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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!

By Sally Ollove, Literary Manager

If you liked Sideways Stories from Wayside School, you are in luck! There are two sequels you can read: Wayside School is Falling Down and Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. Read more stories about your favorite characters and meet new characters, like the kids in Miss Zarves’ class!

Louis Sachar who wrote Sideways Stories also wrote some other books you might enjoy like: Holes and There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom.

We also asked the cast and crew of Sideways Stories at the Arden to tell us some of their favorite books from when they were younger. Parents, we’ve noted when these books might be for older kids or teens, using guidelines from Scholastic.

Rachel CampRachel Camp (Mrs. Jewls): Matilda by Roald Dahl and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Donna Recole (Assistant Stage Manager): Anything by Judy Blume, like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Freckle Juice, and Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great.

Alex KeiperAlex Keiper (BeBe): The Giver by Lois Lowry (ages 9-13), The Velveteen Rabbit (picture book), and the American Girl Book Series

Alec Ferrell (Stage Manager): Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (ages 10-13) and The Secret of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien (ages 10-12)

Emilie KrauseEmilie Krause (Leslie): A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (ages 10-13)

Liz Nugent (Assistant Stage Manager): Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (ages 9-12), with a warning from Liz that it is sad

Taysha CanalesTaysha Canales (Rondi): Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks, and the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary


Steve PacekSteve Pacek (Mrs Gorf, Mr. Gorf, Mr. Kidswatter, Miss Valoosh, Miss Zarves, Mr. Pickle): Corduroy by Don Freeman (picture book) and Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (picture book)

Dave JohnsonDave Johnson (Louis): Lord of the Flies by William Golding (ages 13-18)

Anthony Martinez-Briggs

Anthony Martinez-Briggs (Dameon): Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (picture book), the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer (ages 11-14), and the Deltora Quest series by Emily Rodda (ages 9-16).

Sally Ollove (who wrote this post):
Pearl’s Pirates by Frank Asch and Half Magic by Edward Eager

By Steve Pacek
(Mrs. Gorf, >treat Sammy, Mr. Pickle, Miss Valoosh, Mr. Gorf, Mr. Kidswatter, and Miss Zarves in Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Of all of the characters I play in Sideways Stories from the Wayside School (7 total!), Miss Zarves is the one that people are always the most surprised when I tell them “that was me” after the show.  It doesn’t look anything like me.  It doesn’t sound anything like me.  And it’s a very mean character (I PROMISE I’m actually really nice).  But our genius video and sound designer, Jorge Cousineau spent hours creating an animated character that could exist in this “sideways” world!

During the first week of rehearsal, Jorge brought in his video camera and put sticky tape dots all over my face.  He said he was going to capture the movement of my face and the sound of my voice saying Miss Zarves’s lines so he could create an animated character for her.  And this animated character would take up an entire wall!  AWESOME!!!  So we tried a couple times to get the perfect “take.”  But because Miss Zarves does quite a bit of yelling, which makes your face move around a lot, some of the sticky dots kept falling off.  So we did it over and over again until I got all of the lines right and all of the dots stayed!  When he showed me the finished product, I didn’t even think it was me!

Steve gets ready to film

Steve gets ready to film


Jorge films Steve as Miss Zarves

Jorge films Steve as Miss Zarves

The most challenging part was actually not moving my head too much.  Jorge needed me to move my face a lot but not my head because the camera was on a close-up.  If I moved too much I would go out of the frame.  It was also hard acting without the other cast members as we were recording.  I had to imagine the other characters were there saying their lines, but it was just me.

Steve acts as Miss Zarves

Steve acts as Miss Zarves

Jorge tracks Steve's movements

Jorge tracks Steve's movements

I have a friend in Los Angeles who acts in a lot of motion capture feature films (like Polar Express and Avatar).  I’ve seen lots of pictures of him with the sticky dots on his face while filming.  It was so cool to feel like I was making a movie while we were making a play!  Maybe one day I’ll get to play some more animated characters.

Miss Zarves comes to life!

Miss Zarves comes to life!

On December 7th, help we held an opening night celebration for our Arden Children’s Theatre production of Sideways Stories from Wayside School! Families gathered in the Arden lobby and the Hamilton Family Arts Center prior to the show for food, >physician games and activities.  Thank you to Weavers Way for leading a craft with apples and Plate 3 Photography for hosting a fun photo booth! Check out Photobooth pictures on the Arden’s Facebook Page.

We partnered with Cradles to Crayons to host a collection of winter coats and school supplies.  We will be collecting items throughout the run of the show, >nurse so bring your donations when you come to the theatre! Following the performance, kids were treated to caramel apples and vanilla ice cream, courtesy of The Franklin Fountain.

Special thanks to our opening night sponsors: Harmelin Media, 12th Street Catering, Franklin Fountain, and Hatboro Beverages. Thank you also to our Production Sponsor PECO and our Arden Children’s Theatre Sponsor Comcast | NBC 10 | Sprout.

Here are photos from the evening!

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