Wednesday, June 29, 2016

EYT in the EMPYS

If you've been around EYT for a few years, it is hard to scroll through the Empy nominee list and not recognize many of the names.  For your ease and wonderment, I've compiled a list of all the nominees with ties to EYT.  I'm grateful for the many talented people who have participated both as students and as staff in the EYT program over the last 6 years!

The Empy's are awarded annually at the Empress Gala, and details, tickets, and the full nominations list are available now at the Empress website. But if you'd like to just peruse the amazing talent associated with EYT over the program's history, look no further than below.

Glen Carpenter - Man In Chair - The Drowsy Chaperone
EYT Connection: Director 2011

Skyler Bluemel - Mr. Body - Clue; The Musical
EYT Connection: Music Director 2011

Logan Gifford - Adam Pontipee - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
EYT Connection: Set Design 2013 and 2016

Ehlana Durfee - Janet Van De Graff - The Drowsy Chaperone
EYT Connection: Set Painter 2016

Melina Wrathall - JoJo - Seussical the Musical
EYT Connection: Cast Member 2012

Skyler Bluemel - Minstrel - Once Upon A Mattress
EYT Connection: Music Director 2011

Melina Wrathall - Alice - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
EYT Connection: Cast Member 2012

Andrea Fife - Trix - The Drowsy Chaperone
EYT Connection: Choreographer 2011, Director 2012-2013, Producer 2015-2016

Justina Spencer - Maid - Clue; The Musical
EYT Connection: Stage Manager 2015-2016

Jacob Murphy - Usher - Forever Plaid; Plaid Tidings
EYT Connection: Cast Member 2015

Jamie Victor - Forever Plaid; Plaid Tidings
EYT Connection: Vocal Coach 2012-2013, Workshop Coordinator 2015-2016

Skyler Bluemel - The Drowsy Chaperone, Forever Plaid; Plaid Tidings, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum
EYT Connection: Music Director 2011

Sammi Arsuffi - Clue; The Musical
EYT Connection: Cast Member 2011-2013

Shannalee Harrison - Forever Plaid; Plaid Tidings
EYT Connection: Workshop Instructor 2015-2016

Michelle Davis - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
EYT Connection: Music Director 2013

Travis Hymas - Seussical the Musical
EYT Connection: Cast Member 2011-2016, Youth Council, Assistant Director 2015

Justina Spencer - Once Upon A Mattress
EYT Connection: Stage Manager 2015-2016

Logan Gifford - The Drowsy Chaperone
EYT Connection: Set Design 2013 and 2016

Michelle Davis - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
EYT Connection: Music Director 2013

Monday, June 27, 2016

Half-Day Pride

I am frequently asked, "Is it possible for a half-day kid to get a role with lines or solos?"  

Here is the answer.
Is it possible?  Yes.
Is it likely?  Not particularly.

And here is the reason why:
It is purely logistical.  The schedule for EYT rehearsals generally focuses on large group numbers in the morning when half-day kids attend.  Scenes are blocked and run in the afternoons when we only have the full-day kids in attendance.  It has nothing to do with talent or ability!  Sometimes it is possible to assign solos or lines in a scene that only needs to be run in the morning to half-day kids, and that is completely up to the production staff when they do the casting.  

Don't let it get you down!  
Each half-day student will be cast in one of the four groups listed below.  No, I'm not going to announce just yet what each group gets to do or wear.  But I am announcing the group names, logos, and colors so you can get excited.  

There's more to look forward to!
Half-day students should also be looking forward to:
  • Awesome moments with Half-Day Ambassador Travis Hymas
  • Daily rehearsals and games with half-day leaders like Perry Whitehair and Kaelene Holgerson
  • A full-day mentor that can answer your questions and show you the ropes
Let's ban the "just" from Half-Day
I don't ever want to hear you say, "I'm just a half-day."  
Let's shout it proudly, "I'm a HALF-DAY!"

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What to Expect at Auditions

I often find that as I am speaking to EYT kids and parents, I realize that all the stuff floating around in my head isn't common knowledge!  So to those who might like to know what to expect at an EYT audition, here is my best guess of how things will go this year.  I reserve the right to be wrong.  :)

THE LOBBY (check in and check out)
The lobby will be both your first and last stop and will be your chance to interact with Stage Manager, Justina Spencer.  Try to arrive at least 10 minutes before your audition time to get the lobby stuff out of the way.

  • Double check the audition form
  • Verify your conflict dates
  • Verify that your tuition is paid in full (you cannot be cast without it)
  • Order extra t-shirts for cast or family ($15 cash or check)
THE GREENROOM (the organizational hub)
So much will be going on downstairs with a variety of stations to visit.  Here is a sample of what to expect downstairs.
  • Parent volunteer sign up sheets
  • Get your t-shirt 
  • Get a head shot taken for the program (so look pretty!)
  • Submit your bio at the bio station (feel free to pre-write your 50 word (half day) or 75 word (full day) bio beforehand, but it will need to be submitted through the official bio form.
  • Meet our costumer Ty and get measured or photographed or whatever Ty says 
UPSTAIRS (music central)
You and each of the other students in your audition group (check the calendar if you want to know who to expect) will perform your song for the music director Jackie in the upstairs area.  
  • The people in your audition group will be around your same age.
  • You must have either a minus track or sheet music.  NO ACAPELLA!
  • If you are scared about this part of auditions, try not to be.  :)  It will be so fun and friendly.
FRONT LAWN (the dance hall)
On the front lawn you and your audition group will meet Madison Carpentier, our dance captain.  She will teach you a sequence to perform later for JJ.
  • Absolutely no flip-flops or bare feet at auditions.  If you have already purchased your jazz shoes or bear claws, you may wish to wear those on the stage.  Plan to wear something that covers your sole and stays firmly on your feet while outside.
  • Consider the dance audition in selecting your audition attire.  Please dress in clothing that will cover you appropriately even when moving.
THE STAGE (meet the director)
You and your group will get to take the stage to perform both your monologue/poem and the dance sequence.  Turn on the charm, since this is the room with the director JJ and student director Dillon.  
  • Your poem or monologue should be completely memorized and delivered in a clear, loud voice.
  • Follow instructions regarding dancing carefully; for half-day kids especially, this is a big part of the audition.
Plan for about a half hour outside your audition time to accomplish all the extras.  I am looking forward to seeing each of you soon!

As always, feel free to contact me with questions.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Volunteer Opportunities

I cannot even believe how much the Empress Youth Theatre organization has grown.  Between the Youth Council, the Parent Volunteer Committee, and the Production Staff, there are nearly three dozen individuals working on small or large tasks to make this program succeed.  

I am really excited about a new tool we will be using this year to help coordinate all of the great opportunities available.  Things as simple as coordinating carpools, donating small items, posting pictures for costume approval... it can all be done on the bulletin board!  

Take a moment to check it out now!  Be sure to drag the board from side to side or up and down to see all the notes.  Or just click this link for a full page version


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In the Style of the Show

What does it mean to prepare an audition piece in the style of the show?

Option 1: Stick with the show's Broadway era
Li'l Abner is from the era of classic Broadway musicals - those that were written and premiered between 1920 and 1959, a period that includes the “golden age of musical theatre.”  Broadway Musical Home has a great list of classic musicals.

Option 2: Go with the show's composer
The production staff can tell a lot from how you handle a song by the same composer as the show for which you are auditioning.  Li'l Abner has music written by Gene de Paul, and the Internet Broadway Database has a (short) list of other shows featuring his music.

Option 3: Research the setting of the show
Choosing another song from a similar time period or with a similar setting can add variety to your options.  However, you are less likely to find a convenient list.  Li'l Abner is set in a backwoods town in the 1950's.  An internet search for "musicals with a country feel" might bring up some possible song choices.

Option 4: Skip Broadway altogether
This is definitely a riskier choice, but sometimes you can find popular music that fits the feel of the show for which you are auditioning.  Do your research!  Make certain the song you choose fits for a specific reason; maybe it has a similar beat, tempo, or chord structure.

Hopefully this has helped!  If you have any additional questions about your audition selection, feel free to contact me.  I am happy to be a pre-audition resource.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Virtual Parade Rehearsal

If you were unable to attend today's parade rehearsal but would like to start practicing, I've included several tools for you including the lyrics (complete with my choreography notes), a practice vocal track, and a choreography video.  As the girls who attended today will attest, the actual difficulty level is not high; it is memorization that is gonna kill us!  So practice away.

2016 Parade Remix

The country's in the very best of hands, WAVE UP
The best of hands, the best of hands. CIRCLE SWITCH TO POW WOW / RPT OTHER WAY

The Treasury says the national debt is climbing to the sky CROSS HIP UP / RPT; AROUND UP
And government expenditures have never been so high. SAME
It makes a feller get a gleam of pride within his eye, WAVE CROSS LOW, MIDDLE, HIGH 2X
to see how our economy expands, CROSS HIGH, MIDDLE, LOW 2X
The country's in the very best of hands. WAVE UP 4X , CIRCLE SWITCH, BUMP BACKS

Us voters are connected to the nominee, L'S
The nominee's connected to the treasury. ZOMBIE, T
When they ain't connected to the treasury, LOW L'S
They sits around on their thigh bones. SWOOP AT THIGHS

Them bones, them bones gonna rise again, OAR SLOWLY 2X
Gonna exercise a franchise again, OAR SLOWLY 2X
Gonna tax us up to our eyes again, OAR SLOWLY 2X, FAST 4X
If we gets them off of their thigh bones. SWOOP AT THIGHS

The country's in the very best of hands, SAME AS BEGINNING
the best of hands, the best of hands.

Them GOP's and Democrats each hates the other one. LUAU RIGHT 4X, OUT IN
They's always criticizing how the country should be run. LUAU LEFT 4X, OUT IN
But neither tells the public what the other's gone and done. V UP, V DOWN, V UP, V DOWN
As long as no one knows where no one stands, AIRPLANE IN, ALTERNATE
The country's in the very best of hands. SAME AS BEFORE

They sits around in this place they got, BREAK WRISTS
This big congressional parking lot. PRECISION ELBOWS
Just sits around on their you know what. BIG ELBOWS
Up there they call them their thigh bones. SWOOP AT THIGHS

Them bones them bones gonna rise again, CROSSES RISING
So dignified and so wise again, KEEP RISING
While the budget doubles in size again KEEP RISING, DOWN UP, DOWN UP
When they gits up offen their thigh bones.SWOOP AT THIGHS

Friday, June 17, 2016

Footwear and Hairstyles of the Nowhere Near Rich or Famous

I just got back from the first meeting of the incredible minds behind this year's production. While I am very excited about pretty much everything, here are the first two items you need to know in preparation for you (or your kid) making the transition to an upstanding citizen of Dogpatch, USA.

Because Dogpatch, USA is a backwoods sort of a town, we are going to be going for a barefoot look.  However, we are not going for actual bare feet.  Please begin your search now for one of the following types of footwear.  ALL half-day students (yes, the boys too) will need one of the following types of shoes.  Nearly all full-day students (especially girls) will need this type of shoe.  Full day boys might want to wait until after casting to make a purchase.
  • "Bear claws": This refers to a type of dance shoe that covers the sole of the foot while leaving most of the top of the foot bare. currently offers a pair for $12.95-$14.95 depending on size.  
  • Tan jazz shoes: If you are concerned about safety and want the full foot covered, tan jazz shoes are also an acceptable option.  Unless you already own a pair, this option will actually cost more with prices beginning around $25.  However, you are probably more likely to be able to borrow a pair of jazz shoes.
Summer can be a fun time to experiment with hair!  However, some of the hairstyles of 2016 just aren't going to work in Dogpatch, USA.  Feel free to keep your crazy colors through July 22nd.  As of July 25th, we will expect to see naturally occurring hair colors only (no, you don't have to have your own natural color) and symmetrical cuts only.  For those of you with beautifully "normal" hair, what we see at auditions will be what we expect you to keep through the final performance.  ANY changes to your hair (length, style, color) need to be approved before you make the change.  If your preferred hairstyle is a little too edgy for Dogpatch, and you just don't want to give it up, please be prepared to provide your own wig.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Parade Rehearsals Announced!

The Magna 4th of July Parade is a great opportunity for us to start to advertise for our production of Li'l Abner.  Not only that, but it is a fun way to get a head start on all the fun that is EYT.  For planning purposes, keep in mind that this parade does not begin until noon on the 4th.  The time commitment will be from approximately 10:00 am to around 2:00 p.m.

There are two levels of participation.  Be sure you know which one applies to you!

In order to participate in the parade, please plan to attend TWO of the four scheduled full-day parade rehearsals.  All rehearsals will be held from 10 am to 11:30 am (trying to beat the full heat of the day).  Choose from June 20th, June 22nd, June 27th, or June 29th.  Rehearsals will be held at the Empress Theatre.  Please wear shoes you can walk and dance in.  NO FLIP FLOPS!!!

In order to participate in the parade, please plan to attend ONE of the two scheduled half-day rehearsals.  Both rehearsals will be held from 10 am to 11:30 am upstairs at the Empress Theatre.  Choose from Wednesday, June 22nd or Wednesday, June 29th.  Half day students will ride on the parade trailer and will just learn the song, not the choreography.  

I look forward to getting an early start with the parade kids!

Andrea :)