Trumansburg Connection: Encore Players hold auditions for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

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Encore Players has been entertaining on the Trumansburg stage since 2014. The company aims to offer up to three high-quality performances per year, and according to the website its mission aims to, “build a sense of community by bringing together all who are interested; children, youth and adults, from all walks of life, and with a variety of different skills.” Past musical performances have included Oliver, The Music Man, and The Wizard of Oz. This year’s performance, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, will run Aug. 1 through Aug. 4 at the Trumansburg High School Auditorium.


For those not familiar with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the musical fantasy, written for film by Ken Hughes and Roald Dahl is about a quirky inventor named Caractacus, played in the movie by Dick Van Dyke, who goes to great lengths to earn money to purchase an old and crashed Grand Prix car for his children. After much hijinks and hilarity, he succeeds, and because of the noise that the car makes when it runs, they name it Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fantasy ensues and includes the villainous and manipulative baron and baroness, a terrifying childcatcher, plenty of comedy, a love story, and of course, song and dance!


Encore Players encourages people of all ages (10 and over) and walks of life to participate in community theater, regardless of experience. On choosing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Anne Bialke, vice president of Encore Players and director of the show reveals, “We were looking for a show where we could use a big ensemble and prominently feature children. We are also always looking for shows with quite a number of juicy adult roles, and this show has a number of them. The children’s grandfather has a Victorian English military background and is full of funny mannerisms and expressions that make him particularly charming. Truly Scrumptious [a confident, bright, charming woman who quickly becomes fond of the Potts family and falls in love with Caractacus] is a lovely part for an actress and for someone who wishes to sing. The baron and baroness are hilarious and over the top, with outrageous accents and a love-hate relationship that is fuel for great comedic timing. The child catcher is really frightening, non-singing role, and there are a lot of smaller roles for actors to speak but not assume the responsibility of a larger role.”


Auditions for the musical will be held soon. Encore Players is looking for adults, youth and children age 10 and up, to play a variety of leading roles and ensemble parts. Auditions will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Ulysses, at 69 E. Main St. in Trumansburg on Sunday, May 5, 2 to 5 p.m., and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, May 8 through 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. Callbacks will be held on Saturday, May 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. Signups are encouraged but not required, if you decide at the last minute this is something for you, at encoreplayers.org. All experience levels are welcome to audition!


About the audition process, the Encore Player website states, “You may prepare a song if you are trying out for a major part, or sing something easy. The music director will ask you to sing, like Happy Birthday or Row Row Row Your Boat. If you are preparing a song to sing, YOU MUST bring the sheet music with you so you can sing with accompaniment. Singing prepared songs without accompaniment is discouraged for a variety of reasons. We will give you something to look over and read out loud. We are listening for clarity, expression, interpretation, and confidence. No need to prepare a monologue. We strive to take the pressure out of auditions and make them fun, so everyone has a good time!”


One thing Bialke would like to emphasize is the group does all they can to make the audition process low-key, stress-free, and fun. She notes, “My golly we have a good time!” Encore Players member Rachel Kennedy notes, “When I first auditioned for an Encore Players show, I hadn’t performed since high school. This is, I now know, a common story in community theater. Directors will, in fact, be expecting folks with no experience or experience in the distant past. Certainly one does have to be willing to stand before a group and read lines and sing, but Anne and Alice [Ploss, Music Director] of Encore are eager to put people at ease with the audition process, and welcome newcomers. I think because the core team is loaded with experienced directors and theater technicians, Encore Players can attract experienced performers as well as novices, which does elevate the outcome. Community theater fascinates me. Volunteers collaborate on a complex project, everyone brings something to the table, and everyone learns something. One of the targets is indeed a quality show for an audience, but there is confidence and pride and camaraderie built in the community of participants, which is arguably an equally important goal. There is also a magical, unforgettable sense of unity that participating in a successful show brings.”


You can find more information about Encore Players, or sign up to audition, on their website, encoreplayers.org.

In brief:

A Facelift for the Village of Trumansburg’s Entrance
On April 17 and 18, dozens of Trumansburgers and friends showed up, shovels and rakes in hand, at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds to help with a massive cleanup and tree-planting project, in an outpouring of community can-do spirit.
The project, funded by Trumansburg Rotary, Rotary District 7170, and Trumansburg’s Gemm Shop, drew on community expertise in the personages of local landscape professional David Allen, Takin’ Care of T’burg organizer Karen Powers, and landscape architect John Ullberg, all of whom contributed many hours of planning, measuring, choosing trees that would survive in a salty, heavily trafficked environment, teaching, and rounding up volunteers for the work parties.


The transformation, which took a year of planning, was eventually accomplished in two days of labor by more than three dozen volunteers, including those from Takin’ Care of T’burg, Scott Sutcliffe, who showed up with his front-end loader to help deliver compost and mulch to individual tree sites, work crews from Ian and Jackie Merwin’s Black Diamond Farm and Paul Martin and Rosie Newton’s Sweet Land Farm CSA, Trumansburg Rotary, and many individuals from Trumansburg and Ithaca looking to lend a helping hand on this beautification project.


This would have been more days of work without the help of Mayor Rordan Hart; the Village DPW’s Casey Lincoln and Jerrod Surine showed up with their backhoe to dig most of the holes for tree planting. Jerry Reynolds, chairman of the fairgrounds board of directors, cleared another patch of scrub on the north side of the fairgrounds entrance, with the help of excavator Henry Van Ness.
It is now far more park-like with the addition of low-growing crabapples, redbuds, and cornelian cherries, a complement to the greenery of Smith Woods across the street, and a tribute to the spirit of the Village of Trumansburg.

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