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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Gratitude Committee, We Are Grateful For YOU!

As you may know, we added a new committee around the middle of our 57th season. The Waukesha Civic Theatre Gratitude Committee is determined to make sure our many volunteers, patrons, donors, and staff know just how much we here at WCT appreciate all the hard work that too often goes un-lauded, though never unnoticed. Char Paulbicke and Debi Mumford are co-chairing this committee. IF this sounds like something you’d like to be involved in, please contact Katie Danner at kdanner@waukeshacivictheatre.org for more information.

One of the things the committee does to celebrate our outstanding volunteers is the Civic Super Star Award. If you want to nominate someone as a Civic Super Star, please fill out a card and deposit it in one of the Super Star Suggestion boxes located in the lobby, green room, and upstairs rehearsal hall. Here are all the Civic Super Stars announced so far:

Becky Miller: Becky is one of our Bartenders.  She had the most successful bar in WCT’s history during, “I Got Yule, Babe!”  She did an amazing job keeping up with the thirsty patrons and helped make the night a smashing success!  Thank you, Becky!

Sean Downs: Sean is one of our Bartenders, Box Office/House Managers, and all around great guy!  Thanks to Sean we have booster seats for our family friendly venues, and a time clock in the concessions area to make sure our shows run as efficiently as possible.  He has contributed so much to WCT.  Thank you, Sean!

Barbara Johnson and Sandy Zingler:  Barbara and Sandy have organized the Learning in Retirement, (LIR) theatre/dinner gatherings.  They have organized groups to attend WCT productions followed by dinners at restaurants, their homes, and at church often including informative programs.  They encourage and welcome new people to enjoy the theatre.  On top of all of that wonderful work, Barbara and Sandy have also ushered for WCT for several years and are often called last minute to lend a helping hand.  Thank you, Barbara and Sandy!  You two are amazing!

Emmie Wendorf:  Emmie is a senior at Waukesha North High School and one of our fantastic ushers.  During one of our Comedy Tonight performances Emmie stepped up to the plate and helped sell raffle tickets for The Great Gatsby Speakeasy.  She stepped outside her comfort zone, offered information, raffle tickets, and a beautifully contagious smile.  You are a star, Emmie!

Lee Piekarski: Lee is definitely one of the Civic’s brightest Super Stars!  When she isn’t helping out at her church or performing with The Civic Senior Players, she is sewing costumes, washing costumes, arranging the costume room, repairing costumes . . .

Thank you for all the hard work that you do, Lee!

Margaret Kennedy: Margaret ushers, is one of our bartenders, house manages, covers the box office, and is one of the first to step up and help out.  Weather she is covering shifts for others, grabbing lunch for co-workers, or maintaining her positive attitude during stressful times, Margaret is a silent source of strength and support!  She was also our first DOUBLE nominee! You are amazing, Margaret!

Emilie Grunfelder:  Emilie stepped up to cover for Katie Danner in the box office over the summer while Katie is taking care of the new Danner, Talia.  Emilie is willing and able to take on any task assigned.  She is a bright light in the office!  Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Emilie!

Another thing this committee does, to recognize our volunteers who have been with us the longest, is the Lifetime Achievement Award. Dexter Meise has been a volunteer at The Civic for over 50 years!  He has ushered, done set work, and has been a priceless asset to WCT.  He was presented his award on Friday, March 15th.  Congratulations, Dexter!

The Gratitude Committee also makes sure that important milestones like birthdays, anniversaries, and births aren’t overlooked. They do this in the monthly newsletter, available in our lobby and here on this blog. That’s also where our award winners are announced. Be sure to check it out the next time you’re at the theatre! Here’s an example of an announcement:

Katie Danner, our Box Office Supervisor, has a beautiful new addition to her family.  Talia Amani!  She joins her father, Jon, and her brother Byron in the Danner clan!  Katie would like to extend a special thank you to John Cramer for covering for her during her Maternity leave. A very special thank you also goes out to Mary Dembinski & Anthony Ventress for taking over management of Friday Night Live and  Farmers’ Markets.  Congratulations Danner Clan!

Picnic 6

Elle & Chris, just goofin’ around

Picnic 2

Some of the Gratitude Committee members, enjoying a beautiful day!

Picnic 3

Volunteers, soaking up the love!

 

Finally, the committee puts on events for our WCT Family. The most recent event was the Dog End Days Of Summer Volunteer Appreciation Picnic, this past Sunday, August 24th. We owe this committee a deep debt of gratitude! Special thanks to Jenny Erato, for sharing these photos with us on Facebook!