Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pairing it all Together

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During the first few weeks of rehearsal, we concentrated a lot on the ensemble music. We spent hours in the Music Center working on each of our parts for different songs. We have also been spending a lot of time learning and perfecting our dance routines for various songs. Finally, we concentrated a lot on character, and how one portrays their role.
As we continue into the rehearsal process, we change up the schedule a bit, we start practicing more and more blocking, and solos and duets take time in the evenings to work on their singing parts.
Where everything becomes much more challenging is when everything needs to be put together. Being able to dance “We Go Together” is one thing, but being able to do so while singing the correct part and still playing your character is significantly more challenging. For this reason we make sure that we have everything we’ve previously done mastered. This allows Mr. Howard to concentrate on making us portray our characters rather than simply being able to execute the dancing and singing.

-Alexander Dornemann

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Second Tech Day!

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Today, we had our second Tech Day for Grease. So exciting! As Maggie mentioned earlier in her post on the first Tech Day, these days are good opportunities for cast members to come together in their Tech Crews to get stuff done. The whole cast is divided into Biographies, Blog, Publicity, Costumes, Headshots, and Set crews who each have their own agendas throughout the season. Not to mention our awesome stage managers and directors! They word incredibly hard on Tech Days as well. Today, the blog crew worked on straightening out the layout and working on our posts. The set crew is hard at work (as you can see in the video) helping create Rydell High School and other spots where scenes take place in the Musical. It's so fun to see it all come together on the stage and makes me excited to continue to use the cool platforms and ledges. It feels a bit like a jungle gym! The publicity crew is working on creating some fun surprises for you all... so keep an eye out as we get closer to opening night. Stay tuned to see what happens on the last Tech Day next week! Great things are happening here in Allen Theater. 

Liza Jane

Friday, January 23, 2015

Interview with Nicole Rizzo

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This weeks rehearsal has been mostly hardcore dancing, and we are less than a month away from the opening day in the blink of an eye! Everybody’s so busy and working the hardest they can in this long and snowy winter, one of which is our dance choreographer: Nicole Rizzo. Rizzo has been dancing since childhood and has explored a variety of genres in dance, such as hip hop, african, belly-dancing, bollywood/ bhangra, and salsa. However jazz has always been her greatest concentration. Despite her extremely busy schedule she still took the time for this small interview for the Theater Blog! Here’s a conversation that we had. (MZ: Maggie Zhu NR: Nicole Rizzo)

MZ: What are some of your personal connections to Grease?

NR: For one, my family name is Rizzo, so immediately I have that connection especially with people referencing my name and the show.  I have a love for Grease because I am a sucker for Romance and Shakespeare, and Grease is a somewhat recycled version of Romeo and Juliet, only with 50’s Rock ’N Roll and greased hair!  I grew up watching GreaseWestside Story and Dirty Dancing.  As an 80’s child there was a certain love for these movies especially pushing the boundaries on dance, theatre, & film.  I always draw inspirations from all three avenues when I am working.

MZ: What is your favorite/ least favorite song and dance?

NR: Oh boy, the favorites, this is a tough one.  Let’s start with my least: I think I would have to say Sandy (the number sung by Danny at the drive-in movie after Sandy leaves.)  It has never been a favorite, but it is a sweet ballad and adds to Danny’s character so I’ll spin it with a plus. Favorite:  Hmmmm. It’s  a toss up between Greased Lightning and You’re the One that I want, which was not in the musical until the most recent rendition.  Greased Lighting was really fun to choreograph and work with the crew.  It's very dynamic with the vocals and the arrangement. You’re the One that I Want is that “feel good” song at the end, where you see these two people declaring their love for one another therefore when you hear the song it adds to the dance and musicality.

MZ: Do you personally relate to Grease? Who is your favorite/ least favorite Character?

NR: I relate to Grease on so many levels.  There are a lot of rich characters that everyone can see themselves in or at least a small part.  Who has not had their heart broke when your a teenager or has dreams like playing the guitar or being a beautician?!  This is high school, so pick a character and there is something in this show for everyone; this is why people love it. Honestly I don’t have favorite or least favorite, everyone always thinks that my favorite is Rizzo because of  my name.  Yes there are parts to her I love; her strength, her sass, her vulnerability but I also love other pieces to the girl and guy characters. 

MZ: What is your favorite part and least favorite part about choreographing for Berkshire Theater?

NR: My favorite thing about working with Berkshire School is the casts commitment and willingness to this show and to each other.  These kids are such hard workers and they trust Jesse [Howard,] me, and the entire team which makes for a great ensemble cast. There is no least favorite only, getting everything finished and cleaned up before tech/dress.  That can be stressful but everyone on board isvery mindful, we have great stage managers therefore they keep us in check!

P.S.: “It has truly been a gift and honor to work with this crew, every rehearsal puts a smile on my face.  I can’t wait to see the finished show and hope to work again with Berkshire School!”—Nicole Rizzo

- Maggie Zhu 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Man Behind the Camera

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Ever wonder who’s behind the cast head shots each season of Berkshire Theater? It’s the one and only Hayden Graham! Watch him in action as he meticulously takes pictures of the cast. And if you're interested seeing his amazing photography, stop by the Allen Theater lobby on performance nights. These shots will include bios from each cast member so that you get to know us better. After all, he’s here to make us all look good!

-Jeff Erazo

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ensemble Work with Riley Bona

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The Final Stretches

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ome of us may think that February 19th is a long ways away, but alas, the final month of rehearsal is upon us and the time moves fast in the Theater. In four short weeks we will be opening and as show night approaches so does the excitement of the cast within Allen Theater.

The real blessing of Theater is that the more we rehearse, the faster we get things done for down the line! As we get to know our lines and start to delve deeper into the actions of our characters we become more familiar, and that allows all future decisions regarding what to do in a particular scene to be made much more quickly. I never really appreciate the truth of this until the final few weeks when it may seem as though there is an unbelievable amount of work left, but in reality all the work that has been done up to this point serves as a catalyst for it.

So everyone buckle up for the last month of Grease rehearsals, and get excited for the show; February 19th through the 21st!

- Alex Dornemann 

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Green Room

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During breaks, before rehearsal, and after rehearsal, members of Grease looooove to spend time in the green room. The origin of the name comes from the year 1599 when the London Blackfriars Theatre had a room offstage where characters would wait to go on, and it was painted green! Ours is painted an off- white, but the name still sticks. In the green room are different pieces from shows that have been done in the past which act as a reminder that our time as members that each production is fleeting! The green room has some really comfy couches and chairs that we love to lounge in if we’re not called to be blocking material or memorizing a dance. Sometimes, there are even snacks, like the other day we had delicious Pop Tarts that someone brought in. This room will also act as a place where cast members can prepare and watch the show from a screen during the actual performances when we’re not in a scene or a dance number! 

- Liza Jane

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tech Day 1

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Today is January 12th, and we are having our first Tech Day for Grease! Despite the weather outside is very wet and gloomy, we are all working hard with spirit in Allen Theater... The costume crew, Sami, Kenny, Gerry, and Katie, led by Sam, is taking inventory of makeup, making a pintrest board for each character's look, and finding racks for clothes. The props crew which includes Allie, Henry, Carrie, and Lucia, led by Dom, are assembling all the props for Grease, and making sure they're okay. The set crew, Hannah, Andrea, Ben, and Ana, also led by Dom, is constructing the skeleton of the set-- finishing the top sheet and the front sheet so it would look awesome for the show!

-Maggie Zhu

Monday, January 12, 2015

Real Talk With Jeff

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Real Talk with Jeff

Howdy everyone! Welcome to another Real Talk with me this week. While attempting a new dance, The Hand Jive, a question popped into my head: Do my hips lie? I don’t know about you guys out there, but using my hips to dance isn’t exactly my forte. I knew that if I wanted to become a true Greaser, I would need a Christmas miracle. After asking Santa for new dance skills and channeling my inner Shakira, my hips finally arrived! Thanks Santa!

But hips aren’t the only thing needed to be a Greaser; there’s also an attitude and look one must embody at all times. A true Greaser is always confident, manly, suave, and nonchalant. Could I become that? Well, that’s where the dance skills come in. After all, hip thrusts are what Greasers are all about.

With about a month to opening night, I will continue to strive until my hips don’t lie, like Shakira’s. Until next time!

-Jeff Erazo

Sunday, January 11, 2015

More work on "We Go Together"

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Today we worked on putting the finishing touches on our choreography for the most exciting song (in my opinion) We Go Together. After working on it with Nicole Rizzo, our dance instructor, for almost two hours we finally reached a point where everybody got the moves under their belts. It felt great to have everyone on the same page and the dance looks pretty good too. Take a look!

-Tucker Donelan

Thursday, January 8, 2015

We're Back!

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We just had our line run a few days ago. Everyone was super excited to return from break and felt really prepared going into Monday’s rehearsal. I couldn’t wait to hear the whole musical in one sitting, and I think everyone was anxious to complete the run without missing lines! Over Christmas break, we were asked to memorize all of our lines and songs to be “off book” when we returned. Everyone successfully completed the task and felt very relieved after finishing the line run! There were many laughs as we all got a chance to listen to the whole script. It definitely made me super pumped to continue blocking the scenes and learning choreography.

-Liza Jane

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pre Line Run

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The start of the New Year is always a great turning point for Berkshire Theater, it’s when the rubber hits the road! After a long and restful break, we came together for a Pre Line Run of the show—the perfect opportunity to polish up our lines and brush away some of the rust from over break. However, it seemed as if we never left…after all, everyone was really excited to be back. While the rest of the campus gets ready for tomorrow’s first class of 2015, the cast of Grease was jamming out lines in the Allen Theater. Just comes to show you that even when we’re on break, we make sure to get our work done and come back ready to tackle new obstacles. What better way to welcome in the New Year?

-Jeff Erazo

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Making it Count!

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Happy New Year, everyone! I hope everyone has had a restful holiday season. As the holidays were coming to an end I realized that I had yet to come up with a New Years resolution. After many hours of pondering, I realized what I want this year to revolve around and it's the idea of “making it count.” After all, I only have one final semester left at Berkshire. So how exactly does this relate to theater?


Every cast member in Grease was assigned a “line buddy” to practice their lines with over break. I was able to Skype with Rad and Riley to make sure that all of us were making progress. And during this Skype call, I realized just how much fun the production of Grease is. Of course I’ve had my struggles with the process, such as the choreography, but what does this all matter if I don’t make my experience worthwhile? I’m excited to come back to school to see everyone’s progress with memorizing the lines for the play. We’ve all put in a lot of effort into the process, but it’s always important to have fun with the process. I had a ton of fun during my Skype calls and it served as a reminder that we need to make this experience count!

This two and a half week vacation served as the perfect opportunity for memorizing our lines, blocking, songs, and choreography. Often, we get so caught up in schoolwork and other things that we forget to have fun. And during this break, I learned that work can be fun. And that’s exactly how I feel about memorizing lines.

- Jeff Erazo 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Costume fittings... and more!

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On Monday, December 15, the cast of Grease had their last music rehearsal before Winter Break, and took measurements for the costumes. We ran through all the songs in the musical with Dr. Wu and Dr. Davis. It was great to see the music aspect of Grease taking its shape. The stage managers and Sam called us out during the rehearsal to measure us for the costumes. A shout out to the costume crew, can't wait to see our beautiful costumes! We are yet one more step closer our goal!  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Real Talk with Jeff

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Howdy everyone! Welcome to the first Real Talk with Jeff. I hope that over the course of the next few months, I’ll be able to show you what happens behind the curtains in Allen Theater. Today, the cast of Grease worked on character development by playing a series of theater games. In the first exercise we participated in, we had to walk around the room while incorporating different elements of our characters into our bodies. The purpose was to do this without talking in order to really get a feel for what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.
However, as Mr. Howard says, the most important thing to remember when working on a character is not to focus on the similarities between oneself and that persona—that comes naturally. In fact, it is more constructive to focus on the differences that oneself and the character have. These nuances can be controlled through “switches, dials, and lenses.” “Switches” deal with obvious character differences, such as facial expressions or voice differences. “Dials”, on the other hand, deal more with the intensity/ level of a character’s personality, a level that can be adjusted accordingly. Finally, “lenses” deal with the various outlooks that characters may have on a particular person or event. When incorporating these three elements into acting, it helps bring out honesty in characters.So now that we’ve participated in these helpful exercises, it’s now time to fully develop our characters over winter break. Until next time!
-Jeff Erazo