In her good works, her loving and encouraging persona, and perhaps in a misbehaving microphone, Company Theatre’s beloved co-founder Jordie Saucerman’s presence was unmistakably felt in Jordie A Celebration of Life and Concert continuing through Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 PM. This dynamic tribute is held live onstage with no intermission at the Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. Click here for more information.
Though there are moments of tearful recollections, this thoughtful, Mardi Gras-inspired tribute brought more joy than sadness not unlike Jordie herself. She made an indelible mark not only in theatre and film, but her humor, drive, and generous nature made her an unforgettable presence in the lives she encountered, especially in children that often felt alone and misunderstood. Her discernment, treatment of others, and her endless bowls of chicken soup and treats allowed them to shine.
A large cast that included Academy of the Company Theatre (ACT) students paid warmhearted tribute to Jordie with hit Broadway tunes, pop and uplifting gospel songs, captivating dance numbers, and personal stories. Composed of present and former students that she fondly referred to as family and those whose lives she touched over her 49 years in the arts, needless to say the stage was full.
Some highlights included a poignant montage of film clips capturing Jordie’s wonderful life, including her telling first and final reflections. A stirring homily from Cathy Torrey and insightful, ballet-inspired choreography created by Jordie’s wife and Company Theatre choreographer Sally Forrest led in song by Paula Markowitz depict how beautiful she was inside and out.
The Company Theatre presents Jordie A Celebration of Life and Concert for one more show on Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information.
In Jordie’s memory, The Company Theatre has created The Jordie Saucerman Forever Fund. Click here to contribute to her legacy.
Sleepless Critic had a chance to interview Zoe Bradford about the Company Theatre’s upcoming projects, their vision for the future, and even walked away with some good advice. Click here for the full list the Company Theatre’s 2020 season.
Company Theatre co-founders Jordie Saucerman and Zoe Bradford, courtesy of Company Theatre
Sleepless Critic: Congratulations on Company Theatre’s recent 40th anniversary. So much has happened in the last few years from the upgraded, painted theatre with new seating to new, original productions. Please tell me more about that.
Zoe Bradford: Now that the theatre is beautiful, we’re envisioning the potential of our outdoor property. We’ve done a lot with Academy of the Company Theatre (A.C.T.) with an expanded outdoor stage and new pavilion. We have a growing summer program that has been at full capacity. Not only do we need more space and with everybody addicted to their screens, I believe in getting kids outside. We have a path to the pond front and we’ve held classes there for water coloring and creative writing.
A group of past A.C.T. students Photo courtesy of The Company Theatre
Freedom for creative expression has been the key for me, so I know it is the key for them. It’s why I desperately wanted my own theatre and thank God it happened. It’s not stimulating to work in the confines of another person’s building or organization. That’s one of the draws here.
ZB: It’s financially difficult to do that, but we are trying to give the young people what they want. Lizzie Borden went well because people love local history and some said they have been to her house. It’s a gruesome tale, but it was also a nice psychological thriller.
We changed how we choose our shows a little, but we still have to please our general audience and offer something for the family, something mature, and our team knows their demographic well and what will be successful.
I’m passionate about big musicals and there’s nothing like the thrill of a live orchestra. People in the professional theatre world, mentors, and colleagues say they will put eight pieces in here and do a lot of synthetic and prerecord. You can make a lot of money that way, but we can’t do that. Michael Joseph said that is standard while he was here and we’ve maintained it.
As a non-profit, whatever comes in has to support what we are doing and help us be self-sustaining. Grants, gifts, and tax deductible donations are the key. We have better opportunities for community support such as new packages for corporate sponsorship due to having higher end computer capabilities, a better website, and a ticketing service that allows people who wish to support us to advertise.
SC: What has been your most challenging musical?
ZB:The Wizard of Oz because the movie is a masterpiece and any derivation from the film would be a disappointment for those who truly love it. People would fight me on that, but if you take on The Wiz, you can do what you want because no one has a preset notion of it.
Company Theatre’s ‘The Wiz’ auditions will be held on January 22. Photo courtesy of the Company Theatre
SC:The Wiz is also part of Company Theatre’s 2020 season. What advice would you give someone taking on a business in theatre or similar?
ZB: It’s highly competitive. Know your vision, don’t give up, and try to think of something that someone else hasn’t already thought of. Be fresh and original when you can and make sure people know of your existence without being obnoxious about it. We still struggle with it. Some people say they didn’t know a theatre is here.
SC: What do you envision for the Company Theatre’s future?
ZB: We have to keep growing and we set up the Legacy Fund. Our money rolls in and out with the tide as any non-profit would, but we’re actively fundraising to ensure another 40 years and beyond.
For over ten years, I’ve wanted to design a new logo. I remember sitting at a little drafting table back in the 70s and hand drew it when we didn’t have any money or resources.
With art being cut in classrooms and attending theatre in Boston can be so expensive, we’re looking to keep this going so it’s accessible for everyone and expand. I can see us taking on more property and A.C.T. quadrupling over the next ten years. We’re not a community theatre anymore, but a year round professional and we’ll evolve again. We provide many jobs for people, but the other part of my vision is to create more jobs for artisans in the area. The more people that are working and inspiring people, the better.
Photo courtesy of the Company Theatre
The Company Theatre kicks off their 2020 season with A.C.T’s The Who’s Tommy from January 17 through January 26. Click here for tickets and here for more on Company Theatre’s 2020 season. You can also get tickets by calling the box office at 781-871-2787. Located at 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts, click here for how to support the Company Theatre and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
For Performing Arts news, interviews, reviews, and much more in Boston and beyond, follow us on Facebook @sleeplesscritic and subscribe.
Building a dream always has its share of surprises and challenges. However, with determination, hard work, and more than a touch of luck, those sought after dreams can become a reality. Sleepless Beyond the Stage explores the reality of making that dream come true, whether by building an organization, finally bringing that dream production to life, or starting a group that makes a difference.
Richard Bento, Executive Director and President of South Shore Theatre Works (SSTW) checked in with Sleepless Critic a few years ago as the theater was just getting on its feet. Boasting a successful run of Seussicalin December, SSTW’s upcoming productions include Blithe Spirit, Ordinary Days, and Chicago. Richard Bento talks about how this Massachusetts theater has grown in a short time. Click here for more information, auditions, and for tickets.
Past performances of ‘Seussical the Musical’ December 2018
Sleepless Critic: Please tell me about your background and what inspired you to start South Shore Theatre Works?
Richard Bento: I’ve participated in community and semi-professional theater throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Georgia, and San Francisco. One of my goals was to have a group of my own who share the same mission and passion I had for the arts.
A few years ago, I decided to participate in theater here and assist another community theater group. I fell in love with the people. We shared the same passion. When we were at a crossroads needing to decide whether we were going to bring this other group to another level or start our own with other people who shared that same drive, I decided to put together South Shore Theatre Works.
South Shore Theatre Works presents ‘Blithe Spirit’ February 15-17 in Randolph, MA Photo courtesy of South Shore Theatre Works
JD: What would you say to those who are considering starting a community theater?
RB: I wish them a lot of luck and determination because starting a community theater is difficult. It is not an endeavor for everyone or for the weak-hearted. Like an actor who wants to perform professionally and make it on Broadway, 99% of that actor’s experience will be rejection. When you’re putting together a theater group, you will also face rejection, people who feel threatened, or don’t understand why you’re creating this new project. What’s important is to make sure the reason behind this endeavor comes from a place of love and passion.
JD: How do the particular shows this season fit into this year’s mission?
RB: The hardest thing is deciding where we want SSTW to be at the end of that year. Going into the third season, we chose shows that celebrated the talent we have at SSTW.
We kicked it off with the musical, Urinetown. Not very successful on Broadway, but the SSTW actors were passionate about the show and Urinetown shows off an actor’s strengths. Seussical was about bringing wholesome family fun back into community theater. We’ll continue the fun with our upcoming spring musical Chicago, which was a dream of mine to direct.
South Shore Theatre Works presents the hit musical ‘Chicago’ in April. Photo courtesy of South Shore Theatre Works
JD: You once said you hope South Shore Theatre Works would become “a home where we can perform all year round, where people can feel comfortable, and share their talents and passion for the craft with audiences from all over.” Is that plan being fulfilled and where do you see SSTW in the future?
RB: The word “home” can be defined in many ways. I think a home theatre company is a comfortable place where I’ll also be challenged and empowered to try new things. South Shore Theatre Works has accomplished that in three short years. We have new actors and actors who return show after show not just for their dream roles, but to be part of our family.
Of course we have a long way to go. We have to evolve with the times and change with what is happening around us. We have performance space in Holbrook and Randolph with rehearsals in Stoughton. By changing our accessibility off the highway, it is easier for people who are coming in from the city to perform with us.
Second Saturday Cabaret presents ‘Love is in the Air’ on Saturday, February 9 at Connection Cafe in Holbrook. Photo courtesy of South Shore Theatre Works
We do many projects as an all-year-round group and keep adding more shows that have purpose. We launched Second Saturday Cabarets the second Saturday of every month which includes five or six performers. They do their own set in front of a live audience like the Don’t Tell Mama venue and nightclub in New York City.
We’ve had success with the SSTW Youth Division. We decided last summer to do not just one youth production, but to divide it into ages 6-13 and a 13-19 division with Aristocats and Heathers. This year we’re even more excited to do the same with The Lion King, Jr. and Carrie the Musical. We’re asking these kids to take an active part in choosing the shows. We also took on a new challenge by doing a summer camp last year and we’re looking forward to continuing it this year.
We had wonderful opportunities to empower some of our actors from different shows to take on new roles. Urinetown actress Stephanie Wallace and I co-directed Seussical because she took an interest in directing. Urinetown actress Jaclyn Cleary choreographed a couple of numbers in Seussical because took an interest in choreography. We give people a well-rounded experience to be onstage in one show and offstage in another and still feel that same passion in those experiences.
Support us financially by being an audience member and an active South Shore Theatre Works member. Visit out website, sign up for our emails, keep in touch, and find that one project where you really want to help. Support the arts in any way possible and spread the word about South Shore Theatre Works.
Click here for a closer look on how to support South Shore Theatre Works. Call 774-386-8258 and follow them on Facebook for a closer look at their current season and more.
Americana Theatre Company’s Man of La Mancha Director Michael Kirkland Photo courtesy of Americana Theatre Company
Americana Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director and Gypsy in Man of La Mancha Photo courtesy of Americana Theatre Company
American Theatre Company’s Jennifer Martin and director Dr. Michael Kirkland discuss going through 500 audition tapes, their current season, and why Man of La Mancha sometimes felt like a farce. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Sleepless Critic: This is your first time directing Man of La Mancha.
Michael Kirkland: It is, but it is also my seventh La Mancha. I’ve been blessed to portray Sancho Panza four times professionally. I’ve also played The Barber, have choreographed the combat and violence in the show maybe six of the seven times, but have always longed to direct it.
SC: Doing a show that many times makes you that much more prepared of what works and what doesn’t.
MK: Directing the show is a real blessing because I have formulated well germinated ideas about the piece and I finally have an opportunity to experiment with those ideas, but I never lock myself out of the possibility of change.
SC: Although Man of La Mancha is a comedy, Americana Theatre Company’s past production of The Three Musketeers also featured swordplay and took place in a similar time period. Did the actors train the way they did for The Three Musketeers?
MK: Yes, it is a physical show with combat fighting ranging from realistic to stylized to serious to comical narratives and techniques. Similar challenges but different than swordplay. Swordplay has more rules and challenges that come with it. This is all hand to hand and found weapons, which are objects laying around that become unusual weapons.
SC:Man of La Mancha’sThe Impossible Dream in itself is epic. So how did Americana decide to take on this show?
Jennifer Martin: This is our third foray into musical theatre having taken on Grease and Lucky Stiff previously. We try to choose stories that we believe matter, have great entertainment value, make our community better, and are ensemble driven. Man of La Mancha is a storytelling, ensemble-driven show that works well with our company. This show is great for that because Cervantes enters the prison and uses the prisoners to tell his story.
Scott Wahle as Don Quixote and Bethany Lauren James as Aldonza with Ruben Navarro as Sancho Panza
SC: TV personality Scott Wahle stars as the Man of La Mancha. He’s been in a few shows in the area such as Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston’s Guys and Dolls and Company Theatre’s Paragon Park. He has a certain charisma and comic timing that fits Man of La Mancha. How was the audition process?
JM: We posted the audition on Backstage for our New York auditions and viewed about 500 audition videos for Aldonza, Sancho Panza, and Don Quixote (Cervantes). After reviewing those videos, we traveled to New York and we did a full day of five minute audition slots. We found Aldonza and Sancho Panza, but we still didn’t have our Man of La Mancha. Americana’s President Peter Martin suggested his friend Scott Wahle. Finding the Man of La Mancha was our actual quest and once we found him, everything fit into place.
SC: What has been the show’s biggest challenge?
JM: The first rehearsal process and making sure that above all, the words and richness of what was written is experienced by the audience while moving quickly. The other challenge unique to our company is our four company members performing in the show are wearing multiple hats. Managing Director David Friday plays The Governor and The Innkeeper while being the set builder and designer. We’re doing a comedy, but sometimes it feels like a farce.
MK: The concept we had settled upon affords an exploration of layers. What I’m trying to communicate in this particular interpretation is even Cervantes does not completely understand the power of what he has written and it takes these prisoners and him watching how his story redeems them that truly brings home the power.
SC: Man of La Mancha has something for everyone, but I think men will especially enjoy it.
MK: It is a show with depth, substance, and great heart. It also has some bite to it and aspects of it might be border line uncomfortable for people to experience. I always think we can tell redemptive stories of girl scouts or in this particular instance, prostitutes. The show makes a powerful statement by the end of this story.
The complete cast Photo credit to Denise Maccaferri
SC: What’s been your favorite part of putting the show together?
MK: I love to collaborate. We had collaborative sessions on the telephone before we ever got here, just kicking around ideas then settling upon how we are to realize the conceptualization of the piece. Then we start working with those people on a day to day basis bouncing ideas off each other, then trying things, and then trying them on the performers. Theatre affords you what some more isolated performing arts don’t. Theatre is created and performed in community. Good ideas are great, and once it is on the stage, it’s not mine. It’s ours.
SC: The current season includes Man of La Mancha, Sleepy Hollow, and The Gifts of the Magi. How do Americana select each season?
JM: We look at what would be good for the town of Plymouth based on audience feedback of what they respond to, interested in, what they love, and what they are longing for. We chose Man of La Mancha because we love the story, thought we could tell it well, and saw that it hasn’t been told for awhile in this area.
Our selection process takes about four months of thought and steady, hard work. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was chosen because we realize this area values holidays and traditional stories. We thought of doing a one man version of Sleepy Hollow. Our founding director Derek Martin is currently working on adapting the script and our Managing Director, David Friday, will be performing it. We’re excited about performing an old, beautiful story in a simple, straight forward and creative manner.
The Gifts of the Magi is a lovely, six person musical so dear and true to the holiday season. We wanted to tell a holiday story and keep the cast small in the wintertime because we want to perform it in the Center for the Arts, a small space.
JM: Yes, registration is still open. At Studio Americana, we work with each child individually which is why we keep the shows intentionally small so each student has an equal amount of time. A lot of students say it’s the best part of their summer.
Photo courtesy of Studio Americana
SC: What do you envision the future of Americana Theatre Company?
JM: We still are a bit of a secret in the South Shore. We are blessed to have consistent five star reviews from people who come. When people finally come, they say I can’t believe I’ve missed you guys. We’re expanding our season with a cabaret and fundraiser in March, a show through July and have offerings in October.
We’re a 501(c)3 company and have some great community sponsors. As we get more support, we’d love to expand to a six show season where things are constantly happening. People who come to Plymouth get the highest level of theatre across the United States, but we want our residents and guests to feel like this is also their hometown theater company.
Americana Theatre Company proudly presents Tony award-winning musical Man of La Mancha through July 29 at Spire Center for Performing Arts, 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth, MA. Click here for more information and tickets. Click here for how to support Americana Theatre Company. Follow Americana Theatre Company on Facebook and Twitter.
For Performing Arts news, interviews, reviews, and much more in Boston and beyond, follow us on Facebook @sleeplesscritic and subscribe.