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Sunday, September 28, 2008

September Newsletter!

Our September newsletter has been released!

We send our newsletter out to subscribers only and we never intend to spam anyone. If you do not want to receive this newsletter, please email us so that we remove your name from our list which we will do immediately!

In this newsletter, you can read about:
1. Our Upcoming Performances
2. How to Use Your $100 Off Coupon
3. "Looking Through the Kaleidoscope"
4. BULLY video now online!
5. Congratulations, Siara!
6. Support Our Members - other venues to feature our performers

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Tribute to Lon

Recently, one of Kaleidoscope Theatre's family members was featured on the front page of the Providence Journal! Lon Cerel, who has been with the company since 1983, has had a wonderful 30 year career inspiring children through magic and story telling. Click here to read the online tribute.
(Photo: Lon as the MC for Kaleidoscope's 30th Reunion!)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Looking Through The Kaleidoscope #4: It's (Un)official

For those of you who have read the first entry of this blog, you might remember that I referred to my job as a cameraman for Kaleidoscope as official/unofficial. It was probably one of the easiest jobs I have ever gotten because I didn't even ask for it.

It all really started when I bought a camera. I had been working full-time and was saving money regularly, so I decided to get a nice camera. Not necessarily a professional camera, but a small one that was good quality. I picked up a Nikon Coolpix, which at the time was one of there latest models. Very sleek and small, it was certainly worth the money and I was excited to use it.

I had brought it with me during the summer run of Snow White, particularly when we had started touring Melody Tent and South Shore. The kids were all over it. They were constantly wanting to get their pictures taking and striking a variety of poses to their own amusement. Another particularly fun feature with this camera was that it could take short video clips. I decided to utilize this as well and would constantly be filming some "behind the scenes" footage. I would film the sound checks, the song rehearsals, and mostly interviewing my fellow performers and asking for their thoughts on the show.

I don't think I realized how noticeable this was until I was taking a video of Tommy using his phone as a mock piano. Tommy, having a lot of musical experience, had his phone keys set to "piano", which made each number a different piano key. I filmed Tommy playing an impromptu tune, completely perplexed, when all of a sudden David comes over saying "I finally get to be in the famous Ryan videos." The famous Ryan videos? Not only did I not realize that I had videos named after me, but that they were famous. Famous to Kaleidoscope at least. To me the videos were just fun to do and when I started uploading them to YouTube I remember the company being appreciative.

I remember when Cinderella Too! began Jamie invited me to come down to RIC and see the premiere. I decided to at least make myself useful and did a series of videos covering the event. Besides the usual backstage interviews and sneak peaks, I had the opportunity to interview parents and kids about the show while they were in the autograph line. This was at the request of David and it made the task seem more official and like an actual job. This "job" actually allowed me to travel with the cast of Cinderella Too! to their touring venues and document everything, which was extremely fun. While I loved the cast of Snow White, traveling with the Cinderella Too! cast was very different because everyone was similar in age. The times we spent backstage and in the van were probably some of the best times I have spent with the theater. All of us got along extremely well and these people were some of the best people to travel with.

It didn't occur to me to actually take pictures and video during an actual show because I wasn't sure if David and the others would want me to. In truth they did want me to and the first show I did show photos for was Cinderella. I was up in the balcony during a full house and tried to stay out of the way of the public as much as possible, but the camera held up very well and got some great shots. I would have to say that was my first official/unofficial job as the Kaleidoscope cameraman. I didn't have to do it but I was happy to.

Since then I have mainly done pictures at RIC. I went to just about all of the remaining shows for my first summer and got pictures. As for this summer, I did miss a couple of shows but they were shows I had gotten the year before. All of the shows I attended this summer were new to me and I got plenty of photos and videos along the way.

Probably the most daunting task is uploading everything. It isn't difficult to do, but it is time consuming. The photos would usually go up relatively quickly, but videos took forever because at first I could only upload one at a time to YouTube. I had discovered this past summer that there was a multi-video uploader available and the job became much easier. If you want to know just how much easier it was, let me put it this way: just as many videos that went up this summer were from last summer. I felt bad taking so long to get them up but I am glad I finally did.

The videos have also evolved a lot since last summer. The sense of responsibility motivated me to make the videos look a little more professional. The latest ones have the company logo as a title screen, a watermark of the logo in the corner, and then an ending screen with the website. I lose a little video quality in the process, but everyone seems to think that they are still good and worth the additions.

While this job is on a volunteer basis, I can't deny the perks. I've become much closer to a wonderful company, I've seen great performances, and I've traveled with great friends. And despite the company getting a photographer with professional equipment, I was invited to the Party of the Year to take pictures. Perhaps I will talk about that some time.

Next time, however, I think it would be only fair to contemplate this past summer.

In the words of Garrison Keillor, "be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Looking Through The Kaleidoscope #3: How Magical Is A Fairy Tale At 5:30 AM?

We are all well aware that summer is a big season for Kaleidoscope. Having just finished up this year's season of fairy tale musicals, we all look on to the future and what is yet to come. Except me and this blog, of course. Like I said last time, I would like to reflect on my first summer show with the theatre, that show being Snow White.

I remember being excited about actually getting into the show. I wasn't so certain that I would be asked to do it despite having done the dinner show. I could tell how much more there was to the fairy tale musicals. It was extremely clear how much the company put stock into these shows. When you think of Kaleidoscope Theatre and its thirty years of existence, you think of going to a venue during the summer and watching fairy tales that you knew and loved being put to music and surrounded with colorful characters. I had vague memories already of seeing Alice in Wonderland, although I didn't make the connection until some time after I joined the company.

It was also a big deal because Jamie was playing Snow White for the first time and she had wanted to play the part for a number of years. It's kind of surprising that she didn't play it before because she practically looks like the character come to life, right down to the short, dark hair. If she had the birds flying around her at all times then she literally would have been Snow White. But there were no birds, which was just as well because I am sure she would have freaked out a little.

The Queen was being played by a woman named Alyce, who has been with the theatre for some time. In fact it is the very same Alyce who makes all of the 3-in-1 Dolls for the concession stands. I had met Alyce already from the dinner show. Our Prince was another new actor by the name of Dan, who I remember being very shy and maybe a little nervous around me. He had picked up on the fact that Jamie and I dated and made it clear that he was nervous about kissing her in rehearsals. One time he actually wiped his mouth clean after the kiss thinking I would be offended. I was, of course, but it was because he wiped his mouth as if he had just kissed a soggy log in the woods. This year he was much more comfortable around the cast and there was no more mouth wiping, which I suppose means he no longer found Jamie disgusting.

Of course, it isn't Snow White without the dwarfs. Seven little kids in one room dressed as little old men. All of them very energetic yet surprisingly well behaved when it came to rehearsing. I understood that they already had some rehearsals when I came in, but if I remember correctly only one "dwarf" had done the show before, who was a young boy named Max. Max and I got to know each other right away as we were assigned to introduce each other to the cast. But I got to know all of the kids, all of which are amazing talents. That's one thing I truly credit Kaleidoscope for; they seem to have this uncanny ability to find very talented young children.
These talented kids, however, all seemed to be scared of me, or so I thought. All of them of course would flock to Jamie, who became sort of a mother figure. Jamie was extremely good with the kids and had worked with children before. At first, I think they saw me as the really tall guy with the beard. Later I think I worked my way up to the crazy uncle. I remember specifically looking at each of them as they rehearsed and if Max caught me looking at him he would say "why are you staring at me?" As you read on, you will see that he warmed up to me quick.

With nerves having to be cast aside, the show soon went up. We started out at Rhode Island College as the company usually does. We then moved on to the Chevrolet Theater in CT. I remember walking in and looking around in complete awe. The place was absolutely huge and you can't see the top of the fly system. We also did a character lunch, which can be completely chaotic. But I was starting to get a feel for touring and liking the idea.

What I remember most about those shows were the ones at Cape Cod Melody Tent and South Shore Music Festival. By now, the kids were as comfortable around me as they were with Jamie. Proof of this was Max willingly jumping on my legs and latching on for dear life as well as all of the kids wanting me to shoot pictures and videos of them with my camera.

Another bit of proof was that the kids would bombard me with choruses of "Jamie and Ryan sittin' in a tree" at a moments notice. This was a bit surprising because Jamie and I thought we should be professional around the kids and be kind of hush-hush about it around them. Here's the thing about kids though: they are very observant and will figure it out. This was only proof of that theory.

One of the other most outstanding things about traveling with these people were the parents that travelled with us. They were some of the most supporting people I had ever met. None of them were like the overbearing "stage moms", which was a blessing in itself. All of them were extremely polite and friendly, coming to every show and driving kids to the venues all the while. One couple, the Thalers, were very nice enough to invite everyone down to their house on the Cape after the show at Melody Tent. Everyone was treated to food, sun, and water tubing. If you haven't been water tubing, either go while the weather is still warm or hope that next summer you do a show with a Thaler child.

Touring can be a wonderful thing with Kaleidoscope. Shows are always fun to do, but I've come to realize that a lot of the fun can be in getting there.

Next time, earning my official/unofficial job with the company and how some of the most fun on a summer tour involves the shows you aren't in.

In the words of Garrison Keillor, "be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Looking Through The Kaleidoscope #2: Who's The New Kid?

As I mentioned previously, my first shows with Kaleidoscope Theatre were Dial M for Matrimony and Snow White. The dinner show came first and I thought it was something that was right up my alley. What I didn't realize, however, was how fast this company moved. By the time I found out I was in the dinner show, it was about five minutes to call.

OK, it didn't happen that fast, but it felt like it could have. We only had a few rehearsals and if I remember correctly I wasn't able to be at every one of them. I know I made at least two, but that was it. Thankfully my part did not have a lot of lines. For those of you unfamiliar with Dial M for Matrimony, the part of Pasqualie/Peccarino requires mainly two things: when you play Pasqualie you're old and when you play Peccarino you're annoying. Younger, but annoying. But I already had in my head how to do these characters. The most intimidating part was probably the fact that everyone else knew what they were doing, or at least they were extremely talented actors who made it look like they knew what they were doing.

But fast-paced takes on a new meaning at Kaleidoscope and I think it is especially apparent anytime the company does something other than the fairy tale musicals. While the musicals are perhaps the backbone of the company, the actors and actresses can change over a course of a short time. This has nothing to do with the talent of these actors and actresses, but rather the fact that the shows require very young people in some instances and as much as we might want these kids to stay young forever they do in fact grow. Throw in a couple of years and you might find that "Doc" is a little too tall to be a dwarf now. But we always have such wonderful young talent and I know that the company works very hard to keep as much of these kids as possible. So it wouldn't be fair to call Kaleidoscope the "Menudo" of the theatre world.

With the dinner shows, it can be like "getting the band back together". Here we have a wide range of performers, most of which have been with the company for quite some time. It's a lot of the people that have seen the company grow over the course of thirty years and now we've put these people in a room and told them to have fun. That is where the "fast-paced" comes in. Doing the show is like getting back on a bike for most of the performers. Just give them a minute and every line and movement will come flooding back. This is no longer a rehearsal, it is a jam session. Chaos usually ensues pretty quickly. But its a good kind of chaos. And its a chaos that one can actually step into and not get hurt because this regime is in fact a family. Kaleidoscope isn't a company made up of employees or volunteers but members of a family. You can see it very quickly when you step into the performance space and go over your part for the first time while most of the others have done their respective part many times before. And despite the fact that they know what they are doing, they are very willing to see what you bring to the table.

For those of you reading, I ask you to consider this: going out into the acting world may not always be welcoming. You might run into a group that are only concerned about reputation, fame, and money when it comes to theatre. Those people may only choose to work with you on a strictly professional level. In other words, it will never be about the goofs during rehearsal, or the long tech nights, or get-togethers after a show. Not that the whole theatre world is that grim, but parts of it can be. But once in a while, you find a place like Kaleidoscope and you can be a part of a greater thing. Something that surpasses the standing ovations and autograph lines. It is the ability to become a family and the ability to keep people in your heart for years to come. For those of you fortunate enough to become a member of this family, no matter what happens, remember that you can come home anytime.

Next time, Snow White and seven kids that will climb on you like a jungle gym, all the while singing songs of you and your significant other showing public displays of affection in a nearby red maple (aka "Jamie and Ryan sittin' in a tree...").

In the words of Garrison Keillor, "be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

What's your favorite fairytale?