Blake High School Stage Company

 

 

NEWS FLASH: The Blake Summer Musical Theatre Institutes are just around the corner; four weeks from “Hi, My name is…” to opening night of a colossal show. High School and Middle High sessions. More information here

DIGITAL IMAGES or FINISHED PRINTS!: Images are now available as digital downloads at your request. Select the Digital Download option for each image you wish to purchase. Please read this before ordering.

This is your gateway to photos of Blake Stage Company productions starting in 2012 when Addison moved into high school, infected by the theatre but that found its way into her blood in middle high under the direction of Erin Lorenz.  Ally is following suite, having been onstage with Addison in Legally Blonde The Musical.  I’m working to get all of the shows into a consistent format, but they’re no less consistent than they were on the old site.  You’re looking for production stills, though, and not a beautiful web site.

Introducing this theatre program in a few sentences is like trying to capture Disney in a few photos.  This constantly arriving and graduating troupe, under the direction of Mr. Michel D’Anna and backed by the artistic set stylings of Mr. John Ovington, amaze audiences show after show.

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Blake’s four-week Summer Theatre Institute adds to everyone’s chance to hone their singing, dancing and dramatic skills by adding a third major production to school-year spring and fall shows. Summer session also brings in student-actors from schools throughout the area and as far away as Nebraska.  The Institute has also brought in talent including professional acting and voice coach Harry Winter, collegiate acting coaches and Blake alumni Charles Harper and Richard Muhammad, and choreographer and Blake alumnus Michelle Carter to make the theatre experience even more spectacular for both actors and audience.

A four-week middle-high version of the summer Institute under director Michael Kelley gives budding thespians as young as rising sixth graders a chance to experience the big stage and decide whether the spotlights or stagecraft are calling them.

bbmThrDress-5227Quite a few of you have asked about purchasing show photos. Thanks for your kind words! My primary goal was to give our thespians something to look at and show off after the Institute was over for the year. I’m an old school film photographer, though – from the days when we enjoyed prints by making them big and hanging them on walls – and have decided to make these available as real photographic prints. Not the ink jet kind, but the ones from a real pro lab that will look as good as photos under very challenging and changing stage lighting can look.

The Blake Stage Company Boosters are a big source of financial support that enables Stage Company to add microphones, buy real stage paint (more expensive but worth it), stage makeup (also more expensive; also worth it) and whatever else Directors D’Anna and Kelley need to put on these fantastic performances. One might think that a lot of funding for the arts magnet school would come from the county, wouldn’t one? Reality is that we’re completely self-funded and Montgomery County only restricts how we can raise and use money. I donate 25% of the print price to the Boosters to help keep Blake Stage Company healthy for our young to enjoy for the years to come.  Thanks for supporting Stage Company through your print purchases.

Theatre Lobby Posters for Crazy For You, Hamlet, A Day at the Zoo and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit are available.  Additional posters in the works include Legally Blonde the Musical and Little Mermaid Jr. from our 2015 Summer Theatre Institute.

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FOOTLOOSE! (2013)

Sure you need a hero, but Momma says Where the H@%& is BEAUMONT?!!!

Just another four weeks of summer vacation.  With one little exception. They all showed up on Monday morning – some complete strangers to each other – met, broke the ice, and started running lines, singing, dancing, building, painting, lighting and costuming their way through the incredibly short month to open FOOTLOOSE! a little over three-and-a-half weeks later.

Enjoy this look back at another show in the very impressive catalog of Blake High Summer Musical Theatre Institute productions!

FOOTLOOSE! (2013)

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Noises Off

 

NEWS FLASH:  The Blake Summer Musical Theatre Institutes are just around the corner; four weeks from “Hi, My name is…” to opening night of a colossal show. High School and Middle High sessions. More information here

Everyone Gets Caught In The Act!

What does one get when one adds a racy script from an English bedroom farce called Nothing On, an inept but amorous play company, and its frustrated director to an elaborate rotating set? One gets three first acts of the funniest play one has seen in quite some time. Did you ever wonder what went on backstage at that high-end show you got all dressed up to enjoy in its fancy theatre? Noises Off exposes it all, and those of us who have seen it here or anywhere else will never watch a play in quite the same way ever again.

The comedy was a show within a show, and the complete rotation of the set between Acts 1 & 2, and back again between 2 & 3, made for a fast-paced night of hilarity.

The Making the Magic collection offers a rare peek backstage at a bit of what went into the fabrication of the immense two-story set that kept playgoers in their seats through intermissions just to watch it spin between production and backstage environments. The cast was also the crew; everyone who wasn’t onstage for the night – double-cast performers on their off-nights, and even the sound and lighting crew – jumped into position at the end of each act to do their choreographed, well-rehearsed ballet of disconnecting, spinning, nudging and reconnecting the multiple pieces of the magical world, and cleaning up sardines and liquor spills, to ready the set for the next first act.

Many thanks to the highly-talented and dedicated cast, crew and directors who brought us this uproariously funny Michael Frayn creation. No actors were critically injured during construction or performances, but not one missed going home late in the evenings covered in Styrofoam, sawdust, primer, bangs, bruises and/or paint. Rumor has it that some of the paint we saw opening night was still wet…

Oh, just a reminder that what you may have been fortunate enough to enjoy live, or here for the first time through photos, was the work of a HIGH SCHOOL stage company.

The BLAKE HIGH SCHOOL STAGE COMPANY!

Enjoy the photos, and be sure to catch Noises Off if it comes to a town near you! Check BlakeStage.org for news of upcoming Blake Stage Company and Blake Children’s Theatre productions that are the best entertainment buy in the land.

Trivia challenge: Spot Rapunzel’s tower from Into The Woods on the set.

Noises Off Photos

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Into The Woods

Happily, Ever After is turned on its head

More photos are on their way.  Also more coming for Bye Bye Birdie. Stay tuned.

The run has finished in front of the largest audiences in years; cast parties had, and set struck. That doesn’t mean that you can’t either relive, albeit sliently, your favorite moments from the one-to-five shows you enjoyed. Didn’t make it to a performance? Please take a few minutes to see how professionally staged Blake’s shows are, and keep checking BlakeStage.org for show dates for the spring performances of the Drama Desk Award-winning Noises Off! and the Blake Children’s Theatre production of McQuadle.

Charming isn’t Sincere and Nice is different than Good. Red looks smashing in Wolf after escaping same. Fairy tales converge, everyone has a Giant time and a few learn something about themselves – if they live…

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This is a rather lengthy but fast-paced musical, full of enough plot and unforgettable characters that you’ll wonder where the time went. It runs 2:40 including a 15-minute intermission so you can go to the lobby and get yourself a treat. Act II is the missing act you never saw in the Jr. version in middle high, and you’ll understand why. You’ll see a little theatrical fog on the stage, so be aware. It adds to the sometimes tense moments in the woods, but pay attention and you’ll learn that moments are what woods are for.

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This will be difficult while you’re sitting there lost in their uncertain world, but on your way out after the show, let it dawn on you that Blake Stage Company cast and crew are really high school students and not touring actors. This isn’t television that allows as many takes as it takes cast to get 20 seconds of lines right; this is theatre – real acting – that demands cast and production crew deliver a complete show, without do-overs, every time, or suffer the consequences. These young people of the critically acclaimed Blake Stage Company, a remarkable production company by any standard, put everything they have on the line, and on the stage, to transport us for a few hours, as my Blake Stage alumni daughter says, from our world into theirs.

These teenagers learn the story, rehearse their lines, choreograph their movements, get filthy and painty and sometimes a little banged up turning plywood, sheets of foam, canvas and paint into stone prison towers and larger-than-life story books with tiny rooms inside. They figure out the art of juggling 18 microphones whose volumes must go up and down at precisely the right moments, practice queuing giant footsteps and burps that have exactly one instant in time to happen, and condition their minds and fingers to create day and night, set your mood, and direct your attention with dozens of lights. And they do it all while going to school full time with the associated studying, testing and you name it. Remember school?

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Now play a game. Spot the thespians before you in this or any other Blake Stage production who, in addition to creating theatrical environments and becoming their characters, are routinely covered in paint – brushed and spattered. Spot the student business director of the Stage Company. Spot the student choreographer. Spot the student costumer. Spot the cast and crew who are also swimmers, gymnasts, equestrians, dancers, oratorical competitors, ball players, student Ambassadors and members of student government, church youth leaders, community volunteers and participants in other endeavors about which you do not have the patience to read. These are the young people who have you in awe that you’re watching a show brought to you by people too young to vote and, in many cases, drive!

None of these musicals, dramas or touring Childrens Theatre productions would happen were it not for our talented and oh-so-highly dedicated artistic and technical directors who, like cast and crew, have families and lives outside of Blake and still make copious time to guide, encourage and otherwise mold our young into actors, actresses and theatre technicians capable of bringing the show to us. The calling to create first-class theatre from the raw material we parents send out our doors in the mornings surely requires a unique blend of the conflicting Sense of Urgency, and Patience.

Notice Mr. D’Anna and our other professional staff during shows. Watch what they do. They watch. They don’t direct, because by the time the curtain opens, it’s too late for that. You may occasionally see one of them at the controls of some technical thing if there aren’t enough students to cover all the bases, but for the largest part, they are audience. They trust that the cast and crew will deliver the show for which they have prepared during the previous six to eight weeks. They also expect them to make the occasional misqueue invisible with spontaneous creativity, because that’s what they teach, because there is no Take 2.

Come out to Blake High School in Silver Spring at 300 Norwood Rd. through November 19, 2016 and take in this hilarious – in places – production brought to you by the Blake Stage Company, under the direction of Michel D’Anna. Tickets are available at the door, and reserved tickets are online at ShowTix4U, and are, without a doubt, the best $13 entertainment bargain in town. The set alone is impressive enough to make the trip, and a show is included! The story books, Rapunzel’s tower and Grandmother’s house are stagecraft at a high level.

Bring your friends! Tell your neighbors! They’ll thank you after the show.

Photos are ready for two dress rehearsals and the first Saturday show. Rehearsal photos are your look into a tiny little bit of the incredibly hard work that goes into the making of these grand productions so that all we have to do is show up and escape reality for a few hours. I’ll photograph and post at least one more show to showcase the characters who are double-cast.

Into The Woods Photos

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Lion King Jr.

What do you get when you bring together 50 middle high actors, actresses, production staff and the talented Michael Kelley for four weeks?  This year we got Lion King Jr! Enjoy these photographs of Mufasa, Simba, Nala, Pumbaa, Timon, Rafiki, wicked Uncle Scar and his hungry hyenas and a cast of other creatures.

You’ll see a LOT of photos here, some very similar to others, but my goal is to show your actor or actress in their best light – even when there was very little light on a dark scene!  I hope that some will find their way onto your walls or into your scrapbooks. Digital files are now available in addition to classic prints.

Hakuna Matata!

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Lion King Jr. Photos

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Bye Bye Birdie

 

More photos are on their way. Thanks for your patience.

Boy pins his steady girl. Army-bound musical heartthrob comes to town. Girl almost kisses heartthrob on national TV. Boy decks heartthrob. Boy and girl live happily ever after. Audience lives happily in the moment as the Blake High School Summer Musical Theatre Institute dazzles audiences for another summer with its production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Written by Michael Stewart, with lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Strouse, this Tony and Emmy Award-winning Broadway play – turned TV movie – turned Blake Stage production ignited audiences with familiar and new-to-most songs and comedy.  Enjoy some moments from the shows. Don’t panic if a sequence just stops; more photos are on the way.

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Bye Bye Birdie Photos

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

AMND-ShSa1-6109Blake thespians and audiences got more than they bargained for – Shakespeare twice in two years! After a successful futuristic
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, Blake Stage Company amazed audiences again with the comic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photos currently include a dress rehearsal and the first part of Friday’s opening night.  Check back for more after you’ve gone through these.

And you’re correct if you thought that a few of the fairies were a bit small to be Blake regulars. Director Michel D’Anna added a youth ensemble as an extra treat.  Many thanks to our elementary and middle high cast members who added so tremendously much to the mainstage atmosphere!

The show runs through Saturday, March 19th, so reserve your tickets at showtix4u.com or buy them at the door.  Blake High School is located at 300 Norwood Rd in Silver Spring, MD.

Big monitors work better for these – trust me. You’ll miss a lot on your phone’s screen – even a large two-handed one that works fine for Angry Birds!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Photos

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The Drowsy Chaperone

Running through November 21 at Blake High School in Silver Spring, MD, this Tony Award and Drama Desk Award winning Musical Within a Comedy by Bob Martin and Donna McKellar, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, is a must see.  The show was written as a wedding gift to actress Janet Van Degraaf and Robert Martin, who happen to be its two leading characters to this day.

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The Drowsy Chaperone Photos

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Little Mermaid Jr.

Don’t try to tell one stubborn little mermaid named Aeriel that the seaweed isn’t greener on the other side of the surface.

Director Michael Kelley’s Blake Middle High Summer Theatre Institute brought the Little Mermaid and her sisters, her dad King Triton, Sebastian, Flounder, Scuttle and company to Blake’s mainstage to cap off their four-week 2015 summer session.  The Theatre Institute, one for middle high and one for high school students (browse the Legally Blonde photos after you’re finished here!) introduces budding and experienced actors and theatre technicians to a lot of the aspects of creating a show from set construction to singing, dancing and acting, to a taste of directing their own skit, to some improvisational comedy in front of the hundreds in the audience.

And there’s one seriously unpleasant sea witch, Ursula, who makes deals with unsuspecting people and then collects – and sings about – those poor unfortunate souls.

Little Mermaid Jr. Photos

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Rehearsal and performance photos are combined in story order for Little Mermaid for a little better continuity.  Lighting was more dramatic for the shows when I was tethered to the back of the theatre, but I was able to roam around freely during rehearsals for closeups in more even lighting.  I hope the mix presents you or your actors and actresses in everyone’s best ‘light’.

Enjoy!

Legally Blonde the Musical

Another Blake High School Summer Theatre Institute, another 19 rehearsal days from kickoff to opening curtain, and another high-energy show that had us wondering how Michel D’Anna, his staff, the cast, crew and pit band put it together in a month.  Thanks to each of you who had any part, large or small, in bringing the show this summer.
You’re probably reading this on a phone, aren’t you?  Do yourself a favor and sit down in front of an old fashion computer – or at least a big tablet – to experience these photos and Tina Wilbur’s dramatic set lighting.  I know, computers with big displays are so last year, but you owe it to yourself.

Live theatre is a bit of a mixed bag to photograph.  Dress rehearsals allow for up close and personal photography, but lighting, makeup, costumes and the set may not be quite ready for opening night.  Runs of the show have all of that in place, but I’d look out of place running around onstage so am vanquished to the back of the house.  That’s great for large scenes, but close-ups suffer a little.

Friday’s show, all way too many photos, has been posted!  Go through the Cliff Notes Version first and see how many lines you can put with the photos.  Then settle back for a rather extended tour through the whole show.  I hope that I’ve captured each cast member in all of their scenes.  My goal is for you to have as much fun looking at yourself here as we all had watching you perform.  Most of you onstage have never seen these scenes, so here they are for your first time.

And to the Thursday cast, don’t give up.  More photos of your show will follow after I recover from these and get a few other jobs under control.

Legally Blonde Photos

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Now hum along and have fun!

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Annie Jr.

No surprises here. Oliver Warbucks adopts Annie, the orphans get homes, Miss Hannigan, Rooster and Lily are off to the slam, and 20+ middle-high actors and actresses in the Blake Summer Theatre Institute put on an amazing show in just under four weeks.

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 Annie Jr. Photos

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Directed by Mr. Michael Kelley, acting assistants Richard Muhammad and Charles Harper, stage manager Yasmin Wamala and a host of other great people, the summer Institute, in its fourth year, brought not only a fabulous show, but a round of improvisational comedy by the cast after the show. How adept are YOU at building on an emerging story line at the instant the director points in your direction? You’d better not repeat or drop the story line; doing so means that you have to choreograph your own demise (dying scene)!

Enjoy these photos from Thursday’s show and Friday’s dress rehearsal. There are other photos on the way that will give you a backstage look at what goes on at the Summer Theatre Institute, so check back.

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Quite a few of you have asked about purchasing some of these. Thanks for your kind words! My primary goal was to give our thespians something to look at and show off after the Institute was over for the year. I’m an old school film photographer, though – from the days when we enjoyed prints by making them big and hanging them on walls – and have decided to make these available as real photographic prints. Not the ink jet kind, but the ones from a real pro lab that will look as good as photos under very challenging and changing stage lighting can look. The Blake Stage Company Boosters are a big source of financial support for the Stage Company to use to add microphones, buy real stage paint (more expensive but worth it), stage makeup (also more expensive; also worth it) and whatever else Directors D’Anna and Kelley need to put on these fantastic performances. One might think that a lot of funding for the arts magnet school would come from the county, wouldn’t one? Reality is that we’re completely self-funded and Montgomery County only restricts how we can raise and use money. I’ll donate 25% of the print price to the Boosters to help keep Blake Stage Company healthy for our young to enjoy for the years to come.