Monthly Archives: August 2012

SpotLight Program and School of Rock students turn it up!

Some people grab a hairbrush and an air guitar to rock out—but for 15 students this summer, the hairbrush was traded in for a microphone and the volume was turned up to the max.  From August 6-18, students from our SpotLight Musical Theatre Program and the School of Rock combined forces to create their own show culminating in a one-night performance on Monday, August 20 at the New Century Theatre.

The Cabaret Camp students walked away with real life skills in directing, writing, arranging, movement/choreography, technical skills and more knowledge about the business of the arts. The goal of this program is simple:

Empower the students.

We believe that in giving the students 100% creative control they will grow as artists and people.  Following the performance on Monday night, I am proud to say: mission accomplished.

The cabaret, Eras of Love, was born out of several brainstorms of songs and bands and heavy discussion between the students about how ideas connect. What I continue to find most interesting about the young artists I work with, is that when given the choice, they don’t shy away. Death, abuse, addiction, divorce, war, homosexuality—all of the “heavy topics” were exactly what this group wanted to tackle. (One of the many ways I am reminded that the next generation is going to be just fine.)

School of Rock Music Director-St. Paul, Adam Durand, said his favorite part of the experience was watching all of the students elevate their musicianship to a new level.

“This performance was really one of a kind and broke new ground for the education community,” said Durand.

If you weren’t in attendance, here’s what you missed:

The Show: Eras of Love—a series of vignettes exploring relationships, conflict and of course love.

Elizabethan Era: A re-telling of Romeo and Juliet had us see the couple battle
their family feud (quite literally with a nod to the game show featuring the Capulets vs. Montagues)

1940’s: Robby and Janet believe in love and their country—until war takes Robby away and they battle distance and eventually post-traumatic stress disorder upon his return.

Late 80’s/early 90’s:  The ladies took to the stage as we watched a daughter search to find her place after her mother’s death and a young woman in an abusive relationship reflects on making the choice to leave her boyfriend.

Present Day: Two brothers share their story of living life with their parents on the road to divorce. One discovers he is gay and through the challenge finds a new, stronger, relationship with his brother.

The Singers:

Claire Clauson (South St. Paul High School), Corrine Nugent (Shakopee High School), Kayla Peters (Chaska High School), Will Tipping (DeLaSalle High School), John Jamison (Southwest High School), Emily Nies (White Bear Area Lake High School), Caleb Richards (Shakopee High School), Tate Shepard (Eastview High School), Lexi Johnson (Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School), Chaos Bebault (St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists) and Maggie Cramer (Washburn High School).

The Band:

Mat Lentz (Guitar), Ben Pauls (Bass), Sedona LaMarre (Piano) and Zack Adelman (Drums).

The Playlist:

Seasons of Love (Rent), Just Another Day (Next to Normal), Dying Ain’t So Bad (Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical), Love Song (Marilyn Manson), My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion), Gunslinger (Avenged Sevenfold), Letterbomb (American Idiot), Mama Who Bore Me (Spring Awakening), Holding Out for a Hero (Footloose), Family Portrait (P!nk), I Kissed a Girl (Katy Perry), Left Behind (Spring Awakening), Times Like These (Foo Fighters) and A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke).

We’d like to offer special thanks to our partner, the School of Rock, and Adam Durand, Music Director from the School of Rock in St. Paul.

Check out photos from the final performance here.

Looking for more? View the Cabaret performances from last summer: “7 Deadly Sins” and “Croon & Swoon.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Celebrating New Century’s 1st year with a look back!

As the Minnesota summer winds down and the crispness in the air draws us back into indoor spaces and to the theatre, let’s take a moment to celebrate the first anniversary of the New Century Theatre!  As the Theatre’s Ticketing and Group Sales Manager, I’m happy to share some reflections on this first year which also coincides with my first anniversary as a Trust staff member!

New Century stage dressed for Don’t Hug Me.

Simply put, it’s been a great first year at the New Century Theatre.  One highlight was having four drag queens on stage! And hilarious productions such as: A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol, Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women and Mary à la Carte had patrons laughing uproariously, something I always enjoy seeing .  We were proud to also be the Minneapolis host for Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, a one-night event that came back for a touching, longer run.

At the New Century Theatre, we are more than just plays!  Our education program regularly uses the space for the Broadway Confidential series, bringing in artists or speakers to give that additional level of insight into the show. This summer, there are dozens of students taking workshops as part of our summer SpotLight Cabaret Camp series.  Local artists like Charles Fraiser have used our equipment to teach classes in acting and improvisation to students all over the country using modern video technology. The FAIR school in downtown also rehearses and performs its annual production at New Century.

My personal favorite was watching Kathleen Turner teaching a Master Class to some of our Triple Threat students! I fondly remember watching her in Romancing The Stone and Jewel of the Nile when I was much younger and loving her performance.  I’ve met my share of stars working in theatre: Jon Schneider, Justin Kirk, Linda Kelsey, just to name a few, but there is just something about Kathleen Turner.  For me, she has this raw energy.  You could feel it in the room whenever she spoke.  She is truly a master of her craft and her work with the students was transformative.  She’d work them and re-work them and get them to “see” what they were saying, “feel” what the character was experiencing, and “breathe” life into what was just words on a page.

A few days ago, on August 2,we embarked on another new adventure!  We launched our new music series called Acoustic Century and the first concert featuring 4onthefloor’s Gabriel Douglas and Danny O’Brien of The Farewell Circuit.  It was a fabulous, intimate evening of music.  The best part for me was when they told stories and talked about their song-writing.  We’re planning to offer more of these super fun opportunities to really get “inside” the music.

Acoustic Century

Looking ahead to the fall, we are getting ready for deer hunting season!  Throw together four hunters who’d rather sit in the warmth of the lodge, an ultimatum from their wives to actually shoot a deer and beer and enjoy…can I say kick-line!

Of course as it gets colder still, who doesn’t want a hot cup of coffee.  I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends Carolyn Pool and Shanan Custer in 2 Sugars, Room for Cream.  I couldn’t get enough of this show during the 2009 Fringe Festival, I think I saw it three times.  Insider Secret (don’t tell):   They performed at the Xperimental Stage at Rarig Center.  Essentially the X is a pit.  There is NO off-stage and NO back-stage…just, well, stage!  So, they were forced to think on their feet and re-block the entire show, keeping all costume and prop changes on stage in full view of the audience.  This creative last minute change really worked like a charm.  Now we all can’t imagine doing it any other way.

So, join me this fall at New Century Theatre.  We need YOU to make theatre happen.  When I worked at the Park Square Theatre, a former co-worker would talk to students before the show. This portion of the speech always gave me goose bumps. She’d ask them, “If the actors showed up and performed the play in full make-up and costumes with sound and lights and NO ONE was in the audience, did theatre just happen, or was that just rehearsal? “

Answer:  Rehearsal.  To be “theatre” we need you.  You are the last piece of this magical art form.  Theatre does not happen on the stage.  It happens somewhere between the actors and you, taking on life and energy from the laughs and sobs and gasps as you and the cast together create “THEATRE.”  This is why I love being a part of it. I would also love to see you soon at the New Century Theatre. Just look for me in the box office!