The Christmas Heist: Meet Alex (Behind the Scenes Featurette)

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The Midway Point

Whew. Week three of six. Oh boy. Wasn’t it just a couple days ago that I posted the cast list for The Christmas Heist? My plan was to regularly document the behind the scenes of the production, and I have been recording interviews & behind the scenes footage these past three weeks and sharing photos on Facebook but… let’s just say I slipped here.

To be fair, we can blame Bethesda Softworks. Fallout 4 has all but monopolized my free hours at home. For the director of a show about outsiders who read comics, play D&D and play video games… you can see how this might be a problem.

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One of the funniest parts of the show – and there are many.

That being said, we’ve got a couple long weekends ahead of us (play practice this Thursday is taken over by the HSHS production of North Woods Nonesense, next week, of course, is Thanksgiving) so I’ll be finally editing together a bunch of behind the scenes videos.

I have to tell you, after auditions and that first week, we were… worried, to say the least. With essentially half a cast, we were scraping barrel bottoms to pull people from, calling in favors like no tomorrow. Then we lost a cast member due to some unfortunate circumstances.

In spite of some VERY good early rehearsals, the flow of the show had been missing. I’ll talk in more detail about this in some of the videos, but let’s just say our assistant director and producer Betsy Savage spent quite a bit of time on stage filling in while we brought in the rest of the cast one by one. Despite her (admittedly good & fair) suggestions, I remained incredibly stubborn and uncompromising about who we cast, and although I’m sure she was pulling her hair, I’m glad we stuck it out. With the cast we have, and between the November 12 rehearsal and this past Monday and Tuesday rehearsals, I’m not only not worried, I’m really excited to see this in its fully-fledged format, and even MORE excited for everyone else to.

Keep your eye on Skeeter Bite Productions this weekend for behind the scenes interviews & footage!

CAST ANNOUNCED – THE CHRISTMAS HEIST (Updated 11/18)

This cast was one of the hardest we’ve ever had to do. This is literally the first show in Southern Hills Community Theater history where we just did not have the ability to cast everyone we wanted to and everyone who turned out, and believe us, it was extremely hard and sad for us. That being said: everyone who did try out and indicated an interest in helping behind the scenes, we will need a strong supporting stage & technical crew on this production.

Please reach out to us if you want to help us operate the show and “learn the ropes” behind the scenes! And PLEASE try out for the next show, too! Just because there wasn’t a part for you in this one doesn’t mean there won’t be in the next! EVERYONE who turned out auditioned BRILLIANTLY!

There are a few roles whose actors have not yet been finalized but here is the cast of The Christmas Heist.

The Kids:

Alex: Isaiah Crossman
Kelly: Rachel Davis
Kenzie: Jordyn Carey
Robin: Zach Cox
Shawna: Isabel Meyer

The Adults:

Ben: Garett Jack
Sarah: Okoye Zimiga
Mayor Cooper: Angel Haskell
Gus: Jake Pannill
Officer Powell: Morris Nelson
Jack Bussard: Ike Ikonen
Phyllis Falkowitz: Kathe Holen

Character Descriptions for “The Christmas Heist”

We’re a little less than 3 weeks away from auditions for the Southern Hills Community Theatre/Skeeter Bite Productions collaboration “The Christmas Heist.”

I’ve been blasting the 80’s and Christmas tunes already here at home.  If you need to get in the mood, here’s a sample of what I’ve been getting amped up to:

In case you’re planning on auditioning, here are some brief details on the entire cast of characters from this play:

ALEX: 17 year old male. Sort of a “Charlie Brown” type. Average in just about everything, somewhat wishy-washy. Does have an interest in videography. Works at Gus’ Motel.

KENZIE: 15 year old female. Sarcastic rebel and youngest of the group. From the “wrong side of the tracks” but generally nice. Invariably says whatever comes to her mind without a filter.

KELLY COOPER: 17 year old female. The pretty, popular girl. More to her than meets the eye, though. Must be able to do drama & comedy both equally very well.

SHAWN: 16 year old gender flexible. Written as a male, but can be flex. The geek/nerd/techie. Loves video games, math, D&D, plans on world domination one day. Not as verbose as everyone else but when he does speak up, he sounds like Spock. Good memory a must.

ROBIN: 16 year old male. Can also be flexed between genders if absolutely necessary. A bit of a lovable goofball, but can easily bounce between funny and serious.

GUS: late 30’s to late 40’s male. The amiable hippy who runs Gus’ Motel after taking it over when he father passed away. Only has a handful of short scenes but must make an impression as someone the kids would look up to.

BEN: Late 20’s to late 30’s male. Could be older but should roughly match Sarah. The mysterious but friendly stranger staying at Gus’ Motel the week of Christmas. Always seems to find himself in the middle of the kids’ schemes, but he really just wants to get his car fixed and get out of town ASAP.

MAYOR DAWN COOPER: 30’s-40’s female. Is both the strong-armed mayor of Pine Springs, and Kelly’s young-ish step-mom. A bit cold, despises being confronted. Is generally trying to do what she thinks is best for the community, but might have ulterior motives.

JACK/JACKIE BUSSARD: 50’s-60’s gender flexible. A businessman/woman who wants to bring a shopping plaza to Pine Springs. Like everyone’s grandparent on the surface but behind closed doors is a wheeler and dealer.

OFFICER POWELL: 30’s-50’s. Written as male but could be gender flexible is absolutely necessary. Local police chief. Tends to just do whatever the mayor says. Described as a “Barney Fife” type.

SARAH: late 20’s to late 30’s female. Should be near Ben’s age if not cast within the written age. The secretary at City Hall who feels something is “up” but can’t prove it. Ultimately decides to help Ben & the kids during their heist with crucial information.

EXTRAS: Two scenes could have extra teenagers with no lines or very few lines that would be shared in unison with others “e.g. a chant like ‘Save Gus Now'” but are not required at all.

There’s a Reason…

It’s been quiet on the home front. I’ve been undergoing preparations for the next big Skeeter Bite Productions project: The Christmas Heist, produced in coordination with Southern Hills Community Theatre. Below are the details on the upcoming auditions on October 29 in Hot Springs, SD.

I’m really counting on getting a strong cast & crew for this production, which I will be documenting throughout.

More info coming soon on the behind the scenes end. See you on the flip side.

-Justin

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ANNOUNCEMENT: “The Christmas Heist” in development for stage

TheChristmasHeistLogoI’m excited to announce that while editing is progressing on Jamie Klotz’s Diary II & The Veterans Town and the script for Never Been to Graceland is still being written, that I will be starting development of a script for a theatrical play entitled “The Christmas Heist” that will be performed for the first time ever in Hot Springs on December 10-12, 2015 in partnership with Southern Hills Community Theatre.

“The Christmas Heist” is set in 1987 and tells the story of a bank robber who finds himself stranded in a small mountain town after a botched heist mere days before Christmas, and finds himself embroiled in a battle between kids and authorities over the town’s local youth center, which the local city leadership wants to tear down to make way for a strip mall. Classic Christmas themes like materialism versus idealism, greed, and compassion for those in need are explored in this nostalgic original play inspired by a mash-up of classic 80’s action/crime movies and classic 80’s family/holiday movies.