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From Cirque to Soleil to Hunchback – Meet Brad Cronenwett

by Colleen Cook

In last week’s blog, we highlighted a handful of our region’s talented individuals involved with our production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which runs March 3-4, 11-12). If there’s one thing we’re passionate about, it’s providing top-notch arts and entertainment put together by the countless talented musicians, artists, performers, technicians, and creatives in our region.

This week, we’re going to dig in with someone you may not already know, whose work will take Hunchback to a different level. Bradley Cronenwett was born and raised in Shelby, and has gone on to do big things in the industry – most recently working with Cirque du Soleil!

Colleen Cook: What is your background? How did you get from Shelby to Cirque du Soleil?

Bradley Cronenwett: I was born and raised in Shelby, and have been an Ohioan for most of my life. While growing up I was an active part of The Ren community helping design productions with the resident designer at the time, Don Pontious. I really credit him for all of my lighting knowledge because he was such an integral part of my passion for lighting.

Through the years doing multiple types of production, working at The Walt Disney resort, and continuing to grow my knowledge in the field I began to apply for Cirque. I made lots of connections along the way, and we all know how small this world is, especially in production. As the news began traveling, one thing led to another and I began interviewing for positions.

I certainly did not get the first job I applied for. It was probably a span of six months of waiting and interviewing before I finally got the golden ticket. I joined Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna in Amsterdam, April of 2016.

CC: How did you get involved with Hunchback?

BC: While attending a preview of A Christmas Carol the cast, myself and Michael Thomas all when out to dinner after the rehearsal and we discussed my current adventures with Cirque. I had mentioned that I was back in Ohio to help with the Richland Academy’s production of The Nutcracker which I think sparked a conversation. Later on Michael and I spoke about the show and I continued to express my interest in helping out. So here I am!

CC: What is your vision for the lighting design in Hunchback? What has inspired you, and what can the audience expect?

BC: My vision for designing the Hunchback lighting was to keep certain design elements in the show as true to the actual cathedral as best as we could. Earlier this month I  was on holiday in Paris, and visited the cathedral. I studied the shadows, the colors, how the light interacted with the cold stone pillars, and of course admired the colors of the beautiful stained glass windows.

We want to take the entire theater to Paris for a brief moment and let them experience how the cathedral must have looked in 1482. Of course the cathedral is just one setting in the show. The lights will adapt to the scene, and enhance the beautiful set, complement the costumes, and all without much notice to the audience, and that’s all by design.

Bradley continues his journey with Cirque du Soleil joining the newest Big Top show, VOLTA, touring here in the United States. You can see his work on our stage at The Hunchback of Notre Dame, March 3-4, 11-12, 2018. Get Tickets Here!

locally grown world class talent renaissance theatre hunchback of notre dame

Locally-Grown, World-Class Talent

by Colleen Cook

When I look around Richland County, I’m in awe of the incredible talent we find at every turn. Simultaneously, I’m shocked when I come across people who have been born and raised here who think they have to leave town for great arts and entertainment. Not being native to North Central Ohio, I’ve got to tell you: you don’t know how good you have it!

For evidence, look no further than our production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame which will have its regional premiere in March on our stage. This show boasts world-class talent on every single plane – not only among the incredible cast (feat. the likes of Ryan Shreve, Maddie Beer, Scott Schag, Colton Penwell, Stephanie Hayslip, Matt Mayer, Patrick Clinage, Jay Reid, and many more).

Most of the talent on our stage and behind the scenes is native to North Central Ohio. Many have moved away for a time and returned, and some have stayed, but they all share one thing: the talent they bring to the arts and culture scene in Mansfield is unmatched. 

It’s impossible to talk about our musicals and not rave about our director, Michael Thomas, whose vision and skilled direction of our musical theatre productions simply takes our entire organization to the next level. He shares about his experience writing for television and theatre, as well as his background as a Second City alumnus in this blog post.

Jason Kaufman has designed our remarkable set, hand-carving nine life-size gargoyles, gutters, and grotesques based on the actual design at Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Paris, where the Victor Hugo story is set. Jason is a well-known local artist with pieces featured throughout downtown Mansfield (most notably at Relax It’s Just Coffee) and an upcoming exhibit at La Luna.

This show we also welcome lighting designer Brad Cronenwett, a Shelby native who has worked as a lighting designer for Disney and is currently coming to us from Cirque du Soleil Brazil. (More on his story and vision for the production in next week’s blog.)

Local singer, teacher, and music director Kelly Knowlton, (most recently seen on our stage as Ursula in The Little Mermaid) brings together sixty performers: the cast along with an on-stage choir as well as the first live orchestra accompanying a musical at the Renaissance in seven years. The orchestra, which will include several members of the Domka family, will perform an Academy Award-winning score by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.

Once again, Shannon Maloney returns to share her talent for choreography with our community. Shannon currently lives in New York City, but was raised here in Mansfield and is the daughter of another remarkable individual involved in the production: Dauphne Maloney, who designs and creates the costumes for our musicals.

We’ve barely scratched the surface on how many remarkable professionals have come together to create an unforgettable production. When you look around this region and think for a second that you need to drive an hour or more to see incredible productions, you’ve missed some of the greatest gems sitting right in your back yard. But don’t take my word for it – come to Hunchback on March 3-4, 11-12 and see for yourself.

A Look Back at Some Favorites

By Colleen Cook 

One of the biggest perks of working at the Renaissance, in my opinion, is that we get to see the shows as a part of our job. I have always been a huge fan of live arts and entertainment, and in some instances a bit picky when it comes to what I consider a well-done performance. My personal favorite genre of live arts is musical theatre.

Having had the opportunity over the years to see hundreds of musicals on stages from Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theatres, community theatres, to schools, I feel confident saying that I truly feel that the Richland Bank Broadway series at the Renaissance is some of the best live theatre around.

As we prepare to open one of the most beautiful shows I know of, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I find myself reflecting on some of my personal favorites from my past five years employed at the Ren. I’d love to hear what your favorite moments have been, so be sure to comment or tell us on Facebook!

Les Miserables

Les Miserables, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2014

Les Miserables, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2014

This show was the very first I ever saw on Broadway, and remains one of my most favorite performances at the Renaissance. The cast was truly incredible – every single role was perfection – and the story still makes my heart beat a little fast.

Hot Mess

Hot Mess the Musical photo by Jeff Sprang

Hot Mess the Musical photo by Jeff Sprang

Original productions are one of the most awesome things the Renaissance offers to the community. Our dynamite Artistic Director Michael Thomas brings a wealth of experience and creativity to our stage every time he directs, but it’s on another level when he writes the shows. Hot Mess is screamingly funny while telling a great story with a relevant cultural message. If we did this show every weekend, I’d be in a seat every time.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2016

A Christmas Carol, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2016

We performed this show more than a year ago, but I still find myself thinking about it. The setting of the show was stripped down, allowing for the story and the beautifully composed music to shine. I have always liked A Christmas Carol, but this performance made me love it.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2016

Beauty and the Beast, Photo by Jeff Sprang 2016

When I think about this production, I remember how delighted my daughter was by the show, how mesmerized I was by the music, but above all, I remember the set. Jason Kaufman and his team built this intricate, lacy false proscenium that still dazzles me when I think of it. The commitment to detail in that show was breathtaking.

See our Richland Bank Broadway Series Lineup Here

web_SawyerBrown2018-PhotobyJeffSprang

Arts Resolutions for 2018

By Audra DeLaney

The month of January is wrapping up. For most of us, breaking one of our new year’s resolutions didn’t take too much time. While we hope you stick to your resolutions, no matter how many setbacks you have, we wanted to give you a look into how you can add the arts in Mansfield to your 2018 resolutions, even if it is almost February.

1. Attend an event at the Renaissance Theatre. 

We hit the ground running in 2018. First, we celebrated our 90th Anniversary with multiple events during the week of January 15. In the coming weeks, Renaissance Youth Opera Theatre (RYOT) will perform The Slipper and The Rose on February 3 at 7 PM and February 4 at 3 PM. The Mansfield Symphony Orchestra presents The Planets on February 10 at 8 PM. Finally, Michael Thomas and cast presents The Hunchback of Notre Dame on March 3 and 10 at 8 PM and March 4 and 11 at 230 PM. A schedule for the remaining events of the season can be found on the Event Schedule on our website.

2. Sign your child up for a class at Richland Academy of the Arts 

According to its website, the Richland Academy of the Arts exists to provide quality programming in both arts, education, and development. Richland Academy offers programs in dance, music, visual arts, and theatre. Classes for varying skill levels and ages are offered. Visit the Richland Academy Calendar for more information.

3. Check out the offerings at the Mansfield Playhouse.

The Mansfield Playhouse mission statement states it is building on its legacy of being the second oldest continuously-producing playhouse in Ohio by enriching and educating audiences and volunteers, and reaching beyond the walls of the Playhouse to embrace all elements of the community. Auditions for Say You Tomatoes will be February 27 and 28 with performances on April 27 and 28 as well as May 4, 5, and 6. The Mansfield Playhouse will also be showcasing performances of Disney’s Mulan Jr. Auditions will be held April 10 and 11 with performances on June 8, 9, 15, 16, and 17. For more information such as audition materials, showtimes, and ticket prices visit the shows tab on The Mansfield Playhouse website.

4. Head over to Richland Source After Hours concerts.

Richland Source has made a buzz in the Mansfield community since its founding in 2013. Richland Source may be known for its news reporting, but it is also known for its concert series called Richland Source After Hours. Richland Source After Hours is a monthly concert series held in Idea Works. Local musicians perform original works and covers in front of community members. For more information on show dates and times for this year, visit the Richland Source Facebook page.

5. Stop in to Element of Art’s First Friday event each month. 

Located in the Carrousel District, Element of Art is a nonprofit art gallery that showcases the talents and offerings of professional artists living with developmental disabilities. The space offers gallery for exhibition and sale of artwork as well as working studio space. Element of Art offers a variety of classes and hosts an event on the first Friday of every month for the public. At each event, live music is performed and the public is invited to listen as well as browse the selection of arts pieces for sale. It is an uplifting environment that showcases the diverse talent of Mansfield artists and musicians. For more information on upcoming classes or February’s first Friday event, visit Element of Art Studio / Gallery on Facebook.

Each year, we challenge ourselves on January 1 to break bad habits, build strong relationships and experience life in new ways. Art brings all of these goals together in Mansfield. As well, art teaches us that although we may not be perfect, we are able to learn, grow, give and love in ways we may not think possible. This is not a definite list of all the places in Mansfield that are filled to the brim with creativity, inspiration, and passion. All of the places here who use the arts as a way to connect with the community have one message to share: take care of yourself, even when you take a step backwards, and know that in this community, artists will make you laugh, cry, sing, dance, and enjoy the year you have been given.

Celebrating 90 Years of Growth

As we mentioned last week, we’re in the midst of an Annual Fund Campaign, which you can participate in here. This year, our goal is to raise $110,000, and we’ve already secured $45,000 in matching gifts to help us get there together.

2018 marks our theatre’s 90th Anniversary since opening in a blizzard in January 1928. We treasure these 90 years as Mansfield’s home for outstanding arts and entertainment, and look forward to celebrating them with you throughout our 90th Anniversary Weekend.

renaissance holiday gift guide 2017

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

by Colleen Cook

Tis the season! I love giving holiday gifts and write notes to myself year-round about ideas that might make a great gift. When it comes to my own wish list, though, I struggle. We don’t want for much and our house is small, so I am adverse to additional clutter. In my own life, I’ve shifted to trying to ask and give more experience gifts that can be enjoyed well past the holiday season. After all, there’s nothing like remembering the love expressed by a dear one when you’re enjoying your gift months later.

Last year’s Holiday Gift Guide is still a wonderful jumping off place if you’re looking for some great places to buy local gifts. This year, we’ll give some more specific gift ideas for anyone on your list:

For the Kids

Little Buckeye Punch Cards (or Memberships!) – $25/punch card; $75-$195 for Memberships

Our family has enjoyed and used our Little Buckeye Membership thoroughly each year, and my kids adore going to the museum. In the winter months, it’s a great place to burn off some steam while doing great educational activities. In the summer, it’s a welcome break from the heat. If gifting a membership is out of your budget, pick up a $25 punch card, good for 5 single admissions to the museum (which is a big savings!).

Richland Carrousel Tickets – 6 rides/$5

I love the idea of purchasing carrousel tickets as a stocking stuffer for the whole family. It’s super affordable, and is a promise for a great day of fun. We’re so lucky to have such a beautiful indoor carrousel in our community! Our family loves to ride the carrousel, then walk down to Athens Greek or Two Cousin’s Pizza for lunch after.

Class Registration at the Mansfield Art Center, Mansfield YMCA or Richland Academy

Whether it’s ballet, watercolors, or martial arts, covering the tuition for a class is a wonderful way to make a kid feel special and invest in their future (without further crowding their already overflowing toy box).

For Everyone

Gift Certificates to the Renaissance

We hate to be self-promotional, but we truly believe that Gift Certificates to the Ren are truly the perfect gift for anyone because of our diverse season lineup and the fact that they NEVER expire! A night out at the Ren pairs especially well with a gift certificate for dinner or drinks to one of the many local dining establishments downtown.

Kingwood Center Gardens Membership

Mansfield is lucky to have a true gem in Kingwood Center Gardens. Their membership levels vary, but offer special perks, access to their grounds and certain events, all while supporting this special and scenic place. From April through September, their brand new Peacock Playhouse Sensory Center offers a perfect place to educate children about horticulture in a sensory-friendly environment.

 

For the Book Lover

All of the following titles are recommended by the Book Lady herself, Llalan Fowler, and have local ties, and are available at Main Street Books:

Native Son by Timothy Brian McKee
Mansfielder and well-known local historian and author Timothy Brian McKee compiled a collection of his local history column “Native Son,” for Richland Source into a single volume that serves as the perfect gift for the lover of all things local.

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall
Mackall lives in Ashland and wrote this book from her parents’ letters to each other in WWII. Perfect for someone who loves WWII-era romance.

Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
This young adult novel is by Bellville-native Kerry Winfrey, who currently resides in Columbus.

Fifty Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio by Rick Armon
Rick Armon of Akron has signed several copies of this must-own guide for the craft beer aficionado (that features several shout-outs to our very own Phoenix Brewing Company). We think it’d pair perfectly with a growler of your favorite brew – we love the Redemption IPA.

The Ohio State University: An Illustrated History by Raimund E. Goerler
Have a die-hard Buckeye on your list? This beautiful book is a must-have for their coffee table, and is the first one-volume history to appear in half a century.

 

For the Grown-Ups

Original Artwork from Element of Art or the Mansfield Art Center

Let your holiday purchase do double-duty: get something beautiful for someone you care about while supporting local artists. Our community is full of talented artists who showcase their remarkable talents locally. Element of Art Gallery showcases artwork by artists with disabilities, and bonus: they have an online shop you can browse and order via phone.

Vinyl Records and Vintage Clothes from Old Soul

One of Downtown Mansfield’s more recent additions, Old Soul features a beautifully cultivated product line perfect for the hipster in your life. Their impressive collection of records and attire is sure to impress.

New DSLR Class at Tog Loft

I took this class a couple of years ago, and it’s brilliant. Many people have invested in a nicer camera than their phone, but few know what to do next. Tracy’s boiled down the basics into one, super-affordable class perfect for the beginning shutterbug on your list. If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, however, check out some of their other classes here.

Midnight Clear from Goldberry Roasting Company

This is on our family’s Christmas list as a must-have every single year. This rich coffee is roasted in Ashland and is always brewing on Christmas morning, and we give bags to family and friends every year. The description says it all, “Midnight Clear is a pleasant mingling of coffee beans from three continents, roasted to coax out mellow berry notes, faint hints of pinewood smoke, and a dark chocolate finish. With its medium-heavy body, Midnight Clear lingers pleasantly on the palate before softly drifting away.”

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Careers in the Arts: Entertainment Writing

by Michael Thomas

When I was young, I never envisioned a career as a writer – let alone a writer in the entertainment industry. Admittedly, I had a rough start, primarily because, early on, when participating in a creative writing class in high school, I was told I was incapable of following direction. Successful writing, it seemed, was accomplished by following a strict, preordained outline – and any wandering from the path would result in failure. Here were the basic ground rules:

  • Don’t try to funny. Funny is frivolous.
  • Satire is snarky. No one likes a smart aleck.
  • Say what you have to say as uninterestingly as possible, cite some examples of something or other, throw in a quote, use similes and a metaphor or two and then move on.

One day we were asked to write an autobiography. I filled my pages with a random array of fantastical Candide-like adventures, and proudly handed it in – expecting my teacher to pass it right along to her “Hollywood uncle” who, she said, had connections because he’d been in several Laurel and Hardy shorts. While it should have been given a low grade due to its pedestrian attempt at humor, (more Mad Magazine than Voltaire), it was instead judged on its lack of footnotes and quotes from my grandmother. “This was NOT the assignment!” was smeared across the top of my story – right next to the C-. On page three, my teacher had clearly had enough and had angrily written “You were NEVER a narcoleptic used car salesman in Sarasota. This is NONSENSE!” So much for my writing career.

At the time, I had no idea that film and television shows required writers. Like most people, I assumed that actors just made it up as they went along. So it never occurred to me that I could forge a career out of script writing. I happened into writing by accident – or at least by necessity. As a kid I’d written funny sketches – mostly ideas stolen from Mel Brooks or the Carol Burnett Show. At 11 or 12, I thought they were pretty clever – but they didn’t require much thought or planning – and they never seemed to impress my target audience – which was anyone I could get to read them.

But then I went off to acting school, where you were always being called on to perform monologues. It seemed as though there were only six or seven monologues floating around at that time – and classmates were incredibly possessive of them. “You can’t do that monologue – that’s Bill’s! Bill does that one.” So, since I couldn’t hope to compete with Bill, I started writing my own monologues – which I’m pretty sure were terrible. When performing them, I’d say they were from a little-known Off Broadway play – and I’d assign them fancy Off Broadway play titles such as Hero’s Welcome, The Blossoms are Gone or The Milwaukee Trilogy. I’d invent playwrights with fancy Off Broadway names like Everett Sinclair, Tansy Langford or Pepper Covington. It was all pretty ridiculous, but in fairly short order, I discovered that I actually began to enjoy writing more that I enjoyed performing. Perhaps it was because, when writing, you can get up and make cinnamon toast or stop and watch kitchen gadget infomercials. You can’t do that as an actor.

After college, when I was trying to find work as an actor in Chicago, I came to the realization that it was easier for me to write and create my own material to perform – especially since no one seemed particularly interested in casting me in any of their shows. What began as a whim, quickly became a passion. I spent more and more time fussing over a script and less and less time worrying about auditions, callbacks or monologues.

When one of my early stage projects became cult hit in Chicago, I shifted gears once and for all and focused exclusively on writing. It was then that I discovered what opportunities existed for writers in the entertainment industry. Everyone, it seemed, needed a writer. And no one cared if you used quotes, similes or footnotes. The qualities that failed me so miserably in my high school creative writing class were the same qualities that made me unique and original.

Now I’m not saying you should ignore your teachers. They must know something because they have books and desks and lesson plans and most of them seem very organized. But I truly believe there’s a greater power in following your own instincts – and that sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you’ve found it. I’ve been lucky enough to have spent my entire career working in the arts – though I still having trouble following directions and completing a project as assigned. And who knows, if I keep it up, maybe I’ll one day be as successful as a Tansy Langford or a Pepper Covington.

Tracy Graziani Arts Entrepreneur

Careers in the Arts: Entrepreneurs

by Tracy Graziani

I used to read this design magazine (remember those?) called ReadyMade. It was a quirky diversion from typical magazines because it focused on things we don’t tend to associate with the design industry such as sustainability and DIY projects that discourage consumerism in favor of reuse and repurposing of castaway items. As a lifelong lover of making things with old junk (ask my poor mother about raising me) it was probably my favorite magazine of all time.

They had a regular column titled “How did you get that f@#$%^& awesome job?” I read it religiously. It featured creative people doing sometimes remarkable, and occasionally off the wall things. Who knew someone could make a living with a skeleton shop? And yes, that is a real thing. While I was fascinated by these people I hadn’t yet considered that I could be one of them.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Aside from a period in third grade when I planned to be a princess/cheerleader, as far back as I can remember I planned to be an artist. I didn’t really know exactly what that would look like, and nobody really questioned the idea until I didn’t outgrow the crazy notion. Eventually my parents pushed me to explore some “real jobs.”

I wasn’t super keen on the idea, but it made everyone else feel better about my aspirations when I chose to major in art education in undergraduate school. Turns out I loved teaching, but long story short, I hated working for a school district. I worked on a masters degree, this time in psychology, and I studied creativity theory. I got the offer of a lifetime and at a very young age became an executive in one of the largest museums in the country. There wasn’t a day that I worked at the Detroit Institute of Arts that I didn’t feel honored just to be there.

Life happened though, as it is want to do, and I ended up having to leave the museum due to a divorce-related comedy of errors that is another story unto itself. I found myself in Ohio again, trying to find work in museums or art centers, and working a string of unrewarding jobs along the way. I met my husband, moved to Mansfield, had one last stint in an arts organization, and when that fell apart so did I.

How did I get this f@#$%^& awesome job?

Up to this point I held this limiting belief that the only way I’d make a living as an artist would be to work for some arts institution. With only one employer in my field in Mansfield, now a former employer, my future looked pretty bleak.

Sometimes adversity is opportunity if you choose to see it that way. You’ll never hear me say, “Everything happens for a reason,” because I simply don’t believe that. Life is messy, horrible things happen, and it’s perfectly acceptable to experience the low times for exactly what they are–miserable. BUT–we can’t dwell there.

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”

Elizabeth Taylor

I took Elizabeth Taylor’s advice and continued to show up at meetings and events, and volunteered more for the causes I cared about.

A friend messaged me and planted a very important seed. She said, “Maybe now is the time to start something of your own.” This began an interesting journey to find my footing and really flesh out an idea that had legs.

Somewhere in the universe you can find this perfect overlap of what you know, what you’re good at, who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what people will pay for. It takes time, reflection, openness, confidence, risk taking, and a bunch of other things that don’t cost a penny, but will tax your soul.

In time I launched Tog Loft. We’re a unique organization that helps photographers of all types to grow in the way that works best for them. Whether you want to take better snapshots of your kids, or plan to transition to becoming a full-time photographer, we help you achieve those goals. It’s incredibly fulfilling work and I’m very proud of our members and what we do in our community.

I also had this side hustle doing public relations, freelance writing, and marketing. I’d never taken it particularly seriously, but at some point I realized that I had a “real business” and maybe I should treat it as such. We took our formerly part-time business full-time and Graziani Multimedia became an agency. We help businesses to grow, and that is such a wonderful privilege.

Yes, you can make a living in the arts

None of it happened overnight, and looking back it’s interesting to see how my career has evolved, and no doubt will continue to do so. As a kid I never would have dreamed that I’d own a digital marketing agency, in part because the internet didn’t really exist then, but also because I lacked exposure to the vast array of cool careers that exist. And I certainly didn’t think about creating something that didn’t exist, like Tog Loft.

As it turns out a combination of education in the arts and psychology is the perfect blend of art and science that makes my mind wired wonderfully for marketing, especially in a digital age. The most important lesson I’ve learned along the way is that sometimes the perfect job will never be posted on a job board. Occasionally it is up to us to make our own luck, and that has made all the difference for me.

All jobs are real jobs

I’d also like to point out that there are many paths that artists take, and sometimes a person’s day job is a means to support their work, but not their creative work. Many a gifted artist have worked non-arts jobs in the post office, as did William Faulkner, as theater managers like Bram Stoker, or even as a stockbroker, like Paul Gauguin. Sometimes art as a job takes the joy out of the work and another job is a better service to the artist.

Whenever I hear someone snark that a foolish college kid is going to end up working in a coffee shop or bartending forever because they chose to pursue the arts I cringe. Many great artists have done just that, and were all the happier for it. I know I am.

Careers in the Arts - Renaissance Performing Arts photo by Jeff Sprang

Spotlight on Careers in the Arts

by Colleen Cook

High schoolers are often expected to determine their career path at the ripe old age of 16, planning out colleges, programs of study, and future careers they’d like to take up in their adult life. In some cases, students have a broad exposure to a wide field of employment, but students are human beings who tend to follow the paths that are familiar. When choosing their future careers, they consider those of their family members, mentors, and idols. They think about what they enjoy doing as a teenager and translate that into a profession.

When I was a high school student, I loved to sing. I enjoyed the camaraderie of being in a musical or an ensemble, and I had been mentored by my music teachers, so naturally the career path I chose was music education. I might have chosen music performance, but music education seemed like the more viable career option of what I thought were two choices in the music field.

Years later, I discovered the field of arts administration, along with many other careers, and I’ve often wondered: if I was aware of these career paths when I was in high school, would I have pursued something different?

Arts and culture as an industry contributes $704 billion to the economy in annual revenue.  There’s a wide range of careers and jobs in the arts, and many creative local economies are beginning to shift to an arts and culture-based model from an industrial economy.

In an effort to build awareness about careers in the arts, we’ll be doing a multi-week series of blog posts about the various career paths one can take in the arts in the coming weeks. You’ll hear from people working in the field as entrepreneurs, administrators, artists, and more. We can’t wait to share with you the depth and breadth of this fulfilling field.

Maddie Beer Sister Act - Photo by Jeff Sprang

Pro-Tips for Auditioning for Theatre

by Colleen Cook

At the Renaissance, we frequently have auditions running for upcoming productions. The audition is a critical moment for any performer, because it’s your chance to show your best self and potentially secure the part of your dreams. For our casting teams, auditions are challenging because so many talented individuals show up and perform well, and many factors (age, look, personality, etc.) all go into the final casting decision.

If you’re curious what auditions are upcoming, we keep all of our audition information current on our website, and we also post our cast lists there as well; we also try to keep our social media audience informed on our Facebook page. Each type of production has a slightly different process for auditioning: some register for specific time slots and specify what they’d like to hear and see, others offer an open process where there is more flexibility. When in doubt, follow directions and be flexible in the moment!

Our artistic team has offered up some pro-tips for having a better audition. Here are our top tips, and a few things to avoid:

Tips:

“Be prepared, flexible, respectful, focused and friendly. The auditors take notice of you the second you walk into the room, so be self-assured but not arrogant. Roll with the punches and do what is ask of you to the best of your ability without apologizing or making excuses. Producers and casting agents know that big egos cause big problems. Act like a professional, don’t tell them you’re a professional.” – Michael Thomas

 

“Be pleasant throughout the audition process. We watch you, and try to engage with you, from the moment we first meet you. If we sense a challenging attitude, it may not matter how well you audition. As directors, we need to know that you are willing to work WITH us; and that we can successfully communicate with you.” – Dauphne Maloney

 

“When approaching an audition, and while in the audition process, fully commit to everything you’re asked to do!  If you’re asked to read for a role that doesn’t interest you, do it anyway. Still apply yourself; use your training, skills, and experience to show us the best of what you’ve got (don’t try to “throw,” or sway an audition by downplaying your ability to audition well in ANY role.)” – Dauphne Maloney

 

“If it’s a musical audition, have several varying selections prepared. The auditors may not like your choice and may want to hear something different. Have your music clearly marked and in a three ring binder. No accordion/taped-together mess that flows over both ends of the piano. No loose sheets. If your music is a Xerox copy, make sure the music is printed on both sides, so there are less page turns. Clearly mark where you’re beginning and ending, taking liberties with tempo, pauses, ritards, etc. If there is a coda or you’re going back to a certain part of the music, print that sheet out again so your accompanist doesn’t have to flip through the pages to find the right spot.” – Michael Thomas

 

“Don’t audition unless you’re willing to accept any role.” – Lori Turner

 

“Come in the room and make us believe that whatever you do is what you meant to do.” – Kelly Knowlton

 

“Be familiar with the show and the composer, and select audition material that is aligned with that show/role/composer’s style.” – Lori Turner

 

“Be clear, concise and friendly to the pianist – even if they mangle the accompaniment to your song. Soldier on as best you can. The auditors know it’s not your fault, you don’t need to point it out.” – Michael Thomas

 

 

Pet Peeves/Things to Avoid:

 

“Worst for me is when someone comes in the room and is apologetic or making excuses for their performance.” – Kelly Knowlton

 

“Don’t bombard the auditors with excuses – such as: you’ve recently had a bad cold, you’re nervous, you haven’t had time to adequately prepare, etc.” – Michael Thomas

 

“Starting off your audition by telling me the reason you may not sing your best that day.” – Lori Turner

 

…sensing a theme here???

 

“When someone is unprepared or underprepared, without having music explicitly marked for the accompanist, and copping an attitude when things don’t go perfectly.” – Kelly Knowlton

 

“When a performer auditions with the wrong style of music for the show they’re auditioning for.” – Lori Turner

 

“Don’t overstay your welcome or try to be hilarious.” – Michael Thomas

 

“Children choosing to sing songs which are inappropriate for their playable age; for example: “I Dreamed a Dream, ” from Les Miserables–sung by a seven-year-old. A more appropriate choice for/from that show would be “Castle on a Cloud.” – Dauphne Maloney