Saturday, August 18, 2012

Have you ever...

Have you ever cut bamboo at rehearsal? Well, now we have!

Bamboo is needed to cover much of the Once On this Island set. It's been a challenge to get enough cut and transported to finish up the bamboo on the set. So last night, the cast eschewed their regularly scheduled rehearsal to participate in a mass bamboo cutting expedition!

I have to admit I've had some pretty crazy rehearsals in my life, but nothing quite like this. Thanks to the group effort, there is not plenty of bamboo to finish the set...and a good time was had by all!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Directors Notes - ONCE ON THIS ISLAND

First, I'd like to share with you an article in a local paper. I'm impressed with the marketing that TROIKA Bermuda does. The definitely take it seriously!

While Steve is busy at work repairing props and finishing up the set, oh, and rehearsals at night, I wanted to share the directors notes he submitted for the program. I thought they beautifully illustrate the vision he has for the show. Enjoy!


“On that island where rivers run deep, where the sea sparkling in the sun earns it the name “Jewel of the Antilles”, the tops of the mountains are bare… the peasants live amid flamboyants, poinsettias, azaleas, ficus, eucalyptus, and magnolias -their colors raging over the countryside and blending roads into hills, hills into forests. Multicolored flora defy the destructiveness of man and climate to spring eternally back to life. This miracle the peasants attribute to the gods.”
                                                                                                                                   My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy

So begins the novel from which Once On This Island was adapted.  The brilliance of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s jambalaya of storytelling and music is what keeps me forever in love with this beloved musical.  Once On This Island is a director/designer’s fantasy.  The opportunity to breathe life into these characters and assist in the creation of the world in which they live and dream abundantly satisfies my artistic soul. 

For generations stories have been passed down to teach valuable lessons about life, love, pain and hope.  Few do this better than the simple tale of Ti Moune, the peasant girl, who’s unrequited love takes her on a journey through all of these life experiences and more, ultimately providing hope not only to the progeny of the characters in the story, but to all those who take the journey with her.

Unlike many musicals, this is a simple, straightforward story.  I have envisioned a close knit community, not unlike the friends and family we all share, attending to the tears of a small child frightened by a devastating storm. Uncertain of their own fates, they bond together and seek the solace of the time honored tradition of stories passed from generation to generation.

Using resources at hand, improvised costume couture and masks separate the gods from the peasants and the peasants from the beauxhommes as they themselves become the characters of the story. Pieces of bamboo are lashed together to become a car, fabric is fashioned into rain and staffs are devised for the ever fickle gods. All the characters join together in song and dance as they share Ti Moune’s journey in an attempt to not only calm her fears, but to help each other weather the storm. While the storm onstage is literal, can we not all see within this story the challenges and obstacles we face in our own lives? Do we have the courage to follow our hearts against all odds and at any cost?

It is my sincere hope that as you join us over the next 90 minutes, you will consider the tales that have woven the threads of your life and in turn, seek to inspire future generations and loved ones with your own journeys towards faith, love and hope.  

“For out of what we live
And we believe
Our lives become
The stories that we weave.”

Steve Huntsman

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How did we get here?

As you may know, we are currently in Bermuda assisting in an exciting production of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND with TROIKA Bermuda. We have been asked this question frequently - how did you arrive at an opportunity like this? While the process itself was pretty simple, I believe we have been preparing for it for some time. 

But here's our ONCE ON THIS ISLAND journey!

We began our love affair with Once On This Island in 2003 when Steve and I both participated in a production. Originally he was the assistant director and I wasn't cast (boo hoo, I know)! As the show progressed, some cast opportunities came up and he ended up playing the role of Papa Ge and I played Andrea. For me, I have such fond memories of that production. Performing that music, learning that choreography and going on such an emotional journey every night remains a highlight of my performance experiences.

Steve Huntsman as Papa Ge, Celeste Lero as Ti Moune
Once On This Island - Signature Productions 2003 Dir by Leslie Fotheringham

Sandra Huntsman as Andrea, Rique Rose as Daniel
Once On This Island - Signature Productions 2003 Dir by Leslie Fotheringham

Fast forward to 2009. Steve was now in the directors seat for a new production of Once On This Island at a new venue - the beautiful outdoor theatre at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park! This was a very exciting opportunity as what a perfect show to play outdoors! It also presented some challenges as Once On This Island can easily be an intimate production and generally plays well as such. Adapting the simple story to play to a football field was a challenge Steve tackled with vigor!

He built the show upon the existing concept that this is a small community of people who come together during a frightening storm and to calm the fears of a small child, as well as their own, they share the story of Ti Moune.  He envisioned the props in the show that help to tell the story as being organically made/resourced by the storytellers who use such props and costume pieces to tell the story. So the gates to the hotel are fashioned out of bamboo, grass becomes a voluptuous skirt for the goddess Asaka, baskets become everything from a pregnant belly to the frogs of the forest! As far as costuming went, he was inspired by the rich silhouettes and colors of the Elizabethan area, imagining the storytellers clothing was passed down through generations.

Here's a look at some of costume design! My wonderful costume construction partner Valinda and I really enjoyed making these beauties come to life.

We already discussed the set design in my previous post!

The production in 2009 was a huge success! It even swept every technical "award" that the Las Vegas Review Journal's critic gives out for that year - Outstanding Set, Costumes, Lighting and Choreography! We were very proud of this piece. The cast was fantastic - each perfectly suited to their roles and every member of the cast stretched above and beyond themselves to create dynamic, enthralling characters that the audience could relate to. We had a WONDERFUL team of creators - lighting, props, sound, stage crew! And again, we grew to love the show even more.

Here are more images of the 2009 production of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND - Directed by Steve Huntman, Set & Costume Design by Steve Huntsman, Produced by Signature Producitons and Super Summer Theatre and Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.

Since that time, we have been fortunate to rent out the costumes to several high schools who are producing the show! We expanded the costumes to include additional ensemble costumes as well.

We were contacted about a year ago by TROIKA Bermuda in reference to our costume rental. As we began to discuss with them the possibility and logistics of an overseas rental, they mentioned that they had brought in guest directors in the past. Steve asked if they would consider bringing him in to direct the show! In an interview, here's what Shoa Bean, one of the founders of TROIKA Bermuda and a producer on this project said in a newspaper interview regarding Steve:

"Said Troika co-founder Shoa Bean: 'With his experience as a director [particularly musicals], as a set and costume designer and also a performer, we felt it necessary to have someone of this calibre work on our first musical.We were also very impressed with the quality of his previous work and felt that it was definitely in line with what Troika aims to do with our productions."

After months of negotiating and planning, it became a reality! Steve flew out to Bermuda for a week and a half in June to cast the show. He returned home for 2 weeks where we finished building and gathering props and sprucing up and adding new costumes. Then we packed everything up - including our 4 children - and made the flights to beautiful Bermuda! It has been a wonderful experience so far - working with some very talented young actors and getting to know a new culture! Oh, and we have definitely worked in plenty of beach time. :)

Well before we became Huntsman Entertainment, theatre has been our passion. We have always, always striven to be a part of truly high quality productions and create wonderful opportunities for all theatre lovers - whether onstage, backstage, creative or in the audience. What a pleasure it has been to have our passion and endless pursuit of quality recognized to the extent of bringing us a wonderful opportunity!

I'll keep you updated as the production moves they are loading the set into the theatre! Very exciting.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Once On This Island - BERMUDA

Promo shot for ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, presented by TROIKA Bermuda
Costumes by Huntsman Entertainment
We are privileged right now to be in the beautiful country of Bermuda, helping to produce a wonderful production of Once On This Island for TROIKA, Bermuda! Steve is directing the show as well as providing the scenic design and artistry. They have also rented our costumes and properties. I have been hard at work on alterations and enhancements to our costumes!

Set Design for ONCE ON THIS ISLAND - Steve Huntsman
Produced by TROIKA, Bermuda
Currently we are nearing load in to the theater. Which means set construction finished up last week and set painting and treatment is currently under way. Stan, our go to set builder, flew to the island 2 weeks ago and supervised the build of the set. Steve and several volunteers have been hard at work painting the set.

One of the ramps gets detail - shading and splatter treatment!
Adds so much texture and dimension.
One of the exciting things about the set is that we are able to use actual bamboo cut right here on the island! It adds so much interesting dimension, as in the past when this set was produced in Las Vegas, we used PVC pipe - which still looked amazing, but how great to use the real thing.

The original set: ONCE ON THIS ISLAND - Design by STEVE HUNTSMAN
Produced by Signature Productions & Super Summer Theatre

Bermuda's set gets the bamboo treatment!
I can't wait to see the whole thing sounds like it's going to be amazing!

If you like our set design and are interested in using it for your production, we would be happy to discuss a reasonable licensing fee! Please use our contact page at our website or send us an email.

Set and costume design property of Steve Huntsman, Huntsman Entertainment. Please do not use without permission.