Archive for April, 2015

Costumes and Tickets

Seven Brides Collage with text

This weekend we have been busy pulling together costumes for the college’s musical review.  As time goes along, we accumulate more and more items, so we can go a long ways on a show like this with things we already have.  It’s always fun trying different combinations until each one looks “just right.”

Because this year’s show is a musical revue featuring acts from different shows, we have more costumes to manage this year.  The above collage shows the direction we are heading for in the first half of the show which features a variety of selections from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  The next collage shows some of the costumes for the second half of the show, during which Luke and Cosette will sing a duet from Annie, Get Your Gun while Kara sings a song from Pocahontas.

John is also singing a solo during this part of the show, but we are having to scramble getting his costume ready, and I don’t quite have it all together for pictures yet.  He is singing a song from Pippin, which is kind of an unusual show.  We are staging his song like a graduation speech, so I got out my graduation cap and gown from when I graduated from Liberty University thinking that it might fit the bill.  It’s a little to organized-looking for Pippin, so John wanted to use parts of my outfit with some mismatched color accessories.  We ordered a green (yes, green) hat thinking it would be here in plenty of time.  Little did I know that it was being shipped from China and probably won’t be here until long after the show is finished.  Sigh….  So, this weekend we have been trying to figure out what we can do in such a short time.  I *think* we have something figured out, but we need to check on a few more details before we will be able to get pictures.  We will have it all ready for the show next weekend one way or another!   🙂

Special 2 Collage with text

We do have tickets available for anyone who would like to attend the show.  There will be two performances.  The first will be Saturday, April 18, 2015, at 7:00 p.m.  The second will be Sunday, April 19, 2015, at 2:00 p.m.  The tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for students/children and can be purchased in advance or at the door.

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Rehearsal Collage with Text

It’s hard to believe that the college’s musical revue is already next weekend!  This week rehearsals were moved onto the stage.  That is always a challenging time trying to figure out where to stand, how to act, how the sound is going to work, etc.  It is also surprising to see the show start to take shape and seem more “real.”  There is still lots to be done, but I think it’s coming together to be a good program!

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I’ve had several people ask me when the 2015 Colby Community College spring musical is going to be.  This is the third year for this tradition.  The first year we helped with Paint Your Wagon, and last year was very special when we were part of Fiddler on the Roof.  This year, the college director announced that CCC would be doing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

The Prairie Family looks forward to this event with great anticipation, and this year has been no different.  Once we knew what the show was going to be, we jumped right in learning about the story, listening to the songs, etc.  As auditions were held, though, and early rehearsals began, things just did not come together to do this show.  There were many complicating factors (some that I am not even aware of!) that contributed to this, but it became apparent to everyone involved that a change was going to need to be made for this year.

So, what does my mother always say?  “Do the best you can in the circumstances you are in!”  Right?  Right!  The director quickly changed direction and decided to do a “concert version” of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers along with a general musical revue.  It took us a few weeks to really get a feel for what this was going to be, but now we see how it is going to come together to be a pretty good show.

For the “concert-version” portion, the cast will perform several songs from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in costume. The rest of the show will consist of individuals and groups singing songs from a variety of shows.  What’s neat about this type of show is that everyone gets a chance to do something–and that is something that the Prairie Family enjoys very much!

So, Dan and the kids will all be in the chorus for the “concert” portion.  There is no pit orchestra this year, so I am going to play the piano for a couple of pieces.  John is going to sing “Corner of the Sky” from the musical Pippin.  This is a very appropriate song for him because it is about someone finding his own place in the world, which is where John is in real life!  🙂

Kara is going to sing “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas.  I always thought she would make a lovely Pocahontas with her beautiful black hair and dark skin, but now I know just how well she sings this song too!

Cosette and Luke are going to sing “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” from Irving Berlin’s 1946 show, “Annie, Get Your Gun.”  This song has the potential of stealing the show–mostly because Cosette and Luke are NOT acting!  LOL!  This song is the theme of their relationship!  Seriously, though, this little song is going to be really cute (if they can get the complicated, fast lyrics memorized–sigh….)

This show has really come up on us quickly.  There will be two performances:  one in the evening of Saturday, April 18, and the second in the afternoon of Sunday, April 19.  For local friends and family who would like to come to the show, I should have tickets available later this week.


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A couple of weeks ago, all of the Prairie Family was involved with putting on a barbershop chorus concert/melodrama.  This silly little program actually ended up being pretty fun, and we will always look back on it as a highlight of 2015.

This whole thing started about a year ago when the Tumbleweed Barbershop chorus (of which Dan, John, Brock, and Luke are all members) decided to do a melodrama for their 2015 spring show.  Not completely realizing what I was getting myself into, I volunteered to help out with the drama portion because I thought it sounded like fun.  I did not understand all that was going to be involved at that time, nor was I aware that the Prairie Family guys could not be in the cast since they were in the chorus.

So, my first order of business was to adapt the script.  This melodrama was originally performed in Canada, and the chorus director and I thought it would be fun to put in some local humor.  I spent quite a bit of time during the summer of 2014 going through the script and changing lines here and there.  I also had to change the gender of one of the original characters to fit our cast.

The hardest part of the whole thing was finding a cast.  Like I said, my original intent was that all of the Prairie Family could be involved in this.  When I found out that that was not the case, my search began.  Cosette and Kara both wanted parts, but that still left several spots to fill–and filling spots proved to be quite a challenge!  It seems like people are very busy these days, and that complicates projects like this.  I was delighted with the people who did agree to take parts, though, and we ended up with the “right” cast.

My intent was to direct this show, but I had the hardest time finding someone to play the part of the Widow MacDonald.  Several times I thought I had that spot filled, but every time something came up and the part stayed open.  It finally became obvious that I needed to step into that role myself just for the show to go forward.  Believe me, I put that off as long as I could because I really do not enjoy memorizing lines or acting on stage–talk about scarey!  Once the decision was made, though, we just plowed on through and did our best.

Here are some pictures from our early rehearsals:

Melodrama Collage

As the show drew closer, details just fell together.  I cannot say how wonderful the cast was.  They worked hard to learn their lines and portray the characters.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with each one.  Cosette played the part of Beatrice MacDonald, the independent daughter of my character.  Kara was Mookie Whey, a common sense character with lots of funny lines.

By the way, both of the girls did their best on this show.  Kara had TONS of lines, and she learned them all.  Here is a video of her practicing her opening monologue:

The other young character, Beau Vine, was played by a long-time friend of the Prairie Family.  He was amazing and grew so much as he worked on the show.  The narrator was played by a life-long friend of mine who has been in a variety of productions with us.  He is really a character in his own right, but there is so much to learn from him.  It is always a blessing and a challenge to work with him.

The “villain,” Dr. Sal Monella, was played by another life-long friend of mine from church.  He and his wife are very special people.  I literally have known them since childhood.  In fact, Mr. L. was my high school Sunday School teacher!  In all the years that I have known them, he and his wife have traveled more than 60 miles each week (one way) to go to church.  Now that is commitment!  They have not had easy lives, but they have always been consistent, loving, and cheerful.  I remember well how Mr. L. used to get up and do monologues at church–very moving monologues that he learned while he drove his tractor.  So when he agreed to take this role, I was humbled, grateful, and excited to have him in the cast.  He even got his granddaughter involved in the show holding audience cue cards!

Here is a collage of pictures from the dress rehearsal:

Tech Rehearsal Collage with Text

The day of the show was amazing.  Oh, there were glitches here and there, but that is what makes live theater interesting, isn’t it?!  Our biggest issues involved sound and makeup, but we got through it.  “Beau Vine’s” mother jumped in to fill in as impromptu make-up lady, and working together we got the sound situation fixed as best as we could.  I always remind people on stage to project their voices like there is not going to be microphones because you just never know how technology is going to work, and this was a good reminder of that very fact.  Everyone remembered the lines and had a lot of fun telling the story of the show, and that’s what it’s all about.  We will definitely look back on it with many happy memories.

Here is one more collage of behind-the-scene pictures taken the day of the show:

Performance Collage

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Roller Coaster Collage

Cosette had an interesting investigation for her first “real” science project.  She decided to build a model of a roller coaster loop-de-loop and then test a couple of different variables (one at a time).  She first tested how high the initial hill must be to successfully complete the loop, and then she tested different starting points along a set slope.  We all learned some things through this process.  We were all quite surprised that the initial slope must be quite sharp to make the marble complete the loop.  Also, the results were much more consistent than we had expected.  We thought there would be “levels” of completion, but we quickly discovered that the marble either did or did not complete the loops with the different variables mostly 100% of the time.  That made for a not-very-exciting result graph!  😦

John thought of a related project that would extend this project with more interesting results.  He suggested making a U-shaped track with cm marks along the ends.  Using those markings would enable good data to be gathered, such as how high the marble went with different starting points.

Cosette enjoyed making her display.  She loves all things artsy-craftsy, so this was right up her alley.  She did a good job picking coordinating, but not matching, patterned paper that made her display reflect the amusement park theme that she was looking for.

She also did a nice job putting together her oral presentation–I am attaching a video to this entry.

Getting these projects finished is always a major milestone in our academic year.  I am hoping to get a jump-start on next year’s projects this summer.  We’ll see how that goes….

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Trebuchet  Collage

Another year with A Beka Academy means another year of science projects.  John didn’t have to do one for 12th grade, and Luke is in 7th grade, which is the year the students plan a project (for experience) but don’t actually carry it out.  So, that left Brock and Cosette with projects to complete.  Next year will be our first year having three full projects going on at the same time–that should be interesting….

Brock decided to build a trebuchet for this year’s project.  Of course, building such a contraption doesn’t make a science project–the model has to be functional and has to perform measurable tests under varying conditions.  So, Brock chose to carry out three sets of experiments varying (one at a time) the counter weight of the trebuchet, the weight of the projectiles, and the angle of the nail that releases the bag.

To vary the counter weight, Brock simply added or took away weights from Dan’s weight set.  Varying the weight of the projectiles was interesting since they all had to be identical outside of the weight.  Brock opened up identical tennis balls and added bb’s to the inside before sealing the holes.  Doing this gave him a regular ball, one moderately weighted, and one heavily weighted.  The release nail is a little hard to explain, but changing its angle would affect how the trebuchet released the balls.

Each of the sets of experiments had interesting results.  Some were what Brock expected while others were not.  I am adding two videos to this entry.  The first shows how the trebuchet worked, and the second is Brock’s presentation of his project explaining his results.


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