Letters from Backstage: Mira Taichman

27 Oct

We are so excited to be working on our fall show, The Shadow Box! To celebrate, we’re kicking off a new series of posts to give you a sneak peek into our weird and wonderful world of theatre. Today we hear from Mira Taichman, our illustrious director!

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Mira in Quadramics’ 2014 production of HAIR.

Hi!

My name is Mira Taichman, and I’m the lucky kid with the incredible opportunity to direct Front Row Theatre Company’s fall production of The Shadow Box. This show follows three families as they deal with diagnoses of terminal cancer. But this is not a play about dying. The way I see it, this is a play about learning to take care of ourselves and the people we love. How do you show love and support for someone in a crisis? How do you forgive yourself for not knowing how? The Shadow Box exposes that nobody knows what to do in the face of adversity, and it is okay to mess up along the way. At a high-pressure school like Penn, where everyone needs to look like they’ve got everything all figured out, this play is a comforting reminder that sometimes we blunder through life— we destroy relationships we care about, we miss out on opportunities, we have regrets, we make mistakes—and that is okay. The Shadow Box helps us accept ourselves, flaws and all, and to realize that every life—no matter how imperfect it may be—is worth the struggle.

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Stage Manager Julianna (left) and Assistant Stage Manager Shailly (right).

Needless to say, I fell in love with this play the first time I read it last spring, and I am more and more excited by it with every rehearsal. As director, I get to pull together all the pieces of the play—the acting, the lights, the set, the music, the costumes—under one creative vision. The best part about this job is that I get to work with each actor, designer, and board member and watch all of their creative processes. We have such a talented team of people working on this production, and I get to be there for every step of the way. One of my favorite parts of directing is learning how each individual actor works—for instance, an exercise that helps one actor connect with his or her character might not work at all for somebody else, so I need to come up with different ways of helping each performer do his or her best. This means that I get to know each actor on a very personal level, and I am so lucky to have that opportunity. The actors are crazy talented and hardworking, and they make thisdesignersrun process so rewarding for me. Also, huge shout out to the goddess who sits next to me in every rehearsal, our lovely stage manager Julianna. That girl saves my life on a daily basis and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

I am so excited to watch the production continue coming together as we approach tech week! Can’t wait to see you all on opening night!

Much love,
Mira

Come see The Shadow Box on November 6-8! 
Stay tuned for more updates as we get this show on the road!

Letters from Backstage: Adrienne Bell-Koch

24 Oct

We are so excited to be working on our fall show, The Shadow Box! To celebrate, we’re kicking off a new series of posts to give you a sneak peek into our weird and wonderful world of theatre. Today we hear from Adrienne Bell-Koch, our set designer and Front Row’s technical director!

Hey y’all!FullSizeRender

I’m the set designer, and tech director, for FTC. I want to tell you about a day in the life of a set designer, and, by extension, a day in the life of my master carpenter, Carson, because I couldn’t get through it without him.

At 5:15 pm last Wednesday we arrived at Monarch Hardware, the local family owned hardware store. We poured over paint chips and colors. We had talked about the color scheme before coming but handling and seeing all the colors side-by-side always changes your original ideas a little! We ended up b.s.-ing with one of the owners while he mixed the paint colors. We came out under budget even after buying additional supplies such as brushes and rollers!

At the PAC shop, we opened up the colors and tested them out. Unfortunately, they always look a little different than you think they will at first. But overall we were really happy with them.

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At 7, our crew of four came (right on time!) and we explained the plan for the day. I showed them the final set design and explained the colors. Together, Carson and I taught them the basics of painting and they quickly and enthusiastically got to work! They also learned how to work efficiently as a team. We had fun, but we were also so efficient that we finished in half the time we had planned. Carson and I decided the best course of action was to let the crew have a break while we mixed a new color for the kitchen walls. When they returned, their energy was restored, and they got the walls painted in 30 minutes!
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The best part of the day was remembering why I love working in the shop. The community that is created when you are all working together towards a common goal is a unique and invigorating experience. I have held roles at all levels of the set “hierarchy” (MC, set crew, and now designer) but I have honestly enjoyed every experience, and the challenges inherent in them, wholeheartedly. There is a reason I basically live in the shop.

FTC Love,

Adrienne

Come see The Shadow Box on November 6-8! 
Stay tuned for more updates as we get this show on the road!

Letters from Backstage: Haley Mankin

15 Oct

We are so excited to be working on our fall show, The Shadow Box! To celebrate, we’re kicking off a new series of posts to give you a sneak peek into our weird and wonderful world of theatre. First up, Haley Mankin, our freshman props designer!

Hi there!FullSizeRender

I’m Haley Mankin, your friendly Front Row props designer! My job consists of procuring everything that you see on stage that isn’t part of the set. In fact, anything that the actors interact with on stage—whether to take out of a bag, write on, or throw at one another —is my responsibility. At the first read through, I underlined everything in the script that needed to appear on stage. Cookies. Medicine. A giant ham. The task seemed overwhelming at first, but with the help of Front Row’s amazing cast and crew, the props began to coalesce.

The first resource I was excited to discover was the PAC shop. I expected a storage room where I might be able to salvage a prop or two. I was mainly hoping to happen upon one key prop, Felicity’s wheelchair. The staff helped me find the wheelchair within minutes, and proceeded to give me a tour of the expansive warehouse. Over the course of three visits, I was able to find almost all of the props I was looking for. These ranged from a checkers game, to milk glasses, to a 90’s style tape recorder.

FullSizeRender 2Most of my other props came from one very strange trip to CVS. I probably looked like I was preparing for a hurricane as I stocked up on jarred goods, office supplies, and several large weekly medicine cases. Some may have been curious as to why a girl could ever want so many tic tacs. I began to question some of the convenience store’s organization methods, but eventually I was able to find almost everything I needed.FullSizeRender 3

The last step of my props quest, and perhaps the most gratifying, was creating the googledoc for contributions from the cast and crew. I posted a list of the remaining items that I couldn’t find in my own basement during fall break, and requested help from everyone involved in The Shadow Box. Seeing the offers appear, along with thoughtful questions and suggestions, was yet another sign of FTC’s kindness and tight knit feel. I can’t wait to see what these props look like in the talented hands of our actors!

Hope to see you at the show!

Haley

 

Come see The Shadow Box on November 6-8! 
Stay tuned for more updates as we get this show on the road!

FTC Proudly Presents the Cast of The Shadow Box!

7 Sep

Front Row Theatre Company is proud to announce the cast of its Fall 2014 show, The Shadow Box!

Maggie: Jillian Karande
Beverly: Angel Chapman
Felicity: Victoria Sutherland
Agnes: Tess Speranza
Brian: Jordan Miller
Joe: Adam Mansell
Mark: Zach St. Louis
The Interviewer: Gray Stanton
Steve: Derek Arbige

Want to get involved? Please come out to our tech interviews on Monday, September 8th from 7-11pm or Tuesday, September 9th from 7-11pm in the Harrison Upper Lobby! No experience necessary – we’d love to work with you!

Auditions and Tech Interviews for The Shadow Box!

31 Aug

This fall, FTC is excited to produce The Shadow Box!

We need talented actors and committed techies! Auditions will be September 2nd and 3rd in the Harrison Basement from 7pm to 11pm each night. Tech interviews will be September 8th and 9th, also from 7pm to 11pm in the Harrison Mezzanine. You don’t need to bring or prepare anything for either auditions or interviews – just stop by at some point on either of the scheduled days!

RSVP for auditions and tech interviews here!

The Shadow Box
Written by Michael Cristofer
Directed by Mira Taichman
Produced by Jessica Schwarz

Auditions:
September 2 and 3
7 to 11pm
Harrison Basement

Tech Interviews:
September 8 and 9
7 to 11pm
Harrison Upper Lobby

No experience needed!

FTC Presents… EDGES

18 Aug

Music and lyrics by JUSTIN PAUL and BENJ PASEK
Directed by BRANDON FLEISCHER
Music Directed by ERIC LIFLAND
Produced by GRAY STANTON
Assistant Produced by GREG OLBERDING

Edges is a song-cycle musical about growth: growing up, growing older, growing apart, growing together. Every song is its own story with its own unique characters, collectively describing the emotional ups and downs of our late teens and early 20s. Through learning to love, learning to let go, learning who they are and learning who they want to be, the characters in Edges reflect the pivotal moments in our lives that help create the people we will become.

RSVP on Facebook!

Saturday, August 23 @ 10 pm
Monday, August 25 @ 8 pm

Heyer Sky Lounge, Harrison College House

Free for freshmen, $8 for everyone else

Edges Poster

FTC’s 2014–2015 Season!

20 May

Front Row Theatre Company is excited to announce our 2014–2015 season!

NSO Show: Edges

Music and lyrics by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek

Directed by Brandon Fleischer

Produced by Gray Stanton

Assistant Produced by Greg Olberding

Edges is a song-cycle musical about growth: growing up, growing older, growing apart, growing together. Every song is its own story with its own unique characters, collectively describing the emotional ups and downs of our late teens and early 20s. Through learning to love, learning to let go, learning who they are and learning who they want to be, the characters in Edges reflect the pivotal moments in our lives that help create the people we will become.

Fall Show: The Shadow Box

Play by Michael Cristofer

Directed by Mira Taichman

Produced by Jessica Schwarz

Three terminal cancer patients dwell in separate cottages on a hospital’s grounds, attended by family and close friends as they await the end. In this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning work dealing with the challenges of impending fate, we not only discover the circumstances of the patients’ last moments, but of their entire lives as well.

Winter Show: Venus in Fur

Play by David Ives

Directed by Zach Baldwin

Produced by Brandon Fleischer

Playwright Thomas Novachek is at a loss. There are simply no actresses talented enough to play his leading lady. Then in walks Vanda, a mysterious siren with the uncanny ability to inhabit his character. All bets are off when the audition quickly escalates into a seductive power play. With loads of cheek and a hint of the erotic, Venus in Fur keeps you on the edge of your seat as you ask, “Who is really in charge here?”

Spring Show: All My Sons

Play by Arthur Miller

Directed by Alex Polyak

Produced by Carson House

Joe Keller, a successful businessman, lives comfortably with his wife, Kate, and son, Chris, in a suburban American neighborhood. They have only one sadness in their lives – the loss of their other son, Larry, in the recently concluded WWII. But when old feelings of guilt and blame get revisited, everyone in the neighborhood is forced to reassess the part they had to play in those tumultuous and unforgivable wartime years.

Stay tuned for more information about auditions and tech interviews!

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