Tag Archives: theater

4

Derby Dinner Does It Right

1By JD Dotson | Photos by Christian Watson & JD Dotson

Open for nearly 45 years, Derby Dinner

Playhouse remains the only dinner theater of its

type in the Louisville/Southern Indiana region.

The theater in the round setup immerses the

audience in the action. There is not a bad seat in

the house, with actors entering and exiting the

centrally-located stage through the audience.

The shows range from huge Broadway mega-hits

to children’s programming, holiday favorites and

lighthearted comedies and musical acts.

I recently had the great pleasure of seeing

“Mamma Mia!” this season, a musical set to the

infectious music of Abba and was completely

amazed at what a brilliant production I witnessed.

The music and dancing had me singing along and

tapping my feet the whole time. Some of those

Abba songs are still stuck in my head.

I brought my hubby along, and we started out

with dinner, which is served buffet style with a

salad bar. I felt it was my duty to try everything for

the sake of being thorough. My spinach salad was

fresh and delicious, and the salad bar was loaded

with toppings as well as broccoli and tomato/

cucumber salads. I have a strict rule to not fill up

on salad when a buffet is involved but made an

exception for the sake of journalism. The buffet

was equally delightful on my second trip. Fried

chicken, pasta, carved turkey, broccoli and rice,

and a baked potato, and being a serious member

of the clean-plate club, I filled up. Luckily, we held

off on dessert until intermission.

The pre-show entertainment, or FootNotes,

consists of a group of men and women serenading

the audience during their meal with classic

Broadway show tunes and dancing. Then: There’s

my server! He was just here at our table taking a

drink order and – all of a sudden – he was singing

and dancing on the stage.

Derby Dinner Playhouse 525 Marriott Drive Clarksville 812.288.8281 derbydinner.com

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville
812.288.8281
derbydinner.com

The FootNotes are made up of talented

performers doing double duty entertaining and

simultaneously serving. Our server did such a

great job at both. In between songs, the FootNotes

introduce new dessert items on the menu and the

cocktail of the day. The preshow ends with plenty

of time for a run to the buffet one last time before

the main event.

The first act began, and the audience was

immediately thrown on the docks of Greek Isle,

or a prairie, or a battlefield, depending on the

production. You feel as if you’re in the middle of

the action. Oh, and there’s my server again! He

was just here a few minutes ago getting my drink

order. He was everywhere – a super talented singerdancer

and still right there if we needed anything.

Intermission came and so did pecan pie ala

mode and hummingbird cake. I am a fan of dessert

in general, and this dessert did not disappoint.

Fresh and delicious, my sweet tooth was satiated

just in time for Act 2.

I have driven cross country and through the

state of Oklahoma. Thanks to Derby Dinner

Playhouse, the musical (“Oklahoma”) is so much

more entertaining than the state.

Thanks to this local – albeit nationally-heralded

theater – I have watched it snow inside for the

stage version of my favorite holiday classic “White

Christmas,” relived my young adulthood singalongs

to Abba and been transported to a Greek Isle with

“Mamma Mia!” and went back to my childhood

with the “Sound of Music.”

Derby Dinner Playhouse continues to bring the

best performances to our community and beyond.

The acting, singing, dinner and dessert all combine

for a perfect evening.3


Derby Dinner Playhouse continues to bring the best

performances to our community – and beyond.


4

oklahoma-photo-2018

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “OKLAHOMA!”

oklahoma-photo-2018Derby Dinner Playhouse will present Rodgers & Hammerstein’s timeless musical OKLAHOMA!, opening April 11 and running through May 27, 2018.  For ticket information please call 812-288-8281 or visit

 

OKLAHOMA! is set in the Western Indian Territory in 1907 and tells the romantic tale of farm girl Laurey and her courtship by two rival suitors, cowboy Curly and the sinister and frightening farmhand Jud Fry.  This Broadway musical favorite brings the west alive with jubilant dance numbers, enchanting songs, and features some of the most memorable music ever written.  Musical highlights include “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin”, “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top”, “People Will Say We’re In Love”, “Kansas City”, and more!

 

OKLAHOMA! is based on the play “Green Grow the Lilacs” by Lynn Riggs. It was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration and remains their most innovative, having set the standards and established the rules of musical theatre still being followed today.  OKLAHOMA! debuted on Broadway in 1943 and the popular film version debuted in 1955, starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae.

 

OKLAHOMA! is under the direction of Lee Buckholz with choreography by Heather Paige Folsom and Musical Direction by Scott Bradley.  The cast will include DDP newcomers Kaitlyn Sage as Laurey and Ryan Skerchak as Curly.  Other cast members are Matthew Brennan, Cami Glauser Bibelhauser, Mandi Elkins Hutchins, Bobby Conte, and more!

screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-4-22-05-pm

Not Throwing Away My Shot

My experience auditioning for Derby Dinner Playhouse

BY REMY SISK | PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN WATSONscreen-shot-2018-01-31-at-4-22-05-pm

AS A MUSICAL THEATRE ACTOR in Kentuckiana, I have often wondered what it would be like to be on the stage of Derby Dinner Playhouse, the region’s preeminent dinner theatre.

The quality of Derby productions is always top-notch, from their technical production value to their supremely talented casts.

I’d thought about auditioning at Derby’s periodic open calls on multiple occasions, but for whatever reason – I thought I wasn’t good enough, I thought there wasn’t a role for me, etc. – I had backed out each time. However, at their recent January call, one of the auditionees was a semi-awkward 26-year-old tenor whose palms were sweaty and water bottle was almost empty upon arrival…in other words, it was me.

I have a problem that many musical theatre performers can likely relate to: I am not great at auditioning.

I can sing my song well, do my monologue proficiently and look natural the whole time while at home, with a coach or in the car, but the second you put me in front of a table of individuals judging my ability, I overthink the song, fumble the monologue and look uncomfortable doing both.

But this audition wasn’t for a smaller local company; it was for Derby Dinner Playhouse, a professional theatre where, if I were to be cast, I would be able to call myself a paid, working actor. With that knowledge, I resolved to make this audition my best in years.

Derby’s criteria for an audition is a one-minute monologue as well as 16 bars of music or one full song – both fairly standard.

My monologue choice was easy. I have one that I’ve used on a few different occasions, and I knew it was the one I wanted to perform. It’s from the groundbreaking play “The Laramie Project” and is spoken by a college student who recounts getting into an argument with his parents when he tells them he’ll be auditioning for “Angels in America.” The monologue fits me, as it’s meant for a younger actor, is a little awkward and goofy and also deals with some deep subject matter. I re-read it a couple times, made some new choices and it was ready to go. The song, on the other hand, was a much trickier selection.

Any musical theatre actor has their “book” or catalog of songs they’ve collected over the years that fit their voice well, show it off or are just particularly right for them.

I started looking through my book and couldn’t make a choice. “I’m Alive” from “Next to Normal” is usually my go-to, but I felt it wasn’t the fit for this audition. “Moving too Fast” from “The Last Five Years” was another option, but it also seemed wrong. “This World Will Remember Me” from “Bonnie & Clyde” almost became my selection, but Derby actually did that show not too long ago and I wanted to avoid comparisons. After further deliberation, I settled on “Corner of the Sky” from “Pippin.” My only hesitation was that it can often be seen as an “overdone” audition song, but I knew it fit my voice and was an appropriate choice for the venue. Right or wrong, the decision was made.

I worked with a friend of mine who is also a vocal coach a few days before the big day, and we selected the portion of the song I’d be performing at the audition. Derby asks for 16 bars or one full song, and we both thought it safest to go with 16 bars to save myself from the possible embarrassment of being cut off mid-song. We tweaked a few things here and there, and the cut – the last minute or so of the revival version of “Corner in the Sky” – was as ready as it would ever be.

I started audition day at Please & Thank You (a coffee shop in Louisville) reading over my monologue and trying to keep my nerves from getting the best of me.

I swung by FedEx to pick up my resume and headshot before heading home to make possibly the hardest choice of the day: my audition outfit. I looked through button-downs, t-shirts, dress pants, jeans and, at long last, settled on an open-collar henley (Google it) and dark, skinny jeans. My “type” in musical theatre is usually on the edgier or rock side of things, so I wanted to give that off while also not looking like an actual rocker (my torn-up black jeans did almost make the cut, however).

Driving to Derby, I sang “Corner of the Sky” once, but knew I was just going to psych myself out if I beat it to death. So, as I crossed the Second Street Bridge in 30-degree weather, I threw the windows down and blasted David Lee Roth’s “Just Like Paradise,” singing it all at the top of my lungs. Maybe not the most conventional audition prep, but it weirdly put me at ease.

I pulled up to the theater and walked into a room of about 30 other people, some of whom I knew. Many had traveled from hours away for the audition, and the ages spanned from teenagers to older adults. We were eventually ushered to Derby Dinner’s rehearsal hall, where Associate Producer Lee Buckholz and Director of Children’s Theatre/Performing Arts Academy Tina Jo Wallac were waiting for us.

Everything from there on was executed in the most professional manner with all instructions and information relayed in a manner that was both clear and kind. With an affable smile, Buckholz let us know that we would be coming in 10 at a time to sing 16 bars (if auditionees had prepared a full song, they now needed to select their best 16 bars) and then possibly perform their monologue if he and Wallace wanted to see more. The first group of 10 went in and, with almost no service on my phone, I was left with only my thoughts for 20 minutes or so.

I could’ve looked over my monologue or my song but decided to just trust that I had prepared all I could. I would go in and give it my best shot, knowing all the while that there’s nothing I could have done differently in advance. And even if I was going to mess up and botch the audition completely, the experience of auditioning for a professional theatre and putting myself out there would be gratifying enough.

They called the next 10, and in we went. We all took a seat and handed in our resumes. With that same genuine affability, Buckholz called us up one by one to show the accompanist our music cut and then do what we came here to do. I was called maybe seventh or eighth, so I had plenty of time to watch as several extremely talented individuals performed their songs and, in some cases, their monologues.

When he called my name, I handed my music to the pianist and took my spot on the X in front of Buckholz and Wallace. The room was massive with mirrored walls and high ceilings, and there I was alone in the middle of it with two people watching from 15 feet away. My only hope in that moment was that I wouldn’t mess my song up enough to not get to do my monologue. Admittedly, as someone who’s been in theatre for years, I understand that not being asked for the monologue doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want you – it just means they’ve seen “enough.” Nonetheless, I was confident about my monologue and very much wanted to be able to perform it.

The pianist gave me my starting note and off we went. Bizarrely, I actually felt comfortable singing the song. It went well, and – as far as I could tell – my high note at the end was on pitch. I finished, and by the grace of God heard the words, “Do you have a monologue?” I sure did and launched right into it. I thought I did it justice, and I even got some laughs from the other auditionees in the room. I finished that as well, sat back down and suddenly noticed my heart was racing. The adrenaline was surging strong, and I was thankful there were only a couple more to go in our group. While the next person was going over their music with the accompanist, a woman next to me leaned over and whispered, “That was fantastic!” It probably meant nothing to her, but her compliment made me feel so tremendously relaxed as I waited for us to be released.

Buckholz told us that as the choreographer was ill, there would be no movement call, so we were free to go. I walked outside across the snow-covered lawn to my car. Ordinarily, leaving an audition, I feel down on myself, frustrated with myself and annoyed with myself for my inability to do better. But, I left feeling positive, knowing that possibly for the first time in my life, my audition went as well as it could’ve gone. Now, that doesn’t mean I gave a Broadway-worthy audition, but I performed at a level I was proud of. I gave it my best shot in a supportive environment after preparing as much as I could without overdoing it, and whether or not I get called in for a show, that feeling made the whole experience more than worth it.

Interested in auditioning? 

Derby Dinner’s next open call is 1 p.m. Aug. 24 and no appointment is necessary. Just show up at the theater at 525 Marriott Drive in Clarksville and have a one-minute monologue memorized and 16 bars of music or one full song prepared (bring sheet music for the accompanist!). Be sure to bring a resume and headshot and be prepared for a dance combination to be taught. As Derby Dinner is a professional theatre, previous theatrical experience is required, and you must have availability to rehearse in the day and perform at night. 

For more information visit derbydinner.com or contact Annie Myers at amyers@derbydinner. com or 812.288.2632 ext. 114.