Thursday, November 1, 2018

An enchanted trailer

I'm really loving this trailer that the students at a Alabama high school put together for this weekend's performance of The Enchanted Bookshop. Between the lush music, dynamic camerawork and spooky voiceover, it's extremely well-done. In fact, it's so spooky it almost makes the show look like a Harry Potter movie.

Break legs, everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Costume ideas for that book lover in you

Need some last minute costume ideas for Halloween (or any time, really)? In honor of their upcoming auditions for The Enchanted Bookshop, Encore Stage & Studio in Alexandria, VA offers some literary suggestions from their theatrical past.

Me? I'll be going as one of my favorite literary characters.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Reading for dollars (and much much more!)

Schools and theater companies across the country have gotten creative using The Enchanted Bookshop to encourage kids to read. And now our neighbor to the north is getting in on the act.

Eleanor Drury Children's Theatre of Thunder Bay, Ontario is launching a read-a-thon for students in this vibrant city on the shores of Lake Superior. From October 22 to November 16, participants are asked to log all books they read on this online form, and at the end of the contest, the most active readers will win up $50 cash (that'll buy a lot of books!) and four tickets to the show.

I'm especially glad that they're using this contest to shine a light on local authors. I used to be heavily involved with the Colorado children's book writer community and I know that a lot of those authors struggled to get the word out about their books, books that were just as compelling, entertaining and just plain fun as any title on the bestseller list.

The best part about this contest? Everybody wins. Even those who don't take home the big prize will discover books they wouldn't have known about otherwise. And that's worth more than any $50 check.

Good luck, everybody! And if you need some reading suggestions, check out these books favored by the actors in the show:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Show Me State Bookshop shows how it's done

I just came across this performance of The Enchanted Bookshop by South Valley Middle School in Liberty, MO. I've posted several recordings of this play over the last year, but I wanted to make a special mention of this one because the cast does an especially good job bringing out the humor in the script.

You've got to go big with these characters, and these kids do. The result? Some of the biggest laughs I've heard for this show.

Nice job, everybody!

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Enchanted Bookshop sings!

Growing up in the small town of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, I didn't get much of a chance to see Broadway shows or national touring productions. But the town did have a movie theater, and three times a year, the manager closed the curtain over the screen, removed the first few rows of seats and built out the stage so that the local community theater could put on a show.

The community theater produced a ton of plays over the years, but it was the musicals I loved the most. Fiddler on the Roof. MameCamelot. They were all so big and full of life. And I remember thinking, even then, that those shows were better than anything I'd seen on that movie screen behind them.

Which is all just a roundabout way of telling you how excited I am that Pioneer Drama Service has decided to turn The Enchanted Bookshop into a musical.

I've always wanted to write a musical. There's just one small problem. I don't know the first thing about writing music.

But Stephen Murray does. He's the Massachusetts composer who Pioneer paired me up with. Stephen has decades of experience writing musicals, and his songs have a fun, bouncy quality that make them perfect for the school market. I can't wait to see what he comes up with for The Enchanted Bookshop.

No word yet on when the musical will be released, but Stephen is working on the score as we speak so I expect it'll come out in 2019, probably in time for the new school year. Of course, when it does come out, you'll hear it here first, so keep coming back!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Trouble in Paradise Junction hits close to home

You can leave your hometown, but your hometown will never leave you.

That was true for me when I wrote my small-town satire Trouble in Paradise Junction. And it was true for Iowa Central Community College theater director Teresa Jackson when she first read the script.

"I fell in love with the town and its citizens on my first reading and heard their voices in my head immediately," she says in this article in the Fort Dodge Messenger. "Amazingly enough, the playwright's 'voices' sound very much like the ones I heard in my childhood. I grew up in Missouri and the Ozarks was our stomping ground."

Okay, so that last part is kind of embarrassing. But I'm thrilled she feels that way because I really worked hard to capture the real, honest-to-goodness people who live in that beautiful area, instead of the "hillbilly" stereotype that so many plays and TV shows seem to be satisfied with.

Many playwrights say that they hear the voices of their characters in their heads, and that writing a play is just a matter of dictating those voices to paper. Well, I haven't always experienced that--I sweat over every line of dialogue I write--but I have to admit it did come easier with this play than any of my others.

If you'd like to hear some of those voices for yourself, order a copy of the script here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Babka Without Borders is now available

Another school year, another release of one of my plays. And I couldn't be more excited.

This time it's Babka Without Borders, my lucky thirteenth play with Pioneer Drama Service. Here's the blurb:
What's babka, you ask? Only the tastiest, most delectable pastry in the world... and a key ingredient in this hysterical, fast-paced farce that's loaded with physical humor and a bit reminiscent of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Oh, did we mention that the babka becomes an aerial assault weapon that sparks an international war? You see, The Harmony Cafe could be any quaint European bistro if it weren't for one thing: an international border runs smack dab through the middle of it! One half of the cafe is in the Grand Duchy of Bunkelburg; the other half is located in the Royal Principality of Primwick. Luckily, the cafe serves the world's best babka, and Hildegard and her staff somehow manage all the multiple border crossings and red-tape to serve their delicious, sweet coffee cakes and keep the peace. But because the Duchess of Bunkelburg secretly entered and won Primwick's annual babka baking contest, the Prince of Primwick closes the border, making restaurant operations near impossible. But once that slice of babka goes flying across the border and hits a Primwickian patriotic zealot... well, now it's all-out war! It's hard to see how even The Harmony Cafe can maintain the peace, let alone stay in business! But with much farcical humor and good fun, the very same pastry that tore the countries apart brings them back together. This large-scale cast tale of love, espionage and the best babka east of the Danube goes to show there are no boundaries for good taste!
I made this one as easy to produce as possible--one set, flexible cast (8M/11F/2E plus doubling and extras) and minimal technical requirements. This gives directors freedom to focus on the physical comedy, which is where the heart of the play really lies.

For complete information including a script sample, click here.

Unfortunately, this release means I'm going to have to apologize to school custodians all over again. This is my third play which involves a kind of food fight (see also this one and this one).

But hey, tossing a few pastries around is a great way to make your audiences hungry for those valuable concessions. And really, who doesn't love a good babka?