Anniversary Announcement No. 1

Seussical the Musical, the Summer 2016 show of WCT’s “A Season to Remember” will be the inaugural production of the newest Whidbey Children’s Theater program, Summer Classic.

Seussical will open Thursday, July 28 and run through Sunday, August 7th and is dedicated to the Theater’s Tech Director, Rod Stewart for his many years of generous devotion.

The annual Summer Classic program will run with a different production each summer as a revival of the family-oriented, mixed-age productions from WCT’s history. An exclusive number of “adult” registration slots are available to WCT Alum, parents, guardians, and community members.

It is both satisfying and exhilarating to bring back this slice of WCT’s past. For years, WCT brought families together on stage to share the experiences—the fun and camaraderie—of theater. We are really looking forward to raising our curtains for a reprise of that magic!
— Cait Cassée, Executive Director
It is especially exciting to introduce this program that is so directly inspired by our past at this time. The Summer Classic is still a part of our season, but with a sort of specialty added. Once a year, we get to invite alum, community members, and the adults in the lives of our actors to experience that magic of theater alongside our youth actors. It will be an invaluable experience for our year-round actors who are used to sharing the stage with their peers. Now they get to share the stage with mentors and in some cases, their parents and guardians!
— Kathryn Lynn Morgen, Program & Production Manager

The Summer Classic program was developed by Kathryn Lynn Morgen and Cait Cassée, with inspiration from WCT Alum Family Member, Melinda Mack.

This year’s Summer Classic production, Seussical the Musical, begins rehearsals after Memorial Day for three days a week. Registration for Seussical the Musical begins Wednesday, February 24th at 10:00 am and is available online, by phone, and in person at Whidbey Children’s Theater. Registration is open to grades 3 - 12 and an exclusive number of adult roles will also be available.

More details will be announced at the beginning of February.

3 on the 5th for our 35th

WCT35.jpg

It's here! We've entered 2016, our 35th Anniversary Year!

To celebrate, we have been planning THREE exciting announcements (one per day) starting on January 5th—that's tomorrow!

In other words, get ready for some great news. We'll post the announcements here on our blog, on Facebook, and send them out in our email newsletter. So you'll get the news no matter how you prefer to receive your exclusive Whidbey Children's Theater info!

Reflections on The Mousetrap

From the Director, David Mayer
All photos by Lucy Brown

A long path has wound itself to the next crossroads. The high school kids of WCT and I began a journey in late September, not all with the same goals, but all ready to have fun and experience something new.

For me, it was the first time directing a play in full, and I relished the opportunity to work with kids old enough to learn and apply specific technique to their innate and WCT-nourished capacity for play. I wanted to be a part of the bridging from children's to adult theatre, helping to develop talent and skill, while encouraging finding joys that I had dug up in my time working the craft. Yes, any play comes stocked with that "away at camp" feeling, and the opportunity to create lasting friendships, and the chance to live through many sets of eyes boldly in front of the world and then go back into hiding when we are done; and, of course, the rush of the applause. But there are also joys to be found in unraveling the mysteries laid out by the writer; in finding abilities we didn't realize could be taught; in knowing that you are creating something and someone new and almost real... real enough to pull each viewer in for their own emotional experience; and in happening upon those transcendent moments that, like the perfect chord or color at just the right time, seem to break down the walls between technical requirements and the realm of magic. All this and more lie in wait for those willing to put in immense work. I hoped to give all of these gifts to my charges.

For the actors, well, I can't speak for them. I know we had those who had never acted in anything other than children's shows; and one who had never acted a lick at all. Coming in, some may have suspected we'd just be putting on a show, and they knew that process. But the length of time we had to prepare gave us the opportunity to really workshop the craft, and to slowly build characters and stories bit-by-bit. And when traveling the more well-known road of blocking and scene work, they were brought more deeply into the process than most productions of any kind get a chance to. Suggestions explained and options often given, so that the actors could think and apply, solve problems, and act with confidence. My mantra was to create a safe place actors to be strong and the characters to be vulnerable. And we agreed together to fail big. All of us would make mistakes and learn just how hard it could be at times to prepare to the level that allowed us not to think so much when the curtain rose. We would slowly but surely meld goals: To tell one coherent story, engage the audience, and be there for each other, true to each second.

And you know what? I feel that we did it. I doubt anyone got all the same rewards that they expected going in. But we got new, exciting rewards—the kind that spark lasting memories and stoke fires for the future. I couldn't be more proud or grateful, and I think the actors really feel they gained something beyond a show under the belt.

And so, the path hits not an end but a crossroads. What will I do next with all I've taken in? Rest, process, reflect. And after some more acting, I know I'll direct again. What will each actor choose to do with what they learned and felt? I have a sneaking suspicion we'll see many of them acting again soon, searching for their own joys for which they got a taste in The Mousetrap.


DavidMayer

David Mayer is an actor/writer/director who trained at Freehold Theatre in Seattle and has been walking the boards of South Whidbey for more than a decade.

Who's directing Frampton?

We are so thrilled to announce that our Executive Director, Cait Cassée has agreed to make her solo-directing debut with our March show, Inside Frampton and the Outside World.

Here's what she has to say!

After a stint on stage as a flying monkey, tapping out “Put On a Happy Face”, a smidge of “Swan Lake”, and some piano recitals, I had my first straight-up acting gig for the San Anselmo Parks & Rec production of Guys and Dolls when I was 11 or so. I was cast as - and worked earnestly to portray - both a Hat Box Dancer (think Can-Can girl) and General Matilda B. Cartwright, the head of the Salvation Army. It may be that the casting directors sensed my innate ambivalence, but I prefer to think that they simply recognized my range. 

It was quite a range, and falling personally somewhere in the middle of it, as I did, I had to work hard to not bat my eyelashes seductively at my Salvation Army troops nor look uncomfortable in my short shorts and straw hat during “Bushel and a Peck”. Being rather tom-boyish at the time, both were a stretch for me.

Like me, Whidbey Children’s Theater falls somewhere in-between. Neither Parks & Rec nor Broadway, WCT has a beloved after-school theater program as well as a responsibility to bridge the theater education gap.

Five years ago my daughter, Miranda, needed a lifeline. Already in love with all things WCT, she signed up to be in the first Pacific Northwest performance of the award winning Inside Frampton and the Outside World and her world changed. Frampton, written by Susannah Rose Woods, is a heart-warming, endearing story full of characters we can all relate to. It’s about finding out who you are, learning to trust yourself, and look beyond image and appearance to find the true friends around you. It was a magnificent, life changing experience for my daughter then, and it is with so much joy and anticipation that I take it on this season as my first solo-directing gig for Whidbey Children’s Theater.

There is no question that both this play, and its author - WCT’s original Frampton director in 2011, Rose Woods - have played an enormous role in my life and my family. As has this theater. I am excited beyond words to get to work with the amazing talents of Rod Stewart (Tech Director), Kathryn Morgen (Set Designer), Melanie Lowey (Musical Director), Jody Harrison (Costume Designer), the incredible cast already assembling, and my own Miranda, back this time as Stage Manager, my right hand.


Inside Frampton and the Outside World is NOW REGISTERING youth actors Grades 6 - 8. Rehearsals begin in January and performances run March 11 - 20, 2016. For information or to register online, CLICK HERE.

Sisters in the Arts

Being a theater administrator is like being a parent of multiple sets of quintuplets. Up at all hours with unexpected challenges, celebrating benchmarks with glitter and cake, being really thrifty, drying tears, and giving - and receiving - many, many hugs. You form close, family-like bonds with the people you work with, and we are thrilled to announce an exciting collaboration with our dear friends at Island Shakespeare Festival.

  Andrew Grenier leads Second Sunday students in a workshop

Andrew Grenier leads Second Sunday students in a workshop

For decades WCT has brought theater to the young people in this community through vital teen programs like The 3rd Street Players and, more recently, Second Sunday, our expanded training program for high schoolers. We’ve worked hard to revitalize our program to challenge and inspire the young adults who want to take their theater skills to the next level. This past summer, the executive boards of ISF and WCT came together to bring Classic Conservatory for Young Adults (CCYA) to WCT.

Moving CCYA from ISF to WCT achieves some very significant and wonderful things:

  WCT Alum and ISF Marketing Director Olena Hodges teaches a CCYA scansion workshop.

WCT Alum and ISF Marketing Director Olena Hodges teaches a CCYA scansion workshop.

* We’re listening! WCT and ISF Board & Staff care deeply about our participants and our donors. We are committed to what’s best for our community. Young adults need quality theater programs like CCYA, and the limited resources of both non-profit theater companies want to make the best, most appropriate and relevant use of donor contributions. 

* Theater programming for youth is WCT’s mission. It is our singular focus and what we fundraise for.

  ISF Artistic Director Rose Woods teaches stage combat to WCT cast of Puss in Boots, June 2014

ISF Artistic Director Rose Woods teaches stage combat to WCT cast of Puss in Boots, June 2014

* The roots of CCYA are firmly footed in WCT’s long history of youth theater programming, including the participation of CCYA founder Eric Mulholland (who worked for WCT in AD/ED capacities), and many ISF company members like Olena Hodges, Ahna Dunn-Wilder, Zora Lungren, Matt Bell and more... We even share a Tech Director!

* We have hosted CCYA auditions each year, and  rehearsals for their inaugural show, The Importance of Being Earnest were held at WCT. It’s familiar territory!The continuation of the CCYA program is important to both companies, and to our community of young adults. It is an effective, dynamic program and CCYA fans can rest assured that WCT does not intend to modify it. 

This is a true collaboration. WCT & ISF are thrilled to be working together to continue bringing outstanding theater to all ages, to honor our donors and implement our missions for the health of our community!

A classic show returns to WCT

We've made an exciting change! As you may know, we've been planning to present an original play this year, titled The Sweet and Salty Salish Sea for a middle school cast in March 2016. Though we are in love with the developing story and characters, we've found that the script isn't ready for the stage just yet.

While are sad to lose Salish, we are more than thrilled to be able to to bring back a WCT favorite:

  Inside Frampton and the Outside World at WCT, 2011 | Photo by Patricia Duff

Inside Frampton and the Outside World at WCT, 2011 | Photo by Patricia Duff

Inside Frampton and the Outside World

This wonderful musical tells the amazing story of Frampton, the three-legged house cat that finds himself on a great adventure in The Outside World. Written by Rose Woods and originally staged at WCT in 2011, this is a fun, exciting and touching play that will delight actors and audiences alike.

SIGN-UPS FOR "FRAMPTON" WILL BEGIN ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH @ 10AM

Tribe

We talk a lot about how Whidbey Children’s Theater changes kids’ lives, how it gives them a home away from home, a place to feel like they belong. And, it does. My kid is living proof. Bullied out of middle school, Grace found her tribe here at WCT, and in the process found her passion. We are incredibly grateful.

The thing is, I found my tribe here, too.

When we moved to the Island five years ago, the kids had the built-in social scene of school to introduce them to new friends and activities. But, for me, I felt my newbie status acutely. This place is small, and insular, and for the first couple years I felt like the only friends I had were the ones I paid to spend time with me: my hair cutter, my massage therapist, my gardener, my handyman.  

The Little Mermaid Curtain Call
April 2014 | Photo: Peter Carey

So, when my daughter Grace found herself in the cast of The Little Mermaid a couple summers ago, I found myself standing in a lobby full of parents whom I didn’t know. And, like any group of grown ups who know each other, there was a camaraderie and familiarity that felt clubby and warm. I stood there feeling self-conscious, an outsider yet again, when an amazing thing happened. I was welcomed into the fold. Granted, it was in the form of a volunteer request, but still. I was seen, I was accepted, and after a couple stints as an usher, I was known.

What I found when I began volunteering were a bunch of parents with wacky kids like mine: kids that didn’t fit the assigned molds, that were bigger than life, or finding their voice and confidence on stage. These were my people! Parents who saw and celebrated these wild, wonderful children.  Parents who did their best, got discouraged, but kept showing up. Parents who welcomed each other and each other’s kids into their lives. A community. A tribe.  

Fast forward—through a few more shows and a lot more volunteering—and I have truly found my home away from home, helping WCT stay financially healthy as their Fund Development Coordinator. I get to combine my professional skills with my commitment to the theater. I get to help guarantee, that even after my daughter is launched into adulthood, WCT will still be around helping kids find their voice and their tribe. But, best of all, I get to spend even more time with these people I love, who have become not just friends, but family. 


Penny Webb is a full-time mom, a some-time musician, a part-time writer, a fair-weather gardener, and an all-the-time cheerleader for WCT. She enjoys romantic walks on the beach, back rubs by the fire, and piña coladas. In theory anyway, since her whole life revolves around her children, who she thinks are the coolest people on the planet.  

What's your jam?

WCT's Monster Mash Dance-a-thon 2015 is right around the corner and we are gearing up for some serious grooving over here! So, we wanna know: what's your jam? 

The Hustle? Dancing Queen? Uptown Funk? Shake it Off? THRILLER?! (Just kidding, we'll obviously already be playing Thriller since it's a Halloween Party.)

Request a song, then join us for a graveyard smash on Saturday, October 24 at Bayview Hall to help raise funds for Whidbey Children's Theater. 

Don a costume (there's a contest!), bring a friend, and DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY!

Name
Name
(Your name is not required, but if your song is played, we'll give you a shout-out!)
We can't guarantee your song(s) will be played, but we'll do our best to make it happen! (Provide as many songs as you like, songs must be non-explicit, appropriate for all ages.)

A WCTeen Plot Twist!

MousetrapAnnouncement

Happy 125th Birthday to the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie!

Whidbey Children's Theater was originally set to produce Christie's infamous crime show And Then There Were None this December, but we are happy to announce that we have replaced it with The Mousetrap—the longest running play of all time!

The Mousetrap is set in the winter, better-suited to our casting, and is an all-around more exciting play with rich history. :)

From Wikipedia: "The Mousetrap opened in the West End of London in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. It has by far the longest initial run of any play in history, with its 25,000th performance taking place on 18 November 2012. It is the longest running show (of any type) of the modern era."

Read more about the history of The Mousetrap, now in its 63rd year, at the official website.

Then tell your friends and come see the WCTeen Black Box Production of The Mousetrap this December!

Sommer Harris shares her experiences with Whidbey and the world of Bhutan

“Theater is an incredible experience for building confidence in young people.” Sommer Harris, a 2012 graduate of South Whidbey High School and a participant in the Whidbey Children’s Theater (WCT) from when she was six years of age, believes that WCT, has been a major influence in her life.