Posted tagged ‘“GEM Theatrics”; “Love Letters”; “My Dearest Friend”; “Mary G. Kron”; “A. R. Gurney”; “Stage One GR”; “Red Barn Playhouse”’

John Adams and the US Navy

July 23, 2013

Earlier this month, Mary Beth and I attended the Tall Ships Celebration in Bay City, Michigan. This festival of sailing ships is a periodic event, but this was our first time going. We attended on the opening Thursday and, instead of going to the docks along the Saginaw river, we thought we would travel closer to Saginaw Bay and try to see the ships coming in under sail. Pride of Baltimore 3Now, I’m not a sailor, or even really a boater, but there is something about seeing sailing ships, especially ships of some size, coming in under the power of the wind that is thrilling to me. Our vantage point in a riverside park in Essexville, Michigan wasn’t far enough out to sea to actually see the ships coming in solely by wind power, but many of them had their sails unfurled, giving the illusion of natural propulsion. Some members of a local boating club saluted each of the eleven ships (one from as far away as Denmark) with a mock cannon blast. Each ship answered the salute, either with mock cannons of its own, or by blowing the ship’s horn. Pride of Baltimore 2The sky was bright blue, the temperature not too hot; all in all a great day.
This experience got me thinking about the US Navy. The Tall Ships Celebration website told me that some of the ships I was seeing would be participating in a mock lake battle on Labor Day, recreating a naval battle in Lake Erie during the War of 1812. I already knew how important the French fleet had been to the struggling 13 colonies during the Revolutionary War, and that without the protection of those ships, the war with Great Britain might well have been lost.
That same idea resonated with John Adams, too. “It was John Adams who drafted the first set of rules and regulations for the new navy — a point of pride for him as long as he lived. Indeed, in the 25 years that John Adams served his country, and especially as President, in his advocacy of a strong navy he stood second to none.” (David McCullough) Adams called the Navy “the wooden walls of America,” and fought tirelessly to create and strengthen it. No early test of the American Navy was greater than that faced during the War of 1812. In the ocean, and on the Great Lakes, the ships authorized by Adams during his Presidency performed brilliantly, far better, actually, than our land-based troops, which suffered defeat after defeat until Andrew Jackson’s post-peace victory in New Orleans (where he was aided by the ships of pirates). One-time friend turned political enemy Thomas Jefferson wrote Adams: “I sincerely congratulate you on the success of our little navy, which must be more gratifying to you than to most men, as having been the early and constant advocate of wooden walls.” Today, John Adams is known as the “Father of the Navy.”
I was also reminded, watching the ships enter the harbor in Bay City, of our trip to Massachusetts over the July 4th Holiday two years’ ago, when Mary Beth and I had the chance to tour the USS Constitution. 20110702_0297Authorized by President Washington, built in Boston, and boasting 44 guns, this oldest of all surviving US naval vessels was launched on October 21, 1797, during the first year in office of John Adams and just nine days before his 62nd birthday. Whether through superior building materials or fantastic luck, the Constitution withstood every assault aimed at her, earning her the nickname “Old Ironsides.” Much as Francis Scott Key’s ode to the “Star-Spangled Banner” sustaining over Fort McHenry, the survival and victories of the Constitution bucked up a nation desperately in need of positive news. Indeed, the victories of the Navy are thought by some historians to have played a large part in the wearing down process that finally brought Britain to the treaty table. Adams must have been very proud.
These topics, and many others, are touched on in GEM Theatrics’ production of Mary G. Kron’s “My Dearest Friend” available for booking at your venue right now. We’re thrilled to announce that the One-Act version of “My Dearest Friend” will be produced at Davenport University in September, 2013, as part of the Constitution Week commemoration. The full Two-Act version will be produced as part of the Lake Effect Fringe Festival at Grand Rapids’ Dog Story Theater February 28 – March 2, 2014. More details will soon appear on our website: http://www.gemtheatrics.com
We hope to see all of you at one of our performances!!
(All photos (c) Gary E. Mitchell; all rights reserved)

Advertisements

“Foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy — Philadelphia!”

July 4, 2013

Those lines from the Broadway musical “1776”, which I had the pleasure of being in during the 2007 season of the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, are resonating with me today. 1776 - GR Civic TheatreThe City of Philadelphia played such an important part in the life of John Adams, and our Nation. As we celebrate Independence Day and the 237th anniversary of our beginning as a free people, we should pause a minute from our barbecues, our picnics, our fireworks, and our trips to the beach and reflect upon the men who met in Philadelphia in that blistering summer of 1776 and hammered out, not only a desire to be free from British rule, but the foundations for the new Nation they saw for the people of the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence isn’t a long document; it takes less than 15 minutes to read. But, owing to the genius of Thomas Jefferson, Adams, and others, it contains ideas upon which we have built the wonderful country we live in. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Building upon that premise, delegates of our newly won country gathered again in Philadelphia in 1787. Again, according to the record, it was beastly hot. The windows of Independence Hall were fastened shut, so that the secret discussions inside wouldn’t be prematurely leaked. Because, what was being discussed was a brand new foundation for our Country — a Constitution that would bind the separate States together under a strong central government. Opinions were divided then, as they are sometimes today, about how strong that central government should be, but it was one of the beauties of our country then, as it is now, that the right to debate those issues could take place without fear of reprisal or imprisonment. Out of that steaming cauldron inside Independence Hall was brewed the perfect recipe for a new Nation “conceived in liberty”, as Abraham Lincoln would put it four score and seven years later.
When John Adams first came to Philadelphia in 1774 as a Massachusetts delegate to the First Continental Congress, the trip from Boston took nearly a week. Now, of course, it takes only minutes. Prior to 1800, Philadelphia was the country’s largest city and from 1790 – 1800, when John Adams was first Vice-President and then President, it was the seat of the federal government.
Today, Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the U.S. Like Boston, Philadelphia has retained the historic buildings so crucial to our early history. In 2009, Mary Beth and I got to visit for a few days. A slide show of our photos can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/A2xr_C3kIi8. If you get the chance, you should visit. And, if you want to see history re-told in Mary Kron’s delightful play, “My Dearest Friend,” then book us! We’ll be glad to bring John and Abigail Adams to life in your venue!
Happy Birthday from GEM Theatrics to the United States of America!

A Time For Reflection; A Time Of Anticipation

December 10, 2012

Christmas Tree“It’s that time of year”, the song says, “when the world falls in love.” We hope those words come true for each and every one of you reading this entry. With all of you, we at GEM Theatrics hope for Peace on Earth and Good Will among all people. We hope that the times of strife in our country and around the world will soon end and that our leaders can find the right path.
But the end of the year is also a time to reflect. For Mary Beth and me, this has been a year of professional growth as we saw our little theatrical business grow from a dream to something real, something we can be proud of. Over the course of the past 12 months or so, we brought Mary G. Kron’s wonderful telling of the story of John and Abigail Adams to life with performances of My Dearest Friend at Dog Story Theater last November, Davenport University this past September and The Red Barn Theatre in Saugatuck, MI in October. 8009093294_76e0099f04_bWe also showcased the show in Traverse City in June for the Michigan Presenters Annual Conference and in November for the Michigan Joint Social Studies Conference in Warren, MI. Audience response has been enthusiastic everywhere we’ve performed and we are confident that this is an informative and entertaining look at two fascinating lives from our history.
We are also thrilled to report that My Dearest Friend was accepted into the 2012 – 2015 Michigan Humanities Council Touring Directory. In order to be selected a short video from the show was reviewed by experts in the field, who judged it worthy of inclusion. What this means for non-profits looking to bring a quality entertainment to your venue is that grant money is available to underwrite 40% of the cost of hiring us! Just go to: http://www.michiganhumanities.org/programs/touring/index.php  for more information.
We also performed our signature piece, A. R. Gurney’s Love Letters, for two nights this past fall at Noto’s Old DSC_0020_croppedWorld Italian Dining as part of a dinner theatre package presented by StageOneGR, DSC_0017_croppeda new dinner theatre company founded by our new pal, Gary Morrison. We had a great time and the audiences got a superb meal and the chance to experience Mr. Gurney’s touching and funny play.

 

 

But, year ends are also a time for looking forward. Assuming the Mayans weren’t correct about that end of the world thing, 2013 offers a host of new opportunities for us — and that means also for you!

For those of you who have missed it so far, My Dearest Friend will be presented — in its entirety — Feb. 9 at the Kentwood Library, 4950 Breton Rd. SE, Kentwood,MI, at 2:00 pm.  Admission is free! We’re very grateful to the library for this opportunity. Come on out and see us!
In addition, details are being finalized to bring Love Letters to the Red Barn Theatre in Saugatuck, MI for the Valentine’s weekend. Save the date and stay tuned! More information to come!
Helping make February an even busier month for us, we’re very pleased to announce that GEM Theatrics will be participating in the first annual Lake Effect Fringe Festival!LEFF large with TM We’re thrilled to be a founding member of this very exciting venture, along with Dog Story Theater, Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company and Stark Turn Players. One of the purposes of the Festival is to allow entertainment groups of all stripes who may not have their own theatre spaces to come together for a month of eclectic presentations all in one venue. We’re hoping this annual festival of performing arts will expose these groups to new audiences who may not know of our existence, not to mention showcasing the wealth of talent that exists right here in West Michigan. Tickets for all shows will be just $10/$8.
GEM Theatrics’ weekend will be Feb. 22 – 24, and we’re directing and producing two one-act plays by local playwrights. Based on the theme Working for a Living, we’ll be presenting Rock of Ages, by Mary G. Kron, about the effect of disaster on coal mining families, and the world premiere of The Interview, by Patrick M. Bailey, which deals with the issues of outsourcing. While some roles have been cast, we’re still looking for actors. Auditions will be January 12 and 13 and there is a link on the Home Page of this website for details.
So, as you can see, we have a lot of exciting events coming up in 2013. We hope you’ll check this website often for updates and follow our page on Facebook. Until we see you somewhere down the line, have a fabulous and heart-warming Holiday Season!!

September Is The Coolest Month

September 1, 2012

For T. S. Eliot, April may have been the cruelest month, but for us at GEM Theatrics, September is the “coolest” month. We have a lot of activity to report and the best part is: you get to take part in most of it with us!
We kick off right after the Labor Day holiday with two nights at the fabulous Noto’s Old World Restaurant performing our signature piece, A. R. Gurney’s “Love Letters.” For those who know about this unique and touching piece of theater, “Love Letters” tells the story of Andy and Melissa, who met in the second grade and continued a life-long friendship, suffering ups and downs, loves and hates, separations and reconciliations. The entire story is told through their letters to each other. Mary Beth and I met performing this show at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre more than a decade ago. The show changed our lives (for the better); come experience it with us and maybe it will do the same for you! Shows are September 11 and 12.  Dinner starts at 6:30p both nights, with curtain at 8p.  Tickets are just $45 for dinner and the show (it’s Noto’s, the food will be superb!) or $25 for show only. More information can be found on our website; tickets can be purchased at: http://www.stageonegr.com. Bringing dinner theater to Grand Rapids is a new venture by our friend Gary Morrison, who began StageOneGR just for this purpose. We’re proud to be part of the opening season and wish Gary much success!
The following week is Constitution Week, a week set aside to reflect on the founding of our nation and the principles we stand for. Davenport University is commemorating the week with our performance of the One-Act version of “My Dearest Friend.” We’re honored to be selected. While this performance is not open to the public, we hope to see many students there to share a little history and spark some discussion about what it means to be an American.  If any of you work for a non-profit agency, you can bring “My Dearest Friend” to your venue and the Michigan Humanities Council will help you pay for it.  We’re now part of the Council’s Touring Directory and grants are available!  Go to http://www.mihumanities.org for more information.
This just in!! We’re thrilled to announce that we will be performing the full Two-Act Version of “My Dearest Friend”, by Mary G. Kron, for two nights in late September at the Red Barn Playhouse, in Saugatuck, Michigan. This historic barn has been turned into a wonderful rustic theatre, but with all the production values one could require. The shows are September 28 and 29.  Curtain is at 7:30p each evening and Tickets are just $15 or $12 for students and seniors. October was an important month in the Adams legacy: John was born in October, the Adamses were married in October and Abigail died in October. We also have a Presidential election right around the corner, so come out to get a glimpse into how it used to be! Tickets can be gotten from the Red Barn by calling 269-857-5300 or by email at lakeshorearts@comcast.net.
We hope you will come out to one or both of these events and watch us play!!

http://www.gemtheatrics.com


%d bloggers like this: