4 oz (112 ml) original cider – a great option is the cider from Carolina Cider Company

2 oz (56 ml) Prosecco

Cinnamon and sugar for rim

1 teaspoon (15ml) cinnamon syrup

Garnish with a slice of apple


In a bowl, mix equal parts of cinnamon and sugar. Rub rim with McKeown Original cider then dip into mix. Prepare the cinnamon syrup: In a saucepan, heat equal parts of brown sugar and water, add a teaspoon of cinnamon. In a champagne flute, pour a half glass of the  cider, pour Prosecco in the other half. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon syrup and stir. Garnish with a slice of apple and enjoy!


How to Top a Pizza with Olives

When selecting olives for pizza, consider the dark, oil-cured, and wrinkled olives produced in Italy. In addition to these variations of Italian olives, the olives of Morocco or Greece are also exceptional. The best Moroccan and Grecian olives to use on pizza are black, green, and even purple varieties. Getting acquainted with the characteristics of the olive will help you know exactly how to top a pizza with olives.

Olives that have been cured in salt directly or in a salty brine may be unacceptable for use in pizza due to their salinity. It follows that olives that have not been through such rigorous encounters with salt will possess a cleaner, less salty flavor. When taking into account other components of a pizza that often contain excess salt (e.g., pizza sauce), it becomes clear how critical it is to avoid creating a pizza that tastes too salty. olives (and other pizza toppings) without unnecessary salinity help.

How to Top a Pizza with Peppers

Peppers of any variety are one of my favorite toppings for pizza. Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum), and detailed peppers (Capsicum chinense) are perhaps the most popular, but nearly any type of pepper makes a wonderful topping for pizza.

Although not everyone considers extremely hot peppers palatable pizza toppings, many love milder varieties; namely bell and enjoy a really spicy pizza, but many incorporate some kind of sweet pepper in their pizza. Fresh bell peppers of all colors will add a wonderful crunchy, sweet taste to your pizza. Sautéing or grilling bell peppers before use as a pizza topping can also bring an element of dynamism to a pizza.

In addition to bell peppers, another species of Capsicum annuum well suited for use as a topping for pizza is the Italian frying pepper. The Italian frying pepper bears a distinct long, slender shape, thin skin, and a pleasantly sweet taste. Known by many aliases, the Italian frying peppers can be correctly taxonomically referenced by frying peppers, Italian sweets, Italianelles, and cubanels.

An excellent way to prepare Italian peppers for use as a topping is to grill them until the skin turns black. Once the skin is thoroughly blackened with carbon, let them set in a covered container for approximately ten minutes before peeling their skin off. Learning how to top a pizza with peppers is a skill you may find yourself continually employing!

How to Top a Pizza with Mushrooms

The key to utilizing mushrooms to top a pizza is to purchase fresh, unwrapped mushrooms. Mushrooms that have been packaged in a container usually contain sodium bisulfate. Sodium bisulfate alters a mushroom’s chemical composition; causing the mushroom to retain retaining excess moisture and loose flavor. Mushrooms treated with sodium bisulfate have an overly soft texture and contribute much less flavor to the pizza.

Canned mushrooms are also a poor choice for pizza due to their texture and lack of flavor. Mushrooms are extremely absorbent and should not be placed in water long before use as this can dissipate the delicate comestible’s flavor. Understanding how to top a pizza with mushrooms can defend your pizza from the Machiavellian effects waterlogged, rubbery, and tasteless mushrooms. A gourmet pizza perfectly prepared with good quality mushrooms is always a big success. 



This recipe is a for a basic dry cider, it will ferment to about 4.5% alcohol and produce a super dry cider with a good taste that will develop well with about six months aging.



Four litres (1 Gallon) Apple Juice

Cider Yeast

Campden tablets (if using fresh juice)



Sterilise all cider making equipment thoroughly and rinse it well with tap water before you start. Make sure you yourself and your clothes are clean (as opposed to having just manured the vegetable garden for example).


Add the apple juice to the sterile fermenter avoiding contact with juice or any surface of your equipment that will come into contact with the cider. If you are using fresh unpasteurised juice treat the juice with one campden tablet per 4 litres (1 gallon) of juice and leave the juice uncovered for at least 24 hours to allow the campden tablet to dissipate.


Pitch the yeast (add it to the juice) and seal the fermenter, adding water to the airlock. The airlock should start bubbling between 6 and 48 hours after the yeast is pitched indicating that fermentation is taking place.


Allow the cider to ferment for at least 14 days. After primary fermentation is complete the airlock will bubble far more slowly, perhaps once every minute or two. At this point rack the cider by syphoning it into another fermenter taking care not to disturb the sediment on the bottom of the original fermenter and then resealing it. If another fermenter is not available siphon the cider into a high density plastic bucket, clean and sterilize the fermenter and transfer the cider back into it. Repeat this process weekly until you are satisfied that the cider is clear to your satisfaction.


Complete your cider by bottling it. Sterilize your bottles,their caps and your siphon hose. Siphon the cider from the fermenter into the bottles, prime with sugar if carbonation is required and seal the bottles.


Store in a dark place at room temperature and allow the cider to age for at least three months before sampling. Your cider should be aged for three to six months or more before it is consumed. Sample the cider at intervals to determine if it is suitable for your palate.



If you are using freshly made juice that is not pasteurised or sterilized you should treat it with one campden tablet per gallon (4 litres) of juice and allow it to stand for at least 24 hours prior to pitching the yeast regardless of what the recipe states.

If you’ve decided that producing your own cider is not for you and want to buy some, check Carolina Cider Company for great options.


Pizza Cooking

Homemade pizza is much better tasting than either ordering a pizza or cooking frozen pizza because you can control the dough, the sauce and the toppings and make it exactly as you want it. You might be new to pizza making, in which case you are probably looking for some homemade pizza tips.


Pizza Dough Tips

If you are making a deep-dish pizza, you can use all-purpose flour. Artisan flour is good for thinner crusts. Using moist dough makes the pizza crust really soft and tender. If you want your crust thicker, you can let the rolled out crust rise, covered, for thirty minutes before adding the sauce and toppings. A pizza screen or pizza stone gives you a really crispy crust.


Pizza Sauce Tips

A tomato-based sauce is the most common type used to make homemade pizza and you can add garlic, crushed peppercorn, and oregano to give the sauce more flavor. Balsamic vinegar adds bite and you can try different herbs and spices in the pizza sauce for different flavors. If you do not want to make a tomato sauce, you could combine extra virgin olive oil with garlic and herbs for an oil based sauce or use flour, cream, and cheese for a white sauce. There are lots of different pizza sauce recipes to try if you do not want to use a readymade sauce.


Pizza Topping Tips

If you are using canned food as a topping or anything very moist, you will need to drain it well; else, it will make your pizza crust soggy. If you are using dried herbs, rub them between your fingers before sprinkling them over the pizza because this releases their flavor oils. Herbs are great on homemade pizza and you can try basil, oregano, cilantro and more, depending on the other toppings you are using. Remember that a teaspoon of dried herbs is equal to a tablespoon of fresh herbs in most cases.


Most pizzas feature cheese and you can choose from mozzarella, feta, fontina, Monterey jack, provolone, Gorgonzola, goat cheese and many more. Extra virgin oil is nice drizzled over a freshly baked pizza and it does taste different to virgin olive oil. These pizza tips are just suggestions and you can use whichever toppings you personally favor.


Pizza Cooking Tips

You can use a pizza stone or pizza screen if you like, but there’s nothing better to make a perfect pizza than a Californo pizza oven. You should cool your pizza on a wire rack for a few minutes when it is cooked to let the cheese set a bit and to keep the crust crisp. This is something you would definitely be taught in pizza cooking school. Do not leave it in the pizza pan to cool because the steam would be trapped between the pan and the pizza, making it soggy.


These homemade pizza tips are just a guide because everyone has their own preferences when it comes to homemade pizza recipes. You can experiment with different pizza dough recipes, use a different pizza sauce recipe until you find one you like and try different toppings for interesting flavor, texture and color combinations.


Pizza is a real delight to make because there are so many ways to make it and it can be as healthy or as devilish as you like!

It can be as simple or as complex as you want. Anybody who enjoys the cinema knows that when the final credits roll they include everyone who has contributed – Director, Performers, Best Boy, Gaffer, Foley Artist, Stunt Supervisor, Make Up, etc.

It usually takes over a hundred people working a year to make a feature film, ten people to produce a pop promo and around twenty to film a documentary. The reason so many people are involved is because films need to be made quickly and on budget.

Many famous directors started by making films completely on their own – Orson Welles, George Lucas, Robert Rodrigues. You may not have the special effects and big budgets of Hollywood but you do have time on your side. Use it to experiment and make a few mistakes. It’s the way to learn. And that’s where the fun begins. Go on; make a film.

Where to start

  • Open your eyes and ears to everything. Look at TV, films, games, the Internet, books, theatre and dance. Listen to your friends speaking, see how your relatives behave. Watch the trees in the breeze.
  • Keep it simple. Start with something that you find interesting – a hobby or a favourite story maybe.
  • Beg or borrow a stills camera. Ask yourself some questions (things like ‘What makes me happy?’ ‘What’s important to me?’) And then take pictures that fit. Begin to frame your world.
  • Fill a scrapbook with images and cuttings from magazines, fashion articles and put your photos in amongst them.
  • Write down possible locations, characters, and action on your notepad.
  • Arrange them and rearrange them, add and take some away until it makes some kind of sense.
  • Think about your ‘narrative’, or story. Everything has a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • Think about the form of the film. Is it for the Internet, a music promo, a drama, animation?
  • What style is it? Film Noir, a video diary, a fly-on-the wall documentary. Maybe you’ve got your own style. Will the camera be on a tripod, or hand held?
  • Watch other films like yours on video, DVD or TV. Learn from the things they do well and avoid the things they do badly.
  • Believe in your idea absolutely. If you don’t, no one else will.

Preparing for the Shoot

If you’re making the film with other people, organize your cast and crew effectively. Make sure everybody knows their role and what day and times they’re needed.

Give people specific jobs so they can become experts in their field. For example: Sound Recordist – listens to the sound through headphones as it’s being recorded, holds an extra mike if needed.

Camera Operator – frames the picture, sets focus, checks the light and records the action.

The Editor- ‘cuts’ the picture together after it’s shot (see next section).

Producer – is the contact point for the film. Makes sure crew and cast are there on time, talks to the press and organizes the budget.

a Director – has to make sure their vision is communicated. To do this everyone needs to be clear about what the director expects from each scene and each shot.


You may also need a Make Up Artist, a Choreographer, a Driver etc. However, you can quite easily make your first film on your own. Make a schedule that says which shots are to be taken where and when (this is called a ‘Shooting Schedule’) and when you’ve completed a ‘take’, cross it off the list. Remember that you may want to shoot ‘out of sequence’, e.g. shoot the last scene first, and the first last. Similarly if the film begins and ends by a tree in the park, it may make sense to film both scenes while you’re there.

Continuity is particularly important in drama. Take a Polaroid camera and take photos to capture details. You may need to come back to a scene days later. When you decide your locations, consider whether you need permission to use the space, how noisy it will be and what the light will be like at the time of day you will need to use it. Is there power available? Are you likely to be interrupted?

If you’re making animation or any computer generated stuff, have a space that you can control. You may need extra lights and you may need to leave work in progress. Make sure people living with you are aware what’s happening, animation needs a lot of undisturbed concentration and patience. But, if you prefer an easier way, you can contact a special effects and motion pictures agency such as VFX LA to make a perfect work for you.


For a first film, DV or Hi8 camcorders are useful because they can play your rushes back through their in-built screen and you can also connect them to your TV at home. You can control focus and exposure and experiment with in-camera effects like ‘strobing’. Remember to read the manual; it gives invaluable technical advice.

Film cameras are simple to use and excellent for animation as you can usually expose one frame at a time. In good light they give a colorful (‘saturated’) effect. However sound is limited and each film only lasts 2.5 minutes!

  • If you know someone with a camcorder, borrow it. You can also hire them from some camera shops, local video societies or regional film workshops. Details are available in the BFI Handbook in local libraries.
  • Buy or borrow a film camera. These are second hand (usually silent) film cameras that take Super 8mm film cartridges that last 2.5 minutes a time. The camera could cost from $10-$150 from a local car boot sale or newspaper. You may even find a friend or relative who still owns one. Films cost about $16 including processing.

Whichever camera you go for experiment before you start shooting and again, read the manual. Know how it works and you can get the best out of it.

You may need accessories like a tripod, to hold the camera still, a stopwatch to remind you how much film you’ve used and extra batteries for the camera if you’re going to film outside for a long period of time.

Think about sound. For instance if it’s a music promo, you’ll need to play the music through a portable hi-fi for the dancers ‘on set’. You may also need an extra mike strapped to a pole and plugged into the camcorder (this is called a boom mike). Borrow this with your camera.

Another tip is to record a clean piece of sound from each location you use (called ‘atmos’ or ‘wild track’). This will help give a smooth effect when you edit.

Editing and Post Production

If you use a camcorder, try and find a friend with editing software on their computer. Using a technology called Firewire or I-Link, you’ll be able to transfer your rushes and edit your film electronically. You’ll find software like Premiere and Razor will combine music, pictures and text to create a very professional result.

If you haven’t got techy friends, try using your camera as a play machine and your home VHS or another camera as a recorder. Link them up with SCART cables and use the record and pause buttons to build up the story. Some recorders have an audio dub facility, which enables you to add music or voice.

If you shot on Cine film, you’ll need a viewer and tape splicer or a projector to edit and show your film. You can buy these fairly cheaply secondhand or borrow them from friends, family or film societies.

How do I get it seen?

  • Show your film to as many people as you can.
  • Organize a screening for your friends and family.
  • Look out for competitions in the local papers, cinemas and at school/college. Make several copies on VHS or CD ROM and send your film out.
  • Use the film as a ‘stepping stone’ to your next film. Show it to teachers, local filmmakers and broadcasters. Ask advice about your next movie.
  • If you’d like to study film at college, you can use your film as a way of expressing your interest. Arrange a visit and take your film. They’ll be impressed that you’ve taken the initiative.
  • Find a mentor, someone you admire and who knows a bit about the film industry, maybe a filmmaker who lives locally. Show them your film and ask their advice about the next step. Remember, if you’re meeting your mentor take a friend with you. Stay public, stay safe.

If you’re online and have the know-how (or maybe a friend who’s techy and helpful), there are many film websites that welcome contributions from makers. You’ll need to make your film into a Quicktime or Mpeg and send it to them as a File Attachment.

Careers and Training

Look out for short courses at your local college or independent cinema. If you’re interested in camerawork particularly, a good starting point is a Black and White Photography course. This will give you the chance to establish an understanding of light and composition, which is what all camerawork is about!

Be fanatical about film. Talk to as many people as possible about it. Take advantage of any seminars or talks by filmmakers in your area. It’s important to exploit any contacts you have, so the more people you meet, the more people you can hit on for advice in the future. It’s called Schmoozing and it goes with the territory.

Once you have put on your own event – you might like to think about following a career in film. Watch this space later in the year for more information about jobs, qualifications and courses. Good Luck and Good Filmmmaking!


This traditional, Italian pizza dough recipe is the “BEST”. Step-by-step instructions are given, making this flaky, crisp dough, virtually foolproof! Thick or thin crust is up to you, as well as the pizza toppings, and be sure to try it using a true Californo pizza oven, Yummy!

Servings: 6

Main Ingredient: Flour

Difficulty Level: 2

Ingredients to make Italian Pizza Dough

4 1/2 c Unbleached all-purpose

White flour 1 ts Salt

1/4 c Olive oil

2 pk Dry yeast

1 1/2 c Warm water

2 ts Light brown sugar

Directions to make Italian Pizza Dough

Step 1:

Measure 1/2 cup warm water (110 F) into 2 cup container and stir in the brown sugar. (Make sure water is warm, not hot – too hot will kill the yeast). Dissolve the 2 packages of dried yeast in the water and set it aside for 5 minutes. Will become frothy. (about 2 cups worth!) Sift 4 cups of the flour and the salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a depression in the middle of the flour and pour in 3/4 of the olive oil and 1 cup of warm water. When the yeast is ready, add it also.

Step 2:

Dust your kneading surface with flour, then mix the ingredients in the bowl with your hands. Place dough ball on the floured surface and knead from 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour to the kneading surface if the dough is too sticky or wet. Eventually the dough will become elastic.

Step 3:

Rub the insides of a clean bowl with the remaining olive oil and place the dough in it, coating the dough with olive oil by turning it in the bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free place until double in size, 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. An oven with the light on or a lit burner pilot will provide suitable heat for rising dough.

Step 4:

When dough has risen, divide into two halves, then roll each out on floured surface. A round shape may be cut out with table knife using 12 inch bowl or plate as template. Sufficient for 2 12 inch thin-crust pizzas, or 1 12 inch thick-crust.

Step 5:

Cook on a pizza stone or oven tile at 500 F. The unglazed oven tile makes a huge difference in the crispiness and texture of the crust. It absorbs moisture and keeps oven temperatures even. May even be removed with pizza and set on a rack on table – will keep pizza warm much longer.

Why not try something different this Valentine’s Day and practice green gift giving. Eco-friendly romantic gift ideas offer a present not only for the recipient, but also for the planet. Choosing items that are sustainable, natural, and have the well-being of the Earth in mind is a way to express love and appreciation for your loved one, but also for the environment that everyone shares. Try any of these green gift ideas for Valentine’s Day to enjoy a more environmentally-friendly holiday.

Fair Trade Chocolate Is Sustainable and Sweet

Chocolate is one of the more conventional gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. Why not transform this traditional present into something more Earth-friendly by purchasing Fair Trade chocolate. Exactly what is Fair Trade chocolate? It is made from cocoa which has been grown by farmers who are given a fair wage, work under safe working conditions, and have transparency in the working place. The farming practices to produce the cocoa beans must be environmentally-sustainable. Where to find Fair Trade chocolate? Brands such as Cloud Nine, AlterEco, and Chuao can be found at your local Whole Foods Market, health food store, or online.

Eco-Friendly Jewelry and Clothing for Valentine’s Day

Another option for green gift giving this Valentine’s Day is eco-friendly jewelry and clothing. There are endless unique and high-quality options available if you look online or through smaller boutique shops. Handmade jewelry, creative artisan accessories made from recycled or sustainable materials, and clothing made from natural fibers are all excellent eco-friendly gift ideas. Not only are they green, but they are likely to be original, durable, and more interesting then conventional products. Forget the plastic and polyester and go for the bamboo and recycled glass from independent retailers such as Betty Belts, Cangles, and Element EcoWear.

Homemade Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day

The best Valentine presents are homemade and from the heart. With a little creativity and a free afternoon there are so many eco-friendly gifts you can make yourself for your loved ones. Think green and use natural, sustainable, or used materials to make an Earth-friendly craft as a gift for Valentine’s Day. Consider the following ideas or come up with some of your own:

  • Use old clothing to put together an easy sewing project such as a travel pillow or a bag. Decorate with buttons, pins, zippers — use what you already have to create an extremely unique, individualized Valentine’s Day present.
  • Make homemade beeswax candles as a non-toxic, green gift.
  • Bake brownies, fudge, cookies, or candies with organic ingredients and give them to all of your loved ones this holiday.
  • Make homemade bath salts by blending sea salt and epsom salt with your choice of essential oils. Try an essential oil with aphrodisiac properties such as jasmine or ylang ylang,

Eco-friendly gift ideas are not only beneficial for the Earth and your Valentine, but also for you. Consider green gift giving as an opportunity to learn about what sustainable products are out there, to find out new ways to go green, and to discover how easy it is to make products yourself rather than buying them.

Who doesn’t love pizza? Well, we have made hundreds of homemade pizzas and experimented with flours, yeasts, and doughs. Here is a simple, easy recipe for home-made pizza that includes the crust. It’s so good that it will make you famous.


Ingredients for the Crust

  • 1 package (7 g.) of active dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ cup warm water
  • Tiny pinch of sugar or honey
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


How to Make the Pizza Crust

  1. First, turn your oven on to warm setting. If you’re using a wood fired oven, make sure to choose a firewood that will complement your tastes.
  2. Then, to your cup of very warm water, add a tiny pinch of sugar or honey. But make sure that the water is not so hot that it kills the yeast.
  3. Add a package of yeast. Yeast is alive, so a taste of sugar or honey will make it happy. And happy yeast rises. 
  4. Stir the yeast, water, and sugar mixture enough to get everything wet. 
  5. Let the mixture sit for a minute. In a large mixing bowl, add this mixture to your flour. Then, add a pinch of salt. 
  6. Stir the mixture with a fork or spoon until it starts to clump together. Then, get your hands in there and start kneading. Mashing the mixture down constantly, and fold it for a minute or two. Do this until it starts to get rubbery. Add enough warm water to keep the mixture moist and sticky, not overly dry. 
  7. Turn off the oven. 
  8. Now, form the dough into a ball. Then, rub a tablespoon of olive oil over it to moisten the surface. 
  9. Place the ball of dough back into mixing bowl. Cover it with a towel. Then, place it into the warm oven for a ½ hour or longer, until it doubles in size. The time will depend on how happy your yeast is. 


Assembling Your “Special” Pizza

  1. Prepare your toppings while the dough is still rising. You can use tomato sauce with garlic, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, olives, and chopped green peppers, but the sky’s the limit
  2. After the dough has risen, punch it down and spread it onto your lightly greased pizza pan. Whether you use a square pan or a round one, it doesn’t matter. 
  3. Then, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you like a thin crust, then you may have enough dough for two pizzas. You can even freeze dough to make a quick pizza some other time. 
  4. Spread tomato sauce, cheese, and all your ingredients onto the dough. Sprinkle Italian herbs to taste. Then, slide the dough into your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Voila! Wasn’t that an easy pizza recipe? 


Important Things to Remember for Community Theatre Actors

Many talented people go into an audition with the right stuff for the role, but still, don’t make the cut because of a botched audition.

So you’ve always wanted to play Liesl or Jean Valjean, but you’ve never taken a singing lesson in your life. Don’t sweat it, you can still make the callbacks. There are some easy steps to prepare yourself for an audition no matter what your level of ability, and you don’t have to commit to regular lessons with a teacher.

Choosing the Right Song for the Right Show

The first thing to accomplish is music selection. If you are not sure what the director wants, take a look at the show that is being produced. If it is an older style of music, such as Rogers and Hammerstein, or Lerner and Lowe, then the director will want to hear a specific style of song. If the show is newer, such as Andrew Lloyd-Weber or Stephen Schwartz, he or she will want to hear a completely different style.

  • Watch the movie, if there is one. But remember, sometimes the movies are presented in a way that is not approved by the director, and some directors advise actors not to watch the movie.
  • Go see the show. If you what show is coming up that you might want to audition for, check the listings right away to see if it is already playing in the region. It’s worth the drive.
  • Get to know the character and the storyline. Read the script and find the characterization of the role you’d like to play. Is he high and mighty? Is she sweet and sassy? Practice talking in that way, and then just sing any song you know with that style. Think about Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.”

The best policy is to choose a song from a similar character in a show by the same composers. If you are auditioning for Carrie in Carousel, then consider singing a song from Lady Thiang in The King and me.

Prepare Your Audition Song

  • Get heard. The most common mistake is for people to assume they can sing well so they must be able to audition well. Pay no attention to the compliments of family members, they mean well, but they may lead you into a false sense of security. Find a non-biased listener who will not be afraid of giving you constructive criticism.
  • Practice. If you don’t have a piano or can’t play one, find someone who can. You can hire vocal coaches at any college where there is a music school, and there are always piano players who are willing to do the work for extra cash.
  • Sing in the shower. If your only option is the original broadcast recording, then make sure you sing along to it many times, but that won’t be sufficient to learn the song without hearing the original vocals underneath you. Sing the song several times without the accompaniment, but be sure to sing the accompaniment between lines. This will help you to hear the beats and know when to come in next.
  • Count the beats. How long is the introduction? How much music is played between the first verse and the second? If you are not aware of these rests and sing over them, your accompanist will either be confused or try and follow you, throwing you both off.

The Day of the Audition

  • Arrive fully prepared. Have a copy of the music to give to the accompanist. Remember that copyright laws forbid the use of photocopies unless you have written permission. Make sure you have the original, and it must be clear, legible, and not folded or crinkled.
  • Have the right music. Many people bring a vocal line from a show they had previously done. This is not enough. Be sure that your music includes not just the vocal line, but at least two additional staves that include the piano accompaniment. If you only have the vocal line, it must at least have the chords written out, but don’t expect every pianist to handle this smoothly.
  • Be kind to the accompanist. Pick a song that is not outrageously challenging to a piano player. Most of the time they are sightreading this. If the key is too hard or the music too fast or complex, your performance may be detracted by the pianists struggle to keep up.
  • Smile and sell it. That’s what the directors really want. Are you a joy to watch on stage? Or is it a chore just to let you finish the song. Regardless of whether you can sing all the notes, are you acting the part? Are you engaging the audience? Do you believe what you are singing about? Don’t just sing the notes.

Most importantly, make sure you ask other actors for some tips. It’s important to make friends in the theater community, and it can be beneficial to share information about the best audition practices.…

Tips for Entrances and Exits

Hand puppets can be a wonderfully entertaining and educational tool for audiences of all ages. These tips will help puppeteers perform smooth entrances and exits.

In live performance, before a puppet ever opens its mouth to perform for a skit or song, the puppet must enter the stage. Since the entrance is the first thing the audience sees, a professional style entrance can enhance the credibility of the program and “set the stage” for the whole performance.

Puppets should not instantly appear on stage as if they have just taken an elevator or been beamed up (except for humorous effect). Instead, practice the staircase technique. This technique works best for hand puppets that perform above a curtain, while the puppeteers remain hidden.

Staircase Technique

  1. Begin with the puppet’s head just below curtain level.
  2. Keep the puppeteer’s wrist relaxed, hand closed, and forearm straight.
  3. Move the puppet up and forward a few inches at a time with a smooth, subtle bounce. This gives the illusion that the puppet is walking up a staircase behind the stage.

Unless the puppet has legs that will hang over the front of the stage, the puppet’s waist (bottom) should remain an inch or two below curtain level.

Rule of Thumb for Posture

  • After the puppet has entered, the puppeteer’s arm should extend at a right angle to the floor.
  • As a rule of thumb, performers should keep their elbows next to their ears to keep the puppet standing nice and straight. This gives the puppet show a more professional appearance and prevents the audience from getting sore necks from watching crooked puppets.

“No Broken Arms” Exits

Exits are reversed entrances with two extra considerations:

  • Do not break or dislocate the puppeteer’s arm
  • Do not break or dislocate the puppet’s arms

To make the puppet turn around before walking it down the staircase, the puppeteer will need to turn his or her arm around too. If puppeteers turn the puppets away from themselves, their elbows will get twisted backward. Puppeteers who turn the puppet toward the puppeteer will find this makes the exit much smoother and more comfortable.

The puppet’s arms may end up resting on the stage, especially if they are not attached to rods. If puppeteers attempt to exit the puppet from this position, its arms will fall off the curtain long after the rest of its body has gone down. Ouch! Broken arms. Simply make sure that the puppet’s arms are off the stage before it takes its exit to avoid the appearance of broken arms.

Puppeteers should practice entrances and exits many times, preferably with a partner watching to offer corrections and feedback, so that the entrance and exit techniques become habits that can be used for any performance.…