistress and Corinne Brown was a food coordinator and now they are now both on the costume crew. And, in 2006 Karen Watson was a Producer, but now is DreamWrights’ front –of-house decorator. Ann Davis was PSM in 2006 and now she is the Executive Director of DreamWrights!

As far as Diane and her quest in life? “That’s too simple,” she says. “I have been on mine for the majority of my life, and will remain so until I am no longer.” Diane declares that since the age of ten or so, she has felt the need to make a difference. “Of course, at that time I had no idea what it could be. I was going to join the Peace Corps right out of high school, but decided I needed to know more.” So, she chose college instead. That’s where she discovered theatre.

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Young King Arthur in 2006

Diane sums it up nicely. “It really is quite fascinating how our lives evolve. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say that live theatre happened to me. I knew this was it! Ever since, my quest has been to share this most important, universal and ancient art form with as many people as one person is able.”

Bravo, Diane! So far so good!

A Young King Arthur Reunion for the 2006 cast and crew is planned for April 23 at 1pm. Participants are encouraged to stay for the 2:30pm matinee and relive the magic of young Arthur’s quest.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Reunion

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Cast and Crew of the 2003 TBCPE

As DreamWrights Artistic Director, Diane Crews, prepared to wrap up the final performance of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,  nearly 75 former Pageant cast and crew members gathered to reminisce and celebrate. 2015 ended DreamWrights’ fourth run of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Diane’s last holiday production. Cast and crew members from the 1998, 2004, and 2009 shows gathered to share stories and honor Diane.

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Cast and Crew of the 1998 TBCPE

Many great memories were shared and lots of nice words were exchanged. Bob Godfrey, who was unable to attend the reunion, made sure his sentiment was heard  by sending in a video tribute to Diane. Several others including Ann Davis, Brian Frey, Joan Bitzer, and Jo Olewiler spoke up, honoring Diane and the wonderful experience that The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was.

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Herdmans through the years

1998’s Gladys Herdman, Lexi Hubb, traveled from Chincoteague with her husband. She fondly remembers the fun she had playing Gladys seventeen years ago when she was only 12! Father and daughter Mark and Christiana Lipsitz, played father and daughter Bob and Beth Bradley in the 2003 version. Joan Bitzer and Steve Brown have been in every Pageant, Joan as one of the church ladies (different each time) and Steve as Rev. Hopkins, twice a PSM, and a crew member. Megan Cintron’s first DreamWrights appearance was as Jessica in the 2003 Pageant. She went on to become Beth Bradley in 2009.

Cast and Crew of the 2009 TBCPE show
Cast and Crew of the 2009 TBCPE

For many, Pageant was a family affair. Over the years, many of our DreamWrights families participated in the holiday show as a family (or nearly whole family): the Browns, Kominskys, Oles, Gordons, Dunlaps, Bitzers, Beckers, Hartnetts, Mir-Youngs, and Sheltons, to mention a few.  It was great to see these families and everyone who came to the reunion to reminisce with Diane moments before she headed back stage for her very last holiday production at DreamWrights. What a perfect way to celebrate Diane’s final holiday show!

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Broken-legged Mrs. Armstrongs
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TBCPE Crew and Staff through the years
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Bradleys
20151220 DW TBCPE Reunion - Firemen (5)
Firemen
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Church ladies

DreamWrights Alumni: Favorite Show

As we tie up the year of 2015 and embark on 2016, the year in which our founder and Artistic Director, Diane Crews, will retire from DreamWrights, it seems appropriate to check in again with our beloved alumni. This time, we wanted to share some favorite show memories from some of our favorite people.

1998 Best Christmas Pageant Ever (32)

Lexi Hubb’s favorite was playing Gladys Herdman in the 1998 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. “I remember hamming up how unruly Gladys was.  I was flying around the stage preparing for my role as the Angel of the Lord and Mel Eyster runs up behind me and catches me as I was flailing around the stage.  Tons of fun for a 12 year-old, well-behaved kid to have.”

Christiana Lipsitz lists Pageant as her favorite as well because it was her first lead role (Beth Bradley) and because of the sentiment of the story. “And, it was the first show I’d ever done with my dad… He played my dad!”

Melissa Baker (1)

Melissa L. E. Baker loved the 2001 Miracle on 34th Street. She remembers, “It was the first time I ever got to play a lead character. It was just so much fun and so rewarding. And, I got to have a daughter.  She was so cute.”

1997 Miracle on 34th St (1)

Dory Lerew  and Gary Hubb’s favorite was Miracle on 34th Street, but the 1997 experience. Dory says, “I think it was one of the first big DreamWrights productions and it was in a cool building with a huge cast and the audience moved around the building for each scene.” Gary

Dory Lerew Miracle 1997

remembers it similarly and fondly, “The run was held in an old city school and the audience moved from room to room to watch each scene performance. It was a play that involved a breakfast show, Santa Claus, and a collaboration of new faces mixed with the veterans of DreamWrights.  Two very important people who took part in this play are now sadly no longer with us: Ann Noll and Chris Davis, two of many amazing people that worked on the play.”

Nick Ryan’s favorite was Tom Sawyer Sings. “It was a great experience as a young kid to work with so many people and be involved in a fun production process.”

Rosa Terlazzo Our Town (3)

Rosa Terlazzo has a soft place in her heart for Our Town. “It’s such a beautiful play, and I think that it required the whole cast to really push ourselves. It certainly made me push myself more than any other show I was ever in – that play brought tears to my eyes at every single performance.”

Arlo Ehly has two favorites. As a performer, he enjoyed You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown and as a music director, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. “Charlie Brown was my favorite as it was such a sweet and charming show, and I landed my first big role (Charlie Brown) in a musical. It was also a show during which I made many new friends, whom I still keep in touch with today! Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was my favorite as a staff member as I felt it showcased the growth of the teen musical program. It was the first time we had a full orchestra for the show, and I piloted the newly installed A/V system now used for larger musicals. I also got to work with a bunch of talented teens and production staff members. The show itself was a big step for DreamWrights in terms of production values and some edgier content, all of which have continued to be staples of the teen musical.”

Rupert Meets Mrs Tales (2)

Calida Davis, Joe Nabholz, Brianne Good, and Dory Lerew (yep, she has two favorites) claim Rupert Meets Mrs. Tales as their favorite DreamWrights show.  Calida says, “I have a soft spot for Rupert… I performed almost all the roles at one time or another, and was one of the first Ruperts. I still have the bright red converse shoes that I wore for the part, whenever I wear them I think of performing Rupert!” Joe says,” I was also in the Rupert touring show from the beginning for probably ten or so years.  I was a founding member, and even though I was quite young I’m very happy that I was involved with DreamWrights from the very beginning.  There was an intense camaraderie with the founding families that was tangible.”

Rupert Meets Mrs Tales (3)

Brianne says, “Rupert was my favorite because I really enjoyed changing up what part I played. Also, because it was a touring show, the people I saw each time were different. I also think that it challenged me to be a better actor.” Calida agrees, “I LOVED the interactions with the kids in the audience and the versatility of all of the cast members playing whatever role fit for that particular show.”

Brianne, Dory, and Calida all enjoyed the challenge of the touring aspect which included never knowing in advance on what kind of stage (or floor) they would be performing. Brianne remembers, “We had to adapt to all kinds of different audiences, from preschool all the way to elder care and venues including outdoors, giant auditoriums, and stages so small they only fit a small portion of the set.”  Dory remembers it similarly, “We performed in all sorts of places, elementary schools, libraries, parking lots.”

Joe Nabholz You Can't Take it With You (2)

Besides Rupert, Joe Nabholz’s favorite experiences included You Can’t Take it With You and A Christmas Carol.  “Several times I was in the rare situation in which I had to fill in for an actor who was suddenly ill or had an accident and where their ‘other’ also couldn’t cover.  Those were thrilling experiences that I remember to this day–learning their part as best I could, literally hours before curtain time.”

Kate Harrison couldn’t choose just one favorite. There are several shows that are dear to her: Robin Hood (performed on Sumner Street), Miracle on 34th Street (performed at The Bradley Academy), and Arkansas Bear (traveled to a conference in South Carolina). She perfectly sums the sentiment of most, if not all of our alumni, “I couldn’t possibly decide! I loved any reason to be with our theater family!”

Thanks to the alumni who responded. If we haven’t connected with you yet, we would love to hear from you! Contact hilary@dreamwrights.org to share your wisdom and your whereabouts! Best wishes for a fantastic 2016!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

This holiday, DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre will present The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a classic Christmas comedy written by Barbara Robinson.  It’s a story about hardship, discovery, and making a difference in the lives of others, which in turn makes a difference in our own.

DreamWrights' 'Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

As six delinquent siblings with the promise of donuts, find their way to church at Christmastime shenanigans, misbehavior, mishaps ensue. Through the comedy of it all; however, is the reality that we all know kids like the Herdmans – naughty, misguided, but good at heart. We’ve crossed paths with them in our lives. Artistic Director, Diane Crews, was attracted to direct this production for this very reason. “Just like the church ladies in the play point out, ‘Real is what they were.’ We all know these characters.”

Speaking of characters and families, this production is family friendly to audiences, cast, and crew alike. Of the 80 cast and 65 staff and crew members, 30 of our families involved have multiple family members participating. Four families have four and ten families have three members involved. Of course, these individuals make up a myriad of cast and crew combinations ranging from a father Food Coordinator and daughter actress, to a father Production Stage Manager and son actor, brother and sister on set crew, a mother actress and son sound designer, and so on. Seventeen year old Kalie Stroup says she’s excited to participate in this show with her dad “because this was the first show we did together six years ago!”

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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever has previously played at DreamWrights in 1999, 2003, and 2009. Not only will this be Diane Crews’ fourth time directing this show, it will also be the fourth time acting in it for several cast members as well. Four timer Joan Bitzer says that she’s enjoyed playing the different “church ladies” and this time she’s having fun being the bossy one. “I love this show. It has moments that offer the audience, as well as the cast and crew, a good, warm Christmas feeling,” explains Joan. “Plus, it’s funny! It’s got everything a Christmas show should have.”

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Diane agrees that this show is special. “Each performance is as unique as the actors in it, and each actor is unique in his or her own way.”  Diane also reminds us that this production is extra meaningful to her because it is her last holiday production at DreamWrights as she will be retiring in 2016. She recalls directing her granddaughter in the 2009 production,” She was one of the smallest baby angels and now she is the tallest non-baby angel!”

Even if you’ve seen Pageant before, you won’t be disappointed to see it again. Those Herdman kids are an awful lot of fun, and the story is as touching as it is funny.  Even Diane never tires of it, “I always laugh and cry, and I have seen it hundreds of times, if you count all the rehearsals. It is what the season is all about!”

DreamWrights' 'Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

DreamWrights’ The Best Christmas Pageant Ever opens December 4 at 6:30 pm 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.

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.

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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