Thursday, August 9, 2018

Yes, Virginia, there is a National Book Lovers Day

If you've seen The Enchanted Bookshop, then you may remember the scene. The two jewel smugglers have given kindhearted bookshop owner Margie an ultimatum: return the diamond necklace they think she stole (she didn't) or they're going to destroy all the books:

MARGIE: Oh, Bombalurina! What am I going to do? I've been to very jewelry store in town and none of them have the right necklace!

BOMBALURINA: Meow meow! Meow meow meow!

MARGIE: What's that? You want me to lock the door?


MARGIE: Ooh, that's goof. Maybe if it looks like we went out of business, those hoodlums will go away. (Goes to the RIGHT EXIT to try to lock the door.)

EDDIE: (Saunters IN just then with FINGERS.) It's a little early to be closin' up shop, ain't it?

MARGIE: What? Oh, uh, not at all! It's National Book Lovers Day! You know, the day people all over the country stay home and read a book!

When I first wrote that scene, I didn't even know there was a National Book Lovers Day. I mean, it sounded right. After all, there's a Moldy Cheese Day (October 9), a Middle Name Pride Day (March 10), a World Sauntering Day (June 19), There's even a National Nothing Day (January 16). So it only made sense to me that the millions of bibliophiles would get their own day.

Well, that day is today. And it's kind of ironic, because it's also the day--one year ago--that The Enchanted Bookshop booked its first production (Ha! See what I did there?).

If you love books as much as I do, then you're going to want to celebrate this day the way it was meant to be celebrated: by curling up with a good book. And, if you feel really celebratory, visit your favorite bookstore and pick up something new to read.

Margie would be proud.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

That'll learn ya

Wow. Pumphouse Junior does a great job promoting their shows. Today it's an article in their local newspaper, The Daily Tribune News.

In it, director Laurel Anne Lowe explains that they like to do plays that offer a lesson in literature, mythology or other subjects, which is why they chose The Enchanted Bookshop.

But it's not just for the audience. It seems the performers are getting educated too.

"We've already heard from some of our young actors that they've been doing their 'homework' to learn about characters, like Pollyanna, Robin Hood and Tom Sawyer... The familiar characters are fun to dive in for them."

I always loved reading these books when I was growing up so I couldn't be happier knowing that a new generation of readers is discovering these stories.

Oh, and one other fun thing about this production. I noticed in the cast list that they have an actor portraying Captain Flint, Long John Silver's parrot. I wrote it as a prop, but I would love to see what the young performer does with the part.

Captain Flint want a cracker?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

One for the books

The Enchanted Bookshop seems to bring out the creativity in everyone. And Pumphouse Junior, a children's theater company in Cartersville, GA, is no exception.

They're producing the play this month and they knew they'd need a lot of books for their set. So what did they do? They asked friends of the program to donate them, with the promise to give the books to the local library when they're done.

What a fantastic idea! Not only does it promote interest in their production, not only does it get them a whole boatload of free props (always a benefit for cash-strapped theaters!), but it gives the whole community a stake in the show.

Of course, the library is the biggest winner of all.

Pumphouse Junior has already collected hundreds of books, and they're continuing to take them through the end of the run. Here's hoping they get hundreds more!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Taking sides

Seems like everyone's on a team these days.

Team Marvel. Team DC.

Team Alicia. Team Blake. Team Kelly. Team Adam.

There's even a Team Coco.

Not too long ago, every teenage girl in the known universe was either Team Edward and Team Jacob.

Which is why I love the way Jackson County Community Theatre is using this concept to promote their upcoming production of Wicked Is As Wicked Does. The cast has split off between #TeamWicked and #TeamRoyal and is asking people to post pics under their favorite team.

Great idea, guys! I hope you have a fantastic show.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Indiana summer camp gets creative

Youth theatre is alive and well in Brownstown, Indiana. That's where my fairy tale parody Wicked Is As Wicked Does will be performed next month. And that's where a record number of kids are participating in a free summer theatre camp to prepare for the production, as reported in this local article.

The camp originally planned to cut off enrollment at 75 kids, but when they had almost 100 sign up, they decided to let them all in, which forced them to get creative. With so many experience levels among the campers, the leaders found themselves relying on the older kids to help bring the younger ones up to speed.

"They are so energetic and eager to learn," said camp leader Stacey Williams. "It's fun to watch them grow in confidence as the week goes along."

Thanks for all your hard work, Stacey (and the rest of the crew!). Sounds like the kids are having a fantastic time.

Monday, June 18, 2018

1000 and counting...

A big shout-out to Honey Creek Community School of Ann Arbor, MI. They just gave me my 1000th production with their performance of You're Driving Me Crazy!

And let me tell you, it took a loooong time to get here. I got my first two productions in 2006, when my wife and I ran a children's theatre company in Colorado Springs and I penned a couple of plays for our students.

It was a long dry spell after that until 2010, when I got my third production as a result of a national playwriting contest (I didn't win). Then things really started heating up in 2011, when Pioneer Drama Service published my first play with them, The _urloined Letter.

I'm now getting about 300 productions a year, so the next thousand shouldn't take nearly as long.

So no, I couldn't have achieved this milestone without my publisher. But just as importantly, I couldn't have done it without all of the school and community theatre directors who've chosen my plays. So to you I want to send out a great big...

Friday, June 1, 2018

Beating the odds

They say you can't break into Hollywood with a cold query.

They say you can't break into Hollywood if you don't have connections.

They say you can't break into Hollywood if you're over fifty.

Well, they must be wrong, because I just did it.

Yesterday, I signed with Gravity Squared Entertainment, a management company based in Beverly Hills. They work in a variety of fields but their specialty is turning books into movies. As far as I know, they've never signed a playwright before, but they must have liked something about my plays because they're hoping to do the same with them.

Make no mistake. It's still a longshot getting a movie made. Only around 500 feature films are released in Hollywood each year, and although streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video are fueling a rapid growth in that number, the fact remains that a lot more screenplays end up in the trashcan or "development hell" than on the big screen.

The play that got their attention was, you guessed it, The Enchanted Bookshop. My managers say it has a Night at the Museum or even a Shrek feel, and think it might get picked up by one of those two streaming services, since they're both ramping up their offering of children's films.

Surprisingly, they don't think the script needs much work. The main thing, they say, is that it needs to be bigger. They want to see a lot more book characters popping in and out of the story, so that's what I'll be working on over the next couple months.

But first I need to polish a different screenplay, an original script that tries to recapture the spirit of The Goonies.

More on that one later...