Town and Country PlayersThe Limelight

January 2001

In this issue . . .

  • Children's Theater slate

  • New qualified director

  • News from the Board

  • Playreading committee

  • Three Rs of playreading

  • Showcase needs your talent

  • Help for high schools

  • Vocal warm-up

  • TheaterLinx

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    Childrenís Theater Slate Announced
    Phyllis Eckelmeyer, coordinator of the Childrenís Theater, announced show selections and dates for the coming season. Anne Schmidt will direct the first show, Alice in Wonderland, and Phyllis will produce. Auditions will be held June 25 and 26 at 7:30 PM in the Barn. The show will go up August 18 and 25 at 11 AM and 2 PM.

    Next up, Aesopís Falables, directed by Pat Appino and produced by Phyllis. Auditions will be held August 27 and 28 at 7:30 PM in the Barn. Show dates are October 19 and 26 at 7:30 PM and October 20 and 27 at 11 AM and 2 PM.

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    Anne Schmitt Now Qualified Director
    Anne Schmitt has joined the hallowed ranks of qualified directors for Town & Country Players. Each potential director must be evaluated during the Fall Play Festival by experienced, previously qualified directors. If that evaluation proves successful, the candidate may be approved by the Board of Directors.

    Passing muster with T & Cís talented pool of directors can be difficult, but the results ó becoming qualified to direct a T & C show in the historic Barn ó is a fitting and well-deserved reward. Congratulations, Anne!

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    News from the Board

    The Board met December 8 and again January 4 to discuss some pressing items and regular maintenance issues. Hereís a summary of key discussions and decisions.

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    Playreading Committee Hard at Work

    By Patt Pettit

    The Play Reading Committee had its first meeting at the home of producer Pat Ellis. John Nicolazzo was voted unanimously as the chairperson. (Look, no recounts!)

    Gerrie Flanagan was kind enough to offer the use of her lovely home as a place for monthly meetings. Anne Schmitt offered several play suggestions to get the group started. The committee will develop a pass-on file of play evaluations, to provide future play reading committees a starting point in assessing the suitability of plays for production at T & C.

    Jim Palmer will contact T & C-qualified directors shortly to ask if they have particular favorites they would like the committee to consider for the 2002 slate. Patt Pettit invites members to submit plays and musicals for consideration. Contact Patt at 215-489-5156 or

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    Three Rís of Playreading, Part III: Ratiní It

    (Editorís note: This article is reprinted from Home of Professional Amateurs, a website located at We thought it might be appropriate as the Playreading Committee considers plays for the 2002 slate. Enjoy!)

    Itís difficult to rate a play objectively. After all, how do you quantify words, ideas, feelings, and reactions? After several years of wrestling with this problem, the playreading committee at the Kent County Theatre Guild in Delaware eventually came up with a list of ratings for a set of criteria that a play must meet to be approved for production. While still subjective, they have given us an indication of a playís worth thatís a little more reliable than, "I loved it!" or "I hated it!" The most subjective part of the evaluation, the one that asks the question, "Is this a good play?" focuses on content.

    We rate each play in six areas on a scale of 1 to 5:

    1. Action. 1= story was dull; 5 = highly interesting plot
    2. Characterizations. 1= most characters undeveloped or dull; 5= highly-developed or interesting characters
    3. Suspense/Dramatic Impact. 1= fell asleep reading it; 5= couldnít wait to see how it ends
    4. Plot Development. 1= disjointed, confusing, or unbelievable; 5=plot twists are expertly handled and neatly resolved
    5. Entertainment Value. 1= none; 5 = highly entertaining or amusing
    6. Educational Value. 1= none; 5 = intellectually challenging for actors and audiences.

    We find that comedies frequently rate high in entertainment value and low in educational value, and dramas are usually the opposite. These two areas usually balance each other out.

    The ratings are then averaged to give an overall content rating. After several people read and rate the same play (we require at least three playreading committee members to read a play for it to be considered), their overall content ratings are averaged to come up with a group content rating. Plays that receive a group content rating of three or higher are considered decent plays.

    Content, however, is only part of the picture. Reviewers also report on cast size and areas that may pose casting difficulties. They report on technical requirements and level of difficulty . For instance, 1 is a play suitable for a new director or inexperienced actors and 5 is a play that should be attempted only by an experienced director and cast.

    Audience appeal is another vital area for evaluating a play. Is it suitable for children, or should it be performed mainly for an adult audience? Is there a controversial theme? sexual innuendo? profanity? All of these factors can enter into a decision about whether the play is suitable for the audience.

    Finally, thereís the reviewerís overall opinion and recommendation. Although this isnít an objective tool, it can often be a key factor in deciding whether the group wants to recommend a play for production.

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    T & C Showcase Needs Your Talent

    Starting with the April general membership meeting, the Showcase will have open slots for members wishing to put on a monologue, dialogue, a short ensemble piece, or even a one-act play. There are also slots for tech people to teach other members more about a particular technical specialty.

    So far, Jim Kirkwood has signed on to do a monologue. Mike Russo and Phyllis Eckelmeyer will perform a scene from The West Wing. If youíre interested in putting on a piece or conducting a seminar, contact Mike Russo at 215-230-7306 or

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    Help for the High Schools

    Mike Russo reports that several area high school drama clubs have expressed an interest in having T & C members visit the school and speak with students about theater activities, such as acting, lighting, sound design, and so forth.

    If youíd like to pass your theatrical knowledge to eager young ears, please contact Mike Russo at 215-230-7306 or

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    Vocal Warm-Up

    By Amanda Gray, from An Actorís Resource for Basic Technique

    A vocal warm-up prepares the voice for speaking. You need to warm up the vocal chords just as you would warm up other muscles in your body.

    Tongue twisters

    Do a few tongue twisters. Focus on pronunciation and enunciation. Here are a few of my favorites:

    Reprinted with permission from An Actorís Resource for Basic Technique (

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    TheaterLinxís Guild of America, research links, writing tips and articles, and information tailored to inspire and inform writers, resources for actors including theater, film and television, casting, discussion groups, message forums, tips, and news Hitchcock, one of the webís primo sites on the master of suspense

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    Editorial Board
    Editor: Andy McPhee
    Contributors: Jim Kirkwood, Donna Nicolazzo, Patt Pettit, Mike Russo

    Last updated 01/20/01