Director Interview: Chris Taylor with A Charlie Brown Christmas


M. Hoffman: Charlie Brown celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.  What do you think it is about the show that makes us return to it again and again?

C. Taylor: I think that A Charlie Brown Christmas has tremendous appeal, both to young actors who are being exposed to Charles Schultz for the first time, and to parents who grew up reading the comics in their daily papers. The show itself tells a great story. It teaches us about the importance of caring, sharing, working together, and acceptance. I think there is a little bit of us in each of the Peanuts characters, and whenever we watch anything Peanuts, we are reminded of the naïveté (Sally), the whimsicality (Peppermint Patty), the grouchiness (Lucy), and the innocence (Charlie Brown) that exists in all of us.

M. Hoffman: I’ve heard roller skating is a part of the audition requirements for this show.  Are kids really going to be roller skating up on stage?

C. Taylor: Yes, we have the kids roller skating in the opening scene, Christmastime is here. My overall vision for the show has been, and will continue to be, a comic strip coming to life. When we read the comics, we remember seeing the kids skating at the rink, Snoopy stealing Linus’ blanket, etc. and I want those moments to be seen on stage as much as possible.

M. Hoffman: What are the ages of the performers for this show?

C. Taylor: Kids ages 10-17 will be on the stage.

M. Hoffman: I’m obsessed with the mellow jazz soundtrack Vince Guaraldi wrote for the movie.  Will I hear the same tunes live?

C. Taylor:  Yes, you will hear some wonderful Piano work from Andrea Hall, as well as some background percussion from Taylor Belote. The tunes from the movie are replicated almost exactly for the stage.

M. Hoffman: Thanks Chris!  I can’t wait to see it!  Auditions are coming up November 5th for those interested in being a part of this magical holiday experience.

More information here:  http://www.spokanecivictheatre.com/audition/?aid=109


Actress Profile: Kat Heath

Photo Credit: Chris Wooley Heads and Tails Photography

Photo Credit: Chris Wooley Heads and Tails Photography

Hoffman: Tell me about playing Magenta in Rocky Horror.  What are your favorite parts and what are the most challenging parts? 

Heath: Magenta has been a dream come true for me. I have wanted to do this show since I was probably 14 and she has been an absolute joy. Lance was very clear that he didn’t want an imitation of the film. That note gave me the freedom to explore, which has been equally delightful and difficult. How do you play a part that everyone knows? How do you make her your own, but still recognizable? My favorite Magenta moments are those the stolen looks and touches that she has with Riff Raff. Ben Dyck is such a joy to work with. He is always there. Always communicating nonverbally on stage. I know that I can trust him. And obviously, “The Time Warp”, because it’s “The Time Warp”!

Hoffman: What is your favorite song in Rocky Horror Show?

Heath: “Don’t Dream it, Be it” from the floor show has always been my favorite. I am so thankful to both Lance and Henry for creating a moment where Magenta gets to utter those words with reckless abandon. They are words that I have always tried to live by.

Hoffman: Tell us more about the audition process.  Do you have advice for anyone looking to give it a try?

Heath: Preparation is key to any successful audition. I looked for a song that showed off my range and was as close to the tone of the show as possible. Then I worked with a vocal coach to learn the song and show off my strengths. Having a closed audition was lovely. I understand that auditions are about competition, but when we are able to present ourselves without the watchful eye of other competitors it becomes more pure, at least for me. I was only competing against myself and I feel like that environment is great for any actor. I also think that for this show, everyone was accepting and loving when they walked in the door, which is a big part of the message of Rocky Horror. This mindset created a very supportive environment at group callbacks, which is how auditions should be. I have never been to an audition with that type of enthusiasm and camaraderie. These are goals that I have for future auditions, to come in with the mindset that everyone is amazing and everyone is special. And for one single moment I get to be a part of this show, even if it is only in the audition room. That feeling was transformative for me and I plan to take it to every audition in the future.

Hoffman: Acting is both described as being freeing and being terrifying.  How has the vulnerability and excitement of being on stage affected you?

Heath: I am always my best self and my happiest self when I am on stage. I am a theatre adrenaline junkie and live for the laughter and applause.

Hoffman: What is your favorite pre-show snack?

Heath: I always pre-show with water, tea and some form of protein, and for Rocky, I have added an orange to my routine.


Actress Profile: Samantha Schneider

Hoffman: Tell me more about your experience wearing the costume for Madame La Bouche in Beauty and The Beast!

S. Schneider: This costume is the most elaborate I have had in all my time of theater. It is heavy, on wheels, and it takes two to three guys to lift it high enough for me to climb in from the bottom. It is sometimes warm inside, so the costumers put a little battery powered fan to keep me cool. For the most part it is not difficult to maneuver but it does get my heart pounding with how fast my feet and legs have to move!


M. Hoffman: You received your Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance in 2015.  What does it take vocally to perform night after night in a show!

S. Schneider: As a vocalist, each performance has to be taken seriously. There are many things that can be damaging to the voice that are done without knowledge. I work my hardest to stay hydrated, healthy, and above all, I make sure I’m not over using my voice with everyday life with a lot of talking, whispering, or singing in the car. I focus on warming up my voice everyday and I only sing music that keeps my voice fresh and ready for the hardship of the performances.

M. Hoffman: I enjoyed the antics of your character in Beauty and The Beast. Tell me more about playing The Wardrobe/Madame La Bouche.

S. Schneider: This role, while small, has a lot of depth. All she wants is to be human again so she can get on stage and perform! (She and I have that in common!) What I LOVE about this character is that she is a diva. It is a lot of fun being able to portray an opera star because I aspire to do that very thing. And the intensity of her passion drives me forward to the end where she can revel in that first high note of being human again!

M. Hoffman: Do you have any advice you would want to tell those wanting to study voice or get more involved in theatre?

S. Schneider: When it comes to those who have even the slightest interest in singing or acting, do it. Take the leap and make your dreams happen! I started at the age of twelve and will never regret one single audition. Being able to follow your passion is one of the most satisfying experiences and don’t ever let yourself stand in your way! It will take hard work but there is something far greater in your achievement!



An Interview with Summer Berry Costume Designer for Beauty and The Beast



M.Hoffman: Tell me more about your process of design for Beauty and The Beast! 

Berry: Process is very important in the journey of costume design. The research, the vision of the production as a whole, and the resources that are available all play a part in my process. I didn’t want to make this look like the cartoon movie but I fully embraced the fact that there are some elements that I just had to bring to the stage that the audience was expecting, only I gave them my spin or twist as the designer. There had to be the famous gown and I found a very rich gold crepe back satin that would hold and reflect light and drape in a graceful manner.  Belle’s gown was like it’s own character.

I spent all of July designing and engineering the enchanted characters, china plates, napkins, Salt and Pepper, and of course the very tall forks. All of these costumes had to look like these objects, be worn by actors, and then be worn to dance. The dancing is so important in this show and Heidy Cartwright has a way of making actors really good dancers. We had many talks about the designs and I made some prototypes so the space on stage and movement was not a surprise come first dress rehearsal. I made prototypes of the wardrobe and the clock from the dimensions the rental company sent me. The actors got the chance to work in those for a few weeks before the real ones arrived.

Hoffman: Tell me more about the extra special details that went into Beauty and The Beast?

Berry: Details are important in my designs and I would have liked to have added more but there is only so much time. Bridget, a local artist that had worked here at the Civic for some time, painted the red roses on the pointe shoes. My intern, Isabella painted the china plates and napkins to my specs beautifully. The forks were the most complicated of the enchanted world and so worth the time and energy. One of my past GU students, now good friend, came for a visit and stepped in to add the details on the fork handles. 



Hoffman: I really enjoy the Gaston character. Tell me more about his costume.

Gaston‘s needs were pretty involved but from the stage probably don’t read that way. I made him a body shirt to cover his tattoo art and of course he had to have a hairy chest. To make that happen I bought a natural chest hair patch and sewed it to the shirt.



 Hoffman: What was your favorite piece to design?

Berry: I really had fun creating this show’s costumes and if I had to pick one favorite, which is very difficult, it was Babette the feather duster. She too had a prototype for rehearsals for weeks since she had to tango. 

Hoffman: Keeping the characters looking good night after night doesn’t just happen magically.  Tell us more about the process of maintaining, washing and repairing clothes during a show.

Berry: Musicals always require weekly maintenance; no one likes wearing dirty costumes. One of the challenges is keeping all the pieces looking like they did opening night during a five-week run. Not easy. I do the best I can, try to anticipate what might happen, and what to have as a back up.



 Hoffman: Thanks for sharing some secrets of the costuming process! Anything else you want us to know?

 Berry: I think about each actor as I am creating their costume and it brings me great joy when they put them on the first time and walk on stage a changed person. I enjoy being a part of the story telling. Theatre is story telling. The actor and the audience deserve my best work and that is what I strive for in all the shows I design and build.



Bart’s Beat: Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

Meetings, meetings, meetings! Some love them, some hate them, sometimes it’s just a necessary evil. I like to think that if you have a purpose, agenda, and a time limit, meetings can be very beneficial.

Since I will be new to town, I plan on scheduling meetings with as many groups as possible. My first set of meetings (outside of board and staff) are meetings with directors/music directors, and stage managers/producers. We plan on meeting on a late Saturday morning shortly after my arrival. We’ll work on the details shortly, and get them out to the usual suspects and interested parties (I hope everyone in those groups are able to attend).

What is my purpose? To have an opportunity to meet with this critical group of professionals that provide such an important and integral component to our organization.

The Agenda? To discern procedures and expectations on both sides of the table, and to share ideas in a collaborative manner. We plan on having Jack, Mike and myself there so we have continuity, understanding, and direction.

Time Limit? 45 minutes to an hour. Can we accomplish everything in that time frame? Absolutely not! But it gives us all a chance to begin the open dialogue. At the least, we’ll provide coffee and donuts.


Lenny’s Idea of a great meeting!!!

I look forward to having the opportunity to meet with everyone at some point or another. And please forgive me if we’ve met, and I look slightly dazed and confused. Simply remind me of your name-too many meetings confuse me!




Bart’s Beat: Greetings from Quincy, Illinois!

Picture #1

Greetings from Quincy Illinois!

As the clock ticks, my arrival to Spokane gets nearer and nearer, and my excitement grows. I’m so looking forward to beginning my new position, and working with some wonderful staff members, board members, patrons, and especially, the volunteers that are the life-blood of organizations like the Spokane Civic Theatre! I’ve arranged my schedule so I can arrive at The Civic in time for the 70 th Anniversary Gala, but my first real day will be Monday, September 12 th . My family (Wife Tricia, Mother-in-Law Carol, Dog-Cleo, and Cats-Mr. Chai & Daphne) will join us in early or mid-October.

Some of you may have seen the press release, so perhaps you know I have a long history running professional, community and educational theatres. I’m also a professional actor (along with my wife), but we put those plans on hold when we moved to Quincy in 2011. However, we both just recently had an opportunity to act for a new professional theatre in our area, which sated those needs for me. I’m ready to once again, roll up my sleeves and serve as Artistic Director for a community theatre. Not just any community theatre mind you, but one of the oldest and most decorated community theatres in the country!

I plan on scheduling a few meetings to have the opportunity to exchange ideas, and give everyone the chance to hear my M.O. of running a theatre. I look forward to our time together, working closely with our new CEO, Mike, learning from Jack, and creating some awesome theatre. I can’t wait to share our work with the community! My door will always be open.

(Photo credit: Walter Rodriguez, Lenny & Tricia in More Fun than Bowling by Steven Dietz, Playwrights Theatre of NJ).


2016-17 Studio Season Artwork!

And here is the artwork for the 2016-17 Firth J Chew Studio Season! All the artwork was created by local artist and designer, Zac Jones!

Be sure to stop by the theatre, or check your mailbox, for a season brochure! All tickets go on sale July 1! The 2016-17 Season is sponsored by The Local Offices of Edward Jones, and the Studio Season is sponsored by Numerica Credit Union.

October 14 – November 5, 2016
Rating: R
Music Direction by HENRY MCNULTY


January 27 – February 19, 2017
Rating: PG-13


March 17 – April 9, 2017
Rating: PG-13


Sponsored by Hotel Ruby and Montvale Hotel
April 28 – May 21
Rating: PG
Directed by DAVID BAKER


70th Season Artwork Reveal!

We are so excited to finally share our 2016-17 Spokane Civic Theatre artwork! All the artwork was created by local artist and designer, Zac Jones!

Be sure to stop by the theatre, or check your mailbox, for a season brochure! All tickets go on sale July 1! The 2016-17 Season is sponsored by The Local Offices of Edward Jones.

And stay tuned for the Firth J Chew Studio shows, coming soon.


Sponsored by David and Christina Lynch
September 9 – October 9, 2016
Rating: G
Assistant Directed by JESSICA LOOMER
Music Direction by CAROLYN JESS
Choreography by HEIDY CARTWRIGHT


Sponsored by Ted and Joan Redman
October 28 – November 12, 2016
Rating: PG-13


Sponsored by Columbia Hearing Center
November 26 – December 18, 2016
Rating: G
Music Direction by BETH TAYLOR


February 10 – March 5, 2017
Rating: PG
Music Direction by HENRY  MCNULTY

March 31 – April 23, 2017
Rating: PG
Directed by BILL MARLOWE


Sponsored by Touchmark
May 19 – June 11, 2017
Rating: PG




An Exciting New Partnership!

The Montvale Hotel, Hotel Ruby, and Hotel Ruby 2 are now Spokane Civic Theatre’s Official Hotels. They are sponsoring our upcoming production of The Taming of the Shrew (May 2017). Not only that, but they are offering anyone with tickets to a Spokane Civic Theatre show 15% off of their entire stay!

We’d like to thank them for their generosity and heavy investment in Spokane’s entertainment scene. We hope that you will support and recommend hospitable local businesses:

Montvale Hotel
1005 West 1st Avenue
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 747-1919

Montvale Hotel Logo

Hotel Ruby
901 West 1st Avenue
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 747-1041

Hotel Ruby Logo

Hotel Ruby 2
123 South Post Street
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 838-8504


Little Shop of Rentals in Yellowstone

Lake Yellowstone Hotel’s 125th Anniversary

Little Shop of Rentals costumes going to Yellowstone

Some of the costumes being taken to Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

The costumes from our Little Shop of Rentals are taking a trip next week. They will be traveling to Yellowstone Lake to help costume and celebrate the Lake Yellowstone Hotel’s 125th Anniversary event. They will be leaving next Wednesday, May 11 and returning the following Monday, May 16.

The hotel was designed by Robert Reamer in 1891. He was also a part of such projects as the Fox Theater here in Spokane, as well as the iconic Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre and Hotel Deca, and Olympic National Forest’s Lake Quinault Lodge. In April 2015, the hotel was also designated a National Historic Landmark.

As part of the celebration, there will be a special ceremony unveiling the plaque for this designation. Other activities at the celebration will include a procession of historical vehicles, walking tours of the hotel, and short bus tours of the surrounding area, all of which is free to the public.

This sounds like a fun event and we wish Little Shop of Rentals the best on this epic adventure!