Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Escanaba in Love welcomes Tibbits audiences back to the Soady Deer Camp Friday October 19th and Saturday October 20th at 7pm along with a matinee on Sunday October 21st at 2pm.  
Tibbits professional company returns in Jeff Daniels' prequel to Escanaba in da Moonlight, presented in 2010. Set in the midst of World War II, forty years before the original, this show centers around young Albert Soady Jr. as he meets the love of his life, Big Betty Balou - the woman destined to become the mother of Reuben and Remnar Soady.
But Big Betty isn't exactly what Albert Soady Senior envisioned as his son's future wife, not to mention the uproar over a WOMAN showing up at the Soady Deer Camp!  The cast of wacky Yoopers will tickle your funny bone and pull at your heart strings.
Returning from two years ago, are the hilarious Escanaba cast members Alan Elliott, John Payonk and Benjamin Jackson (pictured above) directed by Charles Burr, with the addition this time around of Richard Baker as Albert Soady Jr. and Kiersten Vorheis as Big Betty Balou.  Richard and Kiersten were company members last summer here at Tibbits.  Richard has been a summer Tibbits company member for 3 summers and Kiersten has just completed her 5th summer here at Tibbits.


1940's Yooper Deer Hunting Cabin


While the production two years ago of Escanaba in da Moonlight dealt mainly with male humor, this fall's Escanaba in Love manages to retain the humor of the first, but adds a plot line to which many audience members can relate.  The play deals with a son going off to war and the sentimentality of lost loved ones, who remain ever present in family members' minds.  One might say, this play shows growth, as the second play in Jeff Daniels' Escanaba trilogy. 
We hope to see you at the show... 'dis one ya won't wanna miss!

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Friday, August 24, 2012




David A. Norton

January 6, 1949 - August 18, 2012


“We bring you the circus, pied piper whose magic tunes greet children of all ages, from six to 60, into a tinsel and spun-candy world of reckless beauty and mounting laughter and whirling thrills; of rhythm, excitement and grace”
The Greatest Show on Earth
Paramount Pictures, 1952

To hear Dave auction off a dinner, a trip or even theatre seats was to hear the “whirling thrills, of rhythm, excitement and grace.” A great talent and an appreciation for the unusual provided Dave with his unique career and numerous accomplishments. We are grateful he chose to share these gifts and talents with Tibbits Opera House and by extension the entire community.

In 1979 he helped establish the first Tibbits Auction so the theatre could pay its bills. Over the next 32 years he helped raise nearly $1.3 million for the theatre operations. He served on the Tibbits Board and the Restoration Executive Committee. He shared the dream of a beautiful restored theatre. Tibbits Opera Foundation & Arts Council salutes the memory of David A. Norton. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012


    
Today marks the end of our 2012 summer season here at Tibbits.  As I look at all the shows we've done this summer, I think, wow, time has flown and we have done some great work.  I have enjoyed writing the blog for Tibbits this summer and thank all of you who have so generously given your time, lunch and dinner hours to be interviewed for the good of the blog, much appreciated!

A face you may recently be recognizing in the pit for Nymph Errant is our music director Steven Zumbrun.  A fantastic pianist, whom I already knew from the touring show of A Christmas Carol.  Steven has music directed and played this tour many times.  Steven has brought great enthusiasm to our production at Tibbits.  He is always excited about the music and that excitement is contagious.  He has added fun harmony to songs in Nymph Errant where the songs may have only had unison parts written in the score, adding audible interest and proper endings to songs.

Steven travels the country for a living now, like many of us, but works often for another opera house called Springer Opera House in Columbus, GA.  Originally from Hamprad, Maryland right outside Baltimore, Steven holds a BA in English and Theatre with a Minor in Music from Western Maryland University.  This is Steven's first summer at Tibbits and loves the way an old opera house can make you feel like you have stepped back in time.
Steven started music directing in '93 by accident.  He fell into the position when a music director dropped out of a production of Merrily We Roll Along, and Steven stepped in.  Steven says the work snowballed from there and has enjoyed the amount of work music directing has gotten him over the years.  He realizes now that the prolific work in music directing made him find his niche in theatre.  Steven loves traveling, and since on tour, he has traveled through every state in the US and parts of Canada.  Steven has worked on the national tour of A Christmas Carol, theatres such as Springer Opera House, Totempole Playhouse and a few of his favorite theatres he has played on tour include: the Smoot Theatre and Newberry Opera House.

Steven's dream shows to music direct are Follies and Little Night Music. He advises young hopefuls to not be snobbish when it comes to taking jobs.  "Go where you are needed."  He says you will see amazing things and meet people you never thought you would by traveling.


To wrap up this summer, one person I didn't get a chance to interview while he was in town as an actor in Pinocchio and Chicago is Jimmy Wencel.  I believe Jimmy was an important part of our cast this summer so I interviewed him by email and wanted to share his answers with you. Jimmy is originally from Bad Axe, MI and holds a BA in Theatre and Interpretation from Central Michigan University with a Minor in Dance and Voice.  When asked what he likes most about Tibbits and Coldwater he stated, "I love the people at Tibbits so much!  We all work so well together and are dedicated to putting together the best shows that we can for this community, which has been so welcoming to us this summer.  My host family, Douglas and Sharon Bloom, were especially welcoming.  I felt like I had a "mom and dad" to come home to all summer!  Our Artistic Director, Charles Burr, and our Executive Director, Christine Delaney, are so very supportive of us and I thank them for all of their hard work here at Tibbits Opera House!"

Jimmy's began in theatre pretty young he says, " My first play was a Thanksgiving class play in the 3rd grade, but my first real play was The Diary of Anne Frank when I was in Eighth grade.  I knew I wanted to be a performing artist around that time, but at first I thought that would be as an instrumentalist.  I decided on theatre as a career my senior year in high school."

Jimmy's mother was very inspirational to him and his decision to go into theatre, " My mom was a theatre major in college, so I was always exposed to the performing arts.  My mom and I have even done a couple of Community Theatre productions together."  Since graduating from college Jimmy has worked for many theatres.  Some include, a national tour of A Christmas Carol for NTC Productions, based in Omaha, NE, various productions at The Lost Colony in Manteo, NC, and a few productions with La Comedia Dinner Theatre in Springboro, OH.  Jimmy has also done Children's Theatre tours through The National Theatre for Children and Bridgework Theatre. 


Jimmy's dream roles include Will Parker in Oklahoma, Jack in Into The Woods, and Jimmy in Thouroughly Modern Millie.  Jimmy advises young hopefuls to, "keep working hard and follow your dreams.  Don't give up or let the difficulties of the profession hold you back.  Always be appreciative of your fellow castmates and the artistic and technical staff.  Savor every moment you have onstage.  Each performance is truly a gift."

Well said Jimmy.  This is Kiersten Vorheis signing off for Tibbits Opera House this summer.  To quote someone much more famous than I, 
"Goodnight and Good luck!"  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

As we now enter our final week of Nymph Errant and our summer season, another exciting thing has occurred.  Shakespeare has been placed in his permanent home, up in the alcove, at the base of the Tibbits' cupola. 





The Shakespeare bust was purchased by Artistic Director Charles Burr as his contribution to the Tibbits restoration.  In the pictures you see below, after our Wednesday matinee show of Nymph Errant yesterday, Charles helped tie the pulley rope to Shakespeare, then climbed the scaffolding to place Shakespeare with his own two hands.


Charles Burr climbs the scaffolding
Many of us stood below to view this incredible milestone step in the reconstruction process.  The scaffolding will be coming down soon at the end of August.  Then the balcony roof will be built onto the front of the theatre where it originally was located.  The work will end sometime in Feb. with a grand opening of the fully restored Tibbits in April.

Charles holds the bust of Shakespeare
For many of us returning actors this is incredible to see, as we know it is really special for local Coldwater citizens to see this prized jewel be restored.  Earlier this summer, two former summer company members from the early 90's returned to visit and take a tour of the new Tibbits.  They were flabbergasted at what they saw, the makings of all the hopes they had heard about many years ago, of Tibbits original look and grandeur, now coming to life before their eyes.

Charles Burr places Shakespeare in the alcove
Nymph Errant, also directed by Artistic Director Charles Burr, is another gem from days past.  Originally produced in England during 1933, it never crossed the ocean to Broadway, mostly due to the Depression, and the cost of the production.  A few people went back to the book in the 1980's and rewrote the production you can see on Tibbits stage for one more week.  This version, scaled the cast size down, and also tied up some loose end stories from the original script.

Charles gazes at Shakespeare in his final home 
This Nymph Errant, has the wonderful nostalgic feel of a Cole Porter show, but has a fun modern twist, with Dick Baker playing all 8 different, reappearing, gentleman in the lead Evangeline's life.  This through line gives great humor and spunky feel to the piece.  Everyone in the cast reappears from time to time as other characters, keeping the pace clipping along at a nice speed, while leading the audience through all the places and journeys Nymph Errant takes Evangeline Edwards.  Make sure to catch Nymph Errant this week playing through Saturday evening August 18th.

See you at the show!!!



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Scenic Designer Brittany Elias overseeing the slip stages

Cole Porter's Nymph Errant opens tomorrow with a matinee and evening performance, Thursday Aug 9th and plays thru Saturday Aug. 18th. 

This show has one of the most intriguing sets I have seen on the Tibbits stage.  I have been so enamored with the backstage and onstage workings of this show, I decided to dedicate this blog entirely to "your backstage pass to Nymph Errant."

Nymph Errant is a huge show, we have a lot of places to cover within the play: from Switzerland to France, England, Greece, Italy and even Turkey.  Our director Charles Burr had given our Scenic Designer, Brittany Elias the beginning idea of a possible storybook, or postcards from each of the places the play is set.  Well Brittany took it even further to create a moving world.  Our stage crew have built a slip stage you see in the above picture.  Basically, behind this frame are tracks built in in rows.  Each of the two dimensional flat pieces move on a track to create a 3D picture of where we are.  There are several layers to each location that are then switched out for the next local.  Each of the pieces are moved by hand by our backstage crew, mimicking the train ride movement from one place to another.  See below the work at hand.

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From the audience's point of view, you see something like this below.

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Stage Manager Mark Abrahamson 
Assistant Stage Manager Gabe Taylor
Each set piece, including the slip stage moves on a cue from our stage manager Mark Abrahamson, who is located in the booth above the balcony. He calls the cue, via headset, to our Assistant Stage Manager Gabe Taylor, who then cues the rest of the backstage crew to go with the next set change. It sounds complicated but it works, and these guys are working hard on this show, believe me!

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With all the backstage workings, the performers have been getting used to the space since we entered tech rehearsals on Monday afternoon.  We have been running the songs and dances, adding props and certain costume pieces as we go, transferring our numbers from the gym, where we rehearse, to the stage.  Our choreographer, also playing the French girl Madeline, shown above, Aisling Halpin, makes sure our spacing is correct now on stage and keeps an eye on the musical numbers, even while performing them, to make needed adjustments.

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This show, mixed with its wonderful Cole Porter music and lyrics, has quite a bit of tap dancing in it.  It fits wonderfully with the rhythms and time setting of the show. 

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I have sincerely enjoyed learning new Cole Porter songs, some I may have never known if I had not become a part of Nymph Errant.  The songs are certainly catchy, swim constantly in our heads and are sure to do the same to our audience members.  What a beautiful show to conclude our Tibbits 2012 season.  Don't miss this one, it is not the type of show you catch next year on tour, this one is a special treat brought to you by Tibbits.

See you at the show!!!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

With the closing of Funny Money last night, we have now said good bye to a few more cast members and the crew is assembling another huge show.  We are now entering into our final show of the season with Cole Porter's Nymph ErrantNymph Errant will open Thursday Aug. 9th with a matinee and evening performance and will play for two weeks, closing Saturday Aug. 18th.

Playing the lead in Nymph Errant is Amy Lamberti.  As Evangeline Edwards, she travels the world in search of new adventures and love.  This is Amy's third summer here at Tibbits.  She is originally from Trumbull, CT and holds a BA in Musical Theatre from SUNY Cortland University.  Amy returned this summer knowing that she loves the community, theatre and company at Tibbits. 

Amy began in theatre when she was 8 years old in a production of Cinderella.  She did shows until 5th grade and then became very involved in competitive dance.  She began again in theatre during her Sophomore year in high school with the show Sweet Charity.  Amy and our stage manager Mark Abrahamson grew up together, and Amy was close with his sister Caitie.  When searching for colleges Caitie mentioned SUNY Cortland to Amy since Mark attended that college and was related to Kevin Halpin, the director of their musical theatre program, and also our director this summer of Chicago.  Amy was accepted at SUNY and while there started her path toward performing theatre for a living.

Amy was inspired by the theatre world when she was 3 years old and attended the out of town tryout for Beauty and the Beast.  Amy met Belle after the show, and Belle told Amy she liked her dress.  Amy says, "that was all it took," she was hooked on theatre.  Amy has worked for Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT, acting in many of their shows this last season.  Some dream roles of Amy's include Holly in the Wedding Singer, Regina in Rock of Ages and Louise in Gypsy.

Amy's advice to young hopefuls is to keep an open mind and keep in touch with everyone.  "You never know when you will work with someone again, it is a small world in theatre."  


It is indeed, Amy.  When saying good bye last night to several company members, I kept saying, "It's never a good bye, it's a see ya later."  Because it is true, over the years, I have continued to run into and work, many times, with the same people from past productions.

Come see Amy Lamberti explore the world of adventure and love in Nymph Errant

See you at the show!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012



Funny Money is now entering it's final week of performances with a matinee performance on Wednesday Aug. 1st and evening performances Thurs. Aug. 2nd thru Saturday Aug. 4th's closing.  Don't miss this hilarious comedy, well reviewed by the Battle Creek Enquirer here.

We also have entered our first week of rehearsals for Cole Porter's Nymph Errant musical, the final show of the season.  One gentleman, who is involved in both of the shows is Dick Baker.

Dick plays Detective Sargent Slater in Funny Money.  The detective is very straight laced and professional as he has been given a task of delivering gravely bad news to the lead character's wife Jean Perkins.  However, Dick's fun personality begins to reveal itself as his character unravels along with the multitude of situations snowballing before him.

In Nymph Errant, Dick plays all the male characters, and I mean ALL of them.  A comical and very entertaining thru line of Nymph Errant is that all of the men, the main character Evangeline Edwards meets along her journeys, are played by Dick.  His roles include a British horticulturist, a French producer, a Russian orchestra leader, a German nudist, an Italian Count, a Greek shipping magnate, a burly Turkish officer, and a friendly Eunuch; Dick Baker is busy to say the least in Nymph Errant!

Dick was also in On Broadway 1956 and played the sly, fast talking lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago this summer.  Dick is originally from Canandaigua, NY, and like many this summer at Tibbits, holds a BA in Musical Theatre from SUNY Cortland University.  This is Dick's third summer at Tibbits and said that he thinks the renovation of the theatre is so exciting it adds excitement to the experience of being here as an actor.  He sees himself, and all of us company members, like the community members of Coldwater, pulling together as part of the overhaul of Tibbits.  He said "it makes you feel important performing with something so important going on."

Dick's first show ever was during his Freshman year of high school, when his cousin Pete, who was a year older and involved in sports like Dick, but also in theatre, talked Dick into doing the show, 42nd Street.  After that, Dick's high school music director encouraged him to pursue this as a profession, and by Dick's Junior year of high school, he had made the decision to go into theatre professionally.

Dick feels like being in theatre is much like being a part of a team, like he was of both Football and Lacrosse.  It takes everyone involved to pull a show together.  Dick has worked at Geva Theatre in Rochester, NY, Freefall Theatre in St. Petersburg, FL, and also American Stage Theatre also in St. Petersburg, FL.  A dream role of Dick's is Gabe in Next to Normal

Dick's advice to young hopefuls is to START SAVING NOW!!! Funny, right?  But an honest answer appeared from Dick immediately following, saying "don't forget to have fun." 

Come see Dick, and all us former hopefuls, having fun in Funny Money, closing this week and then opening Thursday Aug. 9th with Nymph Errant.

See you at the show!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012




Funny Money is up and running with one more week of performances including Wed. matinee Aug. 1st and evening performances Thursday Aug. 2nd thru Saturday Aug. 4th.  Our set designer, Brittany Elias, has been creating the worlds in which you have enjoyed the shows this summer.

Funny Money, shown above, takes place in the 70's with mustard yellow walls, a pea green dining room, plus many furnishings, all transporting our audiences back to the 70's.  Brittany is originally from Palm Harbor, FL.  She holds a BFA in Theatre Design from University of Central Florida, but also attended the University of Cincinnati for 2 years as well.  This is Brittany's first summer here at Tibbits and loves designing in this space, especially with the historical aspect of Tibbits.


Brittany started performing at age 2, when she began ballet as well, but started competing in scenic design competitions in FL at age 16.  She won several state competitions and then went on to attend Carnegie Mellon's pre college program to see if she wanted to do this for real.  Brittany said she grew up wanting to be an architect and loved legos, so designing sets wasn't too far off from her childhood dream.  Brittany has extremely supportive parents who wanted her to follow her dreams of scenic design, she also had great inspiration from judges at those design competitions, who kept urging her to go to college for scenic design.

Last summer Brittany designed 2 shows at Weathervane Playhouse in Newark, OH along with being the prop master for all 8 shows that summer.  She has worked as a painter for Utah Festival Opera and a carpenter/painter for American Stage Theatre.  Brittany's dream show to design is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and advises young hopefuls to take lots of art classes.  She said her most challenging set of the season will be Nymph Errant.  It is a big show with a lot of locations.  Brittany said she had the most fun designing the On Broadway 1956 set.  She loved the inspiration behind it and it's free form style. 

Sound designing for us this summer is Shaun Reis.  Originally from Johnsburg, IL, he just graduated from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO with a BA in Theatre.  This is Shaun's 3rd summer here at Tibbits.  He is a carpenter as well as our sound designer.  He returned stating he loves the area and the theatre.  It helps in his position knowing the theatre as well as he does.  By knowing how Tibbits works, he can think outside the problem and come up with a creative solution.

Shaun is responsible for the amplified sound you hear onstage (our monitors) and out in the house as well.  You may have noticed the 1920's microphone used by many on the top platform of Chicago.  Shaun rigged that piece to a modern usable microphone for speech to be heard better.  Shaun ran the show backstage, pulling up the mic when needed throughout our run of the show.  As you sit back and listen to the morning farm noise in Charlotte's Web, it is Shaun who has found that sound effect and made it happen.  Also he found, and is responsible, for the BBC music before, during and after Funny Money.

Shaun started performing in 7th grade, his older brother was a jack of all trades in theatre and by high school, Shaun had entered the technical side and had a hand in all sort of backstage work.  While in college, Shaun worked for a local sound company, an after school theatre program and often for a production and AV company.  These gigs often came through connections with his college and allowed Shaun more hands on training.

Eventually Shaun wants to be a stage hand that tours for a couple of years.  He likes the idea of the venue changing and traveling, which he thinks is a good lifestyle challenge.  He advises young technical people to "put your heart into it and never let it go, theatre takes all of you."  Well said Shaun.

See you at the show!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Funny Money opens tomorrow Thursday July 26th, with a matinee and evening performance.  This farcical comedy by famed playwright Ray Cooney, known for his farces, such as Run for Your Wife and Out of Order, will be playing on the Tibbits stage for two weeks, closing on Sat. Aug. 4th.

Playing the heated cab driver, Bill, who continually gets pulled into all the mischief of the money Henry Perkins has found in a mistaken briefcase off the subway, is Doug Robbins.  Doug was born in Reno, NV but moved around quite a bit as a kid.  His parents settled during his high school days in Cortland, NY, where he then attended SUNY Cortland University, graduating with a BA in Musical Theatre and minor in Communications.

This is Doug's second summer here at Tibbits.  He was last here in the summer of '10 and spent last summer at New Bedford Festival Theatre in New Bedford, MA.  Doug said he was excited to return to Tibbits because of the wonderful people here and especially how well done the shows are at Tibbits.  Doug began in theatre during high school, when a group of his friends kept asking him to join them in shows.  He was involved in sports at the time, but after doing his first couple of shows, the sports side of his life started to fade away. 

Doug remembers being little, reenacting Disney movies in his backyard with his sister, and says he was inspired to enter theatre as a profession because theatre is still like that fun play in the backyard for him.

Since graduating, Doug has worked at Cider Mill Playhouse in Binghamton, NY and also at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, NH.  A dream role he hasn't gotten the chance to play yet is Frederick C. Douglass in Kiss Me Kate.  Doug advises young hopefuls to not be afraid to really go for it, you may make mistakes but "you can't learn unless you try."


Our Props Master this summer for all the mainstage shows is Stephanie Baugher.  She has done a wonderful job collecting and building props, from those feathered fans in Chicago to the 70's paraphernalia in Funny Money.  Stephanie is from West Bloomfield, MI and just graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI.  This is Stephanie's first summer here at Tibbits.

In past summers she has held two internships, in 2010 with Princeton University Theatre in NJ and 2011 with Central City Opera in Central City, CO.  Stephanie has an Illustration Degree with a minor in Theatre, she decided prop design was her forte around her Sophomore year in college.  She began in theatre doing church productions as a kid, and then migrated to backstage work from middle school on. 

Stephanie says her biggest challenge this summer will be with Nymph Errant, because of all the different locals in which the play takes place.  She has found her assistant, local Graham- Rowe Bultnick, very helpful in facilitating the borrowing of things from locals for the shows.  She said it is nice for locals to see a familiar face when asking to borrow something for a Tibbits show. 

Stephanie's advice to aspiring prop designers is to stay organized and figure out where to find or borrow things.  You have to be very resourceful and "be able to make something out of nothing."

Come check out both of these talented people's work this week and next at Funny Money.  I dare you to leave the theatre without your sides hurting from laughter!

See you at the show!!!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Henry Perkins has returned home from work on his birthday, accidentally grabbing the wrong briefcase on the subway. He finds his new briefcase filled with 735,000 pounds. Set in London in the late 1970's, when the British pound to dollar ratio was more than 2 to 1, you can only imagine how much money he has now found in his briefcase!!!  Henry decides to forgo his birthday celebrations and fly to Barcelona with his new fortune and his wife Jean, never to return. However, his soon arriving birthday guests and reluctant to leave wife, along with the true owners of the money briefcase, upset all of Henry's plans and hilarity ensues.

Playing Henry Perkins, is returning Tibbits company member Chad Tallon. This is Chad's second summer here at Tibbits, and has just recently played Amos Hart in Chicago. Chad is originally from Essex, IL, just 50 miles south of Chicago. He holds a BA in Theatre from Lewis University and has just completed an MFA degree in Acting from Western Illinois University.  Chad said he loved returning to the community of actors Charles Burr has cast. Chad states that Charles always seems to cast talented people who get along well together and are supportive of each other.

Chad was inspired to get into theatre by his 7th grade science teacher who was very involved in the arts and needed more boys for their production of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Chad joined the cast as Mr. Beaver, and tells me he is still in contact with that special teacher, who started it all for him.

Henry Perkins
Chad began his undergrad days studying to be a Math teacher, but by his Sophomore year, he changed his mind to pursue theatre, transferred schools, and began his theatre path.  Chad has worked at Summer Music Theatre in Macomb, IL and this last year was on tour with National Players performing Of Mice and Men and Taming of the Shrew. Chad's dream roles include Horton in Seussical and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls.  Chad advises people perusing theatre to always keep learning, reading, and working. "If you make your craft a priority, you can control your destiny."

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Playing Chad's best friend in Funny Money, is TJ Besler as Vic Johnson. This is TJ's first summer here at Tibbits, he was featured as Olaf in Frog Prince and also fills out the ensemble in Chicago, most notably as Sergeant Fogarty.  TJ, originally from Manchester, IA, holds a BA in Theatre with a minor in Music and Dance from University of Iowa.  TJ mentioned how beautiful he thinks the theatre is, how efficiently Tibbits works, the great staff of people he is working with, and how supportive the Coldwater community is of the theatre in attendance of the shows.
TJ began in theatre during elementary school, and by his Freshman year in high school he was performing along side of his older sister. He said that the show they did together his Freshman year, Anything Goes, was when he decided he wanted to perform for a living.

Vic Johnson

TJ has worked at Old Creamery Theatre in Amana, IA, Winged Lions Players in LA, Nashville Children's Theatre and he has toured with National Theatre for Children.  TJ's dream roles include Bobby in Company, The Baker in Into the Woods and the MC in Cabaret.  His advice to young hopefuls is only do this if you are positive you can't see yourself doing anything else, "those are the people who stick with it and are successful."


Jean Perkins
Heather Jessup, our costume designer for Funny Money is bringing the late 70's fashion back to the Tibbits stage. Originally from Largo, FL, Heather has attended Florida School of the Arts, holds a BA in Technical Theatre from University of Mississippi and is entering her 3rd year as an MFA Costume Design student at North Carolina School of the Arts. This is Heather's 1st summer at Tibbits and is enjoying all the people she is working with here. Heather also designed our costumes for On Broadway 1956 earlier this summer. While in that show she was designing using several vintage items from the 50's, this show allows her to pull from the great stock the costume shop has due to the vast amount of donations received from locals here in Coldwater matching the era of this show. She tells me she has focused on the 70's silhouette in costuming this show and has stayed away from mustard yellow color, since the walls of the set will be in that color family. 

Sergeant Davenport

Heather began performing in middle school, was involved in show choir and has always loved singing. Heather has always enjoyed the analytical side of theatre as well. She found her place, as she continued to read plays and enjoyed the communication through design of the plays' intentions. In high school she got involved in FL State Thespians and enjoyed the opportunity to work beside professional costume designers. Heather has worked as a designer at Oxford Shakespeare Festival in Mississippi, at Maltz Jupiter as wardrobe supervisor and was assigned upkeep and styling of the wigs as well.  Also, Heather has worked as a costume apprentice for two years at Santa Fe Opera, but last year was a costume assistant at Santa Fe Opera.


Heather hopes to design a Tennessee Williams play in the future. She loves the text and relationships in the world he creates.  Heather advises aspiring costume designers to draw... a lot, paint, get experience and talk to people who are in the field. She stated, "You must love the substance of the play" to design well.

Betty Johnson
Funny Money, opens Thursday July 26th with both a matinee and evening performance and runs for two weeks closing on Saturday Aug. 4th.

See you at the show!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meet Wilbur and Charlotte! Charlotte's Web will open this Friday July 20th and Saturday July 21st at 10am and will also play the following week July 27th and 28th. Paul Warren Smith and Altamiece Ballard-Cooper play Wilbur and Charlotte. Both of these cast members are in our main stage production of Chicago as well. Paul plays several roles, my personal favorite being the defunct bailiff, and Altamiece stars as Mama Morton.

This is Paul Warren Smith's first summer at Tibbits. Paul is another student from SUNY Cortland University joining us this summer, entering his Junior year as a BFA Musical Theatre major. Originally from Albany NY, Paul began performing in elementary school, but began in professional theatre his senior year in high school.  During his senior year, he interned at an equity theatre called NY State Theatre. While there, he worked all different jobs from on stage to tech work learning the craft. He explained to me that this was an incredible experience for a kid his age. His grandfather was a musician and always loved hearing him and his sister sing, which led him to musical theatre in the first place. Paul has worked at other summer stocks such as Fort Salem Theatre and Park Playhouse, all near his hometown of Albany. Paul mentioned how gorgeous he thinks Tibbits theatre is, and his dream role to play one day is Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Paul advises acting hopefuls that "dreams exist for a reason, go out and do it, pursue your dreams." He hopes young hopefuls have as much support as he has received from family and friends as well.


This is Altamiece Ballard-Cooper's fourth summer at Tibbits.  She is from Battle Creek, MI. She loves returning to Tibbits, partly because it is in her backyard, and stated that she is treated so well at Tibbits, you just want to return.  Altamiece played Charlotte in Charlotte's Web here at Tibbits in the summer of '05 and is happy to give the part another whirl. Altamiece started performing at age 3 in the play "Amen Corner."  Her father is a performer as well, and said that she grew up watching him and was inspired by him to do theatre.  She attended Western Michigan University for Musical Theatre Performance, and since then has worked for Derby Dinner Playhouse, Music Theatre of Wichita, and was on the National Tour of Rent.  One of Altamiece's dream roles is being checked off her list this summer, Mama Morton in Chicago.  Another dream role of hers is to play one of the Church Ladies in The Color Purple.  Her advice to people wanting to enter the theatre profession is "if there is anything else you think you might want to do, do that.  You have to be thick skinned in this profession."  It is not for the faint of heart.

The director of Charlotte's Web is also our Master Electrician and Light Board operator Dan Janes. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, he designs the lights for the Popcorn shows and has to rewrite cues each week, as the new Mainstage show changes, and Dan has to figure out what he has to left to use. He describes lighting design here at Tibbits similar to figuring out a puzzle.  He has directed one acts and full plays in college, but this will be his first professional directing piece.

Jeff has just graduated from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, IL with a BA in Theatre and Dance with a Design Technical Concentration. In 2009, he was here at Tibbits as our ME and Light Board Operator position. He returned stating he likes working here with the supportive community at Tibbits.

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Dan, originally from Crystal Lake, IL, began in sound work his freshman year of high school and broadened his focus to lighting in college. His older brother was an actor, and his ride home, so when he stuck around at rehearsals, he got sucked into the theatre world. Dan has worked for Circus Flora and many other freelance gigs around the St. Louis area. His dream show to light is We Will Rock You but also loves to direct farce comedies. His advice to upcoming people on technical theatre is to do your best and learn how to get along with people, "it makes life easier."
Costume Pieces for Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web is a classic tale, which most of us remember from our childhood.  Bringing a child to a live version of the tale creates memories you can share for a lifetime.  We hope to help make those memories for your family. 

See you at the Show!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How fast time flies, our first week of Chicago has already whizzed by.  Chicago will be running one more week with a Wednesday matinee July 18th, and evening performances on the 19th, 20th and closing the 21st. 

One of our cast members is Coldwater born and raised, Jessica Bracy.  Jessica studied dance at The Academy of Dance here in town from age six, the same studio her mother also took ballet from as a child. Jessica remembers performing her recitals on the Tibbits stage as a child, and also appeared in The Snow Girl  here at Tibbits. 

Jessica attended Indiana University on an academic full ride scholarship, she graduated with a BA in Political Science and Anthropology, all while continuing to dance at IU.  After graduating, she spent the next year dancing for the Fort Wayne Ballet.  Then she set her sights on NYC.  Jessica has been living in NYC for the last two years.  She began in NYC by dancing for the Eidolon Ballet Company and now currently is a cast member of "The Ride," an interactive Musical Theatre Tour of the City.  Jessica dances both the tap and the ballerina tracks on "The Ride," but also teaches at Ballet Academy East on the Upper East Side.  When Jessica leaves Tibbits after Chicago closes she will be returning to NYC and will be seen in the new musical KRiEp premiering in August at the NYC Fringe Festival. 
Jessica began her summer at Tibbits choreographing our On Broadway 1956 show.  While she has choreographed ballets before, this was her first full musical theatre show to choreograph.  Jessica said she enjoyed pulling from lots of different dance styles for the show.  For example, "Steam Heat," is the original Fosse choreography, "Jubilation T. Cornpone" was based on country dancing, she used 1920's dance steps for "Won't You Charleston With Me,"  she used ballet and court dancing for the My Fair Lady medley and based "Lola" on Spanish dancing styles.

Jessica's dream roles are Meg in Phantom and Victoria in Cats.  Jessica's advice to young people is to keep your determination, you create your own path.  "When a door shuts, open a window."  She said you hear no so many times in this business, you just have to search for a yes.

Now for all of our Mainstage shows, lighting designer Jeff Hannah, is creating the different worlds of Tibbits.  This is Jeff's 3rd summer at Tibbits, he is from Troy, MI and now lives in Champaign-Urbana, IL.  Jeff keeps busy working for several different companies throughout the year.  Specifically he mentioned Champaign-Urbana Ballet Company, Krannert Center for Performing Arts and Celebration Company.  Jeff holds a BA in Theatre Performance from Oakland University and an MFA in Lighting Design from University of Illinois.



Jeff tells me that Chicago and Nymph Errant will be his most difficult shows of the season, based on the limited resources he has to use and the time frame.  For instance, most theatres have 98-120 dimmers to use, Tibbits has 55.  Another challenge is the batons on which we hang lights from, on stage in our fly rail with its limited capacity.  Jeff returned to Tibbits because he likes the people he works with here, especially Artistic Director Charles Burr.  He says working with this kind of quick time frame, it is always interesting to see what he can design in the 2 days allotted for tech.  He says designing at Tibbits is like figuring out a puzzle and really likes the side boom lights Tibbits has to use.  This year they do have a new lighting toy, an I-Que, it is a rotating mirror, attached to a light fixture that can rotate and move the focus of light, much like an intelligent light does.

Jeff's dream show to lighting design is Midsummer Night's Dream.  He always seems to show up at theatres that have just done the show before he arrived.  Jeff fell into lighting by working crew during his undergrad years.  His advice to people interested in the lighting field is to volunteer, take classes, work electric crews as much as possible, help hang lights and get light focus experience.  Jeff also mentioned that his Master Electrician for the summer Dan Janes, has it really tough.  Dan designs for the Popcorn shows, but since the Popcorn shows straddle two different Mainstage shows, Dan basically has to redo all his cues and certain designs based on what the new Mainstage show is using.  Jeff said that he and Dan try to chat about what each of them need in their shows, so as to not make any one's job harder than it needs to be. 

Summer stock is always tough on the Tech crew, they pull the longest and strangest hours, many times working through the night to make a show run more smoothly the next day.  I know we all thank you for your hard work Tech crew.  Chicago looks fantastic, don't miss this one folks!

See you at the show!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Opening Thursday July 12th, with a matinee and evening performance, Chicago, has been the long awaited show of the Tibbits season. Back to direct, is Kevin Halpin, who directed Fully Monty last summer, and has been returning on a regular basis to direct the big musical of the summer since 2005. 
Two summers ago, Kevin's daughter, Aisling Halpin, joined us as a performer here at Tibbits.  Since then, she has graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Musical Theatre and is now living in NYC.  She worked last summer at Merry Go Round Playhouse in Auburn, NY, but is back to join us this summer at Tibbits as Roxie Hart in Chicago.  Aisling will also be in Funny Money this summer at Tibbits, on top of that, she is choreographing Nymph Errant, her first professional choreography credit, and will also being in the show as well.

As a father and daughter team, Kevin told me he couldn't be more proud of the person and performer Aisling is, "she isn't just a beautiful, very talented girl, but a real team player as well."  He is excited to return to Tibbits at the end of the season to see Aisling's first professional choreographed show. 

Kevin and Aisling went to the same undergraduate school for their BFA's in Musical Theatre, Syracuse University.  Kevin then attended Brooklyn College for his MFA degree in Directing.  His first professional directing job was here at Tibbits as well, The Music Man, in 1991, where my husband, Paul Kerr, played the music man himself, Harold Hill. 
After grad school, Kevin taught at Millikin University for 3 years, and then created the musical theatre program at SUNY Cortland, where he continues to lead the program today.  His wife Cindy also teaches at the college, but after they outgrew the dance facilities at their university, they opened a Performing Arts Institute, with two studio spaces in downtown Cortland, NY. 

Kevin's connection to Tibbits goes back even further than directing.  He and his wife were performers here in the summer of 1985, and Aisling grew up hearing of this magic place called Tibbits.  She visited Tibbits the summer of 2007 while touring colleges, while her dad was directing us in Sweet Charity.  Fast forward three more years, Aisling was now an acting company member of Tibbits, and this summer is a returning company member.

Kevin began performing in 8th grade, as Charlie Brown in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.  He began dance training in college, performed and choreographed at many theatres before returning to grad school for his MFA in Directing. 

Aisling has been dancing all her life, her first performance was at 3 years old in her mother's ballet based off the movie "Hook's" soundtrack, she was baby Michael.  This was just the beginning for Aisling.  She performed many roles throughout her childhood for surrounding theatres like Gateway Playhouse and Cortland Rep.  She even played "Dainty June," at SUNY Cortland in her father's production of Gypsy.

Kevin states that his dream shows to direct are West Side Story and A Chorus Line.  Aisling's dream roles to perform are Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Natalie in Next to Normal, and Sherrie in Rock of Ages.  While Roxie Hart is one of Aisling's dream roles as well, she gets to fulfill that dream this summer, along side of her very proud father/director.
Aisling, when asked why she wanted to return to Tibbits, she said she loves Tibbits for the quality of shows that we do, and that everyone who works here loves what they are doing. Kevin's advice for young people wanting to direct is to study at a good program and build your skills such as play analysis, technical theatre, movement, and communication skills with actors. Aisling advises young actors, "if you love what you do and are willing to work hard, you can do it."

Kevin has many of his students or former students from SUNY Cortland here this summer.  He has included auditioning for Tibbits, by video reel, a part of his curriculum for his upper level musical theatre class.  However, he does offer this audition opportunity to all his students.  The final casting decision is up to Tibbits Artistic Director, Charles Burr, but Kevin has always stressed to his students the value in pursuing professional connections.

One such student, who did just that, is first year Tibbits company member Catherine Skojec.  She has just finished her freshman year at SUNY Cortland, pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre.  Catherine has been seen highlighted in our On Broadway 1956 review and will appear as Go-To-Hell Kitty in Chicago.  Catherine is originally from Binghamton, NY.  She began dancing at age 4, but continued to alternate dance with sports until high school, when she began doing shows.  Catherine is delighted to be spending the summer here in Coldwater and we are delighted to have her.

Come see Chicago opening July 12th and playing until July 21st. 

See you at the show!!!