Blog Archives

Star For A Day: It’s About The Process

What is Star For A Day (SFAD) and why do we do it? Great question! SFAD is challenging, energizing, scary, exciting, fun, funny, creative, silly, serious, educational, enlightening, exhilarating. I could sit here for another hour and not run out of words to describe SFAD. And if you asked me to sum up why I do it, I could answer with any of those words.

I have taught musical theatre camps for many years – camps that ran anywhere from one week to four weeks. And they’re amazing. Sometimes it’s working on individual pieces to perform in a showcase at the end. Sometimes it’s putting together a full-blown Broadway musical in a short period of time. No matter what the final product is, my favorite part is always the process. I love challenging students to try something they’ve never done, to think outside the box, to create and feel safe doing it, to explore and experiment and discover.

The first time I was asked to teach SFAD, I was a little bit terrified. Keep in mind that musical theatre includes singing, dancing and acting. How on earth were we going to pull off learning two songs in a class that lasted less than a couple hours? Then, send those students to other classes, including improv and dance, before coming together to combine everything we learned – sometimes hours earlier in the day. I quickly discovered some tricks to help me the next time. But more importantly, I discovered the thrill of fully immersing yourself into an 8-hour day and creating something magical.

Some skills I’ve watched students learn and/or use throughout the day:

  • Focus
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail

Some things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Memorizing quickly with little time for repetition is hard. But kids are creative and they’ll figure out tricks to make it work.
  • Dance steps don’t have to be super hard to be tight and polished and effective.
  • Watching students problem-solve when something doesn’t work out is amazing.
  • Costumes can be simple or complex as long as we bring our imagination along.
  • Flexibility is key, especially when doing two group numbers. Sometimes you realize by the third group that another plan would have worked better. You know what? The kids can and will adapt like rock stars.
  • Working with others on a common goal is simply life-giving.

All of this makes me look forward to the next time I get to teach SFAD. All year round, I keep a running list of possible songs in my file cabinet. I look for pieces with repetition, pieces that can be split between groups, pieces that don’t require a gender or an age to be successful, pieces that allow for simple costuming from their closets, pieces that will push them, pieces that will guarantee success, pieces that will be worth learning – even if only for a day.

One last benefit to SFAD that needs to be mentioned: Working together so intensely helps create relationships. It breaks down barriers that we might have chosen to build. It forces us to see gifts in others we might not have taken the time to see. It builds friendships and trust and camaraderie and joy.

So why SFAD? Because it’s challenging, energizing, scary, exciting, fun, funny, creative, silly, serious, educational, enlightening and exhilarating.


Anne Van Deusen

Musical Madness Instructor

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Director’s Note & MAD Corner: Gypsy

Sixty Sparkling Years. Wow! Since its very modest beginnings in 1957, WCT has produced more than 400 shows and continues its long-standing tradition as Waukesha’s first choice for quality live entertainment … truly a “Hidden Gem!” According to the American Association of Community Theatres there are over 7,000 community theatres in the nation, and only 100 of them are on record of having survived for 60 years or more, so WCT is in a very elite group of theatres. In this extraordinary year, we offer you a multi-faceted line-up to celebrate the last 60 years of quality live entertainment at WCT.

I can’t believe I am starting my fourteenth season with the Waukesha Civic Theatre. My how time flies when you’re having fun! It has been a pleasure and an honor to work in this beautiful facility for this incredible organization and with this amazing community, and I look forward to many more seasons of high quality live entertainment.

I am thrilled that WCT is kicking off this Mainstage season by presenting Gypsy. This is one of my all-time favorite musicals. The Styne/Sondheim score is truly amazing. The characters are all full of life, love, humor, and pain … and they are based on real people! I am very excited to bring it to the WCT stage. We have a live, six piece orchestra conducted by Jim Van Deusen; Mark E. Schuster is our scenic designer and associate director; Anne Van Deusen is our music director; Sharon Sohner is our lead costume designer, and of course the incomparable Kelli Cramer taking her turn as Rose. What an incredible gathering of talent!

The 1959 Broadway musical is loosely based on the lives of Rose Hovick and her daughters Louise and June, who both reached stardom later in life. Louise became Gypsy Rose Lee and June became June Havoc. The original stage production starred Ethel Merman as Rose.

Speculated by many (including NY Times critic Ben Brantley) to be the greatest of all American musicals, Gypsy tells the story of the dreams and efforts of one hungry, powerhouse of a woman to get her two daughters into show business. Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoir of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, entitled Gypsy: A Memoir. The memoir and the musical focus on the story of Gypsy Rose Lee’s mother, Rose, and earned Rose a place in the theatrical and literary canon as the quintessential, archetypal “Stage Mother.” The musical features songs that have become standards of the musical theatre canon, including “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together Wherever We Go,” “Rose’s Turn,” and the show-stopping, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Gypsy is famous for helping launch lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s career, and features a book by Arthur Laurents that is widely considered to be one of the classic examples of a traditional “book musical.” At the heart of the musical is the gregarious Rose, whose journey made critic Frank Rich call Gypsy “Broadway’s own brassy, unlikely answer to King Lear.” Next week, we’ll post a fun “Hovick Family Timeline” and a few photos of Rose, Louise, and June for your enjoyment.

In addition to our incredible 60th season Mainstage shows, we have more than 80 entertainment options throughout the year, including our Random Acts Of Entertainment, our Education And Outreach productions, our new PIX Flix Movie Series, and more. We offer great benefits to our subscribers (up to 39% off!), including our partnership with 16 downtown Waukesha restaurants offering great discounts to all WCT subscribers. You could literally save as much as you spend if you join us as a subscriber. We also have a year-round theatre arts education program with offerings for students of all ages, including adults.

We are close to wrapping up our Spotlight On The Future major gift campaign with a goal to raise $750,000, providing capital for upgrades that will enhance the theatre experience, increase advertising revenue, decrease operating expenses, and provide for building maintenance. So far we have raised 49% of our goal and have already put these donations to good use. A new HVAC unit, our new lighting catwalk, our new retractable movie screen and projector, a new sound board for the Mainstage, and new sound and lighting equipment for the Studio Theatre and Rehearsal Hall. We still need your help. If you haven’t given to the Spotlight On The Future campaign yet, please consider a gift! If you already have given, thank you, and please consider an additional gift to help us reach our goal.

The generosity of the Waukesha community astounds me, and I truly appreciate all the time, talent, and treasure that you give to WCT. Keep watching, keep participating with, and keep supporting this cultural cornerstone!

Cramer John 2006John Cramer

Director / Choreographer

Managing Artistic Director