Saturday, December 19, 2009

Praise God for a Completed Production

It's hard to believe that Beyond Bethlehem is over. You put your heart and soul into a production... it takes the focus of your time for months... and then it's over. But, all good things must come to an end, and I'm definitely looking forward to the much needed Christmas break.

Of course, my brain is already jumping ahead to what we could do for a summer musical, and foremost, for the May dance recital and all the music, choreography, and costumes... But first, a nice break is ahead.

Both days went really well, praise God! The chairs (around 175 were packed into the fellowship hall) were full to nearly overflowing both Friday and Saturday. The actors did the best ever (as much as I could tell from backstage), and the dancers, I heard, were all smiles, cuteness, and joy. Everyone truly enjoyed their part! Many in the audience commented that it was fun to watch the children have so much fun while performing!

It was a blessing to hear from different parents and guests, as to what touched them in the story. There were some comment things, and other unique points that stuck out for each one. It is fun to be a part of God's work in impacting others.

God is so good. He brought everything together - I couldn't have done it without His grace, strength, peace, and order. That, and many good helpers. I am blessed with great people to work with. Not only do they work hard at their parts and are very respectful and attentive to me as the director, they also pitch into help with whatever can be done! Thanks to everyone who helped, it only took us 1 1/2 hours to take done things that we spent weeks arranging and putting up. There's still work to do in washing costumes and putting things away, but the most crucial stuff is done.


I shall miss working with everyone, but I look forward to what God will bring about in the future.


Photo Credits: Samantha Brooks and Lavonne Hart

Friday, December 18, 2009

Can't Stop Giving Praise

It's late - I should be in bed. And I'm going - truly I am... soon.

But I just can't stop giving praise! The dress rehearsal tonight went so well - things are truly coming together. Of course there were a few mishaps, but on a whole, it went great. And I know that God will do something wonderful these next two nights.

God has given me such peace with this musical. It has been the most difficult by far, but also the least stressful. I have prayed for peace, and I know others have, and God has answered.

With each prior musical I struggled with despair at times, wondering if things would really smooth out. Each time they did as God worked in amazing ways - and each new one gave me greater faith to trust Him for the next one. Beyond Bethlehem has been hard - very hard, taking up hours on end (I spent 1o hours at Fountain of Grace today...), but it has been enjoyable. I've had moments of wavering, but haven't stressed out.

Praise God for His peace! And praise Him for rest. Tomorrow (er, today...) is another full one.

Photo Credit: Samantha Brooks

Amazed

The set for Beyond Bethlehem was pretty minimal. After all, we had many scene changes to depict varying locations. I found curtains to borrow for backdrops and used what we could easily transport on/off stage.

I never imagined it could look as well as it does now, but praise God, someone else did. On Tuesday, a family friend and grandmother of one of my dancers made some suggestions. I wasn't too sure how they would work, but was willing to give them a try. This woman had helped decorate many times before (the heavenly realms of Mary: Chosen by God being a great example), and it always turned out better than I expected.

This wasn't an exception. Mrs. Brenda suggested we enlist the help of Mrs. Susie, the main decorator at our church. Wow. I am amazed at what they came up with!

God is so good to bless me with talented women who help at no cost - simply to bless others! It is amazing to see what they come up with!

Amazing night sky...

Stable nook...

Gate leading out to the countryside of Bethlehem...

Photo Credits: Samantha Brooks

Something Great is in the Air


Photo Credit: Rachel Rendleman

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Little Stars

Coming down from heaven, to bring the good news...

Photo Credit: Samantha Brooks

Lining Up

Things are falling into place...

One more dress rehearsal on Thursday, and then we present on Friday and Saturday!

Photo Credit: Samantha Brooks

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Becoming Anna

How do you portray a woman who has spent years in the presence of God? After spending the majority of her life at the temple, how would she act?

The story of Anna has always fascinated me. Yes, part of it is because I was named for her; as I grew up, my mother would often remind me: "You were named for two women from the Bible - one from the Old Testament, and one from the New..." And the one from the New is the most challenging example.

Anna's life started out in a normal way. She was a little girl, she learned to be a homemaker, she got married, and probably looked forward to doing the things of a typical wife and mother. Yet, the Bible doesn't mention that she had any children; like many other women God worked through, she was probably barren. And, 7 years after she married, her world was turned upside down.

Here's how she is described in Scripture:
"There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” - Luke 2:36-37
How did she make the decision to spend her time at the temple? Was an immediate thing? Or did she have to first get over her grief? When did God make clear His call on her life, to prophesy about Him?

She was of a Levitical tribe. Perhaps there were tasks at the temple for the unmarried/widowed women to do. Perhaps through that, she was drawn closer and closer to the Lord. Whatever happened, we know that she was dedicated to the Lord with her whole being.

I pray for that same dedication.

It has been an honor, yet a challenge, to bring her to life. I'm trying to balance her age with grace, to figure out how old she should talk and act while not being inconsistent with her dances. Through makeup, I've added old-age wrinkles to her character, though not nearly enough for a typical 84-year-old woman! I like to think that spending so much time in the presence of the Lord would have kept her young. =)

What would she have felt, spending each day and night at the temple? My mom jokes that I've truly taken on her character, with the amount of time I've spent at the church building these past few months. Teaching, planning, organizing, and rehearsing does take a lot of time. Though I've never been there night and day, I've spent a few days there from morning until after the sun goes down. I'm there for an average of 3-5 hours at a time, but have spent upwards of 7 hours getting things ready. It hasn't been every day, but I have averaged 4 days a week - and a few times every day of the week except Wednesday and Friday!

The majority of time is spent with others, teaching classes or directing rehearsals. But there have been many hours spent alone, organizing costumes in closets, working on my own dances in front of the mirrors, or looking for props through the long, empty hallways. Those times spent alone, as I worked while praying for Beyond Bethlehem, have been tiring, but refreshing. Through them, I've gotten a glimpse of how Anna might have felt, as she worshiped the Lord and interceded for her nation.

The most difficult dance I've choreographed thus far is Anna's beginning solo. When I heard "Hope of Israel" by Michael W. Smith, the instrumental music stirred my soul, and I could just see Anna dancing to it. But when it came down to setting the movements, I kept getting stuck, then going back and changing what I had come up with the day before. It was the last dance to finish choreographing for the muscial, and as the time neared, I wondered if it would come together. But finally, as I danced alone in the church building after Tuesday classes two days before Thanksgiving, God brought it together. As I ended on the ground, panting as my muscles cried in exhaustion, I prayed that God would use it all for His glory.

Beyond Bethlehem isn't about Anna - it's about our Lord Jesus Christ and His descent to earth. But Anna is a part of the story, as she longed for Him to appear, rejoiced at His coming and told others about Him.

I pray that God will use me as His instrument, showing others the example of this woman of His, who has inspired me so greatly.

Photo Credits: Lavonne Hart, Samantha Brooks, JP Lofgren

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tenderness

Because the newborn baby Jesus is onstage for so long, and is even held while dancing, we couldn't use a real baby. Though real babies are always cuter, I couldn't trust one to be on stage that long without crying!

So, we found a realistic-looking baby doll and have been practicing to make it seem real. After all, if you act as if it's a real baby, the audience will see a real baby. If you act like it's just a baby doll, that's what they'll see.

When I saw the below pictures, I knew the actors were truly getting the hang of it. These shots are so sweet and tender!

Joseph gently lays down his adopted son.

Mary cuddles her baby boy.

Photo credit: Samantha Brooks

O Come All Ye Faithful

Yesterday, on Sunday, December 13th, Ballet I presented "O Come All Ye Faithful" at Fountain of Grace for the morning service. One of the girls couldn't come, but the three that could nicely worked through the slight changes, and did a great job!

Dancing turns out blurry in pictures sometimes, but that just makes them look more like angels, right? ;-)

"O Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord."

"Glory to God, all glory in the highest!"

Photo Credit: JP Lofgren

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sorting Pictures

I've been sorting a lot of pictures today, between yesterday's dance class pictures, presentation at Prattville Health and Rehab, cast pictures, and first dress rehearsal.

My friend Samantha Brooks, kindly took the ones during dress rehearsal, and I'll be uploading more of those as time goes on. The two below I couldn't resist sharing now, however.

It's always neat when you find a picture that has almost everyone in the air!

This one was just so sweet; a Daddy about to pick his daughter up to spin her around.

Photo Credit: Samantha Brooks

Presentation at Prattville Health and Rehab

On the afternoon of Thursday, December 10th, The King's Praise Ballet danced at Prattville Health and Rehab. The residents were truly blessed, and the girls did really well! To see a full album of pictures from this opportunity, please click here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Coming Together

There's still a lot to do, but things are coming together. Tomorrow afternoon The King's Praise Ballet shares at Prattville Health and Rehab, and that evening will be the first dress rehearsal for the actors.

Exciting things are in store. Though tough at times, I enjoy the adventure as God brings things together.

Photo Credit: Lavonne Hart

Thankful for my Dad

My family always helps a lot with each production. Mom gets to see choreography and read things first, and is one I bounce ideas off of. Jubilee is also great for discussing ideas with - she's not afraid to tell me if something looks or sounds silly. Mom and Jubilee are always willing to help set up/take down things before and after rehearsals. Elijah videotapes if he's available, and Lydia helps in whatever way she can; this time she's running the spotlight!

For "Beyond Bethlehem," my dad has really gone the extra mile. He's always helped and supported each production, from setting things up to running sound, to acting in it if I need him to, although memorization is hard for him. But for this one, he has devoted a lot of time to researching and ordering the right theatre fixtures (lights) and control equipment for me, finding the best deal and lending me the money until I can pay them off (which should be soon!). He designed and built the stands to hang the lights on, since he could get the materials cheaper than we could order them ready-made. But, that meant he had to spend many extras hours buying, building, and testing them.

On Monday, we spent 7 hours at Fountain of Grace together. He set up the stands and hung each of the 8 fixtures as I organized costumes and props. He then tested the lights, focused them, and showed me how to control them, then patiently waited while I figured out the cues. Finally, around 8:45 PM we headed home, still not having eaten supper. Yet, he never complained.

The next day, he drove with me to pick up the backdrops I'm borrowing from a friend. They were dirty from having been stored in a barn, so he helped me wash them, even as it started to rain. After treating me to lunch, he helped me set up the dividers, then programmed the light cues while I hung the curtains. Things always take longer than you'd planned, and 5 hours had passed from the time we started out until the time we got home. After a quick supper (thanks to Jubilee and Mom's preparations) and only around an hour at home, it was back to Fountain of Grace for the evening rehearsal. He ran the light board for two hours, and then helped put things away before heading home.

I truly am blessed with a wonderful father - and a wonderful family. Thank you all for helping so much! These productions could never happen without you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Come, Oh Redeemer Come

Yesterday, Sunday December 6th, Ballet II had the opportunity to share "Come Oh Redeemer Come" at Fountain of Grace during their morning service. It gave a taste of "Beyond Bethlehem," which I was able to give an invitation to after we danced.

It was hard to dance on the small stage, but the girls did well and it was a blessing to share with the congregation.

"Come, Oh Redeemer Come... Grant us peace."

Photo Credit: JP Lofgren

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sewing Costumes

Thanks to all of the costumes we sewed last summer, I don't have as many to make this time. However, there are still some extras we needed, and some little details to add for each character. I had to make a few more tunics, and found 7 great sheets and costumes for $9 at Goodwill. You certainly can't beat that price for material!

Two weeks ago I spent around 11 hours over the weekend sewing. Since then, I've worked on bits and pieces here and there, but haven't had as much time to devote to it. This weekend, I'm looking into sewing a lot again, for next week is our first dress rehearsal and ballet presentation at a nursing home! I really enjoy the sewing - it's relaxing and rewarding - but it does take a bit of time. Thankfully, there's not too many things to finish. It will just take some persistence and time.

One fun thing I've enjoyed making for this musical is hats. I feel like quite the milliner. =) A bit of satin, ribbon, and cardboard turns into a kingly turban for a wise man, while some muslin turns into the perfect shepherd's hat. There's also been quite a few sashes and head coverings to craft. For the wise men's "daughters" (dancers for the song), I ordered some beautiful purple, ruffly dresses. However, two of the dresses turned out way too long, so I've had to hem them by hand. One of them is completed, and I have the other to go. It's a challenge, taking up yards and yards of ruffle...

The spot I work often isn't the neatest. Shocking, I know. ;) It gets the job done, though!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Working in the Details

God is faithfully bringing the details together for "Beyond Bethlehem," but it takes quite a bit of work on my end as well! It can get overwhelming to look at all that has to be done, but I must remember to take one task at a time.

My dad helped me find and order a light board, 2 dimmer packs, and 4 PAR56 light fixtures, and he has been experimenting with the board and building stands - trees, to use more correct terminology =) - to use with them. I am so blessed to have a father that willingly gives of his time to figure out these more technical aspects. We'll try the lights tomorrow or Monday, and then order more if needed.

The props are almost completely gathered, thanks to the help of Mrs. Robyn and the generosity of two friends in letting us borrow things. The three boxes/chests we have to use for the gifts of the wise men are perfect, and there are quite a few baskets of varying shapes and sizes to add character to Jewish ladies. There are also many other things - a lot to keep track of, but I'm blessed to have help.

Last rehearsal some lovely young ladies went through the costumes to see what we had for each actor (the dancer's costumes have already been gathered). They did a great job, although I realized later that I should have given them more explanation, for they were a bit overwhelmed. But, they made some great choices, and I spent time afterward going through what they had picked, switching some things, and finalizing others. On Thursday morning Natalie and Katherine helped me do some more organizing, and today I've spent 4-5 hours sewing.

I invested in some beautiful dance costumes, which cost a pretty penny, but most of the other costumes are ones we made this summer, which helps the budget! I had to make a few more tunics (and found some inexpensive sheets and curtains at Goodwill to supply the material), in addition to some hats, sashes, scarves, and turbans. It's enjoyable work, but again takes time.

With 57 actors and dancers to outfit - some playing more than one part - our costume racks are laden! But again, God has provided willing helpers, with two 13-year-olds bravely assuming the roles of "costume mistresses" to help keep things organized and ironed.

The set design is pretty minimal, but I did want some columns to use in the temple scene. A father who is a carpenter found inexpensive materials and agreed to make them after my dad and I had looked at different options. I'm excited to see how they'll turn out, for I know they'll be things I can use again and again.

The choreography is almost completed. It has been a challenge to keep things fresh for 10 different dances, but God has supplied wonderful inspiration. After listening to the music again and again, I worked on one or two dances at a time. My students have learned them well, although there are still a few spots to iron out. My beginning solo (as the Biblical Anna) is still in progress. It is a fully-instrumental, beautiful piece that is supposed to be a prayer, and I'm realizing how much easier it is to choreograph songs with words! I continue to work on it, and pray for creativity to finish it soon.

There are many other odds and ends to sort through and figure out. The details never seem to end. But, God is giving me grace and I'm trying to persevere and diligently tackle them as needed.

Your prayers are appreciated as we seek to bring this story to life for the glory of God!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Acting Empathetic

When Mary and Joseph arrive in Egypt, they're greeted by some friendly, quite talkative ladies.

Explaining the whys and hows of the scene

"You have to act motherly and sweet!" Jubilee's not so sure...

Give it a try now - that's the idea...

Second Rehearsal

For the first rehearsal of "Beyond Bethlehem" on November 2nd, the majority of time was spent sitting down, as we read through the script and worked on line interpretation.

The second rehearsal, on November 9th, was spent working out blocking and continuing to work on lines, expression, and the ever-present need for loud volume! Mrs. Hart took these pictures at the rehearsal and kindly shared them with me.

It's always a challenge as the director to know what to tell everyone as you help them bring their character to life. Blocking is another hard thing to figure out, but I spend time on my own and talking with my sister planning things, and then make suggestions and changes as I work with the actors.

One big challenge is making sure that the audience can see the actors while not making the actors look posed or stiff. It's something we're still working on.

It's fun to see each moment come to life as they get it! There's plenty of fun through the hard work of each rehearsal.

Our third rehearsal was this afternoon, and line by line, it's coming together... Slowly but surely.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Auditions for "Beyond Bethlehem"

Auditions for "Beyond Bethlehem" were yesterday at 1 PM. Nine families showed up and nineteen children and teens over 10 years old auditioned. They all did very well, and selections for the cast have been hard to make!

Boys are especially hard to find, as only 5 came to auditions. I'm in the process of contacting others that could possibly fill roles if we did special rehearsals, and I'm praying for God to provide.

I look forward to working with these families as we rehearse each week to bring another story to life. Please pray that God guides the whole production process, and that we bring glory to Him in all that we do!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fun Ballet Attire

Last week was "Fun Ballet Attire Day," a time when students have the option to wear something to class other than the required black and pink.

Ballet II - my oldest class, minus one girl who was on vacation. They are a joy to teach, and I've enjoyed challenging them!

Basic Ballet/B - Younger classes can be harder to keep focused, but their energy and enthusiasm is fun to work with!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Of Barres and Mirrors

Ballet classes have been underway now for 5 weeks, although they seem to have gone by so quickly! God has blessed me with 36 students between the ages of 4 and 14. I teach 2 classes on Tuesday afternoons (with an exercise/dance class for ladies that evening) and 4 classes on Thursday afternoons. Preparing and teaching keeps me busy, but I enjoy it.

This year I am blessed to be able to use the new fellowship hall at Fountain of Grace, and they graciously allowed me to install mirrors on one of the walls. My dad got the best quote and oversaw the installation, also loaning me money to pay for them. Thankfully, I paid them off this month.

The mirrors are so nice for the students to be able to see exactly what they're doing and what it's supposed to look like! It also helps me to keep my eyes on all of them at once, and allows me to demonstrate things while letting them all see clearly.

My dad also designed and built barres for me out of PVC pipe with some metal rods inside to keep them sturdy. Finally, version 1.7 passed my stability test, and the girls have enjoyed using them. They're so much better than the chairs we used to use!

Praise God for His provision and grace to teach and plan day-by-day!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Slideshow of Musical Rehearsal Pictures

This is the slideshow that played after the musical presentation. Many thanks to Christina Baggett for taking all of the wonderful cast and rehearsal pictures!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Story of The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover in Pictures

An album of pictures from the dress rehearsals of "The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover" has been created. You can view them by going here. The pictures are in chronological order and give some of the story line through the captions.

"The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover" was a wonderful musical to produce. It was full of fun, excitement, and excellent themes that glorified God. Everyone who was a part of it - actors from the age of 5 to 58 - really enjoyed working on it! It was fun to see how everything turned out, from the inspiration God gave me to trying to bring those images in my mind out in the actors on stage.

I didn't follow the production notes exactly as they were suggested. I used Biblical costuming and settings instead of the modern ones suggested, and I slightly altered and added a few lines. If you are interested in doing it and would like to hear specific ideas I had, feel free to contact me.

If you are looking for a fun musical for all ages, this one with the powerful story of Nehemiah is a great one to try! Your cast will have a great time, and the audience will really enjoy it. We had some people who even came all three nights because they liked it so much!

You can get more info about the musical here at Brentwood Benson. I was able to find and order the books and CDs from MusiChristian for a less expensive price, but their shipping took quite a while, so it was a good thing I ordered things early.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cast pictures from The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover

These pictures have been long in coming, but there has been a lot going on since the musical ended, and I just needed a break from musical things for a while. =)

Enjoy this slideshow that introduces the characters in our production of "The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover." It played at the beginning of each musical presentation, but I modified it slightly for this upload.

Each of the actors and actresses did a great job!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

God is so faithful!

Last night was a great opening night for "The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover." Many people came, and they all seemed to enjoy the musical a lot!

It has been an extremely busy production schedule, and last Tuesday, after the first dress rehearsal, I was a bit discouraged. Things just didn't seem to be coming together. I spent that night and the next day continuing to plan, but also praying. "God, it's in Your hands. I've done all I can; I've worked hard for Your glory. The outcome is up to You. Use it as You will."

I've struggled to trust through this production. It's easy for me to get down on myself, and I've realized that I do have some perfectionistic tendencies. Yet, I remembered what God did with the last 4 musicals I've directed, and, through some struggles and moments of woe, I have trusted Him to do it again. And He has been so faithful!

We went through the musical twice at Thursday's dress rehearsal, since it is only around 45 minutes in length going straight through. The cast did well the first time, and things went pretty smoothly, but they weren't really alive in their acting. I gave notes and encouraged, and the 2nd time through was a whole lot better. They really acted, and everything flowed well!

Last night was just as good. Sure, there were a few instances of nervous mess-ups, but they were all very minor. The cast acted really well, putting even more into it now that they had an audience.

I sat and watched and marveled at the faithfulness of God. He's done it again. He's brought together a musical that I could have never done in my own strength. He's given grace, and He even gave me wonderful rest last night after some trouble getting to sleep these last few weeks with all of the details in my head.

I look forward to these next two nights of presentations, excited to see what God will do again. Praise be to His glorious Name!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Time is getting short

There always comes a point in each musical when I wonder if things will really come together. This time around, it's happened a few times. I've learned from it - that I really should have more than a month for a production, for sanity's sake - but I'm also reminded of past productions, that things do come together by God's grace.

Things were a little rough at our first dress rehearsal tonight. There's still so much I wish could be corrected. We'll have Thursday to go over the final things, but things should be done by then.

It's easy to beat myself up, to say that I really could have done more, or should be able to explain things better. But, I have worked as hard as I could in God's strength, and God has allowed a lot to be done. Looking back from where we started, there have been definite improvements! =)

Also, I am working with children, so things will never be exactly right. I can't expect a 7-year-old to act like a 17-year-old. But, we're all in it together, and that is part of the beauty of the experience: generations working together for God's glory.

I also only have 2-3 rehearsals a week, whereas most places rehearse every night. But, I don't want to pull families away from home more than we already do, so we just have to work through the limited number of practices that we have.

It's not a perfect production, but I'm learning through it. I still pray that God pulls everything together in His time, but even it isn't flawless (and it never will be!), God can still use it. It's not to excuse us from working as hard as we can towards excellence, but in the end, we've got to leave things to God.

There's not much else I can do. I can remind people of their assignments, I can encourage, but most of all, I can pray. And as I continue working, I can rest in the knowledge that the outcome is in God's hands.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Just Ask!

We wanted to spread the word as much as possible about the upcoming musical, because part of why we are doing it is to provide good, family-friendly and God-honoring entertainment for the community.

A family friend, my assistant director and dad to 4 of the actors (and an actor himself!), made a great flier that we have been hanging up in color and distributing in black-and-white, printed on yellow paper.

When I was out shopping yesterday for final items needed for the musical, I brought fliers with me and asked if one could be hung up in each place that I stopped. Only one turned me down because of a policy they had, while the other three - my bank, a Faith Rescue Mission store, and "Cheapskates," where I bought the jewelry I needed at a great price - kindly agreed.

Although I was nervous about asking when it was of no benefit to them to hang up a poster, it was encouraging to see their willingness. And, asking really isn't that scary. After all, it never hurts to ask!

Costume Construction

With a musical involving 36 actors, some of whom play more than one character, finding/making enough costumes for them can be quite the challenge! At first, I thought I would be able to borrow most of the costumes from a friend, but when she couldn't find where they had been stored, suddenly I had to plan to make most of the tunics - quite a feat when you only have a total of a month for the production!

Because fabric prices have risen quite high, I went to thrift stores and bought used sheets and curtains for $1-$2 each - a great deal for the fabric, since each sheet contained at least 3 yards of material. Another 10 tunics, plus a few sashes, and head coverings we were able to make out of leftover fabric that I had in my stash.

There were a few things already made for us to borrow (a few tunics, and the black dresses for the bad girls), and a few others to alter or mend.

I cut out the tunics using the measurements I'd taken of the actors, making up a simple formula of determining various widths and lengths. God brought some great ladies along to help sew/alter the costumes, and by God's grace we got almost everything made in a week! I still have a few things to alter after the final costume fittings this morning, and two more costumes to make for actors recently added to the program.

On Wednesday, July 22nd, I sorted the costumes and fabric that I had and determined what I had left to buy. The next day, I bought things that I needed and some trim and jewelery to add to the overall affect. Miriam Rebekah came over, and we determined what each actor would wear, along with my sister's help.

On Friday, I babysat the younger children of a family in the musical, and during their nap time, their oldest daughter Natalie helped me with the first costumes. I cut out her tunic to test the formula, she sewed it up, and we worked on from there.

After her parents came home, Natalie came home with me, and we worked late into the evening. I cut out tunics, my sister Jubilee serged the edges, and Natalie sewed the seams.

The Serger has proved to be one of the best and most useful tools! Because of it, we didn't have to hem any of the raw edges, for the serging finished them nicely and the black or white thread blended in nicely with the various costumes.

Each area in which we worked turned into a major mess, but it was a good feeling once everything was completed and cleaned up.

The next day, Saturday, we had a work day at church after the morning rehearsal. While many painted bricks and others worked on some props, quite a few helped out with costumes. Natalie again sewed the seams, Jubilee did the serging, a few helped cut out, another sewed by hand, and others ironed or helped organize the completed costumes. A few of us worked for over 4 hours, but we got a lot done!

The Hart ladies worked on altering a few costumes at their house, while I continued to sew a few things over the weekend. Last Tuesday, Natalie and her younger sisters met Jubilee and I at the church building, along with another friend/actress. We worked for almost 5 hours and all but completed the costumes that we needed.

Abigail helped out with small tasks, such as many serged ends that needed fray check applied, and Katherine also helped with that, as well as creatively making and decorating a crown and throne. They both each made a Persian boy's hat under my instructions.

We completed the costumes more quickly than I could have hoped, and it's definitely a relief to have them all but done as we head to our first dress rehearsal this Tuesday!