Theatre For All presents its original show Behind the Big Top on Monday & Tuesday, June 4-5, at TheatreNOW. Showtime is 7:00pm. As the title suggests, this show is a (humorous) peak behind the scenes of circus life.
Theatre For All is a performance troupe for people with disabilities founded in 2014. The program, part of TheatreNOW's Superstar Academy, recently hired Kim Henry (one of the founders) as Executive Director to manage the growing performance and outreach initiatives. Listen above to hear Kim, Board President Dylan Patterson, and performers Benjamin Gibby, Anna DeSanctis and Daniel Vestal talk about the show. You'll also hear performers Allon Nir and Joseph Sisk selling pies at the end.
To raise money for the program, raffle tickets for Wilmington's Best Raffle are on sale online and will be available at the performance. The drawing will be held on Tuesday, June 4. There are 4 prizes: dinner for two at Manna Restaurant; a night at Walker World; a Blue Ginger Spa facial; and a massage from Taylor'd Massage Therapy.
The show is free. Listen above to get a taste of the story, and see our extended conversation below.
WHQR's Gina Gambony is a founding member, instructor, and director with Theatre For All.
Gina Gambony: Tell me about the show. What is this show about?
Ben Scibby: The show is about the circus performers, like lions, dancers, clowns, pie in the face, jugglers, Ringmaster, lion tamer - all funny stuff.
Gina: Tell me about the part that you play.
Ben: I play the part of King Bernard/The Cowardly Lion. I get pied, and I feel like a good lion. I feel really good to be in the show. Thanks to Gina, Cam, and Dylan, I feel quite at home in this theatre family.
Gina: Oh gosh, Ben, I'm so glad. That's so awesome, man.
Ben: I could do Mickey Mouse.
Gina: You want to do Mickey Mouse?
Ben: [Mickey Mouse voice] This is Minnie Mouse. [Mickey Mouse Laugh]
Gina: [Everyone gasping] That was good! All right. Tell me, what part are you playing?
Bailey Smith: I'm playing Missy Labelle from Alabama. I'm one of the dancers and one of the popcorn girls.
Gina: What's this show about?
Bailey: It's about this Ringmaster who's trying to look for a new act, but many other acts are trying to find the right act that the Ringmaster will love and then he finds a new act but... Stay tuned!
Gina: Is this your first time performing with Theater For All?
Bailey: No, I've been performing for two years. I've been with them since Winter of 2016.
Gina: What do you like about Theater For All?
Bailey: I love that I'm friends with everybody. I can get along with them, and at school I can get along with people, these are my friends. They're my best friends. That's why I love going to Theatre For All. I love to spend time with them. I love to perform. It's been my thing sets since 2013.
Gina: We're really glad to have you. Could you tell me what part you're playing for Theater For All show?
Sage Andersen: I'm playing Sassy, and I'm one the dancers. She's a comedian, and she wants to be a comedian because it's her dream.
Gina: What are you doing in the show?
Sage: Jokes and stuff and dancing.
Gina: Is this your first time performing with Theater For All?
Gina: Have you liked it - or has it been hard or has it been easy?
Sage: I've liked it.
Gina: What do you like about it?
Sage: I like all the spotlights and the people.
Gina: Thank you, Sage. I'll see you on Saturday.
Gina: Can you tell me about this show? What's different about this Theater For All show? What's going on with it? Who are you, etc.?
Daniel Vestal: My name is Daniel Vestal, and I am playing Daddy Dada. Kinda like Lady Gaga [laughs]. So, I am playing the daddy clown who is very harsh, per say. He wants his family to stick together, but it's not going his way. One of the daughters wants to be a doctor. The other daughter wants to be with the magicians, and my youngest son is trying to impress his Daddy Dada - which he's not doing a great job at until the very end. So, I can't say much about the very end, but come on out to the show on June 4th and 5th at 7:00 PM. Come a little bit early to get seat, or else all the seats will be taken. But it's going to be great, hilarious show. I hope y'all can all come out.
Gina: Anna, tell me about the role that you're playing.
Anna: I play his oldest daughter, Daisy. I'm actually the one that wants to be the doctor. I don't want to be a clown my entire life - well, you'll actually find that out next week. I've also been here since the beginning.
Gina: What do you think about this show? You both have been in several shows - Anna, you've been in a lot.
Gina: What do you think about this show? How is it different than other Theater For All shows?
Anna: This one's actually comedy. All the other ones have had variety - which was kind of based on dance. This one's everything.
Gina: Why would you describe it as different? There's not much serious in this, is there?
Daniel: It's more freedom. It's not a story. It's basically secrets being told and then revealing all. So, I'm very excited about this show.
Gina: I think there is a story, wouldn't you say?
Daniel: Yeah, about the Ringmaster.
Kim: Your character has a story, doesn't she?
Anna: I don't want to be a clown my whole life. I want to be a doctor. So, I transition throughout the show. You'll see things that clowns don't do. Especially my character - which you'll have to wait till next week.
Gina: How do you feel about her not wanting to be a clown as her dad?
Daniel: I feel very disappointed, but I feel - at the end - I'm very happy for her that she's following her own path.
Anna: Yeah - so much you want to pie me. [laughs]
Daniel: At the same time, I feel heartbroken that my family is going their own ways.
Gina: Well, you do have a couple of kids to carry on the tradition.
Daniel: Yeah, Little DD will - Dylan Patterson - will stay in the whole circus family. My daughter Sassy - Gina Gambony - is trying to go out with the magicians. So, they're kind of going their own ways. Those two will stick together. But, Daisy will move on with her life.
Gina: Well, she'll be back for Clown Thanksgiving, won't she?
Daniel: Yeah, she will.
Anna: Yeah I will.
Gina: This is the new Executive Director of Theater For All - a new position that has been created just a few months ago. Kim, can you tell us about this show?
Kim: This show, as always, is a collaboration of everyone's ideas. Some of our performers have written some of the skits themselves. There's some poetry in it has been written by our performers. It's a collaboration of lots of different people's ideas and passions.
Dylan Patterson: My name is Dylan Patterson. I'm the President of the Board for Superstar Academy, which is the nonprofit that Theater For All is a program in. In order to raise money for Theater For All, we are holding a raffle. We'll be selling tickets at both shows, and then we'll do the drawing right before the second show on Tuesday night. For one $5 ticket, you have a chance to win four amazing prizes - dinner at Manna Restaurant, a night at Walker World, a facial at a Blue Ginger Spa, or a hour long massage with hand tailored massage. So, four amazing prizes that these local businesses were generous enough to donate.
Gina: Could you quickly tell me about your role as Little DD?
Dylan: Yes. So, not only am I President of the Board, but I'm also a volunteer and an actor. My role is as Little DD. He is the son of Daddy Dada, who's the head of the Clown Crew. Let's just say Little DD gets no respect - at least from his dad. Well, actually, maybe a little from his mom, but not from his sisters either. So, he does everything he can to try to make his dad proud. I guess the dramatic question of this play is: Is he ever going to be able to do that? So, you'll have to come to the show to see what happens.