We all know the Grimm’s fairy tale about Hansel and Gretel; they leave a trail of bread crumbs to find their way out of the forest, only to have the crows eat the crumbs and they stay lost, then happen on a gingerbread house owned by a witch who wants to cook them…
JAX Theatre has it’s own adaptation of this classic tale. Jordan Nickles is the creative mind behind the characters and the song lyrics in his adaptation of Hansel and Gretel: The Musical. If you have followed JAX over the last 4 years you have seen Jordan transform himself from a “young Scrooge” to the “elder Scrooge” for A Christmas Carol: The Musical. For this, we need to start from the beginning.
In 2011 JAX Theatre had it’s first production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical. Nickles portrayed “young Scrooge”, Marley’s ghost, and Ol’ Joe. Marley and Ol’ Joe required extensive make-up applications and removals between scenes. Jordan designed his own make-up for the parts and applied and removed one character’s features to transform himself into another character. Jordan brings such energy to his performances and each production is bigger than the previous. In 2012 and 2013 JAX brought in the talent of RJ Haddy to transform Jordan into the “elder Scrooge”. (See blog post:https://pamdecampphoto.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=101&action=edit) Other plays produced by JAX Theatre have been Steel Magnolias, Sleepy Hollow, and Alice’s Wonderland.
In 2013, not only did Haddy transform Jordan into Scrooge he applied his creativity to transform actors into Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Marley’s Ghost.
For the JAX production of Hansel and Gretel: The Musical, RJ Haddy’s talents were called upon again to transform the lovely actress, Eva Martin, into Beatrix the Witch who lures the Hansel and Gretel into her home.
Eva was thrilled with the opportunity to work with RJ. During the time in the make-up chair Eva sat very still and RJ was amazed at her patience while he glued, sponge painted, and airbrushed her features on. The process began with Eva having her beautiful locks of hair covered with a bald cap.
RJ applied a layer of white on Eva’s face. He used his signature Shadow airbrush to apply the contours and fine details to give her face dimension and depth.
During the play the Beatrix takes on her own transformation so cracks are painted onto her “skull” and some of Eva’s own hair is pulled through the bald cap to add to the witch’s realistic appearance. After all Beatrix is 900 years old!
A long flowing wig was added to complete the look.
When RJ is working he attracts on-lookers. These are not they typical on-lookers though. Stacey Morrison and her fiancé Jerod Walker both enjoy crafting sets and experimenting with special effects make-up. They helped to design and build the set for Hansel and Gretel plus provided make-up design for the ballerina Petra.
Below Jerod provides his talent to bring Petra to life.
Below are scenes from Hansel and Gretel: The Musical.
Unless you are involved in community theatre or work with children’s theatre programs (or theatre period) you’ve probably never heard of Music Theatre International (MTI) or the Junior Theatre Festival. MTI was founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) and orchestrator Don Walker (Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof) and is the industry leader in theatrical licensing. In other words, this is who you contact if you want to do a musical that is in their library. You pay a licensing fee to put on the performance.
The Junior Theatre Festival (JTF) started in 2003 and was created by Nick Manos, who dedicates his time to the planning and expansion of the annual festival, and Timothy Allen McDonald, CEO and founder of iTheatrics. Mr. Manos and Mr. McDonald were inspired by the enthusiasm and excitement of the kids who participate in musical theatre and felt there should be an arena where the kids could showcase their talents and learn from each other.
The Junior Theatre Festival in 2003 was attended by approximately 650 kids. In 2014 the participation at this event was over 4,000! For the statisticians in the group, that is a 515% increase in an 11 year period! As it is stated in Mr. Manos bio, “the excitement of those kids was palpable and infectious” at this event!
This was the first time I had the pleasure of attending the JTF. I attended as a photographer for one of our local writers, Joseph Pratt, who wanted to cover the event. One of the adjudicators asked me what I thought of it. I replied, “In one word, energy!” There was so much energy the entire weekend. Not just with the kids, but the workers as well. All involved with the JTF deserve a big round of applause for all they do. I felt welcome by all and it was truly a “family” feel.
The CEO of MTI, Freddie Gershon and his wife Myrna were in attendance at all of the events. They, too, were very cordial and welcomed all of the guests as if they were welcoming them into their own home. The weekend is non-stop from performances by each of the groups participating in the festival to the finale of Broadway stars performing on stage.
The entire weekend is a very positive and uplifting experience. Every review the adjudicators gave came across positive and encouraging. Author, Tim Federle (Five, Six, Seven, Nate!), was one of the adjudicators. He would go through a routine with the performers and show them how to make it better. I do not believe I heard any negative comments from the adjudicators. They were there to educate and show the kids how to improve. It was very inspiring to see and hear the encouragement the kids received.
During the adjudication process, kids were selected to receive a “golden ticket” which granted them the privilege to audition for the JTF video. This is a BIG DEAL for the kids. Out of the 4,000 who attended only 300 received the precious “golden ticket”. I had the privilege to sit in and photograph the “closed” audition. It was an awesome experience to see and hear 300 talented kids from 26 states sing in harmony and dance to an impromptu choreographed piece to put their skills to the test.
The group gathered into a room where they were each given a number; then they were split up. Half went with the choreographers, Steven G. Kennedy, Kelby McIntyre-Martinez, and previous video participant Ben Sears (there was no one in the group who did not know who he was!) and the other half stayed and learned the musical number, “Good Morning” from “Singin’ in the Rain”.
Kennedy kept emphasizing to the kids, “You need to stay focused. On Broadway you are given 15 mins to learn a routine. The key is focus.”
The poise and professionalism that each of the staff members showed was phenomenal. I cannot recall the last time I was at a conference or convention where the energy and excitement carried through the entire event and even during the “social” time. The lounge area was buzzing with energy during the after hours time. The staff and adjudicators were approachable and took the time to engage in conversation and answer questions. Often times they would address me by name (I did not have on a name tag), which is impressive considering the number of people they encountered during the weekend.
The New Works Showcase is an opportunity for theatrical groups to put on a live performance of one of the Junior Theatre shows. This year’s showcase was presented by Disney Musicals. To demonstrate the diversity of these groups, you had elementary, middle schools, and community theatre groups showcasing hits like, Legally Blonde, The Musical, Jr., Shrek, The Musical, Jr., Magic Tree House Collection: The Knight at Dawn Kids, 101 Dalmatians Kids, and Mary Poppins. Each of these groups did an outstanding job!
The weekend finale was Disney Theatrical Productions, Broadway and Beyond: An Evening With the Stars of Broadway. The show included hit songs from the Disney musicals, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, AIDA, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, and The Little Mermaid. The performance also introduced the audience to other songs from the productions of Newsies, Peter and the Starcatcher, King David, and Aladdin (which opens on Broadway in March). The stars of the show were Heidi Blickenstaff (Ursula, of The Little Mermaid); Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins); Merle Dandridge (Aida); Josh Strickland (Tarzan); and Alton Fitzgerald White (Mufasa of The Lion King). Again, the energy in their performances was strong. They carried the emotion through each verse from humor to sadness. The expressions in their faces and their body language enhanced performance of each song.
The highlight of the show was when Strickland came into the audience singing “She’s In Love” from The Little Mermaid. You could hear a collective sigh from the audience and all of the kids came rushing to the front of the stage to get close to him. He sang to one of the girls in our group from Portsmouth, Ohio. Ironically, it was the same song she sang in the performance the Portsmouth group did for the adjudication process. How cool is that?
All in all the weekend is a great learning experience for these young actors and actresses. For me the take away was maintaining a positive attitude and encourage, not discourage these young performers. The JTF is a positive way for kids to express themselves and to receive inspiration from the pros. What a great opportunity this is!
Here are a couple more pictures from the Broadway and Beyond performances:
Alton Fitzgerald White and Merle Dandridge
Time flies when you are on vacation time! We’ve seen much and have put 2800+ miles under our butts! I think this will go down as a “scouting” trip as there are places I passed that I really need to go back to…yes, need to!
I made it to Douglas Wyoming by gosh! I will have to say going through Wyoming is akin to going through Kansas. Mile after mile of field and rock. We have yet to see a buffalo! But we continue to say that the buffalo are disguised as cows, rocks and even the occasional tree…at one point I could have swore one was hiding out in an oil well costume! We’ve had to try to be creative, can’t you tell! It was a long drive across Wyoming. We finally made it to Colorado Springs, I believe, on Saturday.
My uncle Max has been a long time Colorado resident. He lived in Aurora for many years, in an apartment without modern conveniences like a phone. He always used the pay phone down the hall to make calls. When he retired he purchased his girlfriend’s brother’s property in Deer Trail, Colorado…he had to have utilities and when he went to connect his phone he was asked when he had a phone last…in the 1950’s when he lived in Illinois! Fast forward to the present…my uncle Max is 95 years old and his girlfriend Lela is 98. They live in assisted living apartments down the hall from one and other. I was able to spend time with uncle Max. He is still sharp as a tack mentally and so is Lela.
While in Colorado Springs, my daughter and I went up to the Garden of the Gods and did a few senior photos. I did not feel well that day. Between the heat and the altitude I think they got the better of me. I always like going to the Garden of the Gods. I would like to visit it in late spring or fall when it is not so hot out.
Monday was a travel day. I decided to go half way to Flagstaff Arizona, stopping in Cortez Colorado. We stopped in Alamosa County in Colorado and payed a visit to the Sand Dunes National Park. I am so glad I purchased a park pass…it has more than paid for itself!
This was the first mountainous area I traveled through pulling the camper. Traveling Rt 160 while very picturesque, I was not prepared for the 8000 feet in altitude and the ascent and descent that lasted 8 – 10 miles each way! What goes up must come down you know! I had to watch my temperature gauge as it crept up. I found if I lifted my foot off the gas it helped a great deal. It also made me nervous at times when the engine revved to over 5000 RPMs. I would back off again and still it did fine. I made it through the mountains…very carefully! I took it easy on my brakes too! My car has a “gear down” feature and all you do is push a button and it saves a great deal of braking! My one friend says I have a “jake brake” on my car. Whatever it is, it works very well!
We traveled on into Flagstaff today, stopping, of course at the Four Corners Monument.
On our way to Flagstaff I saw a few interesting rock formations.
For supper tonight I decided to use Yelp* to help me pick a place for dinner tonight. I chose the Crown Railroad Cafe. After circling the block a couple of times I figured I’d give it a try. The outside pretty plain except you see the nifty neon Restaurant sign on top of the building. The restaurant is attached to a Howard Johnson that is being remodeled and there are dumpsters in the parking lot. I figured what the heck! Yelp* gave it 4 1/2 stars. The place was very clean on the inside. Reminded me of Mel’s Diner on Alice. It had a model train circling the dinning room along the ceiling. The waitress recommended the burgers and what a treat! Loved it! I can hardly wait to try other local flavors while traveling the area and on the way home via Route 66!
Tomorrow is the Grand Canyon. I think I will travel there in the evening to catch the sunset. Such pretty colors I saw tonight!
It’s been a few days since I’ve written about my trip. I’ve taken a lot of pictures and spend most of my evenings editing and trying to hold my eyes open! By the time I finish going through my photos, I’m ready for bed. My dogs have done very well during the trip and today the saw Mt. Rushmore with us!
During the couple of days at my cousin Bruce’s house we went into Yankton South Dakota and explored a re-creation of the town’s buildings and a nice little museum. I started senior pictures for my daughter and we did a couple at the old railroad area…a memorial to my dad who was a railroader.
Libby and I tried Taco John’s — not a bad little fast food place. We were served in Wendy’s cups so I assume there must be a relationship with them. We went to the riverfront to see the Missouri River. It was so windy. After we got back to the house, Bruce decided to take us for a ride on his Harley. I, personally, am not a motorcycle person. I decided to take the ride and I had a nice time. I just worry about the other people. There is such a disregard at times for motorcycle riders. I had seen a fatal crash as I left for my trip last Friday. I saw the guy laying on the ground…that is all I’ll say.
During our ride we crossed over into Nebraska over the Missouri River. Bruce told me that all the sand came in with a massive flood that hit the area a few years ago.
We then took an evening drive into the country where we were educated in how to spot wild asparagus from the car and how to avoid badgers. We did see a badger and we did gather wild asparagus. No drive in the country is complete without the random deer running across the road in front of you! I spotted it and screamed, then Ruth screamed…we missed it. I took a few photos of trees and old barns. I’ll have to work on them more before posting, but here are a couple I like.
I really like how the tree and the road turned out. This is a typical South Dakota view. Land and more land!
This was an abandoned farm. We walked around and took a few shots of the buildings. As we rounded the one corner, we heard something very large move around in the barn. I did not wish to hang around to see what it was!
We left Tuesday morning on our journey to the Badlands. We arrived there around 7:30 pm mountain time! All I can say is WOW! I was not prepared for what I saw. We stayed at the Badlands KOA. They have a dog park there and the dogs really enjoyed running around in it. We did make a stop at the Corn Palace on our way to the Badlands. We have seen mountain goats, prairie dogs, coyote, and antelope. We keep looking for Bison, but all we have seen are cows…or are they bison in disguise?
This mountain goat was grazing along the side of the road. I was photographing a herd on the side of the mountain and I heard a couple next to me say, “Oh, my!” The told me to turn around and look…it was a couple of feet from them and they were not aware of it even standing there. Libby and I kept our distance but managed to capture several nice shots of it while it grazed.
The prairie dogs were very noisy and skittish!
The mountains here in the Badlands are interesting. I enjoy just driving around and marveling at how they are unique and just so special. The millions of years of erosion to create the spectacular view. I wanted to create a special sunset view with the colors reflecting off of the rocks.
We made the trip up to Wall and saw Wall Drug. We had a buffalo burger…it was a tad on the dry side. It was good, but I’d like to try one again that maybe was prepared differently.
Finally, today we went to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. Very awe inspiring.
The Crazy Horse monument has been under construction for over 50 years. It is a massive structure. I will never see it in my lifetime, but I am glad to see the current progress.
Below is what it will look like.
Tomorrow we are off to Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’m not sure that we will make it that far, but I am shooting for Cheyenne Wyoming and then see how I feel. I wish I’d pulled out of here today and parked in Rapid City. It would have put us about an hour and a half into our destination. My daughter is enjoying seeing the sites.
One more parting shot before I close…
Picture yourself here!
On my recent trip to the Antique Mall in Medina, Ohio I happened upon a couple of items and my curiosity got the best of me. The box and sleeve were marked Spiratone and one was a Vignetar and the other was a Center Sharp Focus. They were both marked 52mm and I thought out loud, “Those would fit my 50mm lens!” So for about $23 I purchased both items. Spiratone was a manufacturer of camera accessories from about 1946 to 1990. Many of the younger photographers have never used or seen these types of filters because Photoshop or other programs can provide these effects. Photography, back in the day (LOL), was much more, how would I say this, accessory dependent than what we are now. In the darkroom you would achieve vignetting by cutting piece of paper and shooting your light beam from your enlarger through it. You dodged and burned using cutouts of the image. If you were lucky you could purchase filters to give you the star effects and soft focus for portraits (I still have mine!).
Today, I decided to “play” with my newly found items. I had to experiment with the f/stop settings and found if I kept it mid-range or stopped down all the way the effects were much better. The Vignetar is adjustable and will give you a smaller or larger vignette. The Center Sharp Focus had its challenges. If I shortened my depth of field (smaller f/stop) I had much more blur within the center part of the photograph; it produced shadows and reflections. If I narrowed my depth of field (higher f/stop) it gave a much better effect.
The first photo above (red background) is with the Vignetar and is a straight out of the camera exposure. The black and white version is the same photo using a blue filter effect in Aperture. I like how the camera fades into the background with this. This camera is my old Nikon F2 with the 85mm f/1.8 lens attached (Nikkor). These were photographed with my Nikon D700 and I used a tripod and I lighted this with white fluorescent lights on a pole lamp. My settings were ISO 200, f/6.3, and shutter 1/15.
The next image was taken with the Center Sharp Focus filter and was straight out of the camera. You can see the blur effect it made with the background while keeping the center focused. My settings for this were ISO 200, f/6.3, shutter 1/15.
Here is another view of the effect the Center Sharp Focus filter produces; my settings for this photo were ISO 200, f/6.3, shutter 1/13.
My final image is a shot taken with the Vignetar; my settings were ISO 200, f/9, and 1/3 of a second. I again, used the blue filter in Aperture to convert to the black and white.
I think these are great finds. I enjoyed shooting with these and they make great effects. I think they would be a great addition to macro photography to help keep your central focus on your subject. I am going to keep my eye open for other cool “old” items to use.