What a difference an audience makes

CASSELTON, N.D. – The Rural Cass Community Theatre’s production of Oliver! came to life on the Central Cass High School stage with its first performance last night.

It’s amazing what a difference it makes performing for an audience.

Your laughter and applause give us the courage and drive to push past our nerves and bring our characters to life!

The actors’ performances were more exciting and energetic than they had been during rehearsals. And when a brief, isolated power outage plunged the pit band into darkness and silenced the musical accompaniment, the actors, especially Dustin Scheer (who plays Fagin), expertly ad libbed to fill the space.

If you haven’t seen it yet, we have performances tonight and tomorrow at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. at the high school in Casselton.

If you have seen it, come back. You might catch something you missed the first time around and you never know what will happen in live theater!

(Photos courtesy Diane Moderow.)

 

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Rural Cass Community Theatre gearing up for Oliver! production

The past few weeks have been a whilrwind of memorizing songs, perfecting lines, and learning to say them in a Cockney accent for participants in the Rural Cass Community Theatre’s upcoming production of Oliver!

The production is truly a community effort. The cast is made up of Cass County residents of all ages. Members of the Casselton, N.D., community are playing alongside Central Cass High School students in the pit band. And the sets and scenery were mostly made by high school students.

The Rural Cass Community Theatre was started last year. Oliver! is the group’s second production.

Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. at Central Cass High School. 

 

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Life After Joseph

Today was my first real day without Joseph in weeks, and while I’ve never been prone to addiction, I think I’m going through musical withdrawal.

It started this morning, when I drove to work and absentmindedly starting singing Joseph songs. At some point along the way it hit me – I could practice all I wanted, and it wouldn’t make any difference. I didn’t have to perform those songs anymore. If I felt like it, I could start singing the wrong harmony, or make up entirely new choreography, and no one except me would ever know. The very thought felt seditious, and yet I knew it was true.

That gave me something to ponder during the work day. I spent my breaks and lunch period today on facebook, tagging photos from the play and stalking some of my newly-friended cast members.

But I don’t think reality truly sunk in until I got home and did…nothing. I was almost in a state of shock. In the past four weeks, I’ve become accustomed to stopping at home just long enough to inhale some supper and grab my script before taking off for Casselton (where I was usually late). I almost didn’t know what to do with all the free time.

I decided to actually cook dinner, which was quite a departure from my usual meal of unheated leftovers. (I decided on about week two of rehearsals that fast food was never fast enough.) After that, I tried doing all the things that I needed to do, or haven’t had time to do lately, like doing the dishes and reading a book. All the while, I could hear the Joseph soundtrack playing in the background of my mind.

And in the end, I finally decided that what I needed to do was write a blog post, talking about Joseph and how much I miss it.

It really was a great month – I had lots of fun at rehearsals, I met some wonderful people, and I was part of a truly amazing show.

I do hope that when next year rolls around, and the Rural Cass County Community Theatre gears up for another show, we pick something with excellent music, because that’s what it’ll take to get these long lists of colors out of my head.

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The closed curtain brings sadness, fond memories for Casselton, North Dakota community theater participant

Today has been a bit of a letdown.

After four weeks of intense rehearsal schedules and four days of stellar performances for the Rural Cass County Community Theater’s inaugural production, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, today I returned to my normal routine.

I had to do my own make up this morning. No bright colors, no glitter, and since I’ve never quite been able to master the art of eyeliner, there’s none of that either.  It is rather boring.

My clothes are a drab brown and cream.  No electric blue jumpsuits with knee-high go-go boots or Egyptian lady dresses with gold collars and belts.

And no one will stand up and cheer or give me flowers for turning in my story at the end of the day, no matter how good it might be.

The past month has been an insane whirlwind of chaotic scheduling. (I actually had to color-coordinate our family’s rehearsal schedules, work schedules, babysitter schedules, visitor schedules and squirts softball games and practices, print them up, and post them on the refrigerator so I wouldn’t forget anything and everyone in the family would know when we had to be where.) It has been a hectic disarray of commotion as I tried to synchronize bedtimes with rehearsal times, make sure meals were not missed, and remember to do laundry so we would have clean clothes to wear (no easy feat in a house with an 8-month-old who continually spits up on clean shirts and wipes strained pea-covered fingers across freshly laundered pants) and vacuum frequently so said 8-month old would not find a stray sequin or an errant grape to cram into his mouth before I could dash to extract it from his clutches.       

Despite the bedlam, this past month has also been incredibly fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning to sing in eight-part harmony while simultaneously trying to keep up with high-school and college students in the dance routines. But the best part has been making new friendships, getting to know the cast and crew, and watching my husband (who played Joseph) and 7-year-old daughter (who was in the children’s chorus) grow as performers.

I know this will be an experience we will all look back on with laughter (like the time the butler’s moustache fell off and when the golden cup broke in two) and fond memories (such as the look my daughter gave my husband when he sang with her at the beginning of the show.)

So, while I’m saddened this year’s show is over, I’m looking forward to next year’s production and all of the adventure that will undoubtedly come with it.

*Photos courtesy Jen Baumgarten.

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Off to an Amazing, Technicolor Start

Last night not only marked the opening night for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, but also the very first performance of the Rural Cass County Community Theatre. That all adds up to a good deal of pressure, especially when playing to a full house. Fortunately, things got off to a great start.

About a month ago, a good opening night seemed completely out of the question. That was during the very first practice for Joseph. I’ve been in my fair share of plays before, and trust me, putting together a musical is quite an undertaking. A four-week schedule struck me as a complete pipe dream.

Fortunately for me, I had underestimated two things – the talent in the cast, and the focus of the directors.

Most of my acting experience has come from doing plays in high school and college, as well as a good bit of community theater. In my experience, the actors in those situations are almost always dedicated and hard-working, but they may or may not possess a good deal of talent. (I remember a community theatre production of Fiddler on the Roof where we practiced a few dance steps over and over, until we could perform them in our sleep, and everybody still managed to end up going in different directions.)

In this cast, though, there really weren’t any weak links. Even in the chorus, everyone was able to carry a tune, possessed a decent sense of rhythm, and could memorize dance routines after a few practices. The first soprano lines in the music were ridiculous, and yet we had an entire section that could hit the notes and make them sound pretty.

I was also very impressed with the organization and focus that went into rehearsals. Theater is a creative endeavor, and so I’ve been to a lot of rehearsals that are pretty much free-flowing and light on direction.

Not for this show. I have to give a lot of credit to Darcy and Lauren Brandenburg, the co-directors. Their schedules were models of efficiency, and their practices ran like clockwork. When they said practice would start at 7, practice started at 7. When they said we’d work on a piece of music for 45 minutes, we worked on it for exactly that long. And when we were at practice, we spent our time practicing, not chatting or goofing off. So
while we didn’t have a long rehearsal period, we made the rehearsals we had count.

Last night, I surprised myself by not even being nervous. Our preview performance on Tuesday had gone smoothly, and I was confident that things would go just as smoothly for opening night. It felt like it couldn’t go any other way – we had all been conditioned to do things a certain way. When this line of music came, we danced. When that song was over, we started the next one. We knew how the show should flow; it would almost take a conscious effort to derail things.

On Wednesday night, things went beautifully. Sure, there was the occasional missed step or off-key note, but nothing worth remembering. Our audience was wonderfully receptive, and laughed and cheered at all the appropriate places. At the end of four very intense weeks of practice, I think that’s the best reward any of us actors could hope for – to hear our friends and family cheer, and to know that the audience enjoyed our show.

Photos courtesy Diane Moderow.

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New community theater in Casselton gearing up for first production

The Rural Cass County Community Theatre, which started this spring in Casselton, N.D.,  is gearing up for the first performance of it’s first production — Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat — tonight.

It’s an exciting cast, as evidenced by our “Pharoah” Logan McLean and promises to be a very entertaining show.

It’s been a lot of work.  I think I’ve lost 4 pounds just in the past couple of weeks with all  the singing and dancing we’ve been doing. Maybe musical theater will catch on as the next hot fitness craze…

But it has also been a lot of fun.  My husband, Tristin Frank, and daughter are also in the show. Tristin is playing Joseph and has been doing a fantastic job.

More than 150  people are involved in the production — from performing on stage to volunteering to work behind the scenes.  We were very impressed and a bit surprised that so many people are volunteering for the first show of a small-town production.  There are 35 high school students and adults in the cast and 45 children participating in the children’s chorus.

The show is at Central Cass High School in Casselton Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for reserved seating and $10 for general admission seating in advance or at the door. Tickets can be ordered by calling 701-347-4289 or emailing rccct@live.com.

      

*All photos courtesy Diane Moderow.

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