Interview with Connie Cameron

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The Theatre Project veteran Connie Cameron will be returning this fall as a Co-Stage Manager for A Christmas Story: The Musical! To get to know her better we asked her a few questions. Here’s what she had to say.


What’s your history with The Theatre Project?

I have been volunteering to help with The Theatre Project for several years.  My roles have included helping with costumes, dressing room supervisor, and backstage ninja.

What are the responsibilities of a Stage Manager?

The Stage Manager has a unique job because it serves a double function of assistant to the director and production staff during the rehearsal period and then becomes the person that answers all calls for help during the actual performance and insuring that the production runs smoothly.  Responsibilities include making sure performers make their cues, have props set, costume changes prepared, as well as coordinating set changes and maintaining a sense of calm during the performance.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love being a part of a team that is able to successfully create an amazing and magical theater experience for performers and audience members.

What’s something most people wouldn’t know about working backstage?

Backstage is limited when it comes to space so when we have productions with very large set pieces it takes a lot of coordination and choreography just to move them around and get them into their ready positions while doing it practically silently.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done for a past production?

During the production of Mary Poppins, there were many times that I was behind set pieces on stage during the performances to either be a spotter for dancers or to be “on ready” to move the set piece once the number was over.  It was fun because the audience never knew we were back there.

How do you wrangle such large casts during rehearsals?

All the performers in the productions are so invested in the show that they are not difficult to keep under control during rehearsals.  The level of excitement is pretty high for opening night so keeping them aware that they have on “hot” microphones on can be the biggest challenge, but overall it’s always a pleasure and not a problem.

Of all the shows you have worked, which on is your favorite and why?

Mary Poppins has been my favorite show to work on because there was so much going on backstage during the production between moving large set pieces, making performers fly, pulling in large backdrops and helping to pull off the many magical moments that this production required.

How are you preparing for A Christmas Story: The Musical!?

I have been told that this production may have a lot of moving parts backstage so I am looking forward to helping to coordinate and problem solve.  I enjoy a production that is full of activity.

Stephen Sondheim or Andrew Lloyd Webber?

Andrew Lloyd Webber is definitely my favorite.  His musicals were some of the first musicals that I experienced on Broadway as a young woman and inspired me to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting as well as costume, stage and lighting design.

What is your dream show?

The Phantom of the Opera.  I would love to be a part of a team that can successfully carry out so many iconic theater moments.

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH NELAH GABLER

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Nelah Gabler will be the Scenic Artist for the upcoming The Theatre Project production of A Christmas Story: The Musical! She took time from her vacation to answer some questions about her theatre experiences and future!


What is your history with The Theatre Project?

I believe my first show as scenic artist was Oliver! I also had the joy of acting in it as well.

You are joining the production team as a scenic artist. What does a Scenic Artist do for a show?

The Scenic Artist brings the director’s vision to the stage set through textures and painted effects.

How do you go about visually translating a script to the stage?

I translate the set by working with those scenes that need to visually be supported, but not overwhelming the story. The design needs to be kept as simple as possible and allow the actors to take us there. However simple does not mean boring!

When creating sets and backdrops do you prefer a realistic or expressionistic approach?

Those approaches are both up to the director. However I cannot prefer one over the other as they both allow me to have a great pallete and vision.

Of all the shows you have seen which one had your favorite production design and why?

For TTP that would have to be Suessical. The design was original with the giant books, functional and kept scene changes to a minimum. It was also visually fun and pleasing to the audience. Overall for me the Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher for those same reasons. When I see a show I am all about the set and how they make pieces interchangeable, Peter was magical that way.

How are you preparing for A Christmas Story: The Musical!?

Still in the early stages, but working with Rachel and David on how to make this show that has many large pieces and scenes move well and still tell the story. This show will be more about producing a time period and feeling.

How can someone become a better visual artist?

Just like anything else lots of practice and experience. I majored in theatre so all of my visual art experiences have helped me to here. I have worked with some creative and amazing folks in community and equity theatre settings. Experiences are major as well asking lots of questions! And of course the internet is your friend in being able to educate and understand techniques.

What do you do when you’re not working with The Theatre Project?

I teach visual art youth classes, set design and painting, travel and work in pottery and painted paper collage.

What medium do you prefer to work in and why?

Well that changes! Right now I am working towards finding my story through painted paper collage. I have worked on this journey for a while and now have time to seek out other artists and styles to learn new techniques.

Where did you study art?

I studied theatre at the University of West Georgia.

Who inspires you and how do they inspire you?

In the professional set world it’s a guy names Edward Cox. He is able to work big and small and produce pieces with amazing speed and perfection. In community theatre, a former coworker and artist, Holly Corin, showed me many of the techniques I still use today.

In the visual arts world right now it’s Elizabeth St. Hilaire. She has many of the same experiences as me as how art gave her confidence as a child and helped her find her way.

Overall, Harris Wheeler my HS chorus teacher, who introduced me to theatre and remains an amazing musician and human being, will always be my inspiration.

What is your dream show?

I’m not a huge fan of the show but always wanted to paint Into the Woods.  I would also like to work on Matilda because that set has always made me smile.


You can see Nelah’s beautiful work in A Christmas Story: The Musical! this fall with performances November 10, 11, and 12. They are still taking registrations for the August 13 auditions at the Mable House Arts Center. Call 770.819.3285 for more information.

INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL RUDD

Rachel Rudd has over twenty years of theater experience as a director, performer, teacher, and choreographer.  Last spring she directed The Theatre Project’s fantastic production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Rachel recently took some time from her busy schedule to answer some questions on her background, practices, and upcoming projects. We thank her for sharing with us.Headshot

Last spring’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was your first time directing for The Theatre Project. Tell us about your experience.

Joseph was a wonderful experience from beginning to end for me. When I direct a show, I begin with the big picture in my head and then figure out how to make all the pieces come together to make that big picture—just like a puzzle. Joseph was no different and it was a thrilling experience to see it all come to life on stage and to share it with our audiences.

What was your very first theatre experience?

I did a summer production of Bye, Bye Birdie when I was 10 years old. I fell in love with the experience, the process, and the cast. I knew from that point onward, theatre would be a part of my life.

How did you transition to directing?

Great question! I was asked to act as an assistant choreographer at 15 for a youth production of Lil’ Abner and loved it. The director said I had a good eye and allowed me to shadow him for many years as his assistant director in a summer theatre program. I left for school, got married and started a family and got a call from him asking me if I’d be willing to come back and AD (assistant direct) again and I joyfully said yes! Eventually he retired and handed the program over to me—and once I directed a big show—like 100 kids+ big–I knew that I LOVED it!

If you could do any show, besides the upcoming one, what would it be and why?

I can only pick one?? Ugh… How about a few: Ragtime, Les Mis, Hairspray, Bring It On the Musical…I’ll stop there 😊 Each of those shows are about the strength of human kind to overcome obstacles in some way—and they inspire me to be a  better person when I listen to them—plus I just love the music from these shows!

What makes a good director?

I think putting the right people in the right positions is key to a show’s success as well as the ability to see the big picture and figure out how to get there without losing your mind! And of course, patience and a lot of love.

How do you motivate your performers?

I truly believe that youth performers are capable of anything—more so than many adult performers I’ve worked with. When I tell a student they can do it—I truly mean it or I don’t say it! I also think that I instill just enough fear that they know they better be on their game when they come to rehearsal but also enough patience that they know I have their backs when necessary!

In you previous crew bios, you’ve included the Pablo Picasso quote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.” How have you remained an artist, and therefore, young at heart?

I have been so lucky to have had the opportunities to work with amazing students who inspire me and help me grow as an artist. I think having the ability to work with children keeps me young at heart for sure and I look it as one of my life’s biggest gifts.

What role has theatre played in your family life?

Theatre kind of runs our household. Both my girls are involved –I started dragging them to rehearsals when they were tiny and they both fell in love with performing. My husband, although not a performer himself, is a huge theatre fan so if he has the option to go see a game or go see a musical on a Sunday afternoon—theatre wins every time!

Auditions for your next show with The Theatre Project are coming soon. What advice, tips, or tricks would you give actors going into an audition?

Auditions are right around the corner! My advice for auditions is: 1. Be prepared. 2. Make sure that what you’re auditioning with shows your range and your ability. 3. Have fun! I know you’re nervous—I’ve been there—but this is all about fun and learning! 4. If you are not cast—that does not mean you weren’t great. It may have just meant that you weren’t a good fit for this show or a particular role. Come and audition again—the right show for you might be just around the corner!

Sometimes a bit more education and experience can make all the difference. I will be teaching a class in the Fall at the Mable House Arts Center that is going to focus on acting for students 12+ . We will discuss basic audition technique and etiquette, learn about some of them “main” methods of acting and even learn some basic film and TV acting tips. I would highly encourage any of our Theatre Project students to consider taking this class!

This fall you return to The Theatre Project to direct A Christmas Story, which is already a beloved film classic. What will you bring to the live stage show that audiences cannot get from watching the movie?

Music, music & more music by the now “theatre famous” duo, Pasek and Paul! They won an Oscar for their work in La La Land and if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on them to win the Tony Award for Dear Evan Hansen this June! I think every story is better with music and audiences will love seeing this beloved story live on stage with our awesome performers!

EXIT INTERVIEW WITH ANDERSON ROTHWELL

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For the next portion of our Joseph Exit Interview Series, Anderson Rothwell was kind enough to grant us an interview on his experience in last spring’s The Theatre Project’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. 


 

How old are you? Or what grade are you in?

I am 15 years old, and I’m a freshman

Where do you go to school?

I go to Roswell High School.

What role did you play in this production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?

I got to play one of my dream roles, Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

How do you relate or differ from the character of Joseph?

Joseph was an especially fun role to work with the characterization. Joseph is a dreamer, literally and figuratively. He’s very optimistic and confident in himself which isn’t a bad trait, but it does sometimes cause him to lose awareness of what is happening around him. But he grows as he realizes that instead of just coasting through life, he has to use his gift and seize his own destiny. One thing that’s pretty different about Joseph is that he is almost effortlessly likable and he’s sure of himself even at low points.

What do you think the audience would be thinking about on their drive home from this show?

There are several things that I’d hope the audience would take home with them after seeing the show. It is a very large scale and technical show with almost constant singing and dancing. And our crew created stunning sets, sound, lighting, and costumes that helped make the show even more spectacular. Of course a major goal was to entertain the audiences. It is such an energetic show that you want to have audiences laughing, cheering, and maybe even crying just a bit. But beyond the entertainment aspect,  when you take the story and lyrics to heart this show has some amazing messages about following your dreams, thriving with the situation you’re given, and seizing your own destiny. Hopefully these resonated with the audiences.

If you could play any role in any show ever, what would it be and why?

If I could play any role in any show, I would have to pick the role of Bert in the stage musical version of Mary Poppins. I’m absolutely obsessed with Disney, and have been watching the movie and listening to the musical soundtrack for years.

What was your first role? How old were you?

The first role I ever played was Jerome in South Pacific when I was eight years old.

Do you ever get stage fright? What do you do to overcome it?

I think every performer get stage fright to some degree. But I’ve also found that performing in front of an audience causes me to be more natural and creative on stage and enhances my performance. It makes for a better performance when I’m getting actual responses from people seeing the show for the first time. The pressure be very helpful for me. But to overcome stage fright I like to get my body and mind in the right state. I like to drink some tea and arrive early to a performance, and while I’m backstage I try to find a balance between calm, focus, and excitement. Getting into costume and feeding off the other performers’ energy helps me fully get into character. The cast, crew, and leaders were so amazing that even though the shows required a lot of rehearsal and energy it never grew old.


The Theatre Project would like to thank Anderson Rothwell for taking the time to take part in our interview series. We look forward to seeing where you go from here!