Tag Archives: Musical Theater

How to Survive Show Week (In Seven Easy Steps)

Ah show week: the most exciting part of the process of theatre (and also the most stressful). With adrenaline and emotions running high, it’s easy to crash and burn half way through the run of a show. That being said, I have devised a list of helpful tips to keep you on your toes and ready for each curtain rise during the week, without pulling your hair out (or wig off)

Let’s begin:

#1) SLEEP. 

It’s great! It fixes a whole lot of problems. Believe me, I love to say up late binge watching “Gotham” as much as the next kid, but sleep is really really important. It let’s your body repair and your mind to reset for the next day of performing.


#2) Eat Healthy Food

I am notorious for snacking on junk food. Half the time, I forget to pack a lunch for the day, so I’m stuck munching on goodies from the vending machine. What I like to do is have a big bowl of pasta stocked in the fridge so that I can grab a quick meal before call time. Apples, peanut butter, and granola are also other favorites I like to have packed in my back pack so that I can grab a bite on breaks. Fruit, veggies and carbs are your friends!


#3) Hydrate or Dydrate.  (Totally stole this from the Hesmans)

WATER WATER WATER. I am a total coffee addict, but water is so important. Last spring during Godspell, all of the disciples hid water bottles on stage so that we could grab a swig in between songs. Sometimes you have to be creative, but constantly hydrating will save you from getting super sick.


#4) Don’t Sing All the Time

This goes out to all the musical theatre folks. Singing is great, but too much of it will kill your voice. If your director gives you the option to mark your songs during rehearsal, TAKE IT AND RUN. You’ve worked hard, you know your stuff, give yourself a break.


#5) Have a “Comfort” at the Theater

In the company I do theatre with, we are all required to have “show boxes”, which is where all our costumes, make-up, and street clothes live while at the theater. It’s also nice to stash some sort of comfort item in your area, whether it’s a really cozy jacket, a blanket or even a stuffed animal. I am amazed by the diversity of pillow pets that I see during show week. I personally like to have my Clone Wars throw blanket with me to doze with on breaks or in between acts. No one is gonna judge; they might try to steal it though if it’s really awesome.

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#6) Get alone for at Least 5 Minutes

Even if you love people, being around 60+ people at a time can be extremely overwhelming. So whether it’s before or after a show, find time to get alone and center yourself. In the current theater we’re getting ready to perform in, I like to go to the steps by the tunnel that goes under the stage and talk to God before a show. Having a few peaceful moments can make all the difference (just make sure that someone knows that you’re having quiet time so they don’t think you went missing ;P).


#7) Love Your Fellow Cast Members

The bond that you have with your cast will effect the entire course of your show run. If it’s not solid, it’s not gonna be a good week. You want to support the ones who are going through the story with you night after night, because they are going to be the ones to lift you up with you are struggling. Don’t be a diva, because you’re all in this together (yes, the pun was intended). Tell the person next to you that they’re doing a great job, and help that little kid make sure that they’re eye liner is straight. Little things like that can go a long way.


All in all, show week is fantastic. You get to put on all the hard work that you’ve been pouring yourself into for weeks on end. So enjoy it! But don’t forget to take care of yourself and everyone around you 😉

Until Next Time,


The Legend of CYTKC High School Camp

Legend tells of a place called CYT Kansas City. Once a year, when the warm winds and humidity comes, creatures called teenagers gather together to do the unthinkable: learn a musical in a week. Guided by the wisdom of the Great Milbourn and her trusted team, these students sing, dance and sweat for hours upon hours, putting together an incredible show for all to see. Those who have experienced the final product of these fabled camps are astounded and amazed, while those who haven’t question whether this legend is true. They scoff at the idea of something so extraordinary being a possibility, even though through God, all things are possible.

It has come time once again for the high schoolers to gather in the Great Hall to work together to tell a hilarious and entertaining story involving love, betrayal, and the word, “pee” being said many, many times. They will push past their limits, and then push a little bit farther, and because of their hard work, they will put on an incredible show. And though they work hard during the daylight, in the evening, they come together and do something even more beautiful than performance; they worship their Creator as one, huge body of believers. It is a fantastic week of growth that not only blesses the audience with a wonderful show, but the campers with a deeper relationship with fellow believers and Christ.  So to the scoffers and skeptics, come see for yourself what teenagers can really do when given the chance to step up to the plate.

If you have yet to see a CYTKC Master camp, this is the show to come to. I highly suggest ordering your tickets online, because in the past, they have had to turn people away. It’s an incredible week and will be an awesome show. You don’t want to miss it! Here’s a link to order tickets: https://www.cytkc.org/gettickets.aspx

I hope to see you at the show!

Until next time,


Close Shave Presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

I have been doing and watching musical theater for quite some time now, and through my years as a performer and audience member, I have come to have a list of “favorites”. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is on that list. I’ve seen it six different times, each cast being very different from the other, but Close Shave’s production of the show is by far the best version I have ever seen, and one of the best overall productions I have seen performed by high school students. But what made this cast and performance so special? Well, for starters, it was directed by teenagers. Yes, you read that right: teenagers, ranging from the ages of 15 to 19, all of who have performed in numerous musicals before, organized and led the cast (with the help of some very incredible parents). That’s not something that happens very often. Then there’s also the fact that it was a quality performance. If you’ve watched a lot of theater, you know that there are some shows that you go to where you are just gripping the edge of your chair, fighting the urge to run out the doors. The cast was fully engaged in their world; always reacting to each other and making the audience connect on an emotional level. But the reason I loved this show so much was that they made it a show about people, which can be a lot harder to pull off than you would think.  Each character gives you a different perspective on competition, the value of hard work, and the importance of each individual life.

Rona Peretti, played by Olivia Schneider, brings a light hearted take to the Bee. Once a champion herself, she is played opposite Evan Phillips, who plays Douglas Panch, the school’s Vice Principal. Very dry, very funny, Phillips brings a comedic energy to the stage while Schneider is loving and understanding of the kid’s feelings during the competition. Mitch Mahoney, played by Erin Cangelose, is a “comfort counselor” doing community service while on parole. She is “on” while on stage; constantly reacting snidely to the events of the Bee and every now and then, yelling at an uncooperative speller.

Chip Tolentino, played by Andrew Ascher, is the picture of a “good, all-American kid”. Boy scout and past spelling bee winner, he gives the example of how it you don’t always get your way, how you react shapes you into who you are. You can let situations that don’t really matter in the long run destroy your self esteem, or let them build you up. Ascher brings a very charming yet still innocent take to Chip’s character, which can be difficult while singing about… well, a distraction (My Unfortunate Distraction).

Leaf Coneybear, played by Ryan Beard, is a character that has a very positive outlook. Homeschooled, he is, quite frankly, really weird. But unlike Chip, he is constantly optimist through the story, and is a happy-go-lucky character. It’s interesting to see his reactions throughout the Bee, because unlike many of the constants, he is just super happy to be there, and is hoping to prove to his gigantic family that he is more than they think he is (I’m Not That Smart). Beard is hilarious, and is excellent at playing the stereotypical homeschooler with his impressive comedic timing.

Marcy Park, played by Faye Rebottaro, is the polar opposite of Coneybear. She’s the girl who can do it all, which is something that is a heavy weight on her shoulders. She has a reputation for winning and being incredibly well rounded, and I feel that her character conveys one of the biggest points of the show: Winning isn’t everything; even Jesus, played by Tyler MacSweeny, didn’t care if she won the Bee or not. Rebottaro is fantastic at playing the straight laced character, never breaking her stone face demeanor, and is also very entertaining with her tricks on stage (I Speak Six Languages).

Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre, played by Alyse Berger, was the character that pulled on my heart strings the most throughout the show. She is the youngest speller in the bee and the adopted daughter of two gay fathers, played by Randy Jackson and Daniel Verschelden. They are the definition of helicopter parents, constantly pushing her to be the very best, stressing to her that “God hates Losers” (Woe is Me). Out of all the times that I have seen this show, this was the first time that Logainne’s character made me cry. Many people can connect to Berger’s performance of a child who is trying their very best to live up to ridiculous expectations and who is scared to death of failure.

William Barfee, played by Zach Faust, is one of the more eccentric characters in the cast, with his funny voice and his spelling technique (Magic Foot). Though he loves spelling (and being right), he is also a lover of science, which is not encouraged by his step-mother. He has a hard outer shell, but has a softer side that comes as the show progresses. Faust, who is on his second run of playing this character, brings a hilarious boy who struggles with major nasal issues and people skills into a new light from other productions, and is an actor who is the glue on stage for his fellow cast mates.

Olive Ostrovsky, played by Libby Terril, is the sweetheart of the show. A very shy, timid little girl, she is dealing with the absence of her mother, played by Olivia Schneider, who is in India to “find herself”, and the emotional absence of her father, played by Christian Geil. There is the underlying idea that she is being abused by her father, who is angry that his wife is gone (The I Love You Song), but through out the show, you see the character gain confidence that was buried inside of her. Terril makes you feel for this little girl, and you as an audience member, you want to see her succeed.

Putnam made me feel for these characters. Every one of them had a life outside of the Bee, but all of their lives came together in the school gym. Each was very different from the person sitting next to them, but all of them were extremely important. This show gives a powerful message: People are very important. We often get so swept up in ourselves that we forget how special and valuable other people are. I will never look at this show the same way after watching the performance this afternoon, and I highly suggest that you take the opportunity to go see this incredible cast tell a powerful story about people. Below, there is a link listed to order your ticket online. It is HIGHLY suggested that you order online, two shows are just a few tickets away from being sold out.

Thank you, Putnam Cast, for putting on such an incredible performance. It is one that I will hold in my heart forever 🙂

Until Next Time,




Photo credit to Cameron Pratte, the Director of Advertising for Close Shave Productions https://www.facebook.com/closeshaveprod?fref=ts


Almost positive that my director is gonna tell me to go to bed once he sees this. I apologize in advance for any confusing sentences as I am running on a slap-happy burst of energy.

Tonight was our final rehearsal of Godspell before we start our weekend run. It’s incredible how  far we’ve come in the past two months. For those of you who don’t know, Godspell is basically Matthew 5-7, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. (Go give it a read, it’s good stuff.) When I first saw the cast list for this show I was over the moon. I was in this show when I was 13 and was on stage for about 25 minutes of the entire show, while this time around, I am on the stage for about 95% of the show. It’s such a huge transition from being in kid’s chorus to being one of the disciples; there was a lot more pressure because all of us have a bunch of lines that can sometimes fly right out of our heads when we need them the most. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt this blessed.

When the rehearsal process started, I began praying that God would open my eyes to something bigger. I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was about three, and I’ve always grown up in a family that LOVES Him, so my faith sometimes feels mediocre. Don’t get me wrong, my faith is my own, but it often times felt so routine. It didn’t really hit me until last night (our Tuesday rehearsal) what was going through the hearts of the disciples while they were following Jesus 2,000 years ago.

My character (as most of my fellow cast mates would agree) is one of, if not the youngest disciple out of the nine of us. Now, imagine if you are a young child, and an extraordinary person comes who has all the answers that you’ve been looking for. He’s charismatic, he’s smart, and he’s zealous about his cause. You think that he’s the King that you’ve all been waiting for for many generations. If he hand picked you to follow him, it would be one of the most incredible things that had ever happened to you. But then, after a long time of following him, he is killed right in front of you: your King is dead. It’s confusing and heart-breaking and infuriating all at once. BUT THEN HE RISES FROM THE DEAD. Being a disciple is an emotionally roller coaster!

These feelings all really clicked for me completely tonight as we ran the show. I often try to be at Wes’s (the guy who plays Jesus) heels on stage, trying to soak in all the words he says. You know those little kids that always follow around that really cool big kid? Yeah, that’s me. It’s heart breaking when he “dies” in the second act of the show. Hearing my fellow cast mates scream and cry pulls at my heart, and I finally am starting to understand what the 11 guys who followed Him for 3 years felt like when their leader was brutally murdered. But oh man, when He rose again, they must have been jumping for days. I am so thankful that I am starting to be able to really empathize with one of the first followers of Christ, because in real life, I really am one. Anyone who is a believer in Him is a disciple, and as a disciple, we are called to proclaim His glory to the world.

I will forever be thankful that I got the opportunity to play this part. It’s been wonderful to act with some really awesome people. Big shout outs to my fellow disciples: Maggie, Hillary, Olivia, Regan, Ryan, Aaron, Caleb and Zach (Judas) and Wes (Jesus) who have been so much fun to work with. To the directing staff, thank you for leading us through the last few months and making us look great. To the parents, holy cow, you are rock stars and we could never do something like this without you. But most importantly, I want to thank God for opening my eyes to a deeper part of my faith in Jesus. The biggest goal of this show is not to always be in the front and in the spotlight; it’s to make people love Jesus more, and that goal as most definitely been achieved in me. My cup truly does run over with His many blessings. I hope that you’ll have the opportunity to come out and see it this weekend! You won’t regret it 🙂

Until next time,


Things You Learn in the Ensemble

If you haven’t figured out by now, I love musical theater. While I write this, I am actually waiting for the “PLACES!” call to be made for my 21st musical through a wonderful theater group called CYT. Cinderella has been a blast. I adore the story, and the musical has been so much fun (even more fun than the first time :D)

This is the first show in a while that I’ve done with CYT that I have been in the ensemble. No lines to memorize, no big solos. I wish I could say that I was thrilled when the cast list for this show came out in December, but to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I had gotten used to getting a script. I like learning lines, and getting to have a bit bigger spotlight, and because of that, my pride took a hit when I learned that I was in the ensemble. But you know what? This has been one of the best shows I have ever been apart of.

There’s a lot of great things that you can learn when you aren’t a lead. Here are some things that I’ve learned after many times of being in the background.

 1. You learn a lot of different kinds of dances. 10349967_332820596902506_1802047354467327336_n

You never know what kind of dance you’re going to learn being in the ensemble. I did one show recently where I learned a tap dance, a ballet dance and two partner dances. Not being restricted to a lead role gave me the opportunity to expand my dance experience, and for that I am very grateful. It beats being in dance classes!

10906414_332817690236130_4270140695354982277_n2. You learn how to be funny without a script.

This might be a personal one, but let me know if you relate. I do improv a lot (in fact, I’m on a team that’s going to California this summer to compete), so I often try to find funny things to add to scenes. Sometimes, it’s easier to add bits to a scene when you have a script. Peter Pan, for an example, had a lot of improv. That might be because Captain Hook and I have a lot of experience acting together, but we often found little ways to make lines funnier. But in the ensemble, you are free from a script. You can develop a character all on your own and it adds to the show as a whole. I’m glad that I’m part of a cast whose ensemble does not look bored to death in the background.

3. You learn by watching and listening.10888801_10152923533677416_7976246887617228658_n

This is something that everyone can do, but it’s especially true to ensemble members. You are often watching the directors work with other cast members, and you can pick up techniques and tips from just listening to other actors being directed. You never know when something you’ve heard will help you in a future audition or role.

Ensemble Blog 24. You learn how to change costumes quickly.

In many shows, it’s the ensemble folks who have the most costumes. Now, in Cinderella, our sweet leading lady has an impressive wardrobe, and the other leads have multiple costumes. But often, many leads will only have one costume while ensemble members have 2, 4 or 6 different costume changes. In the show I did over Christmas break, my fastest change was about 30 seconds: I changed from a black evening gown and black shoes to a bright green dress with tan shoes. It can be stressful, but it becomes almost a science when you get all your changes down.

5.You learn how awesome the other ensemble people are.Ensemble Blog 1

My favorite thing that has come out of Cinderella is the friendships that have come from it. When you are a lead, you often don’t have time to interact with the other people in the cast. You only really hang out with your fellow leads, which isn’t horrible, but you don’t get to meet everyone. With this show, I have done my best to talk to as many people as possible, especially the kids that are younger than me. I have gotten very close with my fellow ballroom ladies and it’s been so wonderful to just chill out and talk and laugh with them. You never know when you are going to impact someone, or if little feet are following you.

In all honesty, if you asked me if I had the choice between a lead and an ensemble member, I would probably pick the lead. But, I feel after going through this show, I will not be extremely upset if I am part of the ensemble in the next show I’m in. I strongly believe that every role I get is hand picked by God, and whether it’s for something I need to learn or I need to be in a place to be there for a fellow cast member, I know that every part is perfect for my current situation. While it’s fun being a lead, it can also be a blast being in the ensemble. It all depends on your attitude 🙂

Until next time,


Prayer Requests for Cinderella

Today, I plead for prayer for my precious cast. This has been one of the most wonderful shows I’ve been in, and I am so thankful for this great group of people. Prayers would be greatly appreciated as we get ready to open Thursday morning: *One of our lead cast members is very sick. Please pray for healing, and that any sickness will be swept away from the cast now and stay away. *Costumes are hard. Pray for the costume ladies to have wisdom and bursts of inspiration the next few days as they problem solve. Seriously, these women are awesome. *Sets can be scary sometimes. Pray that they will all be safe for the cast and crew. *Pray for the parents: that they feel love from their kiddos and that they are lifted up after all the work that they’ve put in. They have seriously done so much amazing work for us. We CANNOT do shows without our parent VOLUNTEERS (as in, no money for countless hours of work). *Pray for the crew. These guys are volunteers too, and they make the magic really come to life. Pray that they get everything learned quickly so that they can do their job safely to make the show look Incredible. *Our directors are rock stars. Pray that they get lots of sleep, have clarity and are able to get joy from all the work they have poured into us. *Pray for the hearts of the cast. Keep them joyful and obedient, and ready to perform for the Lord. Pray for physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to carry them through the next six days. *Pray for the audience members who are coming to see the show: that they are blessed by the performance and see Christ on the stage. *Lastly, this is a a big one from our director: Pray that everything that can go wrong in the show will go wrong tomorrow or Wednesday night. We want to get all of the mistakes and problems fixed now so that we can have major-error-free shows. There is much work to be done, but Cinderella goes up Thursday morning! Tickets are still available online at http://www.cytkc.org/tickets! You don’t want to miss this beautiful, magical show! Until next time, Abby

Why I Continue To Do Musical Theatre

Since 2009, I have been doing musical theater through Christian Youth Theater and a few other community theater companies. A lot of the people I’ve met in the program want to continue on and make it their career. I personally will not be pursuing it. I might do community shows every now and then or even try directing and teaching, but I have other things that I want to do (like write books and draw all day). So why do I continue to do it? Why don’t I just spend my time doing something else? Well, let’s talk about that. 10394039_909834435735832_1744954296619038057_n1) It makes me feel stronger Correction, it has made me stronger: physically and emotionally. You can’t dance without being strong. There’s so much that goes into singing and dancing at the same time, and whenever I get a hard song down it’s awesome. As I write this, I am right in the middle of the show “42nd Street” with a newer theater company in my area, in which we are learning the show in a week. Somehow, I ended up in the ballet ensemble, which has a lot of technical moves that have been really hard to get down. But oh man, when I got our hardest dance down, I was so happy. I felt awesome, and even though my muscles are extremely sore, I feel super strong.

Diary of Anne Frank
Diary of Anne Frank.

Cast lists can be brutal. I have been disappointed so many times, especially over this past year. It can hurt not get the part you want, and I am guilty of being bitter about certain roles. But having to deal with disappointing cast lists helps you learn how to deal with rejection. It takes a certain amount of emotional stability to deal with being turned away for something, or worse, having to see another person do a job that you thought you could do too. It can still be hard, but it’s finally starting to get easier.

Oliver! (Bet)
Oliver! (Bet)

2) It makes me feel pretty

Shrek (Gingy)
Shrek (Gingy)

This one doesn’t really apply to the fellas, but oh my goodness, getting to wearing gorgeous costumes and make-up is wonderful. I’m the kind of girl that likes to dress girly every now and then, but I often will be found with a ball cap and converse. There’s something about musical theater that makes it so much more fun to get dressed up. It adds so much more to a character whenever you add the costumes, hair and make-up. Now, I have played a few characters where my costume wasn’t exactly pretty (as in, I was a man), but the times that I have gotten to be on stage dressed up, it has made me feel really beautiful.

Improv Team (Summer 2014)
Improv Team (Summer 2014)

3) It makes me more confident I’ve never been a shy person. I like people. A lot. But since I’ve started doing theater regularly, my confidence has soared. Any shell that I had had melted away, and I’ve done some pretty silly things on stage and off. My first semster of college was so easy because I got over being serious around people quickly and was just my Abby self. It helped me do so much better in my speech class and gain new friendships. I’ve found that I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation in my classes for being the kid that can always make the class and teacher laugh. I never thought I would be a “class clown”, but because of the confidence I have gained over the past six years, it’s so easy to be silly. While there I times where I know I have to be serious, it’s more fun to live life without worrying what people think of you. When you have this philosophy, you get super awesome friends, and every now and then get a laugh out of someone.

4)I have met amazing peopleMarlee Seriously. Most of my closest friends are from my adventures on stage. I am blessed to be apart of a theater group that is very close and focuses on relationships that you build with your cast mates. The friends I have made are like my family. Yes, like all other seasons in life, you meet people that you don’t get along with very well. You can get your heart broken every now and then, but there’s always about a dozen other people you love you so much, and it’s easier to push out the bad vibes. There are wonderful friends that I’ve made that I hope to some day have in my wedding, who I’ll grab coffee with and talk about our kids, and continue to share our lives with each other.


5) It’s a way for me to worship I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus. As a Christian, I want to try my best and do everything in a way that glorifies God. This can be a very tricky thing to do with theater, because you’re in the spotlight. You want front and center. You want people to tell you that you got the part, to bring you flowers and tell you that you did a great job. But that’s no how it works with Jesus. He’s supposed to be the center of your life, not you being the center of attention. It’s something that I still have to work on, but when I really let myself worship and love glorifying God with my performances, it’s a really awesome feeling.

6) It’s Fun! 

Willy Wonka (Specialty Dancer)
Willy Wonka (Specialty Dancer)
Captain Hook Minus the Mustache and Smee
Captain Hook Minus the Mustache and Smee

It’s thrilling to be waiting off stage in a dark theater, knowing that in a few seconds, you’ll be standing in front of a crowd of people doing what you love. For me, it’s an amazing adrenaline rush. I love performing. Taking on a new character is always an adventure, and a distraction from my crazy life. For two hours, I’m in a totally different world, and it’s great, especially when I get to be doing it with some of my favorite people. Through middle school and high school, I have been a part of over 30 shows, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve gained from each one for anything. I’ve learned so much in this span of time, and I want to keep doing it for as long as I can. I keep learning new things about people, life, and myself through this art. It’s not about the part you get, and whether or not you get a lead, but what you choose to get out a show. It can be really hard to accept that you aren’t going to always get the role that you go for, but roles don’t define what you can get out of a show. Until the time comes where I move onto my next season of life, I will continue to learn and grow through one of my favorite things, no matter what the part (and even if I have to wear a mustache again :P). Until Next Time, Abby Narnia (2009) My first CYT show :) 1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. P.S. Big thank you to my wonderful mom and dad for supporting me and letting me continue to do theater! You guys are amazing!!!!!