TheatreWings End of Year Party


On Friday May 9th the TheatreWings Program held its end of year party. It is one of the few times in the year when we can get everyone in the program together. Earlier in the week, the students asked if it would be possible to set up a big screen in the shop where the party was going to be held because they really wanted to play Guitar Hero 3 for the Wii on a big screen. It took a little working out, and a trial run the night before thanks to Jason, Mea, Angie and CJ (the great group of scene shop volunteers). We fulfilled their wishes, and they played like rock stars! Special Thanks to Alex Corsaro a senior in the program for bringing in her system and game. Each brought their own favorite party food to share with their friends and everyone had a great time. Beth Regalbuto, a junior, brought a batch of her special home made bubble juice and Taylor Wentworth and Jamie Bellah decided to see who could make the biggest bubble. Towards the end of the festivities, the staff presented each student with a T-shirt and a fun and memorable superlative in honor of the work they had done this season. At the end of the presentation, we awarded the TheatreWings Scholarship to 2 of our graduating seniors this year, Alex Corsaro and Heather Jones. This Scholarship is a $100 award to be used for the purchase of books and supplies. We award this scholarship each year to a student who has shown amazing skill in all areas of theatre, has been a participant in the program for at least 3 years and is planning to continue with their theatre education in college. After the presentation we took a TheatreWings group picture and then resumed the fun. These are an amazing group of young people and we would not be able to do the shows we do without them. Thank you Theatre Wings for all that you do.

TheatreWings Class of 2008

It is that time of year again, the time when you send off your youngsters into the big bad world of college. We at Charleston Stage have also found that it is time to send off the next group of our students with many good wishes and promises to stay in touch. Six of our students are venturing out into the world of higher education this spring and we wanted to congratulate them (as we will miss them terribly).

Jamie Bellah joined us 3 years ago from James Island High School, where she has regularly participated in the productions put on by Fort Johnson Players. She has also appeared in many SummerStage productions and has done a fantastic job over the years in any crew position but especially as a dresser. After a summer of work, Jamie is going to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.

Alex Corsaro is one of those kids who have always been around. She started taking TheatreSchool classes many years ago and then followed her big sister Jessica’s steps when she decided to join Wings. Sometimes it feels that she has become a permanent fixture in the shop as this year she had early outs at school and was able to come down during the day to work on special projects. If you saw Greater Tuna, you saw her work in the stained glass Jesus during the prayer meeting. This year she did a fantastic job as the Stage Manager for Fiddler On The Roof. She is graduating from School of the Arts with a Visual Arts major and will attend Brandis University in Boston, MA.

Heather Jones is another one who has always been around, appearing in many plays at the Dock Street Theatre when she was in elementary and middle school along side her mother, Lynn McKnight. When she was finally old enough she joined Wings, and grew learning to sew, build and stage-manage. This year she handled a guest director and a one-woman show at the same time as she stage-managed Bad Dates. Heather is great in theatre but her true passion is singing. She will graduate from SOA with a vocal major. She is going to continue her vocal training at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.

Catherine Spain, or just “Spain” as we call her, also grew up with Charleston Stage first in Kidstage, and then in Wings. She has appeared many times onstage between her backstage crews including starring in last summer’s Jungle Book as the black panther Bagera. She is graduating from Bishop England High School and will be studying theatre in the fall at Winthrop University alongside Jamie Bellah.

Greg Thompson joined the Wings program his sophomore year at Wando High School after appearing in several SummerStage productions along side his brother. This past Summer he starred in the Jungle Book as King Louis and this Summer he will be our Stage Manager for High School Musical during his final year with SummerStage. He is going to become an Orange Tiger this fall as he heads off to Clemson University.

Aidan White has only been with us a little over a year, but when he found us, he jumped into theatre with both feet. Wanting to pack as much experience in as he could in the limited time that he had with us, he worked 4 shows this season, 2 last season, and accumulated over 100 hours working in the shop while also holding a part time job at the Harris Teeter on James Island. He is home schooled and will be attending Trident Technical College in the Fall. I have a feeling we have not seen the last of Aidan in the shop or backstage.All of our seniors are outstanding and have done such wonderful things over the years. We will be celebrating all they have accomplished with us at the annual Senior Picnic with games and good food and friends. So keep an eye out here, we will be sure to post some pictures after the picnic.

The Secrets Behind Auditions

Charleston Stage is in the midst of its annual Seasonal Auditions and I thought I’d give you a little look behind the scenes.  Over the past few days more than 70 local actors, singers and dancers have been auditioning for scores of roles for next season.   No, though there are three of us watching auditions,  Director Marybeth Clark, Music Director Wendell Smith and me, it’s not like American Idol.  We don’t give instant feedback, in fact we never give feedback on auditions.  Auditions are not pass/fail exercises, they’re simply a way for directors to see what skills you have, what you look like and whether you might be right for a role.  You might be interested to know what does go into our decisions though.   Some of our decision making is simple,  for the musicals you have to sing of course, and  your vocal range matters.  We also have two dance heavy shows for next year: West Side Story and the tap-dancing Crazy for You so, of course,  if you are not a dancer or at least a good mover you probably won’t be selected for those roles. How much consideration do we give to your “look”?   It matters but less than you think actually.  If you’re a playing something like one of the Cratchit children in Christmas Carol we probably want the children shorter than the parents and if they look alike it helps but that isn’t a huge consideration.  In this year’s Christmas Carol the Cratchit children will probably sing so in that case we’re looking for good voices.   It all boils down to what is appropriate for the role at hand. Age is a consideration.  A 19 year old isn’t going to be cast as a middle aged man or woman of course. Good, clear, resonant speaking voices are a must. First and foremost audiences must be able to understand you. Mumblers beware.What about training?  It helps a lot but limited training doesn’t necessary take you out of the running.  Charleston Stage prides itself on casting professionals and young professionals together so they can learn from each other.  We do cast newcomers each season but even then they must already have a good natural abilities, especially a good speaking voice.What about the audition material, how much does that matter?  Again, less than you think.  There is no perfect song or monologue and certainly not one that’s going to make you look better than you are.  The best choices are those that show off your talents and those that show that the actor can play more than one thing. (Sad depressing monologues are usually sad and depressing.)Does it help if I know someone or if I’ve done a show with Charleston Stage before?  Not really, we value our returning actors who seem to get better and better each year but each season we welcome dozens and dozens of actors who are acting with Charleston Stage for the first time. The best performer will get the role.  So how do we decide?  We look for performers that have energy, life,  and honest enthusiasm and those who can really bring a character to life.  How do we know that when we see it?  I don’t know, we just do. If we’re interested in an actor we invite them to a second audition in which they may sing again or perhaps read from the script.  Somethings  during these readings we give what’s called an “adjustment”, perhaps asking them to play a scene in a different way. This is not to trip them up but find out what kind of range the actors has as a performer and then we have the hard part: actually assigning the roles.   Being a good actor isn’t enough if we don’t have a role for you.   We’re often frustrated because we see a great performance and have no place to put that that actor in the shows we’re casting in this season.  That’s why actors should not take rejection too personally, it may have nothing to do with your audition or your performance, you just may not be right for the role. In the end we must cast over 100 roles this season.   Some of those will go to our six Resident Acting Company members,  a few to professional Equity Guest artists brought in (for roles we can’t cast locally) but scores of roles are offering to Charleston’s exciting and growing professional acting community. And in the end we have some GREAT talent lined up for you next season. Just wait. Julian Wiles, Producing Artistic Director          

Celebrating Season 30 Down on the Farm

img_0171.jpgCharleston Stage staff spent a beautiful day in Fort Motte SC on the Wiles family farm. There were paddle boat and canoe rides on the pond, walks through Mrs. Wiles beautiful flower gardens and tours of Mr. Wiles (Sr.) restored 1930s General Store. Personally I found a hammock that needed stretching and enjoyed watching the activities from there. Since May of 2007 Charleston Stage has produced 12 shows in 2 brand new venues, from the world premiere of Denmark Vessey at Piccolo to our Sottile and American theatre series. I needed a break. No Charleston Stage event is complete without food and Jenny Hane, Julian and Mrs. Wiles took care of that. We were invited for lunch, but stayed through dinner and all left with goody bags. Thanks to the Wiles family (Jr & Sr) for a great day! Marybeth Clark Associate Artistic Director