Treehouse Shakers

Treehouse Shakers
Hatched, BAM Fisher, Hillman Studio

Friday, February 9, 2018

Meet Our Company Members: Miranda Wilson

Tell us about yourself and how did you become a part of Treehouse Shakers? How long have you been with the company? What is your role(s) with the company?

I am an actor/singer/dancer/puppeteer originally from Kansas City, MO and now a proud resident of New York City for the past 12 years.  I was at a gathering at a friend’s apartment in August of 2010 and I met Amber Ford and we hit it off. We were talking about all sorts of creative things and it came up that she was part of a dance-theater company that focused on work for young audiences. I was very intrigued. She then said, “We’re actually currently looking for understudies. You would be perfect. You actually look just like one of the founders!” She passed along my info, I came and joined a rehearsal and read through some parts, and the rest is history! It has been an incredibly rewarding and artistically fulfilling 7 years with the Treehouse Shakers and I am now a proud performer in each of the shows in the repertoire. I can be seen as Hatch in Hatched, Granny Pearl in Olive & Pearl, Queen of the Lost in Under the Tangle, Little Red in Let's Talk About IT!, and as one of the actor/narrators in Coyote's Dance, Animal Rhythms, and Desert Travels. And I am extremely excited to start working on the next show, which will premiere in 2019, The Boy Who Grew
Flowers
.

Miranda Wilson (Left) in Hatched, with Cast Members John Noel & Katie Montoya (Photo by Christopher Duggan)


What has been your favorite role to play?
Each of the roles that I play are so different, I don’t think I can claim a favorite! Each role is my favorite role at the time I’m playing it.  Hatch is wonderful because I get a chance to utilize my marionette skills and the moments of interacting with the very young audience members is such a special and unique experience. Granny Pearl is an opportunity to do some specific character work and an Irish accent. The show is so incredibly heartwarming and as it is only a 2 person show (well 3 – our guitar playing gnome, of course), it is really is a special thing to share the stage with Katie Montoya (who plays Olive) each time we do it…her work is a joy to watch in the show. Queen of the Lost is probably the most challenging role in my Treehouse repertoire. I love the role because of that. Having something that challenges you and stretches you as a performer is a gift to be given and I’m so appreciative of Emily taking the chance on me to let me perform and develop that role. As being more predominately an actor, the dancing in this show was a challenge I loved.  I think I will have to say my favorite role to play is as a Treehouse Shakers company member and I am so incredibly thankful for all the opportunities Emily and Mara have provided me to perform.
Miranda Wilson as Queen of the Lost, Under the Tangle (Photo by Christopher Duggan)

Tell us about a favorite audience moment you’ve had as a performer.
Oh my goodness…way too many. When you have a show like Hatched where you interact with the audience all the time, the stories really add up.  We could probably write a coffee table book of all the funny, touching and sometimes strange audience moments that come out of that show! Most recently, we performed the show at a school in Bronxville and at the end of the show, a teacher with a little girl came up to me. The teacher told me that throughout the whole show, the only thing the little girl wanted to know was my name. So I knelt down and I introduced myself. She told me her name, we talked for a brief moment, and then she ran to her teacher “My new friend’s name is MIRANDA!”  After one performance of Olive & Pearl, there was a little girl who did not want to leave because I reminded her of her granny. The mom finally pried her off my lap and told her it was time to go home. “Okay, granny. Come on. It is time to head home!” This was one of our first performances of the show, and I knew we had tapped into the right feeling of this character, the show and that the young audiences would relate. I have recreated the “Moon Dance” with many a child after these shows, and that is also a really special moment. After our performances of Under the Tangle at GK Arts Center last year, I had two young girls come up to me to ask me why my character was so mean to the Little Girl. Was I her mother and if so, why was I so mean? We had a long conversation about how sometimes when you’re young, the things that your mother does or says may feel mean to you in the moment but what she is really doing is to help you learn, grow, and protect you. When you have a perspective on that as you get older, you realize she was just looking out for you after all. And that is truly part of the journey of the Queen of the Lost and the Little Girl in the labyrinth. Their eyes got really big, they thanked me, and as they were walking away they made comments about how they needed to talk to their moms. It was a moment where you realize how powerful art can be when translated into real life. 
Miranda Wilson (Right) with Katie Montoya in Olive & Pearl (Photo by Christopher Duggan)

What makes Treehouse Shakers work unique or different than other companies you might have worked with?
Thoughtfulness. Thinking outside the box. Dedication to quality art. The work that Treehouse Shakers does is quality work that does not talk down to the young audiences for which it is performing. To that end, the young audiences have a more fulfilling experience when watching the performances. Treehouse has a show for every age range from 0-18 and are constantly adding more to insure that there is a piece out there for whatever young persons need it. They are thoughtful creators. They are also extremely thoughtful to their performers. We feel like a family, we feel taken care of, and we feel respected. We as performers never feel taken advantage of because, even if it is just a small gesture, Emily and Mara do their best to make that gesture. This is a company that truly feels like an ensemble. I am about to embark on my 4th collaboration with them as a company member and I am thrilled because each time it is such a special opportunity and challenge to have as a performer.

Miranda in Hatched (Photo by Christopher Duggan)
What does it mean to celebrate 20 years with Treehouse Shakers?

What an incredible opportunity to be a part of such a special company! As someone who has also recently started their own theater company, I look at Emily and Mara and the Treehouse Shakers with absolute awe and respect for surviving this crazy non-profit arts world for 20 years! The drive and tenacity that these two women have is an absolute inspiration to me. The 20th Anniversary gala this year was so special and if you have not watched the video that was put together for that, you MUST check it out because you can really see the incredible journey this company has had up to this point. It is not an overstatement to say that I am a PROUD member of this company.  Mara and Emily always joke about how we’re not allowed to leave the company.  And while, you know, at some point, when I’m 60 years old, it may be REALLY difficult for me to dance on that ladder as Queen of the Lost in Under the Tangle, but otherwise, it is so special to know that they have created such a home for us and we have an artistic outlet for life. And hey, at 60, I REALLY will come into my own as Granny Pearl.

Anything Else You would like us to know?
When I came in for my very first audition with Treehouse Shakers, which was September 15, 2010 (I just looked it up in my email), I had the chance to sit in a circle with all of the company members who were there that day for rehearsal and chat. As we were going around, everyone was either from Missouri, or had gone to school there, and at that moment, I thought to myself “I think I’ve found a new home in NYC.” I have never lost that feeling. Thank you, Mara. Thank you, Emily. Thank you for creating an artistic bubble for us actors and dancers to have a home in NYC where we get to create and do quality work and make a difference in the lives of our young audiences. Everyone from the incredible Treehouse Board to the lovely interns that intermittently come and work with you are here to support you and are lucky to be a part of this company. Happy 20th Anniversary!

About Miranda Wilson
Miranda Wilson has been a proud company member of Treehouse Shakers since 2010 and can be seen in all of the current Treehouse repertoire. A native of Kansas City, MO, Miranda graduated with her BFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Evansville. As an actor, singer, dancer, and puppeteer in New York City, she performs in a wide variety of performances across the city. Most recently, Miranda appeared in the critically-acclaimed cabaret, The Rise and Fall and Rise (again) of Martha Stewart, which performed to sold out audiences at Joe’s Pub as well as in Los Angeles.  Other favorite roles include: Liz in the world premiere of Every Good Girl Deserves Fun (and other misremembered things) with Clutch Productions, Inc. www.clutchproductionsnyc.com; Lucy in Three-Day Hangover's Dracula; Anderson Cooper and Kim Richards in the critically-acclaimed cabaret, Watch What Happens Live On Stage (NYC and LA); and as Anna Wintour's Assistant in the popular cabaret Ryan Raftery is the Most Powerful Woman in Fashion (NYC, LA, Philadelphia). Miranda has also starred in a new short film, How You Are to Me, which will begin hitting the festival circuit this spring, and as the lead in the psychological thriller, The Eve, which one her a Best Actress award for her work. www.mirandanoellewilson.com 


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Meet Our Company Members: Trey Coates-Mitchell

Trey Mitchell with Ashley Chavonne in Under the Tangle

Tell us about yourself and how did you become a part of Treehouse Shakers? How long have you been with the company? What is your role(s) with the company?  


I am a performer, choreographer, director, teacher, and clown living in New York City.  I have been with the company for six years.  I was working on a new play in New York when the playwright told me about Mara and all of the incredible work being done by Treehouse Shakers in both introducing theater to young audiences and also using theater as a vital educational tool.  I was initially hired to be Farmer/Rooster in Hatched (for ages 0-6) and Wolf in Let’s Talk About IT! (for 13+) and then went on to be a part of the creation of Under The Tangle as Bird Boy. 



What has been your favorite role to play?

Honestly, this was tough.  Rooster has quite an inner monologue going on…but I am going to have to say Bird Boy, in Under The Tangle. My base training is in acting, so the dance requirements of this show have definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone. However, the best part is the synergy the five of us have together when we are telling this story. Building this production with Emily Bunning, the choreographer, and this ensemble has been so incredibly challenging and rewarding, and I feel unbelievably proud of the world we have built together.

Treehouse Shakers' Cast Post-Show Let's Talk About IT! (Show for 13+)
Tell us about a favorite audience moment you’ve had as a performer.

When Bird Boy stumbles upon Little Lost Girl near his tree, there is a great scene between the two of them that eventually lures both of these characters closer and closer to the labyrinth.  The power of the labyrinth eventually pulls them inside the adventure that lies ahead.  In deciding who will be the leader of this mission, Bird Boy holds council, not realizing Lost Girl has already entered the maze.  He nominates himself the leader, and asks for all those in favor to say “Aye.”  The theater space was exciting and cavernous, with hundreds of students in attendance that day.  And in that one moment, they all responded to Bird Boy with enthusiastic “Ayes” echoing and filling the space.  They were instantly on the team, a part of the journey, and they figuratively entered the labyrinth with us.  It is in those moments that we can all feel the true power of theater and its ability to transport our minds and
hearts.

What makes Treehouse Shakers work unique or different than other companies you might have worked with?

Treehouse Shakers lives in the heart of creative town, right at the corner of young audience at the intersection of theater, dance, and imagination. The stories are built from the ground up, with a little seed of an idea becoming a fully realized artistic experience for audiences of all ages.


What does it mean to celebrate 20 years with Treehouse Shakers?

Trey with audience members during Hatched
I cannot help but feel incredibly honored to be a small part of Treehouse Shakers’ impressive twenty years of work.  Twenty years signifies perseverance and purpose, and it is clear to me the impact the company is making in the world.  This work is in important, and to see the clear voice and mission built over this time is truly an inspiration.


Anything Else You would like us to know?

Treehouse really has changed my life. I plan to spend all my years on this Earth creating theater that matters, and I learned this passion from working with this company of inspirational artists. I will be forever grateful.

   
Trey Coates-Mitchell is a New York City based Choreographer, Director, and Teacher, he has been a company member with Treehouse Shakers for 6 years. A Virginia native, he graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts before receiving his BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah University.  Trey's acting career began on the road portraying Frank Lippencott in the National Tour of "Wonderful Town" and as The Cat in The Hat in "Seussical."  Regionally, he was seen as L.A. in "Gypsy" at North Shore Music Theatre (starring Vicki Lewis) and as Posner in the regional premiere of "The History Boys" at Northern Stage Company.  New York credits include "The Drowsy Chaperone" at The Gallery Players (Winner of four New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including Best Musical) and as Trevor in "The Jungle Fun Room" (New York International Fringe Festival). Currently, Trey is the Director/Choreographer of “Sam’s Room”, a forensics rock/pop musical experience, with Music by Mark C. Kay and Caitlin Marie Bell, with a book by Dale Sampson.