Shakespeare Goes to the Dogs

SerenYawnKarma

“Seren, I can be a GREAT lion. Wanna hear me roar? Do ya, huh, huh, huh?”

Karma has been miffed he’s been left home in the evenings while I rehearse for the first annual Shakespeare In The Grove production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It’s free to the public and performed at 7:30 pm outdoors at Pecan Grove Park these next two weekends, May 30, 31, June 1, 6, 7, 8.

Other than vet visits, Karma has only been outside one time since he showed up on our back patio, and he trembled and became so upset that I’ve not taken him out since. So I reminded him of that fact. But Karma wanted to know more.

Karma: Magical-Dawg goes Outside. He likes playing Outside, I watch from the window. Does he get to go with you to see that Spear-guy shake? Does he shake his spear cuz he’s scared of Outside, too?

Amy: William Shakespeare doesn’t shake, that’s his name. He wrote the play, he’s not IN the play. Only actors are IN the play. Actors pretend to be romantic and confused lovers, or magic fairies and sprites with wings, or actors entertaining royalty who pretend to be lions, and there’s even a dog…

Karma: I can be an actor! I pretend to attack Magical-Dawg all the time. I can shakee my spear-like claws and roar. Let me play the lion. I will roar so good everyone will say ‘Let him roar again, let him roar again!’ Does the lion get to chase fairy wings? Do sprites taste like chicken? (Pause) Wait. There’s an actor dog? Why does Magic get to go and I don’t?

Amy: This is another dog . . . maybe it’d be better for you to talk to him and he can explain everything. You can interview him about being an actor dog and appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Jack-Russel-Benedick-AdairKarma: Oh look, there he is! Gee, he’s not near as big as Magical-Dawg. And he’s mostly white. Wow, he sure moves fast and jumps nearly as high as me. Didja see that back-flip and high five…I mean, high four?

Amy: Karma, be polite. Should I call Seren to do the interview instead?

Karma: I can do this! (clearing kitty throat) Mr. Dog, your poochy honor, your canine-icity …uhm…What do I call you?

Benedick: Senior Benedick and I am delighted to be here. You may call me Ben but I won’t answer. I go by Benedick. If you are too lazy to say that then Dick will do.

Karma: I’m not lazy. All cats sleep a lot, it’s our nature. You should see how much Seren-kitty sleeps. (whispering) She’s reeeeely old, like seventeen-eleventy years or something. And my best dog friend is three times as big as you. Why do you look so different? How old are you, Dick?

Benedick: I am a Jack Russell Terrier. What’s my age! What’s yours?

Karma: (puffing up) I’m almost a whole year old! I’m not a kitten anymore, can’t you tell?

Benedick3Benedick: Fine, I am twelve-years-young, but I can still play a six-year-old character. It’s my good English Genes I got from my father. He immigrated to America from England.

Karma: Wow. Did he dog paddle all the way? Was he an actor, too? Amy says I can’t come to the Shakee Spears show, so how come you’re such a lucky dog?

Benedick: I was born a Thespian and have been preparing for the stage my entire life! I was last seen playing Crab the Dog in the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival’s production of Two Gentleman of Verona.

Karma: That Shakee Spear guy sure gets around. Oh, Amy wants me to ask if you consider Shakee Spear to be your forte? I don’t know what that means but Amy’s the boss…

Benedick: I don’t consider Shakespeare to be my forte. I consider it my fortissimo! I sing, I dance, I even used to do a magic show with my pet human.

Karma: How did you get the part? Was tryouts scary? Did the Director bark and hiss at you?

Benedick: Darling, when you’re as well versed in Shakespeare, the Director auditions for you.

Benedick2Karma: How do you learn your lines? Are you a method actor?

Benedick: I am, I don’t like doing the same thing every time. I like to be spontaneous and keep those human actors on their toes! I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement clicker training and repetition.

Amy: Excuse me Karma, but I have to ask. Senior Benedick, how do you feel about the characters in the show heaping so much praise on the Hounds of Sparta, with nary a mention of the merit of holy terriers such as yourself?

Benedick: Well, my dear, you must first consider when it was written! Jack Russells weren’t around till the 1800s. It’s like seeing an old movie that talks about how amazing and convenient the new telephone booths are at the train station! It might be archaic NOW but then…well…it’s all they had.

Karma: Do you get paid in treats? Clicker training is paw-some! I think bacon would be a great payday. How are the two-legged actors to work with?

Benedick: Well I’ve had to give a few acting suggestions here and there, but overall I think it will be a fine show. Bacon! With this figure, I think not. I only accept homemade whole grain peanut butter biscuits when I am in a show. It’s in my rider.

Karma: What can everyone expect of your performance in the show?

Benedick: Perfection

Join Senior Benedick and the rest of the human cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Pecan Grove Park, 3200 Canyon Creek Drive in Sherman. Learn more about this family friendly free production at ShakespeareIntheGrove.com

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Strays Cast Recording

I’ve posted this on the STRAYS page as well, but want to share my excitement in a post. The musical will be performed in October, and in preparation for that, we held a Staged Reading with actor/singers Aaron and Diana Adair, Johnny Flowers, Gil Nelson, myself and my co-author Frank Steele. That fine group also lent their voices to record the songs. This is performed with only six voices–imagine how it’ll sound with a full cast and chorus!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

STRAYS THE MUSICAL STAGED READING PERFORMANCE

KarmaStraysTonight our cast gathers at a recording studio to create a cast album of the songs from STRAYS, THE MUSICAL. Stay tuned–I’ll post some samples here on the blog as soon as they’re available!

TOMORROW NIGHT is the big day! Saturday at 7:00 pm, please join us for the FREE staged reading of STRAYS, THE MUSICAL! My co-author Frank Steele and I have lined up a stellar cast to present the complete script and 11 original songs (with full orchestration). The actors portray cats and dogs, and that’s enough to get purrs rumbling and tails wagging, dontcha think? (Your kids will love this, too).

A staged reading (with script in hand) allows the playwrights and cast to figure out, with the help of the audience, what works and what needs finagling, so the show can be improved when it’s finally performed. That means YOU can be a part of the process. Besides that, it’s free!

Here’s a taste of one of my favorite songs, in which cats and dogs alternate singing verses that describe NORMAL behaviors that aggravate owners–it’s a jazz number with RAP section about how to fix the problems!

NORMAL

“Gonna match that scratch
Make my mark, mark, mark.
While they snatch to catch me
In the dark, dark, dark.
Can’t stop my paws–
From making claws.
Ba-a-ad kitty!
Tha-a-at’s Me-ee-ow!”

“Gonna start my diggin
Cuz I been figgerin’
How to dig a hole,
Cuz I been tol’
Ya need to do it,
So the bone’ll fit it.
Yea! Dig-gin'” . . .

So…if you were performing as a cat or a dog in the above lyric, how would you show the audience your character? No “ear and tail” costumes allowed…the actor must do the job and channel his/her inner pet :).

For the staged reading, our actors double up on parts with some playing cats in one scene and dogs in another, and even human owners in the final song. But the fully mounted show likely will include a larger cast including a chorus, and is appropriate for any age actor (or audience). We will mount the full show this fall and will hold open auditions for local performers to join the furry throng.

Thank you to Webster Crocker, the Administrative Director of Sherman Community Players and director of the Theatricks program. He’s opened up the calendar to give this original show its debut.

Please join Frank Steele, Amy Shojai, Gil Nelson, Johnny Flowers, Diana and Aaron Adair, and Lacey Wesson (running audio) Saturday evening March 22 at 7:00 pm at the Honey McGee Playhouse, 313 West Mulberry Street, in Sherman, TX.

Please SHARE this post with anyone who loves cats and dogs and theater. Hey, you may want this show to visit YOUR animal shelter fundraising event in the future!

UPDATE: Open auditions will be held to cast the full production this fall, with performance three nights October 23, 24 & 25th at the Honey McGee Playhouse. See you there!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? I’m a new Brand Ambassador for The Honest Kitchen and you can get FREE samples here, check it out! (Karma loves this!). Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

FREE PREVIEW PERFORMANCE FOR STRAYS

 

Strays Logo2-LoRez(Sherman, TX, 10-17-13) – Local playwrights, co-authors Amy Shojai and Frank Steele, have cast STRAYS, THE MUSICAL with five popular local performers. The completed original show will feature a dozen catchy songs, an ensemble cast, and laugh out loud dialogue.

A free preview of the music from STRAYS, THE MUSICAL will be performed locally at Trinity Lutheran Church on October 27 from 7-7:30 pm. The show will also be the featured entertainment on Friday, November 1st in Dallas at the 19th Annual Cat Writers Association Conference.

STRAYS, THE MUSICAL explores furry foibles from the PETS’ point of view. The actors give voice to a variety of cat and dog characters in this hilarious–and often moving–musical review “drama-dy” that seeks to edu-tain audiences about normal pet behavior while honoring the bond we share with them.

Playwrights Amy Shojai and Frank Steele are both passionate pet advocates. STRAYS, THE MUSICAL is written especially with pet lovers in mind. “We hope the completed show will benefit animal welfare organizations in their fund raising efforts, as well as entertain pet lovers,” they say. STRAYS is their fourth co-written show. The duo most recently wrote, directed and produced the critically acclaimed original show KURVES, performed at the Rialto in Denison.

The cast for the STRAYS preview performances include both Steele and Shojai, with Theresa Littlefield and Gil Nelson (both performed in KURVES), and local orchestra teacher SuEllen Davis. Not only talented singer/actors, the cast brings their love and understanding of cats and dogs to their performances.

StraysCast1

Cast for the preview/premier performance of songs from STRAYS, THE MUSICAL: L-R: Amy Shojai, Frank Steele, SuEllen Davis, Gil Nelson and Theresa Littlefield

The music includes solos, duets and full company numbers in styles ranging from pop rock to blues, calypso, gospel and Celtic. The 30-minute performance is accompanied by recorded full orchestral arrangements.

“The performance is a preview only, intended to offer a taste of what to expect from the full two-hour show,” say the playwrights. “We’re looking for feedback from the audience after the performance. That helps fine tune the future show.”

Shojai and Steele plan to hold open auditions (all ages, singers and nonsingers alike) for the premier of the full show at a future date. The completed show’s monologues, scenes and music are written to be modular, to allow only the cat portions, only the dog sections, or both to be performed, based on the audience demographic.

See the free preview performance of music from STRAYS, THE MUSICAL on Sunday, October 27, 7:00 pm at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1515 N. Travis Street in Sherman.  To learn more about the performance at the Cat Writers Conference in Dallas, refer to http://www.catwriters.com for more information.

Please SHARE with all your pet-loving friends and animal advocacy groups!

Rainbow Pets and Strays The Musical

Today I’m at BLOGPAWS and having a paw-some time meeting friends and making new ones. Next week I’ll post pictures and a recap of the experience. But today, I wanted to share a new recording of a song close to my heart, that is featured in STRAYS, THE MUSICAL (currently in revisions) with my co-author Frank Steele. The actors portray…you guessed it!…cats and dogs. Everything is from the pet’s point of view.

As songs are finalized I’ll post samples here on the blog. We will premiere some songs from the show at the Cat Writers Association 20th Anniversary Conference, in Dallas, and hope the completed script will be a positive edu-tainment/fund-raising vehicle for a wide range of pet-centric groups.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!