Category Archives: Hannah Tarr

FC Theatre Students Shine on Community Stages

By Hannah Tarr

In the coming weeks, four FC theatre students will be taking the stage and doing what they love.

Actually, these performers will be taking to four different stages across the community. Sophomore Annie Bulleit, junior Ryland Sparkman, sophomore Caroline Siegrist, and junior Taylor Lockhart are involved in productions outside of FC. For each of them, the chance to perform outside of school is a great opportunity to learn and gain experience in the art they love.

Annie Bulleit- The Diary of Anne Frank at Shelby Community Theatre this weekend

Bulleit stars as Anne Frank in the play based on her diary, playing at Shelby Community Theatre in Shelbyville, Kentucky this weekend and last. Bulleit found out about this show, her first at Shelby Community Theatre, through the director, who she knew through working on a previous show. Rehearsals started about two months before the show opened last Friday. For Bulleit, this role is a dream come true.

“Anne Frank is one of my dream roles. I’ve always wanted to play her,” said Bulleit. “It’s an amazing role.”

Of course, this role is not just any role. It is the true story of a young girl who died during the Holocaust, which is no trivial matter. Bulleit, a self-proclaimed history nerd, has great interest in this topic, and she has enjoyed getting to learn about the history through this process.

“I’ve learned a lot about the Holocaust and that it affected more than just the Jews but also the brave Germans who were willing to help them,” said Bulleit.

Bulleit hopes audiences will come to the show and learn the story and history for themselves. She thinks the story of Anne Frank and the Holocaust is very important for all people to know, and the show is a great way to learn about them.

“It’s important that this show doesn’t die in history,” she said. “People need to know about it so we don’t end up repeating our mistakes.”

A show with such grave subject matter is obviously challenging, and playing the lead makes it even more so. But Bulleit is facing the challenge head-on.

“I’m excited to play the lead in such a demanding and dramatic show,” said Bulleit.

This weekend is the final weekend she gets the opportunity to be the lead in a show such as this. Tickets to come see her are available at shelbytheatre.org. Student tickets are $11. As the show closes this weekend, Bulleit is thankful for her time getting to portray Anne Frank.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to get to do what I love,” said Bulleit.

Caroline Siegrist- Newsies at Derby Dinner Playhouse now through May 19

As a freshman, Siegrist made waves when she starred in Newsies at FC as Katherine Plumber. This month, she is doing the show again, which opened last night at Derby Dinner Playhouse. Her role this time around is one of the Bowery Beauties, the vaudeville performers Katherine reviews for a newspaper. But Siegrist has not given up Katherine entirely. She understudies the role, meaning if the actress who plays Katherine is ever unable to come to a performance, Siegrist will go on for the part. And in addition to being a Bowery Beauty and understudying Katherine, she operates a spotlight during the scenes she is not onstage.

“I’ve never gotten to [operate the spotlight] before and that was a really fun thing to learn,” said Siegrist.

Derby Dinner frequently enlists its actors with a less busy track to do things like operate spotlight. Siegrist is well familiar with the way Derby Dinner operates: Newsies is her twelfth show at the theatre.

“I absolutely love having the opportunity to do shows there,” she said. “I love this show, and I learn so much when I’m in shows at Derby Dinner.”

It makes sense that, after piloting it in November of 2017 and taking it to the International Thespian Festival in June, Newsies holds a special place in her heart. But her love for the show is not built only on her past experiences with it, or the fact that she loves the music. She thinks that it teaches audiences a valuable lesson.

“It is so important because it reminds people, especially younger people, that they have a voice and it’s so important that they speak their minds,” said Siegrist.

In the show, the newsies realize that their voices are so much stronger when they bond together as a family. In rehearsal, Siegrist has found that the same is true of her and her castmates, and they have formed a family of sorts, too.

“I just love the people in it, and it’s so much fun to perform with them,” she said.

It is sure to also be a fun show to watch. Tickets are available at derbydinner.com. Prices range from $39 to $49 depending on the day of the week, and admission includes Derby Dinner’s buffet. With shows multiple times a week from April 4 to May 19, there are plenty of opportunities to see the family of Newsies in action.

Ryland Sparkman- Macbeth at Washington County Community Theatre this weekend

Sparkman has been doing theatre for most of his life. His first ever show was at Washington County Community Theatre in Salem, Indiana, when he was just four years old and he played a lost boy in Peter Pan. This weekend, he is in something a little different: he is featured as Malcolm, the prince of Cumberland, in Macbeth. Rehearsals started in February, and when Sparkman chose to audition, he knew he would be challenging himself.

“I’ve learned that acting isn’t easy. It’s very hard and when done right, can be incredible,” said Sparkman.

One of the most challenging things about a Shakespeare play is always its language. His words twist and turn, and can take focused analysis in order to discover the meaning.  Rehearsal is exactly the time to analyze the words, and the actors discovered not just the meaning of the play but its beauty as well.

“Learning Shakespeare is so hard but so worth it,” said Sparkman. “The story is gorgeous, even with the old words.”

Old words do not necessarily mean Macbeth has old subject matter, however. Sparkman’s cast have been discussing how the plot and theme are relevant, even four centuries after the show was written.

“The story is very important in today’s age. The idea of ‘fake news’ was examined thoroughly and it shows what happens if people show their true selves,” he said.

Another heavy theme of the show is death. With all of the killing that Macbeth and his men do, Macbeth is considered one of Shakespeare’s most bloody shows. The show leads to an important conversation about death, and, luckily, Sparkman has some great people to have that conversation with, and to tell the story with onstage.

“What excites me is being able to perform alongside some of my best friends in the world,” said Sparkman.

To see Sparkman and his friends perform, go to Washington County Community Theatre at 7:30 tonight and tomorrow or 2 on April 7. Tickets will be available at the door. The address is 402 N Harrison Street, Salem, Indiana.

Taylor Lockhart- The Secret Garden at TheatreWorks of Southern Indiana May 8-19

While Bulleit, Siegrist, and Sparkman all had connections to their theatres or shows, Lockhart has no previous experience with TheatreWorks, located in New Albany. He knew TheatreWorks had The Secret Garden in its season, and as a fan of the show this piqued his interest; but, assuming there would be no high school roles, he never thought to audition for it. That is, until he saw The 21st Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at TheatreWorks and talked to the actors after the show. One of them encouraged him to audition for The Secret Garden, and he jumped at the opportunity.

“As I practiced my audition song and listened to the cast recording, I realized I was falling in love with a show I wasn’t even sure I was apart of yet and that I needed to be in this cast,” said Lockhart.

The audition worked out for Lockhart. He was cast as Dickon, a boy who befriends the main character, Mary, and helps her. This is one of Lockhart’s first experiences getting to play someone near his own age– at FC, since the whole cast is high schoolers, teenagers must play the show’s entire range of ages. Lockhart says he usually gets stuck playing a grumpy old man. But at TheatreWorks, people from all walks of life can audition and be cast, so grumpy old men can play grumpy old men while high schoolers like Lockhart can be cast as someone their own age. This, of course, is not the only difference between FC shows and community theatre, and he has enjoyed exploring the many differences.

“I learned how much fun it is to work in different spaces,” said Lockhart. “I’m simply having a blast and getting new perspectives from people that I’ve never got before. It’s important to work with different people and I’ve really begun to learn what exists outside of high school theatre.”

Playing someone his own age is not the only advantage Lockhart is getting from his involvement in community theatre. This is also one of his first times playing what might be considered a bigger character, and although rehearsals have only been happening since the end of March, he has already become familiar with the added responsibilities and challenges presented. For instance, in his experience singing in the ensemble, there were always people to back him up if he messed up. But when singing a solo, there is no room for error.

“When you are playing a bigger character you have a responsibility to know songs before you practice them and make sure you are doing tons of outside work,” said Sparkman. “I’ve had to work much harder at this show and I’ve grown much more in how I rehearse for shows. It’s a very new experience but one I’m working hard at and becoming a better singer and actor as I do.”

It is not all hard work, though. Lockhart finds many moments during rehearsal in which to have fun– take, for example, the fact that Dickon gets to carry a conjuring stick.

“I love getting to work with props, especially props that move and are used by the character in massive ways,” he said. “I can throw the stick in the air and then catch it at a high point in a song, I can lean on the stick as it gets to a calmer point in the song, I can point with the stick to something I’m talking about, you see there is a hundred things I can do with just a simple stick and molding it with my character and figuring out all those choices to how I use that prop alone excites me.”

There is more to the show that excites him than just a stick, of course. The whole experience has been a great time for Lockhart.

“I get to work with such incredible singers and actors. I get to work with challenging but incredibly rewarding music and accents, and I’m pretty sure I get to wear a newsboy cap. It’s simply fun. I’m having a blast every second of the way and as you can see I’m excited by every dumb little thing that I get to work with or play with. I feel like a child and this character is really breathing life into me just as much as I am with it,” said Lockhart.

One of the elements he especially enjoys about the show is its challenging and beautiful music. He says the show is incredible, and the music is the key highlight of it.

“The music is very operatic and nothing like pop rock musicals of today but still really engaging. I never found myself getting bored listening to it and I think that’s because The Secret Garden is never dull and never drags on,” he said. “The music weaves itself like a quilt as it helps bring the story to life. [Composer] Lucy Simon is a genius and it’s one of the only shows in history I can recall that I’ve have had tears well up in my eyes because of how beautiful it was.”

Lockhart says The Secret Garden is not sad, but it still pulls you emotionally. It is a story about grief, and moving on from the past, and the musical faces this theme more directly than the novel it was based off of did.

“Mary and Archibald have both lost people around them and seem to wander around Misselthwaite Manor as if they themselves have been lost. The story is how they find themselves and learn to live with their losses,” he said. “Characters from Archibald and Mary’s past haunt them until they find their new lives. It’s beautiful and something that is far from a simple children’s story. “

This beautiful show is still a while away from performances: it performs May 8-11 at 7:30, May 12 at 2, May 15-18 at 7:30, and May 19 at 2. Tickets are available at theatreworksofsoin.com/tickets. Student tickets are $16. If you happen to miss this show, keep an eye out for Lockhart performing more at TheatreWorks in the future: he says he would love to be involved with more shows there.

 

Discovering Irving Berlin’s Path to Blue Skies

By Hannah Tarr

Christmas Day, 1980. A group of carolers hark outside a house, singing the same song they have been singing at this same house for 26 years: “White Christmas.” But inside, the sole resident is having none of it. “They don’t understand the gift I’ve given them!” he cries. To understand this gift, we must first understand the old man: he is Irving Berlin, composer of White Christmas. In his performance as Berlin, Hershey Felder leads the audience to understand Berlin with healthy mix of comedy and respect.

The performance, playing now at Actor’s Theatre, is a one-man show. Felder, with a raise of his voice and a change in his body language, convincingly becomes Berlin for an uninterrupted hour and a half. Felder runs through the beats of Berlin’s life and how each inspired his music: his childhood in Imperial Russia, his family’s immigration to America, his father’s love for singing and the way that inspired him to become a singing waiter and eventually compose his own music. Felder performs all of Berlin’s standards over the course of the show at the grand piano at center stage. Unlike Berlin, who could only play in the key of F-sharp, Felder is an accomplished musician, and the musical segments are the highlight of the show.

Felder’s portrayal of Berlin’s life flows well from happy points to sad points. He marries Dorothy Goetz, and it seems like life is going to be blue skies forever. But five months after they return from their honeymoon, Goetz dies from typhoid. Berlin is depressed about this for a long time, but eventually is coaxed by Goetz’s brother into writing about it, and this becomes his first hit ballad. It resonates with people around the globe. But one way or another, life moves on, and soon enough Felder is showing us Berlin’s up-tempo songs again and smiling.

The set was a living room dressed for Christmastime, with a piano in the center, a wheelchair on one side to symbolize Berlin as an old man, and an armchair on the other to symbolize Berlin’s second wife, Ellin Mackay. This unit set allowed the focus to always be on Felder’s portrayal, without any distractions for gimmicks. The lights changed color with the mood- red at high moments in Berlin’s life, blue at the low. Area lights came up and dimmed smoothly as Felder walked across the stage, to appropriately keep him illuminated at all times. The set and lighting were enhanced effectively by projections. A picture frame on the back wall above the mantle was often used to show historical photographs of Berlin and his family, or video clips of Fred Astaire performing Berlin’s music in a moving picture. All the walls of the living room were sometimes used for atmospheric projections– the projected wallpaper would fade away, and be replaced by animations of Berlin’s home village burning down, or of his family’s tenement apartment in New York. The projections were soft enough that the light level never fluctuated, but still very easily visible.

By the end of the show, Felder has brought us to empathize with and understand Berlin. We know “God Bless America” is from an immigrant’s point of view, thanking the country for all of the opportunities it has given him. We know “White Christmas” is about how Christmas, which used to be his wife’s favorite holiday, was ruined for them when their infant son passed away Christmas morning. We know he grew bitter as an old man as young people like Elvis Presley took over the musical spotlight, and the world began to forget what Berlin’s music had been worth. But we know that in spite of all of this, he has reasons to count his blessings instead of sheep at night, and maybe Felder’s portrayal of this icon who was a real human will lead the audience to start doing that, too.

Felder began performing as Berlin on Sept. 5 of last year in New York. He is now taking the show around the country, and he is performing it at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville until Feb. 17.

Get Into The Holiday Spirit With The Arts: National Art Honor Society Hosts Annual Art Sale Tomorrow

By Hannah Tarr

It can be hard to find unique Christmas presents for everyone. What can be bought for someone who has everything? In this second of a series of stories exploring FC’s arts raising holiday cheer, National Art Honor Society’s annual art sale this Thursday is full of great presents for anyone’s friends and family.

Artists in National Art Honor Society (NAHS) have been preparing pieces for the sale since October, after they painted windows in downtown New Albany for Harvest Homecoming. Each member is required to make three pieces, and they work on them in meetings after school.

“We meet every Tuesday and Thursday for about an hour after school,” said NAHS historian senior Joelie Hedgespeth. “We do a bunch of different mediums, we do paint, we do clay, we are making slime, I think, at some point. We just have a bunch of different types of art so we’ve just been preparing each kind. So everybody just works on their own projects while we’re here.”

In past years, walking into the sale has felt like walking into a painter’s gallery. But paintings do not sell very well, and NAHS has seen requests for a variety of other things.

“Paintings are easy, and they can be really quick, it’s always really easy to paint Christmas-y stuff,” said NAHS president senior Caitlyn Daggy. “But a lot of people every year ask for things like mugs, trays, handmade stuff that they can use or put on their coffee tables. Because not a lot of people hang up paintings anymore. People want something they can use, or it’s nice to look at, kind of like an antique, or just a little crafty, that someone likes to look at.”

NAHS has responded to this popular demand, and focused this year on creating usable things.

“We have a lot of stuff that is extremely usable,” said Daggy. “Like, for example, we’re making a whole lot of mugs this year. Or it’s just stuff that’s nice to put on the mantle. Lots of cool gift ideas, like if you’re looking for something for a friend or a family member that you’re kind of not that close to, a nice homemade, handmade thing is really nice to give them. Mugs, trays, vases– vases are really popular in here, we’re painting vases. Flower pots are also a big deal right now… It’s really different from our past few years, and I feel like we’re going to have a lot better turnout this year.”

Art classes at FC have prepared the artists to be able to tackle this variety of mediums with skill.

“This year we’ve moved into clay, and it really helps with a lot of us having taken Ceramics last year, so we know how to help each other,” said Hedgespeth. “And so that’s what we’re just trying to move on, to make stuff that people might actually want, because a lot of people don’t really hang up paintings that much anymore. So we’re just trying to do stuff that people like, just everyday use things.”

These everyday things are all things that could be purchased from a store, but buying them handmade from artists makes them a much more special gift.

“It’s a lot of stuff that people are making, you know, and everything’s homemade, so that’s always good,” said sophomore Blair Smith.

Smith created a dozen bowls from peppermint bark for the sale, because the art sale does not only sell art: there is also a bake sale aspect.

“We also sell a lot of baked goods as a plus, so like if art’s not really your thing, it’s kind of like a mini bake sale, too,” said Daggy.

Hopefully, the combination of beautiful art pieces, useful gifts, and baked goods will lead to a great turnout at the sale and the artists’ efforts will pay off. They have put lots of hard work into the sale, and learned a lot in the process.

“[I’ve learned to] plan ahead. And don’t forget stuff- write notes,” said Daggy, who organizes NAHS and sends Remind texts to the artists to remind them about upcoming meetings. “Because whenever it gets down to it, the time crunch is real. And you just need to keep it all together.

Other artists have learned to appreciate how much hard work it takes to create the pieces for this sale.

“I have learned that it is hard to come up with a bunch of different ideas, honestly. Because it takes a long time to do one piece, so it’s hard to just fit everything into a specific time limit. You hear three pieces and you don’t think it’s that hard, but it’s actually pretty time consuming,” said Hedgespeth.

Their effort and planning will be put to the test during the sale on Thursday. If all goes well, they will sell all sorts of art and make even more money. Where will these profits go?

“It goes primarily back into the club, for us to buy more supplies, or afford to do other fundraising projects,” said Daggy. “We have to get money to afford face paints for Dance Marathon, and also to apply for other things like Harvest Homecoming. We also put a portion of the money back into the secondary art show fund, so it goes toward the cash prizes.”

NAHS will be in the art room after school until 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6 selling their art for a great cause. Especially if you are already at school for Fantasia, they hope you will stop by and purchase something for yourself or the loved ones on your list from these talented artists.

“I think people should come to the sale because it’s high schoolers’ work, and I think it’s unique,” said Hedgespeth. “And I feel like a lot of people would like it, because we’re actually low-key talented!”

Get Into The Holiday Spirit With The Arts: Accidentals Light Up #OurNA This Saturday

By Hannah Tarr

With Thanksgiving over, it is the most wonderful time of the year: the winter holidays. FC’s arts department is getting involved this year in raising holiday cheer, and this story is the first in a series previewing those events.

In past decades, it has become a tradition for cities to host a public event the night they turn on their holiday lights around the city. Crowds gather in a park to enjoy live holiday entertainment, and children jump and cheer at the season’s first sighting of Santa Claus. The same is true at New Albany’s annual event, Light Up #OurNA. Light Up #OurNA is special to FC not only because it is the most local Light Up event, closer than Light Up Louisville or Light Up Jeffersonville, but because some of the featured entertainment is FC’s own Accidentals choir.

“There are several reasons people should go Light Up New Albany, but the most important reason to go is to get involved and support your community. Also, it will be a ton of fun,” said junior Nick Landrum. “The program overall is filled with a lot of quality entertainment.”

Senior Haley Sieg, a self-proclaimed lover of anything involving music, hopes people will be drawn to the program by the variety and talent of music groups performing. She also notes the convenience of the event’s location: Bicentennial Park, where Light Up #OurNA is held, is on the corner of Spring Street and Pearl Street in the heart of downtown New Albany, so Sieg recommends getting some holiday shopping done and then coming to check it out.

Whatever the reason for attending, audiences are in store for a treat. “The Accidentals have been putting a lot of time and effort into this set to bring top notch entertainment to the people in attendance for this show,” said Landrum.

The 15 member a capella choir performed at the event last year, and it was such a success that the organizers invited them back. They have been rehearsing Monday afternoons to prepare for the big night– plus a three hour rehearsal last Saturday, which was like a pajama party. The Accidentals have four songs in their repertoire to perform and are excited to show them off.

“We’ve been spending a whole lot of time on what we’re doing, and I personally think that our songs are really good,” said junior Maddie Hankins. “We have some classics, like ‘Carol of the Bells,’ but then we also have modern bops like ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You,’ and ‘Up on the Housetop,’ the Pentatonix version. And I really think that it has something that everyone’s going to like.”

The performance is rounded out by the addition of sleigh bells and even choreography. Landrum says that all of this character really rounds out the performance.

“What I have personally learned from my preparations for this event is that in order to get the highest amount of energy from the audience, I really needed to get some movement in the pieces of music,” he said. “While it is entertaining to watch an ensemble of singers stand around and beautifully sing their songs, it is much more enjoyable when that group is moving to the music.”

While it is a lot of fun, it also requires a lot of skill and concentration from the performers. There is no conductor in front of the group while they are performing. And there are very few people on any given part, with “Up on the Housetop” even featuring solos from Hankins, Sieg, and other members of the choir.

“I’ve learned how to be independent,” said Hankins. “There’s only like 15 people, there’s only three second sopranos. Sometimes, I’m the only person singing a certain part. It’s that way for most of the people in the choir too, you have to hold your own very very well and be able to be confident.”

The unique style of the Accidentals’ music presents a learning opportunity for all of its members. This is Sieg’s first year in the choir, and it is unlike her previous experiences in other choirs at FC.

“I’ve learned a lot just about this more jazz/ pop style of singing,” said Sieg. “Additionally, I sing as a tenor in this choir, which uses a whole different part of my range than I am typically used to.”

The skill of the Accidentals combined with the beauty of the Light Up #OurNA experience makes for a truly memorable night. Consider bracing the cold this Saturday, Nov. 24 at 6:00 p.m. and come out to Bicentennial Park to spread some holiday warmth.