Friday, June 24, 2011

Animated Film and VLA Children's Theatre

Today is the opening of the animated film CARS 2.  I can't wait to go see it! Who knows, maybe it will be one of the children's shows we do here at Vive Les Arts someday!  You are probably wondering how I made that leap - animated film to stage. Really? Well let me back up a bit.

I must say I truly thought that as I "grew up" and became more "sophisticated" that I would not have the need nor the want nor the interest to go see animated movies.  They are for children, right? Well, well, well, hasn't animated film come a long way?

Think back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Fantasia, Pinocchio.  Then came Song of the South, Lady and the Tramp and Cinderella, I could go on and on down this memory lane but instead check out this great list of animated films  Let the memories come flooding back.

Isn't it interesting too as you stroll down memory lane, to see how the story lines have evolved. By that I mean it seemed to start with stories of sweetness and wonder and moved into quick witted jokes, play on words and humor that is meant more for adults than the children sometimes.  Not that I am complaining one bit! I am merely saying that I'm just as excited to see the animated films of today as I was when I was a child.  They still give me the feeling of wonder, fun and laughter. How about you? Doesn't it make you feel like a kid again as you sit and watch the animated films of today?

Now you are probably thinking "how on earth does that relate to community theatre?"  Well look at what VLA is doing with childrens theatre.  Beauty and the Beast was brought to life last summer, Cinderella this summer and previously VLA has performed Aladan Jr., Mulan Jr. and the Aristocats Jr. Do you follow? We are gaining "speed" here! That's what I meant when I said someday CARS could be right here on the VLA stage.  These shows aren't just for the kids, they are for big people too.  So when you see the children’s programs and productions being promoted here at VLA don’t think for a minute that they are just for the kids.  I applaud the creative minds that have continued to evolve these types of films to what they are today as well as the script writers who make it possible for us to translate them to the stage. 

On a more personal note along these lines, I can tell you that when I was in high school, a very quiet guy sat behind me in English class and sometimes needed help as he was always drawing pictures on his papers and sometimes not listening to what was going on.  His name is Paul Ruddish. Well all that drawing payed off.  In fact, if you have seen the original CareBears movie you have seen his initial work.  That’s why he was so distracted in class, he was drawing the black Trojan horse for that film in high school.  Week after week he was drawing what seemed to be the same thing over and over again.  Currently he is credited with animated hits such as the PowerPuff Girls, Dexters Laboratory, Samarai Jack and was the lead animator for Star Wars: Clone Wars. Hard to believe that someone I sat in front of in English class is a part of this creative and evolving process. Who knows what he and others in this industry will bring us tomorrow but I can tell you this....... I will be in that theatre watching.  Will you?

This article contributed by Jennifer Leaton, marketing for Vive Les Arts, Killeen, TX.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Antoinette Perry, the name behind the Tony Awards

The silver medallion of the masks of comedy and tragedy, known as the American Theatre Wing's Tony Award®, is theatre's most prestigious and coveted prize. But, you may wonder, how in the world did a theatre award get the name 'Tony'?  Who was this Tony, and what's his or her claim to theatre history?

Tony -- actually Toni -- was the nickname of a stunningly beautiful but tough-as-nails Denver actress, Antoinette Perry, who later turned successfully to producing and directing in an era when women in the business were usually relegated to acting, costume design or choreography. 
Miss Perry, from age three, showed innovative theatrical instincts. Once established in New York, she scored an enviable roster of hits and became one of theater’s most influential women. She's still one of the most revered. Amazingly, well into the 1970s, Perry was the only woman director with a track record of Broadway hits.

Reflecting on her career in 1935, Miss Perry wrote, "I wanted to be an actress as soon as I could lisp. I didn't say I was going to become an actress. I felt I was one. No one could have convinced me I wasn't."

She went on to become the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing that established an awards program to celebrate excellence in the theatre.  Miss Perry had recently passed away when The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards® made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947.
Vera Allen, Perry's successor as chairwoman of the Wing, presided over an evening that included dining, dancing, and a program of entertainment. The dress code was black tie optional, and the performers who took to the stage included Mickey Rooney, Herb Shriner, Ethel Waters, and David Wayne. Eleven Tonys were presented in seven categories, and there were eight special awards, including one for Vincent Sardi, proprietor of the eponymous eatery on West 44th Street. Big winners that night included José Ferrer, Arthur Miller, Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Patricia Neal, Elia Kazan and Agnes de Mille.

During the first two years of the Tonys (1947 and 1948), there was no official Tony Award. The winners were presented with a scroll and, in addition, such mementos as a gold money clip (for the men) and a compact (for the women).

In 1949 the designers' union, United Scenic Artists, sponsored a contest for a suitable model for the award. The winning entry, a disk-shaped medallion designed by Herman Rosse, depicted the masks of comedy and tragedy on one side and the profile of Antoinette Perry on the other. The medallion was initiated that year at the third annual dinner. It continues to be the official Tony Award.

Since 1967 the medallion has been mounted on a black pedestal with a curved armature. After the ceremony, each award is numbered for tracking purposes and engraved with the winner's name.