Monday, December 26, 2016

Charlette's Blog: A Holiday Interview with Fancy Nancy

Charlette caught up with Fancy Nancy star, Allison Meneley, after a performance.  Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas
November 26-December 29 at The Osher Studio in downtown Berkeley.

I interviewed Allison Meneley who plays Nancy in Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas. Her mother inspired her to act. When she was about 8 years old her mother put her in a drama camp during summer. She liked it so much she caught the theater bug. I asked what she liked most about this play. She said she really liked her theater family. She met them a few months ago. Her theater family makes it fun to act and work for B.A.C.T. She didn't like the hair piece because it's alot of maintenance which is a fancy word for alot to take care of. It's almost like it has its own part period. She got her experience by going to the same drama camp every summer, and then she even started to teach it.  She started with singing and loved it then she did dancing and loved that too.  She went to college, and now she's getting her masters in theater education, so she can inspire kids like me.

 When she started working for B.A.C.T.  she helped out back staged for the play Edward Tulane. She was an understudy which is a fancy word for someone that knows your part and can fill in for you when your too sick or tired, for the original Fancy Nancy, Rhonda the 2 sport twins. She also did the Lady Bug Girl tour. She really likes all her parts for many difference reasons. Like the original Fancy Nancy because she made all her best friends in that show. She read the Fancy Nancy books and she was so happy to bring it to life on stage.  She did have to look in the book to see how Fancy Nancy poses and her clothes. 

She grew up watching plays and her first one was Phantom of the Opera when she was 9. One of her favorite plays in New York is Spring Awakening.  She saw it last year.  She also really enjoyed Finding NeverlandThe advice she would give all young actors is to never lose sight of who you are and don't lose sight in the fun.  She is a great actor and I hope I see her again. I really enjoyed the show. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Kara Blogs: The Whimsical World of Seuss - An Interview with Chelsea Wellott

BACT Blogger Kara got the chance to interview actor Chelsea Wellott recently and learned what goes into creating the whimsical world of Seuss -- particularly when it includes playing multiple musical instruments!


I have watched many BACT plays but this has to be one of my top favorites. The plays main storyline was a mix between Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches an Egg. My favorite part of the play was when Horton’s dotted egg hatched! There were many characters in the play but the character I liked the most was smart, inventive JoJo. JoJo is a little Who that has big ideas which some in Whoville don’t agree with. I like him because he has a big imagination and so do I.

Actor Chelsea Wellott as Mrs. Mayor. Photo by Jay Yamada.
After watching the show, I got to interview JoJo’s mom, the Mayor of Whoville’s wife. The person who plays JoJo’s mom is Chelsea Wellott. Chelsea Wellott is making her third debut in BACT plays. She was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Bad Kitty (I saw both of those too!). This is her first time playing an instrument in a show. She plays the guitar and the Ukulele. Amazingly, she only learned the Ukulele a week before trying out for the show. 

Besides playing an instrument, her favorite thing about her part was using a character voice. As an actor, she has always enjoyed using different voices. The hardest part for her was memorizing all the music and then learning to sing and act on stage while playing the music. Her favorite scene to act in was with her husband, the Mayor and her son, JoJo. Part of the scene was about her and Mr. Mayor talking to JoJo about his grades because they were low, so they were telling him he should stop imagining things. I liked that scene because the characters emotions came out well. This made it a good scene. 

Her favorite scene to watch is the song Alone in the Universe masterfully sung by JoJo and Horton. Her favorite Dr. Seuss book is Oh the Thinks You Can Think and mine is Oh the Places You’ll Go! Her advice for future actors is, “Don’t be afraid to look silly because everyone gets nervous,” and “Have fun and know that your fellow actors are there to support you.” I enjoyed interviewing Chelsea Wellott because she played the Ukulele and I would like to do that too! Finally, one of the morals of this play is, don’t be afraid to be creative and let your imagination run wild like Seuss.


Seussical TYA continues its run thru December 11 in San Ramon & San Francisco. Get your tickets today!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Julietta Blogs: The Many Stories of Seussical!

The colorful cast of Seussical TYA!
BACT Blogger Julietta shares her thoughts on the many stories that go into Seussical TYA


Just recently I got to go to the Seussical play. The Seussical is about Dr Seuss books. I was excited when I found that I was blogging for the Seussical because I really like Dr Seuss books. I really liked the fact that there were many Dr Seuss books in the play instead of just one. In the play, there was live music, which was really cool to see the actors playing musical instruments as well as playing their character. It was super fun going to the play, and I can't wait to see another BACT play!

For my blog assignment, it was a little different then usual. I had to try and name as many Dr Seuss books as I could that were featured in the play. There was so many books in the play that I hope I caught all of them. 

So these are the ones I could catch: 
The Cat in the Hat
Horton hears a Who
McElligotts pool
Gertrude Mcfuzz
Did I ever tell you how lucky you are?
Green eggs and Ham
And Horton hatches the egg

I thought it was cool how they made all these books go together in a play, while Horton hears a who was the main story that all the other stories went off of.

My favorite book in the play was probably Gertrude Mcfuzz, but it was really hard choosing a favorite because I really liked all of the play. I liked this book best because of the costumes and because it was really funny.


Seussical runs in downtown Berkeley at Freight & Salvage through November 6 before heading to San Ramon & San Francisco. Get your tickets today!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kara Blogs: Machines Come Alive

BACT Blogger Kara relays how the magic of theatre can bring a picture book like Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site to life, and also shares a summary of the show!


Cement Mixer and Dump Truck!
The BACT musical, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site delivers a play that brings every day machines to life. One of the ways they brought these machines to life was through their costumes. The characters wore super zippy shoes that had wheels on the bottom. They also wore bright yellow construction hats that had decorative, toy machines on them which symbolized who they were. The characters were busy Bulldozer, dynamic Dump Truck, musical Mixer, excellent Excavator and cranky Crane. 

When the show starts, all the machines are hurrying to get the job done because it is at the end of the day. Mixer rushed ahead of Bulldozer, Crane got cranky and they did not work together. They get back on track, but soon realize they need a goodnights rest. So, they start to get ready for bed. My favorite part of the play was story time. They act out the story of Little Red Riding Hood, but, instead of a girl Little Red Riding Hood it was Little Red Tractor, and instead of the Big Bad Wolf it was the Big Bad Monster Truck. There was also Orion, the super hero, who wore a super, shiny, silver cape and saved the day. 

The cast of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site!
At the end of the program, Cement Mixer gets frightened of the dark and Bulldozer comforts her with a song of friendship. One thing that made the show amazing was the way the performers connected with everyone in the audience. At a point in the program, some of the actors and actresses walked around and gave high fives to the kids in the audience. I think that made the kids feel special. It made me feel special. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site teaches you about teamwork and friendship. It is a show you should see with the whole family!


Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, the Musical runs thru July 31 at Children's Fairyland in Oakland before heading to the Children's Creativity Museum Theater in SF in August. Purchase your tickets today!

Photographer: Melissa Nigro

Monday, April 25, 2016

Julietta Blogs: My Interview with Mitali Perkins

BACT Blogger Julietta had the opportunity to interview Mitali Perkins, author of the book Rickshaw Girl, at the show's San Francisco opening! She shares her experience below!

The Rickshaw Girl play was super cool! It is about a girl named Naima. She wants to help her dad get some rest while still making enough money to pay back a loan for buying a new rickshaw, so she tries to drive the rickshaw. Instead, she crashed it. It will be very hard to fix such a beaten up Rickshaw, but if they don't fix it, her dad won't get any business with it.
A rickshaw built by actors with props! 
I liked the book because it inspires girls to help them know that they can do anything. I liked how Naima's passion for art turned out to not be useless, but very important for her family. In the stories beginning, Naima really likes art, but she thinks because she cannot help make money, she is useless for the family. At the end, she realizes that it is a good thing that she was a girl, or else she would have not been given a chance to paint Rickshaws in exchange for the repairs of her dads Rickshaw.

To bring the play to life, they had to make a Rickshaw for the actors to use. At first, the Rickshaw is just a bunch of pieces, but when actors held up the pieces while moving it, you could see the rickshaw, and I thought that was a great idea. There was even live music for the play!

After the play, I got to meet the author of Rickshaw Girl, Mitali Perkins, to interview her. Her favorite part to write in Rickshaw Girl was when Naima's dad says "its a good thing you turned out to be a girl." She liked that part because she had two older sisters and everyone cried because she wasn't a boy and now her parents say that to her. She was inspired to write the book because of the Rickshaws she saw and she also learned how it was hard for girls to make money in Bangladesh. She thought it would be a great idea to show in her book how it is changing now. Besides Rickshaw Girl, Mitali wrote 9 other books! She is also working on a novel and a picture book. Mitali is local to Bay Area in Orinda. Rickshaw Girl is not yet popular in Bangladesh yet. The book is not translated yet, either. Mitali started writing books because she loved reading and she wanted to write books for other people to enjoy just like she enjoyed reading. She set the story in Bangladesh because that was where her parents were born. She likes art a lot. Her favorite tool to draw with is colored pencils. She especially likes to draw alpanas because they are really simple and easy. It was great getting to meet Mitali and it was really great getting to interview her.
Author Mitali Perkins (L) with BACT Blogger Julietta (R)

Rickshaw Girl continues for one more weekend at the Children's Creativity Museum Theater before heading to the Osher Studio in Berkeley. Purchase your tickets today!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Kara Blogs: My Interview with Piggie aka Anna Smith

Actor Anna Smith and BACT Blogger Kara
BACT Blogger Kara had the chance to interview Anna Smith, who plays a Squirelle in Elephant & Piggie's WE ARE IN A PLAY! She is also the understudy for Piggie, and Kara was able to see Ms. Smith perform this title character.


The play Elephant and Piggie's: We Are in a Play! is based on the books written by Mo Willems. The character of Elephant worries frequently and has a lot of emotion, but Piggie is more carefree and is good at calming Elephant down. Elephant and Piggie like to play together with their toys, share ice cream and play with their friends the Squirelles. After I saw the play I interviewed Ms. Anna Smith who plays Piggie and a Squirelle.

Ms. Anna Smith is the understudy of Ally Johnsen and when Ally Johnsen is there Ms. Anna Smith plays a Squirelle. Ms. Anna Smith did her first play when she was ten. When she told me she taught an after school drama program I wanted to learn how to write a play too. Her favorite parts about playing Piggie are spending lots of time with her friend Derek, who plays Gerald, the worrisome elephant and having exciting, exquisite interaction with the audience. She made the audience say “banana,” do the wiggle waggle and clap their hands. Her favorite part about being a Squirrelle is getting more time to rest and watching Ally Johnsen play Piggie. Also, she likes adding character to make her Squirelle to stand out because unlike Piggie you don’t know much about the Squirelles. The hardest part about being an understudy was trying to learn both parts at the same time. Anna Smith is making her fifth debut with BACT. She was also in Pinkalicious, A Year with Frog and Toad, Lyle the Crocodile and The Day the Crayons Quit. She likes all of the parts she has played equally but playing Piggie is exciting for her because the audience likes to see the character in the book come alive. For fun she likes to play electric guitar, ukulele and an instrument that’s like a dulcimer. Anna Smith’s advice for future actors is to have as much fun as you can no matter what part you get.

Anna Smith (center) as a Squirelle, along with Debra Harvey (left) and Aly Casas (right)
My favorite part of the play was when Gerald was going to share his ice cream with Piggie but it melted. Then Piggie shared her ice cream with Gerald. They sing a song about Gerald being the ice cream hero and he is really sad when he realizes the ice cream is melted, but Piggie ends up being the ice cream hero. Another one of my favorite parts is when the audience repeats saying “banana”, doing the wiggle waggle and clapping their hands at the same time. I was in the group that said “banana.” The moral of the story is friends always stick together.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Charlette Blogs: My Interview with Gerald aka DerekTravis Collard

BACT Blogger Charlette recently sat down with DerekTravis Collard who plays Gerald in BACT's production of Elephant & Piggie's WE ARE IN A PLAY!


Charlette and DerekTravis
I interviewed DerekTravis Collard who played Gerald the elephant in the play Elephant and Piggie. Derek started acting when he was a little kid.  When he was 8 or 9 years old he did a national tour which went all over the United states, North America, and Canada. He did that for 2 years. He also did a musical called "Peter Pan." Derek went to a university to study theater. He did lots of different kinds of plays and he traveled all around the world into different countries where he did theater. He also took tap dancing when he was younger. He is the only actor in his family but his dad is an editor for Disney animation and his grandfather was a set designer. What inspired him to act was when his great grandparents took him to see a play called Your a Great Man Charlie Brown. That was his first show he has ever seen. The moment he saw that he wanted to grow up to do that because it made him feel happy. He wanted to bring the audience happiness just as he felt.

Playing Gerald was one of Derek's favorite roles because he enjoyed physical comedy and being silly and to move around alot. But it was a little tiring for him because he never leaves the stage until intermission. His least favorite part is the very end because he gets very sad when it's over. The girl who plays Piggie (Allison) and Derek are good friends and the last song is a very sweet song and he does not want it to end. He loves playing Gerald the elephant. In his rehearsal they had all the copies of the books so he got to reference them for physical gesture for his part. He rehearsed for about 5 weeks. He was doing another show before this show so he went right from that show into this show. Its a little tricky to learn his lines in this show because it's alot of scenes quickly together so it was really hard to learn them. He rehearsed for about 4 to 5 days a week. He had alot of free time to come up with his own physical aspects of the show and the character work.  It was alot of work outside rehearsal to memorize his lines. He had to go home read his script, learn his music, and learn his choreography.  
DerekTravis Collard as Gerald with the three Squirelles.
His costume that he was wearing in the play is not his. He had a wonderful costume designer named Brett.  Brett actually designed the whole idea and put it all together. The only thing that is his in his costume is his boots. He thinks they look very elephanty. He got them from Japan and asked if he could use them for the play. He wears fake glasses for the play that are not his. So he can't see very well when he put them on. He has to be very careful and he relies on his friends to help make sure that he does not get hurt or trip on the stage. 
He worked with Allison before, they did a show called Knuffle Bunny and they played father and daughter.  She played Trixy and he played the dad. He really enjoys working with her.  He also worked with one of the Squirrelles, named Anna who also plays the penguin. She is also Piggie's understudy. On Friday performances they preform for students in school,  so Anna goes on as Piggie, so he gets to do the show 2 different ways every week.  It is a different show with different actors and they are really funny. Some new friends like Debra and Aly, the other two squirrels, this is the first time he has ever met them doing this show, but they are really good friends. It's really fun to do it with them and he likes to hang out with them.
Derek's advise to me and other young actors is to go to school and stay in school,  and go all the way through school. Take classes,  practice alot and even when something is hard keep practicing.  It will take some time and dont be afraid to get frustrated.  When you get frustrated hopefully it lifts you up to push up and succeed. That is very important. He thinks it is important to keep moving. 
I think Derek did a great job playing Gerald the elephant.  I hope I can see Derek again in another play. He was a great person who was really funny and friendly.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The World Premiere of Rickshaw Girl

Emily Alvarado as Naima, painting a traditional alpana.
Photo credit: Joshua Posamentier
Bay Area author Mitali Perkins’ award-winning children’s book, Rickshaw Girl, tells the heartwarming story of Naima, an artistic ten-year-old in an impoverished Bangladeshi village who yearns to help her hard-working father, a rickshaw driver, earn more money for the family. 
Perkins grew up speaking Bangla and hearing her parents’ stories about their life in the part of the world we know today as Bangladesh.  Later, she spent three years in Bangladesh, meeting the people, learning what they hold dear, and observing the impact of changes, like the advent of microcredit, on local customs and culture.
“When I read Mitali’s beautiful book, I knew immediately that I wanted to bring Naima’s daring adventure to the stage for children and their families to see,” said BACT Executive Director Nina Meehan. “Naima’s story opens a window on a different culture for our young audiences, which is so important for their experience, yet it has universal appeal in its depiction of courage, duty and caring.”
BACT commissioned critically acclaimed playwright Aditi Kapil to adapt Perkins’ novel, and the world premiere of Rickshaw Girl was born!  Of Indian and Bulgarian descent, Kapil was raised in Sweden and resides in Minneapolis, MN.  In addition to her work for BACT, she is currently working on commissions with Yale Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Repertory Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Directed by Vidhu Singh, with live music by vocalist Sonali Bhattacharya, percussionist Amit Sharma, and others, Rickshaw Girl whirls with color and song, as it welcomes families into the world of Bangladesh.
Perkins has worked with Singh and Kapil to help them develop the show, contributing to the authenticity of the production by contacting a friend, an educator in Bangladesh, to learn what songs daughters of rickshaw pullers sing these days and what games they play. These songs—everything from a lullaby to a patriotic song—are sung in Bangla. Perkins also brought her mother to rehearsal to teach the actors how to paint alpanas, the traditional designs that figure prominently in the story!
Mitali Perkins’ mother, Madhusree Bose with cast members, after teaching them how to paint alpanas
Describing the rehearsal process, Perkins said, “It’s magical! When I watch these fabulous actors and see the story in the flesh on the stage, I find myself being curious for Naima and wondering what’s going to happen to her, and I have to remind myself that I know what happens to her—I wrote the book!” 
Director Singh of San Francisco has devoted her career to nurturing South Asian theatre and bringing work from around the globe to the stage.  Born and raised in India, she holds a master’s degree in Dramatic Art from the University of California at San­­­­­­ta Barbara and a doctorate in Asian Theatre from the University ­­­of Hawaii at Manoa, specializing in contemporary Indian theater.
“This play is so up my alley,” Singh said.”I’m so grateful it came to me. When I heard about it, I got a copy of the book—it’s one of the best children’s books I’ve ever read.  It is a sweet, empowering story that is important for girls all over the world. The story is a window to another culture but it’s also a mirror—Naima learns that, with a little ingenuity and a lot of courage and grit, she can recover from a terrible mistake and make things right for herself and her family. Kids can see that they have so much in common with her.”
Artists at Rickshaw Girl workshop, l. to r., actors Radhika Rao and Salim Razawi, Director Vidhu Singh, Author Mitali Perkins, Playwright Aditi Kapil
The play, Singh explained, is “an ensemble piece” that blends theatre, dance and Bangla songs.  Five actors play the primary characters as well as secondary roles. The ensemble also functions as a chorus, becoming school children learning the Bangla alphabet, villagers celebrating International Mother Language Day, vendors selling wares, farmers toiling in the rice fields, town dwellers—a vibrant microcosm of life in Bangladesh.  
“This is very important work,” Singh said, explaining that Bangladeshi culture has rarely been reflected in American theatre or even in South Asian theatre.  “What makes the story remarkably powerful is its universality and its ability to inspire children as well as adults across cultures. I’m from India, not from Bangladesh, and I’m very particular about reflecting Bangladeshi culture and creating the world of Bangladesh. As a director of Indian descent, I take that responsibility very seriously.”
Rickshaw Girl is recommended for audiences aged 6 and up.
NOTE: Families can meet Mitali Perkins in person at Rickshaw Girl performances on Saturday, April 16, in San Francisco, and on Sunday, May 22, in Berkeley!
Purchase your tickets at:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Julietta Blogs: Meeting Nick Bruel and the Kitty Creative Team!

BACT Blogger Julietta shares her perspective on a special donor event during which author Nick Bruel and members of the Bad Kitty On Stage creative team spoke about the show's creation.


The Bad Kitty BACT donor event was really cool! Donors who give money to BACT support them because they appreciate the work they put into making a play. BACT gives back by writing plays and musicals for the whole bay area to enjoy! Donating to BACT helps them to create these plays and musicals for school kids who have never seen a play before. Nina Meehan, the executive director, said that at one of their school day matinee performances, almost everyone raised their hand when they asked who had never seen a play before. Even donating a small amount can make a huge difference.

Julietta gets her book signed by Nick Bruel!
At the donor event, they had the Bad Kitty author, Nick Bruel, the Bad Kitty On Stage costume designer, Amy, the director, Benjamin Hanna, and Min Kahng, who is the one who brought bad kitty to stage, talk about how they made Bad Kitty On Stage! The actor playing Bad Kitty even stopped by while on lunch break! Bad Kitty is a book series by Nick. He creates a character by drawing it and using a pen instead of a pencil so he isn't tempted to erase anything. Nick said it was easiest to find what bad kitty looks like because he had a cat named Zuzu who was all black, except for a patch of white on her chest. It took him 9 months to make the first book in the series, and now it takes him 6-7 months because now he knows the characters and what they look like so he only needs to make up a story with these characters.

I had never heard of Bad Kitty before, and now I'm a huge fan and cannot wait to see the play! At the end, I had my book, Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty! signed by Nick Bruel, and I also got a Bad Kitty mask signed! I was so excited to read the book after that, so I read my book all the way home and it is one of my most favorite books now! If BACT hadn't chosen great books like Bad Kitty, I wouldn't had known about Bad Kitty and a lot of the other books BACT turned into such great plays! I like that even the authors appreciate the plays BACT makes from their books! BACT makes the best plays I know and I cannot wait to see Bad Kitty On Stage soon!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Charlette Blogs: Meeting Nick Bruel and the Kitty Creative Team!

Sango Tajima & Nick Bruel signing posters at the show!
When I was invited to see the author Nick Bruel I was so excited. I heard him talk about his books Bad Kitty, and I heard the BACT theater people talk about the play that they made from his books. The author Nick Bruel has 2 cats now, but he had one when he was a child. Bad Kitty looked like his childhood cat named Zou-Zou. The cat was black from the tip of his ears to the the very tip of his tail, but just a big clump of white on his chest.  It took Nick Bruel nine months to finish his first book. He went to college and got a degree in English. Nick Bruel started out with board books for younger children and he really really wanted the kids to continue loving Bad Kitty books even when they're older.  So he started making chapter books of Bad Kitty, so older kids can read Bad Kitty too.
Amy Bobeda was the costume designer for the play. Some white feathers was used for Bad Kitty's chest of its costume. She clipped it onto overalls that Bad Kitty wore in the play. I am so excited to see the costumes that everyone will be wearing. I think maybe it was really hard to sew and put together all the costumes. I think she is very talented. 

Sango Tajima played Bad Kitty in the play. She came in on her lunch break so she couldn't stay there the whole time because she had work still, but I still think it was nice of her to come. Bad Kitty does not talk. She makes cat noises like purr or meow. She had to practice making the cat noises. She also had to look in the book and see how the cat positions looked like. I think it was hard for her to make cat noises to go with the feelings of Bad Kitty.
Min Kahng wrote the play Bad Kitty.  Min Kahng really really wanted for the audience to be excited and wowed during the play. He mentioned that in a comic book, on every page you see a pow or a boom it makes the reader excited. Min wanted that for every scene of the play. He worked with the director named Benjamin Hanna. I think it was hard for him to to direct all the characters. I bet he worked very hard.
The pianist and narrator of the play was Phil Wong. I think it was amazing that he can talk normal and play piano at the same time. He said he had to practice alot! The music was live because when in the play someone stomps or jumps really hard they would make a sound on the piano and match it with the action Bad Kitty was doing. I think he is awesome. 

Our BACT Bloggers: Kara, Julietta & Charlette!
After they were done speaking, Nick Bruel the author of Bad Kitty signed my book, Bad Kitty for President. Now, I am so excited to see this play and see everything come alive on stage.

You can also see this play and see everything come alive on stage! Bad Kitty On Stage runs in Berkeley thru February 21 at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. The show then has a run in San Ramon from February 27-28 at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, and in San Francisco from March 5-26 at the Children's Creativity Museum Theater. Purchase your tickets today!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Benjamin Hanna: Controlling Chaos

By Vivian Auslander
Director Benjamin Hanna
He directed BACT’s world premieres of Ivy + Bean, the Musical, which involved occasional worms, and Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, the Musical, which featured a wandering dog, Bingo. Now, Benjamin Hanna has taken on an entire quirky pet store with Bad Kitty On Stage! Let’s hear from him what that’s like.

You are directing this production. What does a director do?

I play a variety of roles. One of them is to find a way for everyone on the creative team—actors, designers, producers, marketers—to see the core center of the play, to guide everyone’s vision, and to shape that collaborative effort. This play is adapted from a series of books, so I have the opportunity not only to look at the play but also at the source material. I’ve had the gift of working with the author and the playwright to do this. Another role is being a detective—sleuthing moments from the books that help us find the voice of Kitty and the world of her imagination. Since the books are like comic books, I’m watching to see if we’re giving the same effect that turning a page and seeing the word, “Pow!” or “Meow!” would have. If we do, then I know we’re resonating with the spirit of the books.

What do you mean by “the core center of the play?”

It’s as if you had a wonderful chocolate with something special in the middle that you can’t see but want to know what it’s like—how it tastes, smells, feels. Our job is to find that out.  It’s like making the map in a chocolate box so everyone can see what is in the middle of each character’s story.

So you are guiding both context and style?

Yes, we need to create the wacky, upside down world of Kitty, and we have to have that feeling of turning a page and discovering a new adventure. The play explores what being “bad” is like. Kitty isn’t being bad—she’s doing what kitties do naturally. And that’s what kids do—sometimes they get in trouble for exploring, and that can shut down imagination, understanding and connection. So we’re using Kitty’s world to look at exploring—and being different. Like a comic book, the play will be an explosion of “different” – all the animals will be exaggerated and unique.

What drew you to this work?

The opportunity to work with Min Kahng, the playwright. I’ve wanted to work with him ever since I saw his musical adaptation of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon—I loved that show. Also, when I read the books, I was intrigued by what a challenge they would present—and what great fun! When you step into our rehearsal room, it’s full of laughter, joy and celebration. I don’t feel like I’m working—I’m exploring with a group of highly gifted artists, who are smart, funny, and open. I’m honored to have been trusted with Min’s beautiful adaption and Nick’s amazing source material. And my team of artists has been delightful. They all understand working for children, and, in this short time, they have created their own Bad Kitty family.  

"It's like a roller coaster."
What has been the greatest challenge?

I thought that Puppy and Kitty not having words would be the challenge, but Min has done a phenomenal job of adapting the books so that “Meow” and “Woof” have hundreds of meanings. And Sango, who plays Kitty, is a genius. When Kitty meows, I know exactly what she is saying, because Sango knows every beat. The challenge has been controlling chaos. There is so much is going on, so fast, that I have to decide whether the train is going 100 mph, 96 mph, or 80 mph! I need to control the explosiveness so the audience can follow Kitty’s journey of learning. It’s like a roller coaster. You need moments when you dip down and have some calm to absorb what Kitty has learned and anticipate the next big event. The other challenge has been thinking through every aspect of Kitty’s life. A friend of mine overheard a 10-minute phone conversation I had with our dramaturg, Julie McCormick, about what kind of cat scratcher Kitty would want in her imagination, what would make it special to her.  My friend was surprised that we have dramaturgy in children’s theatre. But this is not just a play about cats. It’s about us—you and me—and how we get along. 

Are you looking forward to anything in particular on opening day?

Having an audience! The humor is very sophisticated. It will be fun to see which jokes appeal to the grown-ups in the audience and what will entertain children of different ages. One of the reasons I love working with BACT is that the company embraces the challenge of having everyone in the theatre enjoy the production and walk away with something to discuss.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Advanced Performers wins JTF Award for Excellence in Dance!

At the Junior Theatre Festival, our Advanced Performers won an award for their Excellence in Dance! Not bad for their inaugural year! Congrats to the entire Advanced Performers cast and team!

Be sure to catch the Advanced Performers production of HONK! Jr. when they return. You can purchase tickets here.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Becca Blogs: Honk with Heart

Our Advanced Performers made us so proud today as they were the first group to represent Bay Area Children's Theatre at the Junior Theatre Festival.

Our day started VERY early with a bit of a backlog on the elevators (ask your student about it when they get home - way too many people for 3 hotel elevators) and then kick off in the giant theatre and right into our warm up room.  From there our students were exemplary performance and again showed tremendous patience as they waited to perform their set.

This was the moment they had been waiting for, and they put their whole hearts into the performance.  Their set was terrific, full of energy, life, and incredible teamwork.  The adjudicators complimented the actors on their use of the ensemble, character, and their strong voices.  They also had helpful feedback on how to take the physicalization of animal characters to the next level, finding motivation and objective (acting terms), and playing with levels of volume and counterpoint.

After a debrief and snack, we were able to watch several other groups perform and hear their feedback from the adjudicators.  After lunch we went on to a workshop about artistry and how to be a supportive audience, then on to an acting workshop, and finished up with a high-energy, funky dance workshop.

From there it was straight to dinner, and now we're heading to the New Works Showcase, where we'll see assorted songs from some of the new shows that are being released, including Madagascar Jr, which BACT piloted for iTheatrics/MTI.

Speaking of pilots, our dear Graylag Goose (airline pilot in "Wild Goose Chase") was ill overnight and barely slept, but he was determined to go on, and even received special recognition for his performance from the adjudicators.  (They didn't know he was performing on 3 hours of sleep!)

Sorry for the lack of photos, I was quite distracted by the logistics of the day and didn't have a chance to get many shots.  Once we're home I'll find a way to pull clips of the set performance off the camera and send it out to families.  We have an excited and happy (and a bit exhausted) group of musical theatre lovers amongst 5,800 other musical theatre lovers, which made for a very special day.


Our Advanced Performers will be performing HONK! Jr when they return! You can purchase tickets for their performance here!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Becca Blogs: Travel Day - We Made It!!!

Whew! It's been a LONG day of travel for our 31 advanced performers and chaperones and staff.  We arrived at the airport at 7 AM only to find out our flight was delayed by 3 hours.  The kids were amazingly patient and passed the time creatively.  We had lots of passengers ask us where we were going and giving positive feedback on such a well behaved group.  In fact, the woman at the pretzel stand was so impressed by our students' exemplary behavior that she gave one chaperone two free pretzels!

Making a number line for rehearsal tomorrow
Talking a walk through the terminal and riding the people mover
Hanging out with friends

Stretching with Ms. Khalia
The plane finally boarded and we were off!

Jazz Hands on a plane

There was a bit of turbulence, but once we found the "right" altitude we had a smooth ride to Atlanta where we easily navigated the airport to our bus.  We had asked the students not to sing in public in the airport and plane, and once we loaded up the bus they BURST into song!

Jazz hands on a bus
Once we arrived at the hotel we found our rooms and ate pizza and collapsed into bed.  Tomorrow we'll take a walk through the JTF spaces, meet our friends from Korea, rehearse, and have a pool party.   The staff and I are incredibly proud of this amazing group and the support and respect they show to each other and the world around them.  Thank you for sharing them with us this weekend!

Rebecca Posamentier, BACT's Education Director, will be sharing thoughts and experiences from the Advanced Performers' trip to the Junior Theatre Festival this weekend in Atlanta.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Advanced Performers are going to Atlanta!

Our inaugural Advanced Performers troupe is headed to Atlanta for the Junior Theatre Festival this weekend!

Wishing the entire team safe travels, fun times, and lots of break-a-legs!
Read more about this stellar group of actors: 

Come see HONK! Jr. presented by the Advanced Performers in February: