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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tony-Award Winning Epic Comes to Wheaton Drama

Friday, May 10th, 2019

By Mike Frale

Wheaton Drama’s upcoming production, Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, is currently in rehearsals, with the cast and crew working to navigate the extremely difficult and famous piece.

Sweeney Todd tells the story of barber Benjamin Barker, aka Sweeney Todd, as he tries to get revenge against his arch-enemy for the murder of his wife, Lucy, with the aid of the cheerful and amoral pie shop owner, Mrs. Lovett. As he opens his shop up above Mrs. Lovett’s store, he gets caught between the destined love between his daughter, Johanna, and a naïve sailor, Anthony.

Director, Randy Knott

Randy Knott is directing this epic and we had a chance to sit down with him –

What drew you to direct “Sweeney”?  

Boy.  I guess I’d ask “what didn’t?”  The music is amazing; challenging, yet satisfying to the ear.  The story is as old as stories themselves.  I love the ambiguity of who the bad guy is, and I love the idea that all of us, if we look into our hearts, probably are capable of the atrocities that are committed in the show.  We certainly, through the play, find ourselves capable of cheering for the guy committing them.  THAT, I find delicious.  My favorite villain in film is Michael Corleone, because his bend towards evil is a choice.  “…Todd” lets us see that, also.  

Is there something you hope audiences will be able to learn from watching “Sweeney”?

I always hope that any show I direct allows the audience to find some part of themselves during the evening.  Even the comedies.  This show, I believe, really looks at things like class, revenge, love, ambition, opportunism, injustice, and abuse of power, etc.  In some ways, it’s an incredibly timely piece.  In some ways, it always will be.  

What is a piece of advice you give to your actors as they prepare for this difficult and exhausting piece of musical theatre history?

I want them always to be honest to the moment.  Because this show has so much theatricality, so much singing, so much beauty…it is easy to slip into falling in love with the sound of one’s own voice, or of the music.  The audience will, of course, fall in love with that also…but they paid to see the story.  That’s what I’m trying to get to.  

Randy Knott (Director), David Pfenninger (Sweeney Todd), and Sara Malloy (Mrs. Lovett) (L-R) work a sceene while the cast looks on.

How did you prepare to direct this production in the pre-rehearsal process?

I’ve spent countless hours discussing, with Julie, the assistant director (and my domestic partner), the characters, the small moments, the big moments, the set, the setting, the time, etc.  I’ve been studying this show for a year.  The actors have been studying it for 2 months.  As with most projects of this magnitude, one has lots of big ideas.  I have dozens of things in my head about this show, these characters, and deep character dives. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that my ambition – while never fully put aside – can get in the way of the fundamentals.  Sometimes you have to worry about making sure everyone can be seen, that the set is going to work, or that the props get cleared…and the deeper ambitions…they’ll have to wait.  We’ve still got 2 weeks, though…I’m excited to see how much of that ambition makes it to the stage.

Sweeney Todd will be on stage at Wheaton Drama from May 24 through June 16, 2019. Performances are Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8pm & Sundays at 3pm.

Tickets available NOW at www.wheatondrama.org or by phone at 630-260-1820.Sweeney Todd is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Applications for Artistic Committee Chair Due 6/15/19

Friday, April 19th, 2019

WDI President Stan Austin is accepting applications from members for the position of 2019/2020 Artistic Committee Chair. This individual will work with the chairs of the Play Reading and Musical Play Reading Committees, WDI Board representative(s), and at-large members to propose a slate of shows for the 2020-21 season.   Download the application form: WDI Artistic Chair Application 20-21

Deadline to submit the application has been changed to Sunday, June 15, 2019. The term of this position runs from Sept. 1, 2019 through Aug. 31, 2020.   More details can be found in the WDI bylaws, which can be found on our website. Other specific questions can be sent to wdipres2017@gmail.com.

Audition Notice: Murdered to Death by Peter Gordon

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Wheaton Drama (WDI) proudly announces auditions for the hilarious comedy, Murdered to Death, by Peter Gordon.  Directed by Annie Walker-Bright and produced by Rebecca Poole-Dumper.

Auditions will be held Sunday, January 6 and Monday, January 7, 2019 starting at 7pm, with callbacks as needed on Tuesday, January 8that 7:30 p.m.  Auditions will be held at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111, located at 111 N. Hale Street, Wheaton, Illinois.  Auditions are open, with no appointments required.  Cold readings from the script and sides will be provided for each character at auditions.

Murdered to Death will run March 22 through April 14, 2019; Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 3pm. Performances will take place at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111, located at 111 N. Hale Street in downtown Wheaton.

Synopsis:

Murdered to Death is the first in the ‘Inspector Pratt’ trilogy of spoofs of the Agatha Christie ‘whodunnit’ genre, with a dash of Inspector Clousseau thrown in for good measure.

The play, set in the 1930s, takes place in an English manor, slightly worse for ware, with worn out decor and furnishings.  It introduces the inept and bungling Inspector Pratt, who battles against the odds and his own incompetence to solve the murder of the house’s owner. It soon becomes clear that the murderer isn’t finished yet; will the miscreant be unmasked before everyone else has met their doom or will the audience die laughing first?

Characters:

The characters in Murdered to Death are all deliberately based upon ‘whodunnit’ stereotypes. All of these characters are caricatures of typical English gentry, but according to director Walker-Bright, “My experience in directing most comedies shows that the humour works best when they are played relatively ‘straight’.”  Character ages below are for guidance only and can be varied, provided that the overall balance is maintained.  Director Walker-Bright gives the following advice: “I would rather see huge characters at first.  Show no fear in presenting over the top performances as one is then able to be pulled back if necessary.”

Mildred– Late fifties. Moderately wealthy owner of Bagshot House.

Dorothy– Mildred’s niece. Late twenties and rather plain but very appealing.

Bunting– The butler. Sixties. Pedantic and rather creepy.

Colonel Charles Craddock– Early sixties. Dresses in tweeds. Confident but over the top bluster.

Margaret Craddock– The long-suffering but acerbic wife of Charles.

Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington – Mid twenties. Attractive and stunningly dressed. Very high society.

Pierre Marceau– A french art dealer in his early thirties. An exaggerated french accent.  Will need to hear cockney from this character as well.  Aha!!!!

Joan Maple – A spinster in her sixties. Amateur sleuth. Think of all the Miss Marples you have ever seen and this is Joan Maple.

Constable Thomkins– Young, bright uniformed village policeman, but well aware of Inspector Pratt’s pratness!!!!

Inspector Pratt – Inept, posing and clumsy. Thinks he so clever but we know better.  A master of malapropism, but this is not intentional.

Audition forms will be available at the theater during auditions or you may download for completion here: Murdered to Death Audition Form

Contact Director Annie Walker-Bright with questions at Bebrightannie@aol.com.

Wheaton Drama is a non-equity theater and offers no pay. Cast members will be required to complete membership with Wheaton Drama in order to participate.

Member Vote: Proposed Board of Governors

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

A reminder to our members that the annual election of Governors will be held at our general meeting on Tuesday, May 15 at 7:30. The following slate was presented by the Nominating Committee at the April membership meeting:

Wheaton Drama, Inc. Board of Governors Proposed Slate FY 2018-19

Nominees – to take office July 1, 2018

Education – Elyse Willis (running for 2nd term)

Secretary – Jackie Haiser (running for 1st term)

Treasurer – Jim Van De Velde (running for 1st term)

Facilities – Don Dumper (running for 1st term)

Current Governors

President – Stan Austin (continuing term)

Vice President – Jay Pauer (continuing)

Sales – Barb Giblin (continuing)

Past President – Mike Boyna (continuing)

Marketing – Zach Gibson (mid-term replacement for Rob Reinalda)

 

As per our bylaws, there can be additional nominations made at the meeting, but any person being nominated must be present and agree to be nominated.

Questions? contact Past President Mike Boyna at pastwdipres2017@gmail.com.

Wheaton Drama seeks a Design Director

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The Board of Governors seeks a talented visual artist to be its next Design Director, beginning with work for the 2018-19 season.

Those interested in applying should fill out and return (by March 15) the application form: WDI-Design-Director-application-revised_2-14-18

The job description is below:

The Design Director is responsible for the concept to completion of all print and online promotional materials for Wheaton Drama.
These include a unique concept and design for each season, based on the shows to be produced, in the form of a large banner, brochure, etc. Each individual production will require a unique design, as well as multiple print and web pieces based on that design.

There is some pay.

Download the application here: WDI-Design-Director-application-revised_2-14-18

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