Month: November 2015

Celebrate Christmas with Hedgerow Theatre

ACC 2010 (194)

Each year we bring the Delaware Valley community together with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Members of Rose Valley, Media, Swarthmore, Wallingford, Chester, West Chester, and Greater Philadelphia come and join in the Christmas spirit to present this timeless work of love and redemption. From Cratchitt children to  the ghosts of Scrooge’s past, our young actors bring a vibrancy to each and every performance they participate in. Not only are they celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, but they are creating it for Delaware County as well. Check out a few of the quotes from the children who have participated in our past shows to learn why these actors keep Christmas in their heart the whole year round.

Our question:

“What’s important to you about A Christmas Carol at Hedgerow Theatre?”

Their answers:

Bradley Hove, Valley Forge Middle School, Radnor, PA:  “I love Hedgerow; I just really love doing shows.”

Katie Carney, Garnet Valley Middle School, Garnet Valley, PA:  “I like being at Hedgerow and it gets me into a holiday mood; I like plays.”

Rachel Kelly, PA Leadership Cyber Charter School, Chaddsford/Garnet Valley, PA:  “There’s a lot of warmth in the show:  the message and the theme.”

Janet Kelsey, Media Friends School, Rose Valley, PA:  “I like the Cratchet family because they’re so poor but they’re happy.”

Bethany Anderson, Wallingford Elementary, Wallingford, PA:  “How Scrooge is really  mean and turns good.”

Fiona Gorman, Wallingford Elementary, Wallingford, PA:  “I like the songs and how everone works together to make a really good play.”

Maddie Marks, Swarthmore School, Wallingford, PA:  “I’ve read the book A Christmas Carol and I  really love songwriting so I like the music and I like the three ghosts and how they come so I think it’s really cool.”ACC 2010 (253)

Ryan Schaafsma, Delaware County Christian School, Newtown Square, PA:  “I like the songs and I like doing plays and I think I’ll have a good time doing it.”

Ava Schaafsma, Delaware County Christian School, Newtown Square, PA:  “I watched the movie and I liked the movie.”

Kerry Ringiewicz, Regina Luminis Academy, Media, PA:  “The family aspect of it; I think it’s very uplifting and positive.”

Kayla Jurchak, Homeschooled, Chaddsford, PA: “I really like the moral values: it’s never too late to change.”

Gabriella and Mom O’Keefe, Glen Mills, PA:  “It teaches a lesson that’s very important to appreciate everyone and everything around you—without being greedy or mean.”

Eli Dietrich, Homeschooled, Media, PA:  “If you don’t really believe in Christmas then you’re not going to be happy yourself.”

Leo & Talen Draper, Chester Community Charter School, Chester, PA

Mary McGarvey, Garnet Valley Elementary School, Garnet Valley, PA:  “I’ve been in ACC for one year and I’m coming back because I was a solo caroler and I made friends there and had a lot of fun.”

Sarah McGarvey, Garnet Valley High School, Garnet Valley, PA:  “Acting has helped me build my confidence in class—it’s easier to present my projects.”

Blog: Twenty-three Christmases at Hedgerow Theatre

ACC Jared Reed (29)

A Christmas Carol Returns to Hedgerow for the 23rd Year

Hedgerow Theatre continues its holiday tradition with its 23rd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which runs from December 4 to 27, with a world-premiere adaptation written by Artistic Director Jared Reed.

Reed reassures audiences that there will be no major changes to the production, which remains  faithful to Dickens’ tale of the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable, selfish miser whose heart is transformed after he is visited by a series of spirits on Christmas Eve. “The set and basic story will all be familiar,” he confirmed “because it’s a classic just as it is. It isn’t a rewrite, per se, just a script that better suits our company.”

Hedgerow had previously used the version by playwright Nagle Jackson, which he created for the Milwaukee Repertory Company and McCarter Theatre in Princeton. “It’s a fantastic adaptation,” Reed said, “but his script had certain limitations for us since it was designed for those groups. I began to revisit it after I did my one-man show based on Dickens’ reading version, so I decided to to go back to the source material. There are some passages and jokes Nagle chose to cut that I’ve put back in, but we’re still using Dickens’ words just as Nagle did. The dialogue is all true to the original, and the cast will still sing Christmas carols throughout the show.”

Reed also pointed out that he wanted a script that could be used for both of the two very different forms of the show done at Hedgerow. “We do a lot of daytime tours of the play for school groups,” he explained. “Many of the community members who have taken part for years aren’t available during the day since the adults have jobs and the children are in school, so those are performed by our core company with a cast sometimes as small as eight. Our evening shows have huge multigenerational casts as large as 60, so I wanted a script that could fit both of those needs and please our audiences. I’m also directing this year, so I make changes if needed without having to wait for the playwright’s approval.”

One change in this year’s production is the use of puppets to play the ghosts to add what Reed described as an “otherworldly feel.”  “The one thing that never changes,” Reed added, “is that our 1840s grist-mill theatre is still the perfect period-appropriate setting for Dickens’ 1843 story.”

Because of the large number of performances, there are teams of actors to accommodate their schedules and to allow them to play different parts to enhance their experience. Scrooge will be portrayed in all shows by Hedgerow veteran and perennial favorite Zoran Kovcic.

There are still a few dates available to book special performances for schools or other groups. To arrange a time, contact Group Sales Director Art Hunter at 610-565-4211.

Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Monday through Thursday and Saturday twilight 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. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Members can purchase half-price tickets for all shows. 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).

Blog: One Family Secret to the Holidays

ACC 2012 (36)

 

For Bruce and Christine Momjian of Newtown Square, a chance encounter has lead to a 13-year tradition for the holidays at Hedgerow Theatre.

“After moving into our house in 2002, we hired a gentleman from our church to repaint the interior,” recounted Christine. “It was his tradition to attend A Christmas Carol at the Hedgerow each year, and he very generously gave our family tickets as well.”

For the gentlemen who gave the Momjians the tickets, he has now seen them in the show every year since.

“We were hooked.  That got Matthew interested in acting on stage versus movies.  He auditioned for a children’s show during the summer of 2003, and was cast in ‘Snow White and the Little People’.  From then on, we have done so many shows at Hedgerow,” including Charles Dickens’ masterpiece.

Christine and Bruce homeschool their children, so for them they look for opportunities where they can combine learning opportunities and practical application for their children.

“Our children have learned so much from their Hedgerow experience – they’ve learned about who they are, what they can do with their voice, how to work with others, how to be on time, follow a script, be responsible, recover from failure, and understand a character.”

All six of the Momjians, Matthew, Luke, Peter and Catherine along with Bruce and Christine, participate, or have participated in the production. For them, the heartwarming story of Dickens classic tale of the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable, selfish miser whose heart is transformed after he is visited by a series of spirits on Christmas Eve, brings them together and remind them of what Christmas is all about.  

“It brings part of the Christmas message to others. It is fresh with each show.  When I read the Bible, I may have read a passage many times, but each time I notice something new. It’s the same with this show.”

Catherine enjoys the family atmosphere of Hedgerow. For the Momjians A Christmas Carol, and the subsequent shows their family has participated in such as A Little Princess, has allowed them the opportunity to get to know some of the fellows, and perhaps be a support and blessing in their lives.

“It is wonderful to be able to do something all together.  This story allows us the ability to do that.  One year our four children were the Cratchit children.  Matthew (Peter), Luke (Ned), Peter (Tiny Tim), Catherine (Dorrit), and I was Mrs. Cratchit.”

Executive Director Penelope Reed says, “Our program is guided by four core values: company-based storytelling, creativity and critical thinking, professional performance, and kindness in community. Catherine and her family bring such joy to the Hedgerow company – it’s like family inside of family.”

Now a vital part of the Hedgerow Theatre Company, the Momjians have moved participate in more than just the annual re-telling of Scrooge.  Bruce is just finishing a stint on the board of directors, and both parents have volunteered in seemingly every capacity, both on and off stage.

“It is a blessing to do something as a family. Our kids don’t do team sports, but the Hedgerow is something we can all get involved in as a family.”

 

Blog: A Christmas Tradition

ACC 2010 (255)

Hedgerow Theatre continues its holiday tradition with its 23rd annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

The adaptation by Artistic Director Jared Reed is faithful to Dickens’ classic tale of the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable, selfish miser whose heart is transformed after he is visited by a series of spirits on Christmas Eve. The story was first published in 1843, so Hedgerow’s 1840s’ built grist-mill theatre provides the perfect period-appropriate setting for the play, which features a large multi-generational cast and carols.

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Hampshire, England. Moving to London before the age of five, Charles was forced to leave school at a young age in order to work for a Blacking company, helping to earn money for the family’s room and board by pasting labels on pots of boot blacking.

Dickens himself experience some of the inequities depicted in his tale. At the age of 12, he was sent to work in a factory after his father was sent to debtors’ prison. As an adult, he became involved in charities and social issues.

The conditions of his work environment are cited as a source of inspiration for the themes in his novels regarding socioeconomic change and labor conditions. It was only upon inheriting money from a grandparent that he was able to leave the warehouse and attend an academy.

In the summer of 1843, with his works not selling and his life hitting rock bottom, Charles Dickens paid a visit to his sister Fan, and at a town meeting the notion hit him of the profound nature of education to free the poor. The idea of hope and redemption fed his mind, and soon he put away all appointments and passionately grew “A Christmas Carol”, transforming how the holiday is celebrated to this day.

According to Malcolm Andrews, editor of the Dickensian, journal of the Dickens Fellowship, Dickens originally thought of issuing a pamphlet, but chose to write “a holiday fable to highlight the callous indifference of the rich towards what should be their social responsibilities–the idea that we are all one family and should care for others.”

From these humble beginnings, Dickens grew into one of the most reputable English writers of all time, penning famous novels such as “The Adventures of Oliver Twist”, “David Copperfield”, “Great Expectations”, and “A Tale of Two Cities”. Most of the novels penned by Dickens were published on either a weekly or monthly basis in literary journals, allowing each segment to have easy access to cliffhanger endings, as well as being more affordable and accessible to his audience.

Dracula Lives Tonight!

WideEyedStudiosHedgerowDraculaFinalHigh-34

This article first appeared in the DelcoNewsNetwork

An autumn thriller has long been a tradition at Hedgerow Theatre, and it’s starting to become one for Jennifer Summerfield, who is performing in it for the third year in a row. The critically acclaimed Philadelphia actress who began her training at Hedgerow as a teen portrays Dr. Van Helsing in “Dracula,” Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston’s adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel, which runs through Nov. 22.

“Dracula” also marks the second time that Summerfield has faced the challenge of being cast as a character usually played by a man, having appeared as Horatio in last year’s “Hamlet.” “It’s really great that Hedgerow is willing to try different ideas,” she commented. “It never even occurred to me that I’d have the chance to play Van Helsing, but it’s a fun opportunity to approach a very familiar character slightly differently and see how that affects the relationships with the other characters.”

Preparing for the role involved a lot of research into involved a lot of research into the horror genre and the vampire legend, including reading Stoker’s original. “Before I read the book, I was thinking of the character Hugh Jackman played in the movie Van Helsing,” Summerfield laughed, “so I was thinking more of an action hero. I started taking kickboxing lessons, thinking I was going to be really tough. Then I read the book and realized Van Helsing is a very cerebral professor who approaches things from an analytical perspective.”

Director Dan Hodge, co-founder of the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, is a huge horror-film buff, so he was a big help in Summerfield’s preparation. “This is right up Dan’s alley and he came with a lot of ideas,” she said. “He brought in a bunch of his favorite movies, including some Hammer Films from the ’50s that he distributed among the cast for inspiration. I started with The Brides of Dracula with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, who’s so elegant and sophisticated. Dan mentioned that Cushing handles props extremely well, so I’m trying to be as graceful as I can with all my props, like the stakes, garlic and wolfbane.”

Having a female in the role does change the dynamics between some of the characters, Summerfield admitted, “but I think it’s in a good way. I feel it’s a much more natural process for Lucy to confide in Van Helsing woman to woman as I try to figure out the source of her mysterious ailment. There’s also a strong friendship between Lucy’s father, Dr. Seward, so I had to figure out their connection and collaboration. It helps that he’s played by John Lopes, because we’ve worked together before. That was like a shorthand to the Seward-Van Helsing relationship because John and I know each other so well and like each other a lot, and it’s easily translated to the stage.”

There’s also an interesting change in the chemistry between Dracula and the doctor who seeks to destroy him. “When we were rehearsing their big scene, we had to figure how to stage their standoff and whether there would be a sexually charged atmosphere between them,” she recalled, “and even finding out if the Count did bite me how would he do it.”

J Hernandez, who plays Dracula, agreed that he shouldn’t approach Van Helsing as he would a man. “We decided,” she added, “that a vampire would bite either a man or a woman, but it’s definitely a much more sultry approach with a woman.”

Summerfield credits Hodge with helping her find just the right flavor for her character.

“Working with Dan is always fantastic,” she said, “because he doesn’t get locked into ideas. He provides the framework and gives the actors the freedom to explore. He was helpful in guiding us through this very stylized type of theatre, with a lot of saying a line to your partner and then turning out to the audience at the pivotal moment, which I hadn’t done before. He also helped me find my character’s warmth, reminding me that to be successful in helping Lucy, I needed to have a bedside manner with her and be soft sometimes. Dan was able to add moments of real suspense to a well-known story, and it was so well cast. It’s been a blast working with everyone. I hope it’s as much of a fun ride for the audience as it has been for us!”

For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is at 64 Rose Valley Road, Media.

Trailer: Yes, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Despite the ghosts of Halloween still haunting the Hedgerow stage and the emptiness in our bellies not quite filled yet, rehearsals have begun for our 23rd annual, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. At the helm of this years production is adapter and Artistic Director, Jared Reed. Reed’s stunning adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in 2011 was a one-person tour-de-force that brought to life the original language of the beloved classic story. In this year’s full cast experience, Reed is staying true to Dickens’ timeless tale and reminding us to, “…keep Christmas in our hearts the whole year round.”

 

The story was first published in 1843, so Hedgerow’s 1840s’ built grist-mill theatre provides the perfect period-appropriate setting for the play, which features a large multi-generational cast and carols.

Dickens himself experience some of the inequities depicted in his tale. At the age of 12, he was sent to work in a factory after his father was sent to debtors’ prison. As an adult, he became involved in charities and social issues. He was inspired to write A Christmas Carol after visiting a “ragged school” in 1843, a school that offered free education to impoverished inner-city children named for the clothing they wore. According to Malcolm Andrews, editor of the Dickensian, journal of the Dickens Fellowship, Dickens originally thought of issuing a pamphlet, but chose to write “a holiday fable to highlight the callous indifference of the rich towards what should be their social responsibilities–the idea that we are all one family and should care for others.”

Because of the large number of performances, both in the evenings and during the day for school groups, there are teams of actors to accommodate their schedules and to allow them to play different parts to enhance their experience. Scrooge will be portrayed in all shows by Hedgerow veteran and perennial favorite Zoran Kovcic.

There are still a few dates available to book special performances for schools or other groups. To arrange a time, contact Group Sales Director Art Hunter at 610-565-4211.

Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows are $34; Thursday shows are $32. There is a $3 discount for seniors; tickets for students with valid ID and children under 18 are $15. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations, call 610-565-4211, or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org