Fred Waring’s Christmas Shindig (FWCS) is an original, full-length music theater piece based on the music of the mid-twentieth century big-band and choral music director Fred Waring. Born in Tyrone Pennsylvania in 1900, Waring lived a long life in which he not only became known as “the man who taught America to sing”, but was the primary investor in the appliance which bears his name to this day: The Waring Blendor. His musical claim to fame was the big band, choral arrangements he created with his group, The Pennsylvanians. During the 40s and 50s, Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians scored a string of hits including “Smoke Gets In your Eyes”, “Button Up Your Overcoat” and “Battle Hymn of The Republic”.
But it is his lavish and creative treatments of Christmas music for which he is most remembered. Albums like “Fred Waring Christmas Magic” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas” were holiday staples for many in the eastern USA, and his wild treatment of “Jungle Bells” will bring a smile to many of a certain age. It is this legacy that Fred Waring’s Christmas Shindig celebrates.
FWCS is designed to use a blended cast of professional actors, neurotypical student actors and disabled actors. The ultimate goal of this project is an original piece of holiday musical theater in which disabled people are seen en par with the other actors on stage. FWCS is an original piece of theater, meaning that all who participate in its development are potential co-creators.
As a piece of theater, FWCS has a simple message, but one which will underline the unique collaboration between different kinds of performers: three estranged branches of one family re-unite one Christmas. Each of the three branches of the family exhibits some absurd or peculiar trait, with the host family (“the Warings”) representing the “normal people” – and yet in their 1950s affect they might actually be the strangest group of the three. The collision of these three groups at the home of the Warings is fraught with comic misunderstandings, malapropisms, and ridiculous conflicts. And yet, as the three groups partake in the syrupy, sentimental and virtuosic holiday arrangements of Fred Waring, they find that the spirit of the holiday season unites them across their differences.
While the disabled actors will have unique rehearsal needs, our approach will be to treat them as full members of the ensemble, thereby putting aside the “otherness” the disabled often find themselves in. And while their participation will no doubt be a “story” in the creation of this musical, we will aim to downplay their “uniqueness” and represent them as just another group of artists bringing this play to life.
Supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council for Developmental Disabilities, White Pines will cast and rehearse one week of developmental rehearsal next June at Abington Friends School. Benjamin Lloyd will direct this week of rehearsal, which will feature professional actors from the White Pines ensemble, students from Abington Friends School, and disabled actors from White Pines' Acting Out! acting class. This week will culminate in a work in progress presentation on the final day of the rehearsal.
White Pines is seeking a Music Director for this week of rehearsal to work closely with Ben on the development of this project. This artist will:
- be available for several planning meetings during early 2016
- work with Ben on overall conceptual goals and strategies
- work with Ben to select three songs to work on for the week of rehearsal
- be responsible for adapting Fred Waring's arrangements of the songs chosen for this week of rehearsal
- select and rehearse a small orchestra (paid positions) for this week of rehearsal
- teach and rehearse a cast with a wide range of vocal ability to sing the chosen songs
- be completely available during the week of rehearsal, tentatively scheduled for June 13 - 19, 2016 at Abington Friends School.
This is a paid position.
Please send an email expressing interest and/or asking questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and attach a resume. White Pines would like to fill this position by Jan. 1 2016.
White Pines: Dynamic Creativity, Growing Communities, Lasting Relationships