Cast & Crew
Giles: Greg Krosnes
Phyllida: LaVita Brooks
Eye-o Julie Reinbold
Ear-o: Teresa Morrow
The Shepherd of Clouds: Reginald C. Brown
Narrator: Richard Jones
Narrator: Robert Arnold
Sound Effects: Teresa Morrow
Sound Effects: Marques Brown
Producer: Eric Sefton
Adaptation: Marques Brown
Director: Teresa Morrow
Announcer: Tom Badgett
Artist: Teresa Morrow
The Memphis Children’s Theatre Festival has become the highlight of our spring. Presented by Voices of the South, this colorful, inviting, and downright fun festival has such a great vibe and presents so much enchanting theater that it’s impossible not to fall in love with it.
2010 marks Chatterbox’s third year of participating in the festival, and as always, we wanted to do something really special. This year’s show is the product of a collaboration between three exceptional talents: Teresa Morrow, Marques Brown, and Karen Strachan.
First, the script. We knew we wanted something interactive, kid-friendly, and engaging (but not overly familiar). In her online wanderings, Teresa discovered American naturalist and writer Henry Beston, whose life story is a fascinating tale in its own right. In “The Shepherd of Clouds,” we recognized an excellent story that not only fit our criteria, but that also gave us an opportunity to address — in a gentle, mythical, kid-friendly manner — the catastrophic flooding that had recently taken place in Tennessee.
Marques took the story and generated an utterly charming stage adaptation. Teresa assembled and coached a cast of top-notch performers, which includes some old favorites as well as some brand-new voices. And Karen provided the perfect finishing touch by designing a craft project that would allow the audience to become part of the show.
For that audience, the experience of the show started well before curtain time. On the day of the festival, kids visited the Chatterbox booth, where Karen, Marques, and I helped them create rain sticks using cardboard tubes and dried beans. (Collecting hundreds of paper towel and toilet paper tubes from my friends and colleagues was among the strangest things I’ve had to do recently.) They also signed and decorated the big poster boards that would later serve as thunder sheets. Then, when showtime came around, Marques and Teresa taught the audience how to use their rain sticks, poster board, and voices to create the sounds of wind, rain, and thunder.
The final result is “The Shepherd of Clouds.” I’m in awe of the production work that Eric Sefton did to make this unpredictable performance sound so good. But I think the recording still conveys the excitement, the wild energy, and (frankly) the chaos of performing along with 80-plus enthusiastic and engaged people, most of whom can still count their ages on ten fingers.
In short, then, we had a blast preparing, rehearsing, and performing this show. I hope you have the same experience listening to it.