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Welcome to the Arden Theatre Company blog, where we share behind-the-scenes stories and current happenings with you. You will hear from the Arden staff as well as actors and other visiting artists, and we hope to hear from you, too. If you have an idea for a topic, please post a comment about it. We can't wait to hear what you think!

Check out this article that ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday, February 24: Philadelphia fine arts scene goes where youth are.

And while you’re at it, become a fan of our Facebook page and see what all the buzz is about!

Arden Theatre Company has a strong commitment to developing and producing new work, in 21 seasons we have produced 30 world premieres including My Name Is Asher Lev and Something Intangible this season. Plays that premiered at the Arden have gone on to be performed at more than 60 other theatres in cities such as New York, London, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Past premieres include Opus, Incorruptible, Baby Case, The Chosen, and Red Herring, among others.

When a show goes on to be produced at another theatre in this country (and occasionally even internationally!) it helps build the reputation of both the Arden and the playwright. It is also incredibly gratifying when people in our local community are inspired by a show at the Arden and go on to produce it themselves.

Most recently, the students at Penncrest High School performed Red Herring, a play by Michael Hollinger that debuted at the Arden in 2000. One of the performers in the show shared her thoughts with us:

This year at Penncrest High School in Media, Pennsylvania, we performed RED HERRING, a Michael Hollinger play that debuted at the Arden. Our director saw this play and saw an opportunity for a great production that has contemporary humor and an eccentric cast of characters. The production was a challenging and rewarding one that gave us, as actors, plenty of space to experiment in a way that other more traditional plays would not have. We owe Arden Theatre Company deep thanks for presenting this play so that it was available to us – RED HERRING was a huge success! Thanks, Gwyn

Red Herring has been produced at over 25 theatres across the country since its premiere at the Arden nine years ago. Other community performances of Red Herring include past productions at Abington Friends School, St. Joseph’s Prep (directed by Tony Braithwaite) and, later this spring, at Drexel University.

Have you ever seen an Arden world premiere here and again at another theatre? Tell us about it!

Sally Wojcik, the Arden’s Education and Group Services Manager, chats about her and Will Lambrakos, the Arden’s Master Carpenter, wedding plans for August.

Following in a long line of Arden couples, Will (the Arden’s Master Carpenter) and I (the Arden’s Education and Group Services Manager – yes the company’s longest title) are getting married! We met in April of 2004 while I was finishing my final semester at Albright College in Reading. I was cast in Much Ado about Nothing with Will’s friend’s sister. When this friend needed a last minute theatre buddy, Will took the extra ticket. A few short months later, we were dating. That fall, I started the Arden Professional Apprentice Program. For those of you who have read Hilary’s blog entry, you know it’s a pretty grueling experience. Will was always there after those long days with a ready ear and very often a hot meal (a sure way straight to my heart!). I’m not sure I could have weathered those ten months without him. These days, we’re lucky enough to work together. Will joined the Arden staff in 2007 and works in the production department. Regardless of how busy things get, we at least have those few minutes on the way to and from work to spend together. Our little family is rounded out by our feisty miniature doxie, Petey (some of you may remember him from his staring role on last season’s Go, Dog. Go! poster). If ever you stop by the Arden office, Petey will be sure to greet you.

We’ll be getting hitched this August in an outdoor extravaganza in Spring City, PA.. Will and I are both transplants to Philadelphia – Will is originally from Toronto and I grew up in Massachusetts. We’ll have a lot of relatives descending from the north. The entire Arden staff is also on the invite list. We’re anticipating quite a party. And let’s not forget all our colleagues who we have roped into helping us out: Jenn Peck (our General Manager) is a bridesmaid extraordinaire, Alison Roberts (our Costume Supervisor) is altering my dress and sound guru Larry Fowler will be the DJ. The wedding is still six months away. Who knows what other fun jobs we’ll come up with before then…We’ll be sure to post a follow up entry (and some pictures!) in late August. And for those of you who are wondering…Petey will not be making an appearance on the wedding day. We can’t trust him not to eat the rings!

Jonathan Ward, Property Master for the Arden, discusses prop design for A Year with Frog and Toad.

Since I began working as the property master at the Arden, I found that making the props for our children’s productions is my favorite part of the year. The stories allow me to stretch my imagination and create another world for our audiences to enjoy. I use my background in visual art and design to aid in fabricating out-of-this-world creations for the stage.

Looking at objects for inspiration and materials is a common occurrence in my line of work; one of my favorite stories of finding and reusing what we have on hand were the musical instruments that I made for Sleeping Beauty. I constructed them out of broken fiddle heads left over from our award-winning mainstage production Opus.

Remounting an original production like A Year with Frog and Toad has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, we are lucky enough to have most of the kinks worked out because we’ve done the show before. We already know how big the furniture will need to be, we already know how much blue Mylar confetti we will need and we already know how the magic kite will fly; a lot of the important questions are already answered this time around.

The challenges will come in recreating the world of Frog and Toad for a new generation of audiences to experience without abandoning the roots of our previous production – and what made it so magical the first time around.

Prop design is such an interesting job. I have to be able to change from carpenter to electrician to sculptor, adapting to each new project that is put in front of me. Currently I am working on refurbishing the furniture and other props that were saved in our storage facility from the first Frog and Toad. Lucky for me most of the items were in great condition. A small amount of work will have them prepared for rehearsal.

My next step is to bring a new life and meaning to these objects. Without changing the pieces too much, we are bringing a new “Adirondack mountain” feeling to the interior and exterior of each of the characters’ houses in the show.

A Year with Frog and Toad is a Philadelphia favorite and a wonderful project to be a part of. I feel lucky to be working on such an incredible show that has been honored by audiences and critics alike. The production staff is a tight knit group of artists that I look forward to collaborating with over the next few months.

Let me know if you enjoy the results!
jward@ardentheatre.org

©2009 Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122.
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