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It’s UDMA Trade Show Season

The end of summer not only brings a new school year for dance studios, but it also begins the dance trade show season.  We will be attending UDMA, United Dance Merchants of America, trade show in Edison NJ on the weekend of October 19-20.  UDMA has three other dates as well.  They are in Atlanta this weekend (9/28-29), Pittsburgh 10/5-6 (next weekend), and Chicago 10/12-13.  Here’s a link to their website:  https://www.udma.org/

 

The show features merchants who cover all aspects of the dance industry.  Some of the categories that are present are costume companies, dancewear, shoes, flowers, videographers, photographers, tours, flooring, dance opportunities, trophies, competitions and conventions, recital ticketing, publications, and backdrops too, of course!  Anything you can think of that has to do with the dance industry will be at these shows. Not only are there vendor exhibits but there are also presentations, give aways, and seminars.

 

It really is a great opportunity to check out new technology and new products.  The costume companies typically have live models wearing their latest costume designs so that you can see the new fashions in living, moving color.  We have an actual backdrop in our booth so that customers can see and feel what our product is like.  Each vendor will have real examples of their product so that you will know exactly what you’ll be getting.  There is no doubt that you can improve your business and productions by attending one of these shows.  We hope to see you in New Jersey for sure, but we hope that you can make it to one of the shows.

Using Backdrops

There are many ways to enhance the appearance of a scenic production such as a video shoot, stage play, theater production, or party event. Backdrops help add the ambience for the mood that you are trying to set. Because of their size, they serve the purpose of continuing the theme you are going for without being too over the top where the scenery seems out of place.

Choosing a backdrop rental company that has several different sceneries to choose from can be a difficult task, which is why you should go straight to Backdrops by Charles H Stewart!  Needless to say, one thing that you should ask about the backdrop that you have in mind would be how heavy they are and the material it is made of.  Ideally, the best backdrop should not be too heavy for convenience reasons as you will most likely be hanging and packaging the backdrops yourself.  The best material when choosing a realistic backdrop would be one that is 100% polyester cotton fabric, which is what our DreamWorld Collection is painted on, or ones painted on muslin, which is what our Stewart Collection is painted on.  These are lightweight fabrics that are easy to handle.

One type of event that would welcome a backdrop would be in an environment in which a lot of photography is going to take place in. Dances, charities, or galas are examples of events that a nice formal backdrop would be more than welcomed in pictures. For example, if you are hosting a dance that has a Hawaiian theme, there are several backdrops that you can browse such as tropical or beach scenes that would supplement your Hawaiian environment. We do have many smaller photography size backdrops in our DreamWorld Collection labelled DreamWorld Small.

As mentioned, there are many ways that you can improve or modify an area to fit your event. There are many different backdrop rentals to choose from and a few different sizes that can assure proper placement as well as appropriate background setting. Aside from party events, most backdrops from Charles H Stewart are used by production companies that are setting up a stage performance whether it’s a Broadway Musical or dance recital or play. Because of the flexibility of backdrops, they can be replaced and switched in a matter of minutes.  So using multiple backdrops can make your life a whole lot easier.  Full stage backdrops are obviously larger than photography backdrops since the area needed to cover is larger.  But with the lightweight fabric they are made with, this is not an issue.

Backdrops are easy to use, and they are the easiest way to transform your stage or event into whatever setting necessary to transport your audience to where they need to be.

The Perfect Setting for Your Show

When it is important to set the stage or the mood, backdrops are the perfect item. From the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, theater has been a way to express ideas and emotions. Theatrical renditions range from tackling the most controversial issues and historical events to depicting real life drama, fantasy or romance. The creativity involved in these endeavors is unrivaled. Great care is taken to create the most lifelike of scenes or to evoke a particular emotional response. The backdrop and the scenery are the canvas on which the drama occurs. This essential element transports the viewer to another place and time as the events unfold. Backdrop rentals can help to accentuate many functions.

Backdrops come in a variety of forms. This can range from a basic curtain to elaborate theatrical scenery. Backdrop rentals can be used for stage shows, weddings, photo shoots, and other special events. Muslin backdrops come in a variety of colors and shades. These can be hand painted or reversible for a variety of options.

The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing the best backdrop rentals for an occasion. Beautiful scenic backdrops of locations from the US to Europe to Asia to Africa are available. Exotic scenes from the jungle, the pyramids or an enchanted forest can also be had. Backdrops from a Broadway musical or scenes simulating a dance club are also popular. Religious backdrops can enhance the depth of any religious function, lending a more spiritual energy to the occasion. There are also holiday specific backdrops that can make any day special. You can even design your own custom backdrop, but these you would have to purchase.

Backdrop rentals are just a Google search away. Many options are available online with a vast array of choices that will suit any occasion. When confirming the booking, we may require a deposit with payment in full due prior to shipping. It is possible to hold your choice until you make a final decision. Backdrops are the responsibility of the customer from the time that they are rented until they are returned. Care should be taken with backdrop rentals. A clean dry surface is required for handling. Sharp objects can rip or tear the backdrops, resulting in costly repairs, so be careful when opening the box the backdrop arrives in. The backdrop of your dreams can make your special occasional a day to remember.

Planning for Spring Productions

Though it’s still February and there may even be snow on the ground, spring is soon approaching, and it will sneak up on us before we know it. February is a great time to start considering your productions for the spring, as the choice and selection of the production is a production in itself! You’ll want to give yourself as long as possible during the consideration stage, tossing out ideas among the team, and discussing budget/feasibility. Read through this blog for tips on planning the spring production.

 

First, begin with ordering a few scripts that you’re interested in. Read through the scripts with the group, and see how everyone feels about the leads, supporting roles, duration of the play, and see what the set would take to build. Be sure the script falls within your budget and timeframe.

Then you can start seeing which of your actors would be interested in auditioning for which roles. Hold read-throughs to see who fits most naturally with which character. When you cast your group and establish your crew, you can take the time to think about budgeting, staging, different scenes, choreography, and music. Some of these elements will be worked through with your director, but during the planning stage, be sure you have everything you need before you begin.

 

As you work through each scene with your director, you’ll notice some things that don’t quite work and other things that work quite well. You’ll have to make some changes as you go, but this is all part of the process.

Many theater organizations hire an outside choreographer or someone to come in and help with direction. Depending on the size and funding available of your organization, this might be a good option for you. Drama clubs often rent backdrops, props, curtains, and more from rental companies. Sets can be difficult and timely to build, so when theater organizations don’t have all of the resources needed in-house, they can rent props to make productions look beautiful, detailed, and complete.

 

It may seem overwhelming when you dive into planning a new show for a new season. Though it is a process, don’t be overwhelmed, as there are many resources and planning tips to help you through. Take things slowly, and plan every detail so your cast and crew are ready to deliver an amazing opening night performance.

 

woods scene backdrop

 

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from. We are here to serve all your backdrop and scenic design needs.

Backdrops By Charles H. Stewart Acquires DreamWorld Backdrops

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charles Stewart
(978) 682-5757
info@charlesstewart.com

BACKDROPS BY CHARLES H. STEWART ACQUIRES DREAMWORLD BACKDROPS
Now With 400 Additional Backdrops Available In Inventory

NORTH ANDOVER, Massachusetts – (February 6, 2019) – Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been a fundamental resource to the world of backdrops and design, offering 120 years of expertise. As of January 2019, Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart acquired DreamWorld Backdrops. DreamWorld Backdrops holds an extensive collection of original, airbrushed, and digitally printed backdrops.

Now owned and operated by Charles H. Stewart, the acquisition of DreamWorld Backdrops is groundbreaking. With 400 additional backdrops now in the inventory, Stewart is ready to deliver an even wider variety of backdrops to clients. The intricate backdrops are designed to accommodate most high-quality productions for theaters, schools, dance recitals, and corporate events.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart was opened in 1893 and operated continuously as a family-run business, first under Charles Stewart and then his son, Stanley. In 1990, the Christo family bought the business after a five-year apprenticeship under Stanley’s tutelage and has run it ever since.

The addition of DreamWorld Backdrops supports the family’s belief, and this is evident through a quote from Stanley in a 1983 Boston Globe article. He summarized the backdrop business when he said, “In our warehouse, you see 900 boxes filled with backdrops; what I see is life in those boxes—live performance, artistic expression, and background support for some of the greatest shows you’ll ever see.”

The idea of ‘Life In Backdrops’ is the epitome of this new life and new growth for Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart. Busier than ever with the acquisition, the Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart inventory is now home to roughly 2,000 hand-painted backdrops. This allowed Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart to continue the dream of supporting theater, the arts, and communities alike.

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DreamWorld Backdrops has been a dynamic force in the airbrushed, hand painted, and digitally printed backdrop business in the U.S. since its inception in 1999. Its reputation for superior quality Backdrops along with personalized service has made it a leader in its field. Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart is a family-owned business supporting theatrical needs to enhance productions. With over 2,000 backdrops, drapes, lames, and scrims to choose from, they have over 120 years of experience to provide you with the expertise you need. For more information regarding the acquisition, please call Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart at (978) 682-5757.

 

London’s 8th Annual Horror Theatre Festival

spooky scene

For the 8th year, London’s Horror Festival has finally been announced. Hosted at the Red Lion Theatre with over 30 productions, this Halloween season will have theatergoers and horror lovers chilling with fright, and extremely impressed.

London’s Horror Film will be offering dramas, comedies, musicals, and spoken word about all things spooky starting October 7th. Each year there is a theme for their annual playwright competition, and this year they are honoring Mary Shelley for the competition of “Women in Horror.” Her most renowned creation, Frankenstein, has its 200th year anniversary in 2018.

Catch tons of theater productions that truly push the limits of live production and performance. You are bound to find something you love, and something to make you really think when you attend a festival like this.

Scary ghost scene

Theater festivals are an awesome time for people to come together and bond over a common interest. When it’s a special reason for celebration, like a themed or holiday theater festival like this one, it can be even more interesting. Though this festival is in London, we can tune in and see what this annual horror fest will bring theater-goers and thespians.

If you’re REALLY into festivals, even horror fests, this might be something you want to follow on social media, inquire about, and maybe even travel to see.

Jackolanterns

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from. Call us at (978) 682-5757 today!

Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat Part II

With the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals all wrapped up, here are some more sports themed stage productions.

 

Rocky (Boxing)

Rocky the Musical (originally Rocky: Das Musical) is a 2012 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, with a book by Thomas Meehan, adapted from a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone. The show held its world premiere in Hamburg in 2012 and opened on Broadway on March 4, 2014 at the Winter Garden Theatre and closed on August 17, 2014 after 28 previews and 188 performances. The show roughly follows the plot of the 1976 film Rocky.  The show featured 20 original songs, with additional music taken from the original film series including “Eye of the Tiger” and “Gonna Fly Now”.

The show’s set, which for Broadway cost $4.3 million, is set around a mostly bare stage which represents the Gym that Rocky trains in. The production uses sliding box like sets to represent the homes of the characters and the sliding element goes onto include a full sized regulation boxing ring.  Audience members seated within the front stalls Golden Circle seating section, are escorted onto the stage for the final 20 minutes to sit on bleacher style seats, in doing so this allows the boxing ring to enter the auditorium and sit in rows A-F, bringing the audience close to the final fight scene.  The production did win a Tony Award for Set Design.

 

Lombardi (Football)

Lombardi is a play by Eric Simonson, based on the book When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss.  I’ve read the book.  Unbelievable life.

The play follows Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi through a week in the 1965 NFL season as he attempts to lead his team to the championship. (The Packers won the NFL championship that year, which would be the last season before the introduction of the Super Bowl.) A “Look Magazine” reporter, Michael McCormick, wants to “find out what makes Lombardi win”. However, players on the team refuse to be interviewed, wary of giving up information. He goes instead to Lombardi’s wife, Marie, for answers. Meanwhile, in a flashback, Lombardi frets over his lack of promotion and contemplates quitting football. His wife reveals that the family had an emotional move to Green Bay, Wisconsin when Lombardi joined the Packers.

Lombardi ends up yelling at Michael in front of the team, prompting both to storm off. Linebacker and place kicker Dave Robinson comforts Michael at a local bar, sharing stories about his initial impressions of the coach, the “honor of being barked at” by Lombardi, and the equality established on the team. After more positive insight from running back, option quarterback and kicker Paul Hornung and fullback Jim Taylor, Michael decides to attend the next game. As he narrates what happened at the game, the Packers win.

After he writes his news story, Michael reveals to Lombardi that he is quitting “Look Magazine” to form his own publishing company. Lombardi congratulates him on his move to independence and celebrates the win with Michael and Marie. Michael realizes that Lombardi is “the most imperfect, perfect man” he ever met.

Lombardi officially premiered on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 21, 2010, after previews beginning on September 23. The creative team includes direction by Thomas Kail, sets by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, and lighting by Howell Binkley. This production is being produced by Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser. Lombardi closed on May 22, 2011, after 30 previews and 244 performances.

Due to the Packers winning Super Bowl XLV in 2011, their fourth Super Bowl but their second since Lombardi was head coach, the show’s producers were “hoping for a halo effect at the box office.”  Patrick Healy wrote in The New York Times: “The Packers’ victory on Sunday lent “Lombardi” plenty of visibility before and after the Fox broadcast of the game. One FOX commentator, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, who had seen the play, talked up the play before kickoff and during the postgame show he said, ‘I think Lombardi the play just got an extension on Broadway.’ ” Healy also wrote that the show had not recouped its $3 million investment, and while producer Tony Ponturo said that the show was scheduled to run until June 19, 2011, it ended its run early. Producers would not comment on whether or not the play had earned back its production budget.

The original Broadway cast included Dan Lauria as Vince Lombardi, Judith Light as Marie Lombardi, Keith Nobbs as Michael McCormick, Bill Dawes as Paul Hornung, Robert Christopher Riley as Dave Robinson, and Chris Sullivan as Jim Taylor. Light was nominated for a 2011 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Lombardi.

 

 

The Changing Room (Rugby)

The Changing Room is a 1971 play by David Storey, set in a men’s changing room before, during and after a rugby league football game. It premiered at the Royal Court Theatre on 9 November 1971, directed by Lindsay Anderson. The 1973 Broadway production, directed by Michael Rudman, won several awards including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Play and the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for John Lithgow.  After three previews, the Broadway production, directed by Michael Rudman, opened on 6 March 1973 at the Morosco Theatre, where it ran for 192 performances.

At the play’s core is a semi-pro Northern England rugby league team. During the week, its members are peaceable men toiling away at mindless, working class jobs. On Saturday, they prepare for gory combat on the playing field. The changing room is where they perform their pre-game initiation rites, strip down, loosen muscles, and get into their uniforms. After the match they return, often broken, muddy, and bloody, regretting their loss or giddy with victory in the communal shower. There is little in the way of plot, but Storey engages his audience with his ability to dissect his characters’ hurts, hopes, desires, and fighting instincts.

Choosing Your Next Production

Cast on Stage

If you have a theater group and you’re constantly putting on productions, read on for inspiration in choosing your next production. We’ve put together a guide to choosing your next production for your theater community. Here are a few things we think are important to think about when brainstorming your possibilities:

Anastasia

Deciding on the Type of Production
Do you want to do a musical? Do you want to do a situational comedy or a dramatic play? Do you want to perform a greek tragedy? A historical play or a romantic play? There are many subsets of plays and types of productions. When you narrow down your goal, you can then choose a script.

Thinking of your Actors
Deciding on a play depends on your strengths and weaknesses as a theater community. Sometimes the tell-tale signs of your next production can be evident through your actors’ strong suits. Make sure you have the right type of actors available to be matched with the right roles.

Spider-Man

Accessing a Script
Be sure you have access to ordering scripts for your community. Are there enough scripts available for the production of your choice? Be sure that you’re choosing from plays that are accessible, and that you have the rights to get ahold of the script.

Look to your Inventory
Looking at the props you already have and the props you need to buy can help you decide on your next production. If you have a smaller budget, and it’s always helpful for theater communities to spend as little as possible, you can look at what you already own. You may not need to buy much if you have a good selection and you use a little creativity.

Tarzan

Time and Duration
Think about how much time each production will take to rehearse and choreograph. You need to think about time from the beginning of your first rehearsal to your last dress rehearsal. Be sure that the plays you’re considering all fall within your time frame for preparation.  

Set Hands and Available Crew
Some productions take more help behind the scenes and backstage. Other productions require less stage help and more actors on stage. Every production is different, so being sure you have enough set hands and available help is something you’ll definitely want to think through before choosing a play.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart can provide you with the best quality backdrops for your productions. Visit our website to check out our inventory, and reach out to our staff with any questions.

Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat

Sports.  It has drama, competition, and emotion.  A perfect recipe for a Broadway show.  Sports has been the backdrop for many movies, tv shows, and musicals.  We will take a look at a few classics and maybe a few not so classics.  But nonetheless, the marriage of sports and Broadway has gone on for a very long time, and it’s easy to see why.

 

Damn Yankees (Baseball)

Perhaps the most classic sports musical ever made, Damn Yankees is a musical comedy with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League Baseball. It is based on Wallop’s novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.

The show ran for 1,019 performances in its original 1955 Broadway production. Adler and Ross’s success with it and The Pajama Game seemed to point to a bright future for them, but Ross suddenly died of chronic bronchiectasis at age 29 several months after it opened.

Joe Boyd, an aging Washington Senators fan, would sell his soul for the Senators to beat the New York Yankees and win the pennant. Enter Applegate, who offers to turn Boyd into Joe Hardy, a powerful young baseball player, in exchange for his soul. When Boyd agrees, he becomes Hardy and leads the Senators on a winning streak. When he starts to miss his wife, though, and questions the deal, Applegate sends temptress Lola into the mix.

Hey!  As a Red Sox fan, I might have considered this after the 2003 season!

 

Good News (Football)

Another classic Broadway musical, Good News is a musical with a book by Laurence Schwab and B.G. DeSylva, lyrics by DeSylva and Lew Brown, and music by Ray Henderson.  The show opened on Broadway in 1927, the same year as Show Boat, but though its plot was decidedly old-fashioned in comparison to Show Boat’s daring storyline, it was also a hit. Good News spawned two films, an unsuccessful 1974 Broadway revival, and a 1993 updated production by Music Theatre of Wichita, which created a largely new libretto and made changes to the score, It proved to be DeSylva, Brown, and Henderson’s biggest hit out of a string of topical musicals.

World War I is over, the Roaring Twenties have arrived, women have won the right to vote, and college campuses, such as fictional Tait College, are as much a social scene as an academic one. Football is the big game, and star player Tom Marlowe is a prime catch. All the girls are interested in Tom, and vice-versa, although one society climber seems to have him in hand. Studious part-time school librarian Connie Lane doesn’t seem to have a chance and stays out of the fray. When Marlowe fails a final exam, he needs a tutor to help him pass so he can play in the big game on Saturday. Connie is selected to help keep his nose to the grindstone, and the two fall for each other. The couples’ romance can only endure if the team wins the big game.

 

Golden Boy (Boxing)

Golden Boy is a 1964 musical with a book by Clifford Odets and William Gibson, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse.  The Broadway production was directed by Arthur Penn, choreographed by Donald McKayle, and starred Sammy Davis Jr and opened on October 20, 1964 at the Majestic Theatre, where it ran for 568 performances and twenty-five previews.

Based on the 1937 play of the same name by Odets, it focuses on Joe Wellington, a young man from Harlem who, despite his family’s objections, turns to prizefighting as a means of escaping his ghetto roots and finding fame and fortune. He crosses paths with Mephistopheles-like promoter Eddie Satin and eventually betrays his manager Tom Moody when he becomes romantically involved with Moody’s girlfriend Lorna Moon.  In Odets’ original book, Joe was a sensitive would-be surgeon fighting in order to pay his way through college, but careful to protect his hands from serious damage so he could achieve his goal of saving the lives of blacks ignored by white doctors.  In an ironic twist, the hands he hoped would heal kill a man in the ring.

 

Magic/Bird (Basketball)

Magic/Bird is a play by Eric Simonson about basketball stars Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, their rise from college basketball to the NBA and super stardom, and eventually the Olympic Dream Team, their team and personal rivalries and ultimately their long-running friendship. The play premiered on Broadway at the Longacre Theater on March 21, 2012.  It has the full support of the NBA with Johnson and Bird prominently supportive.  And, according to the producers: “At the heart of one of the fiercest rivalries in sports, two of the greatest athletes of all-time battled for multiple championships and the future of their sport…Johnson and Bird, went head to head, electrified the nation, reinvigorated the NBA, and turned their rivalry into the greatest and most famous friendships in professional sports. With classic NBA footage prominently designed throughout, Magic/Bird transports the audience into the heart of their matchup.

Proper Warm-Up Routines

Actors on stage in a scene

 Every performer has their own personal routine when warming up before rehearsal or for a show. Some directors like when the performers warm up together, and think it can be helpful for creating a cast bond. Though warm ups may differ depending on whether you have rehearsal or a production that day. Check out these ideas for warm ups.

Stretching your Muscles

When warming up for rehearsal you should still be putting your all into warm ups. It’s the time when you feel out your body and get comfortable with your character, so putting your all into warm ups is very important. It exercises your body and stretches you out just like muscles before working out. You wouldn’t think, but there’s actually a muscle that actors workout called your diaphragm that you stretch like any other muscle to perform your best.

Microphone held by hand with dark background

Individual or Group?

Try individual warm ups and group warm ups. Anything goes for rehearsals as long as they’re really working you out. Stick with your individual routine, and allow yourself to warm up as you will to get to know your character the best you can.

Routines

When it comes closer to the opening night of the production, work through some group warm up activities that you’ve practiced. Make a routine of doing group warm ups as opening night slowly approaches. These group activities help boost morale, and increase chemistry and bonds between cast members.

Actor looking off into distance

Experience Helps Warm-Ups

As you gain experience with different types of productions, warming up becomes easier. It will make more sense as to which warm up routine should be done with which type of productions/characters.

Next time you’re planning your set, consider Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart. Call us at (978) 682-5757 or visit our website at https://charleshstewart.com/