Similar Saturdays – Sometimes in Different Worlds, but Two Particular Involving Total Life Lessons…

Believe it or not, getting up at 5:00 AM was not that hard.  The last two weeks I have found myself in this huge draining time warp of exhaustion seemingly barely getting all done just in the nick of time – and even so, somehow amazingly it keeps getting done….:)

Thanks to the ASF Bear Boosters we have been able to capitalize on the last three weekends, yeah, they are weekends but also, been able to do concessions at ASF to generate funds to offset costs of printing and add some insurance for when and if prices might increase.  Thanks to the the Sports Faculty at ASF and PA Boosters, despite giving up our Saturday’s they have been a success.  Here’s a typical morning…

5:00 AM, wake up – stumble to the kitchen, grab dog food, make my way to where the already whining canines are aware of me waking up, drop food in their bowl, head to the shower (the time allows their food to digest!) – get dressed, get the dogs, to the walk thing through Parque Rio – come back, get items together for today’s concession (today?  One dozen Krispy Kreme, one microwave, one long cord power strip, 6 bagels (more at school) 12 muffins, on case of Valle juice boxes, a backpack full of other supplies – and believe it or not, I made it to the corner for a taxi.

Whew – 6:40 AM – ASF – early – good, enough time to start 48 cups of coffee brewing, head immediately to Oxxo two blocks away, three large bags of ice coming back kind of totally uncomfortable back to ASF (yes, close enough to walk and not far enough away to feel deserving of a taxi) – make it into ASF with arms aching, get all Gatorade, water,juice, soda on ice – load up the dolly with items, grab two large tables from across campus and bring to the lower part of school.   Set up all items back and forth like 8 times from the library where supplies are kept put on tablecloths, tables and items, set up electric, we are in business at EXACTLY 8:00 AM!

Three different stages of gymnastic groups are performing and by 10:00 Krispy Kremes had been gone in that first 2o minutes to follow at 8:20 – Muffins started disappearing next but WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN we would have to make FOUR complete 48 cup urns of coffee today?  Y^#(!#&$(&@#*^&R$%^#O!  WOW!  Bagels, muffins donuts are a wisp of a dream my 11:30 and POOF! – Pizza arrives after awesome amazing staffer Ye Eun makes the call – bam!  four pizzas and they are delved on – 1 hour and they were a dream.  after the break for the judges, we order more and immediately they are back for as much pizzas as we ordered a second set of four.

As this utter chaos of way more people than we expected swirling around us, the calmness, expertise and reactions from staffers Alexa and YeEun made 10000% the difference today and the reason they did so well?  Because of those two and keeping a level-head. After 3:00 hit, and I spent an hour more cleaning and ordering things away and in the library, with my feet absolutely POUNDING – I headed back in a Citio as I had no energy to make it to the metro, at all.

I get home and find, the turkey I was going to buy off the group is GONE.  Nada.  Of course I realize this when I get home.  I walk the dogs as they had been in since 5:30 AM – we do the walk and take care of business routine, and I jet back to the metro, yes, that is right, headed back to ASF sure I can the meat I left out on the desk of the Lower School kitchen.  I could not fathom so much food/packets going bad so I am figuring I will jet back grab it and come back home FINALLY.

I get to ASF AGAIN, and can not find the turkey packages ANYWHERE.  I am too tired to realize I came back and am no better than when I started, and yet I did seem to just do that.  I get back home with my legs and feet feeling like small volcano eruption.  Open the fridge and YEAH. Stuffed inside a food container with the muffin is the piece I obviously had no clue about, the Pavo.  At this point, I decided my legs were going to give out soon from this day being so close, but not quite over. =

Also remember, this gymnastics concession was one of the longest, craziest and busiest day I have ever put in, and that counts Art Fair. I never, EVER saw that coming and yet I am still processing the event right now.  Literally it felt like I did the transcontinental passage back to where we started.  Through the absolute and sheer numbers that took us on one long ride all day and the talented anchoring of Alexa and Ye Eun, this day happened and much more financially than anyone could have imagined.

There are so many things you can say about people that have hearts larger than the community that surrounds them but yet, the subtle things done now only lead to greatness with the transition to a new experience after Upper School.

Looking back to my last day in New York, March 21st, this perhaps was one of the best days ever.  My high school friend and I spent just most of the day talking, venting, and at the Heartland Brewery  – at the base of the Empire State Building.  This place of course ia traditional meeting spot in the heart in New York City, has been for us alot but it is DELICIOUS and inviting, just a GREAT St. Elmo’s only larger kind of feel.  It is so incredibly large it is easy to forget that this is part of a huger whole!   Stepping into just sitting and chatting, reflecting, and remembering, and contemplating, it was a pretty great afternoon!

We all have friends that are priceless, and with my friend Umar, we step back in where we left off and time never seems to stop where we pick up.  He is absolutely the best friend you’d ever want in anyone – we both have war stories of what has happened to use when the good nice always finishes last yet, we never have to share any of them, it is a given that we have endured and persevered in this crazy life, and have come out victors because we have made such valuable friendships.  Not only did Umar purchase a shirt from The Heartland Brewery for me, but he got me this amazing jersey    Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 10.13.04 PM  and this point I was dumbfounded.   I now have a Steeler jersey, Penguins, and have to see about getting my Pirates Kendall jersey that “disappeared” at the dry cleaners and the set will be back intact…

All the times we had Pittsburgh and witnessed Mario Lemieux on the ice for the Penguins, the moments of reflecting back and just being friends? – With the amazing things that happened on this trip in New York this year and the accolades we worked so hard for – the friendships like these – are worth a thousand masterpieces in any gallery.

The day, before heading to the airport was a different take on New York seeing it in different eyes, with a friend that witnessed the same craziness in high school, here we are worlds apart and yet, here we are!

Which, that Saturday and this Saturday – have these amazing parallels of amazing people with a heart that is larger than what anyone can imagine;  greatness pours out because yes, their compassion, their optimism, and commitment,  be it friendships, helping when help is needed, and just being a GREAT person – life is good and there are no words to show how deep these individuals and friendships run where ever you go.

Yes, today with the trips I actually made back and forth countlessly today, as a result of the extreme fatigue that creates forgetfulness and much general chaos, that Saturday with a best friend from so many years before and JUST seeing New York in a different light – all magical moments thanks to the people that bring what they have inside of them to our doorstep everywhere.  Amid the feet throbbing, the muscles screaming for the night to provide some comfort – when you are surrounded like friends like Umar, Alexa and Ye Eun, everything fits right into place.

Coming back on the plane in Business Class, wow, That was a different world in itself yet seeing the lights of Mexico into view – an amazing feeling that so much that happened had become so much a part of me.  That in itself made it hard to differentiate what the best part of this whole New York experience truly was – hard to leave such a trip behoind yet knowing this was a result of so many talented people that made it happen? – it was amazing to be back to them and realize this is my life now yet friends I have made always are with me in some fashion, that seems pretty amazing   :)  Lucky?  Beyond with these amazing people in my life :)

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Duck, Duck, Duck, Harry? Dog? What is GOING ON?!!!!!

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There it was – the perfect day, an afternoon with the canines in the Dog Park at Parque Mexico, and on our way our taking the long way around the newly renovated and cleaned duck water park, and of course my dogs took a special interest, they always do.

As I rounded the corner, it appeared someone was even more excited than my wild and revved up canine family.  There, through the bars of the fencing, was a white small pitbull that had broken from his owner and had leapt towards the water and furiously dogpaddling headed straight for what he would hope to have as a duck dinner.  No kidding.  The ducks seemed to evade the puppy invader for awhile, but it was clear he was not giving up and would be set on grabbing the nearest duck as fast as he could.  So yeah, then there is me.

So I did the most logical thing, I took my shoes, socks, off, dog safely tied up at the fence but eager for THIS experience to unfold, and I entered into the duck pond after the runaway.  There is NOTHING exciting and wonderful, as it seems from behind that fence, of walking through duck water.  Really.  I am super majorly glad they had recently cleaned the bottom, but even with a recent cleaning, add the new smooth bottom liner and the existence of quite alot of duck muck (my word, yep) I almost slipped a few times.  Yet – I was gaining on the puppy.

Her rounded around the back of the island where a huge spot of water rose about 14 feet in the air, and I thought, “So, this is what it feels like to be under this thing?”  I saw the puppy make it to the island, barely, slipping on trying to gain a hold on the island.  He actually look relieved to see me, as it seemed he was doing more paddling than he planned on seeing how evasive the ducks were in the water.  Before he had time to think about honing in on any nearby ducks on dry ground I called him he came over and I grabbed him into my arms.

Wading back to the fence line, the funny thing was seeing his legs move as if he were still in the water paddling, even though he was in my arms heading back to sanctuary.  I made it back edge just short of the fenceline, and handing to his owner who kept thanking me profusely.  Of course Amaya, Wriggley, and Kinah are leaning high up against the fence, asking, “When is it our turn?!”  I regretfully noticed after I exited the duck area, everyone had me on their videos and cameras – and I was so glad no one I actually KNEW had just seen this unfold.

Of course, on the way back, my shorts we drenched and people (most) associated my dogs with having run in after them somewhere.   If only they knew. Of course when I arrived home, the first thing I did was get a shower, yet the faint smell of duck remained, lol.

It’s funny how you have no idea what the story will tell, yet, there are some parts so well they are easy predict at a glance.  This was a hysterical addition to a week , not actually 3 weeks.  However, the onslaught of last minute testing, ceremonies at every turn , reservations for equipment to name a few added to a week of mayhem to keep on top of it all!  As you know I am STILL working on finishing the experience of the last day in New York as well as a few many amazing experiences that involve witnessing the soon-to-tbe-seniors this next week – so stay tuned  :)

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Combined Essences, New York and Mexico City

Yes, despite the last New York post being made on April 6th 2015 f0llowing a whirlwind of experiences in New York City in March of 2015 – amid the advent of Into the Woods, Blue Moon, and sandwiched in between there, seeing Scott Westerfeld in New York as well as in Mexico City, yes.  Yes, there was alot of experience that had not been touched upon yet, and I will try to pick up exactly where I left off so many weeks ago – with combining the experiences of Mr. Westerfeld and some amazing others – and combine them I will be able to :)

As I left Mr. Erick Gordon’s appointment with ideas and tons of creativity, I headed immediately to the Union Square Barnes and Noble – where I had picked up an events calendar from the Barnes and Noble on Broadway and literally stumbled across the fact that Cathleen Davitt Bell, Holly Black, Heather Demetrios, Kevin Emerson, Kathryn Holmes, and yes, SCOTT WESTERFELD would be premiering their YA books!  Had it not been the fact that Mr Westerfeld and Ms. Larbalestier were COMING TO MEXICO CITY in a few weeks, this would not have caught my attention, but for the past few months to a year – I had been relaying correspondence to them to get them to come to Mexico City and – WHAT?  In New York on my next to last day?  YES I was going to be there!

I rushed between stations, stops, adding money to my metro card, stopping along the way in coffee shops to make sure I was getting the directions correct to the Barnes & Noble amid a snow-covered New York.  Finally, I made it, I rushed the desk, asked which floor (like 4 floors to this Barnes and Noble!) – bought Mr Westerfeld’s Afterworlds and Heather DemetriosI’ll Meet you There, no idea what the book was about, and sure enough, all the authors were onstage performing their books!  THIS WAS GREAT!

I loved every minute of actors acting out their plot – and since it seemed this was a yearly event, this was something to definitely keep an eye out for every year!

Following the very inside look into all the author’s books via their acting  – (hysterical) we were able to go up and get books signed.  I did not know later I would come to love Heather Demetrios’ book I randomly purchased, and I approached Mr. Westerfeld.  In introduced myself and he paused, and said, “Harry Brake from Mexico City?!” and I remarked how much a coincidence, and a cool one, that it was he was here the next to last day and now much we were looking forward to seeing him at ASF.  Amazing still how coincidences like this occur all the time and make me absolutely believe they exist for a reason.  Leaving that night with much excitement over having that experience, I noticed the beauty of the night, the snow, and took thousands of pictures, some very special ones for the MUN press I worked with in Mexico City that would become gifts.

I realized as I descended into the metro and had been jarred , that the jarring?  Yes, that was after a few minutes’ realization enough for me to realize the Columbia award we had won and I had been carrying under my arm?  GONE.  Literally into thin air and I had been hanging onto that ALL NIGHT!     Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.02.48 AM

Have you ever become so sick of your stomach that everything is just a panic?  That is exactly what occurred in my stomach over the next hour – imagine the one amazing award we won and have traveled so far to obtain – and in a snap – poof.  Gone.  I can’t even really put words to it other than you knowing how the rest of my night went.  All the way back to the hostel, I felt so incredibly sick, and despite it being a framed symbol, and not the actual act of winning I should have realized, I couldn’t.  I had been so proud, so incredibly beaming of that one icon we received from Columbia, with it gone it felt like may rugs had been taken out from under me.  I delegated myself to reaching out to Columbia before I left the next day and immediately seeing about a a replacement but knowing, the original award we received was the original and was out there somewhere, probably to be discarded unless of value monetarily due to the frame (obviously not making me feel any better!).

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.02.11 AMFast Forward to Authors Among Us, April 20th, 2015 in Mexico City – an amazing amazing day.  Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalesiter, and Alaya Dawn Johnson ALL here for an event Repentino. created titled, Authors Among Us.  Arriving around 10:30 AM, we toured the campus briefly, visiting Ms. Ramon’s class talking about The Road, interviewing with Garrett Kelly, lunch on top of the roof of the WEC thanks to Ms Castelpietra, Tracey Bryan, and Kristen Dixie, talking to Slippery Rock students, Middle School students, and librarians, then into the FAC for meet and greet sessions and autographing, a panel discussion, back for more autographing and discussion in the lobby, and believe it or not, Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.26.52 AM

dinner at Sobrino’s with students Pablo, Lucia, and Minji as well as Ms. Dixie and myself.  Sound like a dream?  It was but on top of that, the amazing professionalism, organization, and energy the Repentino. staff brought to pull off such an event – maybe that is the even more amazing (yet it should not be) reactions I walked away with.

Of course the privilege to be among such renowned authors was a one of a kind experience and had me walking around pinching myself to make sure this was happening, and yet, not hard to believe with the professionalism and expertise the Repentino. staff maintained all day.  The discussion was absolutely amazing – and will be posted shortly – but issues of gender, respect to women as authors and contributors to the literary realm, as well as Earth Day issues recognized this week that started when they arrived, I can only say a whirlwind of essence continued from that very night I saw the chance to see Mr. Westerfeld on stage in New York weeks before the real deal for us, at ASF.

Starting traditions are difficult but in bringing the artists Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, and Alaya Dawn Johnson to Mexico City, I believe it is vital to bring as many Young Adult authors in person to Mexico City to encourage the opportunities to show reading is one aspects of the arts.  Interviewing, doing an international Twitter Chat, connecting authors to real world issues such as Earth Day, gender respect, as well as roles of genders in writing were just a few of the topics that came out of this particular experience we titled, “Authors Among Us.”

Of course, this was a dream to have such n event, but the reality was a Repentino. staff that could pull it off.  Pull it off they did.  The idea and importance to include Middle School students as part of this experience was important, and seeing the staff of Repentino. come together and create a successful event that would set down some exciting experiences of question and answer, establishing traditions of meeting authors that strive to make an impact, and potentially create future writers thanks to the inspirations of these authors, I couldn’t help but think how grateful we were to be able to interact with these authors, as well as have our start with one of our own, Adi Alsaid who still is on the fast track to writing.

That day truly was an anxious one for me, as well as many others, but so many aspects of the day made it so valuable and unforgettable.  From the arrival and actually seeing the authors arrive, to seeing them stop by the Middle School and visit with Ms. Ramon’s English class talking about The Road by Cormac McCarthy, to interviewing with Mr. Kelly Garret representing ASF, to lunch on top of the Fine Arts Center thanks to an amazing lunch preparation from Ms. Castelpietra, Ms. Bryan, and Ms. Dixie, eating with our editor in chief of Repentino., Alia, then to the actual author event of signing, meeting, greeting sponsored by Porco Rosso, and then a panel discussion in the Fine Arts Center with the help of the Tech Club, to the dinner that Lucia, Pablo, and Minji attended with myself and Ms. Dixie at Sobrino’s – the depth and planning was grueling at first to make sure all would go as planned, no major hitches.  Yet again, with a staff excited, motivated, and energized, a financial ASF group that supported us, as well as the administrative staff, it coming together was a gift that allowed so many individuals to share pleasure in the act of reading.

Truly, this is why Repentino. indulges in promoting reading, as Repentino. and our libraries have much in common, as well as National Writing Month, as well as setting up opportunities for authors to visit Mexico City and swap ideas, creativity, and dreams with to-be authors.  In this case our guests were so gracious and not in the least afraid to express their bold beliefs about the world around them.  It was ironic, the three times I did travel to their hotel to drop items of or to arrange travel plans, they were in the lobby at the same time as I, and we joked that it was ESP.  Yet, when I finished Mr. Westerfeld’s latest book Zeroes, I thought wow, the authors were able to bring their own superpowers of knowledge, intuition, and writing and give out pieces of wisdom to all within their reach.

If as a group Repentino. can continue to reach into the possibilities and dig out more chances to show how the arts in all forms can reach diverse groups of believes, cultures, and individuals, then the existence of Repentino. would not have been in vain and not just for recreation, but with the purpose to move students forward into the world and make a definite difference. In seeing the group in fact make such a success of this event, who is to say we cannot continue to be known as ASF to bring big names in authors to the campus in the name of encouraging literacy, the arts, and creativity in all disciplines?  This should be the aim, to bring a purpose to what each talent students brings to the table, no matter what that talent may be, and have a means to allow that talent to reach the outside world.

We said at the beginning of the 2014-2015 year for Repentino. that we aimed to bring the magic of New York to Mexico City since we did not have a major staff number attending the CSPA Conference in New York this year.  I felt in looking back as this year winds down, thanks to a committed and devoted staff, we have done that to a small degree.  From the chances at making an impact through awards, nominations, presentations, creating events that bring reality to our doorstep, being involved in initiatives that invoke change here and around the world, that is not a bad track record for the year of 2014-2015 for Repentino..

I feel it is even more magic to involve staff, both past and present, in this experience.  Lucia Ocejo Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.35.48 AMwas able to produce some fine poster designs that would go on and represent excitement of this event and serve as prizes for attendees, the social media did buzz among our current staff as well as our staff from past years and everyone helped spread the word of our guests coming to Mexico City.  By creating a Twitter Chat(#authorsamongus2015) , individual Twitter accounts for our guests just in Mexico City, as well as promoting their writing through themes that had been discussed on campus here at ASF, we tried to provide as diverse an approach as possible to represent the many areas that literacy, writing, and social issues can soak into.  When each of us can travel to a conference and extend it’s effect for months after, I think the school itself makes back the investment from sending individuals to various trainings and conferences, and that is my hope that occurred from this particular excursion to NYC 2015!  One more day remained in New York and some very cool things occurred that last Saturday in New York so stay tuned!

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Silver and Gold, Bells and Whistles, Magnified Beauty and Artistry.

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I’ve thought it but never stated it publicly.  I am a total, 100% thief.  Admittedly, I have to truly be honest, I love it.  I never imagined truly stealing so much over the last two months, but there we are, me just the same loving every minute of it.

In witnessing the absolute sacred sound of English handbells, Classical guitars, and the ASF Chorale again, revisited from December, sent chills through the very inner soul of my body, I found myself feeling as if I was stealing precious moments of beauty that truly can only be seen through the dedication of the participants, the conducter, and the Tech Club.  When combined, you not only were witness to a dramatic performance that definitely set you at ease, but allowed you to appreciate how much a part of the world arts really do play. Yo never truly realize this until you slow down, take in every variation, note, and individual that you could not imagine on that stage, could not remember seeing in front of the sound board, could not see operating the lights, could only see in the classroom and not holding an English handbell, and then it sinks in.  Stealing moments like this only inspire lives around you, and the things we complain about daily?  Literally water under the bridge.

It is a true gift that Larry Tharp has brought to ASF the last 15 years and yet, if the one message he repeatedly stated at his concerts would go unheeded . “Let this concert sink in and make your evening a better one” – you missed a whole chunk of what magic Larry does in front of the participants.  You miss the magic of Tech Club behind such performances, and you certainly miss the smiles that appear on the artists o stage as you see the fill effect of their classical guitar, English handbell, and choral performances.  Words try to touch the surface to capture this beauty from so many participants, but as you know, they only come so far in being able to express the full impact of such an experience.

Worth fighting for?  Yes.  Worth maintaining to show the versatility of students on and off stage?  Yes.  Worth being able to express your soul through an differing form of expression?  Absolutely.  These are the aspects that make up our Music Department, Arts Department, publications on campus as well as the arts that exist in from and behind that curtain in the Fine Arts Center.  Being able to pull your heart and share it with such a crowd is not easy but the ultimate price is beyond numbers when you see the result.

Being able to “steal” these moments over the last few weeks thanks to Drama Club, thanks to the parents of the participants, thanks to the individuals that operate in front and behind the scenes, I do resign myself to realizing I’ve discovered much more to Mexico than I thought existed and it becomes easier to leave behind elements of the world such as gossip, envy, remorse, and more, thanks to the beauty that Mexico and the individuals I have been lucky to interact with so much thanks to ASF.  Seeing how groups such as Drama Club, Tech Club, the arts publications and their staffs (students and teachers) amplify emotions through their skills – priceless.  In this specific case, saying “We’ll miss you Larry” is able to cover that and represent so many individuals that go on to work so hard to make sure, you’re there to steal that one moment as well.  Larry’s message began to intermesh with the goals of all the other arts we have witnessed in the last few weeks at ASF, that of letting it flow over us and improve our lives, and giving it chance to do so.  Thank you Larry for bearing your soul, your time, and your energy towards that effort, and for supporting everyone along the way that has been willing to make that sacrifice!

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Among the Stars

That is exactly what you thought when you entered the hall leading into the auditorium from the Fine Arts Center lobby Friday April 24th – a true transformation. Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 4.59.31 PMLights that led into the back stage, and as I followed this path- I felt the onrush of memories I experiences when we used to participate in Relay for Life back in Seaford, DE. The lights, the perfectness of the moment, all led to a celebration of talent. In that respect, this evening of the Blue Moon would be no different. Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 4.27.38 PM As I made my way to the back stage the set was STUNNING. Lighted bags hung from the ceilings, that set the tone for one of the best lounges/theatres/night clubs you’d ever want to see, with the high tables interspersed throughout the square stage on three sides. The sound and lights that would strobe designs amid the acts was conveniently placed, and until the show started you were stunned, I mean that to the best ability I have ever experienced anything, STUNNED.

At that moment, I experienced something I knew inside all along and was excited to see this truth was eeking out – as a group we discovered where the Tech Club belonged all along, right in our hearts and the realization that they belonged on stage, where they have always been all this time, was VERY satisfying.

The creativity that can be the stage finally took hold this very evening as the whole experience began to take hold of our hearts in a very magical place. Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 5.00.49 PM In the amazing and beautiful acts that began to take place – I realized how lucky I had been up to this moment to experience these amazing talents through so many tears of Open Mic – and having them all collide and complement each other on one stage, not many opportunities or experiences or acts like that will take hold in our memories and yet, this Blue Moon of 2015 I felt would always hold a place in our memories and our hearts that that had many accolades starting with the whole essence and feeling of Blue Moon as you entered the magical theatre thanks again to The Tech Club.

With the true belief in bringing contributions to the stage through her heartfelt singing from Lara, to the exotic and impossible to stop foot tapping of Ximena and Alex De Winter, a heart-stopping place that Lucia would take you with Ricardo, to the touching and personal touch of Caroline, the surprising and yet variety of what Paola, Ana, Patricio, Andrew bringing a dynamic collaboration to everyone present, a low humming of talent that rises to a feverish pitch thanks to Minji, Maria, and Ana, the power of subtle variety thanks to Eva Salazar and Jose Juan, the still-standing beauty of Sonia and Alia that can quiet multitudes, taking in the power of Pau on guitar, Andong on piano, as well as EveryDay of EveryNight, with an amazing rendition of Rosanna – the night was magical. Student Council having the insight to be daring and take on such a change from the past Blue Moons – was exciting and great and have the desired effect on everyone.

Very few times do you get to witness what members from behind the stage can do – and yet – the Tech Club led by Hugo Cabrera shared the power of their presence on the stage, as well as the true gift, of sharing it with everyone on that very stage.  From Paloma, Javier, Jose, Hugo and Carlos that turned what we all know as a stage into the most magical arena of an evening, and doing so with gratitude and humbleness – you take everything above into consideration and you have a Friday Blue Moon that would rival the most memorable Friday nights in existence.

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No One is Alone…

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As you know, there is not much awareness in sensing the difference between seeing, versus feeling, there obviously is a distinct difference.  On that same vein, there is the fact that simply seeing, great, but what a treasure when you feel something greater than everything, anything, you’d simply be able to feel so much more than saying, “I saw it.”

You see where I am going with this- right?  Seeing every show of the production of Into the Woods, it’s not simply a marathon of ASF’s Into the Woods – though it might seem like it from the outset.  Yes, there are different casts, yes, the storyline is the same – no, the same feeling that exudes does NOT come out of every show.  Simply put, as with anything you dive into, the whole experience does not start and end with the actual show, and that goes for the many individuals that keep such a creative venture running – as well as the attendees, and those that take an interest in seeing something that might be doubted as a successful run, – it turns into something successful and become what someone can not imagine – successful being involving your heart.

At the end of the day,  the Drama club took a belief, that beyond the stage, there are feelings to be had, to be experienced. If you really really think about it, will there be ONE musical that holds the Drama Club and Tech Club together?  No, their heart and ability is in it for the long haul.  How do you know?

Example one – during this the last show – the cast of Les Miserables could be found sitting right in the row in front of me – and without even looking forward at the stage, at this, the last showing of Into the Woods, your heart rises in your throat – you see their eyes riveted to the stage – their place on that very stage not so long ago – and their hearts and very souls were up there with the very people that they had acted, planned, and worked alongside.  When you saw that very Les Miserables cast stand up and applaud without hesitation – you knew.  You leave knowing Drama Club and Tech Club are not about the moment at hand, but about laying a path of filling the audience with those that have traveled the same path, carried the same dream. 

You realize every single person that carried that dream has carried the reality of this simple fact, every line, every prop moved, every show, fortified the belief that the arts come in many forms, and if a dream is truly dreams, there are those around them that can insure this will become a reality.  “Outsiders” are those that refuse to open their eyes to everything they possible can and they are confined to see just what appears on stage.  (This is also a metaphor on life). The good news is there is another small majority of those that see much much more, and go on to inspire others to see and not just see, but to do something about that belief.  Certainly Into the Woods was able to appeal to this second fact – you heard it, you saw it, and more importantly, you see there are levels that begin to pile on that insure the certainty that what was once a dream is here as a reality.

Alexa mentioned in her speech during this last show, that at the start of a small group creating the idea of a Drama Club, that the emotional after-effect has resulted in where she stood on that very stage.  Just as an earthquake has subsequent aftershocks, I do believe the power of that very dream, that everyone that has ever participated in the past productions, that has ever believed in such a dream such as The Tech Club, the Drama Club, knowing the word “club” is understated- a weak definition of what is really under the surface, has turned into reality the emotions, creativity and dreams that have become Into the Woods.

I have always judged the success of anything, is based on what is pounding from your heart.  Eliminate all else, everything else, and what really counts is what is lying below the surface that moves you and if it is a dream, an idea, or a thought, and it can move others – that my friends is worth following, pursuing and turning into reality.  I have always believed that, and in passing this one gift that can’t be bought and found in any store, I hoped I could and would give the absolute best gift I could ever give and the future of so many – taking someone’s dream and turning into a reality.  Everyone around me that has taken that idea and run with it has turned it into something none of us could have imagined.

Example two – If you see something that plays everything back in slow reel time, and lets you celebrate it – is that priceless? Beyond words.  Hence, when you have had Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, The Sound of Music, and now Into the Woods that have claimed The Fine Arts Center as holy ground for expression, arts, emotions, and creativity – and done that they have – and grown – you have something that transcends definition.  When you have individuals from all sections of the ASF campus, the artistic, the intellectual, the athletic, the technical, that is the beauty that each person brings to the stage.  Into the Woods has brought those very people that were in the very first production, up to the current success story.  This is the funny thing, I see those people from the very first production, and I smile.  Beyond the immediate blo0d-related families, you also see what has formed, thanks to the long-haul belief from all levels, admin, parents, students, alumni, the board, you see a family has formed that, at all costs and beliefs of the families of those that dream and believe, an inspiration keeps growing.   That is the thing dreams are made of.  Into the Woods brings back moments from scenes from all the productions together and you sit there in the audience, emotions flying in all directions, and you realize, this is a home thanks to so many dreams.

Example three – Many individuals believe the success of one individual, of a show, of an event and its success relies on one single event.  I see this is very ego-driven, very singular, and truly is not a true view of what life has to offer.  Now take the belief, that one event, major or minor, is one more addition to allow those that surround you to grow, to realize something they hold inside that can be shared and spread to others, and allow them to grow – to become part of a dream they never imagined, now THAT is something worth believing, nurturing, and aching inside emotionally for.  Truly the Tech Club, the Drama Club, those that believed in that spark, this is definitely the case.  If you witnessed the numbers of students now adults, that have followed this path through what might have seemed woods, everything else fades away – status among peers, money, occupations, what remains the guiding light is that very confidence and belief that dreams come true.  I know, I have seen those that surround me go on and do amazing things that define definition.  They are inspirations to everyone around them.

Multiple Shows and seeing them only reinforces these very thoughts.  There is something magical that occurs from the very first preview to the last show.  Being able to attend every show is not a trophy, is not a contest, it is a dream come true.  I also learn how to take the countless moments of inspiration, give the ideas in other ways that the productions do for everyone in the audience, fortunate enough to see what happens on stage from show to show, and what happens beyond the stage.

I like to think with a little push and suggestion, I have helped to show others possibilities that might have been on a straight path only, and they truly have taken the unconventional path and ran with it, creating a view of life none have been able to picture at all – that is a gift that everyone carries inside and that keeps them going through life when all else falls down around you.  The former students and current students have done something with that suggestion, they take it and turn it into something even I could not imagine.  A priceless gift.

Example four – When you see a piece of laughter- have you noticed that all those emotions – the heart breaking bittersweet fond memories all come together and form a realization of how strong an experience is?  It happened in Beauty and the Beast (Lumiere’s charm), Les Miserables (Master of the House), Into the Woods (reflecting on mics not working and falling birds, Tech Staff dressed up as a Big Bird  :) and so much more!)  – and you realize it IS the bitter and the sweet.  Yet no one instills this laughter amid the bitter sweet ending of something amazing better like Into the Woods this year and a collection of dreamers – which ultimately are the initiators of changing life around us in so many other ways.

Overall this last production should not only be a work of art in your view, but a culmination of a gallery of art and expression that can be applied to every area of our lives and those we come into contact with.  For myself, Advocacy, Repentino., blogging, and doing things beyond what is expected, and receiving this question – “Why?  Why is that your job, task responsibility?” This is the beauty of those questions.  When you are fortunate enough to be around individuals, like those I have been lucky enough to meet as colleagues, families of the various casts, Advocacy students, Repentino. staff, and yes, an amazing world in the theatre – I realized, none of what I do seems like a job at all – it is just a means to build up an institution like ASF and show that ASF is a place that allows creativity, ingenuity, opportunity, and the idea that all of those have different talents, in all forms, and are more important than numbers on a paper that result is test scores.

The last night for Into the Woods?  For the physical 2015 production? – Yes.  Last night for some amazing things to occur – not even a chance.  What I hope will happen?  Taking the cast from that first Beauty and the Beast production, take every cast member since that very first production, and put them all together into one production celebrating where The Tech Club and Drama Club have come in four years. Be it just sitting and stepping up re- creating the singing the parts we all remember, like a Dream Cast production,  (everyone would attend for a month run of this!) or simply a reunion of sorts to celebrate the achievements, but know this, there is no end to the possibilities that each of these members of Into the Woods will bring to the world.

Monday, April 20 brings well-renowned authors to ASF that have tackled the ideas and creativity that moves towards changing the world – be it through recognizing ways to be better individuals to the environment, be it treating each other in the roles of women and men better, and yet, I turn to page 22 of our 2014-2015 Repentino. and behold,

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 9.26.37 AM Red Ribbon by Lucia – the first lines and words brought me back to Les Miserables but more than that, the very emotions that the above Examples 1, 2, 3 and 4 all represent- Lucia was one of many huge examples of what crossover is – being inspired on stage is one arena, wait until you see what all of our students can do in so many different venues – when given the inspiration and encouragement.

I dare you to open page 22 tomorrow at the Authors Among Us Event and premiere of the 2014-2015 Repentino. magazine and not have a stirring in your heart when you read Lucia’s Red Ribbon, and then see the contributions of so many other talented individuals, and you see – how much SO MUCH is intertwined.  Into the Woods helped everyone realize that, from the tears in the beauty when every member worked together from the first show, the quiet determination and skill of the Tech Club behind stage in the lighting booth, on stage, all the way to directing, “make – up -ing”, costuming, feeding – Lost Into Woods made sure that everyone in the audience, knew, without a doubt, No One is Alone!  Thank you Lost Into the Woods team for instilling the emotions, the experience and the foresight to let us know that for so long.  That shadowed hallway on and off stage?  You have helped show us we always have someone beside us on the walk.

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Paths Winding Between Two Worlds, On and Off Stage

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There is always a shifting inside when I am realizing the finishing touches of something amazing, that came together, are concluding.  Usher in the amazing finesse of Into the Woods and seeing a diverse group if individuals coming together, to form something not even in mid a year and a half ago, and you begin to understand why.

Having the privilege of taking in the individuals that you do not see during a performance, you realize the whole new life that exists back stage, before cast enters the stage area, the lighting booth, production details, and the fact that so much goes on, among so many people, and they definitely appreciate each other for it.  How do you put all that into words?  That is quite an impossible feat but, yet, pictures and just being there is picture perfect.

Everyone dreams of an organization or activity where diversity is celebrated, every individual is uplifted and overall, things that came together in the beginning fit every tighter by the end.  Those that do experience this feeling and are involved in such events, I truly believe touch what it means to connect heart to soul.

Being behind the lights, the stage, scene changes, being able to take in what it takes for the light crew, as well as seeing the work every night for costumes, helping between sets, etc – WHOA.  Again, a whole new world exists both on and off stage and to witness this over a span of two weeks is a dream come true.

The members that are Alejandra, Andres, Carlos, Emilio, Enrique, Isabel, Javier, Jeronimo, Jose Fernando, Mateo, Miguel, Patricia, Regina, Sebastian, Su Ji, Tyler, Renata, Victor, and the amazing amount of time that Teruhi, Hugo Rosanna, Rob, and Director Alvaro, with the even stronger support of the Communications Department – all put together the belief in those around them and you see the results.

Again, it is being welcomed into someone’s house an allowed to take part in how much this overall production has meant and continues to mean. Thanks to the quality care by a light crew such, Tech Club, stage management, supporting parents with amazing food for so many, as well as set designers, and so so many more surround a talented and diverse cast? – perfection is defined in a variety of ways through all these individuals…

IMG_2768   …and a deeply committed and caring Giovanna that tricks you by her quietness yet impresses you with her costume detail, there is a world just behind the curtain of Into the Woods that few can imagine thanks to these believers that combined with the cast, shed light into the very darkest part of any wood.

The last performance weighs heavy on everyone – and I would have never guessed how easy it was to be sucked in, and sucked in I was, and the generosity of those around me that put so much into something that uplifts and connects so many?  Some go through life never being able to say they have every had such an experience, and that gift is worth going into the woods for.  Hope to see you tonight in what has become an emotional, creative, and dynamic representation of what occurs when you strive to put heart into everything that is brought to your door  :)

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A Fairy Tale, Story Book Ending

IMG_2305        Into the Woods

Moments can be simply just that – a fairy tale – fleeting and all too fast, yet the flip side to moments are this – they hold so many valuable and memorable aspects of life – that each one is precious.  Into the Woods take three (counting the pre-show) was just that – something that truly, fairly tales are made of.

Sitting in the front with Slippery Rock students was a piece of my past that I was lucky enough to indulge in and revisit –  thanks to the information of what “the Rock” is like now and the past rushing back in – amid some amazing students from SRU that just arrived this week for student teaching.

I could think of no place I’d rather be than Into the Woods and celebrating the present, while being able to recall my past at the same time.  In addition to this, on stage there are certain moments – no matter if you have seen this ASF production once or every night – that will never fail to leave their footprint on your memory.  As soon as the musical score No One is Alone kicks in, the onrush of emotions make your way from your heart, to the tears that form – due to all the fairy-tale-ness represented in our own past present, and future.  The very essence of what has made up our past, and helping to define our future, plays out in front of you while the same does so in the attending members hearts.

Yes, this might be a fairy tale with so many elements mixed together, yet one thing is for certain.  The emotions, experiences, as well as commitment played out in the plot of Into the Woods is the very same commitment, endurance, and belief that all things will work out, with the help of those that surround you.  It is so incredibly easy to forget the contributions of The Tech Club under the stage direction of Patricia, as well as the lighting involving the direction of Jose Fernando,  the coordination of the set to continue to surprise and reel you in thanks to the insights of Javier and Emilio, the amazing details spent on the costumes (from the witch down to the prince) from Giovana and Juan, the even more fine detail that entail the makeup, not appreciated until afar under direct light thanks to Paloma, as well as the ability of the director Alvaro Cerino to put so much into the set and then be able give so much creativity take hold among the cast and those behind the scenes.

Yet, taking for granted the ASF Board and the parents, who effortlessly operate the tables, manage the lobby with Chief House Manager Enrique, then moving to the frantic back and forth actions of stage and public needs with the assistance of Renata, Su Ji, Carlos, Sebastian, Regina, Mateo, Javier, Isabel, Emilio, Alejandra (and who all become an actual part of the play too!) – enhancing the whole production with music thanks to Jeronimo, Mr. McCabe and many more to come that truly, when put together – a masterpiece becomes a fairy tale, becomes a reality.

How about seeing as a building coordinator with Teruhi Yshioka and technical director Hugo Cabrera, Music Director Rob McCabe, General Director Rosanna Cesarman, and Performing Arts Coordinator Dr. Lawrence,  see the growth of so many students, (behind the stage and on) with so many productions, and then witness the renewal that comes with new faces and new years,  as those that have become part of the history of the FAC moving on?  Yes, there are certainly fairy tales interspersed among real life every step of the way, and I do believe it takes the individual willing to set him or herself aside to let those around them experience it even more, and fortunately, the whole team responsible for Into the Woods has done just that.

Letting go has always been the hardest part to becoming so close, as hard as the days when the set takes place and begins to form – and yes, those that play a major role for it all behind the action feel it perhaps even more directly as those days slip by as in a dream.  Yet, when you have a cast that appreciates these elements that tie everything together, you certainly do receive a fairy tale that ties everything together – and so much more for the audience.  With two days left, and time running out for you to grasp onto such a powerful experience, you will walk through the doors of the Fine Arts Center with an expectation, and exit with in a state of surprise that will root inside convincing you, what seem to be fairy tales can in fact come true with the right amount of reality.  Come see Into the Woods before you let that reality slip away.

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“TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood…”

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When the interesting point was made by the Baker that perhaps the path had strayed from Little Red Riding Hood, the whole premise for seeing things differently is set.  In one’s life, you seem to only realize too late you have ONE, only one chance to do things in a unique way, and usually, this involves looking back wishing you would have done something differently to make a small, and sometimes, a large difference.  Many people I have found will criticize others, letting them know they feel they take on too much, or “Why do you do those when that is certainly NOT your job?” and yet – you do only have one chance and do over’s are difficult and rare to come by.  I have found in my own life, the tedious and countless projects (at first) I have taken on, said yes to, well in looking back, I am so glad I have done so.  Yes, hectic.  Yes, tired.  Yes, sometime endless. yet, God-willing, 40 years from now I will look back and see the individuals I have met, the experiences I have had, and the chances I have had to help others, and realize, yes – this is why and it meant something.

As a librarian, as a son, and as an educator, I felt the only way to survive, to break new ground, and never be placed in the category of obsolete and stereotyped as anything with the word “typical”, is to take the initiative and always approach everything with creativity.  (yes, even bankers can be creative if they want to be!)  In that lesson instilled in me from my father – who was, believe it or not, one of the quietest men ever, I realized, everything we do, if we approach it with the absolute best and creative means, the rewards come back ten-fold.  This lesson has never escaped me.

So what happens when you see a cast that has done the very same thing on and off stage as in Into the Woods?  You see individuals willing to take risks, preparing for the world behind high school with what they are doing now, and you see heart in the music, in the makeup, in the set, in the direction, in the acting, in the costumes, in the lighting, and yes, in the unexpected that occurs. Seeing every show is not a task and never has been, it has been the privilege of seeing a cast grow into roles, grow together as a family in one final hurrah of production, and see parents beaming not just because of this performance, but because of the amazing culmination of talent and creativity – and such is the case with Into the Woods.

Out of all the lines from Into the Woods, dropping the words, “Brother, someone is going to get fired today!” and “And take your dead ones too!” – what might be internal jokes to some, are very true to the laughter of those attending Friday’s performance, and the example of taking something, incorporating into part of your experience, and creating something even more powerful. THAT is the artist at work, and Friday April 10th’s performance sealed the fact that Into the Woods goes down the path many might initially avoid and yet, truly taking that path “…has made all the difference.”  Bravo Into the Woods team, bravo!

Juliana G. – From the very first preview show, Little Red Riding Hood appears with spunk, bravado and sense of strength that puts fear into many.  Yet, her gentleness and innocence is right there under the surface, and you are able feel that thanks to the power brought to tipis character Friday – easy to look forward to every time she steps onto the stage and ready to laugh when faced with confrontation. A huge impact on this musical while managing to suppress laughter when an improvised bird kicked the bucket  :)

Alexa – While certainly will not be just remembered for her quick thinking when birds drop  from the sky in death, Alexa’s adaptability to so much, including slippers, pitch, and all the while, the ability to maintain a voice, that causes your heart to TREMOR with emotion, and tears to rise to your eyes – that is the power Alexa brings to this role and she absolutely, positively just did in to the 100th degree Friday again.  So much that the role is not simply the princess, but the navigator of our emotions throughout the play.

Alexander D – Not only as the play progresses, but in EVERY PRODUCTION, Alex is able to get stronger as a person throughout he baker, and it is impossible to miss.  You anticipate this happening thanks to the energy, the confidence and the characteristics of becoming a father past when his child gets older, he becomes a father in the here and now by the end thanks to the strength he slowly lets rise in this character as seen Friday.  Even more so, you see the Baker become a father to Jack while awaiting a dreaded confrontation, and this seals the deal of what Alex is able to bring to this role in Into the Woods.

Sofia – Expressions are everything, and Sofia no matter if a sister or Sleeping Beauty brings the reality to her character absolute.  The tendency is to stay focused on characters right in front of you, but pay careful attention to Sofia’s role in both, and you will see why she adds such a superb contribution to Into the Woods.

Ana Paula – Ana’s ability to turn the character of  Snow White or as an evil sister – into a smug and perfect match is ideal.  She matches the demeanor of Sofa G perfectly, and yet stands on her own as an individual character. You need to pay attention to her in and out of the spotlight as it adds flavor to an great production.

Tamara – Unexpected incidents, expressions, and dialogue make what you would think a secondary or mini character become much more. Paying attention to her before during, and after the attempts to win over the prince are PRICELESS and worth their merit.  You can only imagine the roles that await in the future based on her expressions, ability to make a character complement the plot, and work so well as a team character – Friday’s performance was her best yet.

Arturo – Amazing for reasons seen and not seen.  Having the ability to strut bravado in just the right way to get an audience’s reaction, saying the right words the right away for the absolute best reactions from the audience and literally, seeing Arturo the same night, appearing in front of the JV winning team talking to his teammates right after this production, this says alot about what Arturo and can willing will do on and off stage.

Sofia – Revisiting the role of Rapunzel from the preview night, her screaming scams amid running, as well as her distress over her hair being stolen, pulled, and used as a leash sometimes by her mother – she is able to get a reaction out of the prince and the audience perfectly.  You wait for her to run across the back of the stage and anticipate it – that is how good she is able to bring this role to light.

Susanne – Initially coming off as a very passive, stay at home mother who has little backbone except with her son, Susanne times moments to slowly become more and more aggressive in her role perfectly as Jack’s mother.  Standing up to the giant, as well as passing on sage words advice to the audience after her son, Susanne easily rolls out who Jack’s mother is and who you imagine her to be.

Jorge – Slapstick comedy as well as machismo – you have it all tuned to the perfect setting. Be it a microphone looking for a tongue-lashing or an audience to win over, no problem,  Jorge is able to do so and has had that ability since the first showing, and in tune with Arturo, you are listening to stereo with his role – absolutely.

Isabel – The rhythm and pace she is able to keep up with explaining the bean saga to the baker and wife, the ability to seamlessly inflict gentleness, as well as wickedness, and then turn to exasperation – yeah all in one play. Her voice is commanding, strong, and directed to the moment at hand.  You can see and hear her confidence flow as thick as the mist on stage, and as a result, it is easy to see how Isabel is a dominant force on stage and so far in all the productions.

Lucia – Truly as the grandmother of Grandmothers, Lucia has increasingly brought this  role to life at every successive show.  She is able to truly activate the Wolf scene to its fullest and continues to remind you in consequent scenes what she brings to this role and to Into the Woods as a whole.  The attention you pay to her on and off the main stage will pay itself back as she keeps the story going when she is speaking as well as through her actions.

Ana – Unless you see multiple shows, it is difficult to appreciate the quality that lies in a character’s role.  And yet, here it is and evident in Fridays show.  The growing confidence was evident in Friday’s performance and setting the narrator as an authority in Into the Woods became the fact Friday.  Expressions, slowing the dialogue down, and the fluidity of the narrator with the other characters made this character what it is Friday!

Lucia S. – Truly a storybook role, Lucia is able to take all the elements of emotion, control, feeling neglected, being manipulated or being the manipulator, to the highest level and bring the audience with her.  Add into the mix a voice that adds a level of emotion hat can;t be registered, and you have a carrying force of the success of Into the Woods.

Natalia – Holy step mother….exactly.  Her attitude, yet a gentleness she brings to this role while being completely infuriating – it works well.  The expressions that go beyond her attire and makeup reinforce that she is a survivor and is hauling her daughters along too for the survival trip.  There is a reason she is no one of the offerings to the giant!

Nicolas– The spontaneous feeling you get from his reactions to Little Red Riding Hood, and as the Giant are done so well – and are a guarantee you will walk away with moments of hilarity, even at the end sucking in as much applause is possible.  Nicolass’ very personality on stage sets his roles to be anticipated; the salute he will issue as the giant and complementing as many characters around him appears easy due to his comfortable appearance on stage, none more evident than in Friday’s show.

Pablo – His ability to hit you sideways with talent is uncanny and powerful.  Between his presence when he is not speaking, the ability to project his voice to your very heart and ears, as well as transforming into wanting to be a man and still playing the role of a son wanting a father, then a mother, his ability to multiply his presence was very much evident in Friday’s performance.  His presence only enhances the depth of Into the Woods.

Pablo – It is easy to write off this character as a here and there narrator to push the characters along.  Pablo did not let the character do this in Friday’s performance and in the culminating scenes, he becomes the father that Alex has become, and he has done so with emphasis on the points he gets to to Alex.  His slow and methodic spirit-like movements work to accompany this role across to the audience.

Pedro – Not failing the role he has in this character, he takes charge of being in control when the prince is not around. Since the first show, he is gaining and exerting more authority as the man in charge when the “man in charge” is not around, inflicting results on Jack’s mother and serving as gate keeper to the princess. He will be so interesting to see what roles he will take in the future, from eyeing how he breathes life into his current role as steward.

Ximena V. – Again, playing Florinda, you look at the role of sister and think, okay, secondary role.  Her comments, attitude, and yes, even head rolling while having hair braided – all make this anything but a secondary role thanks to her energy and detail to every action, expression, and how she carries herself on stage.  This continues to grow and was very easy to see in Friday’s performance.

What you see on stage is a reflection, and then some, of the work the makeup led by Paloma, costumes, Tech Club, Director Alvaro Cervino, and Managers Teruhi Yoshioka, Hugo Cabrera, Rosana Cesarman, a great lighting company,  all have decided to place their lives for the last 5-6 months on hold and move foreword with letting the spotlight on so many amazing cast members, and it was truly 100% authentic in gratitude how the Into the Woods cast recognize those members and those that can’t step onto the stage at the end of the show.  Creativity abounds but it definitely abounds on the set of Into the Woods thanks to the family that was created through creativity and inspiration.  You can see all the shows of Into the Woods, and should and still will not be able to grab enough!  Grab your seat for April 16th at 5:00 PM and hold on!

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Into the Woods Gala – GIANT Realizations Brought Front Stage and Center

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Anyone attending the preview show yesterday for Into the Woods, AND the Gala on April 9th would know there was something a mist (sorry, bad joke, AMIDST really) .   Yet, as the mist did reel in, you could almost feel the confidence that yes, this was a creation that would show the cast of Into the Woods was confident, was creative, and told not only a story of what can occur in your life when you wish for something, but when you make that wish a reality, as every cast member did BOTH Wednesday and Thursday.  As I tend to do with roll call, let’s try that again and you will see the power of creativity flowing from every cast member –

Alejandra D – EVERY SINGLE TIME you thought you had her figured out as a shy Little Red Riding Hood, she turned a corner and even without brandishing a knife, you couldn’t help but love the spunk and feistiness she brought to what it meant to be defending your “hood” as she easily owned this character – and yes, she packs a plenty loud scream  :)

Alexa – I have said it before and will not be afraid to say it again, when you have a voice that flows then dives right through you, touches your heart and leaves you for more – what more could you want?  Alexa’s powerful, mesmerizing, and absolutely stunning voice does not disappoint in bringing out what you want, being able to feel this musical – and feel it you do when you let yourself grab onto every note Alexa is willing to share and enchant the audience with – a showstopper absolutely and leaving you hungry for just one more song, please.

Alexander D – He certainly transforms right in front of you and lets you journey with him on that transformation, from visiting his past, present, and future, the second half combines what you thought you knew about the baker and “mixes” it up and created a brand new character.  Alex’s ability to steer this character to increasingly become stronger is only one of many talents you will see in Into the Woods, this is what great memories are made of.

Ana P – As a young actress Ana Paula brings on the determination, the forwardness, and the perfect mixture of haughtiness to make sure this character, when reappearing, will not stop putting a smile on her face.  Wishing I could FORGET her ability to consume part of her foot (you have to see it) she is perfect as Florinda and brings this character to light in just the way you would want to see her.

Arturo  – In an old series called Happy Days, the black leather jacket made The Fonz.  Arturo’s glasses and his perfect and sometimes predicted Dukes of Hazzard jump through the structures to announce his handsomeness?  – He owns this character and as a result many bouts of laughter will ensue as he easily takes this character and shows what it means to go through bouts of agony and figure out how to deal with Rapunzel  (he does try).

Caroline – Her golden hair fits her to a “T” – and I had to laugh when she stood up to her mother when she was challenged about why she was so upset – I felt Caroline has more ability to come out bolder as this character and believe in the next shows you are going to see Rapunzel continue to take on increasingly more character and definition as Caroline, who is quite capable as what I thought was a quiet young lady, (who knew?!) gets more comfortable with how well she can represent Rapunzel to a pretty funny degree.

Ingrid – You sometimes want to reach out and shake the stepmother’s hair and attitude right out of her – Ingrid is GREAT – she started out softly then you can literally see her own this character by the end of the play and pretty much state, even through tragedy, “Yeah, I’m royalty and you are?…..”  – She was able to haul her daughters back and forth all over the place while still showing – where she walked – was where everyone needed to recognize, :)

Isabel  – Remember that comment about a voice that is able to flow right though you?  I am almost positive I saw either Isabel or her twin singing in several venues  in a place somewhere, that is the sense you receive when you hear the maturity, strength, and power Isabel, brings to her character and the stage – also leaving you for much much more for your ears.

Jorge – I promise, if this was a modern day Dukes of Hazzard, you have the brothers right here with Jorge and Arturo – feeding off each other, pushing each other in confidence that buds to just an absolute all out “I am Prince and I RULE!” – his moves, smiles, and demeanor are nothing less that absolute – a perfect complement to all you’d expect in a prince.

Lara  – A narrator is one thing, but having the confidence to be a storyteller and still be absolutely into the story around her when she is not in the spotlight, she is ON.  Watch Lara when she is not in the spotlight and you will ABSOLUTELY SEE IT TOO – I love she is one of the main ingredients for a successful tale.

Lucia E – She is able to go through many a complicated scene gracefully and turning those scenes into making us as an audience ask, “How the heck will this work?” and she makes every scene work – she is perfect in moving the actions of a very strange experience with a quilt hysterical and absolutely life-like.

Lucia S – I would absolutely be lying if I said I did not anticipate every scene I could grab onto hearing Lucia in – I immediately think of Lucia, Alexa, and Isabel C. never ever leaving the stage and always being able to turn to a new selection for us say, for three more hours? – You can easily pass three hours after hearing Lucia combine emotions, anger, and a voice that works out so many situations, and during all of this, you anticipate every next note – you will see…

Natalia– Holy mother….exactly, MOTHER.  She plays this role of mother and you feel it as if your mother is right there beside you nagging you and – loving you.  She does not hold back on making sure everyone knows she is the mother to remind, sometimes harass, and not to forget about the emotion of caring for each other.  How does she get the curls that tight by the way?

Nicolas  – Absolutely only getting better at bringing the house down since the very first show, and bringing it down from tall heights to shady corners of the woods, Nicolas is absolutely essential to that laugh that STILL is riding in your stomach from the woods to the skies  – and fits into the nontraditional roles of Into the Woods and makes then seem ABSOLUTELY the way they should be!

Pablo G- So far there has always been, in every single musical, that one young and maybe formerly unfamiliar talent that completely takes hold you you, shakes you, and leaves you asking, “Who the heck is HE and how can we see and hear more?”  This is the one, and believe me, nothing more will be needed to be said, from his expressions, stares, and sense of being comfortable – he owned this position before he even stepped on the stage.

Pablo Gu – Seeing Pablo become even more stern and important to get his sage advice across to his son since the very first production, Pablo believes in the very pat h he is on in this story, and he will easily lead you to believe there is a way to make amends.  I am not sure I could see anyone else being able to do so like Pablo does with this role.

Pedro  – Again, part of the amazing thing of seeing multiple shows is seeing the confidence that builds in characters from the beginning.  I thought Pedro was a little meek as the steward in the initial preview and BAM! – here came Pedro with the confidence of a prince in waiting in the Gala – it is exciting to see the growth in confidence of an actor like Pedro as the shows go on and you will see this for sure – showing his talent on the stage.

Sofia –  There is this element that some actresses can being on and off the stage and Sofia DOES.  Watch her when the spotlight is not on her all the time and you will see she is truly living the part as Lucinda, on and off the “camera” so to speak, and she does it was a perfect match to the personality of her character. Add in her sister and mother, and you have a role that is filled out completely thanks to her personality on stage.

Tamara – No matter, played as Lucinda or the new love of the prince, Tamara demonstrates why she is on stage.  She embodies the commitment to a stage presence and will move any character in the direction it needs to go, capable and beyond so – and an absolute pleasure to see in show after show  :)

Ximena  – Again, whether playing the prince’s new love interest or Florinda, you sense Ximena’s energy, enthusiasm and smile and auditorium easily.  She shines in any role she is given because she HAS THAT PERSONALITY – and pretty much everyone realizes they are glad she is on that stage.

Oh there is PLENTY so say about the role of the Director Alvaro Cervino, an amazing Tech Club and Makeup Staff, an AMAZING and patient costume staff, and the leadership of Teruhi Yoshioka, Rosana Cesarman, and Hugo Cabrera that put in an amazing unrecorded number of hours, all combined that make this family and theatre a place you just WANT TO BE on the off hours and of course during the shows.  Without knowing every one of them, you fall in love with the families of each and every one of these contributors, as you realize the beauty that must lie in the families after seeing the beauty in their very own sons and daughters. You realize, Into the Woods is a must.  That says everything, doesn’t it?  Good thing this is only the second post on what is will be another stage burning and heartwarming experience thanks to the above mentioned.

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