Majestic Theatre 2020-2021 Proposals
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
The following proposals have been submitted for the 2020-2021 Majestic Community Theatre season. Please review them and then use this form to submit your feedback about the shows and the director’s vision for them. Click the link now to open it in a second tab/window and you can add feedback as you read the proposals. Copies of the plays will be available in the Majestic Business office for check out beginning on 8/5/19.
We will not be accepting feedback about the director’s ability or behavior. These aspects have already been vetted by Majestic Theatre Supervisor Jimbo Ivy and those that have been permitted to submit have been approved as being capable. The feedback form requires an email address for verification, but your feedback will be anonymized and distilled into topics to be discussed by the PRC. Only Theatre Supervisor Ivy will directly view your feedback.
From these proposals, the Play Reading Committee will select three plays and two musicals. Your feedback will help them select the best season for our community. Directors may only direct one show per season, so with multiple submissions from a single director, they will select only one.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Director: Sarah Sheldrick
“It would be a privilege and honor to be able to stage a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. American play is to uncover the fear and phobia’s that have divided and polarized families and society. This is the story of a dynasty losing the patriarch and the protocol son in line to inherit. The son says that the inheritance is broken and the father says it is the new generation that is broken. This play has something old and yet it is still relevant to the story of America.
THE BEDROOM: Williams stages the play in the bedroom of a married couple. The invasion of privacy is a key component of the show. I am critical of productions that turn Brick and Maggie’s room into a grand master suite. That happens to fit everyone in the cast comfortably. As the family descends into the bedroom to celebrate Big Daddy’s birthday. My vision is to make the space of the bedroom smaller and a feeling of a guest room. Williams is on the front lines of America in this classic play. Ibsen, Shaw, and Chekov were also uncovering the pretense of family and society. However, they staged the scenes in the drawing room and living room space. Williams confronts the paradox of truth, love, and family in the bedroom. “I like you guys that want to reduce the size of government, make it just small enough so it can fit in our bedrooms.” — Josh Lyman on gay marriage from The West Wing, Season 2 – Episode 7
The main themes developed by Williams are the focus on: truth, sexuality, addiction, memory of the past, and America. In reaction to the Kinsey report and popular TV shows like, Leave it to Beaver, Williams zooms in on the guest bedroom of a Plantation home where we find domestic abuse, racism, and same sex attraction. Tennessee Williams will not hide what is happening in the bedroom of the all-American family. Ironically the censorship of the famous film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman was exactly what Williams was combating. He went as far as he could when uncovering the dysfunctional aspects of society and family. This is a story of unrequited love. The love of a father for his son, brotherly love, friendship love, and romantic love. Williams does the deep dive on what it truly means to Love thy neighbor. The play is very political and this play is terrifyingly relevant to the current political discussion.
Vision: I want the stage to feel suspended in the void of darkness. The bedroom will not take up the whole stage. There will be dark empty space that surrounds the bedroom. The bedroom will look almost like a doll house room. Cute and small and cozy. Inviting, almost as if you want to crawl inside. In addition, the walls will not meet at the corners. Everything will be just slightly off and dis-connected. The terrace often is built on the up-stage side of the bedroom. In my production, it will be downstage and the audience space will be used for the children in the show to enter from. I will be using lighting and projections and impose them on to the walls of the bedroom. I will use deep colors to signify moods. Dealing with issues of racism in the staging is to have different characters react in different ways. Some more woke than others.
The 1974 revival of Cat on Broadway: Atkinson’s review in the NY Times called it “”a stunning drama…It is the quintessence of life. It is the basic truth.”” Atkinson went on to write, “”In a plantation house, the members of the family are celebrating the sixty-fifth birthday of the Big Daddy, as they sentimentally dub him. The tone is gay. But the mood is somber. For a number of old evils poison the gaiety—sins of the past, greedy hopes for the future, a desperate eagerness not to believe in the truths that surround them…CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF is a delicately wrought exercise in human communication. His characters try to escape from the loneliness of their private lives into some form of understanding. The truth invariably terrifies them. That is one thing they cannot face or speak…As the expression of a brooding point of view about life, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF is limpid and effortless. As theatre, it is superb.”
This is from Glass Menagerie and very inspired set design. http://collettepollard.com/production/the-glass-menagerie/
Director: Deborah Wren
Company, which opened in 1971, was a ground breaking musical that is a mature, intelligent and wildly funny look at relationships, vulnerability and “being alive”. It is a winner of 7 Tony awards. I first was drawn to “Company” because of the music of Stephen Sondheim. And one song that spoke to me in particular was “Being Alive”. Company wittingly shows all aspects of marriage. This is achieved by Bobby, the main character, who is commitment phobic learning all the different sides of the importance of sharing yourself with someone through the point of view of his married friends. I see this as being a one set stage with platforms to represent the different apartments. The orchestra is part of the play by being on stage. David Campbell has agreed to be musical director.
Cyrano De Bergerac
Director: Sarah Sheldrick
Cyrano – Welcome to the Inside-out
This classic play and is a popular favorite with many audiences. Often Cyrano is associated with over theatrics. Big hats, swashbuckling, sword fights, beautiful voluminous dresses, and unrequited love. Behind all the show is a story of a quest for love, and the definition of beauty. Cyrano sustains significance because of the human need for self-esteem and belongingness. The play is filled with adventure, comedy and tragedy. Cyrano is on the journey of learning to accept, love and trust oneself.
The staging of this production will explore the design elements that make theatre iconic. We will strip always the schmaltz and embrace the theatrical experience of putting on a production. First, my Cyrano will not have a big theatrical nose incorporated into the base character. The nose will be metaphorical to self-imposed stigmatization and isolation. My vision of this show is to turn the theatre upside down and shake out all the iconic treasures. I will be staging the show as a deconstructed play. Think of the staging as if the audience has walked into a scene class. The backstage will not be hidden but rather incorporated into the show. The actors will all be dressed in more modern, everyday attire. Actors will have access to costume pieces hanging within view on classic costume racks. Prop tables within view. All the elements of design will have some props and costumes pieces classical. Other elements will be purposefully not. I will work with sound design and would like to incorporate live musicians on the stage with the actors. The set design will be to achieve a rehearsal space. With some architecture on stage. Exposed framing, steps, a window, and platforms. I will work with my designers to create a timelessness to the play. For me, the theatre is a practice in time. Incorporating traditional and modern elements into the show.
Cyrano is a love story about feeling unlovable. The three lead characters Cyrano, Christian, and Roxanne all represents aspects of the struggle to self-acceptance. Cyrano a great poet, Roxanne a great beauty, Christian classic masculine strength. Yet each of these characters focus only on their faults and wallow in their insecurities. In search of the answer: How do we accept love from another when we cannot love our-self first?
This production of Cyrano will be a celebration of theatre. Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Rehearsal of CYRANO production and interview with the director https://youtu.be/ZPe1ngZhLbM Here is a great video to get a feeling of theatre that I want to capture in the production.https://youtu.be/GxG0AvoXcbA Our production will be the script of Cyrano however nonverbal staging will have the feeling of a rehearsal space. Acting Style: HBO’s Barry: https://youtu.be/CVvEauIwLec The Kominsky Method on Netflix: Here is a scene with Alan Arkin which blends comedy and deep passionate love. We will be finding how to blend moments like this into an emotional roller coaster https://youtu.be/GWjtXyd5THM
Elf The Musical
Director: Cherie Gullerud
First, I would like to share this synopsis of Elf the Musical from the Musical Theatre International website:
“A title known the world over, Elf the Musical is a must-produce holiday show that can easily become an annual tradition for any theatre. Based on the cherished 2003 New Line Cinema hit, ELF features songs by Tony Award nominees, Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, The Wedding Singer), with a book by Tony Award winners, Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone). Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh realities that his father is on the naughty list and his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.”
Some quotes from reviews of the Broadway production:
“The New York Times says ELF is “SPLASHY, PEPPY, SUGAR-SPRINKLED HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENT!” USA Today calls ELF, “ENDEARINGLY GOOFY!” Variety proclaims, “Elf is happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults!”
With David Campbell as Music Director and Emily Ferrin as Choreographer (plus a list of enthusiastic others who love the show), I believe Elf the Musical can be a sold-out event for The Majestic Theatre. And here is why:
Because the John Turtletaub/Will Ferrell film is so well-known and loved, our production would attract audience members who have not seen shows at The Majestic, and who would likely return for future events. New actors and crew will attend auditions based on the general like-a-bility of the film. (ELF has the same kind of multi-generational appeal and longevity as THE PRINCESS BRIDE.) Parents and Students involved with the Majestic Summer Theatre Adventure and in other Majestic Education programs always want to know what they can do next, and this show would provide a fun and educational experience of a “”big”” musical for budding actors and “”Jr. Blackshirts.”” This all-ages appropriate show would be popular during the holiday season as friends and families seek for ways to get that squishy, warm cookie-stuffed feeling during “”the most wonderful time of the year.””
My vision for Elf the Musical is to play up the cheerful, campy nature of the material through keeping the performances honest and realistic. The show has conflict and drama, but at its heart is unapologetically happy; a rarity in modern entertainment options. If the audience leaves breathing a sigh of happy satisfaction and vowing to be kind to someone then our work is done!
Using coordinated merry designs and jaunty holiday colors in audition, promotional and set and costume designs will go a long way towards building anticipation and enjoyment for this musical. And think of the Majestic FaceBook commercials we can do…!
To save set building costs and to make room for a large cast, scenic backgrounds can be a mix of rented backdrops, and/or projections and flown-in cutouts. Gobos and smart lights can add a lot of atmosphere to this joy-filled show. Spotlights will help with solos. No static set is needed because of the big dance numbers. 3-D painted rectangular acting blocks will provide visual interest and dancing levels as the elves’ workbenches, Walter’s office and Santaland at Macy’s. Santa’s narration can be done on a stage right wing-backed chair draped with holiday-themed quilts with a standing lamp, and a table with cookies and milk, and perhaps an electric fireplace.
The North Pole opening and finale costumes should be colorful and may need to be custom-made if we cannot borrow them from another place, but the rest of the scenes can be costumed in NYC winter streetwear, which should not be hard to find. (Philomath High School did the show a couple of years ago and may have some costumes we can borrow.) While we should have the dancers in character shoes for safety, a lot of the ensemble can wear home-found street shoes and coats and hats in the crowd scenes. We can keep the budget down by utilizing the Mid Valley Theatre Alliance for borrowing costumes and set pieces and by collecting show items and costumes in advance, where possible.
The songs are clever and campy and there is a lot of comedy and famous one-liners from the film in this production. There are opportunities for featured character lines and bits. This is a great show for selling production-specific merchandise at intermission and for providing photos with Santa and Buddy and Jovie. Holiday-themed treats and drinks could be offered at concessions. We could have a brass quartet playing holiday favorites in the lobby as folks enter the theater, and we could have cast members do a number in our local Corvallis Thanksgiving parade.
Please give Elf the Musical your consideration. Thank you!
https://www.mtishows.com/elf-the-musical (The official Music Theatre International page)
https://www.movie-trailer.co.uk/trailers/2017/elf-the-musical/#play (The London Production Trailer – a lavish spare-no-expense version of the show.)
https://paramountaurora.com/events/elf-the-musical/ (The Aurora, Illinois Paramount Theatre version is close to what I envision for the Majestic – cost-saving, and space -promoting projections.)
http://www.themusicallyrics.com/e/235-elf-musical-lyrics.html (Some typos – but this site illustrates the clever lyrics and varied crowd-pleasing song styles within the musical version.)
https://www.allmusic.com/album/elf-the-broadway-musical-mw0002227885(An review of the Broadway production with all the music to listen to)
https://www.theatreworldbackdrops.com/blog/2017/01/3022/beyond-elf (Rented backdrop ideas – $210 to $600 per drop. Our stage would use the smallest size – 15′ high by 25′ long)
It Can’t Happen Here
by Sinclair Lewis, adapted by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen
Director: Leigh Matthews Bock
Sinclair Lewis’ darkly satirical novel (written in 1935 /play written in 1936) was a huge — and controversial — hit at the time. It follows the ascent of a demagogue who becomes president of the United States by promising to return the country to greatness. Witnessing the new president’s tyranny from the sidelines is a liberal, middle-class newspaper editor from Vermont who trusts the system will fix itself—until he ends up in a prison camp. Called “a message to thinking Americans” upon its publication, this eerily prophetic story recently received a new play adaptation inspired by the parallels with the present.
The novel and play have gone down in history as upholding Lewis’ belief in the “free, inquiring, critical spirit”—which many argue is central to a democratic process. It is incredible that a novel written so long ago can feel like a piece of nonfiction written here and now—certain passages can cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.
This play moves quickly and seamlessly from one scene to the next with limited furniture/set pieces moved in and out as the action/story continues. 1930’s costumes with coats, sweaters, hats, etc. added to help show the passage of time. I would use the upstage brick wall as the backdrop and would like to incorporate a large American flag and possibly a large political sign as well.
My hope for this play is for each audience member to find themselves in this story, do a thorough self-check for any complacency, and if found, decide how to move forward in a way that truly honors this country and the people who call it home.
“…thrilling and grim…IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE is an argument for journalism as a basic pillar of democracy…The curious pronoun in Lewis’s title, lacking an antecedent, may well refer to the rise of fascism in the United States. But a less literal reading of the title suggests that ‘it’ is something more subtle: a collective apathy, born of ignorance, and a populace that can no longer make the kind of judgments that participatory democracy requires.” —The New Yorker.
John Steinbeck’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH
by Frank Galati
Director: Robert Leff
Five years ago, Latino playwright, Octavio Solis was part of a road trip sponsored by the National Steinbeck Center in celebration of the 75th anniversary of THE GRAPES OF WRATH. The trip retraced the Joads’ journey from Oklahoma to California. Along the way, Solis talked with migrants, homeless people and survivors of the Dust Bowl. None of them had read the novel or seen the 1940 movie. He had no idea what he was going to write in response to the trip until it reached the Arvin Migrants Camp outside of Bakersfield, built expressly to house migrant workers coming from Oklahoma and places hit by the Dust Bowl. Today, the migrants at the camp are from Mexico. There Solis met a young Mexican man who had read the novel many times and quoted passages. He said, the novel is about his life and added “I’m the new Tom Joad and Mexicans are the new Okies.” Solis knew what his play would be about.
The World Premiere of MOTHER ROAD is currently running at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It takes place today and is about the last two descendants of the Joads. The two men travel from California back to Oklahoma. I saw the production the end of March. It’s powerful, funny, sad and moving. I saw it again in early July. The production has grown and deepened. At the end, I was crying. Things have changed since THE GRAPES OF WRATH published in 1939; things have remained the same.
When I returned home in March, to prepare of a talk about MOTHER ROAD, I reread sections of the novel. This passage from the Introduction by Steinbeck scholar, Robert Demott caught my eye. “Like many American novels, THE GRAPES OF WRATH does not offer codified or institutional solutions to cataclysmic social, economic, political, and environmental problems. Rather it leads us deeper into complexities those issues raise by historicizing beneficent, sympathy, compassion, and relatedness. For instance, Grapes privileges the white American migrant labor scene. Steinbeck elides — but was not ignorant of the problems of nonwhite migrant workers — Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexicans — who made up a significant percentage of California’a agricultural labor force. . .” This got me thinking.
In my mind, my reaction to MOTHER ROAD, its back story and the passage fused together. I got out my copy of Frank Galati’s stage adaptation of the novel written for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1989. All of the cast was white. I sat down to read the script with the thought, would it work with a diverse cast? What would THE GRAPES OF WRATH look like with Mexicans, Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans and whites onstage? The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second has two parts: 1) A diverse cast will widen the lens of the story. White people were not the only ones who suffered from the Dust Bowl. and 2) A diverse cast will bring an immediacy to the story. THE GRAPES OF WRATH is not an old story from the past. Things have changed; things remain the same. Current events support this.
In the novel/play migrants are mistreated by those in power. Then and now, the poor are forced off their land. Then and now, migrants seek a better life. Turn on your TV and see stories of them kept in cages, their humanity denied. Today, farm workers are exploited by owners. The racist chant, “Go back to where you came from” is openly shouted. All of this has fused in my brain and convinced me a diverse cast will bring THE GRAPES OF WRATH to life and speak to the audience in 2019-2020.
One more thing. The novel/play does not offer solutions. On the other hand, to me, it begins with the Joads focusing, with good reason, inward for survival. As they travel the Mother Road, what happens to them causes a change. They begin to think about and react to other people. By the end, they have moved from I to We. The final image in the novel/play is a powerful reminder that, in these troubled times, all of us are connected.
In my productions of OUR TOWN and ALICE IN WONDERLAND, I cast non-white actors. They auditioned. I liked what they did and cast them. Things would be different with THE GRAPES OF WRATH. I will reach out to different communities in the area and then meet with them to explain my approach and stress how their lives will be honored and added in telling this story. I will need help to plan a sensitive way to do this. I welcome advice.
There are 45 characters in the play. Some appear throughout; others appear only once. In the original production, the actors who played the Joad family had no other roles. The other actors played more than one role. In my production I would follow this plan. There is nothing wrong with supporting actors playing one role, but these actors spend most of their time sitting backstage. For example, Muley Graves appears in two scenes early in the first act and is never seen again. I would prefer to have the actor play Muley and other characters. The two young children in the Joad family. Other children are mentioned in the script, but are listed in the cast. I would include more children in the cast.
Set – The original production used open fire and real water. This production will not use them. I envision a simple, open set with signs flown in and furniture brought on by the actors. The pit will serve as the Colorado River and the flooded stream. Projections might be used.
The Truck – The original production has a real truck on a track. This production will not. The truck could be a platform with wheels that is pushed by the actors. During the play, we need to see the front, the rear and side of the truck. However, the first question to ask, when it comes to the design, is where will the truck be stored when it is not onstage? For both the set and the truck, the audience will use their imagination to fill in the details.
Costumes – The many characters will require many costumes. They should look like “real clothes.”
Props – In the back of the script, there is a long prop list. With a simple open set, the costumes and props need to be detailed (real). Nakedness – In the scene at the Colorado River, the script mentions one of the actors is naked. Not in this production. At the end of the play, Rose of Sharon bares her breast to feed the starving man. How this will be done in this production will depend on what is allowed onstage and the comfort of the two actors.
Music – An original score was composed for four onstage musicians. The instruments were guitar, fiddle, harmonica, saw, jaw harp, banjo, accordion and bass. The score is available, but I need to hear it to decided if I want to use it. Another possibility, is asking local groups to compose a score. Dance – There is a Square Dance in one scene, so a choreographer will be needed.
Stage Fights – There are stage fights, so a fight choreographer will be needed.
The Opening of This Production – To introduce the “world” of the play, I plan to add a short “Prologue” of projected photographs of the Dust Bowl and people. Also, a few contemporary photos of farm workers and migrants will be included.
My Approach To The Play – The Grapes of Wrath is salty and down-to-earth with moments of humor. Members of the Joad Family have their flaws. Ma and Tom are not saints. There is outrage in the story. Some of the language and some of the scenes might upset people. This production will not shy away from anything. On the other hand, I will focus on the humanity of the characters.
This an episodic play, so a production could ended up as an evening of “one bad thing after another.” To avoid this trap, the director, actors and designers must focus on how the characters change from the beginning to the end and how each moment and event forces the change.
Yes, The Grapes of Wrath is a big play. It will take careful planning, team work and commitment to bring it to life onstage. However, with what is happening in the country, this is a time to do it.
Director: Ruth Mandsager
Legally Blonde follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes, sexism, snobbery and scandal in pursuit of her dreams, and proves that you can be both “legally blonde” and the smartest person in the room. My vision for bringing this show to the Majestic stage really centers around “girl power”. Not only does the show itself speak loudly to enabling women, it also digs deep enough to deal with an all too realistic “Me Too” moment (which the script handles beautifully).
My experience with the actors from all around the Willamette valley both as a director and a professional actor has shown me that the female acting pool is talented and deep. However, women are far to often under represented by playwrights. LB provides so many roles for women; especially young women, that I anticipate a very exciting but difficult time casting this show. From the actresses that I have had the pleasure to coach from time to time and among many others, there is a deep talented pool of girls who not only need a casting break, but will shine in this show.<