It’s a wonderful sound effect

The fall and winter has been busy for Puddingstone members, each doing wonderful things within the community. Here’s an update on one of their activities:

Kevin as foley artist Fred Nitney in the Human Race Theatre production. (Photo by Scott J. Kimmins)

Kevin G. Anderson had the pleasure of playing the foley artist in “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” produced by the Human Race Theatre Company and presented at the Victoria Theatre by the Broadway on Main series Dec. 3-15, 2013.

Kevin, having performed on stages across America, always points to the Vic as his favorite. He loves the great house crew, the beautiful architecture, seating that allows the performers to feel connected to the audience and an always responsive hometown crowd.

For this production, Kevin chose the name of Fred Nitney for his character. Those familiar with the 1930-50s radio drama “Fibber McGee and Molly” may recognize the name, often evoked by Fibber as he waxes on about his glory days in vaudeville alongside dear pal Fred Nitney. (We’re also particularly fond of the recurring joke about the “HC.” Click the link above a hear for yourself.) Kevin also took this name for his character in the 1903 and 1904 vaudeville shows produced by Rhythm in Shoes under the big tent at Carillon Park during Dayton’s Inventing Flight celebration (2003-04).

Kevin as foley artist Fred Nitney in the Human Race Theatre production. (Photo by Scott J. Kimmins)

Kevin’s work on stage for “It’s a Wonderful Life” augmented the actions of each character. Clarence the Angel splashes into the river with the help of a plunger and tub full of water; Harry Bailey breaks through the ice as Kevin chomps on celery; and a “nobody” George Bailey enters his home only to find it deserted and full of bats (cue umbrella fluttering and audience members jumping in their seats). Kevin worked with director Joe Deer and the actors to develop signature sounds for each character and action, from the sexy high-heel clip-clop of Violet Bick (played by the versatile Susan J. Jacks) to the scuff-hop-bump of a clumsy Harry Bailey (played by Mark Chmiel, who never missed a beat or a laugh).

It was great for Kevin to get to work again with Dayton-area native and NYC actor Todd Lawson. Kevin worked with Todd two summers ago in the Human Race new musical workshop of Todd’s “Red-Blooded All-American Man,” in which Kevin played drummer Frat. In this December’s play, Lawson led the action as George Bailey, who runs through snow (cue cornflakes) in his search for his missing life.

Other sound effects include rattling chains and keys (as Mary, played by Betsy DiLellio, closes up the library), toppled trashcans (kicked by a drunken Uncle Billy, played by Scott Stoney), crunching snow (cornstarch box), broken glass (bottle on wind chimes), creaking screen door (violin) and so much more. Kevin stayed true to the practices of foley artists of the 1940s, researching classic sound effect tactics. He even, based on a 1940s video, built a wind machine that simulated the winter gale that assaults a distraught George Bailey.

He thanks the entire cast, including maestro Scot Woolley (“Skitch Miller”) and the Millertones jazz quartet (Sean Richard Jones, Cassi Mikat, Zack Steele and Amy Wheeler, all students from Wright State University). It was a great run with a great group of talented folks. Hope they get to do it all again.


Links to reviews, stories and video promos of the show:



Oktoberfest rocks

Well, I guess it should be the Oktoberfest “oompahs,” which it did, but the variety of entertainment offered this weekend by the Dayton Art Institute deserves a “rocks.”

The Puddingstone Project was proud to be part of it. Sunday, we performed a 20-minute family show at the top of the hour in the rotunda. Those four shows allowed us to perform in front of families escaping the rain, children running (no running!) through the museum to get their passports stamped, and couples taking in the art before and after the wonderful beers.

Many thanks to Hazel Black, who joined Beth and Kevin on stage (well, on four sheets of dance floor over marble — definitely the shiniest and boomiest house we’ve ever played). And thanks to the Dayton Art Institute for having us.

Beth and Kevin will be performing their family show for a troop of Girl Scouts in October, and are looking for more schools and groups to perform for as the season goes on. Feel free to suggest yours!

To see more images and video from today’s performances, click here. And please follow PuddingstoneProject on Instagram for images of future performances.

Of flitting faeries and great battles

The week of workshopping is over, and we made it all the way through page 28 of the script (there are 32 pages, so we’re nearly there!).

It was a week of creation and collaboration. When the choreographer was wondering where to put the Easter Bunny, Mally suggested he hide behind fat Santa (“All kids love Santas and butts!”). Molly suggested the staffs from the fight scene be used to construct a jail cell. And we all had the simultaneous realization that the chase scene should be constructed a la silent movie.

We’ll be sharing posts, photos and videos in the weeks ahead, and here’s a start: the Anderblood Girls Suite. This tune was written by Bill Anderson Jr., a fiddle player in the wonderful contra dance band Dot Dot Dash. Its three movements are dedicated to the three girls in his life: wife Christine and daughters Rebecca and Gwendolyn. In “Christine,” the audience meets the faeries, who flit about the stage and join together in a ring during “Rebecca.” In “Gwendolyn” (written when she was but a crying infant), the faeries begin their battle with the Shadows and Doubts. Oh, the wailing and fussing and fighting! Our musical, “The Captain of the Chocolate Cake,” is a story with a twist on the classic good guy v. bad guy tale — but with a very danceable soundtrack. We dare you to still still or to stop whistling the tune. And we hope you like it. (Taylor Ramos is on fiddle, Kevin G. Anderson on drums. Choreography by Beth Wright. Also shown are dancers Hazel Black and Mally Reber.)

Faeries don’t tap?

It has begun.

The Captain of the Chocolate Cake cannot sit still in school. The Easter Bunny has been gagged. And Santa Claus can lay down a mean tap dance.

We have completed day two of workshopping “The Captain of the Chocolate Cake, and Other Adventures” but only begun the fun. This project, started so many years ago, now has legs and feet and heads and voices, all of which are contributing to our creative process. We are combining movement with the written word and the music. It’s very cool that we have people who can be involved in multiple sides of the process, from dancing and acting to dancing and playing music to dancing and bringing doughnuts (mmmmmmm, doughnuts).

Day One included the faery dance. It began as a riotous tap piece, with faeries turning and swirling in a percussive spiral. Choreographer Beth Wright then asked the faeries to take off their taps — and the piece sprouted wings and flew effortlessly across the stage. How wonderful to see it transform into something completely different and completely perfect.

We also played with the doubt puppets. First, we backlit them and projected their ghoulish shadows onto a screen. Creepy. Then we took the tulle that embodies the doubts and wrapped a dancer. Scary! Next, the dancers held hands with the doubts and created a circle reminiscent of the Scottish sword dances that were such crowd-pleasers at Rhythm in Shoes shows. Awesome!!

Day Two started with fight training. Thanks to Allen Wright for leading us through the movements, much akin to dancing, except with wooden staffs extending the limbs of the dancers and helping beat out the rhythm of the battle. Skylar and Sam (Molly Gilbert and Hazel Black) battle wills more than bodies, developing a trust on which they will rely in later clashes.

After lunch, we brought forth “Lochness Monster” (see the clip above) and incorporated dialogue into song form. Mally Reber morphed “I forgot my homework” into “the dog ate my homework,” neither of which pleased Katrina Kittle, who plays a mean (and we mean mean) teacher. (Don’t worry, her soft side also shows as the faery queen.)

Among those in the workshop is Taylor Ramos, who gets to dance, fiddle and act. “I think it’s just a fun process, getting a bunch of ideas in there and experimenting with the process,” she said.

We hope you’re enjoying the updates, and we hope you’ll want to see the show when we mount it later this year. Email us and ask to be added to our mailing list to receive updates.

Until then, remember: “Dragons? Real. Phantoms? They’re real.” All of them can be true.

Sew true

OK, maybe not true, but adequate. Today, we sewed a screen (out of muslin fabric stretched on 10′ x 8′ PVC frame) that we’ll use for shadow puppet dance in the Captain of the Chocolate Cake. We also created — from PVC and purple tulle — one incarnation of a Doubt. We think it’s kinda scary, even in the daylight.

What is “so true” is that we’re excited to finally grab these ideas out of our heads and make them flesh and sole and sound. The sewing is in preparation for a week of workshopping our new music/theater/dance production. We’ll gather in the Zoot Theatre Company’s space (thank you, Zoot!) beginning next Monday and create a show. You might hear music wafting out of the space near Chaminade-Julienne High School. You might hear battle scenes with swords and staffs. You might hear thunderous tapping, or a sniveling Easter Bunny, or the “argh” of a scurvy pirate. And you know we’ll be having a good time.

When can you join the good time, you ask? We’ll keep you posted. Fingers are crossed for an autumn performance, but we’re hoping for some preview and insider’s events, too. If you want to find out how to be on it, please email and ask to be added to the insider’s list. We promise not to make you sew.

Don’t laugh with your mouth full

There was a lot to laugh about Sunday night during our dinner and read-through of “The Captain of the Chocolate Cake.”

First, there were the silly voices Kevin Anderson used to record the pirate song. For some reason, the Tooth Fairy came out sounding like Oscar the Grouch with amped-up attitude.

Second, Midnight the horse reared her mangy head. We thought the beloved character had been shipped off to the glue factory, cut like so many other characters in our last script trim, but to our surprise she still whinnied a line on Page 32.

But most of all, it was the gender-bending pronouns that caused giggles throughout the evening. You see, when the script was written, the main character was envisioned as a little boy. It became obvious that we needed a gender-neutral name so that a child actor could be easily subbed into the spot. Hence, the name “Sam.” But Sunday, we were lucky enough to include Hazel Black in the read-through. The Stivers School for the Arts student can sing, dance and jump into character. In her first read-through of the script, she was terrific — energy and attitude worthy of heroes found in the most fierce of battles. “Sam” she is, but “she” is definitely not a “he.”

So, on Page 1: “He’s the wrong one.”


“He can’t be. We are certain.”

More giggles. Followed by some on-the-fly pronoun swaps, some successful, some not. For those new to the script — Mally and Taylor and Molly and Hazel — it led to some confusing dialogue, as pronouns shifted and dead sisters talked and imaginary creatures came to life, with only two of those being intentional. But everyone played along, and by the end, we knew we had a winner — both in Hazel and in the script.

Thanks to Tristan Cupp and Gary Thompson of Zoot Theatre Company for joining in and offering their insights; to Chris Shea for his exquisite pirate (his voice conveys velvet jacket, not tattered jolly roger); to our Wright State talent new and old Mally Reber, Taylor Ramos and Molly Murphy Gilbert; to Dennis Dugan for Skyping in (sorry good food doesn’t digitize as easily as video); and to the rest of the partners who envisioned this magical production, including Beth Wright and Katrina Kittle.

It was truly a feast — for the stomach and for the artist in us all. What’s next? More script revisions (pronoun swaps on the top of the list), translating dialogue into dance, puppets (puppets!) and more good food. We’re planning on workshopping the entire production this summer — stay tuned!


Good food, good show

It’s time for another read-through of our theater show. Envision plates full of eggplant manicotti and potato-rosemary bread (yes, you’re allowed to drool) in front of some of the most talented people in Dayton — dancers and musicians, actors and writers and puppeteers. This read-through will bring us a step closer to completing the creation phase, necessary before we can bring the show to a theater near your.

In the meantime, take another look at our interactive school show. Some of these sketches will make their way into the theater show, so consider it your sneak peek.

Those crazy kids

It’s been awhile since we’ve written, and we apologize, but we’ve been busy. Beth and Kevin have completed work on a new show about which we’re very excited. The show packs a dozen performance and participation pieces into 45 minutes, leaving time for the children to ask questions about instruments, movement and why Beth keeps changing her shoes. We’re taking the show to preschools, elementary schools and libraries, and the reaction has been great. It’s amazing to see the kids eyes open wide when they realize that they are carrying around all the instruments they need to make a rainstorm, or that household objects can become a orchestra in their hands. They watch traditional waltz clog movement performed in wooden shoes to nontraditional music played on an electronic TrapKat. They jump up and catch scarves floating through the air or sway side-to-side to an island-inspired tune. And they ask the important questions, like, “When did you start dancing?” (answer: 5) and “How many instruments do you play, anyway?” (answer: more than you have fingers and toes).

Here’s one clip we hope you’ll like. It includes a bit of humor, always a good thing for capturing the attention of squirmy toddlers. If you’d like to book us, please click our contacts page. And we hope to see you at one of our shows soon!

Go west, young man

Kevin is heading west to join Apex Contemporary Dance Theatre. Like all other collaborators in the Puddingstone Project, he keeps his creativity rich by working with other artists. This time, it’s choreographer David Reuille.

For the May concert featuring dance and technology, Kevin created a three-movement work using electronic percussion, electric guitar, air synth, synthesizer, effected talking drums and vocals, and a looping pedal which turns him into a one-man-band/orchestra/cacophony. He’ll perform it live on stage with the dancers, so you’ll likely want to see the concert twice — once so you can watch the music unfold, the other so you don’t miss a moment of the dance.

Peek in on dance rehearsal featuring Kevin’s music — — and see you in Denver!

The adventure comes alive

Tonight, we invited a pirate, the Easter Bunny (aka Harvey Winkleblatt) and a reincarnated horse into our dining room. And what fun we had!

It was the first read-through of the script currently known as Captain of the Chocolate Cake and Other Adventures. A cast of friends came over for food and drink and in return offered their support, voices and critiques.

Around the table were Bruce Cromer, our favorite actor for roles both scary and heartbreaking; Chris Shea, mastermind behind the summer’s best non-theatre fare, Free Shakespeare!; Malkum Gibson, harp-playing pirate extraordinaire; Beth Wright, world’s best storyteller; Katrina Kittle, world’s busiest writer; Kevin Anderson, namer of Proposal Cake; and friends Marci and Michelle, there to eat good food and be entertained. Dennis Dugan, lighting designer who makes all of us look so good, joined us from the Cleveland area by iChat.

We started at Page 1 and read straight through (with a few pauses for raucous laughter, a very good sign). The reading took 50 minutes, our current target length for the finished piece, which we also took as a good sign. Kevin made a fantastic caffeinated Easter Bunny, Bruce a frightening Doubt, a Malkum a jaunty Pirate with a faint Scottish accent. It all sounded very good to our ears.

What to do now? We need to tighten some dialog. Sammy is so doubtful and hung up on being “normal” — we get it, already, move on. Someone questioned the reincarnation of the horse (which may or may not already be dead in the previous scene). Do we need both the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy? (They have such great names — the latter is Heliotrope Junebug Crumpet — that it would be a shame to axe them completely.) Should we keep the garden scene with Mom? And how about more about the captured Queen? (Have we piqued your interest yet?)

And then we have songs and dances to add. This performance is going to include it all. Now we just have to figure out which storytelling has to be done in these other artforms.

All-in-all, it was a great evening. Thanks to everyone who joined us. We look forward to gathering all their feedback and moving on to the next phase of this exciting project.