Yes, I’ve been cast in the Sherman Theatricks production of Mary Poppins, and I’m having a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious time! Tonight is opening night, yee-haw!
Some of y’all know that I’m also an actor/singer and that performing for me is brain candy that reduces stress and invigorates all other parts of my creative life. The more “creative schtuff” that I do, it seems that just feeds the muse. You can find out more about my “playing around” endeavors here. And when able to combine acting, singing, and PETS, what could be better!
Playing Multiple Roles in Mary Poppins–Meet Miss Lark!
Miss Lark loves her Willoughby!
That’s right, betcha didn’t know there’s a character in the cast who is dog-crazy. Gee, why did I get that role? LOL! Miss Lark carries around Willoughby, a small barky and very opinionated canine she treats like her child. (Oh gee, now that’s a stretch for moi as an actor…). I found a brilliant Yorkshire Terrier puppy puppet, from the paw-some folks at Folkmanis Puppets.
Willoughby’s paws and mouth can move, as well as his head. We’ll see how believable his “acting chops” are!
Miss Lark only appears in the first act. I’m fortunate to also be able to sing with the brilliant company in all the chorus numbers, too, many of them sung from backstage. But in the second act, it’s “evil nanny time” and I get to play the part of the polar opposite of Mary Poppins in the role of Miss Andrew.
Evil Meanies Offer Lots of Fun to Play!
Miss Andrew “seeks satisfaction in punitive action” using brimstone and treacle to punish (instead of a spoonful of sugar).
The Tap-Dancing Chimney Sweep
Finally, all the extra hair comes off, and I get to pick up a broom to sing (and try to dance!) in the Step In Time number as a chimney sweep. Hey, it’s all about challenging ourselves with new things. There are some brilliant dancers and singers and actors in this show, and how kewl that I get to “play” alongside them? I have a feeling some of these experiences will go into a future book.
Actually, the next thriller has a scene in which my main character plays cello in the orchestra for Secret Garden (something I was pleased to do last year). In my world, EVERYTHING is material!
Here’s the details from the theater’s press release, so for those of you in the North Texas area, I hope to see you at the show. Make reservations quickly. We’re only performing two weekends, and the theater holds just barely 100 seats.
So…will I see you there? Please share and tell your friends, this is a delightful show–with FLYING, too!
The story unfolds in 1910 England as the jack-of-all-trades, Bert, played by Rafe McConnell, narrates a tale of the troubled Banks family. Mr. and Mrs. Banks are played by Paul Jordan and Jennifer Becherer alongside Erica Romm as Jane Banks and Luke Rostyne as Michael Banks. Jane and Michael are naughty children who give the household staff and townspeople plenty of trouble. Kaitlyn Casmedes, Christina Childress, and Leigh Walker play household staff and the colorful town characters are played by Brandon Carnes, Lew Cohn, Drew Crocker, Ken Kozak, Bella Ortley-Guthrie, and Amy Shojai.
Mary Poppins, played by Amanda Ferguson, arrives on the Banks’ doorstep and uses magic and common sense to teach the family how to value one another. She takes the children and the audience on whimsical adventures where anything can happen. Characters they meet include Mrs. Corry, played by Leanne Duigan, and her children Annie and Fannie played by Andrea Bryson and Alivia Bryson; Neleus, played by Caleb Crocker, and the other lively statues in the park played by Brittani Crocker, Reagan Hayes, Allison Hill, and Queen Victoria, played by Logan Shurtleff. Amy Shojai reappears as Mr. Bank’s old nanny, Miss Andrew to shake things up further. Jane and Michael also learn important lessons about kindness and generosity from the Bird Woman, played by Heidi Scheibmeir and the life-size toys played by Charley Becherer, Molly Brown, MacKenzie Kozak, and Sarah McGinn.
The cast was selected in late July and has been working under the direction of Webster Crocker, choreographer Amy Wallace, vocal director Sylvia Rivers and Thomas Bryson. Costumes and make up are the creation and handiwork of Shelley Shurtleff, Tina Ross, Cheryl Hayes and Anne Schell. The show is accompanied by a 12 member orchestra conducted by Thomas Bryson.
Performance times are 7 p.m. on September 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19; and 2 p.m. on September 12, 13, 19 and 20. For reservations, call the Sherman Community Players box office at 903-892-8818 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday or visit the box office inside the Honey McGee Playhouse, 313 West Mulberry in Sherman during the same hours. Tickets are available for season members beginning Monday, September 7 and for all other beginning Tuesday, September 8.
Tickets are also available online at www.theatricks.org. Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $10 for students. 2015-2016 Season Memberships are available at the ticket office for $25 adult, $20 senior, and $18 student and include Mary Poppins, James and the Giant Peach, and The Boxcar Children.
Everyone in my family is an accomplished photographer–but we still couldn’t figure out the “timer” to get us all in the frame!
I wrote this post in October 2014. Today, my parents are on the verge of celebrating their 94th birthdays. After more than a year away from them, due to the pandemic, I feel nostalgic for the last time my siblings and I gathered with them. Stay tuned for an update when I finally get to visit with them again!
Last week, I drove to the airport 90 minutes away, waited during a 40-minute plane delay, sat on the plane for 2+ hours, boarded a bus for another 3 hour ride and discovered I’d left my laptop behind during the routine airport security check at DFW. I hate travel. But I’d do it all over again, and gladly.
It was my parent’s 60th Anniversary celebration. My two brothers and their wives and I rented a house in Michigan, and we gathered together for a rare but blissful reunion with great food, fine beverages, late night laugh-fests, shared memories, and bitter-sweet farewells.
We grew up in Northern Indiana where my parents still live. My twin brother (and nope, we’re NOT identical, LOL!) and his family live in Ohio where he’s a brilliant speech writer and PR pro, while our younger brother, a professional photographer, lives in far northern Michigan. My SILs are accomplished professional women, too, and my niece and nephews make us all proud. But how did my “little brother” become a grandpa, twice over? Where did the time go?
I live the farthest away in Texas, and traveling that far plus coordinating all of our busy schedules proves the greatest challenge. In fact, my husband wasn’t able to come due to a number of scheduling conflicts with work–and caring for the fur-kids. Sometimes I feel guilty that we moved so far away…
PEDIGREES & GENEALOGY
When together, I’m reminded of what a friend calls our “charmed childhood.” Our home was full of books, art and music–even today Mom and Dad’s house looks like a cross between an art gallery and a library, with musical instruments thrown in. Memories of being read to–story time was important when we were kids–and then arguing which one got to practice on the newer upstairs piano rather than the old-timey one in the basement. And later, when cello, violin, trumpet, voice lessons, track and wrestling, sewing lessons and play practice were added. How did my folks find the time, with their teaching schedules, to give us such wonderful gifts of creativity to explore?
Pets, too, of course–Shelties now gone for years that taught me about dog training and patience, and still prompt tears when stories are fondly shared. My Dad, a long retired elementary music teacher, has become a recognized pastel artist, and one of Mom’s most cherished pictures is the portrait of all the Shelties together: Pickles, Mac, Chad and Skye.
Living on the river, I could sneak away in the canoe to perch in my “reading tree” out of sight for lazy summertime hours. Baby bunnies rescued, turtles and snakes caught and released, river snails the size of your fist–and college fees times three. I am in awe, and a bit weepy thinking back.
We spent time this past weekend looking through a family genealogy, marveling at our ancestors, and how far they’d traveled to meet their future spouses and raise families. And I learned that my Mom, born and raised in Kentucky, had also taken a chance and left her family for a teaching job in Indiana more than 60 years ago–and there she met Dad.
GOOD GENES & LUCK
With cats and dogs, we have the luxury of reviewing pedigrees and choosing ideal pet parent matches–but even then, anything can happen. Humans are more in line with the “lovable mutts” that just happen to get together. What results can be good, bad, or hopefully a happy accident.
I am me because of my parents, and my brothers. How lucky that my ancestors took a chance on coming to a new country, and that my Mom left her family during an era when most young women stayed home and married a neighbor. They still love life, my parents, and it shows in all they do–and I pray they’ll continue to stay healthy for another decade and beyond. Neither looks or acts their age and if I’m sometimes silly or act quirky well–it’s THEIR gene pool! And I’m proud and lucky to be a part of it.
Friends sometimes share with me their sorrow, anger, or indifference that they’ve lost touch or are not close with their families. That makes me sad–and also makes me feel even more lucky to have the parents and brothers that I have.
I see myself in them, in how I was raised, and the decisions I made to arrive at this place in my life. I, too, left home. But I took home with me. It’s who I am. All the things I love most in life–pets, music, art, puns and laughter, theater and bling, books and stories, love and honesty–all comes from them. With a pedigree like that, I am indeed blessed.
Oh, I did get my laptop back. Just lucky, I guess!
When was the last time you had a family reunion? Do tell!
Those who regularly read this blog know that I not only write about pets, but also give talks about pet behavior. You may be surprised to learn that sometimes I write music about pet behavior, too and even SING about cats and dogs. (Magical-Dawg howls, Seren-Kitty does her lion cough and Karma yawns…everyone’s a critic!) Now you have a chance to sing along!
I’m proud to partner with local actor/writer/musician Frank Steele to co-write STRAYS, THE MUSICAL. Next Saturday, September 13 from 10-noon at the Honey McGee Playhouse in Sherman, we’ll present a free workshop about the show. The workshop is designed to help pet loving performers prepare to audition for STRAYS on September 23, 24, 25. Those who attend may learn a thing or two about cat and dog behavior, too!
I’ve written lots of pet-centric schtuff, and Frank and I have written other scripts and performed on stage a great deal. But STRAYS combines all our loves—writing, music, acting and pets. Now we want to share STRAYS with area actors and audiences.
Love theater? Love pets? You’ll fall in love with STRAYS!
We’re looking for up to 20 performers and production folks to bring STRAYS to life. A few human characters appear in the show but most actors portray cats or dogs—but without any special makeup or costumes. That’s right! You get to create your own character using your skill as a performer—are you a Great Dane? Chihuahua or Siamese? Mutt or tabby? We’d love to cast families, too—with the kids playing kittens/puppies and parents as the adult pets.
During the workshop, you’ll practice channeling your inner pet. Feel free to bring a dog or cat toy to help get into character. Participants will learn one of the songs from the show and practice pet-centric moves. Are you a rapper or beat box expert? Come show your skills! Dogs and cats move and act in very specific ways that communicate to each other (and to clueless humans!). Shake your puppy tail or display kitty ballet moves to evoke the pet’s mood. During the workshop you’ll also practice reading funny or poignant scenes from the script.
Two featured parts call for 14-year old actor/singers to play the parts of Girl Kitten and Boy Puppy. But all other parts have no age or type limitations and performers aged 9 to 99 are welcome. STRAYS includes solos, ensembles, rap, featured dancers, non-singing actor roles, and fun company numbers in styles ranging from pop rock to blues, calypso, gospel, jazz, and Celtic. If you’re like me, you often “speak” for your pets and now’s your chance to bring that cat or dog character to the stage.
We look forward to working with Supporting Cast members from SCP-Theatricks. We also seek technical assistance with lighting, sound, projection, choreography, stage managing and more.
Dr. John McGinn will assist us as rehearsal pianist, and the show will be performed with a CD of full orchestration on November 6, 7, 8, 2014. We hope STRAYS will benefit animal welfare organizations in their fund raising efforts, as well as entertain pet lovers. And purr-haps bring a new audience to Sherman Community Players.
Now is your chance—come to the STRAYS workshop Saturday September 13 from 10-Noon to learn more. Please SHARE this post with cat and dog lovers and theater peeps. 🙂
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