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.

What’s in a name?

When we met in February, one thing we had to decide was the main character’s name. We had the sister’s name — Skylar — so we needed a name that wasn’t too plain or had too many syllables. Since this is a kids’ show, and we hope to have some kid actors (who also have to go to school), an androgynous name would allow us to have more than one child actor in rotation without having to change the script. So, what should it be?

Lindsey and Ashley? Both are male names that are now too commonly associated with girls. Scratch.

Lynn? Lee? Scratch. Scratch.

Pat? Scratch.

How about Sam? A strong name, still commonly associated with boys and girls. A single syllable, but one that matches nicely with Skylar. Could Sam be the winner? We’ll see … we’re sticking it in the script for the first read-through tomorrow. We’ll eat lasagna, quiche, salad and proposal cake.

I’m so excited. We’ll let you know how it goes.

Here we go!

We have a script, we have a group of really talented partners, and we have a family of artists who are lending us their time and expertise. And we’re excited! But it didn’t just materialize from thin air.

This project is something several of us have been talking about for months — even years. We wanted an opportunity to perform, to tour, to educate and to — we hope — continue making a living doing what we love.

Last August, Beth, Katrina and Kevin discussed plot and characters while reclining on lawn furniture on the shady porch. It was a busy time for Katrina, who was busy with a book tour promoting her fourth novel, Blessings of the Animals (a really terrific novel you all should read!). That didn’t deter her from diving into her first script project. Through the fall, Kevin played away in his  studio, recording rough musical ideas including one he titled “The Lumbering Giant” (though it also sounds a lot like “The Drunken Pirate”). He sent his songs around to his collaborators, helping to generate more ideas for action, movement and dialogue.

This winter, over Tank’s girlie omelets and oatmeal, the three again met, this time with a script in hand. The main character — though nameless — had majestic titles such as “Captain of the Chocolate Cake” and “Vanquisher of Bullies and Brussels Sprouts.” The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa make appearances, with the jolly old elf taking part in an amazing fight scene a la Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. How could it not be a hit? Now we  just needed all the hard work that makes the magic of stage come alive.

We’ll use this blog to keep you posted on our progress, and give you an insider’s look at the creativity that comes from collaboration. Most of our artists are based in Dayton, and Ohio, and we hope this blog also gives you a feel for what a great arts community we have, and for which we are thankful and oh so very excited. Please send us comments and let us know what you think. We’d love for you to become part of the collaborative process, too!