logoIn the Wings
The Newsletter of The Concord Players, September 2017
Dancing pigeons from The Producers. Photo by Chris Pollari.

The Huddle is October 15 at 7p.m. Come and reconnect with fellow members, meet this year's directors and help us kick off the season!
September 24, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. Concord Orchestra Gala Reception with chamber music featuring Wendy Putnam, Jan Muller-Szeraws, Siri Smedvig, Sonya Ovrutsky-Fensome, Robin Farnsley, and the Concord Orchestra Chamber Players. Free for subscribers, donors, patrons, and supporters. Followed by a delightful reception with food and drink.

If you have not renewed your yearly membership, now is the time.  Your renewal letter was sent in the mail and if you didn't get it, or you have questions about membership in general, please email Corinne at corinne.kinsman@gmail.com  Deadline to get into the 2017-18  membership book is Sept. 15.

She has super powers. Not the cartoon kind, or the movie kind. The real kind. Powers of the brain and the body and the spirit. Powers that propel her to always do more and always do better. She uses her powers for good, and that makes The Concord Players one lucky organization. Amanda Casale is a performer, mathematician, musician, scientist and star athlete. It's no surprise that The Players have snagged her to be a member of The Concord Players Board.
   She calls herself a "dabbler," but her approach is focused and directed. "I really like to keep busy and constantly working on improving myself," she says, "whether that is via continued education, the arts, athletics or some combination thereof." Sounds more like a pro than a dabbler.
   When she's not competing in an Obstacle Course Spartan race, or working or performing, she likes to draw and play with sound engineering, a hobby that was to the Players' great advantage when she worked the board during last season's production of Follies
But about that race: obstacle is the operative word, as in military boot camp. Competitions have names like Rugged Maniac, Savage Race, even Death Race. With that level of tough, there's no doubt that Casale is up to any task she takes on for The Players.
   She came to theatre arts later in the game than most. As a child, she listened with "awe" to her sister Samantha singing, while she stayed busy playing the violin and doing athletics. A break-up right after college prompted her to try something new so she auditioned for the Concord Players production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. True to form, she was undaunted by the "great rejection" of not being cast and continued to try out for other shows. In 2009 she landed a part as Peggy in Godspell with the Nashoba Players and since then has "never looked back."
   One could imagine that the brain of a mathematician/chemical engineer might not be adaptable to the requirements of a stage performer. But asked about how she manages to marry her gifts for art and science so adroitly, Casale replies with modest reserve. "...I can confidently say that there are many very talented people [at MIT] in my line of work," she explains. "...I do believe the affinity for rhythm, acoustics, and structure inherent in some musicians to be astonishingly mathematical. Music theory can be approached in very numerical ways and I love when those two worlds collide."
   She applies that brainy thinking to everything she does, especially when working on a show. "The analyst in me is used to tackling projects in a very methodological way, step-by-step and timely, and I'm easily exasperated when that process diverges.  I will always give everything I can to a show, on stage and behind the scenes," she adds.
   That level of commitment and energy has served her well in varied stage roles. She played a Laker Girl in The Players' 2014 production of Spamalot, Jo March in Little Women for Theatre III and Louise in Gypsy for the Weston Friendly Society. In case you didn't know, Louise transforms into Gypsy Rose Lee (based on the real-life Burlesque stripper) at the end of the show and has a long solo song/dance number involving several fast costume changes. Here's how Amanda describes the choreography: 
   "The entire 9-minute sequence involved nearly 30 cast members who-in addition to performing in their OWN moments of the sequence AND moving set pieces-had to also help me change (sometimes more than once!). One of these changes took place in about 60 seconds, and involved me getting out of my previous costume, sprinting down three flights of stairs, running through the basement, sprinting up three flights of stairs behind the house, getting a new costume on (including new shoes, gloves, dress, and jewelry), and coming through the back of the house completely ready for action. 
   We practiced all through tech week, and that last crazy change just wasn't happening.  We opened on a Saturday, and our director asked if everyone would be willing to come THREE HOURS early to work on that sequence. I was so afraid of how everyone would respond to coming early to work on "my" scene, but to my amazement every single person agreed with enthusiasm. After hours of work just before we opened, we nailed the sequence, and everyone ran into the middle of the house together for a huge group hug. It's not often you have that many people working that hard to make a single moment work, and I will never forget that feeling nor the selflessness of that cast and crew."
   The moment. That's what everyone in theatre knows-that the moment is everything-and Casale knows it better than most. Diagnosed over a decade ago with a minor but scary health issue, the realization that life is finite loomed large in her consciousness. The thought of an early ending prompted her to develop the habits of hard work, self-improvement and spending time with people she loves that drive her now. Every one of her minutes is rich with experience.
   "None of us will ever be the kindest, the smartest, the most talented, the most athletic, the most whatever-adjective-you-choose, person in the world.  But that doesn't mean we can't try to be," she says. See? Super powers.
-Linda McConchie

The consultants for EMACT's DASH awards have a keen eye for excellence, so it makes sense that this year they awarded a special Consultant's Choice award to Allen Bantly and Kerry Morse for their dancing Nazi pigeons in The Producers. If you missed it, too bad, because those birds stole the show. Allen re-worked plastic decoys so that their wings could move on hinges. Then he designed a chicken coop with a perch for the birds to be manipulated by Kerry, the invisible puppeteer behind the coop. The birds danced in rhythm to the tune "In Old Bavaria." Of course Adolf (he had such a big ego)  had to grab all the attention with a winged "Seig Heil!" at the end of the song, proudly displaying the Nazi flag that was hidden under his plastic feathers.     
   Congratulations to Allen and Kerry for their Excellence Award in Mechanical Design, Execution and Performance. Allen also shared a DASH award with colleagues Charlotte Kelley and Linda McConchie for excellence in properties design for The Producers. And Tom Powers took the prize for excellence in sound engineering. It's a well-deserved award for synchronizing vocals, orchestra and sound effects in a performance venue known for its acoustical challenges. Tom mic'd and sound-checked 24 performers for every show and then worked the board so that every word of dialogue, every note sung and every orchestral movement was delivered to the audience in perfect pitch. 

Rehearsals for the Players' production of Michael Frayn's Noises Off have begun. Pratfalls, lost props, dropped lines, late entrances and an excess of sardines are a few of the elements that swirl into a vortex of comedic pandemonium in this side-splitting farce. And there are doors of course. A farce is not a farce without slamming doors.
   Frayn wrote the show in 1982 after watching another of his plays from backstage. He found the chaos of cast and crew behind the scenes funnier than what was happening in front of the audience. He transformed that into a script, and now we can all enjoy what New York Timesstage critic Frank Rich called "the funniest play written in my lifetime." The story presents a show within a show. There are two characters for each actor and no shortage of opportunities for hilarious confusion.
   After collapsing a few times into heaps of merriment, Director Brian Kelly and his cast made it through the first read-through of the script and have already coalesced into a congenial ensemble. Now the work begins as Kelly and the players walk step by step through the intricacies of blocking, timing, door slamming and double-takes.  
   Cast members Jennifer Bubriski, Hannah Clifford, Barbara Douglass, Chris Erath, Adam Leavitt, Jon Linden, Katie Moore, Terry Tamm and Josh Wright are all actors who know how work the joke, find the laugh, deliver the line. They have the advantage of rehearsing from day one on a fully completed set, thanks to designer and builder Allen Bantly. It's an engineering masterpiece, and a character in its own right as part of the narrative. The cast has already bonded with its stairways, doors and rustic country charm and adopted it as one of their own.
   Noises Offdirected by Brian Kelly, opens November 3 and runs for 3 weekends. For tickets go to concordplayers.org
We are planning another London theatre tour, with a day trip to Stratford, for March 4 through 11, 2018. Biennially, since 1989, we have been organizing tours with London Arts Discovery. They have consistently provided great seats to the best productions on offer at the time we are there.  The extras they provide-discussions with actors, directors, production managers, political columnists and critics; tours of out of the way museums and special exhibitions; meals in special places; quality recommendations of what to do in your spare time-have always been top notch.  We hope you will join us for what promises to be another wonderful theatre experience. The tour includes seven nights at the Cavendish Hotel in the heart of St. James's, Full English breakfast daily plus two dinners; six performances; an initial briefing; a political discussion with a columnist from the Daily Telegraph; two post-performance discussions with a leading member of the cast; and a critical round-up with Michael Billington, drama critic of The Guardian;  Coaching is provided to and from Heathrow airport for one specified flight, to and from Stratford, and to and from all events not within easy walking distance, and to and from all sightseeing excursions. We hope you will join us! For further information, please contact Susan Tucker tshabet3@gmail.com

Brian Kelly is directing Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods, with many Concord Players in the cast. The show runs September 8-17 on the Concord Youth Theatre stage at 358 Baker Avenue, Concord, MA 01742. Tickets available at Flyleaftheatre.com
   Katherine Rose (Horlitz) Brown will be appearing in three short plays as part of Standing on Ceremony at the Cranford Dramatic Club Community Theatre, Cranford , N.J., Sept. 7, 8, and 9, 2017. She will also be appearing in The Wild Party at the same theater later in the Fall.