The State of the Pelican 2021 (Illustrated)

Fiscal Year Report: October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021

The State of the Pelican (Illustrated)

Community Theater in the Heart of It All – Miami Springs, Florida!

Not theater with an “edge”, but theater with an “awww.”

That’s the Pelican Playhouse motto.  And as we prepare to start our twenty-second season, because of the wisdom, generosity and support of the City of Miami Springs, we have been able to grow, what I can say without fear of contradiction, is quite simply the finest true Community Theater in the State of Florida. What do I mean by “true” Community Theater?  A theater that is open to anyone in the community (and surrounding South Florida area) interested in doing live theater before an audience. Many theaters are “audition” oriented. Only the best are taken. The rest are encouraged to try again.  Here, at the Pelican Playhouse, we pride ourselves in being a “no experience necessary” teaching theater.  One of our great joys is watching people who have never acted before, grow into amazing players with abilities they never dreamed they had. And more than that, we are intergenerational. That means “all ages” on stage together. Whole families on stage together. Parents, who heretofore have only rooted for their children from the sidelines, are suddenly in the “game” with them. It is a joy like no other.

If you’re old enough to remember, in 1965 NBC aired a satirical show hosted by David Frost entitled “That was the Week that Was!” Well, we’ve done better. We just completed “That was the Year that Was!” The Pelican Playhouse’s 21st Season was unlike any other. When last I wrote in the Summer of 2020, the Pelican was locked down and gone to Zoom….virtually. We had formed two separate Zoom companies: a children’s company and our specialty: an “intergenerational company.”  The children’s company began rehearsal on “Fortunes Told Virtually Only $1.” It was an amusing one act play with a cast of eleven that was set on-line so it played right into our situation. It was virtual and so were we.

For our “Intergenerational show,” we dusted off my original “Alice in Up and Down Land or the Search for the Ultimate High.” We performed this in the Caviler Annex in 2007 with a cast of ten.  Councilman Bob Best was in that production. “Alice” is a drug awareness piece that is as relevant now as when I first wrote it in 1973. For this production, we contracted a web site, “On the Stage,” to handle streaming, our tickets, and merchandise.

And then, just when we were getting our “Zoom” legs under us, I got a call from Community Center Director, Omar Luna. ”Would we be willing to begin holding live classes again? Within the CDC guidelines, of course.” Would we ever!  And so in mid-June we began holding live classes using the Aquatic Center as our rehearsal space. Ten or fewer in each class. Temperature checks. Masks. Hand sanitizers. Social distancing. We even purchased a “cold fogger” to disinfect the space. I opened up registration and more than thirty Pelicans showed up, ecstatic to be back live.

It was so joyous to be back together again. Some of them hadn’t been out of their houses for more than a year.  Suddenly we had a record number of Pelicans, virtually or live, fifty-nine Pelicans, meeting every week. To give you an idea how crazy it was, I have attached a typical rehearsal schedule. In September we performed our two Zoom shows using “On the Stage.”  And gradually, as we came out of COVID, we were able to schedule our live show back in the Rebeca Sosa Theater, within CDC COVID guidelines, of course. It would have been our “Summer Recital” but the late start pushed it to the “Fall Recital” and on October 24 and 25, more than nine months after we closed “Peter Pan the British Musical” we were back! Normally our Recitals are two nights, a Saturday night and a Sunday matinee, but since we had five separate “companies” and were restricted to a 50% house (40 audience members, masked and seated social distanced) we performed five separate 1 hour shows, three on Saturday afternoon and two on Sunday afternoon.  It was well attended and super well received!

Since our Zoom company had been idle since mid-September, and our out of town Pelicans were “flapping at the bit,” we made the decision to go with another Zoom production. This time, for the first time in a long time, a Christmas show. We had been shying away from Christmas shows as they are hectic times, with lots of travel and visitors interfering with rehearsals. But with Zoom we jumped at the chance to do “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. We were particularly elated to have Mr. Ken Kurtz, Professor Emeritus at the University of Miami’s Ring Theater, as the perfect Ebenezer Scrooge. No makeup required.  The twenty player cast relished the chance to spread Christmas Cheer to themselves, their families, and the many people who watched the Saturday night, December 19th and Sunday afternoon, December 20th performances.

Even though the year was done, we weren’t.  A new year brought a new registration, live, under the CDC guidelines, and the Pelicans were eager to perform. It’s what we do. Using the Fall Recital as a template, we divided the 32 players into five groups and went into rehearsal. Recitals are always “Actor’s choice.” And when you do that you always get an interesting cornucopia of scenes, songs, poems and monologues. This was no exception with the highlight being the Pelican Playhouse version of “Dinner for One.” This Holiday classic is very popular overseas during the holidays. Our version was “Dinner for Dee” starring Pelican veteran and man of many characters, Jorge Calil, and our costumer extraordinaire, Dee Deringer Piquette. Dee has been our costumer since the beginning of the Playhouse in 1999 and occasionally treats herself with some stage time. They were amazing! Equally amazing, Angelina Gomez, age 13, wrote, directed and costumed her adaptation of “Star Wars: Tie Fighter.” It was original, fun, and all “Star Wars.” For some unknown reason she cast yours truly as Darth Vader.  For a poignant finale, we closed each show with a song. “The Twelve Months of Covid,” a musical tribute to what a pain this past fifteen months has been.  On May 29th we performed four hour long shows to full half-houses in the Rebeca Sosa Theater.

The Zoom company wasn’t done, either. And in January we went all Shakespeare with our own Sam Chesser’s adaptation of the Bard’s classic comedy, “Twelfth Night or What You Will.”

Again, the Zoom players flocked in from all over. Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Dade to participate.

For those of you who don’t know your Shakespeare, “Twelfth Night” is a comedy of mistaken identity with a pair of identical twins, Viola and Sebastian, separated in the beginning of the play by a shipwreck. Each thinks the other has drowned. Shakespeare artfully, comically, brings them to a joyful reunion at the end. The problem for us? We didn’t have a set of identical twins.  But we had our very talented  Lorean Mapp play both parts. For the performance, with the magic of Zoom and some clever manipulation by our Tech Mom Mary Reed, and our Tech Engineer Rick Reed,  we were able to put Lorean side-by-side.

This time utilizing On the Stage’s “On Demand Viewing” we were able to offer this production to anyone that wanted to see it from May 23 07:30 pm – Jun 13 11:00 pm EDT. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, but would like to see this amazing production, let me know and I will share the link with you.

And now, with COVID restrictions finally lifting, we registered for the Summer. Thirty-six Pelicans between the ages of 4 and 74 turned out. We are in the process of cast evaluation and selecting our next production. So mark your calendars for the weekends of September 17-19 & September 24-26.

Facebook “Likes” are at 582 and climbing! What’s not to “like?” And in addition, we now have 211 Instagram followers and 88 followers on Twitter.

We don’t know what God has in store for us in the coming year, but we know it will be good and we will do our very best! I hope to see you in the Rebeca Sosa Theater this year.

Ralph E Wakefield

Artistic Director