MEET THE CAST Part 3

December 28, 2009

I trust we are all having a good holiday season! EVERGREEN had a wonderful opening night filed with friends and family all sharing in the joy of a wonderful evening at the theater. The cast had a great few days off and are now back entertaining the crowds once again. The company is doing such a great job in fact, that we have added one more show to our run!

Let us now meet two of your youngest cast members. It’s true that good things come in small packages. These two girls are a great bundle of energy on stage!

NAME: Gabrielle -Marie Kaufman

AGE: 9

ENTER STAGE RIGHT: Gabrielle has been performing for three years. As you read on you will see what Steven Spielberg needs to do just one more Jurassic park film!

WHAT DID YOU SING AT YOUR AUDITION: “Part of your world and Before he cheats.”

FAVORITE PART OF EVERGREEN SO FAR: “May favorite part of the show is when we sing and dance to the song stories in the stars.”

FAVORITE STAGE MUSICAL: “ The Lion King s my favorite stage musical because I would like to play Nala some day.”

FAVORITE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL: “Art.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “My favorite hobby is to sing.”

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GET OLDER: “I would like to be a paleontologist, and a performing artist in theater and film. I like dinosaurs because they have cool names, like Acrocanthosaurs and carcharodontosaurus!”


NAME: Kayla Caban

AGE: 10

GRADE: 4th grade

ENTER STAGE RIGHT: Kayla has a number of performing credits to her name including  performing with the Yorkville theater and I theatrics.

WHAT DID YOU SING AT YOUR AUDITION: “Rainbow and Shy from Once upon a mattress.”

FAVORITE PART OF EVERGREEN SO FAR: “The Fire Ballet.”

FAVORITE STAGE MUSICAL: “ Wicked because it’c comical, yet touching, has great songs and great choreography.”

FAVORITE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL: “Science and Math.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “Singing.”

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GET OLDER: “A singer or a veterinarian.”


Curtain up!

December 19, 2009

THERE’S NOTHING THAT KEEPS IT’S YOUTH, AS FAR AS I KNOW, BUT A TREE AND TRUTH. -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Cara saw this quote on on a tea bag she received during tech yesterday and we all thought it summed up what we are working on.

Tech is going very well. Technical rehearsals are always hard. There is so much to do in such a short amount of time. We have an amazing creative and tech staff that are keeping things running smoothly. The last few days have been start and stop. Building lighting effects, adding more props, and adding costume elements as they are finished. Last night was our final dress rehearsal and things ran very smoothly. We have a small audience in attendance and enjoyed what they saw.This afternoon we will spend time cleaning and fine tuning the show in preparation for tonight first preview!

Today we meet two more amazing cast members. Ashley and Audrey Chu. Sibling talent at it’s best.

NAME: Audrey Chu

AGE: 10

GRADE: 5

ENTER STAGE RIGHT: Audrey has been performing for about three years however singing has been her passion for as long as she can remember.

HAVE YOU PERFORMED IN ANY OTHER SHOWS: “ I have performed in school talent shows and with choir, but this is my first professional show.”

FAVORITE PART OF EVERGREEN SO FAR: “All the scenes are filled with such amazing people and music.”

WHAT DID YOU SING AT YOUR AUDITION: “ I know now and White Christmas.”

FAVORITE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL: “ Math and music.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MUSICAL: “Beauty and the Beast because it showed me that everyone has a warm affectionate side.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “Singing and spending time with my family.”

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GET OLDER: “I would like to live every day to the fullest by doing what I love everyday. Singing and performing To express myself and sharing that joy with others.”

NAME: Ashley Chu

AGE: 12

GRADE: 7

ENTER STAGE RIGHT: EVERGREEN will mark Ashley’s stage debut. Even though her answers are short, she makes up for in talent and stage presents.

WHAT DID YOU SING AT YOUR AUDITION: “White Christmas and Papa, can you dance with me.”

FAVORITE PART OF EVERGREEN SO FAR: “Story in the stars.”

FAVORITE STAGE MUSICAL: “ Mamma Mia, wonderful music and lots of colors.”

FAVORITE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL: “None.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “Reading.”

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GET OLDER: “Famous Actress.”

Composer / Lyricist Peter Mills speaks about the origins of EVERGREEN…

What were the inspirations for the story of EVERGREEN, and for the music? Well, it’s an original story, but one which is modeled closely on the “monomyth.”  Cara and I wanted to follow a

mythic structure – as outlined by Joseph Campbell – partly because we were dealing with the ancient roots of the winter holidays, which originated in man’s collective unconscious, with symbols of trees and fire.  So we very consciously followed the structure of “the hero’s journey.”  Also, in reading about the origins of holiday symbols we encountered specific mythic characters—including “proto-Santa” figures, which can be traced back to Odin and Norse mythology, as well as Dionysus and other shamanic figures.  We looked at “Santa” representations in many different cultures.  Some of those characters worked their way into the story as well.  We also decided early on that it was going to be a journey, or quest, which passed through a series of three distinct worlds, in an homage to George Lucas films.  We move from a desert world, into a sea world, into a stone forest, and finally into the crater of a volcano, where we find both the green of the trees and the red of the fire.  Our lighting designer, Doug Harry, has done a fantastic job of making each of these worlds visually different.  For the music, traditional Christmas carols were definitely a source of inspiration.  Sprinkled throughout the score are various Christmas carol references, although they are probably not recognizable unless you know they are there.  For instance, the opening notes of the score are a variant of “O Come All Ye Faithful” – invoking the gathering of the people—and of course when the petrified stag appears we hear a minor key version of “Rudolphthe Red Nosed Reindeer” – although it would take a good ear to pick it out!

What do you mean by calling EVERGREEN a “holiday” show? We wanted to explore the meaning of Christmas and other winter celebrations.  We researched the mythology and origins of many different, iconic

symbols that are prevalent at this time of year—why so many of them involve trees, and lights.  Believe it or not, these symbols probably tie back into man’s ancient discovery and mastery of fire – incredibly important during the darkest and coldest time of the year.  Also, the evergreen tree is a symbol of life, of nature sustaining itself.  The fire provided by the wood of the tree also allows man to survive the winter.  We then brought these ideas into an environmental context, opening out idea of “surviving the hard winter” into a broader context of mankind’s survival in the face of environmental disaster.  When you think about it, again this goes back to man’s mastery of fire, and of being able to control and manipulate his world in the first place.  With this simple knowledge came the beginning of great collective responsibility.  Lastly, a lot of what winter solstice rituals are about is celebrating the idea of renewal—the green reminder that Spring will come again even when it seems most unlikely.  Our story hopes to look at that idea of renewal in the context of a family, an individual, and in the world overall.  Really, the show is a parable about the potential for renewal, even when we are at our darkest moments, and things seem unredeemable.  I think that’s something that everyone needs to be reminded of, from time to time—especially after the challenging year we’ve all just experienced!  At this time of year, when we come together to celebrate our lives with family and friends, sharing our stories, memories and experiences, the reminder that we are always able to begin again is really central to the meaning and message of the “holidays.”

Is EVERGREEN a kids’ show? Well, it’s definitely a show with kids in it—twelve, in fact!  However, we think it can be enjoyed by kids from 1 to 92.  (Actually, it’s only recommended for ages 6 and up.)   I think the stories we hear as children, which are so important to shaping our impressions of the world, are the ones we return to, even as adults, to remind us of our values and to inspire us.  So, EVERGREEN is intentionally a simple and broadly allegorical story, with a lot of whimsy and fantasy elements, and depending on your age we hope you will interpret the different metaphors and characters in the show in different ways, determining your own meaning.  Often, when we were rehearsing, we reminisced about moments in The Neverending Story, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other favorite books and movies.  If these are the sort of stories you enjoy and can watch over again, you’ll hopefully enjoy our story as well!

What was it like working with the youth ensemble? Incredibly energizing.  These kids worked as intensely as the adult performers we usually hire and are deeply engaged with the story we are telling!  Also, many of them have

memorized the entire show and act it out in the wings when they aren’t on stage, so there is a great performance going on backstage as well.  Of course, there are different levels of experience amongst the group, but it has been a true pleasure to watch them rise to meet the challenges we put in front of them.  I think part of the joy of this show is watching young performers telling the story, both in the characters they play and in their own presence on stage honestly, as themselves.  They are an “evergreen” element in the show as well, as it’s easy to imagine these kids in 10-15 years, as our next generation of Broadway performers.

Finally, the perennial question:  what is your favorite song that you wrote for EVERGREEN?
“Feel Free.”  It’s a really specific and dramatic situation—that contains both humor and pathos.  Hopefully, the humor heightens the poignancy of the moment!  I also think it’s interesting to watch the actor (Whitney Kam Lee) going through such a detailed physical process (petrification) as he sings the song.  Also, really, the song is quite simple – but that’s usually much harder for me to write.  I’m always happy when I feel I’ve succeeded at this!

MEET THE CAST Part 2

December 15, 2009

Today we meet two of our older youth cast members. Ari and Jake! A good friend of mine sent along a little message for Ari as well.

NAME: Ari Shaps

AGE: 15

GRADE: 10

ENTER STAGE RIGHT: Ari has been in “a few” other shows. With five years of performing under his belt, Ari is a welcome addition to the cast of EVERGREEN.

FAVORITE PART OF EVERGREEN SO FAR: The prologue and the opening number.

AUDITION SONG: “The Kite” and “Santa Fe”

FAVORITE MUSICAL: The Rocky Horror Show –  “It’s just a really good show. You gotta love that good old ‘Rock’n Roll.’”

FAVORITE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL: “Science, anything except physics!”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “Being a vegetarian.”

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GET OLDER: “Probably something in the spectrum of Bio chemistry but I see something new I want to do almost every day.”

Ari,
Best Luck on your upcoming shows, buddy. Shane tells me you are very interested in pursuing a career in the arts. It is certainly a very tough road. The working years are the best years, and the REAL challenge is being prepared to love the time when you are not.
My best advice for a guy about to get to the college age is this; Find a school with a good theater program across the board. Music, dance, and acting. The best thing you can do is train yourself to be a professional. There are a lot of skills and methods to learn. Study your passion.
I was lucky to book the Rocky Horror Show on Broadway right out of college. It was an amazingly rich experience. A year and a half of 8 shows a week… and it was followed by a year and a half of unemployment before my next good job. Take it all in.
I wish you the BEST luck. Hopefully I’ll see you up there one day.
John “Jeff”rey Martin

NAME: Jake Bazel

AGE: 15

GRADE: 9

ENTER STAGE RIGHT:  Jake makes his professional stage debut with EVERGREEN, though he has “been performing as long as I can remember!”

AUDITION SONG: “Purpose” and “Soon it’s Gonna Rain”

FAVORITE PART OF EVERGREEN SO FAR: The Fire Ballet.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MUSICAL: “Avenue Q because it is fun, original and I’ve always wanted to be a puppeteer.”

FAVORITE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL: English – “I  have always liked writing.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “Besides acting, singing, and dancing… puppetry, and puppeteering!”

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GET OLDER: “I would love to be both an actor and a puppeteer.”

MEET THE CAST SERIES

December 14, 2009

Tonight completes our rehearsals in the studio! On Wednesday we move into the theatre to start our technical rehearsals. This is always a crazy time when the orchestra, sets, lights, costumes, and performers all come together to combine all of the elements that will become EVERGREEN.  As we lead up to our first public performance I thought it was time to meet some of our young cast members, and get a behind-the-scenes look at who they are.

Each of the youth ensemble members has filled out an EVERGREEN questionnaire and here are the answers they gave. As an added bonus I’ve been lucky enough to get some industry professionals to add some words of advice and encouragement for their future success. Now let us meet our first cast member!

NAME: Sammy Grob

AGE: 11 and a half

GRADE: 6

ENTER STAGE RIGHT: Although this is Sammy’s first show with Prospect Theater Company he has been performing for six years. Poppy Seed players, Fire Island Community Theater, and French Woods Festival Performers have all be lucky enough to have Sammy grace their stages.

FAVORITE PART OF EVERGREEN SO FAR: “I enjoy singing with my fellow ensemble members.”

FAVORITE SUBJECT IN SCHOOL: “English.”

FAVORITE HOBBY: “Playing musical theatre songs on the piano by ear.”

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GET OLDER: “I want to be a writer, actor/singer, lyricist, and musical director.”

Here’s what one of the creators of the Broadway smash hit musical HAIRSPRAY has to say about Sammy’s future ambitions…

Sammy,

Hi.  My name is Marc Shaiman and, like you, I was around 12 years old when I decided I wanted to be a writer/lyricist/music director when I got older.

And guess what?  It all came true!  Although no one could follow my exact path towards the dreams of mine that came true, I can tell you this: If you want it and LOVE it, keep at it!

I have been blessed to live a life full of music and lyrics and the tremendous joy of accompanying great performers interpreting my songs or all the classic songs of theatre and American Pop Music, and I couldn’t wish a better life for you.  In fact, I am jealous of you, you have so much to look forward to.

Break A Leg!,

Marc Shaiman


BACKSTAGE PASS #1

December 3, 2009

We have been in rehearsal for EVERGREEN for just over two weeks now and things are coming along very well.  The cast is working hard learning lines, songs, and dance choreography.

But how does it all come together you ask?

The process of putting up EVERGREEN is a bit different than most shows. Normally the libretto, music and lyrics would be all complete before you go into rehearsal. Any adjustments to the material would be made once you get the show up on its feet. EVERGREEN is being pieced together more in the style of an animated feature. The writers have created an outline detailing what story elements they want in the show. Characters, plots, songs, dance sequences, themes and such.  To help flesh out these ideas to see what was working thus far, EVERGREEN had a workshop in the early fall with a small cast to put all the material up on its feet. This gave Cara and Peter a chance to see what they had and what they needed to work on next.

Workshops are a very normal part of the creative process in building a show. What’s different here is that the show is still being created while we are in rehearsals. The actors will get daily script pages (kind of like being on a film set) and then along with Cara will rehearse the pages at hand. What comes out of that Cara and Peter will discuss and see if any adjustments need to be made.

The same sort of process is being used for dance music for the show. Dax Valdes, our choreographer, and Peter work out music sequences based on some of the movement Dax and the cast come up with in rehearsal.  Dax is working with a lot of environmental elements in the show (wind, fire, water, etc.). He will do some improv work with the cast to create a movement vocabulary for fire, let’s say. They will show some sequences to Peter and then he will come back with music based on what the movement looked like.

Once this process has repeated itself a number of times we will end up with the finished version of the script and score.

Until next time from the assistant directors chair,

Shane

Don’t forget to purchase your tickets to EVERGREEN. Subscriptions for Prospect Theater Companies 2009/10 season are also available. By subscribing you can save 33% off single ticket prices!