And 5, 6, 7, 8!

Choreography:
noun
the movements used by dancers esp. in performing ballet, or the art of planning such movements

In other words, choreography is what can take a show from BLAH to WOW!
For ASPI’s upcoming production of “Footloose: The Musical”, we have two choreographers, Ali Carlson and Jennifer Hibbard, dedicated to creating the dance numbers for the show and to teach those dance numbers to the cast.

Ali has been dancing since the age of 3. With her entire family being involved in the theater, she got involved at an early age. However, it wasn’t until she was an adult that she found her passion for choreography.

Jennifer has danced jazz and ballet since the age of 7 and has received a secondary major in dance from Butler University, Jordan College of Fine Arts. Fun fact: Jennifer started and ran her own dance studio for 10 years.

Both have many years of choreography experience under their belt, so who better to explain the importance of choreography and how it goes from rehearsal to the stage!

The choreography process begins by creating the dance numbers. That creative process takes a lot of preparation and is different for every choreographer! One approach is to work with the Director of the production to get a feel for the style of the show, which is different for every production. The choreography is one way to set apart one musical from the next. For example, the free-spirited nature of “Footloose” is going to be different from the sultry atmosphere of “Cabaret”. For the next step, the choreographer looks at the cast and their abilities and creates the dance numbers from there. Other factors in the beginning stages of choreography include the spacing in the theater and the timeline of the production.

For this end of June production, choreography rehearsals began at the beginning of May. Teaching the choreography to the cast usually begins after the music has started- it’s important for the cast to know the music first before learning movement. Once the teaching portion is complete, it’s then time for REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW! A Dance Captain is crucial for running reviews at rehearsals. For “Footloose”, Bella Frank is serving in the role as Dance Captain. Did we mention the role is crucial? The show would not run without her!

What are our two choreographers most excited about for “Footloose”?

Jennifer- To see the enthusiasm and joy the cast portrays. It’s such a fun cast!

Ali- Seeing the performers develop from audition to opening night! That is always my favorite part. They start out scared, then I challenge them (and sometimes I can see the overwhelming feeling… but the actors have such perseverance), to opening night where they know they GOT THIS!! It’s such a great feeling to know that I had a part in their development from start to finish.

Come see the choreographers and the cast kick off their Sunday shoes for ASPI’s production of “Footloose: The Musical”! Tickets are on sale NOW! Showtimes include June 21, 22, 28, and 29 at 7pm and June 22, 23, 29, and 30 at 1pm. To purchase tickets, check out the ASPI website at AbramsTheatre.com or by calling the box office at 920-826-5852.

Special thanks to Ali Carlson and Jennifer Hibbard for their contribution to the blog post. You may have recently seen Jennifer and Ali on stage for ASPI’s production of “Cabaret”. When not on stage, you can find Ali behind the scenes as ASPI’s Resident Production Coordinator as well as ASPI Board Secretary.

♫ Let’s Hear it for the Funding ♫

In our last post, we talked about all the volunteers and community support that it takes to make ASPI a success. After the last blog post, you may be thinking, so where do the funds come from to maintain the theater building, daily operations, and production costs?

ASPI needs not only the community’s time and talents, but also monetary support. The theater is largely funded through ticket sales, so come see our shows! Invite your friends. Spread the word about this hidden gem in Abrams.

(Also, those yummy concession stand snacks also go back to support the theater. Supporting the theater never tasted so good 😉)

Other ways the community can contribute to the theater is through sponsorships, advertising, and donations.

Sponsorships start as low as $25 per year through $500+, and sponsorships are acknowledged with our gratitude in the production programs. Did we mention that sponsorships at the higher levels get discounted ticket prices? Click here  to learn more about how you can sponsor ASPI.

Advertising is a way for businesses to support the theater and vice versa. A full page black and white ad is only $180 for the year. This ad will appear in the season’s programs of all four productions. With 8 performances per production there is the potential of reaching 3,000+ people. Advertisers also receive 2 complimentary tickets to 3 of the 4 shows that year. That is a $90 value! Through the advertising, ASPI also seeks to support and promote area businesses.

And finally, ASPI accepts monetary donations of any amount. That is how we were able to fund our new cushioned chairs, through the generous donation of the Bond Foundation . A quick and easy way to donate is online at our website. Follow the link here.

Looking ahead, the financial vision of ASPI is to be debt free of the mortgage in approximately 5 to 7 years. In the long term, other potential updates to the theater space include additional bathroom space, a new roof, an updated sound system, and LED lighting for the stage.

Also looking towards the future, the theater is looking into ways to make good use of the theater space during down times. This includes renting the theater space for weddings, gatherings, and funerals. Most recently, the theater hosted an Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show, which brought together Northeast Wisconsin wedding vendors for a spring wedding show in a unique and quaint setting.

Again, the theater thrives off community support, whether that be through volunteering time, attending shows, spreading the word, or through financial support. We want this community theater to be at the heart of its community, for the community to see the theater as their own.

Want to be part of ASPI and the theater family? Have questions about how you can financially support the theater? Contact the box office at (920)826-5852!

Special thanks to Jim Klein for his contribution to the blog post! 

ASPI Needs YOU

Did you know that Abrams Spotlight Productions, Inc. (ASPI) is completely run by volunteers?

You read that right! The theater, from performers and production crew to set designers and the box office, even the board of directors, is entirely dependent on volunteers. So how does that work?

ASPI is considered a 501c3 nonprofit organization. While many nonprofits may have paid staff to assist in day to day operations, ASPI relies on the generosity and commitment of its community members. Each production, and the time in between, involves hundreds of hours of volunteer help. So, you can count on the theater being seldom empty or dark, even between productions. 

“We have been blessed with a very dedicated active board and volunteer staff. They are not only on the sidelines giving direction or orders but putting in countless hours to make this theater thrive and standout,” says board member Jim Klein.

You got a talent, we’ll take it! You may not even realize it, but you have a talent that ASPI needs.

Here is just a preview of the roles and skills needed to keep ASPI running: directors, performers, production crew, set designers and builders, costumes people, prop masters, ushers, box office attendees, board of directors, maintenance, repair, upkeep, lawn work, flower beds, painting, plumbing, etc.

And this is just naming a few!

Mr. Klein says it best, “ASPI loves to be the community theater in the heart of little Abrams… We want the community to take ownership of this hidden gem.”

That is what makes ASPI so special! It thrives off its community support.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about how you can volunteer at the theater, call the theater’s box office at (920) 826-5852 and check out the Volunteering section of our website.  

Stay tuned because in our next blog post we will discuss how you can financially support and get involved in ASPI!

Special thanks to Jim Klein for his contribution to the blog post. Mr. Klein was inducted as an ASPI board member in January 2019, but he is not new to the theater scene. Mr. Klein has appeared in several ASPI productions such as The Wizard of Oz (the Wizard), Shrek (retiring knight and bishop), Odd Couple (Speed), Meet Me in St. Louis (Trolley Conductor), Annie (President Roosevelt), and Singing in the Rain (Audience Heckler). Mr. Klein has also contributed his talents as Assistant Director for Charlie Brown and lighting for Oliver! Prior to ASPI, Mr. Klein spent 28 years working for Charitable Foundations as the Director of Planned Giving. ASPI is excited to have Mr. Klein on board!


Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show is March 31

The Stadium View, JPS Nvitations and Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. will present the Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple Street, Abrams. Brides, grooms, their families and friends are invited to attend the show, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 31, at the theater. The Byng Community Theater, formerly a quaint country church, has been newly renovated and is now open for weddings and funerals.

Guests at the Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show will have the opportunity to speak directly to a variety of wedding vendors from Northeast Wisconsin. Vendors will provide information about their products and services, including wedding cakes, music, photography, invitations, make-up, and more.

Drawings for prizes will be held throughout the event.

Tickets are $10; however, fees will be waived for the first 200 registrants. Call the Abrams theater box office to reserve your tickets, 920-826-5852.

Wedding vendors interested in exhibiting at the show are encouraged to call the box office for prices and availability, 920-826-5852.

Click Here to print out your free ticket!

The Many Faces of Oliver

Name that character: “Please, sir, I want some more.”

Yep, that’s Oliver Twist. The sweet, young orphan who must navigate the world’s cruelties from workhouses to foul caregivers and thieving pickpockets.

Productions and actors come and go, but the sweet and innocent spirit of Oliver Twist stays the same. Let’s meet the many faces who played the beloved orphan over the years…

 The Original London Production (1960)

The very first Oliver, leading the way for future child actors, was none other than Keith Hamshere, who was 14 at the time of the production. The Original London Production ran for 2,618 performances! Fun facts: Keith Hamshere left acting to pursue a career as a Hollywood still photographer. His work includes films such as James Bond and Star Wars.

Original Broadway Production (1963)

The original Broadway production, starring young Bruce Prochnik in the role of Oliver, ran from 1963 to 1964 with a total of 774 performances! Not only was the musical a success with audiences, but it was also a winner of 3 Tony Awards: Best Original Score (Lionel Bart), Best Conductor and Musical Director (Don Pippin), and Best Scenic Design (Sean Kenny)!

Fun Fact: In 1962, Bruce Prochnik played Oliver Twist in a UK TV miniseries.

Bonus: Georgia Brown and Barry Humphries from the Original London Production reprised their roles as Nancy and Mr. Sowerberry in the Original Broadway Production.

Oliver! The Film (1968)

The film Oliver! features young Mark Lester and it is based on the stage musical, using the same music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. Though the film does eliminate some song numbers such as “I Shall Scream” and “That’s Your Funeral”, the film was a smashing success! It was a winner of six Academy Awards and two Golden Globes!

Fun Fact: Oliver’s songs were actually dubbed by actress and singer Kathe Green.

Come and see our very own Sadie Smith in the role of Oliver Twist for ASPI’s production of Oliver! Get your tickets NOW for a show that will have you begging for more! To order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver!

According to Oliver: 5 Life Lessons from Oliver! The Musical

Palace of Westminster in fog seen from London Eye

  1. Share a meal with friends (or strangers).

       “But there’s nothing to stop us from getting a thrill

        When we all close our eyes and imagine

        Food, glorious food!”

   2. Every walk of life is worth living, especially if you spend it with people you love.  

      “When you got someone to love

       You forget your cares and strife

       Let the prudes look down on us

       Let the wide world frown on us

        It’s a fine, fine life!”       

   3. It’s never too late to turn your life around or have a change of heart.

       “And tho’ I’d be the first one to say that I wasn’t a saint

        I’m finding it hard to be really as black as they paint

        I’m reviewing the situation.”

   4. Family are those who you choose to surround yourself with.

        “Consider yourself at home

        Consider yourself one of the family

        We’ve taken to you so strong

        It’s clear we’re going to get along.”

   5. While it makes for a good musical number, thievery is not condoned.

       “Large amounts don’t grow on trees

        You’ve got to pick a pocket or two.”

 

We’d do anything for you , our audience. So, come and see ASPI’s very own production of Oliver! Tickets are on sale NOW! For more information and to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

What Christmas Means to Me

Picture this… You are lying in your bed and your eyes begin to flutter open. You look at your window and see that the sun is barely peeking through. It’s too early to wake up, so you begin to drift off. But wait! It’s Christmas morning!

SantaYou shoot out of bed and rush to your door. You go to wake up your parents, but there’s no time! You have to check under the tree! After months and months of asking and multiple letters to Santa because I have obviously been [fingers crossed] very good this year, your Christmas dream is about to come true. That’s right, the present you have been waiting all year is before you. Look at that perfectly wrapped box. You can almost taste your anticipation. You open the box… But what is this????? This isn’t what I asked for?!

Have you ever been there? Well Ralphie Parker knows the feeling. He so desperately wanted a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. The mother of all presents! If you don’t know how the story goes, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say this:

“You’ll shoot your eye out!”

But if we are being honest, looking back on Christmases past, what do we remember most? Is it the presents? Or is it making cut out cookies with your grandmother. Picking out a Christmas tree. Going sledding. Singing carols. Snowball fights. Building a snowman. Sitting with your family as you all enjoy Christmas dinner. All that and more are the priceless moments that will last for a lifetime. Those are the cherished moments and traditions you will look back on in years to come with nostalgia. Now that is what Christmas is all about.

How will you use this holiday season to make a memory that will last a lifetime?

Need some holiday cheer? No bah humbugs allowed here! Tickets are going fast for ASPI’s production of A Christmas Story: The Musical. For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

Words from the Cabaret Director: Cate Kopkey

From the company that brought you the laugh out loud hit “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, After Dark Productions is pleased to present its daring and seductive performance of Cabaret. The American musical will be ASPI’s second After Dark Production and is directed by none other than Cate Kopkey.

So, sit back and get an insider look into this tantalizing production straight from the director herself.

How did you choose the production Cabaret?
This was somewhat of a fluke! The committee that chooses our productions was struggling to fill the After Dark slot and mentioned that Cabaret was available. I JUMPED at the chance! This was a bucket list show for me to direct because of its sometimes unnoticed depth.

What makes Cabaret different from other past shows at ASPI?
Cabaret requires a little bit of everything, and that makes it different (and difficult). Dancing, singing, acting, all three are a must! The show also involves the audience in a new way. The audience is actually part of the Cabaret, and we blur the lines between so many scenes in the show that it causes the audiences to really be fully involved.

What has been the most fun part about working on this production?
This cast is incredible. They were running scenes off book at the first rehearsal. They dig into everything 100% from choreography, music, to all of the nitty gritty dramatic scenes and that makes my job easy and a TON of fun. I can push them and they just go with it! It’s such a supportive creative environment that everyone is free to try things without fear or judgement.

What has been the biggest challenge in making this show a reality?
Making sure that everything is time appropriate has been a challenge. The Kit Kat Klub is a seedy place, stuck in the 1920s. That’s a hard atmosphere to achieve and with that comes old mannerisms, posture, and styles. As if the cast didn’t have enough on their plate!

Why should someone come out and see the show?
This show will keep your attention from start to finish! It is always a quick transition from song and dance to sad and serious and right back.

Bonus Round:

Describe the show in three words:
Progressive Emotional Powerful

Favorite Number?
Married

Favorite quote?
“Fraulein Schneider, don’t settle for the lowest apple on the tree, the one easiest to reach. Climb up a little way. It is worth it. Up there the apples are much more delicious.” – Herr Shultz

Which character do you relate to most? And why?
Oh gosh. That’s a tough question! Probably Fraulein Schneider. She is steady and consequently nervous about change.

This is sure to be one swanky number that you won’t want to miss! Sally Bowles, says it best, “What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play. Life is a cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret!”

Tickets are on sale now for showings on September 13-16 and 20-23. For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum

When you think of a cabaret, what comes to mind?

Do you think of a night club? Slinky clad women dazzling audiences with singing and dancing? An extravagant and dramatic performance?

You may be surprised to find out that that the first cabarets looked very different from what we see today.

The first cabarets were of European origin and began in France in the 16th century. Instead of a theater or night club, a 16th century French cabaret was more of a meeting place where people could come for wine and food, much like modern restaurants.

Today when you think of a cabaret, it may conjure images of a burlesque. You may even think of the musical Cabaret and the feature film it inspired.

The original Broadway musical Cabaret premiered in 1966 featuring Jill Haworth as Sally. The musical is based on the play I Am A Camera (1951) by John Van Druten and Christopher Isherwood’s novel Goodbye to Berlin (1939). The original Broadway production was a winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, and Best Direction of a Musical.

The musical was later adapted into the 1972 film, Cabaret, starring Liza Minnelli and Michael York. The director, Bob Fosse, was an Academy Award winner, Tony Award Winner, and Primetime Emmy Award winner.

The film was not without controversy. The film met with criticism, even censorship, for its themes of sexual innuendo, homosexuality, Nazism, and club life. But controversy did not keep the film down! It went on to be a winner of eight academy awards, including Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Liza Minnelli), and Best Cinematography.

Feeling a little risqué? Come and see ASPI’s daring production of Cabaret on September 13-16 and 20-23. Tickets are on sale NOW! For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabaret
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabaret_(1972_film)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabaret_(musical)