Being involved with The Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company is not all fun and games – sometimes it’s a parade! And that’s exactly what happened, recently, when, once again, Riddlesbrood troupers marched in the Historic Smithville, NJ Independence Day Parade. This year’s theme was “fantasy.”
“Our parade float had mermaids, colossal-sized knights, and other whimsical characters.” said Ryan Long, creator and Executive Director of Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company. “The idea came from our full-length theatrical show, ‘Harken – A Game of Phones.”
“Harken” is an interactive theatrical experience with a fantasy, “Dungeons and Dragons-like” theme that Riddlesbrood has performed for two years as a main-stage show with a cast of 35 and dozens of behind-the-scenes artisans.
“Our ‘Harken’ show fit perfectly with this year’s parade theme,” Long added, “and we won second place! We’ve been participating in the Smithville parade for about 15 years. We’ve won second place before, and one year, we came in first with our pirate ship display. In the past, we’ve not only created a pirate ship, but also the Jersey Devil on a wagon, a circus theme, a Vietnam theme and also a Civil War exhibit. In 2016, we promoted our main-stage, “Frankenstein” show. We’re grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community by being a part of this very popular event.”
Jeff Cleve and Brian Albert, two long-time Riddlesbrood members, pulled the turtle float in the 100-degree July heat, while Touring Director Armand Marino, another veteran trouper, embodied the gigantic knight characters from inside their over-sized costumes. Other participants included: Tom Lorenz as Clyde P Riddlesbrood, (the mythical founder of Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company), Jerry Long as a Woodland Boy, Rachael Parlapiano as a Woodland Lady, and Maddy Marino as Fanta-Sea the Turtle. The Mermaids were enchantingly played by Caitlyn Kaiser, Rebecca Remelgado, and Danielle Pecchioli.
In addition to using muscle power to mobilize the float, Brian Albert and Jeff Cleve also used their creative powers before the parade by designing and constructing many of the mechanical elements and props used in Riddlesbrood’s “Harken” show, which they then adapted for use in the parade, including the large animated turtle and the monstrous knights. Jeff Cleve, who made the turtle’s mechanical head (with a working mouth made from a grabber mobility tool) in less than a week for “Harken,” had to quickly redesign the turtle’s legs for the parade, when it became apparent the original legs wouldn’t work on the float. “I saved money by making the new legs out of cardboard I had laying around my house, and they were also disposable, since we weren’t going to be using them again.” Cleve explained.
In theater, paraphernalia often need to be created quickly and proficiently, and from inexpensive materials, which call upon one’s skills of poise, perseverance and ingenuity.
“As members of a theater group, we’ve all been challenged to do our best while working within outside limitations. “ Cleve added. “I discovered that, what you believe to be your personal limitations … aren’t as limiting as you think, because we’re all capable of doing more than we think we can. Challenges can be fun, and they help you grow.”
Beauty professional, Rose Keiser, painted the mermaid’s faces for this year’s award-winning fantasy scene. Rose, along with her team of professional cosmetologists at Dimensional Designs Salon and Spa in Lakehurst, New Jersey, worked with Riddlesbrood in the past, having designed and completed hair and makeup for “Harken.”
“As a backstage theater, beauty, hair and make-up coordinator and designer, I find working with Riddlesbrood to be one of the most uplifting, pleasant, and fun experiences out there in the theater world!” Keiser said. “Riddlesbrood has a style, like no other. They’re always caring and create a fun family atmosphere. They allow those that work with them to feel at home, and give us the opportunity to inject our own personal style into their vision and art.”
The mile-long parade, promoted as New Jersey’s largest with an audience estimated at about ten-thousand, ended in the quaint historic Village of Smithville where the day’s festivities continued for all with live entertainment, fabulous food and shopping, and, of course, fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday. In addition, Long treated his parade team to a special, private Company lunch at Fred & Ethel's Lantern Light Tavern to thank them for their participation.
A parade, like all of Riddlesbrood’s endeavors, needs dedicated artists and craftspeople of all types to transform its fantastical visions into spectacular reality. To that end, we invite you to join Riddlesbrood, not only for fun and games (and an occasional parade) but for the spirited camaraderie and sense of belonging that comes with creating something that’s larger than life that brings a smile to people’s faces. We’re always looking for actors, comedians and entertainers of all kinds. In addition, we often need help with costumes, makeup, set building, prop making, directing, choreography, music, marketing, fund raising, producing, and other behind-the-scenes assistance. Auditions for actors are held a few times a year. You can act in one of our hilarious murder mystery dinner theater shows, or one of our main-stage theatrical productions. Or, maybe you’ll want to challenge our eager contestants in one of our high-energy audience-driven Game Shows, or perhaps you’d enjoy entertaining young people of all ages in our fun, educational children’s shows. If so, visit our kids shows page to find out more. If you want information about getting involved (but acting isn’t your thing), we always have Main-stage Shows to get involved with! Whatever your interest or area of expertise … we’ll find a place for you!
Riddlesbrood Touring Theater Company has eighteen years of experience performing murder mysteries, musicals and other original shows. We’re considered the top touring theater group in the New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware region.
For more information on Riddlesbrood, call 866-276-6399.