Monday, February 28, 2011

The Wind in the Willows (1983)

"The Wind in the Willows," 1983. 
Foreground, L to R: Oliver Osterberg, Jon Allen, Tom Dunn, George Muschamp, Julee Cruise, Richard Long.
Background: Joseph Papke, Marnie Osterberg

Closing the Children's Theatre Company and School's 1982-83 season of plays for all ages, an adaptation (the first in the Theatre's history) of Kenneth Grahame's beloved novel "The Wind in the Willows." 
The third and final commission from guest playwright Sharon Holland (her previous scripts were the previous season's productions of  "Puss in Boots" and "Alice in Wonderland"), the play was directed by Myron Johnson with original music composed and orchestrated by Steven M. Rydberg.  Scenic design by Tom Butsch, costume design by Gene Davis Buck. 

The conceit of the adaptation had the author Grahame, his wife, son, and literary colleagues on a picnic in the country.  There the humans narrate the story while actors in full animal garb perform the action  in pantomime.  (Another adaptation of the Grahame sourcework by former resident playwright Thomas W. Olson would be produced in spring, 1995 with music by Roberta Carlson and direction by Gary Gisselman.)

The play became the fifth (and final) professional video production CTC produced with the Television Theatre Company (preceded by The Marvelous Land of OZ, Puss in Boots, Alice in Wonderland, and The Red Shoes) with video direction again by John Driver.

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Alice in Wonderland - 1970 and 1982

"Alice in Wonderland" 1970.  Sara Schimke.

Produced twice during the first twenty-five years of the Children's Theatre Company's production history, Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" played on the stage of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1970 and, over a decade later, in CTC's "new" theatre in 1982.

For the 1970 production:
Adapted for the stage by Fred Gaines. Directed by John Clark Donahue. Music composed by Roberta Carlson. Set design by Richard Lyons after original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. Scenic painting by Jack Barkla. Costume design by Barbara Tyirin.

For the 1982 production:
Adapted for the stage by Sharon Holland. Music composed by Hiram Titus. Directed by John Clark Donahue. Scenic design by Tom Butsch. Costume design by Gene Davis Buck.


Video of 1982 production:
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Rivals

Richard Brinsley Sheridan's "The Rivals."  1978.
Sara Schimke as Lydia Languish, Karen Helfand as Lucy.

Presented in the late spring of 1978, the Company presented, for its teenage and adult audiences, the classic 18th century English comedy "The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  Running in repertory with "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" and "Punch and Judy & The Three Sillies," the play was directed by John Clark Donahue, with music and scenic design by Steven Rydberg, costume design by Gene Davis Buck, and lighting design by Karlis Ozols.

Silent 8mm "home movie" of improvisation/rehearsal in the country:

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Sitwells at Sea

"The Sitwells at Sea" 1972 production.  Bain Boehlke as Edith Sitwell.

20th century British poet Edith Sitwell, her family, and her writing was the inspiration for the original play for adult and teenage audiences "The Sitwells at Sea," by Gar Hildenbrand.  Directed by John Clark Donahue with original music composed and orchestrated by Steven M. Rydberg, the play was first presented in the Theatre's 1971-72 season (one of thirteen productions that season) and presented once again in 1979.
Bain Boehlke portrayed Edith in both productions.

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Photos from 1979:

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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Netting of the Troupial

"The Netting of the Troupial" 1973.  Bain Boehlke as the High Priest.

In winter of 1973, while the Company was without a home of its own (the museum auditorium having closed in December, 1972 for renovation and the "new theatre" under construction to open in late summer, 1974), The Children's Theatre Company temporarily resided at the Crawford Livingston Theater in St. Paul, presenting "Johnny Appleseed" for its family audiences and -- for adults and teenagers -- an epic, new play by John Clark Donahue: "The Netting of the Troupial."

Set in a fictional, primitive, tropical society, Donahue's play explored the clash of tribal politics and spiritual beliefs.  The cast numbered many dozens -- the resident acting company supplemented by a number of adult guest artists as well as many student performers.  Karlis Ozols as the chieftain and Bain Boehlke as the High Priest led the cast, including Wendy Lehr, Richard Thompson, John Jenkins, Chris Mulkey, Guy Paul, Patrick McNellis, Ronn Tice, Karen Helfand, Steven Rydberg, to name a few.

Original music composed by Roberta Carlson.  Scenic design by Donahue.  Costume design by Gene Davis Buck.  Lighting design by Karlis Ozols. 

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Dream Fisher (1977)

"The Dream Fisher" poster art by Steven Rydberg.

In the third season in its "new home," The Children's Theatre Company undertook the production of a new play written and directed by founder/artistic director John Clark Donahue for family audiences.  A fable presented in verse, a storm deposits an innocent child and the Seven Deadly Sins on an island where, marooned together, they are each granted a single wish by a mysterious man who appears in multiple forms. 
It was an enormous, challenging production.  Original music score composed by Steven M. Rydberg.  A huge set, spilling out into the audience house, designed by Donahue and Don Pohlman, surrounded by a cyclorama upon which projections and film (by George Heinrich) could be displayed.  Costumes by Gene Davis Buck.  Lighting by Karlis Ozols. 
Cast included Bain Boehlke as The Dream Fisher and Brendan McNellis as the innocent child Kelay.  The sins were portrayed by Company members Carl Beck, Gerald Drake, Barry Goldman, Wendy Lehr, Patrick McNellis, George Muschamp, and Sara Schimke.   Karlis Ozols as "Magician" Dream Fisher.  Katy Lasley and Jim Sewell as sprites.  George Sutton as proscenium stonecarver.

L to R: Jim Sewell, Bain Boehlke, Katy Lasley.

L to R: Patrick McNellis, Carl Beck, Sara Schimke,
Wendy Lehr, Barry Goldman, George Muschamp.

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Two audio clips of original music by resident artball Steven M. Rydberg.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hang On to Your Head (1967, 1972)

"Hang On to Your Head" 1967.  Myron Johnson, Bain Boehlke, Sara Schimke.

Original play by John Clark Donahue.

1967: entire production conceived by Donahue, including scenic and costume designs.

1972: Music composed and orchestrated by Hiram Titus. Scenic Design by Jack Barkla. Costume Design by Gene Davis Buck. Lighting Design by Karlis Ozols.

About the play: in fantastic encounters with her dreams, Verleen Panky, aided by Uncle Harry and a magical companion Leonardo, discovers the beauty of her inner self and becomes the "Queen of the World." The production was invited to represent the United States at the 1972 International Congress of Theatre for Children and Youth (ASSITEJ) in Montreal, Canada, and in Albany, New York.

Featuring Sara Schimke as Verleen Panky, Bain Boehlke as Uncle Harry, Myron Johnson as Leonardo, and Wendy Lehr as Mrs. Panky.

Hang On to Your Head.  1967.  (Myron Johnson, Bain Boehlke, Sara Schimke)

Click the links below and listen to audio excerpts from the 1972 touring production of John Clark Donahue's fantasy "Hang On to Your Head" with original music composed and orchestrated by resident composer Hiram Titus. Opening: Escape into Fantasy: Tarantella: Parade and Magic: Tango: Interlude: The Rolled-Down Sock Club: Mrs. Panky's Soliloquoy: In the Garden: Queen of the World: Finis: Video Clip 1. Video Clip 2. Video Clip 3. Also -- "behind-the-scenes" silent home movies of the Company on tour to Montreal (with Hiram Titus' Hang On to Your Head score added as accompaniment).