The State of the Pelican 2017

The State of the Pelican
Fiscal Year Report: October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2017

Our 17th season began early, in mid-August 2016, as we were still making up time from our hurricane compressed year. To open our season, we made use of one of the Pelican Playhouses’ greatest resources: our women, with a production of, what else, “The Women,” by Clare Booth Luce. Roughly two-thirds of all our players in the Pelican Playhouse are female. Some of our adult women had seen the Ring Theater production of “The Women” the year before and immediately started lobbying for the Pelicans to do a production. Over the summer, I relented and started the monumental task of doing justice to this classic piece of American theater. We auditioned in August and cast the 27 female roles, ranging in ages between 65+ (Mrs. Moorehead) and 9 (Little Mary). Rehearsals began in earnest in September, but even before then, our set designer, Birgit Scaglione, Assistant Director Mary Reed, Stage Manager Sam Chesser, and I began a treasure hunt for the period set pieces that would be necessary to bring the 1930’s production to life. Six weekends were spent hunting through antique stores from here to West Palm before we were satisfied. As complex as the production was, the backstage orchestration of the changing of the scenery and furniture for each of the 22 scenes was even more so. The Pelican men (eight of them) became the muscle that made the changes flawlessly for every performance. Birgit’s vision was augmented by the building of an Art Deco backdrop that gave the whole production the perfect ‘30’s feel. I can only hope you were one of the lucky ones that got to see it, as we sold out our second weekend entirely. It was a huge effort all around, with a cast and crew of nearly 50 Pelicans, but well worth it.

While the ladies were rehearsing and performing, my “Acting for Young People” class was preparing a Christmas Show for the Miami Springs Senior Center adults. On December 20th, they (12 young actors and one mom) performed “The Littlest Angel” to rave reviews. Since the inception of the Pelican Playhouse in 1999, I had called this class “Puppets and Pantomime,” but last year changed the name to reflect their growing prowess as actors. One of the real pleasures I have derived over the years is watching a child start theater when they are very young and stick with it until they “graduate” to our main stage production company. In our current company, we have six actors (ages 9 – 16) who have been with the Pelican Playhouse for as many as eight years. More than half their young lives they have been on stage.

After such an auspicious beginning, we were hard pressed to find a piece that would follow. Since “The Women” used all adult female actors, my men and younger students were eager to get back on stage. A record 44 players turned out for registration in January. It has always been the policy of the Pelican Playhouse that a player should have at least one role that would challenge their abilities. No one is ever just a “spear carrier.” To provide the necessary parts and challenges, we turned to a show we had done previously in the former recreation center building: “The Iliad, the Odyssey, and All of Greek Mythology in 99 minutes or Less.” With more than 100 characters, it gave us all we could handle. In 2009, when we first did the show, we used our Puppet Stage as a “Mt. Olympus,” where the Greek gods met and planned the fate of the mortals below.

This time, in 2017, we went high tech and brought the gods onto a “Mt. Olympus” video screen suspended high over the stage. Integrating the live action with the video-taped gods proved to be quite the challenge, but in the end, hugely rewarding as anyone who saw the show can attest. And that wasn’t the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge was met by Pelican Costumer, Dee Piquette, who costumed more than 100 different characters, from monsters like the Cyclops and the Minotaur, to the gods, goddesses, heroes, and heroines that populate Greek mythology. There is only one Dee Piquette, and we are blessed to have her. Another blessing comes in the person of Miami Springs Councilman Bob Best, who was in our first production of “The Iliad, the Odyssey, and All of Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less” in 2009 and reprised his roles as the Trojan Commander and Odysseus’ old dog. You had to be there! Councilman Best has been with us since 2003 appearing in more than a dozen productions over the years. Thank you, Bob! All together more than 50 actors and crew put on this huge production. Think about it. That’s more than four football teams!
Not to be outdone, the Pelican’s youngsters, at thirteen strong, performed again for our Miami Springs Seniors, this time giving a poetical salute to American Poet Shel Silverstein, featuring his “The Giving Tree.” All the seniors went away with smiles on their faces and warmth in their hearts.

This summer the popularity of the Pelican Playhouse continues to surge with more than 30 players signed up for Actor’s Workshop. It’s the one time in the year that the actors get to pick what they would like to perform. It’s a cornucopia of theatrical delights and will be seen at the end of the summer on Saturday night, September 9th, and Sunday afternoon, September 10th. [Unfortunately, Hurricane Irma changed our plans and moved the performances to September 23 and 24! Ah, hurricane season. Such fun!]

We continue to partner with the Miami Springs Senior High Math Club, Mu Alpha Theta. They provide refreshments at intermission for a “donation” and make enough to finance their trips to various math competitions around the country.

Facebook “Likes” are approaching 500! What’s not to “like?”

Events in the Rebeca Sosa Theater keep the place hopping! Events included the McCormack Music Christmas Concert, the Jr. Orange Bowl Pageant, the Miss Art Deco Pageant, “Mimi’s Suitcase,” an original one-woman show from Artists Beyond Borders, Lino Ferrer Productions, the McCormack Music Summer Concert, the Miss South-Miami Dade Teen Scholarship Pageant, the DAMA Modeling and Etiquette School, Miss Florida U.S.A. Pageant, a premier showing of “Rebound,” a documentary film about the Miami Heat Wheels, Youth Basketball pictures, District 16 Miami-Dade “Mom and Pop,” River Cities Festival Talent show rehearsals, Miami Springs City Council Installation meeting, the Miami Springs Senior High Band Concert, and Summer Camp.

The Rebeca Sosa Theater saw 5 visiting companies renting out 6 days for revenue to the City. We continue to be very popular with pageants, including the Jr. Orange Bowl!

We would also like to give particular thanks to the following: Mary Reed, Sam Chesser, Gretchen Gordon, and Daniel Febres for their continuing assistance with our social media efforts and Rick Reed for his technical assistance.

Special thanks to Omar Luna, Patty Bradley, and Danny Valdes for their wonderful support of all that we do. They are extremely helpful and we truly appreciate them and the rest of the staff at the community center. And major thanks to Tom Nash and the “heavy lifters” from Public Works who set up the staging and risers for the audience.