Category Archives: fun

Something for Everyone at DreamWrights’ Sale

Susan hat

If you happened by DreamWrights over the past week, you couldn’t help but notice the conglomeration of stuff: dresses, suits, uniforms, sewing machines, fabric, shoes, hats-a-plenty and sundries galore. Prior to the sale, the Facebook postings attracted a lot of attention. The sale did not disappoint, bringing in a record amount of income for DreamWrights.

But what was most remarkable about the sale, was the shoppers and browsers. Shoppers came from far and wide and from many different walks of life. And, with very different (and unique) buying criteria. As expected, a good number of shoppers came from regional theatres seeking costumes. People shopping for theatres in Scranton, Delaware, Hershey, and New Holland were among those rummaging.

A few were film makers looking for costumes for upcoming projects. There were people getting a jump on Halloween, brides looking for a deal, and a bunch of Cosplayers looking to fashion their favorite character. Reenactors found delight in our large selection of military uniforms for sale. Religious groups snatched up goodies for their productions. We even had people looking for dresses and accessories for retirement home glamour shots. But the award for most unique shopper must go to the people who were looking and bought a wedding dress for their pet llama on her special day.

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I know right?! Why didn’tI think to buy my llama’s wedding dress at the DreamWrights sale, you ask?! Well, you’re in luck; we are having another costume and dress sale September 8 – 10. Please mark your calendar and keep your eyes peeled for more details as we get closer.

Flippin’ Fun

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Rodd Robertson and Bea Gilbert with John Masa

On March 5, DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre is flipping things around in the name of fun and fundraising. We are hosting a special event called Flippin’ Broadway which is a cabaret of Broadway show tunes with a fun twist.  Rodd Robertson, DreamWrights actor and Guest Director, came up with the idea. Robertson explains, “A few years ago, another actor and I were discussing songs we would never get to sing in a traditional Broadway show.  We were having a great time imagining what it would be like to perform songs as those characters and suddenly we looked at each other and asked why we couldn’t stage a show where we could perform those songs?!” And the idea for Flippin’ Broadway was born.

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Rebecca Wolf with Michael Frock

Although, Flippin’ Broadway wasn’t originally conceived as a benefit show, it soon took on that life.  Robertson says the idea grew as they talked to friends and other cast mates about the idea.  Robertson reports, “We’re thrilled to be doing this for DreamWrights because we admire their mission statement and that they abide by it.  It’s a real testament to the theatre that we wanted to have our premiere there.  We’re doing good for a great place!”

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Patty Price with Michael Frock

With 18 cast members performing 27 songs, the evening promises to be full of entertainment and surprises. Robertson agrees, “If the scores of people who auditioned for it and the word of mouth buzz is any indication, we should have a really nice crowd; hopefully a sell-out.”  Robertson quickly adds two more reasons to attend the event: “to support this community theatre treasure and to imagine what different Broadway musicals might be like if they were ‘flipped’!”

He’s not kidding when he describes it as “flipped”! The concept of Flippin’ Broadway is for Broadway songs to be performed in a non-traditional way.  For example, “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserable is sung by a middle-to-older-aged white man, Jean Val Jean, but not in the Flippin’ Broadway version.  Robertson dishes, “In our version, a young teenage girl is singing the song.  So we’ve switched it up with some funny results and some thought provoking changes.”

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Hannah Kuhn and Caitie Kieffer with Missy Kiefer

But that’s not the only act that will stand out. The evening will feature talented adults as well as kids.  Robertson boasts, “We have a mother with her two teenagers in the show.  I think this exemplifies the opportunities that DreamWrights provides families in the mid-state region.  How great is it that so much talent lies in one family!  Just wait until you hear them! You won’t be disappointed!”

Flippin’ Broadway will be held at DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre on March 5,, 2016 from 7 – 10pm. Tickets are $15 and are available online at www.dreamwrights.org or by calling 717-848-8623. There will be an extended intermission offering elegant desserts for purchase. Proceeds will benefit DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre.

Top 10 Things Most Often Heard Backstage

1. Can you get my ________ ?
This is mostly heard during tech rehearsals when we’re all trying to figure out the important stuff, like timing and how the show runs. But at one point or another, there’s something you’ll leave in the dressing room or green room.

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2. Put that back!!!
If you are part of the props crew you say this a lot. If you are backstage you hear it a lot. In fact, there are signs saying not to touch stuff! (They don’t always work.)

3. SSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Even though it sounds like a geyser is going off back stage, this is used a lot. With kids, teens, young adults, and older adults not everyone knows the appropriate level of volume.

4. You need to move!
This also is heard mostly during tech rehearsals. People don’t always know where set pieces live backstage or realize that the costume that person is wearing will end up on that chair your sitting on in about 3 seconds.

5. You can’t sit there.
You might say this is a repeat because you have to tell different people that they can’t sit there every show.

6. Will you help me change?
Also heard during tech rehearsals when the actors are realizing how little time they actually have to switch from a fish to a Whoville character, for example. If you have a buddy to help get the zipper up or the hair in that wig cap, it make those changes go a lot faster.

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7.  I found this.
As a veteran crew member, I have been given all kinds of found treasures including staples, tape, bobby pins, safety pins, plastic things, birthday candles, batteries, parts of costumes, parts of props, and parts of the set! The fun of theatre!

8. What is this?
Even though this prop has been sitting on the props table for six weeks, it never fails that during the most quiet scene in the show, you hear someone ask someone to explain what it is.

9. Where’s the director?
Everyone always has questions for the director. But for some reason, the middle of show is the best time to ask.

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10. It’s dark.
Yes, back stage is dark. Thanks for letting me, the whole cast, and the audience know!

Jacob Schlenker
Student
and Veteran DreamWrights Crew Volunteer

 

 

Top 10 Life Lessons You Learn As A Theatre Tech

1. Black is always chic. Although, I once dressed as a monk while a stagehand at DC’s Arena Stage.

2015-07 Bob McCleary

2. Patience is a virtue.  And waiting is an art.
3. Be clear when communicating with others.

In theater:
In is down, down is front
Out is up, up is back
Off is out, on is in
And of course,
Left is right and right is left

4. Treat everyone with respect, especially those lending a helping hand.
5. Always get a good night’s rest. There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of a scene change and wondering, “Am I putting this on stage or taking it off!?”
6. Organization is the key to success.
7. Expect the unexpected.
8. Silence is Golden. The audience pays to hear the actors ON stage, not the gossip BACK stage!
9. You must be able to keep cool under pressure.
10. You are never alone…except maybe for one-man shows.  But this is ALWAYS true at DreamWrights.

Bob “T. Builder” McCleary
Technical Director, DreamWrights

A One-of-a-Kind Santa

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1997 Miracle on 34th Street

Since Christmas of 1997, Santa has been a DreamWrights institution. In fact, Santa is a DreamWrights founding member and has participated in 22 consecutive Christmas shows with Artistic Director, Diane Crews, starting with her even prior to her DreamWrights days. Santa got his DreamWrights start in 1997 by playing the role of Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street. Although a lot of work, Santa found it very rewarding and fun and agreed to continue visiting DreamWrights every year for breakfasts, playlets, and even to play himself in the Christmas shows.

When asked about his favorite part of the job, Santa exclaimed that he loves working with the children, especially the ones who are afraid of him! A little shy himself, Santa enjoys trying to win over the kids who aren’t sure. To do this, he spends a lot of time on the floor. Santa explained, “Getting to their level seems to relax them.  I have quite often ended up with hugs from children that were at first afraid to get near me.”

Santa is often touched by hearing emotional requests from children for gifts that are hard to deliver. “Sometimes I get touching requests for people other than themselves including, moms, dads, siblings, or acquaintances, and the occasional request for someone they know to get better.  It can be tough to hear such requests.”

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Santa in 2011

But, most often kids ask for gifts for themselves, including some strange requests. A real pig, a real unicorn, and empty boxes are some of the more peculiar requests he’s gotten. Turns out, the empty boxes were for fort building. Santa joked, “When a child doesn’t know what they want I always suggest broccoli, since I have a lot of it at the North Pole.  The look on the child’s face is always priceless and the answer is always, ‘NO!’”

Drawbacks of the job? Growing Santa’s beard! Not too many people know this, but Santa’s beard falls off right after Christmas (probably from the cold air blowing on it while he’s flying in the sleigh).  Santa then spends the whole year growing it to get it into Christmas shape!

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2013 Miracle on 34th Street

Over the  years, Santa has created great memories, a sense of accomplishment, and fondness for his time at DreamWrights. “I want everyone to know that the years I spent at DreamWrights went so fast, were so much fun, and the people I met were the best, friendliest, and most dedicated that I have ever met!” And then Santa said one last, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” as he drove out of sight!

Of course, Santa will be visiting DreamWrights again next year. However, you may notice a change in him. Perhaps the change will be a result of Santa’s relaxing, sunny days in warmer climates. Never fear, he will still be spreading Christmas cheer. You can count on that!

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
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Firemen
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Church ladies

Top 10 Things DreamWrights Techies Cannot Get Enough Of

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Tape – Masking tape, glow tape, scotch tape, double-sided tape, electric tape, spike tape, mic tape (surgical tape), hem tape, pretty silver tape, magnetic tape, police tape, Velcro® tape, friction tape, tape measures, and gaff tape (a fancy duct tape that holds most theaters together)

Help – As in, “I’ll help!” or the more common, “Help me!”

Anonymity – Why else would we dress in black and hang out BEHIND the set?

Teamwork – “Can’t get that screw in?  Get another person in there pushing on the drill!”

Learning & Experience – “Angle the drill upwards with a downhill ‘fermature’…. Just keep trying.  You’ll get it.”

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Imagination – “We need to find a (cheap) way to:  flood the stage, blow up the world, etc.”  Just another day at DreamWrights.

Drills – “Bob, I would be working but we’re out of drills.”

Pins – Safety and bobby

FOOD – But this might just be a York thing. (Or “Bob, Is it snack time yet?”)

YOU! – We miss you when you are not here!  And bring a friend!

Bob “T. Builder” McCleary
Technical Director, DreamWrights

All in the Family

Any time of year is a wonderful time to get involved with your family at DreamWrights Youth & Family Theatre. However, a holiday show at DreamWrights with your family is extra special. A handful of families participate in the theatre as a complete (or nearly complete) family.  Because they love it so much, they keep coming back for more.

Natalie Smith as Grace Bradley, center in navy
Natalie Smith as Mrs. Grace Bradley, center in navy.

Natalie Smith and her three children have done three shows at DreamWrights including The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which is currently running. After living abroad for many years, Natalie looked for something to help her family get oriented with their new community when they moved into the area. Natalie explains, “DreamWrights offers a place for all of us to feel welcome and connected. The people involved with this theatre are so friendly and family-focused. It’s a fun way to spend quality family time together and the holiday show definitely puts us in the holiday spirit!”

Andrea Unger, far left as Mrs. Irma Slocum. Her husband, David Unger, center as Reverend Hopkins
Andrea Unger, far left as Mrs. Irma Slocum. Her husband, David Unger, center as Reverend Hopkins.

Andrea Unger, her husband, and her youngest son have participated in ten DreamWrights shows together, including The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. “Since we are a small family (our two oldest boys are out of state as are our other relatives) being in the Christmas shows has been like celebrating the holidays with an extended family,” she jokes, “…one that you actually like and want to spend time with!”

Natalie says there are many perks to participating together as a family. “It gives us some fun conversation topics at home. We all enjoy meeting new people at DreamWrights and also seeing other families we’ve been with before.” Andrea’s son, Jonah explains, “Being together gives me an opportunity to talk over the play with my family, to receive critiques and suggestions….and also to give them.”

Jonah Unger
Jonah and Dave Unger on stage together.

After rehearsals and the performances the Ungers pile in the car and go over the show in detail, all the way home. They discuss any mishaps that may have occurred, (Andrea discloses, “Live theatre! Yes, it happens!”) talk about audience reactions, as well as things upon which they could change or improve.  “We talk and laugh and tweak all through the run of the show,” Andrea reveals. Over the course of the shows in which the Ungers have been involved, they have developed some family traditions:  Handel’s for ice cream after auditions, recording the script to help with memorizing lines, and giving little surprises to each other instead of flowers after the last performance, to mention a few.

All three of Natalie Smith's children perform in the play along with her.
All three of Natalie Smith’s children perform in the play along with her.

Natalie loves having the opportunity to participate in activities like live theatre with her children. “I hope someday they will look back on this experience and want to participate in activities like this with their own children.” Andrea gets right to a big reason why DreamWrights is special. “While we participate in theatre as a family, we do this at Jonah’s lead; theater is where he wants to be. DreamWrights has made it possible for us to do this together.  I don’t know of any other theatre that considers the entire family during the selection process.”

To see how much fun the Smiths and the Ungers are having this holiday season, join us for a performance of the The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on December 11, 12, 18 & 19 – 6:30 pm or December 12, 13, 19 & 20 – 2:30 pm. Then bring yourself (or even better –  the whole family) to audition for The Secret Garden on December 15 or 16 at 6pm.  Visit dreamwrights.org for more information.

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.

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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

Dr. Seuss in Your Own Backyard. How Lucky You Are!

Something amazing is happening in the big yellow building at the end of Philadelphia street in Downtown York.

Seuss warm-up

Right now, 140 of York’s community members are working together to bring Seussical the Musical to the DreamWrights Youth & Family stage. These 140 people are actors, crew members, orchestra musicians, and designers. They come from all ages, all backgrounds, and all walks of life.  And, what they are creating is something that is incredibly special.

I first started at DreamWrights as a young girl in 1999. Eventually I went on to get a BFA in Acting and spend some time working in theatre in Philadelphia before moving back to York about three years ago. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent and creativity we have right here in our own community!  Seussical is a show that requires a lot of creativity and talent. It is a show that is almost entirely sung, and the music quite complex. Luckily for York, we have some amazingly talented performers in our community. Who knew school teachers, social workers, and stay at home parents could sing just as well as anyone on American Idol?

Mr. and Mrs. Mayor

On top of that, the show weaves together 19 of Dr. Seuss’ most beloved stories. This means our design team has to stretch all of  its creative muscles. We have a stunningly beautiful, two story set that looks like it has sprung right out of the pages of a Dr. Seuss book and onto our stage. There are 75 gorgeous costumes for birds, Whos, grinches, cats, elephants, circus performers, and more! All of the set and costume pieces were made by volunteers- parents, artists and community members- and everything is a feast for the senses.

I encourage everyone to come out and see what members of our community can accomplish when they work together! Don’t miss this fun, upbeat show that is fantastic for audience members of all ages, and don’t miss the incredible hard work of your fellow Yorkers.

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So this October, do something different and come see a live show right in your own backyard! I promise you won’t be disappointed! The show runs October 9-25 at DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre, 100 Carlisle Avenue in York. Tickets are still available if you call at 848-8623 or visit our website at dreamwrights.org. I can’t wait to see you there!

Paige Hoke
Guest Director