Thursday, July 11, 2013

A look at the tech side of SYC's Sweeney Todd

We're one week away from the opening of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and the hard work continues backstage as well as onstage.

In our latest insider interview, Emma Beck and Rachel Harris give us a look at the tech side of the Summer Youth Conservatory.

Sweeney Todd, presented by the PlayMakers Summer Youth Conservatory, runs July 17 - 21, 2013. Get tickets and info at

Friday, July 5, 2013

Another peek behind the scenes of "Sweeney Todd"

Rehearsals for Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street continue for the actors and techies of the PlayMakers Summer Youth Conservatory, and the experience continues to be both challenging and exciting.

Check out this behind-the-scenes video featuring Theatre Intensive actors Jacqueline Helgans and Symone Crews discussing the commitment put into the early weeks of rehearsal and the straightforward advice given to them by director Tom Quaintance.

Sweeney Todd, presented by the PlayMakers Summer Youth Conservatory, runs July 17 - 21, 2013. Get tickets and info at

Friday, June 28, 2013

Behind the Scenes of "Sweeney Todd"

The Summer Youth Conservatory is in full swing over at PlayMakers this month, and our building is bursting with energy as the 40 high school actors and techies work hard to put together the exciting production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Check out this video of actors Brig Johnson and Michelle Mason talking about how hard they're working in the Theatre Intensive, and also a little inside tidbit on how much fun they're having in the rehearsal studio.

Sweeney Todd, presented by the PlayMakers Summer Youth Conservatory, runs July 17 - 21, 2013. Get tickets and info at

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Closing Week of Cabaret

This is the last week of Cabaret! Best seats available Saturday at 2. Don't miss out on this great show!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

From an Idea to Execution

Remember when Rachel Pollock walked us through how they custom-printed fabric for Cabaret? Here's the idea fully realized! Go here if you missed the original post to see the full story behind the fabric!

Final dress is tonight! All of Jennifer Caprio's designs will be on full display! Previews start tomorrow. Get your tickets now! They're going really fast!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In rehearsal with John Dreher


By John Dreher, Cliff 
John is a 2013 MFA candidate in the Professional Acting Training Program at UNC-Chapel Hill 

Cabaret is based on Christopher Isherwood’s memoir Goodbye to Berlin. The opening sentence describes Cliff and the part he plays in this whirlwind of a story, “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.”
Throughout the rehearsal process, I have played with the idea of what a camera is. What does it do? It is a giant eye hunting for stories to tell and uncovering them in minute details. Once these are captured they help give us an odd sense of belonging. We discover who we are and where we fit in based on the lives and stories of others. This is the foundation of Cliff. He is a man that doesn’t belong in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and goes seeking for where he fits on this earth. He finds incredible humanity and kindness in a place that, as he puts it, is “the end of the world.” He’s the lens through which the audience can experience this world.
The challenge for me as actor is how to be that camera, very passive and still very actively live in this strange, wonderful place. I took a trip to Harrisburg to aid in this challenge. I found where Cliff’s family would have lived and walked the streets where he grew up. Discovering where he came from helped incredibly to figure out why he went to Berlin. 

All of this would be for naught if it weren’t for the commitment and embodiment of the human spirit that this cast has brought.  They create this world that Cliff is thrust into so beautifully that all I have to do is breathe and speak.
It’s a truly beautiful journey and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Brett Bolton (Left) and John Dreher (Right) rehearsing a scene
Photo taken by Michaela Morton 

Friday, March 22, 2013

From a model, to construction

Marion Williams' set model for Cabaret

Notice the steel frame in the model? It's currently
under construction in our shop. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Season

We just announced our new season over on our website. Go check it out and then come back here and tell us which shows you're most excited about!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Printing Custom Fabrics

 By Rachel Pollock, Costume Crafts Artisan

One of the first Cabaret projects we began working on in the costume shop was figuring out how to create some of the fabrics themselves. Our costume designer, Jen Caprio, created some costume renderings which depicted several highly specific fabrics with prints we knew we would not be able to purchase. 

For the “Money” number, the Kit Kat Girls and the Emcee have costumes made from matching fabrics, covered with images of the vastly devalued Deutschmarks. Paper money had become so worthless at the time, that there were bills in circulation at denominations like the 20,000DM note and the 5,000,000DM note.  Jen provided us with an array of images of this money, and we set to work. 

Crafts Artisan Candy McClernan is heading up the surface design effects on this show, and she created a digital textile print design of a seamless repeat using the scattered Deutschmarks. Her print art looks like this:

Then we used local custom fabric printers Spoonflower to order yardage of the fabric for the costumes—silk for the women’s skirts and sturdy cotton twill for the Emcee’s jodhpurs. You can see the fabric online at Spoonflower here.

For one of Sally’s dresses, Jen found a wonderful research image of a woman wearing a dress made in a fabric printed with giant zeppelins. Candy used a combination of digital manipulation and drawing by hand to create a printable version of the zeppelin artwork, and again we used Spoonflower’s digital fabric printing technology to make the fabric for this outstanding dress.

 Of course, we began all of this several weeks before the actors arrived since in order to digitally print fabric you have to allow extra time for the production of it, unlike fabric you can impulse-buy from a store like Mulberry Silks. The fabrics arrived the day after the actors did, so our drapers in the costume shop would have everything they needed to begin work on the patterning and sewing of the costumes!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wilkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome

 By Joseph Haj, Director

After fourteen months of reading, research, planning and preparation, here we are beginning rehearsals for Cabaret and I am filled with the terrifying feeling that I have at the beginning of every project:  I can’t possibly begin since I don’t know enough about anything. I have learned enough about myself as a director to know that this crucial stage, as I step into rehearsals for the first time, of “unknowing” is as important as researching and contemplating the play deeply.

It is in the “unknowing” that you make sufficient room for your collaborators; the designers, music director, choreographer, dramaturg and actors. The only difference (from my point of view) between a musical and a straight play is that with a musical you get more collaborators, which I love, and my collaborators on this project are superb.

It has been said that one has to be “thick-skinned” to be in this profession with all its vagaries, but in order to start work, in order to enter the rehearsal room with the humility that is required, I need to be very, very “thin-skinned”. It is only in that state that I can be sufficiently sensitized to the possibilities of the rehearsal room. As an actor for many, many years, I know that actors ALWAYS know a director who isn’t ready. But a good actor also always knows when a director is so besotted with his/her carefully crafted ideas that there is no room for ideas other than the director’s. The danger of knowing too much is at least as significant as knowing too little. One needs to “not know” rather profoundly.

And so, after many months of preparation, it is great to finally all be in the room together. This week will be all about learning the music and beginning to build the dance choreography. Next week we’ll begin staging the “book” scenes (the non-musical parts of the text). Here we go!