Quarterly Newsletter – September 2017
It’s hard to believe that fall is here and our 25th Anniversary Season has begun. What a year to look forward to!
We had a great summer on stage and off and I’d like to share a few of those experiences before sharing some of this coming season’s news:
- Summer Camps and Classes had over 1,000 students in 40+ camps. Kids had a blast, parents were happy, and the arts proved once again how they can make a difference in the life of a child.
- A comment from a summer-camp parent: “My son spent 6 weeks in Studio East camps. I love the people that work for you – each week my boy received such incredible feedback and he wants to sign up for next summer already!”
- “Anything can happen if you let it!” was the theme of our annual summer teen musical, Mary Poppins, which played to sold-out houses at the Kirkland Performance Center. We were blown away by the community’s response and it was especially exciting, because thanks to some generous donors, we were able to fly Mary and Bert. The collective ‘ahhhhhs’ from the audience when they flew was worth its weight in gold.
And now, as we enter our 25th season, look what we have in store –
- Rehearsals have begun for our fall production of I Never Saw Another Butterfly, and I am excited to once again tell this hauntingly rich story about children in the Holocaust and the power the arts had in giving them hope when their world was crashing in all around them. I hope you’ll come see it in mid-October.
- Launching StoryBook Theater’s 20th Season is the newly written musical – The Tortoise & the Hare. The show’s story focuses on being yourself and doing your best – whether you win the race or not.
- New this fall is Foundations, a year-round theater course for 10-12 year old students. It’s already full with a waiting list as is its sister program, The Intensive, for 13-19 year-olds.
- Outreach afterschool classes continue to grow – proof-positive that the arts are a valued piece of learning, especially in schools that have had to reduce or eliminate them in the classroom.
The Studio is a great place with a passionate team that includes awesome teaching artists/directors and devoted staff members. We all share the same vision that the arts contribute to the positive development and growth of our young people, and I couldn’t be happier to work in such a positive, life-changing environment. I can’t reiterate enough how grateful we are to do what we do, how thankful we are for all of our families and patrons that give, participate and volunteer in so many ways. It’s a new year full of anniversaries and celebrations for us all. We can’t wait to get started.
Executive Artistic Director
TOTAL IMPACT NUMBERS Sept ’16 – Aug ’17
Students & Audiences
FINANCIAL REPORT Sept ’16 – Aug ’17
Total: 1,866,000 Total: 1,794,000
Summer Camps – Studio East Alum, Abby Freid, Comes Back to Teach
This summer, over 1,000 kids participated in Studio East camps. Another 39 took our Young Actors Professional Intensive (YAPI) and about 25 other young people assisted our camp directors and instructors. Every summer, a few Studio East alumni come back and help out with summer camps. This is such a unique experience, as it feels like full circle for these kids. Abby Freid, 19, returned to the Studio to teach kids this summer.
Freid is currently a sophomore at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York where she is majoring in theater. Coming home to the Seattle area this past summer meant more than just seeing friends and family. For Abby, it meant a chance to give back to the Studio, a place she spent much of her time from ages 13 to 18.
“I wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to me,” says Freid. She worked as an assistant director, choreographer and instructor in two Smorgasbord camps, Beauty and the Beast, and two Spamilton camps.
Freid’s experience with Studio East goes back to when she was eight years old and saw the famous ‘Twas the Night production. “I was so impressed with what I saw, and I thought that the girls playing the reindeer were the coolest people I had ever seen in my entire life. I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.” A few years later, Abby was playing one of those reindeer herself in ‘Twas the Night. She performed in numerous Studio East productions, most memorably as Widow Corney in Oliver! (2011) and Morticia in The Addam’s Family (2015).
“When we call it the Studio East family, that’s not an exaggeration at all. It’s meant a lot to me in the six years that I have been a part,” says Freid. “I don’t think I could have gotten the training that I did at Studio East anywhere else on the east side.”
Coming back to the Studio this summer, Freid observed, “I love seeing the younger kids…their passion, their potential. That is nostalgic for me. It also gave me experience in directing and working with others. It gave me a fresh experience in how to deal with people who are different than me.” Freid also raved about getting the opportunity to help direct, choreograph, stage manage and more. As an assistant in these camps, she got a little taste of just about every part that makes up theater.
Freid says, “If any Studio alum or older Studio kids are interested in teaching camps or interested in pursuing theater professionally, I would absolutely recommend it.”
We would have to agree; there is nothing better than seeing Studio East alumni come back through the Studio doors to help out the next generation of actors. Thank you, Abby!
Abby Freid (from left to right) as Morticia in The Addam’s Family, Baby Bear in Kirkland’s Fourth of July Parade with Studio East, and as a ‘Twas reindeer.
Meet Studio East’s newest Board Members
Adam and his wife Maura live in Redmond and are longtime supporters of the Studio. Their oldest son, Zachary, did his first Mainstage show in the fall of 2003 (Annie), and even before that their kids attended StoryBook shows with their preschool and went to Studio summer camps. They have had two other kids “graduate” from the Studio – Madeline and Keenan, and their youngest, Noah, will be a sophomore in high school next year. Adam grew up in Montreal and worked for Microsoft for 23+ years, but left in January 2017 to write a book. Adam himself has been in two shows at the Studio – I Never Saw Another Butterfly and Fiddler on the Roof, plus a few appearances in Adult ‘Twas. Adam firmly believes that Studio East is a great resource for the community, and with his wife Maura as a former board member, he looks forward to his time on the board.
Shiraz’s love of theater began when he first saw Yul Brynner in The King and I as a child in Ohio. He went on to act in many plays and musicals in high school and produced shows in college. Shiraz moved to Seattle to join Microsoft and spent 15 years leading engineering and marketing teams in Xbox, Windows, and Office. He also co-founded an educational non-profit, helped grow a boutique IT consulting firm, and started a media production company with his wife Holly, a young adult author. He is now VP of Product at OfferUp, leading customer experience and innovation. In his spare time, he loves home remodeling, cooking, classic cars, rehearsing scenes with his middle school daughter, and starting a band with his kindergarten son. Shiraz is most excited about supporting Studio East’s mission to help youth develop life skills through the teamwork and challenges they encounter in the performing arts.
A Look Back At Our Summer Teen Musical: Mary Poppins
At Studio East, we believe in giving young people the chance to discover and explore new things. This includes acting, singing, dancing and as of this past summer, flying! Thanks to the very generous donations of a few Studio East families, we were able to incorporate stage flying into our summer teen production Mary Poppins. From the moment Mary (Sarah Dennis) and Bert (Keenan Barr) strapped on those harnesses, the musical grew in its magic and authenticity. Now this was the Mary Poppins we all grew up knowing and loving. This was the first time in Studio history that we have integrated flying into a show, but unique, fun experiences like this give young people new opportunities, expand their repertoire, and help them grow in confidence.
Many other aspects made Mary Poppins so special – from the biggest set we have ever brought to Kirkland Performance Center thanks to Erik Eagleson and his talented crew, to 160+ unique costumes thanks to the brilliant Deane Middleton, from Lynn Chestnut’s magical prop department to the sold out crowds in nearly all six shows. We sold all but 87 of 2,400 seats for this show, a record for Studio East’s summer production.
It was a truly spectacular way to close out the 24th season of Studio East. We were honored by the community’s response. Everyone involved worked so hard to make this one of the most extraordinary shows the Studio has done. The show truly reflected the message that Mary Poppins weaves throughout – “Anything can happen if you let it.” A big production, a hard working artistic team, a passionate cast, magnificent orchestra, generous donors, the brilliant ZFX flying effects, epic sets, endless costumes and props – it all happened and with massive thanks to our community, and to you, our wonderful patrons. We couldn’t have done any of it without you.
Pictures courtesy of Lorraine Rough. More pictures from the production can be found on our Facebook page.
Up and Coming – a Look Ahead at the Next Quarter at Studio East & StoryBook Theater
I Never Saw Another Butterfly – Behind the Scenes of our Upcoming Fall Production
This will be Studio East’s fifth time putting on I Never Saw Another Butterfly in its 25 years. Each time, we count it a privilege to be able to tell this inspiring and true story. Between the years 1942 and 1944, 15,000 Jewish children passed through the Terezin concentration camp, and only about one hundred of them survived. Through the darkest of circumstances, they found courage and hope through writing poems and creating art. Originally compiled by Celeste Raspanti with original music created by our own Susan Bardsley, this is the inspiring story of imprisoned children and the teacher who helped create hope when there was little reason for hope.
Q&A with Lani Brockman, Executive Artistic Director of Studio East and Director of I Never Saw Another Butterfly
How do you help get the kids prepared for this particular show?
We have them do a project on the Holocaust. It can be anything, as long as it’s on the Holocaust. Some kids do something on Hitler, some do it on Terezin, the swastika, or the different styles of Jewish stars that were worn . Each person in the cast puts together a 3-5 minute presentation. On a Saturday a couple of weeks before the show opens, we have a presentation where they all share. Those projects that can be posted, we put up on walls in rehearsal rooms and the Studio lobby so the audience can see the information. It’s not just a play.
How does this help the kids engage in the play?
It personalizes it. You have to do a little bit of research before you can figure out what you’re going to be doing your project on. It’s history but it’s accessible to them because the kids that went through this are their age.
What is the history of this show & particularly Studio East’s history with the show?
The children of Terezin were taught to write poetry and draw pictures to express the trauma they were going through. They hid their artwork in buried suitcases. After the war, they were found, given to the Prague Museum and put on shelves for twenty years. The artwork was discovered in the 1960s and a book was created. Celeste Raspanti found the book and created a play. For Studio East, our first run of Butterfly was in 1996. We performed it then as a play. The second or third show we added the music. Sue got permission from the Prague Museum as well as a survivor whose poems were a part of the play to add music. We then performed it again in 2003, 2008 and 2012.
Why is this referred to as a “play with music” versus a “musical?”
Whereas in a musical, the songs drive the action and the story, in a play with music, the songs don’t drive the story along. Instead the music and the poetry and the drawings are all of equal importance. The songs are the children singing their experiences, their inner thoughts, their poetry. Sue wrote them in the genre of the time too, so they are in minor keys, very European, and also very haunting. All of the words are written by the children from Terezin.
Why is this story so important to tell?
Studio East does this show every five years or so, because it’s a story that needs to be told again and again so history doesn’t repeat itself. I know that for the kids who have been involved in this show over the past 20 some years, it has made a difference in their lives. Abby Duke Eagleson played one of the first young Rayas, and now she is playing the teacher in this production.
We are honored to bring this show to the Studio East stage. We hope you will join us. Dates & showtimes here.
StoryBook Theater Launches 20th Season with a Brand New Show
We are excited to begin the 20th season of StoryBook Theater! We’ll launch this new season with a brand new show, The Tortoise & the Hare, written by Lani Brockman with music and lyrics by Sue Bardsley. This interactive musical is a fun, modern take on Aesop’s classic fable. Six kinds of animals appear as characters – and the insects are played by the audience! We have a tortoise and hare, of course, but also a tree frog, a crow and a walking catfish. Christine Tschirgi is working on the costumes and has allowed us to share some of her behind the scenes costume designs (below). We can’t wait to see how fun they will be in real life.
The Tortoise & the Hare delves into some new themes about diversity, alienation and handling prejudice. As each character represents a different animal species, they each have a unique set of challenges to overcome. Through the eyes of animals, children encounter these themes on a level they can understand. The characters collectively learn the valuable life lesson of being themselves and doing their best.
As always with StoryBook Theater, this show is chock full of comedy, whimsical costumes and fun music you will still be singing a week later. We hope to see you at The Tortoise & the Hare, showing in Renton, Kirkland, Everett, Shoreline and Fremont. Dates & Showtimes Here.
Thank you for reading our September 2017 Quarterly Newsletter! Your support enables us to keep working to create confident, compassionate, responsible young people through the performing arts. We couldn’t do this without you. Here’s to a new year!