Category Archives: Theater

Benefits of Theatre for Children

Patience and Respect. Standing quietly backstage is not easy.  It requires patience.  But kids eventually learn to respect the performers on stage by not distracting them with their nervous energy.  Adults usually get tired of telling kids to keep quiet, but when they get it, it’s very satisfying.

Facing your fears.  Public speaking is more feared than death by most people.  Theatre gives children an opportunity to face a crowd, speak in front of them, sing a song, and maybe even make them laugh.  A child can forget a line or two and still be supported and loved by their audience.  The reward of applause will whittle away at this fear inspiring confidence, which is the biggest medicine to fear.

Be yourself. In the theatre, everyone is welcome.  Uniqueness is embraced.  Are you loud?  A loner?  Flamboyant?  It seems that kids of all demeanors are accepted as equals.  The freedom to be themselves can take the world off their shoulders and create a zone of comfort that is relieving to those who feel like they don’t fit in.  Also, can you think of another activity where kids are encouraged to be loud and over the top, to speak louder and be “bigger”?  Most of the time, kids are asked to quiet down or be quiet.  While in some instances this is true in theater, for the most part, theatre gives them an outlet to be loud and be heard.

Responsibility.  Ever have the nightmare where you’re an actor, and you forget your lines?  Well, if they don’t want to be embarrassed or slow down rehearsals, kids learn pretty quickly that they need to take responsibility for their part.  A production is a team effort where everyone is counting on each other.  When one part of the team doesn’t function well, it can cause problems. They become part of a team and everyone is counting on one another to be prepared.  This includes backstage crew as well as onstage actors.

No screens allowed!  While there is plenty of technology involved in theatre including tablets and phones, screens are generally not allowed backstage or at rehearsals by the performers or crew who are not using these devices as part of the production.   The kids are experiencing human interaction and improving social skills, which in affect improves their interaction with the audience.  So, regardless of the human interaction aspect, it’s a couple of hours a day of saving some eyesight and posture.

Improves Education. It’s no secret that children who participate in the arts not only do better academically but they also have higher test scores. The arts are a vital part of the developing brain.  Kids will learn the art of language and reading in theatre.  Reading isn’t exactly high on the list of many students anymore considering all that they have at their fingertips, so the art of memorizing lines and reading in theatre can activate that part of their education.

While theatre may seem difficult to fit into a child’s already busy schedule, it’s a valuable option that usually lasts just a few months and can really make a difference.

walkway backdrop

Backdrops for Your Business 

When people hear about our nationally known backdrops, they often immediately envision a theater, stage, or a Broadway show. While this is an accurate vision, we also want our readers to know that we can also provide backdrops for businesses that could take your presentations up a notch. 

trees and tall bushes garden backdropHow Businesses Can Use Backdrops 

Backdrops can create a setting for many different types of businesses. Dance studios, corporate functions, weddings, photo studios, photo booths, storefront product scenes, virtual job fairs, and the list goes on and on. Any one of these scenarios can look more professional, polished, and engaging with a Backdrop from Charles Stewart. 

For example, many dance studios have moved their performances outdoors to accommodate as many audience members as is safe, due to social distancing during this outbreak of the coronavirus. Another example would be seasonal backdrops such as some of our holiday backdrops for photo shoots or photo booths during wedding receptions or for families during this season of holiday picture taking. 

Yet another example of how businesses are thinking outside the box and using backdrops is in the digital world. Many businesses have needed to shift gears toward virtual events such as job fairs, presentations, and performances. These events can be made to look so much better with a setting … thus a backdrop. Not all businesses have access to a green screen studio, so a professionally designed backdrop can create the scene you are hoping to portray. Each backdrop can be delivered directly to the client and set up is easy with our easy to use grommets and tie lines spaced approximately 12-14 inches apart.

Benefits of Backdrops 

Theaters have known for years that the setting of a show can be created wonderfully with a series of backdrops, props, lighting, and amazing costumes. The same can go for your presentation, mini-show, wedding ceremony, photoshoot, or other event that your business may need to pull off during these challenging times. Create the scene you are hoping for with one of our backdrops. 

Backdrops can also create a professional look to any business or performance. If your company is trying to impress clients, this could very well be the way to do so. 

Backdrops, while always associated with Broadway and Off Broadway performances, are also used in so many business settings. Consider our wide selection of backdrops for all of your business needs. 

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What Hamilton Has Taught Us

Most people who experience a live theater production leave with a sense that they learned something, either about themselves or possibly the world around them. The characters, music, and dialog can add up to a moment of epiphany or understanding that few of life’s events can equal. 

One such production that has taken the United States by storm and is rich in life lessons, is the unlikely story of an American hero, politician, and statesman, Alexander Hamilton. In August of 2015, the hit show Hamilton premiered on Broadway. It has experienced an amazing run with productions in New York, Chicago, and London, with a traveling company that toured the U.S. 

Not only is the show wildly popular, but it is nearing the top 10 of highest grossing musicals of all time, and investors have seen returns of over 600%. These are not numbers that would be lost on our financially savvy Alexander Hamilton. 

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Learn From the Past 

The story of Alexander Hamilton is filled with life lessons even though it is set in the late 1700s and early 1800s. One of the biggest lessons of the production is that we can still learn from what happened long ago. Our young country is still grappling with many of the same issues today. 

Take for example, the many instances in the production that makes references to the inequalities among immigrants, women, and people of color. The same theme of disenfranchisement and inequities can be seen in our nation today, as we struggle with how this pandemic is impacting people of color at a higher rate and how our nation has become divided in the protesting of brutality against men and women of color. 

theaterCombine the Old With the New 

Less than a decade ago, if someone had said they were going to write a musical meant for Broadway that would be set during the American Revolutionary War era, but set to contemporary rap and hip-hop-style music, they would have been laughed at. Lin-Manuel Miranda actually was laughed at as he described the production that was yet to be released. 

Yet, just five years after this production hit the stage, no one can imagine that this show would be anything other than spectacular! In fact, adults and children alike are singing the songs of Hamilton word-for-word. 

The lesson here is that by combining the old (historic lessons of the revolution) with the new (musical styles) one can learn deeply about an age that set the tone for our country. Forbes Magazine online stated that, “In Hamilton, a familiar story and an old theatrical genre gets a new perspective with a multi-cultural cast and contemporary music performed at a rapid-fire pace (if Hamilton was sung at the pace of a typical musical, the show would be almost six hours long). On stage, the cast is dressed in period costumes from the neck down, but their hair, their attitudes, and their vocal tone, are very much now.”

No matter what lesson you walked away from Hamilton with, you can probably bet that each theatergoer learned a little about how they feel about our country’s history, immigration, race relations, and the role that women play in all of this. Let us know what you took away from Hamilton in the comments or on our social media page.  

 

Shortest Running Broadway Shows

Heathen!A musical with book by Robert Helpmann and Eaton Magoon Jr and music and lyrics by Eaton Magoon Jr.  The beliefs and needs of two eras in Hawaii — 1819 and 1972 — are compared, with strong similarities emerging.  It ran for 6 Previews and 1 Performance on May 21, 1972 at the Billy Rose Theatre.

 

 

 

 

Cleavage: A musical with book, music, and lyrics by Buddy Sheffield.  It centers around a variety of couples of different ages pursuing love.  It ran for 6 Previews and 1 Performance at the Playhouse Theatre.  It had a successful run in New Orleans, and the day after the lone Broadway performance, it received favorable reviews from the New York Times.

 

 

 

Ring Around the BathtubA play written by Jane Trahey about an Irish American family’s struggles during the Depression era in Chicago.  It ran for 3 Previews and 1 Performance on April 29, 1972 at the Martin Beck Theatre.  The original cast included Elizabeth Ashley and Carole Kane.

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Jones: A musical with book, music, and lyrics by Jill Williams about a lonely young woman creates an imaginary world of animal friends while waiting for the right human male to appear. It also ran for 3 Previews and 1 Performance on February 13, 1974 at the Music Box Theatre.

 

 

 

 

There are a number of shows that played to 7 Previews and 1 Performance.  One of those being I Won’t Dance which was performed at the Helen Hayes Theatre on May 10, 1981This is a play written by Oliver Hailey about a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair who celebrates the recent mysterious murder of his brother and sister-in-law in a diabolic manner.  I point out this play because this is one of three plays written by Oliver Hailey that were cancelled on opening night.

 

 

To put these into context, there have been 36 Broadway shows cancelled after one performance.  I picked the ones above because they had the fewest previews so therefore the fewest performances overall.  A few of the one and done shows were revivals of successful original productions such as Take Me Along and The Ritz.  And just because a show has a short run doesn’t mean they were not successful.  Take the 1986 show Rags.  It ran for 18 Previews and 4 Performances but was nominated for a Tony for Best Musical.  The Lieutenant ran for 7 Previews and 9 Performances in 1975 and was also nominated for a Tony for Best Musical.  And lastly, in 1953, Carnival in Flanders took home the award for Best Actress in a Musical (Dolores Gray) even though it ran for only 6 Performances.  It still remains the shortest lived Tony honored performance ever.

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Can You Get a Broadway Fix From Home? 

With the coronavirus keeping us all away from large gatherings like the movies, malls, and theaters, it may feel like a dismal time for thespians and musical fans. 

We’ll let you in on a little secret. You can get your Broadway fix from home! 

The theater arts world has been hit hard by the current world health crisis. In March of this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with governors across the country took precautions to stop the spread of the virus by closing large gatherings like the ones we are accustomed to seeing along the famed “Great White Way”, and at movie theaters from coast-to-coast. 

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Gatherings of more than a few people have been banned and theaters have taken it a hit financially, not to mention the mental toll on theater lovers who find joy in this form of entertainment. 

Thankfully, the wonder of modern technology and the innovation of talented singers and actors has enabled many of us to enjoy the musicals and shows right from the safety of our own homes. 

The Power of Technology 

Using videoconferencing, many of our Broadway stars are entertaining patrons directly through the technologies we’ve all come to love including Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype.  For instance, on a recent John Krasinski show entitled “Some Good News,” the former “Office” actor set up a Zoom chat with a young fan named Aubrey for the show. Part way through the show he surprised her when Lin-Manuel Miranda, star of the famed Broadway show Hamilton, “crashed” the call along with a cast of characters to sing their smash hit, “Alexander Hamilton.” 

Instances of these live video chats are popping up all over the internet and surprising viewers with new and acoustic renditions of our favorite Broadway songs from musicals across all genres. 

For more viewing options through the Actors Fund on YouTube or their website

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Theater at Home 

If finding a Zoom conference with your favorite Broadway actors isn’t your thing, you may want to try Broadway Theater in your home. Recorded performances can be found online at BroadwayHD (a Netflix form of Broadway), Metropolitan Opera Live Streams, and some amazing one-on-one video chatting opportunities are available at Broadway Plus. Most of these options are free or at least offering free trials for those interested. 

Don’t let this brief intermission (of sorts) keep you from enjoying your favorite theater experiences. Check back with us for more updates on theater openings and opportunities. 

 

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Remembering Our Favorite Musical Shows 

As we discussed in our last blog, going to the theater or local playhouse is not going to be a reality anytime in the near future. Industry insiders don’t anticipate being able to open theaters for many weeks, if not months. Our world has changed, and losing our entertainment outlet is just a small fraction of the way that life has quickly shifted. 

In an effort to keep the lights on Broadway shining, at least in our hearts and minds, we thought this would be a good time to review a few of our favorite musicals and what we loved about them. 

lion drawing The Lion King 

Ranking as one of the highest grossing musicals of all time, The Lion King is a favorite of all ages. The adaptation of the Disney classic is known for its score, fantastic acting, and above all, the stunning costumes that appeal to audiences all over the country. 

Wicked

One of only a few Broadway shows to earn more than $1 billion, Wicked remains the second most successful production of all time. Based loosely on the Wizard of Oz, Wicked is a spectacular show that captures the imagination of every audience that has the privilege of seeing this masterpiece. 

Mama Mia 

One of our personal favorites is the smash Broadway hit Mama Mia. Based on the hit songs from musical group ABBA, Mama Mia ran for 14 years which ranks it as the ninth longest running performance and fourth highest earner.

revolutionary war imageHamilton

Who hasn’t heard of this musical? Hamilton has taken the country by storm and the lyrics of the songs are known by children and adults alike. According to ShowBiz online, “This unique story of our Founding Fathers is an unlikely hit for Broadway as it includes a combination of rap, R&B, hip hop, soul, and show tunes along with non-white actors portraying the main characters. Tickets are sold out for eternity, proving that a little ingenuity was just what Broadway needed.”

Broadway has brought so many of us joy, laughter, and an emotional connection to others, that it would be hard to choose just one show that was everything to everyone. We would love to hear what your favorite Broadway show or musical is and why. Drop us a line in the comments or visit our Facebook page and tell us your thoughts. 

 

Hamilton sign

The Impact of the Coronavirus on the Theater and Entertainment Industry 

On March 21, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered New York City’s theaters to indefinitely shutter due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the weeks that followed, the 41 Broadway theaters that housed shows such as Hamilton, Lion King, Mama Mia, and The Book of Mormon, have been completely in the dark. 

Recent reports in the New York Times expressed hope that the curtains may be able to rise soon. Initially, theater leaders thought it may be possible to consider reopening mid April. Obviously that optimistic date has since come and gone with the pandemic numbers not showing much improvement in the Big Apple or across the nation. 

sorry we are closed signAt an early April news conference, the Broadway League, a trade association representing producers and theater owners, said the 41 Broadway houses would remain shuttered at least through June 7, 2020. Insiders say that even this date is being too optimistic. They are mentally hoping for a potential July 4th opening to kick off the summer. In reality, the course the virus takes will be the determining factor that will signal the approval for reopening the theaters in NYC and across our nation. 

The shuttering of Broadway will be felt both economically and emotionally for weeks, if not months. The loss of performances and jobs has been and will continue to be devastating for the entire theater industry including: actors, performers, costume makers, choreographers, sound & light technicians, and the thousands of vendors that make Broadway thrive. 

empty bus stop The economic impact promises not only to cause hardship for the people within the theater industry but all will have a ripple effect to other areas. Those employed in the industry may have trouble paying rent, keeping up with bills, or providing for their family. These ripples of economic pain could go on and on. 

Emotionally, it’s crippling to see one of America’s institutions go dark. It is an all-to-painful reminder that our world has changed so incredibly much in the blink of an eye. The loss of jobs, while staggering, is nothing compared to the loss of entertainment that can soothe the soul, make us smile, and let us show our emotions freely. 

Until the time that we can go enmasse to theaters, it is our country’s duty to support this integral part of the fabric of our nation. For a limited time you will be able to find Broadway shows online in full video. Follow the link to get your favorite show right in the safety of your living room. Enjoy, and remember to do your part to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this pandemic. 

 

mental health made with scrabble pieces

How Theater Can Improve Our Mental Health 

The world is still grappling with the global Coronavirus pandemic. Lives have been lost, businesses shuttered, and our sense of safety and security has been all but ripped away. Now, maybe more than any other time in our history, is a time to think about ways to improve our mental health. 

Being quarantined due to this virus can be a claustrophobic feeling for many, while others thrive upon the idea of not having to go anywhere or do anything. We all respond in different ways. 

Our mental health most definitely will be impacted over the next days and weeks, or even potentially months. One thing to keep in mind as we all learn what our new “normal” is about to become is that there are some outlets that can help. 

Exercise, meditation, reading, movies, and yes, theater can help improve our mental health. In no way are we condoning visiting a theater. But as we await the days when venturing out to Broadway becomes feasible again, watching televised versions will have to do. 

How can theater and other self-care activities help boost your mood? Here are a few ways… 

hands connectingA Feeling of Connectivity

At a time when we are each feeling a sense of loss of our normal lives, at least for now, it is important to connect with others. Theater, even if it is pre-recorded or the movie version of a Broadway hit, can still help us connect. It will let you know that you are not alone in this. We will all get through this, and anything else that comes our way… together. 

According to Thrive Global, “One of the chief obstacles that many individuals struggling with mental health issues often have to overcome is a sense of isolation or of being judged for their condition. Through theater, however, they can help build strong bonds with others and create a strong sense of community. “

Healthy Expression 

Theater allows us to see that emotions are ok and that expressing them is healthy and normal. Watching one of your favorite characters on stage, a screen, or on the pages of a book can help you experience emotions that maybe you couldn’t come to grips with or couldn’t put a name to. This healthy expression of emotions is crucial to maintaining positive mental health. 

heartAbility to Relate Feelings 

Theater can help individuals who are struggling psychologically and give mental health professionals a glimpse into the nature of their injuries, which can help them better understand how to heal them. Being able to relate how you are feeling to a scene, character, or play can help others understand what you are feeling inside. 

We look forward to the days ahead when theater will once again become an outlet for our emotions and we all navigate this uncharted territory. Stay safe and be well. 

 

Broadway theater

What’s Coming to Broadway This Spring?  

Are you looking forward to scoring tickets to a Broadway musical this spring? Well, you’re not alone in that aspiration. Millions of theatergoers will flood New York City and other major hubs hoping to catch their favorite musical on stage. 

This year should prove to be a banner year for musicals along the “Great White Way.” Some shows that are successfully running will still be a big draw for tourists and NYC visitors. Shows like Wicked, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hanson, and Mean Girls will continue to shine. Some musical newcomers and revivals may shock us all with the scenery, costumes, and amazing musical scores. 

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

This revival of Edward Albee’s classic drama will star Rupert Everett, Russell Tovey, Patsy Ferran, and two-time Tony winner Laurie Metcalf, marking her fifth consecutive season on Broadway. This show will begin at the Booth Theater at the beginning of March with an official opening night slated for April 9th. 

Playbill explains that this musical explores the complexities of a marriage when, “a college professor and his wife invite a younger academic and his wife over for drinks after a late-night party, leading to an evening of sadistic games, attempted seductions and shattering revelations.”  

Mrs. Doubtfire 

Based on the movie by the same name, this musical follows the story of a recently divorced, out-of-work actor, who will do just about anything for the chance to spend some time with his children. He disguises himself as a nanny, Euphegenia Doubtfire, whose persona begins to take on a life of its own. 

The show is packed with all the hilarity you can expect from a cross-dressing, Scottish nanny who learns more than he bargained about his children and himself. 

Directed by Jerry Zaks, the musical starts performances March 9 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The official opening night is slated for April 5th. 

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Plaza Suite 

This marriage comedy starring real-life husband and wife Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, follows the story of three couples, all played by Broderick and Parker. This revival of the Neil Simon original follows a long, married couple seemingly doomed for a break up, high school sweethearts, and a mother and father of a bride who are ready to celebrate their daughter’s wedding, if only they could get her out of the bathroom. 

It’s been 20 long years since Parker and Broderick have been on stage together. Directed by John Benjamin Hickey, the play starts its limited run at the Hudson Theatre March 13 ahead of an April 13 opening.

What shows are you looking forward to this spring? Drop us a line in the comments to check out our Facebook page for more spring shows. 

 

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Hidden Lessons of Popular Musicals 

Hamilton, Mama Mia, Kinky Boots, and Wicked are just a few of the popular Broadway musicals that have graced the stage along the “Great White Way” in the last few years. These musicals are more than just a combination of fantastic dancing, singing, and plot lines. They have hidden lessons that make theatergoers think about long after they have left the hall. Here are a few of the hidden, yet important, lessons that musicals are teaching audiences. 

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Wicked

The life of the wicked witch of the west as told in the musical Wicked, is filled with life lessons about friendships. The strongest message is that friendships are truly everything in life. The well-developed characters explain that some friendships run so deep that they imprint upon you and can change your life for the better. The musical also shows through actions that even though friends may critique one another, the best of friends will always be your biggest fans and most staunch supporters in life. 

Another important life lesson that we could all use a reminder about is the idea that looks are not everything. Take for example the relationship between Glinda and Elphaba. Glinda isn’t keen on Elphaba at the start of the story because she was very obviously green, and Glinda’s sparkly, pink and girly sense of style really wasn’t Elphie’s cup of tea either. They eventually discover that it’s what’s inside that counts. 

These lovely life lessons are paired with incredible music, amazing scenery, and costumes that help promote it to the level of being one of the most popular musicals of the west end. 

Hamilton

Hamilton 

If you are lucky enough to score tickets to the famed Hamilton, then you will be delighted with life lessons from the moment the curtain goes up until it goes down at the end of the night. Hamilton tells the story of forgotten American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and his ascent out of poverty and to power against the backdrop of the American War of Independence.

There are so many little life lessons as well as grand sweeping ones in this musical that it’s hard to know where to start. Overall, the inspirational message to audiences is that now is the time to take your shot no matter what the risks. You have but one life so take your chance and make it happen for yourself. 

Believe it or not, fans of this particular musical have written fan sites on what they learned from this production, the characters, and the public’s reaction to it. Here’s just a quick overview of what some fans say are the biggest takeaways to Hamilton. 

  • Excuses are a waste of time in life.
  • You are responsible for your own education.
  • Believe in yourself, before you expect other people to believe in you.
  • Pride can literally kill you. Be humble to be truly brilliant.
  • Sacrifice leads to greatness

Dear Evan Hanson 

Evan Hansen is the story of a young man who suffers from severe social anxiety. On the first day of senior year, he writes himself a letter as per his therapist’s recommendation. This awkward teenager craves communication and connection with others. 

He, unfortunately, assists with promoting a huge lie that hurts many people. Evan must come to the very tough realization that he needs to accept himself for who he is before others will do the same. He sings the message powerfully: “All I ever do is run so how do I step in, step into the sun?” While the lesson is one our younger selves could have benefited from, even adults can learn something about loving themselves from this hit musical. 

What hidden messages does your favorite musical promote? Drop us a line in the comments or on our Facebook page