In the Spotlight:
3 Questions with...
After performing in the ensembles of The Wiz (2009) and Willy Wonka (2010), Johany moved backstage last fall to serve on the Oliver! set crew. She's an 8th-grader at Cleveland's Metro Catholic School.
1. How did you find out about Near West Theatre?
From my friend, Alana Jarrell. We were in the 5th grade and she was doing the play Once on This Island. I went to see her perform and instantly fell in love. I was simply wonder-struck at how something so beautiful could be created by everyday people.
2. What is your favorite Near West Theatre memory?
Giving away a gift to another cast member at the Willy Wonka gift circle. The gift was something from my father, who had recently passed. I gave it to the cast member because they reminded me of my father. It was emotional, and tears were shed, but it helped me let go.
3.How has being involved made a difference in your life outside the theater?
By teaching me to be who I am and helping me to be happy. NWT is a place where you're not judged, so you can be comfortable with who you are. It's brought me happiness because it gave me a place to sing, dance and act when I didn't know where to go.
|REMAINING IN |
May 4-20, 2012
July 20-August 5, 2012
Kids Loud and Musical Organic Revue (KLAMOR)July 26-29, 2012
Auditions: Feb. 28, Feb. 29, March 1
Come audition! Bring your friends! An expansive, multicultural cast is sought for the spring production of Ragtime. Auditions will be at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 1349 W. 78th St., Cleveland, from 7:30 to 10:30p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, Wednesday, Feb. 29, and Thursday, March 1. St. Luke's is near the intersection of Lake Avenue and Detroit Avenue. Use the Lake Avenue door. The show will be on stage May 4 through 20 at Near West Theatre's regular performance space.
Auditions are for all interested persons ages 16 and up, regardless of experience. No preparation or preregistration is required. Actors should pick one of the audition dates and arrive 15 minutes early, dressed for movement and ready to engage in a friendly, group process. Don't be late! Doors close at the 7:30 starting time each night.
"Ragtime is huge, but it's perfect for us," said Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr., who will direct the show. "The story is about cultures encountering each other, differences intersecting and clashing, voices striving to be heard. Our production staff has already had several great discussions about the significance of the material and how to shape and stage Near West Theatre's particular version in our space. The plot is powerful and surprising."
Ragtime intertwines the stories of an upper-middle-class white family, an immigrant Jewish family and an African American family as they confront history's timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to live in America. The Tony-winning score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, creators of Once on This Island, draws upon many musical styles: the ragtime rhythms of Harlem and Tin Pan Alley, the klezmer sounds of New York's Lower East Side, brass band marches, delicate waltzes, up-tempo banjo tunes, period parlor songs, soaring anthems and more. Musical direction will be by Jordan Cooper.
Click here for audition information, and here for show details. Three younger roles will be auditioned other times, by special arrangement, for children who have already played a principal role in a theater. Questions? E-mail email@example.com or call 216-961-9750.
Benefit raises $56,000 for operations -- plus a large surprise
Some 450 guests and cast members turned Cleveland's Trinity Cathedral into a stage, a dance floor and an indoor "street party" during the 2012 edition of Near West Theatre's Annual Benefit, "Consider Yourself One of Us," Jan. 28. Thanks to sponsorships, silent auction bids, a raffle and ticket sales, the benefit netted an estimated $56,000 for the theater's program budget - plus a major capital gift.
|The cast perfoms at Benefit 2012|
A highlight of the evening was an 18-minute ensemble theater piece created by Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. and performed by a cast of 40 on a lighted stage built by Near West's technical crew especially for the occasion. Through song, action and the spoken word, the actors -- some of them Near West veterans, others new with the fall 2011 production of Oliver! -- portrayed a journey from anger and alienation to togetherness, hope and a call for justice. A litany near the end of the performance called out real situations from the lives of people who have found refuge and community at Near West Theatre.
|Benefit Honoree, Joanne Lewis, with friend Catherine Butler (left) and granddaughter Maddie Pollis|
After the performance came a presentation to the Benefit honoree, Founding Trustee Joanne M. Lewis, and an update from Founding Executive Director Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek on the capital campaign to construct a new theater building (see article below). Lights went down, music went up, dancing started -- and longtime supporter R. Eric Kennedy quietly approached Morrison-Hrbek with news that he would give $500,000 toward the new building. "My spirit is still soaring," Morrison-Hrbek said three days after the event. "It was so touching to be able to honor Joanne, who has been an incredible mentor to me and
|Key raffle winner, Anne Schoff, with Artistic Director, Bob Navis Jr.|
supporter of the theater since 1983. And now Eric and other generous lead donors have brought us closer than ever to reaching the end of our journey toward a new home. What a night."
Photos courtesy of Terry Schordock & Julie Cajigas
Children's programming updates
Readers of Near West Theatre's website and its show and audition notices may have noticed two changes in this season's program offerings.
Because of production challenges and budget and space constraints, the theater has decided not to add children's roles beyond those in the script to this spring's teen-adult production of Ragtime, as had been advertised earlier in the season. Thus, auditions for ages 8 to 15, originally set for 6:00 p.m. Feb. 28, Feb. 29 and March 1, have been canceled. (Teen and adult auditions those same evenings are still on. See story above.) Instead, auditions for children's roles in the script will be held separately, by special arrangement, for children who have already played a principal role in a theater. Contact the Near West Theatre office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-961-9750 with questions.
The KLAMOR children's program, still scheduled for this summer as originally announced, will not perform The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd. The search for an appropriate venue for this program has been challenging - and thus so has deciding the exact hours and days it will be offered in June and July. (The regular performance space in the St. Pat's Club Building will be used for the Summer Youth Theatre production of Hairspray.) Thus, to simplify things, the program will be offered in its more typical workshop mode with a performance at the end to be shaped by the experience of the participants. Those interested are encouraged to visit the revised KLAMOR webpage here and watch for further announcements in the coming months.
With 3 new major building gifts,
campaign aims for $2.25M more
Three six-figure donations in January provided a major boost to Near West Theatre's effort to raise more than $6 million to build a new theater in the Gordon Square Arts District.
Executive Director Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek announced at the theater's Annual Benefit Jan. 28 that longtime supporters Tom and Sandy Sullivan had added a major gift of $750,000 to generous contributions they had made earlier in the campaign, and that an anonymous donor had given $600,000. Later that Benefit evening another longtime supporter, R. Eric Kennedy, promised to add $500,000 to an earlier campaign gift.
Together with contributions already made - including $1 million from Chuck and Char Fowler and $500,000 from the Gund Foundation (both conditional on the campaign's completion), $500,000 from the Kulas and John P. Murphy foundations, $225,000 from the Sullivans, $100,000 from the Kent H. Smith Foundation, products from Tremco worth an estimated $200,000, and more - the January gifts bring the "raised or pledged" total to $4.56 million.
To read more, click here.
THE CREATIVE EDGE
LIFE AS A PERFORMING ART
Here are the thoughts of some of the theater world's most honored and respected actors, directors, designers, choreographers, composers and writers. My hope is that this feature will offer inspiration to all the NWT family for living each day with radical expectation, eternal zest and joyous satisfaction. - Bob Navis Jr, Artistic Director
MID-WINTER IDEAS FOR
INSPIRATION AND WELL-BEING:
CREATE A PERSONAL ALTAR in a quiet corner of your home -ideally in a private room. Cover a small table or box with a cloth and decorate it with items that represent YOUR sources of inspiration and strength. Photos, flowers and stones symbolizing the natural world, and so on. Use colors that enliven you. Change it with the seaons of your life. Sit in stillness in your altar's presence daily. Light a candle. Burn incense or maybe a simmer pot of your favorite essential oils. This is your sacred spot. Time spent there will bring many gifts.
READ "Song Of Myself" by Walt Whitman, a wonderfully uplifting poem in celebration of being alive. "Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy," says Whitman, and the mood is certainly infectious.
MOVE TO MUSIC of your liking. Just do it. Put on a favorite CD and allow your body to flow, sway, push, twist and shout with its rhythms. 5 minutes of this changes your energy, lifts your mood and you'll be amazed at how you sustain this transformation for hours.
MAKE A FANTASY COLLAGE. Start with a blank canvas, sheet of paper, cardboard box or anything you can paste/tape things to. Throughout the weeks, collect cuttings from magazines, photos or words that picture or describe that which you want. Any dream at all. Anything you find beautiful, exciting, relaxing or just simply peaceful. Whatever your fantasy is...build it with specific images first and you'll find it showing up in your real life. It's called the law of attraction. Think it, Feel it, Want it, Believe it, See it, Allow it and it ABSOLUTELY HAS TO SHOW UP. Dissolve any negative ideas you have as to why it can't or won't or couldn't or shouldn't happen. The universe will figure that part out for you.
HAVE FUN! YOU TOTALLY DESERVE IT!!!