Tag Archives: move on

Near West Theatre documentary at the film fest tonight

You’ve got one more chance tonight to see Ted Sikora’s energetic documentary about Near West Theatre at the 39th Cleveland International Film Festival. It’s at 8:45 p.m. at Tower City Cinemas. Advice to first-time festival-goers: Act now. Get on the Festival’s box office page, get your ticket, get downtown early to park (or better yet, take the RTA) and find the right color-coded line to stand in. The showing’s code is MOVE24.

Near West Theatre's Move On!, June 2014. Photo by Terry Schordock

Move On! on stage, June 2014. Photo by Terry Schordock

You’ll be glad you did. Ted started coming to rehearsals in the spring of 2014 for the musical Move On!, our farewell to the St. Pat’s Club Building, our home of 36 years. His goal was an 8- to 10-minute fundraising piece. He was so taken with our process and our people that he kept coming back for dozens of hours of shooting. The result was this 88-minute documentary that really does catch the spirit of how we use theater to bring people together, build community, and by the way, stage a darned good, professionally produced show with a huge cast of ordinary people. Theater critic Andrea Simakis gave the film an “A” in The Plain Dealer (March 23, Page A2) and online at Cleveland.com.

CIFF_39season_stampTonight’s screening follows a packed neighborhood showing at the Capitol Theatre in the Gordon Square Arts District on Sunday, March 22, and a screening downtown on Monday afternoon, March 23. Audiences seem to be liking it. If you do, too, don’t forget to tear off that little “excellent” corner of the CIFF ballot you’ll receive tonight. And say hi to Ted. He’ll be there for a director’s Q&A. — Hans Holznagel

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The film Move On! was made possible by special support from Char and Chuck Fowler and from The George Gund Foundation. Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares; for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences; and to our 2015 Presenting Sponsor, Thompson Hine.


In the spotlight: NWT alumna Mariah Burks

Mariah Burks during a recent benefit performance at Bowling Green State.

Mariah Burks during a recent benefit performance at Bowling Green State University.

Mariah Burks (right) with Molly Nagin in The Truth About Cinderella (2002).

Mariah (right) with Molly Nagin in The Truth About Cinderella (2002).

Mariah Victoria Burks, a 3rd-grader at Cleveland’s Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, was living right around the corner from Near West Theatre when she first took the stage as one of the orphans in Annie (2001). She was a regular cast member for years to come, even after her family moved to North Royalton, where she graduated from high school in 2011. At Near West she played leading roles in The Wiz (2009), Rent (2010) and Miss Saigon (2011), and was most recently seen at NWT in Move On! (2014), our farewell show at the St. Pat’s Club Building. A recent Region II winner of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition, she’ll compete nationally in April in Washington, D.C. She will graduate from Bowling Green State University this spring with a B.A. degree in communications with a specialization in musical theater. This fall she’ll enter the three-year Master of Fine Arts acting program at Case Western Reserve University. We recently asked her three questions.

Mariah as Dorothy in The Wiz (2009) with Pat Ciamacco (foreground) and (from left) Darius Stubbs, Edwin Smith and Cory Zukoski.

Mariah as Dorothy in The Wiz (2009) with Pat Ciamacco (foreground) and (from left) Darius Stubbs, Edwin Smith and Cory Zukoski.

1. What’s something you learned at Near West Theatre that sticks with you, even now, as an advanced student of acting? No matter what you’re going through, you too have a story to tell that can change and impact anybody, anywhere, as long as you, the performer, are open and willing to let your story constantly change something in you. That way, your story never becomes old but consistently refreshed and revived.

Mariah as Kim, with Michael Glavan as Chris, in Miss Saigon (2011).

Mariah as Kim, with Michael Glavan as Chris, in Miss Saigon (2011).

2. Any thoughts on growing up on West 41st Street, then moving away but staying connected to NWT? At first it was a challenge to have moved away from the place I knew I could easily go to just to have fun and let loose. But even after moving, I found that the pull of NWT was even stronger and that I had to be part of it some way, somehow. I could not let myself not be in this closely knit family. Even now, knowing that my collegiate schedule conflicts with the Annual Benefit is always a heart breaker for me. But I know that no matter where I go, I always have NWT family and friends that will welcome me back with open arms and hearts!

3. What are your hopes for Near West as we open a new building and a new chapter in our history? My hope is that for every show that is produced, hundreds and hundreds upon hundreds of people will flock to see what makes NWT not just a diamond in the rough, but the epitome of raw, cultured and love-woven theater. I truly hope that NWT and its people flourish in whatever they do!

Mariah (in headband) in Move On! (2014).

Mariah (left center, in headband) in Move On! (2014).

 — Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


Construction update: Video and pictures

A coating called "fluid applied air barrier" is being sprayed on this week over golden "dense board." They're they'll be followed by more layers of insulation before metal siding goes on. Photos by Hans Holznagel

A coating called “fluid applied air barrier” is being sprayed this week onto gold-colored “dense board.” They’ll be followed by more kinds of insulation before metal siding goes on this fall. Photos by Hans Holznagel

With cranes gone and steel beams no longer flying overhead, we’ve been able walk through our framed-in future home several times during these latter weeks of summer. With just over four months of basic construction to go, we’re now seeing three-dimensional spaces that in the past we could only visualize with drawings, models and lots of imagination. Filmmaker Ted Sikora, who has been shooting a piece about our art and mission since Move On! rehearsals, took a quick August tour with two guys who will spend long work hours in the new building once it’s done: Technical Director and Production Manager Josh Padgett and Stage Manager and Assistant Production Manager Ryan Wolf. Here’s the fun result. (By the way, actors and staff, that side door, with the ladder: it’ll be a real door with stairs when it’s done!)

Below are still photos of a few emerging features of the building that might help you envision what the theater will eventually look like, even with daylight currently streaming through places that will eventually be sealed up tightly for the sake energy efficiency and the beauty of theatrical lighting.

As for timing: We’re still planning on getting occupancy to the building in early January 2015, holding a series of “sneak preview, theater-in-progress” events and parties there from February through April (including our Annual Benefit on a Saturday in late February), and producing our grand-opening, main-stage musical in April and May. — Hans Holznagel

Donors Chuck and Char Fowler, Board President Jason Bristol, and staffers Stephanie Morrison Hrbek and Josh Padgett toured the auditorium Aug. 21.

Donors Chuck and Char Fowler, Board President Jason Bristol, and staffers Stephanie Morrison Hrbek and Josh Padgett toured the auditorium Aug. 21.

Jason Bristol, president of NWT Board of Trustees, and donors Char and Chuck Fowler pause of an upstage-center picture Aug. 21 on recently completed concrete.

Jason Bristol, president of NWT Board of Trustees, and donors Char and Chuck Fowler paused Aug. 21 for an upstage-center picture on recently completed concrete.

The back wall separating the auditorium from the lobby was becoming visible in this Aug. 25 photo.

The back wall separating the auditorium from the lobby was becoming visible in this Aug. 25 photo. Above it is the balcony.

A ramp from the house to the stage, seen here Aug. 21, is one of the features that will make us compliant -- and gladly so -- with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A ramp from the house to the stage, seen here Aug. 21, is one of the features that will make us compliant — and gladly so — with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

One of two sets of stairs connecting lower level, lobby and balcony was being installed Aug. 20.

One of two sets of stairs connecting lower level, lobby and balcony was being installed Aug. 20.

The windows that will serve our lower-level refreshment counter were becoming visible on Aug. 20.

The windows that will serve our lower-level refreshment counter were becoming visible on Aug. 20.

On Aug. 25, only the northwest corner remained to be closed in with "dense board" insulation over the wood that surrounds the steel frame.

On Aug. 25, only the northwest corner remained to be closed in with “dense board” — the first layer of insulation — over the wood that surrounds the steel frame.

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Near West Theatre’s $7.3 million construction project is part of the cooperative Gordon Square Arts District capital campaign, which has raised nearly $30 million not only for the new NWT but also for the renovation of the now-reopened Capitol (film) Theatre, extensive physical improvements at Cleveland Public Theatre, districtwide streetscape improvements and parking. Near West Theatre is also grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


Near West Theatre has left the building

Fr. Mark Dinardo of St. Patrick's Church offers thanks and best wishes to NWT before the final performance June 29. NWT Founder Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek holds the mike. Photo by Hans Holznagel

Fr. Mark Dinardo of St. Patrick’s Church offers thanks and best wishes to Near West before the final performance June 29. NWT Founder Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek holds the mike. Photos by Hans Holznagel

A downpour started near the end of the final performance of Move On! Sunday afternoon and caused a planned outdoor farewell gathering to be moved inside the St. Pat’s Club Building. We didn’t get to join hands in a circle around St. Pat’s to say goodbye to the building that has been our home since 1978, but perhaps it’s just as well. The hundreds of people who instead formed a “messy circle” indoors, spanning the stage, the floor and the risers, were a lovely mosaic from over the years: The cast, crew and staff of Move On! Father Mark Dinardo of St. Patrick’s Church. Gordon Square Arts District leaders and longtime NWT supporters Dick and Pat Pogue and Tom and Sandy Sullivan. Actors from every decade of past productions — longtime participants like Joanie Hoover, arguably NWT’s poet laureate. Parents and families of the Move On! cast. Volunteers from the house that day. And members of the community who simply answered the public call to show up for the post-show farewell moment. Young, old, participant, supporter, hand in hand, arm over shoulder — there couldn’t have been a moment that was more “NWT” in style, and maybe especially because it was indoors on a muggy, sweaty June afternoon.

A lovely litany written by Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr., which he led with founding Executive Director and choreographer Stephanie Morrison Hrbek — complete with the chant, “Ho, ho, hey, hey, Near West Theatre moves on today”– was a fitting tribute of well wishes and blessings upon the building that will forever contain memories of 36 years of relationships and art.

Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek leads the Move On! cast in a warmup before Near West's last-ever performance at St. Pat's.

Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek leads the Move On! cast in a warmup before Near West’s last-ever performance at St. Pat’s.

But it was really a coda to what had already functioned as the major blessing of the day: An off-the-hook grand finale of Move On!, a high-energy collection of music, big-screen projection and spoken word that somehow went to a new level in its ninth performance. The cast might understandably have gone all weepy, given how much this place has meant to everyone involved. But something else happened instead. To be sure, there were tears shed on stage, and there was nothing fake about them. But mostly, from the downbeat of “Merrily We Roll Along” to the company exit on “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” you could tell everyone onstage was in the zone: giving and receiving energy from each other, improvising within a well designed structure, nourished by (and returning) the appreciation given them by an audience that stood, shouted, joined in when invited, and interrupted the performance with applause like never before — in a run that had already featured remarkably appreciative audiences. That’s what happens when community is built on stage in each production, and when connections with the wider community are built over the years. That’s Near West Theatre.

The Move On! reaches skyward before the last show ever at St. Pat's.

The Move On! cast reaches skyward before the last show ever at St. Pat’s.

Another downpour is no doubt happening as this post is being written. It’s the last hour of the last farewell cast-crew-staff gift circle on a stage that has seen dozens and dozens of them. Tears of release, sadness, gratitude and love are the stuff of these goodbye circles, where folks who have seen way too much of each other for many, many weeks now realize it’s suddenly over. This group knows it has the added task of saying goodbye in behalf of hundreds and hundreds of participants, each of whom has left a bit of his or her spirit embedded in the floorboards and wafting through the ether of the third-floor ballroom of the St. Pat’s Club Building. Whether or not they’re conscious of it, they and the wider community that gathered there today will be the ones to carry a large measure of that spirit into the future — first in our fall 2014 production at West Side United Church of Christ (soon to be announced) and then, in 2015, in our new theater now under construction in the Gordon Square Arts District.

For now, though, Near West Theatre has left the building. Long live the memories and legacies of the St. Pat’s years. — Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


Join hands June 29 in a farewell circle of love around St. Pat’s

NWT-2013-14-Brochure-CoverThis is it. Our last week of performances at the St. Pat’s Club Building, our home of 36 years, has arrived. Will you join us in saying a communal goodbye to this grand old place? Sunday, June 29, at about 4:45 p.m., after the final matinée of Move On!, you’re invited to join an outdoor community circle around our beloved building at 3606 Bridge Avenue. Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. is creating a brief farewell ritual in which we’ll join hands and raise voices to say goodbye to this place where so many lives have been touched, so many relationships formed, so much passion shared.

You’re encouraged to join the circle (it’s a free, public event) even if you’re not in the audience that day, though we do hope you’ll help us fill the house Thursday through Sunday. Tickets for shows at 7:30 p.m. June 26, 27 and 28, and 3 p.m. June 29, are available online anytime or by phoning 216-961-6391 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.

And what of the future?

First, the cast, crew and staff of Move On! will go back inside after MOVE ON poster 4the outdoor gathering and carry out an important Near West Theatre tradition. It’s almost unbearably emotional to think of the last potluck and gift circle — experienced by so many participants over the decades — taking place on those risers and that stage Sunday night.

Then the transition begins. Our Tech Work Session participants, led by Technical Director and Production Manager Josh Padgett, Assistant Technical Director Perren Hedderson, and Stage Manager Ryan Wolf, will spend the summer dismantling our set, risers and theatrical equipment, taking inventory, and storing much of it to await the move in early 2015 to our future home, still under construction in the Gordon Square Arts District. In this way, our equipment can be readied for transit as soon as the interior of our new theater becomes available, even as we put on a fall show elsewhere.

The familiar West 38th Street side door of West Side UCC, where our fall show will be. Photo by Hans Holznagel

The West 38th Street side door of West Side UCC, where we’ll be this fall. Photo by Hans Holznagel

And there will be a fall show! Auditions for a musical soon to be announced will be Sept. 2, 3 and 4. For cast members ages 7 through adult, the production will be rehearsed September through November and performed Nov. 21 through Dec. 7 in the sanctuary of West Side United Church of Christ, 3800 Bridge Avenue, right across West 38th Street from St. Pat’s. It’s a familiar place to past KLAMOR participants and audiences and a long-time rehearsal site for our Annual Benefit. We’re grateful to the folks at West Side UCC  for making room for us during what promises to be an exciting transitional half-season. — Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


See this goodbye, even if it’s your first hello

If you’ve never seen a show at Near West Theatre, you may wonder: Why bother with a farewell show in a third-floor church ballroom?

The cast of Move On! at a June 12 rehearsal. Photo by Mo Eutazia

Standing for justice during a June 12 Move On! rehearsal. Photo by Mo Eutazia

My advice: do bother. Go climb the stairs and see Move On!, and not just because it’s Near West’s last production ever in the St. Pat’s Club Building, 3606 Bridge Ave. Don’t even just go for the good reason that it’s a piece of Cleveland arts history: founding Executive Director Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek and almost-founding Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. have shaped the show, and they join a cast of 65 in performing it in the same place where it all started back in 1978. No, see it above all because it’s fun, passionate and satisfying. It’s a mix of music, the spoken word and projected images a that form a grand, interesting, moving artistic experience. It’s about the power of theater — and this theater in particular, in this part of Cleveland — to change lives and build community.

Move On! presents Broadway and popular songs in a concert style and intersperses them with original poems, video interviews and testimonials written or voiced over the years by people who have seen and felt the impact of Near West’s mission. The production showcases the power of Near West Theatre’s process to build relationships and create great art, while also explaining its socially conscious roots and its place as an institution in an unusually rich, MOVE ON poster 4diverse, challenged, changing neighborhood. It’s embodied by a diverse cast of ordinary people ranging in age from 7 to 60, and augmented in a delightful way by video interviews and still images assembled by Assistant Technical Director Perren Hedderson.

Soloists, duos and the entire ensemble belt, croon and harmonize beautifully, backed by the strong work of assistant musical director Jordan Cooper on keyboard, drummer Rick Tyler and trumpeter Juan Ingram.

Hang around afterwards to enjoy refreshments, greet the actors, check out the many Near West artifacts displayed throughout the space by Designer Laura Carlson Tarantowski, and say goodbye to St. Pat’s, even if it was your first hello. Come back one more time if you can, around 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 29, after the  final matinee, to join hands with the community as we encircle St. Pat’s for a brief farewell ritual. We’re moving on to a transitional half-year of theater across the street at West Side United Church of Christ and then into our new building in the Gordon Square Arts District in early 2015. With you, I hope. — Hans Holznagel

The cast, crew and staff of Move On!, pictured on June 12, 2014. Photo by Mo Eutazia

The cast, crew and staff of Move On! on June 12. Photo by Mo Eutazia

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.

 


‘Move On! Chronicles’ No. 4: As auditions begin, a poem

Poetry has been a part of Near West Theatre for a long, long time. It has been read from our “Coffee and the Arts” and “Party in Gordon Square” stages. It has been shared in the cast party and gift circle that happens after each production, where my friend and veteran NWT actor Joanie Hoover has often described the cast and show in a special poem. It’s not unusual for cast members themselves to bring poetry to those circles, too.

"Move On!" season imageAs we head into our last auditions at St. Pat’s this week — and if you’ve ever been in one of our shows, I do want to see you there this Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday! –here’s a poem written a few years back by Darius Stubbs, who has served on our crews, as an assistant director, and onstage in such NWT productions as Finian’s Rainbow, Into the Woods and The Secret Garden. He offers a candid glimpse of the NWT experience in the verses below. Thanks, Darius, for letting us reprint this. I’m only sorry this blog format won’t quite mimic the indentations you use on the page.

Don’t forget, everyone: We need actors from all of our eras, all the way back

Darius Stubbs (center) in "Finian's Rainbow," 2008.

Darius Stubbs (center) in Finian’s Rainbow, 2008. Photo by Rob Sommerfelt.

to 1978, to make Move On! all it can be. Auditions for kids through age 13 are at 6 p.m.; teens and adults, 14 and up, at 7:30; all at 3606 Bridge Ave. Pick one night; arrive 15 minutes early to register. More information is at this web page and in editions No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 of the Chronicles. See you at St. Pat’s! — Bob Navis Jr.

 

“Untitled NWT Poem,” by Darius Stubbs

Precious hearts

filled

to the point of bursting.

Precious beings hunger,

yearning,

thirsting,

For the chance,

The chance

to be reached,

to reach out

to reach in and look

and find

and feel

and understand.

To find that push that drives them.

To know that what helps define them

lives within these walls.

Roams throughout these halls.

Now, we cannot touch it

(No one can)

but

Oh,

can we feel it.

Feel it

from the moment

that those frightened, first – timers

fall fully

into

those private tunnel auditions

(and, oh yes, Mr. Kelly,

he will make you be a tree)

From that first

to the final

tear – soaked

Gut – wrenching

Gift – giving

Circle

You can feel it.

This

potent,

pulsing,

purely positive force

that consumes

and comforts

and consoles.

And though this energy

cannot be named

Or boxed up

Or labeled

Or categorized

It is there.

It

Is

And

It

is

the reason

That

Despite the pain

And the hurt

And the anger

And the injuries

And the insults

And the disappointments

Despite the last – minute changes

And the “We haven’t staged this yet!”

Despite the quick tempers

And the harsh words

Despite the ego trips

And the power trips

And the power struggles

And the struggles to keep sane

And the sheer insanity

Of the hugeness of the shows

And the massive number of bodies we try to

Cram

into this tiny

intimate space

Despite

all of it,

That force,

That feeling,

It resonates

And draws us in

And we come back

And we stay

And though we will

have to say

goodbye,

We will never

really

leave.

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.