Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!



Not much to report. Still homesick, but here are some of the latest photos from Akaroa, New Zealand. Next time I am here, I will be revisiting Christchurch, so expect some photos then as well. These photos are for Grama and Gerry.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What a ride!

It has been an interesting couple of days, let me tell you! First off, one of our dancers was out of the show British Invasion because of a foot injury. Strangely, the day after it happened, she was up and already decorating her cane for the Halloween party the dancers were throwing. Interesting, huh? I might also add that the lack of communication is still going strong. The way I found out about the party the dancers were throwing? I saw a poster on the wall advertising it. You would think that as one of the cast of singers and dancers I would have been notified? Of course not. The cruise ship world doesn't work that way.

So, said dancer was out of the show. But she still showed up with a drink in hand to the disco! Any sort of reprimand? Of course not.

Just one of the many reasons why things don't make sense. Bad things will always happen to good people, and the bad guy will always get away.

Speaking of the bad guy getting away, I finished my first draft of Dr. Merlin's Magic Shop, a musical I am writing. The lyrics are there, sort of, and the book is pretty strong, I just need some written music to accompany the lyrics. This is what I suck at. My theory is rusty, and I have no access to a piano on a regular basis to plunk out melodies.

Ah well. I am not in the best of moods lately, am I?

Yesterday I was asked if I wanted to participate in the "Secret Santa" thing with the cast, and I said no. What is my problem? I guess I really don't understand why these folks are the way they are. I have no desire to hang around them, see the world with them, even sit and eat at the same table with them. They are vindictive, selfish, and basically young children who need everything done for them, and expect everything as well. They have no work ethic, or if they do, it is one of "I don't want to work, just party." Obviously. It will be nice to get back into the professional performing business.

So last night around 11:30pm, the captain interrupts everyone with an announcement... due to the engine failure, we are running on only one engine, and with the headwinds, we are going to be delayed arriving in Sydney by TEN HOURS! What? Are you kidding me? Then I looked outside. We were crawling... no, LIMPING through the Tasman Sea. We finally got in around noon, and I got off the ship as soon as I could. I am in an internet cafe typing this as we speak. That makes no sense, but you get my drift...pun intended.

So, I don't have to be back on board until 7pm tonight, which is kind of a nice change, and tonight's welcome aboard show has been either canceled or postponed. I have no idea when we will sail. Would have been nice to have an overnight in Sydney, maybe catch a show or something, but no such luck this time around.

I have posted picture on my Facebook page, because for some reason they upload faster than they do on here. I will be posting more on this site soon, though. You just need to continue to be patient with me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Two outta Three ain't bad!



So, the photos I entered into the 2011 Photofest show and contest were judged for the entry into the show, and two of the three I entered got in! Very exciting! Here they are again...

Thanks to those of you who helped me pick on Facebook... and here as well! I will send more news later! The show is in November at the Tallahassee Int'l Airport terminal. It runs through the new year. See you soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It has been a while

And for that I apologize. I have been battling insomnia, homesickness, a bout of depression, and anxiety over a missing package. My apologies.

So, here is the story from then until now. Things are going pretty much as expected. It is our second month plus some, and the cast is getting on each others' nerves, as expected. My leading lady is a gem, but then again, she is also very young and has a lot to learn about how to play the "cruise ship game."

Shows are going well, and I feel like they are new, due to the new leading lady and a new cast. I wish I could say a lot of great things about them, but overall, I think they are in this for the money, and for the job, not for the passion of performing. This is nothing that I wouldn't say to their faces, so I don't mind posting this online.

I am spending more and more time alone and behind the lens of my camera, which is fine for me. I have read four novels since coming on board, which is two a month. A record for me, I think. I read the three Hunger Games novels, and enjoyed them, though I think the criticism over the amount of violence is a little overdone. I found them not at all violent, comparing them to Where The red Fern Grows and other novels I read at that "age level." Sorry. I enjoyed them. Had a tough time getting through the third one, as I felt the author needed a "screenplay-type" of ending. Ah well. Read Clay by David Almond... it was good. Could be a good movie, but needs work in my opinion.

Just finished the most recent book in the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. Mary Ann In Autumn it was called. Loved it. I read these books on the first ships I worked on , and I feel like it is coming home, in a way. The characters are real, and the situations are somewhat far-fetched, but somewhat believable. I envy how the author is aboe to have all these different characters scattered all over the globe, and yet there is a common thread that brings them all together. I wish I could write like that.

In other news, I have not heard from a certain M.S., and I am starting to worry. This is the guy whom I have spent a lot of my adult life thinking about, worrying about, caring about, and I feel like I have been abandoned by him. Facebook does no good, and though it is probably my own fault for not calling, I have not heard from him. If anyone does, please let me know. I am worried.

Have met some amazing people in the past few weeks, some of whom I have cruised with before, others I am meeting for the first time. It makes life bearable. Spent a wonderful day with Sally in Melbourne, and though it rained and we did not get a bright green footie ball, it was well worth the amazing day. We saw the King Tut exhibit, went to a brothel for a glass of wine, laid down at the museum, got amazing chocolates, and basically turned Melbourne upside down. She is incredible.

My friend Merle is doing well. Her chemotherapy is working, and she is anxious to get back to cruising. She will be heading out November 15th, I think. She and I are hopefully going to meet up on the 14th in Sydney. She is also a very strong and incredible woman.

I have entered my photographs in the Photofest contest in Tallahassee, Florida, and the judging is on the 17th of October, i think... I'll let you know the outcome. Last year, i had all three submitted photos in the show, and this year, who knows... it is a different committee doing the judging, and well, who knows!

Not much else to report. There was a package issue, but it has been resolved. Long story short, I sent myself a package to arrive prior to my own arrival in Los Angeles on August 15th. It arrived in LA, but never made it to the ship. I was told by someone in the home office that it would be forwarded to Hawaii. It never arrived. When I tracked it, it had never left LA. I was then told it would be forwarded to Sydney. It never arrived. Got Dad to see what he could do about it, and gee, it was still in LA. I really dislike liars. Sucks. Story of my life.

I miss my family, my cats, my friends, chick-fil-a, the kids at Wakefield, North Carolina Theatre... and then some.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Photos from Fiji




Here are some pics taken today in Fiji. The one of the stairwell is from the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney. Had a good day until I had to get back on board. Some days just really suck as an on board employee. Today is one of them.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It's that time again!







Time to vote on what photo to enter in a photo contest! I have to pick three to submit. Please let me know ASAP... the deadline is the 7th of October... YIKES! Here are the choices:

Monday, September 26, 2011

For Gaby and Grama Beech!


on a roll!





This top photo is the best of the bunch, i think. It looks almost like a painting...

They were all taken in Perth, Western Australia at King's Park. It is wildflower season, and these are all part of the exhibit at the park. Enjoy.

pushing my luck?






We'll see... finally uploading pics from the past couple of weeks... Here are pics from Fremantle, Bunbury, and Albany, not necessarily in any order at all...

one last try before bed




Saturday, September 24, 2011

finally! some news from abroad

unfortunately there is not much to report. But I do have some fun pics to post, so enjoy. the ship is the same. lots of unnecessary drama, but nothing that is unbearable. it makes me feel really old working with kids. but what can you do? i need the job. sad state when you start to sacrifice your morals for a job. but here i am. working on a floating retirement home. gotta love it. peyton place that floats. i'm homesick, can you tell?

so the pictures aren't loading, and i am totally over the crappy internet connections here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another Openin' Another Show!

Oh, by the way, you have a show tonight... this was what I heard upon getting on board.

Thankfully, the show was only the Welcome Aboard show, so it was a whole six minutes of my life, but it went well, and the cast is very friendly and very talented.

So now we are in rehearsals for tomorrow night's show, Save The Last Dance. It is going well, though my leading lady is a bit green, but she'll do fine. She has an awesome voice, and is absolutely beautiful to look at. Kind of a cross between Anne Hathaway and some Silent movie star vixen who sizzles on the screen.

So far, the only downside has been the fact that all of my clothes have had to be let out. I guess those three months off did more for my waistline than I had expected. No more HoHo's for me next time. I will lose the weight, though, and then all those clothes that were let out will then have to be let back in. I hope so, anyway.

So we are en route to Honolulu, Hawaii, where we will have a late sailaway, apparently. I am looking forward to it. The box I spent 60 bucks on to arrive on time in LA didn't arrive... well, it did make it, just not to the ship. So much for my soap, deodorant and peanut butter. They don't have Jif in Australia, just in case you are wondering.

It is supposed to be forwarded to Honolulu, so we'll see if it actually makes it there. Odd, since there were so many people from the home office, you would think that one of them could have easily just brought it aboard. More later...


Friday, August 12, 2011

Annie Junior, day 10: Opening Night

I can't believe I found myself getting choked up over Annie Junior. There was a moment in the beginning of the show where Annie sings "Maybe" while the other orphans gather around her, and I actually got va klempt! I don't know what it was, maybe I am just hormonal about leaving the country for another six months, but I was definitely tearing up at this simple moment onstage done by a group of pre-adolescents!

I was proud today. Very. That I was able to pull off a totally "bare bones" version of this musical, and have it actually work! It didn't matter that we had no set. It didn't matter that the theatre wouldn't let us use lights, so there I was calling "Blackout" as I started to move blocks around to represent Warbucks Mansion, or Hannigan's Office, or the NBC Radio studio. It worked.

Then I got pissed off. Of course it worked. Mary Kathryn and I put our hearts into this to make it work without the help of the "powers that be." And that has now set a precedence that it can be done, and these kids after us will again be cheated of the chance to do a show with any sort of technical elements. I made the props. I did the costumes. I got help from an outside source so the kids could have something to use as set pieces. And I was working AT A THEATRE!

I'm not going to dwell on this. The show was good because of the kids. All that technical stuff didn't matter in the long run. The kids pulled it off. Their voices filled the stage, and the audience was enraptured from the downbeat of the Overture. My idea of making it an ensemble show really worked. It was an ensemble show. And Annie was awesome, too.

I feel good leaving the country now, knowing that I was able to affect someone's life today. Hopefully tomorrow will be a similar experience, though from my own experience, I find that the second performance never reaches that first night excitement or polish. I hope they prove me wrong.

I'll let you know.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Annie Junior, day 9

Hello everyone!  The day has arrived!  Tomorrow is our opening!  All are very 

excited, and though we had a rough couple of run throughs, we did get a lot done
today and we all learned a lot about what it takes to be a performer!

We had two special guests to watch today. First was Kathleen Rudolph from RLT,
who was very enthusiastic about the performance. Second was Paul Orsett of the
Wakefield Theatre Company, who will not be able to come to a show because of
prior commitments. He also was very positive about the work the kids have done.
His and Kathleen's main comments were that the kids cannot be heard. Not to
worry. We are working on this!

I was a little dismayed today to find out how many actors wore their costumes to
the dress rehearsal, when yesterday's email asked that they specifically NOT do
this. I know I sent the email late last night, and for that I apologize.
Tomorrow, please do not make the same mistake. Please have your actors bring
their costumes with them so they can be kept at the theatre until Saturday. I
don't want anyone to forget their costumes and then have to sit on the sidelines
watching their other actors do their work.

Once again, for those of you who didn't get the info...

Doors open tomorrow at 5:00pm. Please do not try to sneak in and watch what
happens beforehand. We will be working right up until showtime, so please do
not add to your actor's stress level by trying to get a quick look.

The show starts at 5:15, and should be over within an hour to an hour and
fifteen minutes.

Saturday's show starts at 1:00pm, and all actors should be at the theatre no
later than 12:00 Noon. Doors will open at 12:45.

At this point in the game, we have everything we need. Costumes, props, the
works. Please do not add anything to your actor's costume, thinking "This would
look real good..." It won't. We have worked on all our changes and anything
else will now be a hindrance. If you would like to help, please remind your
actors about their blocking, dance steps, and that they need to PROJECT so that
their deaf grandma in the last row can hear them! That would be most helpful.

Parking again is available in the large lot by the mainstage theatre, adjacent
to the amphitheatre. The show itself is in the Goodwin Gaddy Teaching Theatre,
which is the smaller black box where you have been picking your kids up this
past week.

Thank you, parents, for being so supportive these past two weeks, and I know you
will be pleased with the final product.

Please have your camp evaluations filled out and ready to turn in tomorrow when
you get to the theatre.

I think that's everything. I am in the process of finishing up some last minute
props that needed to be wrapped or fixed, and then I am off to bed to try and
get a good night's sleep. We will see you all tomorrow!

Thanks so much,
J. Michael Beech


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Annie Junior, day 8

Okay folks, here we go!  Tomorrow is dress rehearsal!  This means that all

actors should BRING WITH THEM (NOT WEAR) their jeans and plain white t-shirt.
They should have their clothes labeled, so that they can leave them at the
theatre. Not that I don't trust you, but I have seen too many shows where the
day of, someone shows up saying "I forgot my shirt... or I forgot this or
that..." This will not be the case if they have their clothes with them tomorrow
and they are left at the theatre, right?

Okay. Nuff said about costumes. Jeans and plain white t-shirt. Done. Just
for your own clarification, so there is no confusion, a "plain white t-shirt"
consists of just that. A white crew neck t-shirt without any printing, no
pockets, etc. Just a plain white t-shirt. Thanks.

CALL TIMES FOR THE SHOW:

Friday is without saying... 12:30 pm. We will be having camp and doing last
minute cleanings of numbers, etc. The show starts at 5:15pm. DOORS OPEN AT
5:00. They will not open earlier, so please don't try to sneak in. We will be
working up until showtime to get ready for you.

SATURDAY CALL TIME IS 12:00 NOON.
SATURDAY SHOW TIME IS 1:00PM. DOORS WILL OPEN AT 12:45.

PARKING IS AVAILABLE FOR BOTH SHOWTIMES IN THE LARGE LOT OPPOSITE THE MAIN
THEATRE. (BY THE AMPHITHEATRE) YOU WILL NOT BE TOWED, EVEN THOUGH THERE MAY BE
SIGNS THERE TO INTIMIDATE YOU. YOU ARE HERE TO SEE A SHOW.



Your kids today were given a camp evaluation. Please take the time to fill it
out. It is part of the life line of the theatre, and an addition to their grant
program. If you would like to continue to see quality theatre starting at your
actors level and age, please fill out an evaluation form. If not, fill it out
anyway, please.

Okay. Next thing. Today.

Today was a step backward. Not a huge one, but just a small one. Big enough to
set things back nonetheless. I think in everyone's concern and excitement to
make sure everyone else was doing what they were supposed to do, the actors
forgot their own jobs, and therefore we had more than a few hiccups. It was
disappointing, but I think we learned a lot about what to expect come Friday.

We all ended up taking a big deep breath and then got back to work and then
things seemed to iron themselves out. This is normal, actually. Kind of a day
7 slump thing. Happens to all casts for all shows, professional or "junior."
Trust me. I've seen it happen. I've been there PLENTY of times. Things will
be better tomorrow.

Each time we run things they do get better. Unfortunately, an actor only gets
ONE chance to do it right for that performance. I think that reality hit today
when they realized that we can't necessarily go back and re-do things during the
middle of a performance.

Even with the hiccups, things went well, and we were able to finish the run
through from yesterday, and do a complete run through from the top. Every
number is choreographed, and we have most of the props... (I will be finishing
those tonight.) and things look pretty darn good if you ask me. I am very
excited for you to see the finished product.

I think that's about all I have to say for tonight. I have props to fix, and I
should try to get started on my packing for my six months in Australia.

Just as a side note... I DID take some time for myself tonight and go see the
new movie The Help. My brother is the Art Director for it, and it was really
good. I know that was a SHAMELESS plug for it, but it is a good funny,
heartwarming story of life in the 60's. Go Curt!

Okay, I've said too much. I will see everyone tomorrow, where I am hoping to
get at least two run-throughs of the show in. One starting at 1, the other at
3:30. If there is any confusion, please re-read the first paragraph of this
email. Thanks!

J. Michael Beech


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Annie Junior, day 7



I'll be honest. There are days I dread going to work. So far I have not dreaded ANY of the days I go to "play" with your actors. It has been exciting, new, fresh, eye-opening, funny, and thrilling to see the growth and potential of these young people. I think they will blow you away with their production of Annie Junior.

With that said, there were some bumps in the road today. Mostly due to lack of focus and simply having some "brain farts" and forgetting stuff we blocked or some of the dance moves. There does seem to be an overall lack of (believe it or not) SINGING!!! I can't reinforce enough to your kids that they need to sing out! There were times today where there were supposed to be 20 people singing, and it sounded like only 2. This is a musical, folks!!!

With that aside, we did manage to finish all the blocking, work on some of the musical numbers, take a break, and then start a run-through form the top of the show. We didn't get to finish, but we did bite off a major chunk of the show, ending with Scene 7, where Annie is on the radio. We will pick up here tomorrow where we left off, and then start another run shortly thereafter.

I may have mentioned it before, but when the kids are ON, they are ON! It is so exciting! But when they are off... well, not so much. I've tried to make this an ensemble experience, and I think you will be pleased with the amount of stage time your actors have. It is truly an ensemble piece.

Please remind the kids that since they are onstage the whole time, there is always someone watching them. They should try to focus on the scene going on onstage, not on their texting or on their neighbor's fingernail polish.

I hope everyone got the last email about costumes, and finding a plain white t-shirt and jeans is not too difficult. Please let me know if you are having difficulty so I can start to put a contingency plan in place.

OH!!! Today was their day to be off book! They did FANTASTIC!!! They stayed in character during the run and called for their lines like any pro in the business. Man, they learn quick! There were hardly any missed lines, by the way. Again a first in my book.

Props are coming along, and there are just a few more that I forgot today but will hopefully remember to put in my car tomorrow morning. Thanks to you parents who brought in costume pieces. Some will work, other might not, but we are working to make this as good a show as we can, and so far, I am really pleased, obviously form these gushing emails.

Attached is another picture or two from rehearsal today, and NOT cover art from the world's worst musical flop in history. Enjoy!

Thanks,

J. Michael Beech

Monday, August 8, 2011

Annie Junior, day 6



Dear Parents, today was a milestone!!! I felt like I was at a professional rehearsal. Your students were so well behaved, so attentive, and so eager to learn! Not once did I have to ask for people to pay attention or to settle down. HOPEFULLY this will run into tomorrow's rehearsal as well, but I wanted you to know how well they behaved and rehearsed today. It was amazing. As a result, we got tons done, too!

I am getting ready to head back to Australia for a job come Sunday, so today I tried to put a box in the mail to meet me there. Instead, I got the slowest person alive trying to help the single-most confused person alive. Needless to say, I ran a few minutes late today. I apologize again to your actors. Nate and Katie were there to jump in with the check-ins, and Mary Kathryn was there to help with getting all our props moved from the lobby to the performance space. Thanks, guys! Today's check in (courtesy of Nate) was what type of dog would we be. Lots of interesting answers yet again. We then did a vocal warm-up and then we jumped right into blocking and some bookwork.

Let me start right off by saying that blocking and bookwork is the SINGLE MOST BORING part of the rehearsal process. It has to do with a lot of sitting around doing pretty much nothing but watching your fellow actors work while you sit and glaze over.

Can I just tell you that we were able to block pages 39-83 today? That is amazing! We only have about 15 more pages and then we are finished blocking the whole show! I have three more musical numbers to stage, and then we are finished! Who knew? It is because of the patience and talent of your kids that we were able to accomplish this today.

We finished doing the choreography to "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile" as well as "Easy Street." Both are numbers that are a lot of fun for me. I hope they are for your actors.

Mary Kathryn worked a bit with Maddy's "NYC" solo also.

We took a long break form 3:10-3:45 and then worked on the musical numbers. At 5:00, we stopped for a discussion about costumes.

Your child should have brought home with them a list of things they will need to wear for the show.

Our "base" costume is jeans/jean shorts and a white t-shirt. I don't mind if the girls want to wear a woman's fitted t-shirt... but no tank tops, and nothing with pockets or any kind of print on them. The reason for this is to use the shirts/jeans as a type of "uniform as well for the servants/butlers/cooks/housekeeping staff scene.

Without going into too much boring detail, you should have the info needed from your actor as to other "embellishments" they will need. Some of the guys, for example, will need a jacket or an overcoat. Some of the girls will be using hats and coats for their other characters.

I have been working on props all weekend and I am trying to finish them up tonight. I am trying to keep it as minimal as possible, but if anyone knows how to mount a paper poster to a piece of foam core without it getting wrinkled or bubbled forming, please let me know. I have about ten large poster sized postcards to be mounted to foam core, and I don't want them to get all wrinkled by using spray adhesive.

Tomorrow's goal is to finish blocking the show, finish staging the musical numbers, and starting a run-through! This way, we will hopefully get a few run-throughs in before you get a chance to see it. I am looking at Thursday as a full dress rehearsal, so all costumes will be needed by Thursday.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Annie Junior, day 5

We made it through our first week!!!  And we still have another one to go!!! 

Wow! What a lot of work we got done today. It won't seem that way to your
actors, who will probably tell you "we did a couple numbers and went over some
scenes and music." But we got heaps of work done today.

Our check in had to do with a kind of fruit we would be. Kudos to those mangoes
out there! YUM!

Then we jumped right in to a review of the NYC number which we tweaked and
polished a bit. Like I said the other day, it is going to be a great number.
For you parents, please reinforce to your child on how confident they need to be
onstage... it will help with their overall, well, confidence on stage!

We started to review "Hard Knock Life" but I got distracted, as I easily do...
adult ADD, go figure. And when we had finished, it turns out we had blocked 9
pages of script and 2 songs! We were able to block the scene coming out of the
Overture and into the first scene of the play, and it carried us through to
"Hard Knock Life". It was great! We were acting and a show was starting to
form in a great way!

Earlier in the day, I had been able to go borrow some cubes for use as set
pieces, and I also was able to purchase the orphan shirts for their costumes. I
think this helped in the acting department, as it made them feel like they were
actually "doing something productive" rather than sitting around on the floor
pretending to be an orphan. So we got through "Maybe" and "Hard Knock Life." We
then got kicked out of the lobby because of an open classroom and we moved
downstairs to the studio where we finished "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here." and
then took a short break. It is going to be a FUN NUMBER!!!

When we got back upstairs, our concentration was a bit off because of the room
switching, so we didn't get as much done on "Never Fully Dressed" as I would
have liked, but with several people heading out early, it was bound to be a
little "off" anyway. So, MK worked solos while I taught the start of "Never
Fully Dressed." Then, because of our 80's day celebration... 80's to these
kids was like the 50's to my generation... man did I feel old today, we went
downstairs to the greenroom where we enjoyed some ice cream and 80's tunes.
Sorry to give your kids back to you on a sugar high! My favorite quote of the
"party" was "I wish this party could last for three years!" I don't make this
up, parents!! These are YOUR kids!

Over the weekend, please don't let your actors forget that they have some stuff
to learn! They should each now have an accompaniment CD, so they can sing along
without the voices. This is the same CD we will be using for the presentation,
so they should know it and know it well.

Next week, we need to knock through (quickly) the rest of "Never Fully Dressed"
and the solo numbers choreographically. Then we really need to focus on the
scenework. I let the actors know they should be off book by Tuesday, and
hopefully they will be able to get most of their lines out.

One of the things you can do to help when they are practicing is to remind them
that their lines need to HEARD and their faces need to be SEEN! Too many times
in rehearsal I have had to remind them that I am not interested in seeing their
backsides acting. The front side is much more interesting!

Have a great weekend, and thanks again for the donations you have given, be it
whipped cream or orphan shirts, or blank CD's!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Annie Junior, day 4

The good news is that we got a lot done today.  The bad news is that... well, 
there really isn't any bad news, so I guess that's good news, too.

The only downside to getting so much done as far as music and choreography is
that we have not had much, if any, time to work on the scenes! These are really
important in order to string the songs together, and I am hoping to get to those
on Monday. I have asked the actors to be "off-book" that is, memorized, by
Tuesday. It is a lot of work to do, especially for a camp situation, but in the
long run, we do have a show to put up as well. Please help your kids in
memorizing their material over the weekend.

KUDOS today to Kiara, who came in with her song parts totally memorized and they
sounded fantastic!!! It was so exciting to see this little girl who yesterday
was so timid to get up there and belt these parts out. Total change from
yesterday, and what an incredible change it was, too!!! Thanks, Mom for helping
her out!

So what did we get through today? All sorts of stuff!

We started the day again with our check in, and the kids told us what type of
music they would be... we had several very cool and unexpected answers,
everything from Pop to Ragtime, with some Jazz and Heavy Metal thrown in...
mine of course was show tunes. Can't leave those out when working on a show
like this!

We then got to work right away by reviewing the numbers we did over the past few
days. We had some traffic issues in the overture that we cleaned up and it is
in really good shape now. We then did "Hard Knock Life" with all props, and
what a difference a prop makes! We had to run it a couple times because of prop
issues. It also will be a great number. We added a tribute to another comic
strip character, so see if you can pick it out when you see the number!

We then jumped into finishing the "NYC" number, and it is going to be very very
cool!!! It, too, has a tribute to another famous musical (perhaps a little
ahead of it's time), so there is a chance to spot that too. I like to put those
moments in choreographically, not only to give the "older folk" in the audience
a chance to giggle, but also to use them as teaching moments while teaching
choreography. A little history goes a long long way, right?

We then took a small break where MK and I chatted about costumes and then Mary
Kathryn worked with Sandy and Annie on "Tomorrow."

I have to put a special thank you out there to our TA, Katie, who kept notes on
blocking and choreography today, as well as CD maker extraordinaire! She was
able to multi-task like you wouldn't believe! She is the one who made most of
those extra CD's your kids came home with today. Thanks, Katie!

We then did a sing-through of the entire show, and I gotta tell you, even though
I have heard these songs umpteen times, it still excites me to hear these young
voices belt out these melodies!

Blocking-wise, we got through some of the script, but we have tons yet to do as
I mentioned before. We got through pages 62-66, 34-35, and 57-58.

At the end of the day, we started to work on the choreography for "I Think I'm
Gonna Like It Here," which is a huge group number where everyone is either a
maid or butler, and is welcoming Annie to the Warbucks Mansion. We will be
starting with this number tomorrow, and then we have only one more group number
to finish, and only the solos to stage!!! Moving right along!

So, what did MK and I talk about as far as costumes were concerned? Well, we
did get a donation from a parent to help in this department, so as of tomorrow,
we will have the orphan outfits! I am going to the Goodwill near Wakefield to
pick up some mens button down shirts that I saw the other day that I think will
work very well as somewhat drab, institutional orphan outfits! Thanks to our
MOM who did that!!!

The basic costume that everyone will need under their other costume(s) will be
either jeans shorts or jeans, and a plain white t-shirt. I want to do this
simply because if they are in all black, our actors will disappear against the
black walls of the theatre, and in their white shirts, they will also resemble
the "servants" and "other persons" of New York City. It is much easier to
supplement something basic with hats, coats, and other shirts, than having to
worry about full costume changes in a short time when everyone is playing more
than one part.

I am looking for a plain white apron for our Cook, a feather duster for Cecille,
and some kind of "disguise" for Rooster and Lily. It might be a jacket, a pair
of glasses, a strap on beard, or a different hat. I will keep looking and
hopefully I will be able to find my one box of hats and assorted props that is
lost in one of my closets from my teaching days.

Overall a really great day. Tomorrow we have 80's day planned with a surprise
for the kids at the end of the day. No worries, all kids should stay in one
piece!

Thanks again, and your kids are really working hard!!!

J. Michael Beech

A side note... I had mentioned to the kids that I was thinking of using milk
crates instead of the cubes I wanted to use at the start... well, I got a way
for the cubes to be transported to the theatre and used, so you can ignore the
request your child may give for milk crates!

Annie, Junior, day 3

Another very productive day!  I tell you, these kids are working HARD!  I threw 
a lot of stuff at them today, and not only did they retain it, they looked like
they were actually enjoying it!

At the start of the day, we sit in a circle and do a "check in." Today, we
reinforced our names and what character we were playing, as well as "if you had
one superpower, what would it be?" Let me tell you, there were some very
interesting answers! And it is so true when you hear that phrase "Kids say the
darndest things!" My favorite answer came from one of the boys who very
emphatically said his superpower would be the power to self-destruct! I could
not stop laughing. Unfortunately, you only get to use that superpower once!
But laughs aside, we went straight to work, incorporating one of our new
actresses into the overture. She had been absent for the last two days, and we
put her in quickly. It changes the entire scope of things when one person is
absent, and I do implore you as parents to make sure your kids are at camp!

As for self-destructing, become a director!! It comes naturally!!

I really worked the kids really hard today. If they messed up we went back and
started over. If they messed up again, we started over again. I hope it wasn't
interpreted as my being angry at them. I told them I get really excited and
then my voice changes and it sounds like I am angry with them... I will do my
best to try and change that. But again, they are doing wonderful work, and it
is definitely a notch above what you are probably expecting.

I know this coming Friday seems to be THE DAY to leave early, and whatever the
reason, I would love to know where the huge party is! If you could please
remind us tomorrow if your actor has any conflicts between now and the time we
perform, that would be great! Also on a side note... there are TWO performances
of Annie Junior. One next Friday at 5:15pm and again on Saturday at 1pm. We
are still having camp at the regular time that Friday, as it is out last chance
to finish off things and do a run through of the show.

So. Onto our daily report. As I mentioned, we worked on the Overture again,
and then we sang through some of the music. We then worked on "It's A Hard
Knock Life" for choreography, and the kids were AWESOME!!! Please remind them
to look at their words and listen to their music each day as much as possible!
Remind them that even though they are not necessarily "in" the number, they are
still to sing offstage... everyone is onstage, so there really is no offstage...

I just found out that the CD's they got do not have the instrumental tracks on
them. If your student wants a CD of the instrumental tracks to practice with,
please have them bring with them a blank recordable CD, labeled with their name,
and we can burn copies during rehearsals tomorrow.

Whilst I was working choreography, Mary Kathryn worked with Miss Hannigan,
Rooster, and Lily on "Easy Street" and other pieces of solo material. She also
did some work with Annie on her solos.

We then took a break, had a snack and then we jumped right back into it.

We started the "NYC" number, which uses the posters I was talking about
yesterday, and I found a place to get them done! Thanks for all your
suggestions!

We also got to sing through "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here". I am hoping to
get to that number tomorrow for choreography as well as finish off the NYC
number. Again, you will be so impressed with the work they are doing.

A note on costumes...
A note on costumes...
A note on costumes...

Mary Kathryn and I are still debating what to have the kids wearing, so please
do not assume that we are going to have them in full "orphan gear!" If
anything, we are leaning toward finding some old button down oxford shirts and
dirtying them up to use for the orphan outfits.

Of course, no Annie would be complete without the red dress and wig. I looked
at the Party store by Triangle Town center yesterday and could not find anything
that even resembled the red dress or even a red permed wig. So, if there are
either of these items stashed away in a closet somewhere from an old Halloween
party, please let me know. (Annie's Mom, please let me know what size she
is!!!) Please do not go out and buy anything!! I repeat... DO NOT go out and
buy anything!!!

Ok, not sure if I am forgetting anything... I'm sure I am, as I didn't write it
down when I should have. I have buckets and mops for the orphans...

I have some of the props for the mansion scene... I am trying to get some
blocks for the kids to use as scenery items as well... they make great desks and
chairs and pedestals for the statue of Liberty... Who knew?

More tomorrow! I may send an addendum with the stuff I forgot. Thanks for your
patience!

J. Michael Beech