Our President and CEO Mike Miller talks about the exciting upgrades to the Renaissance Theatre and year-round projects supported by the Renaissance Annual Fund Campaign in this video. You can participate in our campaign and take advantage of $45,000 in Matching Gifts through 12/31 by visiting MansfieldTickets.com/give:
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.
This summer, we were able to implement some improvements to the theatre-going experience that we’re really excited about thanks to funding from the Richland County Foundation. We’ve redesigned our lobby bar and added the position of Front of House Manager back to our administrative staff, hiring Ryan Shealy who has brought a wealth of great ideas to our organization.
One of the first things Ryan has done in his new role has been to partner with Martini’s on Main to create some signature cocktails for our theatre. Some of these cocktails are themed to specific events, and others will be available at all of our events. The first will be available at every show and is called “Curtain Up,” named because it shares a color with our iconic velvet curtain. Here’s how you can make “Curtain Up” at home:
Based on a classic Italian Negroni.
1 oz gin
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
Top it off with a splash of club soda to lighten the flavors.
The next cocktail is exclusive to our OhioHealth Symphony Series (for the “thyme” being):
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Thyme-infused simple syrup
Top with tonic and a fresh slice of cucumber.
Stop by the bar in our lobby to check out some of these new signature beverages and get a 90th Anniversary cocktail glass, available while supplies last during our 90th Anniversary year.
A couple of fall mornings each year, something magical happens at the Renaissance Theatre. School buses begin to pull into the parking lot and as soon as they are parked, children get off with their teachers and get in line to come inside. They have all arrived to participate in an program put on by the Renaissance Education Department called Operation Bridge Building.
Operation Bridge Building started in 2008 and is the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra’s major education initiative for local schools. The program is designed to both enhance K-5 classroom courses, as well as support the music education for those in public or private school and those who are home schooled in Richland county and surrounding counties. To help prepare students to attend the Operation Bridge Building full-scale symphony concerts here at the Renaissance, we provide them with study guides that go over the music the students will hear and show them how to be good audience members. As well, small groups of Mansfield Symphony Orchestra members visit schools to put on more intimate concerts for the students. Operation Bridge Building serves well over 7,000 local students annually through the full-scale symphony concerts in the theatre and the in-school chamber concerts.
Director of Operations/Education Manager Chelsie Thompson said that each year the schedule for the full-scale symphony concerts is pretty much the same.
“Musicians start to arrive at 8:45 AM, school buses start to arrive by 9:15 AM. We have about 8-10 volunteers and staff that run between the parking lot and building to get students into their seats. Some volunteers meet the buses and lead them up to the doors, others wait at the doors and take the kids from there into the theatre,” Chelsie said. “The first concert begins at 9:45 AM and lasts between 35-45 minutes depending on the age group of the students. We release the kids by school and they head out to buses, so the theatre feels really quiet all of a sudden. In between concerts, the musicians take a break – they might grab a cup of coffee, have meetings or rehearse, practice their parts, or just read a book. The next group of students starts to arrive around 11:15 AM and we do it all over again for the 11:45 AM concert.”
Last year, ten school districts sent a total of sixteen schools to participate in the full-scale symphony concerts here at the Ren. An additional seven districts, a total of thirteen schools, participated in this initiative through our in-school chamber concerts. All in all, we were able to serve 29 schools across 17 districts in 2016.
Chelsie said the performances that happen in a school rather than in the theatre are designed to be a little bit more personal.
“We have a very well-established brass trio, woodwind trio, and string quartet,” Chelsie said. “Each group has a unique, varied repertoire and script that they use for these 45-minute concerts, covering everything from classical to pop to traditional folk music.”
The full-scale symphony concerts preformed here at the Renaissance are designed to expose children to a wide variety of instruments, as well as using music to tie in state standards.
“Our main education concerts here at the Ren are tied to core curriculum standards, often literacy, math, or social studies, and these are a great opportunity to reinforce the material that students are learning in the classroom as well as take students on an exciting arts field trip,” Chelsie said.
Altogether, Operation Bridge Building engages students and teachers alike by providing high quality symphonic programming and a curriculum that integrates the arts with academics.
The Operation Bridge Building program is underwritten so that schools may participate free of charge. Without community support, schools would have to pay upwards of $4 per student to participate in this program. As a result of not charging for schools to participate, they save a combined $25,000 each year. Our concert schedule fills up very quickly, so we highly encourage interested schools to contact us early.
This year, the Operation Bridge Building concert here at the Renaissance Theatre will take place on October 19 at 9:45 AM and 11:45 AM and October 20 at 9:45 AM. and 11:45 AM. If you or your school would like to learn more about Operation Bridge Building, please contact Chelsie Thompson at email@example.com or 419-522-2726 ext. 251.
Tuesday is our usual blog post day, but it’s a BIG DAY here at the Renaissance! Tonight is our Season Preview Party – and it’s not too late to make plans to be there and be among the FIRST to hear some really exciting announcements, and walk a way with a bag full of goodies!
And, check back tomorrow to see our incredible Season Lineup!
by Colleen Cook
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The Summer Musical has become a celebrated community tradition. Each summer in the last weekend of July and the first weekend of August, our region’s finest actors, singers, and dancers come together and perform a Broadway musical that dazzles and delights audiences each night.
After our success last summer with Beauty and the Beast, and Mary Poppins the season before, we wanted to continue to offer a show that would give families an opportunity to wrap up the summer in style. That’s why this summer’s show is none other than one of Disney’s most beloved musicals…
The Little Mermaid will be on stage July 29 at 8 PM, July 30 at 2:30 PM, August 5 at 8 PM and August 6 at 2:30 PM. Auditions will take place Sunday April 23rd from 12-5, Monday 24th from 4-7, with Callbacks Tuesday 25th from 4-7.
Tickets will go on sale to Renaissance Members only beginning March 1st. Tickets will be available to the public beginning April 4th. Interested in becoming a member? You can join when you call the Box Office (419-522-2726) to order your tickets.
This summer, our Artistic Director Michael Thomas will be unavailable, so we’ve invited director Kris Kyer to step in to direct. Kris Kyer’s career spans over three decades as an actor, performer, teacher, singer, and director in every medium of the entertainment industry. Most recently, he has directed THE LITTLE MERMAID, ADDAMS FAMILY, ELF JR. MARY POPPINS, PETER PAN (starring as Captain Hook), and SUPERMAN at the Grove Theatre in Upland, CA.
For nearly two decades he was the director/owner of THE KYER WORKSHOP FOR ACTORS in Burbank, CA. Thousands of young actors began their careers and studied under Kristopher to have successful careers in film, Broadway, stage, and television. Mr. Kyer was also the “on set” acting coach for ABC-TV’s BOY MEETS WORLD; MAYBE THIS TIME; and GRACE UNDER FIRE; the Bruce Willis film HOSTAGE; and personal acting coach for Jessica Simpson on THAT 70’s SHOW for FOX-TV. You can learn more about Mr. Kyer here.
You will absolutely fall in LOVE with this aphrodisiac influenced cordial! Damiana is a wild shrub native to Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies that has been historically used as an aphrodisiac. Damiana is still used as an aphrodisiac today, as well as supporting relief of: headaches, bedwetting, depression, nervous upset stomach, constipation, and boosting mental and physical stamina. Damiana has also been used to enhance dreams. Chocolate and rose are known aphrodisiacs. Cacao contains phenylethyamines, which work similar to dopamine and epinephrine, creating heightened senses of well being.
First before we make this cordial I would suggest making this delicious chocolate syrup. This syrup is dairy-free and does not contain any refined sugar.
The Best Chocolate Sauce
- ¾ cup raw cacao powder ( or unsweetened cocoa powder)
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1/3 cup REAL Maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pulse together cacao powder, coconut sugar, and salt into a food processor until well combined.
- With food processor spinning, pour boiling water through feed tube.
- Stop processor, scrape sides, add the maple syrup and vanilla.
- Process again until consistently silky smooth.
- Transfer to a glass container and place in the fridge to cool for a few hours.
- Enjoy over ice cream or in this next recipe!
Damiana Chocolate Rose Love Cordial
- 1oz dried Damiana leaves
- 2 cups brandy or vodka (I used Brandy)
- 1 ½ cups filtered water
- 1 cup raw honey
- 1 TBSP vanilla extract
- 3 TBSP rose water
- ¾ cup of chocolate syrup (the recipe above is the best)
- Soak Damiana leaves in alcohol for 1-2 weeks. Strain and reserve liquid in a clean glass jar/bottle.
- Soak alcohol drenched leaves in filtered water for two-three days. Strain and reserve liquid.
- Gently warm the water extract (over low heat) and stir in honey. Remove from heat and add the alcohol extract. Pour into a clean glass jar and add vanilla, chocolate sauce, and rose water.
- Use your best discernment on the amounts of rose water and chocolate sauce. Adjust to you liking.
- Allow it to mellow for a few weeks. It definitely gets better with age. Store in fridge for several months.
Improv exercises take us out of our comfort zone and allow us to play, think on our feet, and be present in the moment. Recently, our Artistic Director Michael Thomas wrote (about his experience as a performer at renown improv comedy theatre The Second City), “The best improvisers are also the most profoundly adept actors. And why? Because they are always listening and reacting. They stay “in the moment” – so their reactions are always honest and believable.”
Here are three improv games, one for children, one for teenagers, and one for adults, that will help to build your team. If you’re a teenager interested in learning to improvise, our free Improv Underground classes begin February 8th – learn more here.
For Elementary/Middle School and older:
Vacation Pictures–(4 players)
- Set up two chairs, with approximately 6 to 8 feet between them. Your chairs should be facing the audience.
- Choose two people to sit in the chairs—they will act as the people describing what they did last summer (or whatever you choose).
- Choose two additional people to stand between the two chairs, also facing the audience.
Chair Actor Actor Chair
(with “narrator” seated) (with “narrator” seated)
- Take suggestions for possible vacation locations from your audience.
- Once a location is selected, the two people in chairs take turns making statements about what they did last summer, such as, “We went to Cedar Point, and rode a roller coaster.” On the count of three (which the instructor, or audience, can do), the two actors standing between the chairs must create an interesting pose, as they would if in the “photo” of their roller coaster ride. Allow each “narrator” to describe two or three “photos.”
- Allow those describing to switch places with those acting so that all may have a turn.
For High School and older:
Garage Sale—(4 players)
- Players get a few suggestions (from the audience) of items which might be found at a garage sale.
- One player (Player A) leaves the playing area as the other players group together (as a “pile” of items at a garage sale). (NOTE: You may also have the players form a line of items from left to right, as though they’re lined up for the garage sale.)
- Player A enters and begins looking other players as if they were items for sale. Player A chooses one “item” (Player B) and pulls them down stage (forward; closer to the audience). Player A identifies what Player B is to become by saying something like, “My, what a lovely teapot;” or “I wish there wasn’t a crack in this mirror.”
- Player B comes to life and gives a short few sentences about their experience (as that item) in the world. This monologue can be very short (30 seconds to a minute) and can be directed to the shopper (Player A) or given to the audience.
- Player A puts the first item back into the pile or line, and chooses another item, and the pattern repeats.
- The scene ends when Player A decides what items he would like to buy, and takes them with him/her off stage.
Pros and Cons—(as many players as desired)
- Using as many players as desired, form a single-file line from the front of the playing space to the back of the playing space. (Players are lined up, one behind another, all facing the audience.)
- The instructor will give the first player in the line a subject, object, or person’s name with which to work. It is the first player’s job to talk positively (or “pro”) about their given subject, object, or person for a designated amount of time. (30 seconds is a good length of time. Either the instructor/moderator can serve as the time-keeper, or they may assign someone to keep the time.)
- At the end of the designated amount of time, the time-keeper will say, “switch,” at which point the first person in line stops talking, and turns to the player behind them to give that person another subject, object, or person’s name. The first player either returns to their seat in the “audience area,” or goes to the end of the line.
- Once players have switched spots, the second player in line will now be at the front of the line. It is their task to talk about their given subject, object, or person in a negative (or “con”) fashion for the designated amount of time.
- This continues, with players alternating “pro” and “con” as the line moves from player to player, until all of had a turn.
Hints: It is usually best to advise the players not to suggest subjects which may be controversial in nature, as this may make others uncomfortable, thus defeating the idea of team building or playing. Additionally, when working with players who may or may not know each other well, it is often wise to avoid suggesting names of celebrities or character names from pop culture, as not everyone will know that person of whom they’re asked to speak.
by Colleen Cook
Few things carry as much potential as a fresh, blank calendar. There’s just something about that blank space that feels free and exciting as you look at the next 365 days knowing they can be whatever you choose.
If you’re like me, then you’re probably thinking a lot about what you can do less of, what you want to do more of, and how you want to spend your days this year as you fill in your calendar with birthdays, appointments, social plans, and more. For me, this year I will be working to ensure that the time I’m with my family is spent more intentionally. We’ll be spending more time making memories that will last, rather than binging a Netflix show or scrollaxing through our various devices.
Here are four events that I’m putting on my calendar, and why:
I have always wanted to see The Second City in person, and this is the year! Bonus: I don’t have to make the trek into Chicago! Having been a HUGE Saturday Night Live fan since I was too young to be watching it, as SNL fans know, The Second City is the breeding ground for great improv comedians. Alumni include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steven Colbert, Steve Carrell, Bill Murray… and our own Michael Thomas! So, we’re calling a babysitter and making sure we don’t miss this night.
February 18th: Pre-Concert Dinner & When Swing Was King Concert
My husband and I sometimes downplay Valentine’s Day, but for no good reason. Our love is worth celebrating, and we never regret making a big deal out of silly greeting card holidays – because good memories last way longer than the cards and candy. So, this year, we’ll be celebrating at the Mansfield Symphony’s pre-concert gourmet dinner by Rasul Welch and Anne Massie of Altered Eats, followed by a night of swing music with the Mansfield Symphony and world-renowned conductor Carl Topilow!
We have a preschooler in our house, and Daniel Tiger and his neighbors are like a third parent in our household. We count on Daniel to reinforce some really important lessons for our kids using
earworms musical jingles like, “Use your words,” and “When you feel jealous, talk about it and we’ll figure something out,” and of course, “You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back.” Seeing the joy on our daughter’s face last year at this event made it an early contender for our 2017 calendar.
As a kid, I remember listening to the “Hotel California” on vinyl in my parents’ basement, the richness of the incredible acoustic guitars and the band’s gritty authentic sound pouring over me. Classic Albums Live has gained quite a reputation as the quintessential authentic recreation of these incredible albums, live – playing every note, every cut, just the way you remember it. And, these guys are good. I’ve been excited to see this group since we started talking about it more than year ago, and you can be sure this event is on my personal calendar.
Comment and tell us, what events are your must-sees this year?
by Colleen Cook
It has become internet-popular to forego the traditional New Year’s resolution list, and instead choose one word that becomes your guiding theme or principal for the year. Admittedly, I haven’t done this for myself yet, but I will be trying it in 2017.
As most things in internet culture go, the origin of the idea seems to be hard to pin down – the earliest post on the idea I could find is on Christine Kane’s blog as early as 2006, however iterations of this idea are all over the place.
As an organization, the Renaissance has a mission and a vision statement, a strategic plan, marketing and development plans, and so many formal planning documents, but I thought it would be interesting to ask our staff to summarize their own departmental goals for 2017 into one word. Here’s what they chose:
Michael Thomas: Expand
Chelsie Thompson: Gratitude
Linda Chambers: Collaboration
Patrick Clinage: Thorough
Ashley Young: Present
Mike Miller: Sustainability
Colleen Cook: Engaging
We hope that as a cultural hub to our community, we can be all of these things, and more. What is YOUR one word for 2017? Let us know in the comments!