Saturday, March 24, 2012

Synergy Theatre Arts: ANNIE Script for Class Recital

The recital for Synergy Performing Arts Academy is fast approaching (May 5!), and I think I might be more nervous than the kids.  This entire experience has been jarring, rewarding, stressful and full of valuable lessons about my own creative process.  The most rewarding part for me is seeing the kids really enjoy themselves and trusting the process together.  Although I've had to go through rewrites, dropped students and changes in lineups, I've managed to come up with a couple of scenes for the kids to lead up to the songs.

Without futher ado, here's the script for the kids for ANNIE!  The orphans are named after the kids in the class to keep the script simple.  This skit was actually a compilation of excellent audition monologues I had found and had arranged them into a scene that would lead into their performance of the number "Hard Knock Life."  Enjoy!

The orphans are all asleep in makeshift beds around the stage.  A few make soft, muffled sounds in their sleep while shifting positions.  DRYDEN and her sidekick, TIFFANY, snore in unison rather loudly from their sleeping positions.  Suddenly, MYA starts to stir from a nightmare and starts to talk in her sleep.
MYA (in her sleep):
Mama!  Mama!  Mommy!  Wait, Mommy!  Mama!

MYA continues to toss and turn in bed, waking KHANDACE, KEYANNA and SOMER from their beds, noticing MYA’s dreaming condition and begin to worry.  KHANDACE rushes over to MYA’s bedside.

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!  Molly’s talking in her sleep.  Her eyes are still closed.  She don’t know how loud or soft her voice is when she’s asleep.

At least she’s not snoring, like those two.  (She gestures with annoyance over to DRYDEN and TIFFANY, still asleep and snoring.)

MYA awakes with a start and a yell, which startles the other girls awake.  They all stretch from their slumber and look around to see where the noise came from, finally focusing on MYA.

Oh, no!  I was dreamin’ ‘bout my Mama.  We were on the merry-go-round and she was smiling and holding my hand, and then she was gone!  I couldn’t stop the merry-go-round and I couldn’t find her no more.

Shut up, MYA!  Can’t anyone get some sleep around here?

Yeah, can’t anyone sleep?

THE ORPHANS try to shush DRYDEN and TIFFANY silently.

Pipe down, or Ms. Hannigan will hear you!

What?  You’re telling me to pipe down?  You’re beggin’ for a black eye, pal!

Yeah, you’re beggin’ for it!

DRYDEN and TIFFANY both ‘put their dukes up’, ready to take on the crowd.  AALIYAH jumps in the middle of everyone to try to break the tension.

Pipe down, all of you!  Do you want Hannigan to hear you?  (She goes to MYA.)  Shhhh, MYA, it’s alright, we’re here for you.  (She pulls a hankercheif out and holds it in front of MYA’s face.)  Here, blow.  (MYA blows her nose rather noisily.  THE ORPHANS react in disgust and worry it was too loud.)  It was only a dream, you know, but it’s after 3am and we’ve all gotta get back to sleep.

ANNIE, why don’t you read us your note again?  It always makes us feel better.  Then we’ll all promise to go back to sleep, yes?

THE ORPHANS all nod in agreement.  DRYDEN and TIFFANY snicker.

Alright then, if you’d like … (She pulls out a folded piece of paper from her makeshift mattress and sits beside Molly.  THE ORPHANS gather round and make themselves comfortable, with DRYDEN and TIFFANY hanging back and making fun of the rest of them.  TAYLOR clears her throat and begins to read.)  “Please take care of our little darling.  We’ve named her Annie.  She was born on October 28 …”

DRYDEN and TIFFANY let out a loud, mocking laugh.  THE ORPHANS turn to look at them with daggers in their eyes.

So, you’re laughing, are you?  You wanna sleep with your teeth inside your mouth or not?

DRYDEN, TIFFANY and MARTYNA start what becomes an all-out pillowfight brawl all around the stage, until they hear the shrill voice of MS. HANNIGAN.

What is all this!!?!?!???!!!!

THE ORPHANS run into their ‘soldier lines’ and stand at attention at MS. HANNIGAN’S entrance.  She is in a loud and colourful dress with terrible makeup and curlers in her hair.  MARTYNA and DRYDEN are still picking on each other when MS. HANNIGAN isn’t looking while she marches up and down, scowling at THE ORPHANS, who don’t move an inch and follow her with their eyes.

You want to be up in the middle of the night?  FINE! You’ll stay up all night until this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler Building!  Now say it!  Say it!!

(Not really meaning it, but fearing her wrath if they don't say it:) We love you, Miss Hannigan.

 (She turns to the audience with a knowing look and mumbles:)  ‘Little girls!’

THE ORPHANS remain in their soldier line positions until MS. HANNIGAN exits.  They turn in her direction and make the silliest, most ridiculous faces and gestures of extreme dislike in her direction.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Stage Beauty: Necessities for Backstage Prep

With three weeks to go before Guys and Dolls' opening curtain, it's time to run down the checklist of necessities for the backstage survival kit - stage cosmetics, toiletries and everything to make you comfortable and ready for just about any personal and esthetic emergency you can think of.  For women, it's simply an expansion of your normal cosmetics bag.  For men, take your shaving kit and steal a few ideas from the women.

Here are a few recommendations I've put together for your 'starter kit', courtesy of Polyvore!
Stage Beauty: Prepping for Showtime!

H M makeup brush
£2.99 - 
There are a wide array of brushes available for application, I'll be packing at least five: two large blush brushes, one for translucent powder and one for blush/bronzer; one small, thin brush for lips; one rounded and one angled, both small, for the eyes.  A few extra brushes wouldn't hurt to pack just in case you don't want to mix too many cosmetics on one brush.

Laura Mercier makeup
$15 -
I like to apply my foundation on the back of my hand and use my fingers to apply and blend around my face - but we're talking everyday makeup for that.  There's a reason stage foundation is commonly known as 'pancake makeup': it's much thicker than your standard everyday concealer.  Foundation is essential for both men and women on stage because it helps bring dimension to the face for easily-read expression and not have it washed out by the heavy stage lights.  Makeup sponges create a better consistency all over the face, and due to the consistency of the makeup, is easier to apply with than fingertips.  Pack plenty, plenty, plenty - but don't be afraid to reuse!

Le Metier de Beaute eyelash curler
$18 -
Men won't need to pack these, unless they're playing up their feminine features!  Eyelash curlers help with the natural emphasis of upturned eyelashes and also help those falsies stay curled after so many shows.  I'll be wearing falsies for my Hot Box Dancer numbers, but I'll need to tear them off afterwards for other scenes, so this tool will help keep their longevity - at least for this show!

Pencil sharpener
$2.96 -
Everything from lip to eyeliner or anything else that needs a precise edge, you'll be thankful to packed one of these when you're in a pinch.

John Lewis tweezers brow
£4.25 -
Same with the sharpener, tweezers help with the tine maintenance problems, and is a handy tool to have around for any emergencies that could happen.

Eylure false eyelash
$12 -
I'll be wearing these for the show in a few scenes, but I'll be packing a few extra pair just to be sure.  Most falsies come with a tube of adhesive for immediate application, but it never hurts to pick up an extra small tube, in case the adhesive with the pair dries out.

Neutrogena makeup remover
$50 -
A huge favourite of mine, I always make sure I have all-over face makeup remover towelettes in my case.  From reapplication after screwing up the cat-eye liner, to a quick change in makeup looks between scenes, to racing out of the dressing room to meet your friends after curtain, these are a quick fix to get the stuff off in one swipe. 

Clinique face cleanser
$20 -
Of course, makeup remover towlettes don't compare to the ritual of a proper cleanse.  Pack your facial cleanser and moisturizer from home to give your skin a proper scrub from the heavy makeup.

Clinique face moisturizer
$21 -
Still looking after your skin?  Oh, good!  Don't forget to pack that moisturizer - there's nothing worse than having a 'tight face' after all these cleaning products have passed over your face.

Burt s Bees lip treatment
£3.70 -
I'll probably have a few different lip remedies in my case, depending on the lipstick I'll be using.  I like to use lip balm as a base before I apply lipstick, and it also keeps my lips protected from the piles of makeup and consistent singing and projecting on stage.

Travel makeup bag
$595 -
Get yourself a big enough bag to put all this in!  A large shoulder overnight or weekender bag should do you well.  I have a vintage Samsonite train case I use for every show; it's managed to hold everything I need for years.

Trish McEvoy beauty product
$5 -
Cotton pads and Q-Tips, along with your makeup remover towelettes, will be your secret weapons when it comes to makeup application!  These tools are great for removing smudges, adding detail and getting rid of those last traces of makeup around your eyes when you wash it all away.

Clinique beauty product
$10 -
No matter how much deodorant you put on, you will be sweating terribly.  I don't care who you are, it'll happen.  The problem is - when will those costumes get washed again?!  Keep some deodorant in your case to keep yourself as fresh-smelling as possible - even if those costumes don't.  Just be thankful no one else wears it!

NYX makeup travel bag
$20 -
A cosmetics mirror is handy to have for those close-up jobs - anything applied around the eyes, for example.  Depending on your costume changes and where you enter/exit on stage, you could probably have your mirror in the wings to do some 'face checks' after using it in your prep.

Deborah Lippmann nail
$18 -
If you are wearing pantyhose or stockings on stage, keep a bottle of clear nail polish in your case to stop any runs that start.  For men, put a dollop on your shirt buttons to keep them from threading off!

Linen Herringbone Washcloth
£15 -
Bring a bath towel and face towel with you; some dressing rooms are equipped with showers, and you'll need something to dry up your wet, sopping face after you wash off all that makeup.

Here are a few other things to consider throwing in your case:
A few more things ...
  • Throat lozenges or a really strong mint, like Fisherman's Friends or Altoids.  They'll help clear your throat for the performance.
  • Safety pins and a sewing kit for those costume emergencies.  The costumer should have these on hand, but sometimes she's not immediately available for a quick stitch you can take care of yourself.
  • Bobby pins for your hair; you'll never know when it'll get unruly despite hairspray.
  • Shower essentials; shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  Pick up a new loofah sponge, as well - you'll most likely not want to bring it home afterwards.
  • Bandages and ointment - no explanation necessary there, I assume?  Get the clear bandages if you can, in case you need to cover an exposed boo-boo.
Up next - packing up the cosmetics!

    Synergy Theatre Class: 'Pinball Wizard' Skit for TOMMY

    My biggest challenge yet when it came to my Theatre Arts classes at Synergy Performing Arts Academy was with writing a skit for my class performing 'Pinball Wizard' from the rock musical TOMMY.  Technically, the musical is a rock opera without actual spoken parts, so I wanted to make sure I wrote a scene that would reflect the message of the play; that being yourself, regardless of what makes you different, is the best thing you can offer the world.  I'm really proud of the kids and how they've taken to the material, being such a heavy piece itself, and they took to the message rather with flying colours.

    I had written with script excluding our main character, Tommy, who is deaf, dumb and blind throughout most of the play.  Instead, I had picked out a few characters to focus on in the skit who are celebrating Tommy's achievements as they walk the red carpet before the 'Pinball Wizard Spectacular' begins. 


    SALLY SIMPSON and MRS. WALKER, the red carpet interviewers, are already on stage, amongst the cheer and applause of TOMMY’S fans behind them, behind a ‘velvet rope’ and holding support signs, awaiting to enter the concert.  (Think ‘Entertainment Tonight’ with your delivery!)

    Hi, I’m Sally Simpson, president of the Tommy Fan Club …

    And I’m Mrs. Walker, proud mother to the Bally table champion himself …

    And we’re live at the biggest event of the year – Tommy’s Pinball Wizard Spectacular!  What an incredible feat - this deaf, dumb and blind boy has managed to beat every pinball wizard in the country!

    That’s right, Sally Simpson, and with us tonight to celebrate Tommy’s amazing success are his family, friends, and a few celebrities we’re bound to run into here on the red carpet!  Sally, you look rather dashing, who are you wearing?

    Why, thank you, Mrs. Walker!  I’m wearing … (ad lib)  And tell me a bit about who you’re wearing?

    You’re too kind!  I’m wearing ... (ad lib)

    Hey, look!  I think our first guest is Cousin Kevin, onetime childhood adversary to Tommy.  Tell us how you’re responsible for his success today?

    COUSIN KEVIN enters and struts to the ladies.

    Well, it’s simple, really.   I was trying to make fun of him at first, because what deaf, dumb and blind kid can play pinball, really?  I mean, what are you going to do – smell your way through a game?   Well, he sure showed me!  Those digit counters started falling, and all I could think was “WOOOOW! He sure plays a mean pinball!”

    What message do you have for Tommy tonight?

    Well, Tommy, I’m sorry I picked on you so much all these years, but you’re a big inspiration to all of us, because you show us that we can be ourselves and still be awesome!

    PINBALL WIZARD enters and walks over to the fans to sign some autographs.

    Thank you, Cousin Kevin!  (COUSIN KEVIN exits, waving goodbye.)  And look who else we have – former Pinball Wizard Champion (name here)!  (PINBALL WIZARD struts over to the ladies.) Tell us about the moment you heard that Tommy, a deaf, dumb and blind boy, beat the highest score on the Bally table of all time, yours?

    I’ve been playing in arcades all over this country, and I’ve never met anybody like him.  It’s like he becomes part of the machine!  I’m happy to give up my crown to such an amazing player.

    Any hopes for a rematch?

    Oh, we’ll see!  I’ve got to get a bit more practice in if I’m gonna try to beat him!  But I’ll be playing a special role in tonight’s concert – my band and I will be introducing the new champion!

    Well, we can’t wait to see it!  (TOMMY’S FANS roar with excitement.)  My goodness, let’s say hello to the fans!

    TOMMY’S FANS, mostly young girls, all holding handmade signs and pictures supporting TOMMY, get into mass hysteria and excitement when the ladies approach them.

    Hello, ladies!  You’re all part of Tommy’s fan club, aren’t you?

    TOMMY’S FANS all scream at once, “YES!” and proceed to try and talk over each other about how they proclaim to be TOMMY’S #1 FAN.  They are silenced by SALLY SIMPSON.

    Well, I’m the president and I’ve got a say – you ladies right here are amazing for being here, and I know for a fact that Tommy is so thankful for your support – that’s why you’re all getting front row seats!

    TOMMY’S FANS all scream in surprise and proceed to high-five, hug and congratulate each other.

    I think we might be due for a few more celebrity appearances – wait!  Is that who I think it is?  None other than PAC-MAN himself!

    PAC-MAN enters the stage, and TOMMY’S FANS go absolutely wild!  PAC-MAN approaches the ladies.  PAC-MAN won’t actually talk, but it will be ‘pantomimed’ instead.

    What an honour to have you here, Mr.  … uh, MAN!  As an arcade legend yourself, do you have any inspirational thoughts for Tommy this evening?

    PAC-MAN nods ‘yes’ and goes to say something into the microphone.  Suddenly, a GHOST appears and PAC-MAN is on a mission and chases the GHOST offstage.

    Well, I think I know what I can get from that …

    Practice makes perfect!


    The Pinball Wizard Spectacular is about to start, and you’re in for an event you’ll never forget!  (MUSIC STARTS.  Everyone rushes onstage into position, we can’t wait for the concert to start!)  We’ll see you in there!

    SALLY SIMPSON and MRS. WALKER take their positions for the beginning of the music number.

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    BMT's 'Guys & Dolls' - Welcome to the Hot Box Club!

    Rehearsals have now become a sexy time, now that I've joined the Hot Box Posse!  It's been about a month since I had been asked to be part of a fantastic group of girls who have helped me become the best dancer I can be.  I just hope I don't make the rest of 'em look bad, I'm working so hard.

    I remember taking ballet when I was two, and quitting when I was two-and-a-half.  I guess we're finicky at that age when it comes to what we find entertaining.  I don't remember why I didn't want to go back, but for some reason I didn't like it.  Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, because I wish I had stuck with the training.

    I've been in plenty of musicals and know my way around a mean jazz square thanks to many a patient choreographer, but I've never had the pleasure of studying the discipline of dance and movement from a proper teacher.  I'm a great mimic when it comes to things like that, and I'm familiar with how my body moves and looks, thanks to lots of mirror study.  Getting over looking at yourself in the mirror when you potentially look like a fool is the greatest asset any dancer, singer or actor can have - you know what you look like when your body, face and posture are doing things they don't normally do, you can correct yourself accordingly.  The mirror has been my best friend when it comes to this dancing, making sure I've got everything where it should be; kicking the proper leg up, hands in proper position, making sure I'm singing at the same time!

    Stephanie, our choreographer, and April, our dance captain, are so patient with me.  It's probably my unnecessary paranoia that they want to chuck high heels at the back of my head.  I have such high respect for the training dancers endure, the discipline they have for their art.  I'm rather honoured to be a Hot Box Girl, really, and to be able to learn a little more about how to perform as a dancer with proper posture and poise.

    We've got two numbers we're working on for the show, "Bushel and a Peck" and "Take Back Your Mink".  Choreo's all done, now it's just practice, practice, practice - the only way to Carnegie Hall ... or in our case, Rose Theatre!

    Come see the turnout of all that time practicing April 12-14, 2012 at the Rose Theatre in Brampton!  Tickets are on sale online!
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