To celebrate the Red Room’s seventh anniversary, and to mark the twentieth Stage Time and Juice, the creative team put together a lineup that would combine elements both new and old. For those unfamiliar with our history, Stage Time and Juice was created as a junior version of Stage Time and Wine, the Red Room’s famous open mic show that takes place on the third Saturday of every month. Juice was intended to serve as an incubation forum to help children and teenagers achieve the expressiveness and confidence necessary to evolve into Stage Time and Wine performers. It seemed an ambitious undertaking, one that the founding parents involved were not sure could be achieved.
Three years later, Stage Time and Juice seems to have made its mark: we now have a small but growing group of steady performers who have been bitten by the performance bug. For the anniversary, we reached out to these “Juicers” personally and asked whether they would be brave enough to share something with the anticipated larger audience. The response was enthusiastic: Michael, Maggie, Sarah, and Elisa would appear as an ensemble, the siblings Kanoa and Kailer would share a song, Nicole would perform with her guitar, Jayde and Alyssa would appear for the first time playing the ukulele, and Zosia would read something. The Margo twins were newcomers who joined in at the last minute, declaring their intention to play a few songs on the keyboard. This was the first time the Juicers performed on the unfamiliar elevated stage in a tent, and we did receive some feedback about nerves and unexpected challenges, but all in all it was agreed to be a rewarding experience for both performers and audience alike. First time attendees were impressed by the level of talent, and a comment we often heard repeated was
“I can’t believe that we waited until NOW to come!”
Apart from the superb lineup for open mic, we also attained a special milestone this November: Juicer Jayde decided that she would give being an emcee a try. Her mom frequently emcees The Stage Time and Juice show: what could possibly go wrong? Stage jitters, it turns out. Jayde admits that she was “dying” from nervousness when she took the mic, but she discovered something: “It was easier than I expected, because once I got up there I felt that people were not criticizing me and I felt accepted.”
Usually, for a Stage Time and Juice show, apart from the open mic, we also invite a few adult performers to share something with the audience.
Arsene, the Dream Magician, materialized of his own accord with his usual greeting: “Long time no see!” He had just returned from a mysterious assignment in Hong Kong where he had been working as a consultant on a magic show. The Dream Magician delighted the guests with several “classic modern” tricks, one in particular done first in slow motion and then speeding it up, challenging the audience to guess how an egg can be made to present itself out of thin air. Juxtaposed with this was the magic act of Burke Giordano, whom we became acquainted with last year as he coaxed balloons into fanciful shapes. Taking center stage armed with only a pair of oversized spectacles, a briefcase, and a whistle, Burke treated the children to a whimsical performance, referencing his favorite comedians: the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton.
Burke’s magical act was followed by the ever-ebullient Sue DeSimone, our Stage Time and Juice rock diva, who led the audience in a sing-along of “This Little Light of Mine” and “Sing,” accompanied by her guitarist friend, Vincenzo Cuccia.
We end our narrative with a description of the opening number of the show, the dramatic reading of Jack and the Beanstalk, accompanied by sound effects. Keeping in mind that this might be the first time that young audience members encountered a radio play, there was first a brief introduction about sound effects, read in English (Ruth) and in Mandarin (Ashish) followed by a training session where the audience was coached to produce sound effects on cue. The story was then read by Carol, Zosia, Julian, and Nicole. The youngest of the crew, Jessie, assisted Ruth with the sound effects table. Here’s the spoiler: at the end of the story, Jack managed to escape from the giant’s castle with the silver and chopped down the beanstalk. The beanstalk fell with a huge crash, and the audience was handsomely rewarded for their participation.
After the show, the Juicers were turned loose to paint the streets with flowery, geometric rangoli forms, which according to Indian tradition can attract good luck. Creating rangoli has now become one of our Stage Time and Juice signature activities. Despite the heat, the artists worked enthusiastically, leaving the Air Force Base covered with an elaborate hand-painted carpet to greet the guests coming for the evening’s entertainment.
See more photos on our flickr album.
By Carol Yao
Stage Time & Juice Coordinator