with Elise, Stephen, and Rebecca

January, 2006

Dear Ones,

I’m somewhat amazed that we all survived 2005. What a year for the Dewsberry/Green household! Here goes:

Our biggest events: Rebecca’s graduation from high school and beginning her college career; and Elise’s departure from Jacob’s Musical Chimes and the resulting sale of our Long Beach home and move to an apartment in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz Village (closer to the new North Hollywood headquarters of the Academy for New Musical Theatre).

And, of course, our fantastic family trip to London, England (with Rebecca turning 18 somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on the way there). The real reason for the trip was a conference between the Academy for New Musical Theatre and Mercury Musical Developments in London (where Elise took part in a panel discussion and also performed in the West End!).

We also survived an IRS audit with barely a scratch – so all-in-all it was a great year! Read on for more details (and more pictures at the very end!).

Stephen had an extremely busy year that included several concerts each for the Pasadena Symphony, the Long Beach Symphony, the Long Beach Pops, and the South Coast Symphony. He also played concerts with the Torrance Symphony, the Bill Locke Chorale, and the Long Beach Mozart Festival, among others. He got to play for the opera Dialogue of the Carmelites; for one performance of Fiddler on the Roof; another run of The Last Five Years (at the El Portal Theatre this time); and a workshop of Stone Heart (about the Lewis & Clark expedition). Stephen is also building up a very steady group of cello students at Everjoy Music School, Bethesda Christian University, and privately. And, of course, all the usual array of parties and weddings.

Rebecca survived the whirlwind of the final half of her Senior year at high school, as well as the shock of finding herself back to being a Freshman at the University of California in Berkeley (which, for some odd reason, is generally referred to as “Cal”). The early part of the year was full of financial aid applications, and a quick trip to the Bay area to visit a few schools (including Cal) which helped Rebecca to make her final decision. (she was also accepted into New York University, San Francisco State University, UCLA, and some others). The high school half of the year was filled with the Winter Choral Concert, the annual SOUNDS concert; a fantastic invitation to take part in the All-State Honor Jazz Choir Concert in Pasadena (a group of 16 vocal students from around the state); a visit from Toronto friend Emma; a trip to New York for the New York City Vocal Jazz & Show Choir Festival; the Spring Concert; and then the final whirl of the Senior Prom at the Skirball Center (with new boyfriend Doug), the Senior Picnic, the Gesher Final Dinner (Temple Israel), Baccalaureate; Graduation Night at the football stadium (attended by Grandma and Grandpa Dewsberry!) and the all-night Grad Night party at “Camelot” (an amusement park). (and many many thanks to G’ma and G’pa for the early graduation present of a used car which allowed Rebecca to be her own chauffeur for all these events!)

Over the summer, Rebecca attended an orientation weekend at Cal; and then the whole family went to Toronto for the beautiful wedding of Jordan and Melissa. All too soon, it was time to drive Rebecca up to Berkeley for Move-In Day at her dorm (in late August). She is now happily situated in a triple room (she loves her roommates!) on the beautiful Cal campus. The fall was filled with getting used to the new way of doing things on a college campus and making several trips home for ongoing work on her braces (which she is assured will be coming off very soon).

Rebecca has not declared a major yet, but after her first semester, she is somewhat leaning toward something to do with Cognitive Science. Right now, though, she is enjoying a full month off before she goes back for her second semester at the end of January.

My year (Elise) was a whirlwind. For Jacob’s Chimes, I traveled to Dallas and Atlanta during the January gift show season. By early May, the decision was made that it was time to end my wonderful time at Jacob’s Chimes. After four years of working at Fern’s Garden, leading seminars as Lady Hilda von Wimbleshot, and being the National Sales Manager for Jacob’s Chimes – I left the wonderful home of Chimeland to pursue my growing obsession with The Academy for New Musical Theatre as a full-time Associate Artistic Director. I can’t thank Fern, Sam, Jacob, and everyone else at Chimeland enough for their faith and trust in me during all those years. Thank goodness they are all family so that even though Stephen and I no longer work for them, we still get to spend time together!

The year at ANMT was full of workshops, seminars, and fundraisers. In January we had a fundraising evening with the amazing Marty Panzer (Barry Manilow’s lyricist for many years) with guest appearances by Eric McCormack (Will of Will & Grace) and Barry Manilow himself! A truly amazing evening. In May, the fundraiser was with Charles Strouse (who wrote Bye Bye Birdie, and Annie – among many others). Another fantastic event. We continued to work on our London Double Bill shows (pairs of one-acts written by British and American teams) by presenting all eight of the shows at Century City Playhouse in Los Angeles. An independent panel chose one of the pairs of shows to be presented in Chicago at the STAGES Festival (August); and also at the New York Shakespeare Festival in September and at a conference in London in October. The show that was chosen just happened to be the one I was performing in – so I got to make the New York and London trips as an actor as well as as the Associate Artistic Director of ANMT. In April, we had a cabaret showcase of original material called “Duly Noted” in which I sang a couple of numbers, and in June we presented our annual Mini Musicals (15-minute musicals written by our first year writer members over a six-week period). I once again produced the Mini Musicals and acted as the main dramaturge for the writers. A wild and exciting time for everybody! I also managed to fit in one performance of NINE MONTHS at the Long Beach Playhouse just for fun!

Also in May I was thrilled to be able to attend the world premiere of the new musical IMELDA at East West Players in Los Angeles. ANMT spearheaded the development of that piece – and it turned out to be the second-highest-grossing show in East West’s history. We definitely felt like proud parents!

Just in case May wasn’t busy enough – we also held an Open House for the sale of our beautiful Long Beach home. It was a very difficult decision – but the timing seemed perfect to cash in on the skyrocketing value of our house and to move closer to the Academy (to save me my long commute!). The house sold in late June – and we left Belmont Shore before the end of July. We moved to an apartment in the fun and funky Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz Village. We are keeping an eye open for a house to buy – but will continue to rent until we see what’s up with the market.
As part of my job at ANMT, I was on the Selection Committee for the annual Festival of New Musicals for the National Alliance of Musical Theatre (NAMT) in New York. This involved two trips to New York (May and June) for panel meetings about the many many scripts we had to read. In the first round, each of us on the panel read 35 scripts (each script was read by at least 3 readers, so there were well over 100 scripts altogether). At the May meeting we narrowed the list down to 21 shows (and I also got to see the Broadway shows Light in the Piazza and Spelling Bee); and then we all read those 21 shows and met again in June to narrow it down to the 8 shows that would be presented at the fall Festival. (In June, I also took some extra time to visit Carl in upstate New York for the 30th reunion of my high school class from India!).

At the same time that we were moving the Dewsberry/Green household from Long Beach to Los Angeles, ANMT was moving from our temporary Hollywood space to a larger North Hollywood space (with a 5-year lease). Getting organized in two new homes at the same time was a nightmare – and the entire month of July is a total blur.
The fall has been extremely busy in our new spaces – plus I signed myself on as an Ovation voter (the Los Angeles Tony’s) and have been seeing more live theatre than I’ve had the opportunity to see in years! There was a lot of traveling: the STAGES Festival in Chicago, the NAMT Fall Festival of Musicals in New York (and we did our performance of our London Double Bills at the New York Musical Theatre Festival on this same trip), and, of course, our fantastic trip to London in October which we turned into a family affair. In October, the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities presented a staged reading of the new musical we have been developing with them – The Cotton Club – and we’re hopeful that it will receive a full production soon. In December we had our first (annual?) Speedwriting weekend where a group of writers wrote 15-minutes musicals in a 24-hour period, and then the actors (I was one of them!) got the material on a Saturday morning and rehearsed and memorized it for a public presentation on Saturday evening. It was wild! And the audience really embraced the insane nature of the whole experience. (somewhere in all of this, I also managed to record the narration for about a dozen children’s books for Turtle Creek Productions). During our holiday “break”, I am hard at work putting the finishing touches on the first segment of the on-line version of our musical theatre writing curriculum (which we hope to launch in late January).

We had a great time hosting the entire Sokoloff/Solomon clan for a Hannukah dinner this week – the first time we have entertained in our new home – and we were happy to be able to comfortably seat (and feed) 15 fantastic family members. And we had a rollicking good time at the New Year’s Eve party of our ex-neighbors (the Smith’s) who turned their home into a speakeasy (complete with no-risk gambling!) and everyone dressed as gangsters and molls. Although, in the case of the Dewsberry/Green household, we were three gangsters (check out the picture below). And Elise took second prize at the Black Jack table!

It has truly been a wild and sometimes bumpy ride this year – but we have landed in a very happy place. We are very much looking forward to continued health and happiness in 2006 – and wish you all the same!

Much love from,

Elise, Stephen and Rebecca

Rebecca's first car

Rebecca and Doug go to the Senior Prom

Rebecca and best friends Anna and Devyn as High School Graduates

Rebecca's dorm room at Cal

Stephen & Rebecca in front of Tower Bridge, London

Artistic Director John Sparks addresses ANMT members at the new space in North Hollywood

Rebecca turns 18 on the plane to England

Happy New Year!

Good bye to Corona Avenue!

The Toronto Family