06 February 2007

Portrait of the Director, 2007. Windham Center Stage Theater.
It's been interesting to watch this show come together. The director is also the playwright, and he's altered his adult script to fit an all-kids cast. I was wondering what pictures he had in his head as Molly and Logan sing a beautiful duet called "What are we to do?" Pierre wants to go to war and Amelia must stay behind. It's probably the scene in the play that comes closest to what the director had in mind when he was writing lyrics for grownups. Add to it that this show is special- any kid who auditions and makes the commitment - gets a role. What's that like for the director/author? It must be torture to hear his lines getting butchered by second graders, and heart wrenching to decide where to spend limited rehearsal time tidying scenes. This is dress rehearsal week and emotions are running high. Last week, the kids were relaxed, lazy backstage, tired and bored by rehearsals (they've been rehearsing twice a week since before Christmas), and on-stage they were laughing and fooling around... . This week, backstage frenzy has hit - 46 kids crammed into a school hallway, costumes, props, and streetclothes, boots and coats in piles. The incesssant chatter from kids and backstage parents is a deafening drone. Costumes flying on and off the racks. "Where! or When! starts almost every sentence. At the stage door the cacaphony stops. On-stage, the kids sense the presence of the audience to come and instantly are wearing their characters too tightly. Tension between characters rises, faces lose the recess look,replaced with real emotion: excited, scared, happy. The director? He's sitting very very still in the front row of the audience. Suddenly, he springs from his seat, notepad flying, a whirling dervish. The flow shattered into a million pieces and everyone in the huge auditorium turns silently. Something happens. And then he sits again. Very still. And the magic starts again.

The show is "A Little Princess" and it runs this weekend and next at Windham High School. It is an entertaining musical with lots of laughs, and in a couple of spots, you might find yourself teary-eyed. 46 kids, from 8-14 years old. The director is (the patient) Michael Hjort.


Anonymous said...

cool. nice description of the scene. Break a leg!

Affamato Arts Etc said...

By the way, this director has a screenplay that has made it into the semi-finals for the Acadamy Awards screenwriters contest. That's really cool.

Anonymous said...

I was in The Little Princess and I think that the summary of the show was completely unjust. What I want to know is if the writer of the review has A) ever been in a show before, and B)based the review on a rehearsal or a performance. If the writer has ever been in a show before, which I highly doubt, then he or she would know that come show time stress levels have shot through the roof and no matter how hard you work, or how long you practice, something will go wrong. It doesn't matter if you are on Broadway or on a community theater stage, some mishap will occur. Now, I can assure that the comment about the noise backstage was completely and totally uncalled for because, being backstage myself, we were totally silent, and if you were not, then you were punished. By the way, when writing a review, next time, try to get the names of the songs right. The song that the very talented Molly and Logan sing is called Tell Me Now, not What Are We to Do! You might want to get it right next time. And the children backstage were not relaxed or lazy, they were simply exhausted from all the hard work that they have put into this production. Also, once a year WCST puts on a children's show. They say that if your child is brave enough to get up in front of that auditioning board, then the auditioning board is brave enough to give that child a part. Therefore, every child that auditions is guaranteed a part. Also, we had an autistic child on stage, and if she is brave enough to get up there, that it shouldn't matter if she isn't exactly where she needs to be. So in conclusion, I just want to say that the author that wrote this review who probably wouldn't have the guts or talent to get on stage in front of an audience and perform, should not be talking down the children who put themselves out there to perform for you.

Affamato Arts Etc said...


The song mentioned is indeed "Tell Me Now" .

Thanks for your comments. Keep in mind, this post is about dress rehearsal and all the craziness it entails, it's not about the whole show, and it's not a review of the play.

I liked Michelle Libby's review in the Windham Independent a lot, that was great that she could come and cover this event.

If I was revising the post, I'd probably take your point and use a different word than "lazy" or "bored" - I can see where you would find overtones in those words. Maybe more like "routine" or "over comfortable"

If I was writing a review I wouldn't be able to jam enough complimentary adjectives into the piece to describe how wonderful it all was.

The kids WERE great! Absolutely fantastic, couldn't have been any better.

In fact, it's magic.

It's also a wonderful thing to see kids of different ages and abilities working together, interacting together, learning from each other. What better experience could they have?

I would have liked to have seen the boys put away their game boys and interact more with other kids. They were well-behaved, but isolated and I can't help wondering if they missed out on the social aspects of the play. But that's just me, and they were happy! So it's all good.

thanks for your comments

Anonymous said...

I hope no kids got punished, for real?

Anonymous said...

we weren't exactly punished, but we were scolded all right. some of the very little kids were put in "time out" for fooling around and being noisy, and the older kids (if there was a group of us being loud), we were split up. Also, i want to thank the person who origionally wrote the review. I think he or she just put some the things they said a little bit too harsh, but they corrected themselves and I appreciate that.