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'Sugar Bean' grows a new director

WANT TO GO?

"The Sugar Bean Sisters"

Presented by Kanawha Players

WHERE: Kanawha Players Theater, 309 Beauregard St.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and April 26-27; 2 p.m. Sunday.

TICKETS: Adults $16, students and children 17 and under, $10

INFO: 304-343-PLAY or www.kanawhaplayers.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's not the first time Naomi Carder has taken the director's chair for a stage play, but it has been quite a while.

"Well, I used to direct haunts for 4-H," she said. "I wrote lines and gave direction to participants in our Halloween haunts. Other than that, the last time I directed was as a freshman in high school."

And for Carder, who directs the Kanawha Players' production of "The Sugar Bean Sisters" opening Friday, coming back has been kind a crash refresher course on stagecraft and community theater.

However, Carder said her education really started months ago, when she first started coming around the Kanawha Players.

"I kind of got involved with the Kanawha Players because of my son," she said.

The two of them went to see the troupe's production of "Evil Dead: The Musical" in October and then decided to go back the next night to sell concessions for the theater group.

"We bought snacks, sold them and gave the money to them," she said.

After that, they embarked on a kind of guerilla marketing program on behalf of the show. They went out in the public splattered with stage blood and wearing "Evil Dead: The Musical" t-shirts that also had information about how to see the show.

"We went all over town," Carder said. "We just sort of got sucked in."

From there, Carder said the two of them worked behind the scenes on other shows, including "A Christmas Story" and "Sleuth." They worked on sets, as well as constructed and acquired props.

She said she was a little taken aback when Kanawha Players asked her if she'd be interested in directing "The Sugar Bean Sisters," a comedy.

"I had to think about it long and hard before I agreed," Carder said.

But she took it on and hasn't really regretted it.

"Oh sure, there are a few times when you get a little flustered and think, 'I'm in over my head,' but the wonderful people who've come out and worked so hard have made any doubts fade. It's been really worthwhile."

Carder added that it helped that she had a fairly veteran cast to help tell the story of Fay Clementine and Willie Mae Nettles, a couple of outcasts living in the swampland near Disney World, as they try to escape spinsterhood -- and possibly the planet earth.

"It was kind of like a master's class on community theater," Carder said. "Micki Maley plays the reptile woman; she's not an actual lizard woman but lives on a reptile farm. Micki helped a lot with the lighting, and she knows so much. Kat Johnson is Willie Mae, and I learned a lot from her.

"Really, as much as any play I've done, this one came together thanks to everybody."

Carder said she hoped people come to the show and have a few laughs.

"We've had a pretty good time with it here."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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