Saturday, November 29, 2008

City of Angels Auditions!

Brecksville Theatre on the Square Announces Auditions for


Visit the City of Angels Website!
(viewed best with Firefox or Safari web browsers)

Featuring a book by M*A*S*H TV series writer/producer Larry Gelbart and a swinging score by Cy Coleman with lyrics by David Zippel, City of Angels is a wonderful musical full of great roles - including over 15 singing roles - to challenge a large number of strong character actors and strong singers.

Directed by Geoffrey Short
Musical Direction by Georgiann Bodle

Audition Dates:
Sunday, December 7 starting at 2 p.m
Monday, December 8 starting at 7 p.m.
Call-Backs Wednesday, December 10 starting at 7 p.m.

Production Dates:
3 weeks; March 13 - March 29...Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Rehearsals to start on January 19th*

Auditions are held in the B.T.O.T.S. Administrative facility located at Blossom Hill at 4450 Oakes Road in Brecksville. Oakes Road can be accessed from Brecksville Road or Broadview Road. Upon entering the Blossom Hill facility, follow the driveway to the back parking lot. The main administrative office is located in Building 5, across from the main school building. Auditions are held in Building 5.
Performances are held at the Old Town Hall, 49 Public Square at the intersection of routes 82 and 21 in Brecksville.

Please prepare a musical theatre song selection and bring sheet music in the proper key....accompanist will be provided. Dress comfortably for movement.
Contact the Director, Geoffrey Short at to schedule an appointment.

CITY OF ANGELS is two shows in one. It is the interweaving of two plots, one dealing with the writing of a screenplay in the legendary Hollywood of the '40's; the other, the enactment of that screenplay. The show boasts two musical scores. One provides the cast with numbers to help reveal certain emotions or to celebrate particular moments in the way that only music can. The "other" score was written to emulate pure movie soundtrack music, 1940's vintage. It is entirely appropriate, then, that the final curtain comes down on two happy endings.

Roles are available for 13 men and 7 women
Among the main characters needed are:

Stine......male, fiction writer, 20's - 40's
Stone....male - Stine's creation...1940's style private eye - Humphrey Bogart/Sam Spade type...20's - 40's

MOST OTHER ROLES ARE TWO CHARACTERS PLAYED BY ONE ACTOR - one character in the "real" world and one in Stine's fictional "story within a story":
Male Roles
Buddy Fidler/Irwin S. Irving....Movie director/producer, mogul type...male....30's - 50's
Gerald Pierce/Peter Kingsley...male...non-singing; 20's-30' actor/Alaura's stepson...handsome, suave
Pancho Vargas/Lt. Munoz - an actor and a police detective...male...20's - 50's
Gene/Officer Pasco - an Assistant Director/Police Officer...male - 20's - 50's
Jimmy Powers - a movie crooner.....a la Sinatra...smooth and suave..strong singer 20's-50's
Werner Kriegler/Luther Kingsley...(non-singing) an actor/the feeble, rich husband of the much younger Femme Fatale Alaura mature male 40's-60's
Gilbert/Dr. Mandril...Buddy's barber/a religious leader; guru-type; Luther's caretaker...older male (non-singing role)...40's-50's

Female Roles
Oolie/Donna...female, a wisecracking, jaded secretary (Imogene Coca type) in both worlds, but also sensitive. (sings the classics "You Can Always Count on Me" and the duet "What You Don't Know About Women" with Gabby . 20's-40's
Gabby/Bobbi...Stine's wife/Stone's ex-wife...capable and confident writer, but also sexy and sultry lounge singer...20's - 30's
Alaura Kingsley/Carla Haywood - Femme fatale, beautiful - 20's-30's...sings the beautiful "With Every Breath I Take" and the duet "Tennis Song" with Stone.
Mallory Kingsley/Avril Raines - Alaura's stepdaughter/a starlet...sultry, young and sexy...sings the steamy "Lost and Found"...18 - 30
Margaret - a maid at the Kingsley's mansion (non-singing)...30'S-50's

Plus a number of other great ensemble/chorus roles (speaking and non-speaking)

This is a non-equity production.
*subject to change; detailed rehearsal schedule available on the Calendar page of the City of Angels website and will be available at auditions

Friday, November 28, 2008


Parma Heights, OhioCommunicare’s Greenbrier Senior Living Community will produce an original holiday musical on the Cox Stage at the Cassidy Theatre. The Joy of Christmas, written and composed by Greenbrier resident, Richard Valentine, 89, will have one performance only at 7:30 p.m. Sunday Dec. 7 at Cassidy Theatre, 6200 Pearl Rd. Parma Hts. Tickets are on sale now for a $5 donation and can be purchased at Greenbrier Retirement Center, 6457 Pearl Rd. in Parma Heights between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society.

Valentine, a retired music teacher, who taught music in schools in Sandusky, Elyria, Avon Lake and others, began writing the book, music and lyrics to The Joy of Christmas 5 years ago. The musical is based on inspiration he had some years earlier while watching an awe-inspiring sunrise in Arizona. In 2007, Valentine moved to Greenbrier Retirement Community. He often entertains fellow residents by playing the piano and eventually he mentioned to an administrator that he had written an original Christmas musical. Greenbrier sponsors the Cassidy Theatre’s outreach performing group “Cassidy On-Tour”. Now the two organizations have partnered to bring Valentine’s composition to the stage this holiday season.

The Joy of Christmas tells the story of a young boy and his world-weary parents who are not in the holiday spirit. Despite their reluctance, the boy convinces them to attend a holiday church service where the family is reminded of the joy, peace and love the holidays really can bring. Valentine wanted the production to benefit the American Cancer Society in honor of his late wife who lost her battle with the disease. Now, the composer himself battles cancer as well.

The Joy of Christmas is sponsored by Communicare’s Greenbrier Senior Living Community and the Cassidy Theatre.

FOR INFORMATION: Terie Novak,, (440) 888-0400

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Video promo for the musical "Scrooge" at The Cassidy Theatre in Parma Heights as seen on "Call-Back" - 12-08

Parma Hts., Ohio - Cassidy Theatre, Inc. presents the holiday musical Scrooge. The show will run at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays Dec.5 through Dec. 21 at Cassidy Theatre, 6200 Pearl Rd. Parma Hts. Tickets are on sale now for $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and Students and can be purchased by calling the Cassidy Theatre at (440) 842-4600. Scrooge features book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. The Cassidy production is Directed and Choreographed by Lester Currie, with Musical Direction by Kira Seaton.

Scrooge is the stage adaptation of the movie musical retelling of Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol in which cold-souled Ebenezer Scrooge has a change of heart after spirit visitations on Christmas Eve. Renowned writer-composer-lyricist Bricusse adapted A Christmas Carol, into a movie musical in 1970 starring Albert Finney as Scrooge. In 1992, the stage musical adapted from the film was mounted in the U.K. under the title Scrooge: The Musical featuring the Bricusse songs and starring Anthony Newley.

"I think the message of the show is particularly important now when we are in hard times" says Alex Nalbach who plays Scrooge. "The characters in the show Scrooge included are people who are living through hard times. What keeps the community going is that they always reach out, they always help each other. It's a nice undercurrent of the show that it's community that counts". In addition to Nalbach, the Cassidy production also stars:

Don Pedley as Jacob Marley
Brad Andersen as Bob Cratchitt
Karen Hunaday as Ethel Cratchitt/Ghost of Christmas Past II
Aaron Kastanis as Harry Burnet/Young Ebenezer
Kayla Bruzinski as Kathy Cratchitt
Evan Ozimek/Jacob Fekete as Tiny Tim
Emily Tabar as Ghost of Christmas Past I
Danny Woods as Beggerman.Ghost of Christmas Present I
Thomas F. Majercik Sr. as Old Fezziwig/Ghost of Christmas Present
Carol Broquet as Mrs. Fezziwig
Kent Overton as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Joe Delaney as Wine Merchant/Phantom/Dick Wilkins
Debbie Lenarz as Isabel/Helen
Nick Tabar as Peter Cratchitt
Kayla Maggard as Belinda Cratchitt
Zac Hudak as Thom Jenkins
Jennifer Nageotte as Mary
Joe Mcintyre as Grandfather/Mr. Pringle
Sue Overton as Mrs. Dilber
Julie Dombrowski as Miss Dilber
Joshua Herrmann as Bissett the Butcher
Stephanie Malfarn as Joycelynn Jollygoode
Vicki Arnello as Hermione Hardy
Tom Malone as Harry Topper/Phantom
Paul Montgomery as Punch and Judy/Phantom
Dawn Culp as Beggar Woman
Caitlin Nageotte, Gabby Halligan and Brielle Giomini as Shoppers

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finding an Audience's Pain

In my media sales career, I learned a long time ago that every client or customer has some sort of "pain" - a need they have to fill, a challenge they need a solution to. Unless we as sales people can uncover that pain, and provide the solution to it, there is no sale. The trick is to find what that pain is. Every customer has it, but unless their ceiling is falling in or they're up to their knees in water, few customers willingly tell you what their pain is. In the sometimes vague world of marketing and advertising (and certainly entertainment) they often don't know they even have pain. Sometimes we have to point out that they do in fact have a need. Something their competition has that they don't and didn't know about, until you, their trusted consultant told them about it. Often the "need" isn't a need at all. Maybe it's just a "want". In any case, you want to be the one to provide it. Only through gaining their trust and convincingly explaining how your products and services can help do you have a chance of uncovering what the pain is. And it's only when we take the focus off our own needs and focus on the client's needs - their pain - and healing it, that success happens.

I've been thinking about how this applies to theatre audiences. What is it that a theatre ticket buyer wants or needs? Certainly to be entertained. Perhaps they need an escape from their everyday troubles into a colorful, fanciful world of a musical. Theatre is also a communal experience, so maybe a ticket buyer is tired of the isolation of their living room staring at a computer screen or a DVD on a big flat screen TV ("flat" is the key word there as opposed to the 3-D real life of live theatre). I would think this last one would apply to an audience segment that tends to be community theatre's biggest and most loyal - senior citizens. They may also have a nostalgic need to relive some of the grand plays and musicals that were the main form of entertainment in their youth.

One of the most challenging audience segments whose pain is hard to identify is also we one community theatres rely a lot on - family members of the cast. They are hard to figure out because probably the biggest reason they are in the seats is to support their kids or spouses - which is directly contradictory to the pain identification theory. These people are focused on the needs of the cast (supporting them) as opposed to the production focusing on the audience's needs.

Here's a stunning revelation - we theatre artists tend to be a little self-centered and narcissistic. Just putting on shows to provide vehicles for us to hear applause will quickly lead to a very quiet house. We need to meet the needs of our customers.

So how do you identify the needs of the audience? Ask. Then ask again and keep asking in any ways you can - through surveys, face to face meetings, etc. Until you really get a sense of the audience's pain. Then put a band aid on it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rethinking Rehearsal Schedules - Part 2

As I'm procrastinating building yet another rehearsal schedule for an upcoming directing project, I have rehearsal schedules on the brain. A few months ago I talked about some of my theories on how we theatre artists structure and think about rehearsal schedules. For a long time I've felt like we haven't been very flexible about how we schedule rehearsals. I remember the days of 5 nights a week-type of schedules and it's been my observation that that sort of model doesn't work for today's busy community theatre participants. We wonder why no one shows up to auditions or why we end up casting the same people (many of whom may not have kids or other full-time jobs) over and over again. We are starting to see encouraging trends in the way the corporate world responds to the needs of its workforce. Things like telecommuting, flex time, on-site daycare, etc. are all smart ways to attract and maintain the very best talent. But we in the theatre world have often been slow to follow the trends and demands of our most important resource - the talent or potential talent that performs our shows - our "workforce".

These are not "professional" performers for the most part - meaning they don't do theatre for a living. They are juggling the demands of family and other jobs and simply don't have the time to commit to such heavy rehearsal schedules, as much as they might - and mostly do - want to. And, for the most part, I don't think they need to commit to heavy schedules. In many cases these performers are good enough to be professional performers but chose a different (some would say smarter) path in life. They still love to perform and have the talent and desire to get the work done their roles might require in whatever time frame they might be given. In fact, if they're true performers, they're probably actually longing to do a show but are lamenting the fact that they can't because of the heavy schedule. Can you imagine this scenario in the business world? You're selling a product. You have a potential customer who really, really wants the product. They can afford the product. But because you're unwilling or (seemingly) unable to deliver the product when and where the customer needs it, they can't and don't buy it. In fact the universe of people that actually can buy your product in the narrow window in which you're choosing to deliver it is so small that you end up selling and reselling to the same small customer base over and over again.

We all know directors who won't tolerate schedule conflicts of any kind, which is understandable to a point. We have a lot of work to get done in a short (no matter what the schedule looks like) amount of time. But in the busy actor/soccer mom (I refuse to say "hockey mom" ever again!) this is not realistic. She is going to have a few conflicts, it's inevitable. But she is a great performer and so our "no conlicts" policy cuts our nose off to spite our face. We in the community theatre community need to bend a little around the needs of our "workforce" - the performers. Talented, hard, working actors are worth it. What's more, they will rise to the challenge of shorter more manageable schedules. We've all seen the maddening phenomenon of casts that have a ton of rehearsals wait until the last minute to get off book or learn that last bit of choreo anyway. Give a talented performer 10 or 15 rehearsals and see what happens. I decided to put this to the test with the last show I directed, "Assassins".

I built a rehearsal schedule of basically 3 times a week (twice during the week and one on Sundays) for about an 8 week period. Obviously things heated up as we got closer to opening and tech week is tech week, but essentially these actors had around 10, 12, 15 rehearsals before running through the show. I was fortunate to have an amazingly talented cast, and I think a large part of that was because of a manageable schedule and the show was fantastic if I do say so myself.

Of course, "Assassins" is not a choreography heavy show and shorter rehearsal periods don't come without their costs and are not always possible. Huge casts, heavy choreo, big scene changes, etc. can all make shorter rehearsals impossible. But I've been in kind of a minimalist mood lately and if the kind of show you're into can accomodate a leaner vision, this may be one way to attract the talented hidden gems in the community you need.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Will Your Theatre Survive the Economy?

Great article in yesterday's Cleveland Plain Dealer by Theatre Critic Tony Brown - "Arts to Weather Economic Storm". Tony talks about how some of Cleveland's major arts and cultural institutions have prepared or are preparing for what seems to be an inevitable financial crunch due to the national economic crisis. In a nutshell the prevailing feeling among arts administrators seems to be "so what else is new?". And it's true. All of us involved in the arts are used to living hand to mouth and putting on our best shows even though there may only be 10 people in the audience. As I've watched the national news about dwindling investments, stock market crashes, AIG and everything else, I've said to myself, "This is the only time I think I've felt OK being poor!". I know...I'm very blessed, but seriously, I don't have hundreds of thousands in some investment somewhere being decimated right now. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. I think we kind of are in the same situation in the arts community. None of us were in this business to get rich anyhow. That being said, we still need to make sure whatever bills we do have get paid so that we can at least continue to do what we do best - make art and present it to art lovers.

So how is your theatre weathering the storm? Lowering unnecessary overhead and other costs is essential right now. Tony states in his article, "...some cultural groups started acting with more financial acumen. They reorganized, grew leaner, paid off debts and put a halt to the long-standing practice of borrowing from the next season's subscription receipts to pay off the current season's shortfalls." many of us know that drill?

He also goes on to talk about things like looking at ticket prices and how some companies' practice of lowering prices has paid off by building audiences. How much is your company charging? Will the market bear it? We all know that if you produce a big, splashy feel-good musical with a large cast that all of the cast's family member will buy tickets, filling up the house. In a way, this is giving the community theatre audience (our customer) what they want, which is good business. But it also creates a false sense of security too. Theatre is one of the rare businesses (yes, businesses) in which giving the customer "what they want" isn't always the primary goal - certainly not the only one. We are also charged to enlighten, challenge, provoke and educate as well as entertain. The second we try to produce a smaller cast show or a lesser known or edgier, more challenging piece we notice Aunt Edna isn't in the front fact, nobody is!! So we feel trapped into producing only big, splashy musicals that are not only expensive but also feature the same family member casts (are we becoming the Mormon Tabernacle theatre?) and are being done by every other community theatre in town for the exact same reasons. And that creates a bad economic equation - too much supply and not enough demand. When that happens in the retail world - overstock sales, for instance - prices drop. Are ours? Many theaters do react to market conditions as is indicated by the many BOGO offers and other short-term promotions I see pop up every weekend. I'm not suggesting ticket prices automatically should drop, but we do need to pay attention to what the market will bear and what our competitors are doing - and yes... if someone is buying a ticket to a show at the theatre down the street and not yours, especially if they're producing the same show - they're competitors. Tony brings up some good points and now is the time for all of us to look at how we are doing business and how we can do it smarter, cheaper and more efficiently.

Monday, November 10, 2008


For those who might not think of Cleveland as a thriving show business mecca, think again. From a throbbing local music scene, to the second largest performing arts center in the country - Playhouse Square - along with dozens of other professional and non-professional theatre companies, Opera Cleveland, The Cleveland Orchestra and so many other performing arts, Cleveland is indeed a great place to make and enjoy great works of art. And the people creating that art are some of the best anywhere. Case in point, another Cleveland entertainment pro who is sharing his ideas and experiences in a new blog - The Brian Bowers Project. Brian has been heavily involved in the arts and entertainment world for nearly his whole life. Starting as an actor at a very young age, Brian has performed over 20 years in theatre and broadcast. After graduating with a BA in Theatre from Baldwin-Wallace College, he continued to work as an actor while also working in management positions for several national companies. His interest in both entertainment and business/sales led to his transition into agenting for the Talent Group in Cleveland, OH, where he worked for over three years finding work and negotiating contracts for actors and models in commercials, industrials, voiceovers, and print/fashion. During this time he also created Braedy Photography (a portrait studio specializing in headshots for models and actors), and is also currently working as a producer for Erie Lake Pictures, a Cleveland based production company. CHECK IT OUT!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Advertising for the Poor (Like Community Theatres!)

Performing arts organizations need to advertise as much as any for-profit commercial company. But affording paid advertising? That is, indeed a comedy of errors! So should small non-profits throw in the advertising towel and depend on the kindness of their ever-dwindling senior citizen subscriber base? I think not.

Theatre artists are some of the most creative people in the world and the magic that comes out of their heads and onto a stage is often nothing short of miraculous. But when it comes to marketing and advertising we often get as creative as an I.R.S. agent (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

While expensive paid advertising is often not an option for theatre groups, there is a lot we can do to effectively promote our shows. Grass roots marketing and generating word-of-mouth buzz is the best way to generate interest in a production. Along with the normal generation of press releases, photos, flyers and video on a regular basis for each show, creative use of social networking sites has also become vital in the effort. For instance, recently the theatre I'm involved in - The Cassidy Theatre - had no less than 3 current or recent shows being talked about on Facebook - through cast photos postings, video and chats. This is free and goes a long way to generating that all-important buzz.

Theatre directors and marketers should look for the interesting stories within your cast and crew and let your media contacts know about them. Editors and producers don't care if you're putting on a show. They have a bigger responsibility to a larger population, much of which could care less about theatre. But they do want to know about the fact that a cast member recently returned from duty in Iraq or that everyone in the cast is volunteering at a soup kitchen or something. Encourage your cast to take candid rehearsal photos and video of their own and post them to various social networking sites. Write blogs, create MySpace and Facebook pages and event invitations. These have become invaluable (and free!) sources of generating buzz about shows and it helps cast members get even more involved in the production of your project. I recently created a series of online promotional video trailers for a production I directed of the Stephen Sondheim musical "Assassins" here in the Cleveland area. Each promo featured an actor playing a different historical presidential assassin revealing brief glimpses into their motivations. Of course each promo ended with show information. I got a lot of email response - soome quite controversial - which I promptly forwarded to the press, under the heading "Debate Erupts Over Assassin Promotion". The result was a front page feature articlein the local paper.

Ideas sell!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Generate Audiences Like Barack Did

Barack Obama's campaign for president is being hailed as one of the best in recent history. The timing of certain campaign activities, his ability to raise millions of dollars and cultivating one of the largest volunteer armies ever seen all have contributed to his success. Whether you voted for him or not, all of us in the marketing and advertising community should study this campaign and take away valuable lessons from it to apply to our efforts. For instance trying to attract voters is not unlike trying to attract audiences for theatre productions (which happens to be my interest). One of the things the Obama campaign did was to identify people who were registered voters in the last election but who, for some reason did not actually show up to vote. These people - obviously identified as prime targets - were then personally contacted. As we know voter turn-out hit record levels. What if we applied the same strategy to our customers - or potential customers? It's should be fairly easy to identify every theatre season subscriber and when they actually did or didn't show up for a show. I could then contact those people (who are warm and hot leads because they actually have "opted in" for my services) to find out why they didn't attend, address those issues and personally invite them to the next show for an improved experience. How many times have we tried to find new customers (or audiences) by cold calling or by otherwise blindly trying to reach as many people as possible, whether they had an interest in our product or service or not? Anyone in sales or marketing knows that a qualified lead - a warm, one - is like finding prospecting gold because it can save endless amounts of time and greatly improve the chances for a sale. And someone who has signed up for our service - or registered to vote - in the past is someone who should be contacted again. Can you say "low-hanging fruit"?