What I'm Reading...
Reading. Editing. Sometimes, they are one and the same for me. Or sometimes, I do them in tandem. This summer, I'm rereading The Fellowship of the Ring, as fodder and inspiration for editing The Unshorn Thread, Book One in the Tales Misforgotten Trilogy by none other than my son, Colin P. Druce-McFadden. But, as I'm editing, I'm of course also reading it, or rather re-reading it.
Okay, I know he's my son, but The Unshorn Thread is one of the best books I've ever read! Truly. Having worked with Colin as his editor for just about 4 years, I have just completed the final stage of rereading the whole book for anything we've missed. For example, when writing the post-Civil-War dialogue has Colin spelled is that as i'zat; he had as he'da; could'a, should'a, and would'a the same way each time? Picky things. I'm also looking to see that everything is perfectly clear. There's not much to catch. This book is extraordinarily well-written!
On September 20th, I'm heading off to Orange, CA, for a bunch of reasons, the original one to very sadly attend the memorial service for Marvin Meyer, a dear man, a fabulous professor, a renowned Biblical scholar, and my primary resource for my play, Discovery: The Lost Gospel of Judas. It just so happens that Chapman University is also, the same weekend, hosting The Big Orange Book Festival (BOB), at which I have the opportunity to present Colin's novel to the public. When I get the schedule, I'll post when I'll be speaking about the trilogy and Colin's Kickstarter campaign and I'll be reading excerpts from The Unshorn Thread. If you are in Orange, please come!
The Audience and Critics Respond to Fred and Mary's World Premiere...
The reviews are coming in and they are lovely! Here's one from Kathy Weir who traveled from Tucson to Prescott to see the play: "Since Fred and Mary never met in their lifetimes, we weren't sure how their story would be told. Micki Shelton created an incredible play to bring the two together. As you listen to Mary Colter's dialog you can actually see and feel her vision for the buildings she created. It was my husband's first play and he loved it. When we left the Elk Theater we were ready to head to the Grand Canyon to revisit the story of Mary Colter."
They are also fair and balanced. Theatre Critic, Kerry Lengel, came up from Phoenix to see the show. Here are a few excerpts from his review. "In the John Wayne view of history, the West was won by steely-eyed heroes who faced down outlaws and "Injuns" and made the frontier safe for civilization. A rather different vision is expounded in "Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance," a new historical drama by Arizona playwright Micki Shelton. It premiered Saturday, July 7, at the newly renovated Elks Opera House in Prescott....History says the two never met, but in this play they do, because, as narrator "Old Mary" (Gail Mangham) puts it, "I've always invented histories for my buildings, so why not tell my story however I want?"...Channeling a 30-something Katharine Hepburn, Cecily Overman creates a compelling portrait of Mary as an indomitable woman with an acerbic wit who more than held her own in an era ruled by men. Under the direction of Kate Hawkes, the actress gets strong support from Colin McFadden and Ben Gorman as company men Ford F. Harvey and J.F. Huckel, as well as from Andréa Morales as Minnie Huckel, Fred Harvey's daughter and Mary's ally in the good-natured battle of the sexes that plays out charmingly, though somewhat repetitively, throughout the play's two acts."
Read the whole review at: http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/stage/articles/20120709fred-mary-review-elks-opera-house-prescott.html#ixzz20WDGxrAc
Late June Progress
It's been a busy week as cast and crew gear up for Preview Night on July 6th (That's this Friday folks!!) and Opening Night on July 7th. Here's what we've been doing:
♦ On Saturday, June 23rd, four cast members and I went up to Grand Canyon to see Mary Colter's buildings, including the 3rd floor of Hopi House, which is not open to the public, and then over to Cameron for Navajo Tacos.
♦ Our first costume fitting with the cast went smoothly on Monday, June 25th. Thank you, Martha Clarke and Arizona Broadway Theatre!
♦ We have now moved rehearsals from our rehearsal space to the stage of The Elks Opera House. Thank you Colette!
♦ Barry Barbe paid for another 2,500 bookmarks this week, and Margo Christiansen took handfuls down to Phoenix, including to the clubhouse at Sun City. Thank you Barry and Margo!
♦ Because Spring Hill Suites is full for some of the nights during the show, Residence Inn is now offering a 10% discount. Just ask for the "Fred and Mary" discount when making your reservation.
♦ Kerry Lengel, the theatre critic for the Arizona Republic, is coming up to see the show Opening Night! Thank you Kerry!
♦ Early this week, we pulled in just over $600 in ads and donations. Keep them coming, those of you who are able. $25 or $500 will help us to meet all our financial obligations. Thank you to Spring Hill Suites, especially, for their donation!
♦ Karen Despain is working on an article about the show that will come out in The Daily Courier before the show opens. We are also on page 54 of the July AAA magazine in the Calendar of Arizona Events, as well as on the cover of Frontier Gazette! Thank you Karen and Elisabeth!
♦ Matt Lehrman featured us on Channel 3/Phoenix, offering a glowing report about Fred and Mary, along with an invitation to drive up from the Valley for the show! Thank you Matt, Jennifer, and all!
♦ Both Tom Agostino and Barry Barbe interviewed me for their KJZZ radio network programs, both airing June 30th! Thank you, Tom and Barry!
♦ Finally, on Friday, June 29th, several members of the cast (Mary, the Harvey family, and our two Santa Fe RR officials) drove to Flagstaff and performed a short preview of the play outdoors at Heritage Square. Afterwards, Flag's own "The Pizza Guy" restaurant provided the cast members with much-needed (not to mention, delicious) sustenance. Thank you Mike!
♦ And now, this just in: the set is loaded and assembled, and the spiral staircase is in place! Thank you David, Michael, Rick, Brenden, Ben, Jessica, Becca, and Kate!
Get your tickets now at: www.elksoperahouse.com.
Early June Thoughts
This week, I am rereading books the I used as part of my research for Fred and Mary and once again watching the two wonderful videos about Mary Jane Colter and her work with the company founded by Fred Harvey--partly in preparation for writing three new monologues for "Old Mary" for Act II of the play. As I engage in my studies of her life and reflect on my many visits to Grand Canyon, I am thinking: Imagine going to the South Rim and not seeing any Mary Colter buildings because they aren't there--not the Lookout Studio, not the Watchtower, not even El Tovar, a Fred Harvey building designed by Charles F. Whittlesey. Imagine only seeing Thunderbird Lodge, Maswik, Shrine of the Ages, and even the stunning new Visitor Center at Mather Point. How would your experience be different? And then ask yourself about the legacy of the Fred Harvey company and of those in the late 19th and early 20th centuries' Arts and Craft Movement who initiated the style that came to be known as National Park Rustic. I believe Fred Harvey, Mary Jane Colter, and the whole Harvey company have given us an incredible gift.
A May Update...
July 7th, Opening Night, is only 40 days away, and we have been active! Here’s what’s been happening for the past month, as we prepare for the World Premiere of Fred and Mary.
- Hopefully, you noticed the announcement of our cast a week or so ago. If you missed it, click on Meet the Cast to see the fabulous cast we have assembled.
- One final cast member rounds out our cast. Toney Largo, who is creating an original native dance for the show, joined the cast just this week. We will post his headshot and bio on as soon as it becomes available.
Your Chance to Meet these Fabulous Actors!
Thanks to Julie Gorman, you will soon have a chance to meet the cast in person in the place where it all began!!! In June of 2008, an early cast presented the first public reading of Fred and Mary to an overflow audience of 75+ at Wild Iris Coffeehouse in downtown Prescott. We are now coming full circle. On Friday Night, June 15th, from 5 to 8 pm, Wild Iris is hosting a gathering at which you may meet the AZ Centennial cast, a few of whom were in that initial reading four years ago. A silent auction will feature beautiful art objects, including handmade pottery by David Hutchens, a Paulo Soleri Windbell, three Navajo necklaces from Canyon de Chelly, artwork by Filmer Kewanyama, a native flute by Michael Goodluck, and more! No charge to attend. Please come and support the production by bidding on these amazing treasures, all created by Arizona artists! (And please thank Julie by ordering a coffee, tea, or yummy goody to enjoy as you chat with cast members.) http://www.wildiriscoffee.com/Site/Wild_Iris_Coffeehouse.html
Design Elements Set
Two major aspects of any staged production are the costumes and the set.
We are so very lucky to have the support and expertise of some pretty cool theatre folk on these.
- The costume connect goes way back to when our Director Kate Hawkes first moved to the USA and began directing at Linfield College in Oregon. There, she met undergraduate Martha J. Clarke. More than 20 years later, Kate moves to AZ and Lo and Behold! Martha is the founding and current costumer of the amazing Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria. Martha and ABT are making a generous part in-kind contribution to costuming this show. Martha will travel up to Prescott several times to ensure that we have the right costumes, the right fits, and then be here to get the play into Tech week and opening. This is made possible by the generous financial contribution of our newly dubbed ‘Costume Angel’ Marilyn J. Henze.
- The set while open, simple, and expansive in many ways, includes a series of platforms, curves, and a spiral staircase with an oval platform on top. Local Artist Rick Hartner is donating time, materials, and talent to create the combination of the spiral case and platform (from which Old Mary will recount and survey her story). The staircase will be brought in, in sections, and reassembled inside the Elks Opera House a week before we open.
- Meanwhile, Phoenix area Set & Costume Designer/Builder/Technician Dave Castellano, who has a connection with the Opera House from the past, will build and load-in the raked staging with (coverable) center circle, regular flat platforming, and 2 rolling platforms. These will become the property of the Elks Opera House Foundation and be available for future productions in a variety of possible figurations on the EOH stage.
- Watch for updates on the lighting, sound, and projection!
Your Chance to Learn About the Play’s Development
Are you planning to attend the Phippen Museum’s 38th Annual Western Art Show and Sale on Monday, May 28th of Memorial Day Weekend? Stop in at ‘Tis Art Gallery at noon; go up to the third floor, and you will hear Micki and Kate tell you all about the play—its key figures, themes, development, and production design. You’ll even get to hear three of the actors read small parts of the script. Don’t know where ‘Tis is? Here you go: http://www.tisartgallery.com/ Then, hang out and hear cast member Fil Kewanyama’s lecture, “The Hopi Way.” Fil’s lecture begins at 2pm.
- As I write this, we have nearly $16,000 in the bank, and we have no outstanding bills.
- Four generous donors have decided to “Join the Journey to Opening Night” by donating $230 to help us get closer to our fundraising goal. Check out what they get to do (and consider joining them!) by clicking on Join the Journey.
- We need about $15,000 more to be sure that we can pay all these fabulous people. To read about other ways you can help (and see the rewards you will get) see: Supporting Fred and Mary.
- Buy your tickets now while you can still get primo seats! Excellent seats are available for all performances at The Elks Opera House http://www.elksoperahouse.com/ Opening Night: July 7, 2012 with a meet and greet the cast after the show. Preview Night: July 6th, plus evening or matinee performances July 8, 13, 14, and 15.
- And don’t forget: Let your out-of-town friends know that Springhill Suites offers a 10% discount to folks coming to Prescott for the show. Just tell your friends to ask for the “Fred and Mary discount.”
We are still fundraising. If you can help, again or for the first time, please make your check out to:
“The Elks Opera House Foundation/Fred & Mary” and mail it to:
The Elks Opera House Foundation/Fred & Mary
P.O. Box 3692, Prescott, Arizona 86302
Kate Hawkes and Micki Shelton
(and Fred and Mary)