Hi Acting Manitou Family!
I’m writing to you all in a spare moment between work notes and dry tech of my second show this week to tell you about a Manitou Fam production that just closed last night. For the last few weeks, I’ve had the joy of lighting designing 25thAnnual Putnam County Spelling Bee, music directed (for the second time this year) by Griffin Strout!
At elective presentations second session, Chris invited us all to think about moments we noticed from one another’s pieces. Those moments, he said, can inspire works of their own. Theater is a million tiny acts of theft. I’d like to share some moments I noticed during Spelling Bee tech and some moments of camp they bring back for me.
So much love to all of you!
Emma Levine (AM bunk counselor and alum)
If these faces look familiar, it might be because you’ve seen their siblings around camp! Liam Elkind (left), who played Mr. Panch, has attended many a Manitou production to support his big brother Zack! And though Naomi (right) hasn’t joined us up in Maine, you might have seen her sister Nina taking photos of Color War if you were at camp in 2017.
Naomi killed it as Olive Ostrovsky, bringing joy and love to her portrayal of a character who always makes me teary. Here’s Olive saving a chair for her dad “in the fourth row on the aisle.”
Griffin Strout, embodying the lines of our mission statement, “Work tirelessly on your performance” and “take joy in all you do.”
Griffin loves this show so much he music directed it AGAIN after the AM production first session! And look how happy he is! Look at that smile as he does what he does best! (I made him look up so you can see his face too).
What I want you all to focus on is the face of the girl on the far left, my bud Madi Cupp-Enyard, who played Marcy Park (she’s not all business!). Madi’s love of dance, the glimmer in her eye, and the way she’s truly HAMMING IT UP reminds me so much of camper Maya Rosefsky’s work as Mrs. Wilkinson, belting her heart out in “Shine” in this summer’s production of Billy Elliot.
It’s important to take a moment of reflection in the middle of a busy tech, and I was delighted to share that moment with this gang of people who really know how to “support and inspire others” and “be a good friend to all.” The gal on the far left, Christina, and the lady behind me, Sydney, weren’t working on Spelling Bee, but they came to support those of us who were. There’s not a lot of nature to commune with in New Haven, but we did commune with each other. Sydney (who produced the college premier of Steve’s and John McGrew’s original musicalHere Be Dragons in 2016) even helped rig some microphones up before our run and then stayed to support us as an audience member. Being a great audience member—another AM value that lives on through the year whenever AM community members come to see one another’s shows! Finally, the curly haired girl with the big smile across from Griffin is our director, Gabby Colangelo. Fun fact: Gabby went to high school with AM staff member and alum Katrina Karl, where they worked on costumes, hair, and makeup together! Such a small world!!
An anecdote from tech: When I arrived at the theater to begin Spelling Bee load-in, our technical director and I discovered that the genie, a hydraulic lift we use to hang lights above the stage, was out of commission and wouldn’t be fixed in time for us to use the grid space above the stage in our production. All the space I had to hang lights was above the balcony, where I could reach the grid from a ladder, and directly above the audience.
In that moment, I thought about lighting tech camper Noah Rubin’s amazing perseverance when the first two nights of tech for The 39 Stepsgot rained out, forcing the team to move to their alternate space. With just a few hours to cue the show in its performance venue (the small amp), Noah, SM Sam Wheeler, and director Margot de la Barre, made the best of Maine weather and got the whole show teched in a day! If Noah could improvise around a storm, I could certainly figure out how to re-hang a few lights.
Noah and all the tech campers and artistic staff at camp, have showed me what it means to “challenge yourself creatively” as a designer. I’m so lucky to have such talented, kind, and hard-working theater-makers in my AM family, both at camp and during the year.
Bonus pic: one of our audience spellers was simply camp lighting designer Paige’s doppelgänger (with her permission, here is a recent photo of Paige for comparison).