Gift Guide for Your Favorite Theatre Geek

graduate bear

Wow, it’s April all ready!

It seems like once we pass Valentine’s day time moves a lot faster.

Today, I noticed graduation cards at my local pharmacy.  I always forget graduation is in mid-May.

The high school students in my college classes are quick to share the number of classes  they have before they are finished.  Funny, the other students don’t want to know how much time is left in the semester–they are panicked about finishing all their assignments in time.

Anyway…………..

Each year near graudation, people ask me for suggestions of a good gift for a theatre lover. 

Here are a few suggestions for you:

      1. Tickets to a Broadway play, musical or to attend a touring company production of the graduate’s favorite show.  Most of our students are on tight budgets and having free tickets to see a show would be heaven for them.

     2.  DVD’s of plays or musicals

     3.  A year long membership to BroadwayHD.com. Do you know of this company? They are gaining popularity with their Netflix-like approach to Broadway plays and musicals. These are live performance which have been video recorded by professionals. They are awesome!

     4.  A biography on your graduate’s favorite actor or actress. Just about every actor and actress a student would be familiar with will have a biography.

     5.  Find out your graduate’s taste in stage makeup and purchase some for them in their particular shades or colors.

     6.  Make up a basket, a “care package” for the graduate to use the next next time she is in a show.  Fill it with things like cough drops, deodorant, makeup wipes, a box of tissues, hard candy, throat spray, bandaids, a can of hairspray, a water bottle, a trade magazine (like Stagelight magazine https://www.stagelightmagazine.com) a pen and journal, etc.

      7.  Have a tee shirt quilt made. You can find companies who will create it for you by checking on line.  Most theatre kids have scads of show tee shirts.  I had a friend of mine make a quilt for my daughter.  She LOVED it!  She dragged it off to college and it finally wore about five years ago (she’s twenty-nine.)

     8. A gift card to a particular dance supply company if your graduate is a dancer or Sheetmusic.com so they can purchase sheet music for auditions.

     9. A glitzy picture frame is fun. Obviously, theatre geeks have lots of photos.

    10. Just a plain old VISA gift card is nice, too!

One of my favorite high school graduation gifts was an umbrella.  It was a great gift.  It never occurred to me I would be walking to class in the rain. Ha! (naive me)  I can’t even tell you how many times that wonderful umbrella came into use.  I think I wore it out!

graduate bear

Do you have favorite graduation gift memories?  I’d love to hear them.  Contact me here or at dhcbaldwin@gmail. com or DeborahBaldwin.net

design-4

 

The Reason to Value the Broadway Wig Maker

http://www.npr.org/2014/06/08/319778329/while-broadway-sings-its-praise-the-wigmaker-remains-unsung

The Undervalued Wig MakEr

Let’s talk about the Broadway wig maker, shall we?

There are some people who work backstage and behind the scenes of a play who are never acknowledged. One is the wig maker. I ran onto this article in NPR’s Kansas website and thought you’d find it interesting, too!

While Broadway Sings Its Praise, The Wigmaker Remains Unsung

Every time you see a Broadway show, chances are a lot of the actors are wearing wigs.
Sunday night at the 68th Annual Tony Awards, Broadway’s highest honors will be presented in a ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. Awards will go to actors, actresses, set and lighting designers, but not the people who make the wigs the stars wear, even though the wigs are an essential part of theater craft.

Essential, and yet often invisible, says Jason P. Hayes, the wig designer for Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated play, Casa Valentina.

Jason Hayes spent almost a week weaving thousands of strands of human hair into this 1960s hairdo for Reed Birney’s character, Charlotte, in Casa Valentina. The wig’s name is, appropriately, “Charlotta.”

“The problem with being a good wig designer is that if you do your job properly, no one knows that any of your work is on the stage,” Hayes says.

“I don’t think people realize that half of the people they’re looking at are wearing a wig,” Hayes says. “And that’s where a lot of that labor and that love and that work goes unnoticed, because if you do it properly, no one knows … that you were ever in the building!”

Wigs play a central role in Casa Valentina. The drama is based on a real Catskills resort in the 1960s that catered to heterosexual cross-dressers. So Hayes had to create wigs that weren’t for drag queens, but for transvestites.

“It’s knowing that difference that’s very important and integral to getting the looks and the characters right for Casa Valentina,” he says.

“It’s understanding they’re not drag queens. The whole point of their feminine persona is that you should never notice them.”

For the character of Charlotte, Hayes created a realistic 1960s hairdo, painstakingly crafted on a base created from a mold of the actor’s head.

“It’s a very fine mesh lace, so imagine a cross between what looks like window screening, but is as fine as panty hose,” he explains. “For lack of a better word, you take one strand of hair and you hand-knot that, on that mesh. So, it’s almost like you’re doing latch hook.”

It took Hayes almost a week to weave the thousands of strands of human hair into just this one wig. Actor Reed Birney, who’s nominated for a Tony as Charlotte, says that kind of attention to detail helps him as an actor.

“It really is a crucial aspect of the performance, this wig, especially for me,” Birney says. “Your self-image suddenly changes. I can’t see myself, but I see myself in the mirror and I know I’ve got this honey-colored hair and a big swoop and it really does affect the way you move through space.”

Tony-nominated actress Sarah Greene says the wig she wears in The Cripple of Inishmaan completes her character, a volatile teenager on a remote Irish island in the 1930s. Yet initially the brunette actress resisted.

“When they came with the red wig, I was like ‘Oh no! I want my own hair,’ ” Greene says. “And yet, the minute I put it on, it was just like, ‘Oh no — the bold Helen is here.'”

If an actor is playing multiple characters, a wig can be crucial in helping to define them.

In the Tony-nominated musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, actor Jefferson Mays, who’s also a Tony-nominee, plays eight roles.

For the gender-bending musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, wigmaker Mike Potter made eight wigs and used magnets so actor Neil Patrick Harris can change quickly on stage. Click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIaFn5lsLd8

The styling of the wigs is important, but so is the stuff they’re made of, says Charles LaPointe, who made the hairpieces for the musical. LaPointe, who’s got an impressive Broadway resume, has a studio with 23 employees.

“We build everything [with] human hair,” LaPointe says. And where does he get the hair?
“Well, we have distributors all over the place,” he says. “We get some from London, that’s like fine Caucasian hair; and then we get Indian hair from Bali; and we get Asian hair from the dime store around the corner.”

Perhaps the most outrageous wigs on Broadway right now sit atop Tony-nominee Neil Patrick Harris’ head in the gender-bending musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Mike Potter has designed all eight of Hedwig’s hairpieces — which evoke the likes of Farrah Fawcett and Tina Turner — in pink. For this show, Potter had to come up with a way for Neil Patrick Harris to change his wigs on the fly. So, he used magnets.

“They’re sown on these hat bases, called buckrams, and Neil has to do all of his own quick changes on stage,” Potter says. “And there are magnets built into his main wig, and so when he’s in the dark behind the car, he just pops it on and it’s like, instantly on his head.”

The actor will be showing off those expensively shaped locks on the Tony Awards broadcast Sunday evening. Harris wouldn’t be Hedwig without wigs, Potter says.

“They’re really a huge integral part of the character,” he says. “I mean, ‘wig’ is in her name!”

The Broadway wig maker- so important!

Life Without Art is Not Life to Me

Last night, my husband and I had the rare pleasure to watch the concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar with John Legend as Jesus.

Yesterday was Easter as well.

We attended church in the morning before our family came together for an Easter lunch complete with ham, world famous Conard potato salad and coconut cake.  Yum.

Everyone went home and we settled in for the evening.  The weather had been crummy all day and snowing!  This is a rare occasion in the midwest on Easter. It didn’t really put one in the mood for hopeful things, you know?

As I watched the story of Jesus’ crucifixion unfold on the television, I was reminded once more of the power of the arts in our lives.

If you have a chance to see the live version, do see it.  If for no other reason, watch the audience’s reactions to the performance.  That’s worth the two hour program.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music is absolutely astounding. I think it is some of his best work.

Sitting there, riveted to the television screen, I thought about the church service I attended in the morning.  Although our pastor did his usual amazing job, something was lacking for me.

 I couldn’t pin point it.

As I watched Jesus Christ Superstar it hit me.

Dramatizing Jesus’s crucifixion rather than merely talking or sermonizing about it, made it all the more real for me.

Again.

You know, we read the crucifixion many times in a year especially if your church has communion every week as ours does.

Although I stay focused on what communion means, sometimes my minds wanders.

It’s hard to remember something which I did not see in person.  We have no photos, no newsreel or video from his death.

Last night’s dramatization inspired me to see in my mind’s eye the age old message–Jesus gave up His life for me. Although I wasn’t present for His death, I imagined it as I watched the production. It made it real for me.

That’s the point of theatre, isn’t it? To translate or give language to what we feel or experience.

Let’s face it.  The world is a harsh place, cold, unforgiving, filled with anger and judgement.

Art helps us.

It transcends the ugliness and finds the beauty even in the harshest and saddest of times.

It makes those life moments bearable or at least easier to understand.

The end of last night’s performance  of Jesus Christ Superstar was stunning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEUlqjM96_Y

Isn’t it breath taking? This is a large theatre.  I wonder what it was like in person?

Thank you to NBC for bringing this production to the viewers.

Live theatre–we’d be lost without it.

Have you attended a show which took your breath away?  I’d love to hear about it.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

favorite Broadway musicals

The Reasons These Shows are My Favorite Broadway Musicals

 

I adore musicals.  I admit it happily and freely with wild abandon. How do you choose which is your  favorite Broadway musical?

Last weekend we attended the University of Kansas production of Next to Normal (which was well done, I might add) and this Saturday we are seeing American in Paris at the Starlight Theatre.

For seven years,  my husband and I took tour groups of  students and families to New York.  We thought it would be a fitting way for our daughters to be introduced to the city if, in fact, they wanted to pursue a performing career.

Consequently, we saw many musicals while in NYC–twenty-one to be exact.

Broadway and West 34th St.

Favorite Musicals

On occasion, people ask me what are some of my favorite musicals which I’ve especially enjoyed attending.  Here they are in no particular order:

The Phantom of the Opera ( I’ve seen Phantom at least four times. However, a gal I performed with in Columbia, MO had been part of the cast at one time and  was able to take us backstage afterward.)

The Lion King (Took a tour and saw the costumes, masks and set up close and personal. Seen it twice–visually stunning.)

Wicked (We saw Wicked before it was popular and prior to the Tonys.  Got to see Kristen and Edina, too. I heard today Wicked has surpassed Phantom of the Opera as the second longest running musical on Broadway.) Read here:

http://www.playbill.com/article/wicked-surpasses-the-phantom-of-the-opera-as-second-highest-grossing-show-in-broadway-history

Les Mis ( I have seen Les Mis several times, but one performance included my student Becca Ayers in the cast.)

The Drowsy Chaperone (I laughed and laughed. This is one I’d like to direct.  It’s my kind of humor.)

Newsies (What can I say?  It was as much fun to see our kids (with tears in their eyes and  broad smiles)  meeting the cast afterwards as it was to see the show.)

Oklahoma!, Revival (A fella, Justin Bohon, who I directed once in Music Man in Columbia, MO portrayed Will Parker. We were all so proud to be able to say we knew someone in the production.)

If you are interested in advice about youth theatre productions to direct, check out this post:https://wordpress.com/post/dramamommaspeaks.com/550  

Schubert Alley

South Pacific, Revival  (Again, Becca Ayera was in the show. Got to see Kelly O’Hara, too.)

Mary Poppins (Oh my gosh, Mary flew right over us at the end of the show.  I wept.)

Rocky (Who’d think a musical about a boxer could be memorable? When the boxing ring was placed in the audience and Rocky boxed right in front of us, I was awe struck–so clever.)

Chicago (Our first tour was in March, less than a year after 9-11.  I will never forget how anxious we felt touring NYC, but Chicago distracted us from our worries and assuaged our fears of being in the city.  How?  Long legged female dancers and fabulous music!)

Why do I label them Broadway musicals?  Because it’s difficult to get your show to Broadway, like nearly impossible.  If your show is a. good enough b. backed by solid producers and c. timely or universal I think you have more an a chance to get there.  Just my opinion…..

What are your favorite Broadway musicals?

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

 

 

 

Dear Evan Hansen

Like “Dear Evan Hansen”? Then You’ll Love This News

A behind the scenes book of the making of the Tony award winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen is coming out in the fall.  This is wonderful!  This came through my email from Playbill.com. The title character, Evan Hansen, is a high school senior with a social anxiety disorder who finds himself amid the turmoil that follows a classmate’s death. The plot is timely and spot on.

awkward boy

Read on:

“Grand Central Publishing told The Associated Press that it will release a new book titled Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window November 21.

The new book is billed as a “behind-the-scenes” account of the making of the Tony-winning musical, written by the creative team of Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul, and will include personal memories, photographs, unreleased lyrics, and the Dear Evan Hansen libretto.

Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window is available for pre-order here DearEvanHansenBook.com

The announcement follows the musical’s success at the 71st Annual Tony Awards in June, where it was the most-awarded production of the evening. The show, about a high school student longing for acceptance, was nominated for nine Tonys and won in six categories, including Best Musical.

Ben Platt took home the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his emotional performance in the show’s title role, while Rachel Bay Jones won for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for her performance as his mother Heidi. Oscar winners Pasek and Paul also took home their first Tony Award for Best Original Score, along with playwright Levenson, who won for Best Book of a Musical. Alex Lacamoire won his third Tony for Best Orchestrations, having previously won for Hamilton and In the Heights.”

awkward boy

Such a terrific source for all of us, whether we are drama teachers are simply lovers of Broadway musicals.  I look forward to seeing this book, don’t you?

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website DeborahBaldwin.net

http://www.playbill.com/article/steven-levenson-benj-pasek-and-justin-paul-writing-dear-evan-hansen-book