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“Tales of Wonder” in Photos (Part I)

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Opening number: “Arise & Touch the Dawn” sung between the sketches in “Tales of Wonder: A Drama Medley”

All photos by Jonathan Steffan.

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“Snow Fort” – The girls attack with their snow balls.
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“Santa Daddy” – Suzie wakes up to find Santa at the tree, even though it’s really Daddy trying to keep the dream alive.
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“You Gotta Get Up” – The kids finally got the parents to wake up on Christmas morning.
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“Arise and Touch the Dawn” at the end of the drama medley.
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“Christmas in the Trenches, 1914” – British soldiers hear singing across the trench divide.
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“Season’s Greetings” – Mrs. Banks is anticipating her family’s arrival for Christmas.
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“Jolly Old St. Hick” – Hick gets in the BMW which is lost in the snow. He likes the warm seats. Reminds him of his saddle.

My First Sell-out!

We had a great opening night of the world premier of “Tales of Wonder.”  Great crowd – even for a weeknight, but as we head to the weekend, we’re in new territory! Friday night’s show is SOLD OUT and Sat night’s show is SOLD OUT! Wooohooo!  Even our Saturday matinee show is approaching a sell-out with only 17 tickets remaining.

I’m so excited for my actors, and they deserve a packed show because it’s super fun and meaningful. This is my 14th, original, full-length dramatic production, and perhaps it’s one of our best. It is Christmas, after all.

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Playbill for Opening Night

Just returned from the amazing opening night of my new play, “Tales of Wonder.”  Here’s middle two pages from the playbill which lists the show order.

Tales of Wonder: A Drama Medley

“Arise & Touch the Dawn” by Mark W. Sasse

Recorded & Arranged by Elisabeth Brokaw

¨ Snow Fort Boys & girls fighting in the snow

Starring: Seth Kelley, Sara Stoltzfus, Ysabel Loh, Aaron Kelley

¨ Santa Daddy A little girl mistakes her daddy for Santa

Starring: Joel Halbedl, Lilian Li, Hannah Graves

¨ You Gotta Get Up Two excited girls wake up their parents on Christmas morning

Starring: Hinako Kawata, Lexi Zimbulis, Joel Frohlich,

Kimberly Horton

 

Christmas in the Trenches, 1914

Three British soldiers reminisce of Christmas Eve memories as they look out across the battlefield. They go on high alert when they hear strange  noises from the other side. Inspired by true events.

Starring: Aaron Chand, Seth Kelley, Joel Frohlich

 

Season’s Greetings

Mrs. Banks is preparing her house for her family’s first Christmas visit in four years. Will the mailman ruin everything?

Starring:  Kimberly Horton, Seth Kelley, Aaron Chand

 

Jolly Old St. Hick

Two city slickers are stuck having Christmas Eve with a redneck.

Starring:  Hannah Graves, Aaron Chand, Joel Halbedl, Sara Stoltzfus

 

National Toy Day

A new law has been passed declaring Dec 25 as National Toy Day

Starring: Ysabel Loh, Seth Kelley, Sara Stoltzfus, Kimberly Horton, Lilian Li, Hinako Kawata

 

The Spies & Mrs. Claus

Two elves spy for Santa to see what Mrs. Claus got him for Christmas

Starring: Kimberly Horton, Lexi Zimbulis, Aaron Chand

 

Tree Talk

The ornaments are happy to out of storage again! But candy cane freaks out when she finds out what will become of her.

Starring: Sara Stolzfus, Lexi Zimbulis, Lilian Li,

Hinako Kawata, Joel Halbedl,  Ysabel Loh, Joel Frohlich,

Kimberly Horton

 

The Christmas Banquet

An invitee shows up early for the Christmas Banquet. When the host asks her to help invite others, the invitee realize it is not what it seems.

Starring: Lexi Zimbulis, Hannah Graves & the RLT Players

 

A Vigil for a Starry Night

A broken soul looks to the skies for hope.

Starring: Ysabel Loh, Hannah Graves

“Silent Night” Dance choreographed by Ysabel Loh

 

The Last Shepherd: A Musical

A musical of the last shepherd to be alive the night of the birth in the manger, and an outcast woman looking for mercy and hope.

Starring: Joel Frohlich, Ysabel Loh, Kimberly Horton

& the RLT Players’ Ensemble

 

Lyrics by:  Mark W. Sasse

 

Music by:

Elisabeth Brokaw, Christina Kim, Hannah Buhr, Mark W. Sasse

 

Arrangements and recordings by:

Elisabeth Brokaw, Christina Kim, Hannah Buhr

 

A Vigil for a Starry Night

On a night when the clouds cover the stars like an impenetrable mountain cliff, I wait for a sign. A small tinge up my spine. A desperate plea for the ancient ways to speak once again. I wait for the light, hoping it will come, hoping it will be enough. .

The stars, spread brightly out like colored snowflakes flickering across the onyx sky, reflect a distant constellation, and begin to re-enter the atmosphere, piercing through the fractured clouds, giving faint and distant light to the voidless black, the empty sea, the sandless desert, the vacant abyss that is deep within me. The light, hushed and dimmed by a millennium of travel, is all I have. Is all I ever had.

I wait for the reflection to reach me, hoping one refracted beam from a star long ago still exists, the same ancient light that awakened the shepherd’s eyes one cool and lonely night. Can the light that ushered in a new millennium, awaken a new epoch within me. If so, it might be enough for my heart to go on.

In the midst of tears, in the solitude of our inner being, we yearn to be on that impoverished hill, to understand the magnitude of that sight, a heavenly light illuminating a darkened heart, a heavenly chorus rising to a crescendo of glory.

Will I choose to believe its truth, not blindly though because I know what the light can do for one’s soul.  And though the unbearable pain releases not its grip, I have a question to answer. Does the light still exist for me?

Does the same sky, which God ripped open that night with his right hand, planting angelic heralds of peace on the clouds to rustle awake the shepherds, still exist for me? Can he reach into my clouded heart and announce the truth like a heavenly chorus? If it is so, all suffering and cause of angst still present throughout the world will be no match for the blessed announcement: “A Child is born.”

PERSON

This child is born.

vigil starry night sketch sheet

Sketch #5: The Christmas Banquet

Here’s my next in a series of vignettes about the dramatic sketches I wrote for our show “Tales of Wonder” which opens next week.

“The Christmas Banquet” is a poignant piece, an allegory of sorts, about a person who shows up at the Christmas banquet and gets asked to hand out invitations. It’s unclear who asks her to help. An angel, perhaps. I’ll let the audience decide. Anyways, as the invitee gets the invitations, she is prodded to give one to everyone. Everyone. Absolutely everyone. Even drug addicts and illegal immigrants and people with rainbows on their Facebook profiles and homeless people and atheists and criminals and … well, you get the idea. The invitee is alarmed and shocked at all the people she’s supposed to invite but just quite can’t do it. Eventually, everyone shows up at the banquet and she has to decide what she’s going to do.

With this piece, I wanted to highlight the compassion needed in this world regardless of the background or circumstances of the person. I hope it’s a meaningful poignant piece for everyone to enjoy.Christmas Banquet

#2 & #3 – Previewing “Tales of Wonder”

I’d like to take a closer look at my upcoming show I’m real excited about. It’s the first Christmas show I’ve ever written, so I naturally think it’s going to be awesome. It consists of 10 separate dramatic pieces all centered around the most wonderful time of the year. Here’s two of the pieces:

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This is a real fun piece with a twist ending that I don’t think anyone will see coming. (I hope not at least) It’s the classic city-slicker vs. country hick story. It’s about overcoming prejudice and opening your heart to possibilities you never thought possible. I like it!

national toy day

“National Toy Day” is the only satirical piece of the 10 I’ve written. I like it for its absurdness, especially when the media starts censoring certain words. It’s the kind of story that the audience might need to see twice to completely understand what I’m getting at.

Once again, I approve.

More later!

My Afternoon Poster

I was supposed to finish my novel this afternoon,  but I just received some photos from our drama photo shoot, so I couldn’t resist putting together my new show’s first poster.

I’m no photoshop expert, but I’m learning, and it is quite fun. I hate fonts, and need to learn about them. But I was happy with how it turned out. Lots more design work needs done, but this gives me my first promotional tool.

I’m real excited about this show. I wrote it over the summer and we’ve been rehearsing since August. Now only 5 weeks away and still a ton of work to do. But I love it! If you are going to be in Penang …

Rlt christmas poster 4 sizeA5

A Party to Rally the (Drama) Troops

We had a lot of fun last night – we being the RLT Players – as I cooked up a feast and we ate, played, and laughed all evening at our October Christmas costume party. Here I am giving my best dictator impression. (That’s usually my nickname.)

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As our show is 7 weeks out, I wanted to encourage everyone to get psyched for what’s coming because I know I am.

So what did we do?

I made my chili-cheese dip and spinach dip for appetizers.

Quesadillas for the main, and homemade ice cream and pumpkin pie for dessert. Oh, and wassail.

Hmmmm. The house had a unique aroma of Thanksgiving mixed with Cinco de Mayo.

But hey, the results were fabulous. And as usual, I totally over-bought for this party, so we are going to have a steady diet of Mexican for the foreseeable future.

We also played some great games: a country finish the song game, sound effects, a mad-lib I wrote for us, and a bunch of other random drama games. Yeah, drama folks are wonderfully weird.

Then we sat and chatted about stories in our lives – theirs were a few years old. Mine were a few decades old. Yikes!

What a great bunch of young actors. Can’t wait to nail this show!

 

Tales of Wonder: Tickets on Sale Now!

My drama group’s new show – RLT Players Christmas: Tales of Wonder – is quickly approaching. Only 54 days out! This is brand new, all original show, and for the first time ever completely themed around Christmas. I’m so excited about it. Here’s the Facebook event page: Facebook

I wrote this show during the summer – July mainly. It consists of 10 dramatic sketches of varying genre. I’m hoping to package this show into book form by the end of the year, because I’d love others to be able to produce it in the future. It’s going to be a ton of fun. Let me highlight the sketches for you.

Does this sound like something you’d enjoy seeing?

“Season’s Greetings” – a grandmother is happily getting the house ready for a visit from her son and family. They haven’t been there in four years. But this year is different, isn’t it?

“The Last Shepherd: A Musical” – This short musical highlights the experience of Baruch, the last shepherd alive who was in the manger the night of Jesus’ birth.

“Jolly Old St. Hick” – A slick city couple get stuck in the middle of red-neck country when their car skids off the road. Jolly old St. Hick is waiting for them.

“Tales of Wonder: A Drama Medley” – A delightful medley of three dramatic pieces highlighting the joy of Christmas: Snow Fort, Santa Daddy, You Gotta Get Up

“Christmas in the Trenches 1914” – adapted from real life, British troops contemplate the Christmas they are missing back home as they look out across the battle field. Could there be a truce between the sides on Christmas Eve?

“Mrs. Claus and the Spies” – a comedy about two elves who spy for Santa, trying to find out what Mrs. Claus got the big boss for Christmas.

“A Vigil for a Starry Night” – a touching, poetic piece about pain and hope on Christmas Eve.

“The Christmas Banquet” – a person is asked to hand out invitations to the Christmas Banquet of the universe, but she’s not sure everyone deserves one.

“National Toy Day” – Congress has just passed a new law, declaring December 25 to be National Toy Day. This isn’t going to sit right with everyone.

“Tree Talk” – the ornaments come alive in their yearly celebration of bringing joy to their family. Candy Cane is shocked to find out that she’s going to be eaten.

It’s a great mix of drama, comedy, and music; sure to put anyone in the holiday mood.

Four shows only at the Penang Performing Arts Centre – December 3-5, 2015.

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Consider funding a short film by my talented, former student?

I absolutely love to see my former students pushing their creative talents in new ways. The extremely talented and expressive Juliette DeVette is crowd-funding her latest short film entitled “Riptide.”

Please check out the Kickstarter page 

A couple words about Julie. She’s just good at whatever she puts her mind too. Excellent student. Good athlete. She was my catcher one year on my softball team. But most of all, I knew that she would end up being a creative artist – both visual and performing. She’s truly a talent.

She was also one of the original members of my drama group – The RLT Players. She was a senior when we formed the group. The group had a lot of your, untested talent, and I wanted someone with experience to help anchor our first show ever. I approached Julie who immediately expressed interest, but also warned me that she was extremely busy that semester. Because she was so busy, the rehearsals were less than ideal, but on the day of the performances, she shined. She has the ability to command the stage. It was awesome. She graduated on to greater heights (with much more to come) and the RLT Players also have moved on to greater achievements. But I’m also so grateful to Julie for what she did for our little group on December 1, 2011.

She’s a talent that deserves the funding. If you can help, I’d be grateful.