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And for Jingle ARRGH the Way, we've used about 546 pieces of wood on our ship!
First, it's important to sound like a pirate. I actually performed a number called “Talk Like a Pirate” In How I Became a Pirate. Let’s face it—if you’re not on top of your pirate jargon, you’re not fooling anybody. Some basics to remember...say "Aye" to express agreement, "Ye" instead of "You," and "Arrr" for everything in between! I always make sure to grunt a lot, too.
We had initially settled on a larger than life sized puppet, very similar to the one that was used in the original production and other versions across the country. It seems like large puppets are very popular now in theaters and in movies like The Lion King, War Horse, and The Muppet Movie. However, the challenge in creating and using a large puppet can be as large as the puppet itself! How many people would operate it? How would they be dressed—in black or in stylized costume? Who would give the character its voice—would he also operate the puppet, or just narrate? How should it be constructed?
Our puppet designer/builder in residence, Patrick Weigand, made some lovely sketches that did a good job of showing how he would construct the puppet as well as the costume's overall look. Our costume designer, Kathleen Egan, also made some great suggestions as to what Socrates would wear so that the actors and the dragon would be similar in style and fit into the overall feel of Rapunzel’s world.
We also took into account the casting of the actor playing the dragon. What were Ben Asaykwee’s strengths in playing the role and how would operating the puppet affect his performance? We eventually decided that we would like to come up with more of a mascot-like costume instead of a puppet since Ben is a very good mover and has a great voice. We then approached costume designer Brian Horton, who is known for producing high quality mascot costumes, to fulfill our dragon dreams. Make sure to visit the Lilly Theater before Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale closes August 4!
Rapunzel is coming to the museum! In this post, Lilly Theater Manager Krista Layfield describes the unique problem they solved to make sure Rapunzel's extraordinary hair was in top shape for the performance.
For our summer production of Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale we were presented with a very fun challenge regarding Rapunzel’s hair. In the story, her hair is very long—so long, in fact, that her wicked stepmother and the prince both climb it to visit her in a tower. In the theater we wouldn’t be able to cast an actress and have other people climb up her hair. I'm sure that would hurt a lot! So the production team discussed several options for creating a special wig for Rapunzel's hair—one suitable for climbing!
We discussed the length, color, style, material, and of course how the actors would actually use it to “climb” into the tower. Some of the ideas included a rope ladder with hair braided onto it or a real ladder with hair braided onto the sides. We even consider an aircraft cable with hair attached to it that would be rigged to the I-beam structures in the ceiling and climbed on.
For safety and practical reasons, however, we settled on having two separate wigs: One that the Rapunzel actress, Jenny Reber, could wear, and a second long braided wig that the actors playing the wicked step mother, Kelsee Hankins, and the prince, Ben Schuetz, use to “climb” into the tower. The wearable Rapunzel wig is about 6 feet long and will not be fully seen by the audience. The climbable wig is about 12–15 feet long, and will use a bit of theater magic in the staging and set design to disguise the actors physically climbing the hair. Rapunzel will throw the hair out the balcony window upstage of the tower and then the actors will climb an escape ladder onto it, while pretending to hold onto the “hair.”
Although there are several wonderful theatrical wig companies out there with lots of long wigs available, we decided that our Rapunzel’s wig should be handmade specifically for our show. Our fabulous costume designer and our wig designer will be working together to hand-dye and braid a total of four wigs together to get the look and the length that we need. This process will ensure that the wig looks as real as possible with our actress’ own hair and facial coloring. I don’t want to give too much away, but we're also planning on styling a total of eight other wigs for the rest of the characters in the show. For this production of Rapunzel–it's definitely all about the hair!
Now YOU can play a part in creating the museum's Lilly Theater productions! Donate to our latest Power2Give project and help provide costumes—including Rapunzel's wig!—for the summer production of "Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale!"
Lilly Theater, a live children's theater located inside The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, produces 3 new shows every year. We're excited to announce the next show will be The Tortoise and the Hare, opening March 16! As you can imagine, it's hard to transform a human into an animal without using masks and still make that character realistic. It takes creativity and a lot of skill. In This Week's WOW, we introduce you to the talented make-up artist who is making it happen. You'll learn where she finds inspiration and some of her techniques (like what colors to apply first). Plus, find out what happens when Josh challenges her to a competition!
Matt Anderson, Children's Museum of Indianapolis actor, gives you a first hand account of how our extraordinary actors bring the museum experience to life for you and your family. This is the first in a series of posts from Matt. You might remember Matt from his exceptional Jelly Belly Art blog post last year!
In my bright blue outfit and neon green cape, guests instantly recognize me as a superhero.Of course, because Captain Extraordinary is unique to our museum, they don’t necessarily know which superhero I am. I often get: “Green Lantern!” or “Superman!” (or one time, inexplicably: “Wonder Woman!”). Either way, the kids are excited. We talk about dinosaurs and Transformers and how people can use porcupine quills to make art… but now it’s 10:30 am, and I must bid my friends farewell. I head to the dressing room and replace the outfit with an understated gray suit, a vest, and a tie. I whiten my temples and paint spirit gum on my lip to affix a mustache. Finally, I make my way to The Power of Children exhibition where, as Anne Frank’s father, I give a performance about the holocaust.
This is just my average day as an actor at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
For me, the fact that this is just an “average day” is precisely why I love the job so much. It’s a ridiculous understatement, but performing as Captain Extraordinary is rather different from performing as Otto Frank. And performing as Otto Frank is rather different from – well, whatever I’ll be performing next. Yet that’s exactly what makes the job so great: the incredible and almost staggering variety of programs we do here.
As much as I do love it, I had no idea growing up that this is what I’d be doing for a living. While I’d been interested in acting for much of my life—from making videos with friends in middle school to obtaining a theatre major in college—I never thought I’d be able to do anything with it for a career. Following graduation, I found work at the fantastical City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri and later at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’ve always enjoyed working with children and families so these jobs, though not traditionally in the theatre, felt well suited to me. It wasn’t until moving to Indianapolis in 2008 and seeing a listing for ACTOR on their children’s museum’s website that I realized that what I’d assumed were two entirely separate career tracks could actually merge.
My case is not an isolated one. There are nine full-time actors here at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and most have similar stories — a theatrical interest nurtured in high school, pursued into undergraduate studies, but with post-graduate jobs suddenly veering far from that path: brokerage assistant, coffee-shop barista, ballroom dance choreographer. Why weren’t we all actively pursuing careers in theatre, when it was clearly something we all loved?
Unfortunately, work in that discipline can have something of a stigma around it—being an actor means being either absurdly rich or famous in Hollywood, or a starving artist on the streets. It’s easy to see those extremes and not realize that there is a theatrical middle ground, such as in museums, especially if that type of specialized field is not yet in the public consciousness. Perhaps in the years to come, museum theatre will become a more mainstream profession. As it stands, my coming across this job may very well have been a fluke… and as such, I feel extremely lucky to have found it, and extremely lucky to once again be doing what I love.
To be continued...