Tag Archives: crew

Dance and power tools: two things that go hand in hand

From 10 a.m., when the youth arrive, till 4 p.m. when they leave, the energy is as high as can be in the round at Near West Theatre. Whenever there is a lull, they fix it by setting the power tools aside and having a 30 second “random dance party” (including their safety glasses of course) to bring the energy back up.

These seven teens are working hard and having fun at Near West Theatre’s summer youth tech workshops, where they’ve been working on constructing sets for our summer show.  The program, which started June 10, gives youth the opportunity to participate in the theater world in a way other than acting on stage.  They use power tools to construct set pieces, work on lighting, help with painting, and experience other aspects of the technical side of theater. Many of them have been involved in NWT productions in one way or another previously.  What they like about the tech workshop is that they can still be involved in the show without having such a large time commitment. The participants this year include both new and old faces. One thing that participant Katie Medvec likes about NWT as compared to other theaters she’s been involved with is that “it’s so family and community oriented.” “Here, we can crack jokes and have fun,” she says as she paints a prop brown with fellow participants. “It’s less about professionalism and rules and more about the process and how you get there together.”

They’re all excited for everyone to see the work they’ve been doing on July 19 when Side Show opens. Almost all of the participants will be there helping out with crew on many, if not all, of the eight performance nights. From building set pieces to painting, and even the occasional dance party, these teens picked a great way to spend their summer. — Devin Sweeney

Partcipant, Max Koch, poses with prop he's working on Photo by Josh Padgett

Participant, Max Koch, poses with prop he’s working on. Photo by Josh Padgett

Two participants work on a set piece together Photo by: Devin Sweeney

Roxy Reminick and Grace Kanary work on a set piece together. Photo by Devin Sweeney

Near West Theatre is grateful for regular program support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the Ohio Arts Council and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.


Sign up to volunteer!

Volunteering at a show is great way to support and experience Near West Theatre’s community-building mission. Now we need people of all ages — including you — for May performances of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. There are many ways to help: Join the team that staffs the concession stand, gift shop or ticket table. Greet patrons and hand out playbills. Serve as a house manager or assistant. Bake a batch of cookies or brownies. Pop popcorn. Please consider volunteering for one or more of these performances.  Arrival time is 6 p.m. (or 1:30 on Sundays):

Sue Stewart, our friendly Volunteer Coordinator (shown here at the center of box-office action during the 2012 production of Rent) will sign you up to help in one of many ways.

Sue Stewart, our friendly Volunteer Coordinator (shown here at the center of box-office action during the 2010 production of Rent), will sign you up to help in one of many ways.

  • Friday, May 3
  • Saturday, May 4
  • Thursday, May 9
  • Friday, May 10
  • Saturday, May 11
  • Sunday, May 12
  • Friday, May 17
  • Saturday, May 18
  • Sunday, May 19

Besides the fun and satisfaction of volunteering, you’ll also experience the excitement of show time at the theater – and you can see the show for free (unless it’s sold out!). Please sign up by contacting Volunteer Coordinator Sue Stewart, susanstewart11@aol.com, 216-861-0318.

Running a spotlight (as Noah Utterback did for Children of Eden in 2012) is one of many tasks handled by our volunteer crew.

Running a spotlight (as Noah Utterback did for Children of Eden in 2012) is one of many tasks handled by our volunteer crew.

Crew needed, too. Volunteer backstage and balcony crew members are needed from April 21 through May 19, for the last two weeks of Brel rehearsals and the run of the show. It’s fun, active and team-oriented. To volunteer for the crew, contact Kelcie Dugger, kdugger@nearwesttheatre.org, 216-961-9750.

Don’t forget our new Star Seats! Forty years ago this month, Jacques Brel opened in the State Theatre lobby and helped save Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. Now Near West Theatre revives this iconic musical, not with four performers on cabaret stools but with a diverse castBREL poster 2013 of 32 community actors! Don’t miss these high-energy, dramatic songs and stories of passion, personal struggle and social critique. Consider supporting our art and mission – and ensuring affordable community prices – by enjoying a $20 reserved Star Seat with additional benefits. Our regular community ticket prices are also available, of course: $8 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under (mature themes; parental discretion advised), general admission.  Order online; call 216-961-6391 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays; or visit our business office, 6516 Detroit Ave., Suite 9, during those same hours. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the performance site, 3606 Bridge Ave., starting an hour before show time.

Crew members from a couple years back take a break by concessions: (l. to r.) Jason Dugger, Alicia Cleveland, Emily Suma, Rod Cardwell, Leland Pestak, Hayden Neidhardt, Mo Eutazia, Carter Smith.

Crew members from a couple years back take a break by concessions: (l. to r.) Jason Dugger, Alicia Cleveland, Emily Suma, Rod Cardwell, Leland Pestak, Hayden Neidhardt, Mo Eutasia, Carter Smith.


Diverse cast and crew of ‘Ragtime’

The cast of Ragtime during a May 2012 dress rehearsal. Photo by Terry Schordock.

The cast of Ragtime during a May 2012 dress rehearsal. Photo by Terry Schordock.

As Ragtime’s final weekend approaches, here’s a word about the variety of people on stage and backstage. Part of Near West Theatre’s mission is to be a crossroads of diversity for actors and crew members of varied ages, races, neighborhoods, economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, acting experience and other differences. Each production is designed and directed by professionals and is supported by paid musicians and stage management, but otherwise is turned over to an entirely volunteer cast and crew for the run of the show. Here are a few statistics on Ragtime’s cast and the people who work behind the scenes moving set pieces, handling props, running lights and doing many other tasks:

  • Total:  59

    The cast surrounds Andrew Pollis (as Harry Houdini) in the opening number.

    The cast surrounds Andrew Pollis (as Harry Houdini) in the opening number. Photo by Terry Schordock.

  • Cast members:  43
  • Crew members:  16
  • Teens:  19 (nine in cast, 10 in crew)
  • Oldest actor:  age 77
  • Youngest:  ages 6, 9 & 13
  • Persons of color:  22
  • Cleveland residents:  33
  • 
From Cleveland’s three Near West Side ZIP codes:  27
  • Other communities represented:  Cleveland Heights (6), Parma (5), Lakewood (2), Parma Heights (2), Richfield (2), Rocky River (2); and 1 each from Akron, Avon Lake, Berea, Euclid, Independence, Kent (KSU) and Olmsted Township.

And that’s not counting the dozens who volunteer “front of house”:  at the concession stand, gift shop and ticket table, and as house managers, greeters, and bakers of cookies and brownies. Want to help in that way now or for a future show?  Click here for information, then contact Carole Hedderson at chedderson@nearwesttheatre.org.

Tickets are still available online for the 7:30 p.m. performances of Ragtime on Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, and for the 3 p.m performance Sunday, May 20. Or call our advance sales ticket line (weekdays only) between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.:  216-961-6391.

Director Bob Navis Jr. (back center) prepares the Ragtime cast for a May 2012 dress rehearsal. Photo by Terry Schordock.

Director Bob Navis Jr. (back center) prepares the Ragtime cast and crew for a May 2012 dress rehearsal. Photo by Terry Schordock.