Kinship on the Stage
My Experience on Stage
By Emmannuelle Flowers
For me, being in Hairspray was a learning experience. The directors cast me in the role of The Dynamites – a vocal and dance trio. We had a major role in the musical with numerous lines, dance steps and even our own songs. In the beginning I was very-self conscious and didn’t think I could do what they asked me to do. The directors and the cast had confidence in me even when I wasn’t confident in myself. Everyone gave me a lot of encouragement in the beginning and throughout all the practices until I slowly began to believe tha
t I could do it. On openi
ng night I felt very nervous. I kept telling myself that we got this, we practiced it and we can do it. Feeling the energy of everyone on stage and hearing the audience clapping for us was really exciting. It felt great! It was also good to meet different people who are from different neighborhoods. Together we had a lot of fun. It makes me much more open to trying future productions and new things in general.
From Summer Servants to HAIRSPRAY
by Alison Croucher
During the week of July 20-25, 2014, I embarked on a journey that has had a profound impact on my life, in more ways than I could have ever imagined. At the age of fifteen, I and six other teens from St. Mary’s Church in Baldwinsville, decided to participate in Brady Faith Center’s Summer Servants Program, where we spent a week living in community with teens from all over the central NY area, as well as volunteering at Hopeprint, an organization located on the north side of Syracuse, which empowers refugee families to thrive. The theme of our week was “Crossing Over.” It was truly a week that resulted in me feeling more empowered in my faith, friendships, (new and old), and community connectedness. My group and I felt so moved by the entire experience, we made a pact to go back the following summer, and we did. That time, we brought 11 teens. July 19-23, 2015 proved to be another turning point in my life. Even though I had been before, Summer Servants, 2015 felt just as special to me. This time, the theme was KINSHIP. We met new friends, both at our service site and the church at which we stayed. I felt so grateful to be back in the Summer Servants environment of pure acceptance and love.
During the Fall of 2015, I decided that sadly, I would not be able to participate in Summer Servants 2016. Instead, I felt compelled to pursue a dream that I had been pondering for some time. I called my friend Brennan and asked him if he would be interested in co-directing the musical HAIRSPRAY with me, through a local community theater program. After some discussion, he said YES, and our unforgettable journey began. We drafted a proposal to be presented to the board of the theater company, fully prepared for any questions that they may ask. We were not surprised when they asked how we planned on casting the show with teens of different ethnic backgrounds, given that the show takes place during the 1960’s, and segregation was prevalent. I immediately shared with them my past experiences with Summer Servants, and that we are planning to make a presentation to our friends at Brady Faith Center and other community outreach programs in the city of Syracuse, in addition to contacting all choral directors in the area. It was during that meeting that it hit me. The Summer Servants themes of CROSSING OVER and KINSHIP were about to repeat themselves through the casting of HAIRSPRAY. We spoke with the teen group of Brady Faith (several of whom participated in Summer Servants with me), and asked them to seriously consider auditioning for HAIRSPRAY. Six weeks later, many of them made the trip to Baldwinsville to audition. Later that week, they all received a phone call welcoming them to Baldwinsville Theatre Guild’s cast of HAIRSPRAY the Musical.
May 17, 2016 (our first rehearsal) through August 14, 2016, (our final performance), was nothing short of remarkable. Of course, there were a few ups and downs throughout the rehearsal process, as is often the case with preparing to stage any musical, yet the end result was truly magical! In the words of numerous members of the audience, “I came to see a typical musical; I’m leaving here having experienced so much more.” The underlying theme of HAIRSPRAY, one of acceptance and love, regardless of your skin color, size, or gender, truly happened within our cast. We all “crossed over” and developed a “kinship” with one another that will hopefully last for a very long time. Little did I know that my experience with Summer Servants 2014 would open the doors to reuniting with some of my Summer Servant friends through a musical production that touched the lives of many.
In closing, I would like to sincerely thank Kevin Frank and Andrea Jacobs, for creating the Summer Servants program. I would also like to thank Mr. Flowers for his ongoing support this past summer in so many ways. His positive energy, faith and endless rides back and forth to Baldwinsville truly made a difference! Lastly, Emmann, Erionna, Alonzo, Tony, Eijuel, Kiara and Angela, thank you for being such an integral part of our cast. It was amazing to watch you all grow as actors, singers and dancers, in conjunction with developing new friendships. Always remember, you are all very talented in so many ways! Share your gifts and talents. We hope to see every one of you on stage again in the near future!