The Most Famous Play Of All

What exactly is a Nativity Play?

The word “Nativity” is derived from the Latin word ‘natal” which means birth. So, a Nativity Play is a play that recreates the story of the birth of Christ. Usually, this includes the visit of the shepherds and the Wise Men.

This tradition seems to have started in Italy around 1223. The credit seems to go to St Francis of Assisi for creating the very first one. It seems that during this time many people were illiterate and couldn’t read the story of Christmas in the Bible for themselves. So, St Francis decided to show them what it must have been like on the night of Jesus’ birth. He set a manger, added some hay and live animals and got some people from the town to play Mary, Joseph and Shepherds. It must have been a success due to the overwhelming amount of churches that perform a play during this time of year. In fact, it is so popular a play was written about the process. (The Best Christmas Pageant Ever).

Around the country the Nativity play is a treasured moment;  we all worship together among cameras, videos and a few tears. Sad, isn’t it? That this tradition can’t be done in many schools and communities any longer and that they have to perform winter shows instead?

There was a time that we were not ashamed of Christ. There was a time we boldly shouted out, “Merry Christmas!” and identified with the fact that Jesus’ birth was Why we celebrate this day.

I hope the tradition of the Nativity play never ends. There is something wonderful about the community that comes together out of the recreation of the story.

  1. What could be better than teaching children the important aspects of each part of the story? You might say, “What could be important about playing one of the animals?” There is a verse in Isaiah 1:3-4, “The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib. But Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” What lucky children! They play the part of giving comfort, even the ox and ass understand and give homage to the King.
  2. Parents and friends who might not usually participate, get involved with a production to help their children.
  3. People will come to church to watch kids when they won’t come for anything else.
  4. The simplicity of a production done by children should focus us on the true meaning of the season.
  5. Don’t forget the reading of the Christmas story, but for this visual learning society we have now–seeing is so powerful.

Amazing isn’t it?  “the hopes and fears of all the years (wow that’s a lot) are met in Christ–the birth of Jesus–in a far away town–on a cold winter’s night.”

Let’s keep telling the story.

Do you have a favorite memory of a nativity story? Please share a comment/and this post if you like it!

 

Until next time!

 

 

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn: A Theater Review

Based on the 1942 film featuring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, the stage adaptation of Holiday Inn makes some vital updates (for example, cutting the film’s blackface number), while satisfying those of us who love old musicals and including songs like “White Christmas,” “Happy Holiday,” “Blue Skies,” and “Cheek to Cheek.”

Michael Mahler stars as Jim Hardy, a musician who leaves New York and show business to settle on a farm in Connecticut. He proposes to his song-and-dance partner, Lila Dixon (Kimberly Immanuel), who accepts him (seemingly reluctantly) and promptly leaves for a touring gig with the third member of their original trio, Ted Hanover (Will Burton). While Lila and Ted dance their way across the Midwest to Las Vegas, Jim embraces the farming life with the help of lively jack-of-all-trades, Louise (Marya Grandy).

Events collide when some of Jim’s New York friends come to visit as he is discovering that the farming idea is well….a disaster. How do any performers cope when they are in a crisis? Well, of course, they decide to put on a show!  Jim hatches a plan with his newfound friend Linda Mason (Johanna Mckenzie Miller), a charming, reserved schoolteacher ( who once aspired to be a performer). They decide to open the farm each holiday, bring in Jim’s performer friends, and put on a show!

Costumes

I must say, I have never been disappointed in the costumes at Marriott’s; however, this time I was. As you know, wherever you sit at Marriott’s you will be looking at some of the performer’s backs at least half of the time. It would seem to me that it would be very important for the actors to look equally good from the back or front. Unfortunately, it was quite distracting to look at Michael Mahler who’s pants were…hmmmm….baggy. The Valentine’s dresses looked great until the girls turned around and we saw what looked like a huge decal on the chest of their dresses. The Easter dresses were ok, but the Easter bonnets, which were designed to be over-the-top, lost the class that I think that song usually demands. Overall, I would give the costumes a C-.

Set Design and Technical

One of the things I love about Marriott’s is how effortlessly the set pieces move in and out. The cast is always brilliant as they push the pieces on and manage to do it in character. This show is no different.

One of the highlights is the piano. Since it is so much a part of this singing and dancing trio it becomes a central part of the design. As Michael Mahler is such an accomplished musician it is a delight to see what he brings to his character as he skillfully plays.

The other pieces fit the story perfectly. I loved the ladder that rolled around as different characters climbed on and off of it. Masterful use of the space and props/set pieces.

Acting/Singing/Dancing

I must admit I wasn’t fond of Michael Mahler as Jim. I know I shouldn’t compare to the movie, but growing up seeing Bing Crosby in this part it was hard to listen to Mahler’s voice. I felt he was a bit cheesy in his portrayal and I wanted him to be smooth and in control. Also, Will Burton as Ted wasn’t exactly a Fred Astaire either. I wanted to like Ted, but be angry with him for his lack of friendship and loyalty towards Jim. Instead, I didn’t like him at all.

But then, Linda Mason, played by Johanna Mckenzie Miller, and Louise , played by Marya Grandy, walked on the stage and all was well. Grady was brilliant, charming, funny and brought an incredible amount of energy and life to the stage. Miller made us believe she loved Jim in such a way that I ended up wholeheartedly loving it.

The dancing ? Wonderful! If you haven’t seen clips of the tap number with jump ropes then you can’t imagine how breathtaking it is! Hands down a showstopper. Denis Jones deserves an A for his wonderful choreography that brought this story to life.

Favorite Line

Ted Hanover : “Every now and then it’s a good idea to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

Conclusion

I mistakenly thought that this show would be too much like White Christmas. I was so wrong. I smiled most of the time. I loved the music, dance and love story. It made me remember the movies of my youth and just plain made me happy.

If you can get a ticket. Go. You won’t be disappointed.

HOLIDAY INN runs through January 6 at the Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, IL 60069. Tickets are available at 847-634-0200 or marriotttheatre.com.

I’d love to know your thoughts! Did you see this production? Please take a moment to comment and share this post!

Until next time!

Giving Thanks: Not Just on Thanksgiving

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”
– Psalm 95:2

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:34

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”
– Psalm 28:7

“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. “
– Psalm 106:1

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.”
– Psalm 100:4

“Let our hearts overflow with thankfulness…”
– Colossians 2:7

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”
– Thomas Merton (Thoughts on Solitude)

“Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.” – E.P. Powell

“That I may make the voice of thanksgiving heard and may tell of all Your wondrous works.” – Psalm 26:7

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart.He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” – Psalm 28:2

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” – Psalm 69:30

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
Psalm 50:23

For days leading up to Thanksgiving I see many of my friends posting things  that they are grateful for. I enjoy reading the posts and seeing the photos they share. It is a great reminder that we have so much for which to be thankful.

God’s word is filled with constant reminders to be thankful–yet I see nothing that states this thankful spirit comes during the month of November. Instead, it seems that thankfulness should be a constant state of being.  “In everything give thanks.”

Everything?? 

The snow? The loss of power? Sickness? How expensive things are? Getting passed over for that promotion? The political state of our country?

Yes. EVERYTHING.

Here’s my top 5 for today.

  1. Thank you, God, for Medinah Baptist Church, (Jubilee Bible) who has provided such a wonderful space for Overshadowed and who has taught me much about God’s love in action.
  2. Thank you, God, for my family. (Both immediate and distant)
  3. Thank you, God, for Your artistry in creation. The snow layered on the trees is breathtakingly beautiful.
  4. Thank you, God, for weather, from rain to snow, from cold to heat. (I must admit, to be thankful for cold will be a struggle, but I’m going to try.)
  5. Thank you, God, for friends.

It is truly a wonderful life, isn’t it?

Please like and share and leave a comment! And sorry for the shameless plug…Overshadowed.org….It’s a Wonderful Life….plays for three more weeks.


It Not Just about the Award

It’s almost November.

What does that mean? Every bit of news has something to do with how I should vote–why I should vote–or who I should vote for. I do believe that’s important. It’s one of the privileges of being an American that I treasure.

What does that have to do with theater? Well, we vote in theatre as well. Just think of the awards….the Emmys, the Oscars, the Tonys. Many of the winners are voted on by a group of their peers.

The past week I realized that Overshadowed qualifies for a regional award. They are called the BroadwayWorld awards.

BroadwayWorld is the largest theatre site on the internet. It covers Broadway, the West End and spreads to 100 US cities and 50 countries worldwide. It boasts of 4.5 million monthly visitors and delivers Broadway and regional theater news, interviews, reviews and more. This company has their own awards–anyone can vote. You vote for your favorite theaters, favorite shows, favorite actors/actress, favorite directors and more.

One of the most common conversations I have with people is when they question why Overshadowed’s shows don’t get reviewed. They ask me how we’ve been in business for 15 years and they are just hearing about us now.  The perfect example of this was after our last production of “A Tale of Two Cities.” We had a troop of people who decided to reach out to local critics… such as Dean Richards and Chris Jones (as well as others.) ( I would like to give a shout out to Dean Richards who was kind enough to respond to the inquiry and explain why he couldn’t make our show. Thank you, Dean!)

Sadly, Overshadowed cannot seem to get noticed. Do we want to? In my heart there are  times that I wonder what life would be like to qualify for a Tony or other such award. At the end of the day, I know that it isn’t the praise of man that makes something a success. Still, recognition means something.

The site of BroadwayWorld with their 4.5 Million viewers who regionally might say, “Overshadowed’s “On Golden Pond” wins Best Play–well, that is a pretty big deal.

As I was pondering this I was asked if it really means anything since it’s done by the people who know you instead of a critic. I say 100 percent, “Yes!”

Here’s why:

  1. We want you, our audience, to enjoy every moment you spend at our theatre. We hope that we are giving you great moments of sheer joy and delight. If you take  time to nominate us and then perhaps vote later–we would know we are succeeding.
  2. Marketing is difficult and expensive. This might be the singlehandedly best way to get the word out about “this little theatre that could.”
  3. Let your voice be heard. Do you like the kind of shows that are winning awards these days or perhaps would you like to have a say to tell the world that family friendly still has a place in the industry?

Now, I know I’m not giving you a lot of time to make this happen and I also know that the form takes a little bit of time–perhaps fifteen or more minutes; but I’m asking you to make time to nominate us.

Here are the rules:

  1. Today is the last day to nominate any production.
  2. Only shows within the last year can be eligible.  Our qualifying shows are: “I’ll Be Seeing You”, On Golden Pond“, “Sleeping Beauty” (Best Theater for Young Audiences production), “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”and “A Tale of Two Cities.”
  3. Make sure you vote under the RESIDENT NON-Equity category.
  4. There are so many different fields under each show and you can vote for up to four people. If you need to know who qualifies–please ask and I will help you out.
  5. Here is the link: https://www.broadwayworld.com/chicago/2018nominations.cfm

Thank you in advance. As always please follow this blog, comment and share! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Until next time!

Lessons from High School Musical

It’s been 12 years since we first watched Troy and Gabriella ring in the new year, and heard those iconic songs that bring memories of a brand new way of musical dancing. I remember watching the Disney special that proclaimed you could learn the dance moves and dance along with the finale. I tried for awhile and realized that they weren’t really talking to me….(ah, to be young again).

After the movie came two sequels and a stage production and a message, well, actually several messages.

1. Be brave enough to try something new. 

When Troy and Gabriella were first pushed on stage together to sing karaoke, they were totally beyond their comfort zones. In spite of their fear they discovered something new that they really enjoyed! We often are afraid to try something different–don’t let fear stop you.

2. Break the weight and bonds of cliques.

Learning to enjoy things that others do is a wonderful part of life.  The drama geeks can all learn from the jocks who can learn from the tech wizards who can learn from the….well, you get my drift. High school is such a short period of time. Don’t miss something really special by staying in a clique.

In fact, one of my favorite moments as a director was watching one of the “jocks”of the high school I was volunteering at get the courage to audition for Fiddler on the Roof. His hands were shaking so bad! He got the part and proceeded to lead that school in a way that really helped make all the students more well rounded.

3. The “status quo” is a prison that we put ourselves in.

All it took was word that Troy Bolton started singing for an entire cafeteria of students to confess their own secret passions. It’s amazing how people follow the leader. If you have a secret desire to try something new go for it!

4. Communicate with your parents.

This is a part of the movie I feel very strongly about. I think it’s important to be respectful of your parents. If they want you to do something it’s probably because they want the best for you. But, maybe they just don’t know how powerful your feelings are inside of you.  It was hard for Troy to tell his dad that he was interested in theater because he didn’t want to hurt him, but believe me, your parents want you  to talk to them and share what you are going through.

5. There’s room for everyone on stage.

Oh, I could talk forever about this one.  Sharpay and Ryan were the leads in every musical. They intimidated others and thought they were better than everyone else. People–just because you aren’t the lead doesn’t mean that someone is better than you. Every person on the stage is important and sharing the stage makes a much better show! Please don’t feel like you aren’t talented or not important just because you didn’t get a solo or named part. Also, don’t be opposed to playing something other than the lead. Many times being a part of the ensemble can be just as challenging and rewarding.

6. A real friend is in your court no matter what.

It may have been hard for Chad to accept that Troy was getting his head into a game other than basketball, but in the end, he wanted his friend to be able to fulfill both his dreams. Real friends stand by you even if the

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“Breaking Free”

things you have in common start to change. They support you as you gain new skills and encourage you to be a  better person.

7. You’re never alone.

Remember this. In this day and age that the suicide rate is up–this lesson is important. We’re all in this together. Some days are hard. Sometimes you might feel like you are alone. You might feel that you aren’t smart enough or talented enough or loved enough. We are all in this thing together, and there’s nothing that you’re going through that a million others aren’t too. Remember that.

This past two weeks 41 students, 7 directors, 3 costumers and a 3 person tech team came together to put on our own production of High School Musical, Jr. We created memories, made new friends and hopefully were all reminded of these very lessons.

Theater camp is one of the highlights of my year. To all of those involved: thank you for making this experience so delightful! IMG_4346

Musical theatre teaches.

What are some lessons you learned from camp or High School Musical ?? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time!

Reba

                                                                  Photo Credit: Francisco Montes

Memorial Day–Remembering the Cost of Freedom

 On Monday we began the week by celebrating Memorial Day. I began wondering what the history of this special day was. I was surprised to learn that it was originally called “Decoration Day.” I guess it dates back to 1866 when the women of the North and South began to honor those killed in the Civil War by placing flowers on their graves. After WWI those ceremonies began to honor those who were killed in all the wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday and we began to officially observe it on the last Monday in May. This day is different from July 4th where we celebrate freedom. This day we observe the cost of freedom.

At the first Memorial Day ceremony held in Arlington National Cemetery, small flags were placed at every marker, starting a tradition that is carried on to this day.

Have you ever been to Arlington? I have. My father, a hero in my eyes, is buried there.

Richard E. Ruffin was born on August 24, 1927, during WWII he was in the Navy and as

18765747_10155248332564831_6786388097962464756_n
My dad’s funeral. Arlington National Cemetery.

the story goes as soon as my 6 foot four inch tall dad got off the Navel ship he walked across the street and joined the Army. During the next years he was in Korea, two deployments in Germany and one tour in Vietnam. He received the Bronze star, the Purple Heart and several commendations. How I wish I had somehow asked the right questions to learn more about that time of his life.

My dad loved America. He taught me to value the freedoms that we have. I might not like everything America does or the decisions that some of our leaders make, but I know that we have freedoms that other people do not enjoy. Why? Only one reason. Because, people like my dad fought for those freedoms, died for them, protected them.

Since this is supposed to be a blog about things on and off the stage…I’d like to remember that we have the freedom of speech.

“Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.”

Freedom of speech allows me to write this blog freely–to express my opinions about God, if I so desire–and to not fear government censorship. This is just one of the reasons I’m thankful for America.

This week let’s join together and remember the cost of our freedoms and the people who gave their all for us.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.”– George S. Patton

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”    – John F. Kennedy

I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.  ~Benjamin Harrison

These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty – they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll

 

Do you know someone that served our country? Do you have a favorite story about them? Do you have a thought about freedom or Memorial Day? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time!

Reba

 

 

Seven ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

If you looked in my closet anytime over the past 40 years you would get a pretty good picture of what was influencing me at the time.  In high school it was one style which changed radically when my parents sent me to Bob Jones. Those four years set me on a course of a different style for the next twenty years.  I remember the first time my daughter told me to stop wearing clothes that were at least two sizes too big for me. Traumatic. Now, you might be thinking that everyone’s closet does that, as styles change our clothes change.

Unfortunately, mine was much more than that.

For most of my life I found my self-worth in the people who I desperately wanted to value me. I needed acceptance. I wanted to do the things that I thought were important–not to me–but to get noticed. I can’t count the number of hours I spent in my room trying to do a head stand and learning a cheer, because I knew that everyone loved the cheerleaders. The cheerleaders were the girls everyone wanted to be like and the ones all the boys dated.  I never found the courage to try out.

Until college.

I’m not sure why I was able to change so radically. But, I did things that I never thought I would have courage to do. I found myself as an alternate on the cheerleading squad on Nu Delta Chi. (Thank you, Eugene Banks) From there I auditioned on a huge stage for a Shakespeare production. I was proud of myself for trying. Until my cousin told me the panel almost fell out of their seats laughing at me when I walked off the stage.

I never auditioned like that again.

And just like that in the first month of my freshman year you see two examples that had a dramatic impact on my life. One, a kind upperclassman who encouraged everyone at our dinner table. (we had assigned tables my first few years of college–with an assignment upper-class students to be host and hostess) Eugene might not realize the impact he had on me, but it was lasting and positive. The other, words that might not have been intended to hurt, but did; deeply.

Thus, this self-confidence, self-esteem monster I was fighting inside took control again.

self-es·teem
 confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect; faith in oneself.
Why is it so difficult to have just the right amount of self-esteem? Go too far and it’s pride–equally an ugly monster. But, I think it’s also a sin to not have enough self-esteem.  It cripples you from doing the very things you are passionate about doing.

Ways to Improve Your Self-esteem

1: Focus on the promises of God.
Now, if you are reading this and don’t believe in God–that one is going to be difficult for you. If, however, you do believe, then you know that the scriptures are full of promises. I used to print verses out and paste them everywhere. I needed to win the battle in my mind.  My favorite: Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
2: Focus on what is truly important.

Sometimes we spend too much time trying to be something or someone that is important when we don’t realize that something or someone is a misplaced value. Are the things/people you admire superficial or based on image and quantity? Are you allowing your life to be dictated by what is  important to others?

3. Take time to look back on your life and recognize the positive. Scan old pictures and notes that people have written and remember the good. Try not to dwell on a false reality of what might have been, but on the blessings you have been given.

4. Do Unto Others. Think about volunteering. Serving others makes you think about others and less about yourself. It is a positive experience as you meet the needs of others. It will begin to give value to yourself and others.

5. Exercise. It helps improve your mood and your physical health. Do I need to say more?

6. Look on mistakes as a way to learn instead of failure. Don’t beat yourself up your short comings. Realize that everyone makes mistakes. Look at it as a learning opportunity and get better.

7. Find time to do the things you enjoy. If you are enjoying things you will more than likely think more positively.

What does all of this have to do with the stage?

I totally believe that God used circumstances in my life to set me on my life’s course. Francine Rivers said it best in one of her books. She described our lives as a work of tapestry explaining that on the front our lives look all put together and beautiful, but if you turn it over and look on the other side you will see all the places God had to string together to get us in the right spot. Don’t you see? What might look like a mess to you is becoming a work of art!

For me:

God used my shyness to put people in my life that would connect me to drama. The imagination He gave me has allowed me to love stories. My parents sent me to Bob Jones University which shaped my philosophy of Drama, but also gave me courage and confidence. Then from teaching (which I really didn’t want to do at first–that’s a blog all on it’s own!) He gave me wonderful students over and over again–some of them have played on the Overshadowed stage! He gave me their parents to encourage and support, but also be such a part of the team of Overshadowed. I believe that my lack of self-esteemed has allowed me to minister in ways I could not have done. I think without that battle I would not have started Overshadowed not only did He place a wonderful dream/vision, but also provided the people to help it come true. God really did give me the desires of my heart. Trust Him.

What about you? Is this a battle you fight? Do you have a way your lack of self-esteem has ended up being a victory or blessing? Please take a moment and write a comment or share this blog!

Overshadowed by His love,

Reba

 

 

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella-Changing the Fairy Tale

Cinderella has always held a fascination in my  heart. What girl doesn’t dream of the handsome prince picking her out of a crowd, falling madly in love with her and then giving her a “happy every after?”

When I was younger I would watch the version of Cinderella that had been filmed for TV. For awhile I think they played it every year. Most of my guy friends thought that Lesley Ann Warren was a beautiful princess in her own right and all the girls I knew felt the same about  Stuart Damon, who played the prince. I had the piano sheet music and at least once a week I would plunk out each of the songs and sing them with all the gusto I could muster. Of course, I would pretend to be each of the characters as I sang. I’m sure you all did that as well, right?

“In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be. On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere and the world will open it’s arms to me.

I’m a young Norwegian princess or a milkmaid. I’m the greatest Prima Dona in Milan. I’m an heiress who has always had her silk made by her own flock of silkworms in Japan…….

Just as long as I stay in my own little corner…all alone  in my own little chair.”

Perfect song for me. It fits the dreamer–the shy girl who lived in her imagination where she could be anything she wanted to be.

So it was with great joy and anticipation I attended the revised version of Cinderella this past weekend. 31531490_10155160365140448_3898038006325444608_o

Here are my thoughts:

Costumes:

The costume design was by William Ivey Long. I found that the palette of colors he chose was less than exciting. While I loved the fullness of the ball gowns, I was sad that they weren’t awe-inspiring. I wanted them to be luscious and rich, but instead I felt like they were just puffs of material. There was a great deal of attention given to the magic of making the dresses transform from rags to fancy (which was exciting) but in the process the rest of the costumes were just well…average.

Set Design and Technical

As we walked past the doors to find our aisle I caught a glimpse of the set.

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“Oh, my goodness!” I blurted out! “The set!” Beautiful! Simple (there was not one blackout in the entire play.) The flat surfaces had leaves and vines attached to them so that it gave them a beautiful 3-d effect. The artistry of the painting gave the set the right amount of realism yet gave a nod to the fact that this is a fairy tale. The technical aspects of the show were brilliant.  I loved the penlights that with the haze created a dreamlike atmosphere. My favorite moment? Well, along with everyone else in the room– the moment that Cinderella turned and her costume completely changed into a ball gown. If you haven’t watched that moment on You Tube–make sure you do. It’s stunning. Cinderella does that move twice and the Fairy Godmother has her own moment when she transforms from a beggar. I will be honest, the transformations were my favorite moments in the show. Doubly honest? Once they changed I was disappointed in the dresses. I loved that the fox and rabbit were hand puppets before Marie made them human. So cute! I also loved that the carriage spun in a circle surrounded by layers of fog to create the illusion that it was traveling.

Acting– Singing –Choreography

I LOVED Tatyana Lubov as Cinderella. She had the right amount of sweetness, gentleness,  kindness and spunk! I loved her voice and the imagery she created as she sang. I felt her emotions and dreamed with her!! I also liked Leslie Jackson as Marie (the character us traditionalists know as the Fairy Godmother) She had a physicality that made her character really come alive. Sadly, the rest of the cast was just ok. There were no stand outs. The play seemed to gain a certain energy when the ensemble began to sing, “The Prince is giving a ball.” and from that point on I did enjoy moments of the chorus singing.  Although, I had a difficult time understanding the lyrics of the songs I wasn’t familiar with. The choreography was also lackluster. I enjoyed the lifts and ballet aspects, but the rest of it made me feel that the dresses got in the way of the choreography. It simply didn’t create the beautiful, artistic picture of a fairy tale.

Favorite lines

“You’d be surprised how many beautiful dresses have crazy women in them.”

“Madame isn’t always terrible. Sometimes she sleeps.”

Conclusion

I was ready to love this play, but the beginning took me out of the story right away. The prince fights a dragon and some creature ( looking somewhat like a praying mantis) that none of us could figure out what it was!

At the end of the first act, Cinderella loses her glass slipper after the ball, but promptly runs back to get it. My friends and I spent intermission thinking that the cast was in the back trying to come up with ways to fix Cinderella’s horrible mistake! But then, there is another trip to the castle — yes, complete with more help from the Fairy Godmother and another beautiful gown — but not to fall in love, rather to push a local political agenda (with the help of her friendly stepsister) and then sort of fall in love anyway.

My interest had waned by this point, but now there was a segment about electing a new prime minister and Cinderella stops and leaves her slipper purposely on the steps. Thus, taking the magic of the fairy tale and making it modern and full of girl power and political agendas.

I’m a little sad at the way everything has to change. What’s wrong with a little bit of romance and fairy tales?

 If you want to see Cinderella fall in love with Prince Charming this might not be the show for you. If instead, you adore the new revised women fighting for political change-go see this. It plays at the Cadillac Theater until May 6th.

 

Did you see this production? What do you think about the trend of  revising fairy tales?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

Volunteering: Part of America’s Past and Future

I have always loved volunteering. In fact, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to help in as many areas as possible. I was a teacher’s aid in school. I was a candy striper during the summer while I was in high school. I helped out in VBS and Sunday School Classes as soon as I was old enough to do it. Then, think about it–the very nature of attending a church brings out the volunteer in you. You can work in the nursery, teach, help clean, pass out literature, join the music team and well, the list goes on.

So, when I discovered that this past week was National Volunteer’s Week that set me to thinking.  Why do we volunteer? Do we expect to get anything out of it when we do?

Our country has always had a history of volunteerism.

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin created the first volunteer firehouse. Did you know that even today 70% of all firefighters are volunteers?

During war times people have always banded together. Some volunteered to join the military; others formed groups that raised funds or darned socks, made bandages, or whatever needed to be done. We’ve all heard of the “minute men” who were a volunteer militia.

Since then many volunteer organizations have been formed. The ones that come to the top of my mind are the YMCA,  The Red Cross, United Way, Lion’s Club and the Peace Corps. There are hundreds of others.

I think it’s safe to say that how we volunteer changes as America’s needs change. In times of want we seem to know how to come together in a really inspiring way. I am reminded of pictures of the aftermath of 9-11. My brother-in-law, Roy Hervas, was part of a team from a fire department in Schaumburg, Illinois that immediately joined the efforts and went to New York to help the city. This happened all across our country. We do the same thing to communities that are hit by natural disasters. We donate money, food, time. It is one of the things that make America great.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“No one has ever become poor from giving.” Anne Frank

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“A single act of kindness is like a drop of oil on a patch of dry skin–seeping, spreading, and affecting more than the original need.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” –Barack Obama

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1.  Volunteering is a great way to meet people.  If you are new in town, retired, lonely, looking for a change, volunteering will bring new people into your life. Bonus, many of these people will have the same interests that you do. I mean, after all, you volunteered for the same organization so you have those goals in common!

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    We had so much fun planning our recent character breakfast! #otpbreakfastclub
  2.  Volunteer work builds relationships. I know this one might sound a lot like the previous point, but it is much more. Many of my best friends are people who I’ve met through volunteering. When you work together towards a common goal there is a certain kinship that is formed. These relationships can turn into connections that can help you find jobs or a best friend. Many times these relationships are like a second family!
  3. Volunteering helps you gain confidence. There is a certain confidence boost in trying something new and achieving success!
  4. Volunteering can help you gain new skills. Interested in learning something new? Many organizations are willing to teach you skills to help you participate in the area of your interest. My son, Daniel, started volunteering at a very young age. Our technical director at that time, Rich Fuchs, spent many hours cultivating a love of all things technical in him. Daniel went on to apply that interest to his life and his career.
  5. Volunteering helps you make a difference. You fill a real need when you volunteer. You make a difference in people and in turn help your community.

At this point you might be thinking….”I thought this blog was supposed to be ramblings about the theater….”

Well, I will be honest, Overshadowed couldn’t exist without volunteers. In fact, Overshadowed is ALL volunteer. Can you believe it?  If I had to count the number of volunteer hours multiplied by the number of volunteers I couldn’t do it. I am so blown away by the generosity of all of them. And still, we need more. We are always looking for ushers, seamstresses, construction help, actors, artists, marketing help, technical workers and in short, more hands. We are so thankful for each of them. Every hour they spend is priceless. So today, this blog is for them. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for believing in the mission of Overshadowed enough to give something so irreplaceable ….your time. Thank you for this community, you have helped build this band of friends that is theater with a difference. Thank you for helping create and inspire. Please don’t forget or grow weary. You make a difference. Thank you!

Do you have any stories about volunteers or volunteering? Or a way a volunteer or volunteering has made a difference in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time,

Reba

Character Breakfast: Eight ways to make it memorable.

There is a certain magic in meeting one of the Disney characters or even a cast member from a favorite show,  isn’t it? Even adults like to get their picture taken with one of their childhood favorites. In fact, many of my friends go back to Disney year after year even after their children have moved out!

I was lucky enough that my parents lived in Orlando so yearly we would take my children to visit their grandparents, but we also had the mixed blessing of taking annual trips to see the “mouse.” Each of my children responded differently to these wonderful fairytale characters. Rebecca, my oldest, was always timid and really had no interest in going closer to this larger-than-life mouse. Daniel, on the other hand, had no fear. He would climb out of the stroller faster than we could stop him and run to give every character, especially Winnie-the-pooh, a great big hug. Continue reading “Character Breakfast: Eight ways to make it memorable.”