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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WCT Partners With Waukesha Reads

Since its inception 60 years ago, the Waukesha Civic Theatre has sought ways to enrich, challenge, and entertain the Waukesha community. We have done this through our theatrical productions, education and outreach programs, and community partnerships. We have a vibrant production schedule, including 7 Mainstage productions each season and, this season, 29 Random Acts Of Entertainment! We have had an educational component to our programming from the beginning, offering summer camps, one-day workshops, after school classes, and outreach at several area schools. We have gone through many changes over the past six decades. We started out as a small group of thespians with a passion and a mission. 17 years ago, we moved into the old PIX theatre in the heart of downtown Waukesha. Look for our new marquees next time you drive down Main Street! This season, we are thrilled to partner with Waukesha Reads to promote community engagement with the NEA Big Read book, To Kill A Mockingbird.

We are also presenting To Kill A Mockingbird as our second Mainstage show in our 60th season. This American classic is directed by Rhonda Marie Schmidt and runs October 28-November 13, 2016. In addition to our 11 regular performances, we are offering 3 weekday matinees for school groups. We will offer talkbacks after the Sunday matinee performances and after each of the weekday matinees for schools. The talkbacks will feature cast members and community scholars, coordinated by Waukesha Reads. There are still seats available for school groups – call our box office for more information!

Here’s the schedule of performances:

Friday, October 28th at 7:30 pm

Saturday, October 29th at 7:30 pm (Pay What You Can)

Sunday, October 30th at 2:00 pm

Thursday, November 3rd at 9:30 am

Friday, November 4th at 7:30 pm

Saturday, November 5th at 3:30 pm

Saturday, November 5th at 7:30 pm

Sunday, November 6th at 2:00 pm

Wednesday, November 9th at 9:30 am

Thursday, November 10th at 8:30 am (SOLD OUT!)

Friday, November 11th at 7:30 pm

Saturday, November 12th at 2:00 pm (Pay What You Can)

Saturday, November 12th at 7:30 pm

Sunday, November 13th at 2:00 pm

We have several ways for you to save on live, quality entertainment here at Waukesha’s cultural cornerstone!

Join us as a subscriber to save 19-26%! You’ll also get a Subscriber Benefits Card, which you can use to get discounts or deals at 16 downtown Waukesha restaurants!

If you are going to buy 4 or more tickets to a Mainstage show, get a Fabulous Flex Pass. This includes 4 tickets, which you can use in any combination to a Mainstage show, and then any other ticket you buy for the rest of the season is at the subscriber rate of $21 per ticket.

If you are a student at any level, you can take advantage of our Student Rush rate. Student Rush tickets are available at the box office on the day of the performance and are a 50% savings!

We also have two Pay What You Can (PWYC) performances for each Mainstage production. On these dates, (which are always the first Saturday evening and third Saturday matinee of a production run) if you buy your tickets at the box office that day, you can name your own price! There’s no better deal in theatre!

We consider a group to be 10 or more patrons attending the same performance. If the group is school-related, Girl Scouts, or Boy Scouts, they qualify for our Educational Group Rate – a 63% savings!

Our ticket price structure for Mainstage shows is:

$27 Adult

$24 Student/Senior (60+)/Military

$21 Subscriber/Group (10+)

$13.50 Student Rush

$10 Educational Group (10+)

If you like what you see, bring your ticket stub back to see the show again at half price! Use it yourself, or pass it along to a friend who hasn’t seen the show. This is our Terrific Tickets deal and it’s a great way for friends and family to take advantage of the quality live theatre we have right here in the heart of downtown Waukesha.

Tickets are available at the box office Tuesday-Friday, from noon to 5 pm or 24/7 online! Call our box office at 262.547.0708 or visit us at www.waukeshacivictheatre.org for more information. We hope to see you soon at Waukesha’s cultural cornerstone – a hidden gem in the heart of downtown!

Lights! Camera! Action! & The ACAP PlayMakers

Well, we are right in the middle of our latest outreach offering – Lights! Camera! Action! with the ACAP PlayMakers. Only this time, there is a twist. The PlayMakers are playing the role of video editor/director. We’ve never offered something like this before, and so far the results have been outstanding!

Let me back up for a minute and give you a quick history here. Last year, Matt Huebsch and I taught Lights! Camera! Action! (LCA) for the ACAP PlayMakers. LCA is an on-camera acting class that has been a part of the A.C.T. program for years. The ACAP PlayMakers are a community partner that has performed at Civic for years. I guess it was only a matter of time before these two met!

The PlayMakers are an inclusive group of performers that feature performers with and without disabilities. It gives a voice to performers who might not otherwise get the opportunity. But even while being so inclusive, there were still some members who were not able to participate in a stage production. That’s where LCA came in. As you well know, acting on camera and acting on stage are two very different skill sets, and some of ACAP’s members were more suited to have their voice heard on camera instead of the stage.

Matt and I worked with the group for six weeks, writing and filming a series of scenes that showcased some of the hidden talents of the group. It was a fun and unique way to show what a great sense of humor these guys have. They love to perform, and it showed in every frame of the video.

This year, we decided to take it one step further and shift the focus.   Instead of focusing on the acting, we put the PlayMakers in charge of the directing and editing. A beginner’s course for how to put a movie together. Matt and I filmed ourselves in a short scene together, filming multiple takes and multiple “moods” of each scene. We created a very loose template for the video, with a lot of options for our editors to choose from. Starting Week 1, we worked with the group to give them an understanding of the tools and concepts of video editing, sound and visual effects. As the weeks have gone on, members of the group have become more proficient in piecing their videos together.

Think of it as a choose-your-own-ending kind of book, except in video form. The PlayMakers work with the footage we provided and piece together scenes that are coherent and follow a logical path (Ok, full disclosure here – sometimes the videos are extraordinarily silly and don’t make much sense, but that’s part of the fun of learning how to do all this!).

To give you an example of how things have been going, there is a scene in which I appear at the door of a home. We filmed me doing several versions of this, and even filmed a dog in place of me. Lorraine, a longtime PlayMaker who has enjoyed poking gentle fun at me for years, wanted to find a way, through the magic of editing, to turn me into the dog. Did I say “wanted to”? I meant “insisted.” We worked together for an entire class, figuring out how we could make this happen. And by the end, sure enough, I was a dog! Thanks, Lorraine.

If this class were to just stand alone, it would be an enjoyable six weeks where we all got to learn something. However, the hope is that this can be a starting point for video to play a more prominent role in how the ACAP PlayMakers continue to help their members find their own voices, their own stories to tell. This is in no way going to replace the excellent stage work they do, it is going to add to it. Classes like this lay the groundwork for an idea that big. It all starts somewhere. And in our case, it started with my friend Lorraine turning me into a dog.

Jarecki Doug 2008 CroppedDoug Jarecki

Education & Outreach Administrator