Into The Woods

Happily, Ever After is turned on its head

More photos are on their way.  Also more coming for Bye Bye Birdie. Stay tuned.

The run has finished in front of the largest audiences in years; cast parties had, and set struck. That doesn’t mean that you can’t either relive, albeit sliently, your favorite moments from the one-to-five shows you enjoyed. Didn’t make it to a performance? Please take a few minutes to see how professionally staged Blake’s shows are, and keep checking BlakeStage.org for show dates for the spring performances of the Drama Desk Award-winning Noises Off! and the Blake Children’s Theatre production of McQuadle.

Charming isn’t Sincere and Nice is different than Good. Red looks smashing in Wolf after escaping same. Fairy tales converge, everyone has a Giant time and a few learn something about themselves – if they live…

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This is a rather lengthy but fast-paced musical, full of enough plot and unforgettable characters that you’ll wonder where the time went. It runs 2:40 including a 15-minute intermission so you can go to the lobby and get yourself a treat. Act II is the missing act you never saw in the Jr. version in middle high, and you’ll understand why. You’ll see a little theatrical fog on the stage, so be aware. It adds to the sometimes tense moments in the woods, but pay attention and you’ll learn that moments are what woods are for.

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This will be difficult while you’re sitting there lost in their uncertain world, but on your way out after the show, let it dawn on you that Blake Stage Company cast and crew are really high school students and not touring actors. This isn’t television that allows as many takes as it takes cast to get 20 seconds of lines right; this is theatre – real acting – that demands cast and production crew deliver a complete show, without do-overs, every time, or suffer the consequences. These young people of the critically acclaimed Blake Stage Company, a remarkable production company by any standard, put everything they have on the line, and on the stage, to transport us for a few hours, as my Blake Stage alumni daughter says, from our world into theirs.

These teenagers learn the story, rehearse their lines, choreograph their movements, get filthy and painty and sometimes a little banged up turning plywood, sheets of foam, canvas and paint into stone prison towers and larger-than-life story books with tiny rooms inside. They figure out the art of juggling 18 microphones whose volumes must go up and down at precisely the right moments, practice queuing giant footsteps and burps that have exactly one instant in time to happen, and condition their minds and fingers to create day and night, set your mood, and direct your attention with dozens of lights. And they do it all while going to school full time with the associated studying, testing and you name it. Remember school?

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Now play a game. Spot the thespians before you in this or any other Blake Stage production who, in addition to creating theatrical environments and becoming their characters, are routinely covered in paint – brushed and spattered. Spot the student business director of the Stage Company. Spot the student choreographer. Spot the student costumer. Spot the cast and crew who are also swimmers, gymnasts, equestrians, dancers, oratorical competitors, ball players, student Ambassadors and members of student government, church youth leaders, community volunteers and participants in other endeavors about which you do not have the patience to read. These are the young people who have you in awe that you’re watching a show brought to you by people too young to vote and, in many cases, drive!

None of these musicals, dramas or touring Childrens Theatre productions would happen were it not for our talented and oh-so-highly dedicated artistic and technical directors who, like cast and crew, have families and lives outside of Blake and still make copious time to guide, encourage and otherwise mold our young into actors, actresses and theatre technicians capable of bringing the show to us. The calling to create first-class theatre from the raw material we parents send out our doors in the mornings surely requires a unique blend of the conflicting Sense of Urgency, and Patience.

Notice Mr. D’Anna and our other professional staff during shows. Watch what they do. They watch. They don’t direct, because by the time the curtain opens, it’s too late for that. You may occasionally see one of them at the controls of some technical thing if there aren’t enough students to cover all the bases, but for the largest part, they are audience. They trust that the cast and crew will deliver the show for which they have prepared during the previous six to eight weeks. They also expect them to make the occasional misqueue invisible with spontaneous creativity, because that’s what they teach, because there is no Take 2.

Come out to Blake High School in Silver Spring at 300 Norwood Rd. through November 19, 2016 and take in this hilarious – in places – production brought to you by the Blake Stage Company, under the direction of Michel D’Anna. Tickets are available at the door, and reserved tickets are online at ShowTix4U, and are, without a doubt, the best $13 entertainment bargain in town. The set alone is impressive enough to make the trip, and a show is included! The story books, Rapunzel’s tower and Grandmother’s house are stagecraft at a high level.

Bring your friends! Tell your neighbors! They’ll thank you after the show.

Photos are ready for two dress rehearsals and the first Saturday show. Rehearsal photos are your look into a tiny little bit of the incredibly hard work that goes into the making of these grand productions so that all we have to do is show up and escape reality for a few hours. I’ll photograph and post at least one more show to showcase the characters who are double-cast.

Into The Woods Photos

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