Month: April 2015

Blog: Holding the Madhouse Mirror Up to Nature

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Blog by Allison Bloechl
Ensemble Cast Member of Don Quixote 

Theatre-making starts with an empty canvas of a stage.  It is the job of the theatre-maker to fill that stage with life.  But what kind of life?For many productions, stage life is carefully crafted to be an exact replica of our own.  Think of Shakespeare’s Hamlet line “holding the mirror up to nature”. Such shows created in the styles of realism and naturalism usually do not depart from the natural laws of our (the audience’s) world.  

Hedgerow Theatre’s upcoming production of Don Quixote, written by Keith Dewhurst and directed by Jared Reed, does not fall into a realistic style.  Our world here at Hedgerow is different.


The production (much like the novel it is based on) is whimsical, fanciful and somewhat insane.  Much like the wanderings of Don Quixote’s mind, the show veers sharply away from traditional laws of reality.  The audience is meant to see a world off-kilter through the eyes of a loveable, and notable, madman.


This is one of the huge joys, but also immense challenges, the actors face while bringing this fantastical story to life.  In initial rehearsals, we were encouraged to make the biggest, boldest and possibly most ridiculous choices imaginable as we created our many different characters; it is well known in the theatre world it is always easier to do less than to do more.  


After much experimentation, a few weeks of rehearsal and many shared laughs, the once-extreme choices began to feel right.  We were beginning to home in on just what style of un-reality we are looking for.  What originally may have felt absurd at the table or on an empty stage now becomes the norm as we begin to incorporate over-the-top costume pieces and shadow puppetry into rehearsals.  

While many actors don’t feel complete in their characters without their costumes, for me the introduction of our set has been instrumental.   Consisting of four moveable and asymmetrical screens on which our shadow puppets are played, the set defines the type of world the characters live in.  It is one of whimsy and ephemerality – here one minute and gone the next.   Like the puppets and the screens, our characters change with every scene.  

As we continue our rehearsals we look to further true-up the style of our world.  To true something up is to make it even, level and symmetrical.  It is a term frequently associated with carpentry.   In our system of reality, truing-up means making sure everyone is functioning in the same level of un-realness: ensuring each scene’s absurdity or clownishness is to the same degree.

The reality of the show fluctuates, much as Don Quixote’s lucidity does.   One scene involves complete clownery, another takes place in a normal world.  Yet another crescendos from a moderate level of fancy to absolute madness.   


We experience this world in flux through the fever-dream of Don Quixote’s mind.  Clarifying and specifying which world we are in and when has been at times challenging, but ultimately, quite rewarding.  We are holding a mirror up to nature – it just so happens to be a funhouse mirror. 

Photo by Ashley Labonde from A Murder Has Been Arranged.




Letter: It was a Great Gatsby Gala

Dear Friends,


What a fabulous time we had celebrating Hedgerow’s 92nd birthday at our Roaring 20s Great Gatsby Gala! It was a magical evening from start to finish, and thanks to the dedication, hard work, support and generosity of so many of you, a huge success earning us $37,500!


Wonderful memories of that glorious night abound. Aronomink Golf Club provided us with a beautiful setting and delicious food;  the sensational band 22 Park Avenue kept us entertained and on our feet dancing, amazing items were bid in the dignified silent and lively live auctions.


And, of course, as the highlight of the event, we were thrilled to honor our longtime friend and supporter Suzanne Roberts with the inaugural Jasper Deeter Lifetime Achievement Award. Suzanne embodies Hedgerow’s values of generosity, daring and excellence, as an actress, board member emeritus, and leader in our artistic renaissance. Through her outstanding support of the arts, education and public health, she has contributed greatly, not just to Hedgerow, but to the betterment of society.


There are so many people to whom we are grateful for making the evening so outstanding: To name just a few: board member Stuart Salsbury, who worked tirelessly as the event chair; Larry Goren and OnSite Innovations, our Presenting Sponsor, who provided enormous stimulus for the success of the event; PricewaterhouseCoopers, our Platinum Sponsor; Jayne Garrison, whose vision and choices helped guide the gala;  Hedgerow President Debbi Bromley, who kept us on track; Susan Albrecht, Florence Brown, Cecille Charlton, John Hodge, Ann Byun and many, many others.Hedgerow Company Members and Neumann students were on the scene to bless the evening’s festivities; Kelly Ryan of Stage 3 Productions and Melissa Rapine from Center City Film & Video, who created the video tribute to Suzanne; David Sibley of On Video, who oversaw all of the video technology; Ari Baker, who put together a PowerPoint presentation on Suzanne; and Scott Davidson of Vision Stream Studios, who designed all of the print materials, printed by Michael Taylor of Minuteman Press.


It’s delightful to see that Hedgerow, which began with Jasper Deeter’s idea that “if we can’t play in the borough hall, we’ll play in the hedgerows,” can at 92 play almost anywhere brilliantly. As Artistic Director Jared Reed shared our vision at the gala, Hedgerow is about company-created theatre, both on stage and in the classroom.


Thanks to all who came and who have supported us over the years. I invited you to save the date, April 23, 2016, and bring your beads and masks to our Hedgerow Mardi Gras celebration of our 93rd birthday!


Fondly, 



Penelope Reed, 
Executive Director, Ambassador at large.




Chivalry Reigns in Hedgerow Theatre’s Don Quixote

Chivalry Reigns in Hedgerow Theatre’s Don Quixote


Hedgerow Theatre will be the site of feats of derring do and acts of valiant courage as it stages Keith Dewhurst’s adaptation of Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote from May 7 to June 7.


The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, published in two parts in 1605 and 1615 by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, is considered one of the most influential pieces of literature of all time. It’s the epic saga of a Spanish nobleman who becomes so enthralled with the chivalric novels he reads, that he loses touch with reality and believes a knight errant. He sets out on a series of adventures, determined to rid the world of evil and bring justice to all, aided by his faithful squire, Sancho Panza.


The wonderfully entertaining story has been retold in numerous forms, including movies and a Broadway musical. This version by British playwright Dewhurst, which features 23 short scenes in two acts, was hailed at its 1982 London premiere for retaining the language, humor and grandeur of Cervantes’ work in “a splendid ensemble showcase,” with Paul Scofield in the title role.


At Hedgerow, that part is played by Brian McCann, who was last on stage there in a critically praised portrayal of MacDuff in Macbeth in 1913. McCann, a classically trained actor with more than 20 years experience in the Philadelphia area, was a Hedgerow resident company member in 1994, and is thrilled to be back in what he considers “a bucket list role.” He’s joined by veteran actor and audience favorite Zoran Kovcic as the stalwart Sancho Panza.


All of the other characters will be played by members of the Hedgerow company, who will have multiple roles and acting as puppeteers. In the cast are Jennifer Summerfield, last seen in On the Verge; Hedgerow Fellows Allison Bloechl, Lily Dwoskin, Colleen Marker and Brock D. Vickers, who were all in the recent A Murder Has Been Arranged; 37-year veteran Susan Wefel; and newest company member Devon Walls, the founder of the Artist Warehouse in Chester.


Describing his take on Don Quixote, Juilliard-trained director Jared Reed said, “We’ve used Dewhurst’s play as a springboard for our own ensemble troupe of players and focused on just one of the themes of Cervantes’ masterpiece: What is a life well lived?” To do that, he continued, “we have employed all the epic qualities of theatre– actors playing multiple roles, puppets, shadow play, imagination, humor, and wrapped our brains around this theme. We have encouraged our designers and actors to use their imaginations to draw the fantastic from their talents and create a world that is wholly theatrical and totally human.”


Referring to the famous scene in which Quixote tilts at windmills, Reed added, “Don Quixote, for us, is about living a life where it is all-right to feel that the windmills we all fight are worthwhile, and even if they are windmill to others, which we acknowledge, they are terrible giants to us.”


Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows are $34; Thursday shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under are $20 and $15 for students with valid ID. Tickets for the previews on May 7 and 8 are $20 for adults and $15 for students. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).


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Video: The Charleston (sort of)

Need some encouragement that you too can bust out the 1930s sensation? Come cut a rug with us this weekend and show us how the Charleston is REALLY done. 

Top 5: Carl Smith

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CARL SMITH is delighted to be performing again with Live On Stage.  A native of Texas, Carl has been living and working in greater Philly for five years with theatres such as Bristol Riverside, People’s Light, Broadway Theatre of Pitman, The Arden, and right here at Hedgerow. Recent productions include The Mystery Of Irma Vep, Rent, Pride and Prejudice, and The Trip To Bountiful.  Love to God, Sarah, Mom, Dad, Hus and Lee.  www.carlnsmith.com

And Now, Carl’s TOP 5:


1.  Les Miserables
2.  Ragtime
3.  Curtains
4.  South Pacific
5.  Crazy For You

1.  ”Music Of The Night” – Phantom (ALW)
2.  ”Go The Distance” – Hercules
3.  ”Can’t Help Falling In Love” – All Shook Up
4.  ”Moonshine Lullabye” – Annie Get Your Gun
5.  ”Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” – Guys And Dolls


Video: Great Gatsby Gala

We’re Wishing Hedgerow a Happy Birthday! Come and sing with us this Saturday!

Top 5: Megan Pisors

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MEGAN PISORS is happy to be back with Live On Stage Productions after performing in He said/She Said this past February, and to be making her Hedgerow debut! Broadway Theatre of Pitman credits include the Perry-nominated My Way, Laurey Williams in Oklahoma!and Polly Potter in The Cocoanuts. Most recently, Megan was seen as Inga in Young Frankenstein: the Musical at the Ritz Theatre and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes at the Candlelight Theatre. Love to mRm and this fantastic cast! [MeganPisors.com]








And now, Megan’s Top 5 Musicals

1. Into the Woods

2. Big Fish

3. Memphis

4. Thoroughly Modern Millie

5. Bonnie & Clyde

 

Top 5 Songs (from a musical)

1.  ”More to the Story” from Shrek

2.  ”Some Things are Meant to Be” from Little Women

3. “Kiss Me/Ladies in their Sensitivities” Quartet from Sweeney Todd

4.” Finale” from Chaplin

5. “Greatest Star” from Funny Girl (specifically with the incomparable Barbara Streisand)