When I took on the responsibility of directing and producing the Garden Players Musical Theater Program in 2004, I turned down a role in a theater touring company and made a huge leap into the world of teaching and directing. I had been a full time performer my whole professional life, always on the road, performing in shows all over the world, from New Orleans to Sacramento, from Lebanon to Japan. I was both excited and nervous about making such a huge change in my life. I have loved settling down in my home town doing something that helps others and gives me roots.
Our eighth original musical “Musicville & Musicville High” was performed by the Garden Players on May 21 and 22 to sold out houses. The cast of fifty-five kids from first grade through ninth grade performed like true theater professionals. They projected their voices, silently prepared offstage, sizzled with energy and excitement onstage, sang beautiful harmonies, and skillfully managed all the hundreds of other little things that makes a show great.
It is such a jolt of excitement to see a show come together. Parents and siblings band together to create gorgeous sets, costumes, lighting, props and playbill. There are hours, weeks, and months of preparation. Then opening night comes. Pride glows on parent’s faces, friends of the actors sit quietly riveted, and the whole community gets a tangible sense of what it means to dig deeper and give more of themselves than they thought possible to create something meaningful and fun – a show!
There are Garden Players who have been with the company since 2004. It’s been a privilege to see them progress. I’ve watched with pride as they’ve grown into their voices, become more confident and developed a stage presence. Some have gone on to performing arts high schools, college and careers in the theater. Kelsy Hor, who has been with us for many years as a performer, returned this year to run the spotlights. John Buckley who as an eighth grader starred in our first show, graduated Frank Sinatra High School, He now works in a casting director’s office, and comes back every year to help.
This has been a fruitful year for the directors of the Garden Players, While I gave birth to twins, Denver Casado, our musical director, gave birth to a publishing company. “Beat by Beat Press” affords schools and other community groups the opportunity of performing our plays. You can visit www.bbbpress.com to download full scores, scripts, director’s notes and MP3s for two of our original works, “Musicville” and “We are Monsters.” We are also excited about the this summer’s performance of “Musicville” in the Childrens Musical Theater Festival in Manhattan.
For additional information, visit www.betinarusso.com.