Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'The Snow Queen' Photo Essay

We are blessed with talent here at Slidell Little Theatre, and not all of it on the stage. Our Marketing/Publicity team is constantly seeking volunteers willing to share their talents and skills to help raise awareness about our little community theatre not only to promote our shows, but to document the effort that goes into staging a production.

Lee Dukes has been taking photos for years and even donated his wildlife photographic artwork to help restore the Louisiana wetlands. That story can be found here. Once a popular actor on the SLT stage, Lee Dukes continues to support our productions from behind the curtain and, for "The Snow Queen," from behind the lens. Some of Lee's artwork can be found here.

Justin Redman is the current SLT Publicity chairman and he has been doing most of the heavy lifting (photographically speaking) for the past couple of years. A veteran of the U.S. Marines, Justin has recently returned to college to finish his degree in Communications at Southeastern Louisiana University. He is also the owner of Redman Media Productions and his work can be found here.

Stephanie Sullivan is proof that you don't have to be a professional photographer to take pictures. An active behind-the-scenes volunteer, Stephanie has on several occasions assisted our efforts to tell our story with photos of other volunteers working to bring a showto the stage.

"The Snow Queen" opens Friday, November 27, 2015 and remains onstage thru Dec. 13.

Below is a photo essay of "The Snow Queen" taken during rehearsals.

Photos by Lee Dukes (top, bottom right) and Justin Redman

Friday, November 20, 2015

'Snow Queen' Director Promises Magical Production

Polly White is thrilled to be back at SLT after an extended hiatus. The past recipient of SLT Ginny Awards for directing and light design, she has directed on many of the area stages as well as working with YATS periodically from 2001-2008.

Polly took time from rehearsals to tell us a little about herself.

Q: What was your earliest involvement in theatre?
 WHITE: Aside from home, elementary, and high school, I definitely returned to theater in undergraduate school.

Q: What attracted you to theatre to begin with?
WHITE: I have always loved the performing arts, as far back as childhood when our school would go on field trips to see an orchestra or live play.  The excitement of watching the live performance instilled a life-long love, which still exists today.

Q: What is it about theatre that holds your interest today?
WHITE: The idea of taking a black stage and creating a world that excites the senses of the audience, and tells a story that is unique each time it's performed is challenging and rewarding.

Q: What are some of your favorite plays?
WHITE: Of course, Shakespeare comes to mind when thinking of favorite plays, but when I turned 13, my grandmother took me to NYC to see Stop the World, I Want To Get Off, with Anthony Newley. Another favorite play was The King and I with Yul Brenner. 
Q: What play do you think people should see, but probably haven’t?
WHITE: I won't presume to say what people should see, other than to see something that would touch their emotions.

Q: What was the first show you ever directed?
WHITE: The first play I ever directed, aside from one acts as class projects, was Edward Albee's Seascape.  I was asked by my major professor at SLU to direct a play in the theatre department's season in place of a professor who was ill and had to take a sabbatical. I was the first student to direct in a professor's slot at SLU.  We turned the Bonnie Vorden stage into a beach!

Q: What is your vision for The Snow Queen?
WHITE: My vision for the play is to have the story evolve on stage from Hans Christian Andersen’s book of stories. The premise of the story is told by the Hobgoblin in the beginning and the audience follows Gerda, as she travels great distances and over several seasons to rescue her brother Karl, from the Snow Queen. She has taken him to her castle in hopes to keep him with her forever. 
In her travels, Gerda experiences many magical and enchanting creatures: Flowers and animals that can talk, a prince and princess, as well as a robber King and his robber band.  She travels over many lands until she finally arrives at the Snow Queen's frozen castle.
We are going to be adding a new theatrical experience for our audience by incorporating puppets into the production.  Our puppeteers are excited to be learning how to bring to life these additions.
Along with the addition of puppetry, moving the play through seasons and different places is going to be a challenge.  
Also, our actors are learning lyrics to music adapted from music by Edvard Grieg, which is somewhat of a challenge. However, my cast is more than up to these challenges, and excited to create this magical story for our audience.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

'Pride and Prejudice' Audition Tips


Director Laura Mauffray Borchert has these Top Tips for Auditioning:

  • Read the audition notice to know what's expected of you. 
  • Be honest about your time constraints.  If necessary, we can tweak the rehearsal schedule a bit if we know about conflicts in advance.  
  • Research the play or read the script to get a feel for the characters and mood of the play.  
  • Be open-minded.  Your personality, look, style, and such might fit better in a different role than you had in mind. 
  • It's not necessary, but if you're available, show up for both audition nights. 
  • Be pleasant and get along with the other actors that you might be working with for the next couple months.
  • Leave your cell phone in the car; or, if you must have it in the theatre, please leave it turned off or on silent.  
  • If you mess up a line, continue on and don't let it affect the rest of your audition. 
  • Speak loud and clear; no need to rush through your moment to shine. 
  • Have fun.  When you enjoy what you're doing, it shows.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Snow Queen' Cast Announced

Congratulations to the cast of The Snow Queen!

Cast of “The Snow Queen”
Hobgoblin - Marcello Barbaro
Snow Queen - Sarah Surla
Grandmother - Tiffany Christy
Gerda - Hannah Diaz
Karl - Jake Blalock
Hans - Gabriel Stubbs
Lars - Zachary Osborn
Crow 1 - Hagan Harkins
Crow 2 - Emmy LaFaver
Soldier 1 - Riley Lamonte
Soldier 2 - Trenton Gilmore
Prince - Eli Moore
Princess - Georgia Peck
Court Chamberlain - Don Guillot
The Robber King - Chris Barron
Old Robber Woman - Lela Blalock
Robber Girl - Sarah Toepfer
The Reindeer - Trey Harkins
The Finnish Woman - Victoria Hickman
The Old Woman in the Garden – Celeste Andrews
Tiger Lilies - Teresa Fasone, Blakely Shouse
Hyacinths - Samantha Harkins, Caitlyn Christy
Narcissus – Olivia Barbaro, Piper Hall
Snowdrops – Sydney Leger, La’Kya Romain
Roses – Julia Cook, Lizzie Sieber
Buttercup – Katherine Crane
COURT DANCERS - Jessica Rabalais, Victoria Crane, Madeleine Appel, Lydia Pucheu, Emily Griswold, Anabel Peck, Hannah Wilkinson
ROBBERS – Rebekah Lemar, Alexis Singletary
SNOWFLAKES - Faith Booker, Taylor Booker, Jackson Helmke, Reese Helmke, Molly Minster, Anabella Newberry, Gianna Pagano, Shane Pagano, Bradley Pagano, Sam Stubbs

Thursday, October 8, 2015

NHS Art Students Bring Iconic Mother-In-Law Mural To Stage

Jade Grimes (left) and Gabby Armstrong

By Don Redman
Photos by: Don Redman and Stephanie Sullivan

Rob Florence’s Katrina: Mother-In-Law of ‘em All, is set in the late musician Ernie K-Doe’s iconic speakeasy, the Mother-In-Law lounge in New Orleans. Matching the vibrancy of its larger-than-life owner, the entire exterior of K-Does’ Mother-In-Law Lounge is painted with brightly-colored murals depicting Ernie and his wife Antoinette as the Emperor and Empress of the Universe, as well as a hodgepodge of New Orleans-style funk scenes including Mardi Gras Indians and a dancing alligator.

To mimic that vibrant feel on stage, Northshore High School Juniors Jade Grimes and Gabby Armstrong were recruited to paint a mural on the set of SLT’s upcoming production of Florence’s “Katrina” play. We think audiences will agree that their interpretation, featuring several elements of the murals on the Mother-in-Law Lounge, including those recently introduced by the lounge’s new owner, jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, absolutely captures the energy and vibe of the original club.

Grimes and Armstrong are enrolled in the NHS Talented Arts program. The muralists had to work around school, Homecoming and even worked during play rehearsals to complete the mural before opening.

Slidell Little Theatre’s production of Katrina: Mother-In-Law of ‘em All, opens Oct. 9 and runs through Oct. 25, 2015.

Click on images to enlarge.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Playwright Retells 'Katrina' Stories With Heart and Humor

by Don Redman
This year marked the 10th anniversary of one of the most devastating storms to ever hit the United States – Hurricane Katrina – and Slidell Little Theatre commemorates the historic event with a touching and humorous play that relives the experience through the eyes of its survivors.
Rob Florence
Photo by Steven Forster
Katrina: The Mother-in-Law of ‘em All, by New Orleans playwright Rob Florence, explores what happens when six Katrina survivors gather at the Mother-in-Law Lounge to retrace their footsteps. Experience the heartbreak, humanity, and yes, comedy through the journeys of real New Orleanians who lived to tell their tales about the devastating storm.
The northshore's premiere production of "Katrina" at Slidell Little Theatre opens October 9 and remains onstage weekends through Oct. 25.
Prior to opening night, Florence took a moment to talk about his play.
Rob Florence is originally from New York and moved to New Orleans in 1987 only to discover that his father’s family had been in the region since the 1840s. “In doing family genealogical research I discovered the wonders of New Orleans above-ground cemeteries,” says Florence. “In some way, most of my plays are connected to New Orleans cemeteries.”
He received a Masters in Playwriting with distinction from the University of New Orleans in 2008 and is the Dramatists Guild Gulf Coast / Mississippi Delta Regional Representative.
His body of work includes: Bones; Burn K-Doe Burn!; Mirrors of Chartress Street; Fleeing Katrina; Katrina’s Path; The Key; Hurricane Katrina Comedy Fest and Holy Wars.

Q: What was your relationship with the K-Doe family?
I was fortunate to have a close relationship with the K-Doe's, as they were extraordinary people.  I knew Ernie K-Doe back in the 1980s when his drinking problem was so bad that he would sometimes sleep on the street.  I saw Antoinette come into his life, literally pick him up out of the gutter, sober him up, and add years to his life which turned out to be an amazing experience for the many people who shared it with them.  They opened the Mother in Law Lounge which was their home, so when you were at the bar you were in their living room.  The place was a shrine to New Orleans R&B, full of dazzling, eccentric memorabilia.
Like the K-Doe's themselves, the Lounge was surreal.  The K-Doe's shared my interest in New Orleans cemeteries.  We had a cemetery preservation group called Friends of New Orleans Cemeteries.  Ernie K-Doe was the grand marshal, making us the only preservation group in the world with a grand marshal.  I was responsible for burying both Antoinette and Ernie in the historic St. Louis Cemetery #2 and wrote the text for their historic markers.  Antoinette K-Doe asked me to write a play about them called BURN K-DOE BURN! and she asked me to write this piece about her Katrina experience.
Q: What was the genesis of “Katrina: Mother-in-Law of ‘em All?”
Although I'm a playwright and writer of nonfiction which focuses of this region, Katrina was the last thing in the world I wanted to write about.  I wanted to put it out of my mind, which was of course impossible, but I certainly didn't want to live with it 24 hours a day as you do when writing about something.  However, in listening to people over the subsequent months and years, I'd occasionally hear stories which were so different from the popular narratives that they compelled me to write them.  The differences that struck me in these stories were that although all these people went through hell, they landed on their feet in a very strong, defiant, New Orleans way.  They also in many cases got through their experience with humor, which is very New Orleans.  If this experience had happened to another city I don't think I'd have found narratives that are so funny.  Something else these stories emphasize is that despite how the region was portrayed – defeated, chaotic, criminal – anyone here at the time can tell you that thousands of people were behaving in exemplary ways.  Strangers were helping strangers –  countless acts of self-sacrifice, compassion, and kindness that seemed to be hidden from people outside the region.  So part of this project was an attempt in a small way to create a record from the inside-out which establishes that post-Katrina New Orleans wasn't all what people were seeing on television, as this dialogue from the play illustrates:
RODNEYSo I go back into the room where my folks are and they had run into some of the people who had been on the roof with us. So there was this group of octogenarians but with only one cot and they were taking turns lying down. The young folks were trying to help the nurses, handing out water, taking people to the bathroom, changing diapers, whatever we could. We had heard all these horror stories about the city so I walk over to this nurse I see from Alaska and say, “I just want to let you know how thankful we are that you’re here because we keep hearing these stories about horrific things going on all over New Orleans and I just want you to know that the whole city isn’t populated by crazed lunatics who are burning it down and that we appreciate your -NURSE Nobody thinks that.

Q: You write that these are based on true stories. How did you come to learn these stories?
I think I was fortunate to access these stories because I wasn't looking for them. Again, I was trying to mentally escape from Katrina.  But like everyone else here for the past 10 years, I've been listening to hundreds, maybe thousands, of these experiences.  So the stories kind of came to me.  At the time, there were writers parachuting into the region with tape recorders looking for material, which struck me as odd with all the work that needed to be done.  Could you imagine going to Haiti after the earthquake with a tape recorder looking for stories with all the death and destruction that needed attention?  For her PhD in Theatre History at L.S.U., Anne-Liese Juge Fox wrote a paper on Katrina plays written by regional writers as opposed to out-of-state writers.  She concluded that out-of-state writers, "Cut your heart out, put it on a plate and ate it in front of you," whereas the regional playwrights humanized the people of this region through their Katrina experiences.  
Q: How were you personally affected by the hurricane?
If I were to sum up in a few sentences what happened to my life during Katrina, most people outside of here would say, "That's horrible!"  But compared to so many people I ultimately did much better so I don't like to dwell on negative things that happened to me back then.  And moving-on is a characteristic I see in New Orleans people and which people have identified in this play.  About an earlier version of this play which went to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, one of the KCACTF adjudicators commented that the characters aren't self-pitying, which is compelling for the audience.  I guess as bad as their experiences were to begin with, they were still alive?  David Hoover, director of that U.N.O. production, commented on this lack of self-pity by comparing it to Vietnam War plays which David summed up like this:  "O.K., I'm going to tell you about my pain.  Alright, get a little closer, because you need to know about my pain.  O.K., here comes the story about my pain:  YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND MY PAIN!!!"   
Some of the positive effects of Katrina have been that although I've always loved the people of New Orleans, Katrina made me love them much more.  The devastating human failures of Katrina were governmental but on a local level many people conducted themselves heroically. And we all know how fantastic the rest of the country and people from other countries have been to us for the past 10 years.  So although Katrina made me deeply cynical and bitter toward all levels of government, the experience actually made me feel better about individual human nature.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

'Mary Poppins': Behind the Curtain Photo Essay

A Behind-the-scenes Look At 'Mary Poppins' in Rehearsal

'Mary Poppins' opens at Slidell Little Theatre on August 28, 2015 and runs through September 13. Volunteers have been spending untold hours since the summer rehearsing and preparing for this moment. The photo collages below are just a small sampling of the many, many people involved in bringing the magic to life at Slidell Little Theatre.

Photo credit Justin Redman, Stephanie Sullivan and Don Redman.