Saturday, November 7, 2015

Theatre Magic Can't Be Denied

It has been more than a year since my last post here, but I feel that Friday night's performance of Paranormal High School needs to recognized here in the annals of KidsPlay's history.

KidsPlay, for those of you who are reading here for the first time, has been in existence for 18 years.  In that time, we have done 36 shows:  one in the spring and one in the fall.  Our actors are in the 3rd through 8th grades, after which they "graduate" from KidsPlay and go on to their high school theatre departments.  In the spring of 2014, we lost ten 8th grade graduates; in the spring of 2015, we lost another eight to high school.  That's a lot of talent, so we are definitely in a rebuilding phase.

Oh, make no mistake--the talent is there.  The mantle of leadership has passed to Brynn Elliott and Nolan Espich, Autumn Foster, Grace Kemp and Allison Kirklin, Lainie Lawrence, Luke McCartney and Tyler Pipkin.  These kids carry the show on their shoulders.  They set the example and give guidance and advice to the youngers in the cast.  I count on them for so many things, both spoken and unspoken.  Without them, KidsPlay would be a sad group indeed.

Since the fourth week of rehearsals for Paranormal High School, I have felt a bit discouraged about this show.  It was suffering from the loss of last year's talent.  It lacked the physical comedy and blatant edgy humor of previous KidsPlay shows.  The kids struggled with character, lines, and the sometimes-scary nature of the show. The characters were mostly normal people with only moderately-humorous dialogue.   Rehearsals were fun, but mostly routine.  I felt I hadn't picked a good script for this particular group of actors.  It was just, across the board, a flat show.  Meh.  There's always next show.


As most of you know, I HATE the phrase "it all come together in the end."  My response?  Well, YES, it does, but not by magic.  A lot of HARD work, preparation and planning, hard work, attention to detail, hard work and communication go into the making of a show.  We want it to LOOK like magic; ergo, most people think it IS magic.  Wrong.  You've got, got, got to lay the all-important groundwork.

H-O-W-E-V-E-R....I can no longer discount the existence of Theatre Magic.

What happened on Friday night, when we put these kids in front of a live, LAUGHING audience, was nothing short of miraculous, undeniable MAGIC.  The audience response to our lively, funny, fast-paced show was phenomenal!  Laughter, applause.  Seriously, what more could you ask?

Our leadership, our star power was out there, delivering lines that had long-since ceased to amuse--  delivering them with comedic timing to die for, timing that would be the envy of any Broadway actor.  And getting laughs!

  • Brynn Elliott, previously known for playing mostly 'straight man' parts is suddenly the Queen of Comedy.  
  • Luke McCartney has been honing his acting skills since attending the CrazyLake Drama Camp in KINDERGARTEN.  He drew not just a line between his feigned 'bad actor' performance and his 'good actor' performance, he put the Grand Canyon between the two different characters when he threw down his copy of Macbeth (no spoilers; you'll have to seen the show) and delivered some of Shakespeare's most famous dialogue.
  • Tyler Pipkin, Allison Kirklin making sure the audience understood not only the plot of the play, but the plot of Macbeth  with LONG paragraphs of dialogue, delivered with enthusiasm, humor and interest.
  • Grace Kemp.  Shudder....  Grace Kemp as the ghost of a dead actress still looking to play her most famous role.  If the hair doesn't stand up on the back of  your neck, then you must be Stephen King.

But oh, oh, OH that up-and-coming talent:

  • Show-Stealer Olivia Alldredge grabbing the mic from Nolan and pushing Wal-Mart like Flo pushes Progressive Insurance, 
  • First-Timer Bailey Chrabascz in her first time on stage and probably the first time she's ever yelled as the frustrated television producer of "Paranormal Discovery" 
  • First-Time Ella Kleiman in her possessed performance as Lady Macbeth.  Yes, Ella 'gets' Lady Macbeth and it's chilling.
  • Future Character Actor Corbin Elliott and the physical comedy HE-HIMSELF added to the locked-door scene
  • the Inimitable Olivia Greer and the Fearless Ashley Pipkin, both students, and both coming up with enough background 'stage business' to entertain the audience AND the stage crew behind the curtain.
  • the Incredible Carter Willey and his mannered performance as Principal Wolf brought both laugher AND applause at his entrances and exits.
Yeah, it DID all come together. And I haven't been this excited after an opening night in a long time. 


PS--Any actors that I didn't hug after last night's show, see me this evening and I'll correct that oversight. <3 div="">

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