Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hunger Games - Counting Down

A couple of years ago, I read The Hunger Games because it was on a list of books recommended by Stephenie Meyer. Though I can no longer stomach Twilight, The Hunger Games and its sequels Catching Fire and Mockingjay remain on my own list of books I can read again and again. With the release of the film of the first in the trilogy fast-approaching, I look forward to re-reading all three in anticipation.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recommended Reading

This time of year, I'm always leaping into a number of new reading adventures, usually fizzling out a couple of weeks into the new year and lamenting that I didn't finish what I had started. This year will be different, she says with hope in her heart. The current books are getting read vigorously, and here they are:

Lesley M. M. Blume's Let's Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By

A lengthy title, yes, but utterly descriptive of this little volume's contents. So far, I've learned that chariots pulled by lions or elephants are best, that I'm not the only one who thinks bathing caps have a certain charm about them, how to make luscious pin curls, and that once upon a time, parents revealed how they felt about a daughter's suitor by use of something called a "courtship candle." I'm currently on "fountain pens."

Dorothy J. Gaiter & John Brecher's Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage

This book was recommended to me by a friend of a friend at a birthday party in the wee hours of the morning as we discussed to two very different red wines we were drinking. Gaiter and Brecher document the years of their relationship through the wines they drank and, later, their "Tastings" column for The Wall Street Journal. So far, it's been engaging and very personable, and I look forward to making my way through Louis Roederer Cristal 1974 and Franzia Chablis all the way to Collery Brut Champagne.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture

For months, this title sat in my Amazon cart unpurchased. In a last-minute Christmas shopping spree, it made it to my abode and now sits on my makeshift bedside table. This topic falls particularly close to home as I contemplate joining church (officially) with a certain measure of wanderlust still pervading my heart and mind. I've not made it far so I don't have much to write except that my previous experience Wilson-Hartgrove's work has benn thought-provoking and challenging so I can only hope that this book will prove equally so.

Recommended by the same friend of a friend at the same late-night birthday party, this book is recently arrived and not-yet-opened. It may have to wait until I'm through at least one of the other three, but I relish the idea of Reichl's adventures in the world of New York restaurants, as both herself and her many alternate identities.

- - -

2012 will be an adventurous year in books. My goal is to finish what books I have before buying more. In the past, that has meant a temporary (and short-lived and highly unsuccessful) moratorium on book-buying. Perhaps I'll just attempt to keep myself occupied with those hundreds of long-neglected titles on my shelves before moving on. Perhaps I'll have to avoid bookstores like the plague, as they say. We shall see.

In any case, there will be reading!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Celebrating 15 Years of Second Wind Dreams

Since 1997, Second Wind Dreams(R) has been making dreams come true for senior citizens living in eldercare communities (nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice, etc.). To celebrate their 15th anniversary, I'll be blogging about one dream each day for all of 2012. Not all of the dreams will have come true yet, and you'll have a chance every Friday to bring a smile to an elder's face by being a part of the team that makes a dream happen.

Follow the dreams here: and on Twitter @15yearsofdreams.

Dream-blogging begins January 1, 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Atlanta Georgia Dreaming

At 87 years old, Dorie dreamed of reliving her glory days as a champion jitterbug dancer. On December 15th, she had that opportunity. Dancers from the Atlanta-based swing dance group Swinging from the Heart joined Dorie and her friends for a holiday party at Elmcroft of Roswell. When asked to dance, Dorie replied, "I haven't danced in so long." Although she usually travels by wheelchair, she shook a wicked calf on her own two feet for the first of her several dances.

Special thanks to Swinging from the Heart, Elmcroft of Roswell, and Second Wind Dreams for making Dorie's dream come true!

Everything was Beautiful at the Ballet

The Wheeling Symphony's annual production of The Nutcracker went off without a hitch this past Friday and Saturday, with two stunning performances by local dancers, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, and visiting professionals.

For the first time since we started staging the ballet in 2009, the tech happened the way it is supposed to. This year, it was even more precarious going into opening on Friday night, with just one rehearsal in the theatre with tech, and that a disaster like none we've had the past two years, including the first in 2009. Nearly everything went awry, but we did manage to open the magic box and close it without injuring anyone. Hooray!

Although the audiences could have been larger, the show itself was positively stunning. I say that with a bit of a bias, but I've heard from other audience members that it was better than it's been in the past. New costumes increased the production values, and the addition of Mother Ginger and her Bon Bons provided a laugh mid-way through Act II.

Many thanks to Cheryl Pompeo and Oglebay Institute's Youth Ballet Company for your spectacular performances. You have truly outdone yourselves this year, and it was a pleasure to watch both shows from the wings.

Thank you, too, to the dancers who came out to auditions and shone for the first time in the WSO's Nutcracker.

Congratulations to Maestro Andre Raphel and the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra for superb performances (even in the face of late arrival and little time to warm up)!

Another Nutcracker is over, and it is time to move on, looking forward to next year's holiday season and (hopefully) the return of this beloved tradition.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More than a Book - Press Here by Herve Tullet

I ran across this little gem at the Museum of Modern Art on a day-trip to NYC last weekend and then hunted it down on this blog: You Know, for Kids. I think it's the most fun book I've ever read.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Last night, I was shopping online, and I came across this thing and thought, "Boy, Julia would really like this thing!" Then, I looked at the price, and I thought, "That's highway robbery for that thing! I could make that thing!" (Not to discount my own talent at making things like this thing, but really, sometimes I wonder how they come up with these prices.) And then I looked around my (admittedly very messy) room and found that I had all the things I needed to make that thing. So, instead of going to bed at a decent hour, I started working on this thing and became enchanted by it and was up until two. It's not quite finished but will be soon, and once Julia has received this enchanting thing, I will post a picture of it (and perhaps its high-priced doppelganger) to see if you're enchanted too!

Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Orchestrating a Dream

World War II veteran Bernie Brosky loves the orchestra. Given the choice between jazz and the symphony, he said he'd take the symphony every time. He has also often told friends and family that he would love to have the opportunity to conduct the orchestra himself. Dreamweaver Melanie Torok caught wind of this and went straight to Wheeling's own local orchestra.

On October 24, 2011, Maestro Andre Raphel visited resident Bernie Brosky at Wheeling Hospital's Bishop Joseph H. Hodges Continuous Care Center. Maestro Raphel invited Mr. Brosky and his family to attend the Wheeling Symphony's November 11 Masterworks II concert--An American Salute. At the concert, Mr. Brosky will be recognized not only for his service to our country but also as the Honorary Conductor of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.

Maestro Raphel also invited Mr. Brosky to conduct the orchestra in John Philip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever" at a rehearsal for the WSO's Masterworks III concert in March of 2012.

Second Wind Dreams National Director of Membership and Chapter Development Laurie Labishak chats with Bernie about his love of the orchestra.

The Wheeling Symphony's Maestro Andre Raphel leads Bernie through a conducting pattern.

Maestro Raphel applauds Bernie's conducting prowess.

Maestro Raphel and Bernie discuss the finer points of conducting and Bernie's upcoming trips to see and conduct the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.

For more photos, visit the Wheeling Symphony's Facebook page.

The Wheeling Symphony gratefully acknowledges the support of Second Wind Dreams and Stages, Inc. (who will provide a dress suit for Mr. Brosky to wear to the concert) for their assistance in making Bernie's dream come true!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mad About Swing

This weekend, the Capitol Theatre Ballroom was treated to the delightful voice of this lovely lady:

That's Davina Sowers with her band, Davina and the Vagabonds. The band ended their recent tour with a stop in Wheeling on October 14 for the Wheeling Symphony's Mad About Swing. If you were there, you know it was a super-fun evening with a fantastic band, a full dance floor, and some yummy cookies and other things to eat.

Fingers crossed, it won't be the last of the symphony's swing dances with awesome live bands. For more Davina, check out the band's website and their YouTube channel. For more symphony swing dances, tell the WSO how much fun you had by writing on the Facebook page.

Many thanks to the WSO Board of Directors, Davina & the Vagabonds, the WSO Staff, dance instructor Jamie Carney, the lovely ladies of the Capitol Theatre Ballroom and, of course, a big huge thank you to everyone who danced the night away!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Developments...

It's been a busy month, September. I was promoted away from the front desk at the WSO and am now the Development Associate and Education Coordinator. Yay me! So far, it's been a bit overwhelming. I'm still at front desk until the new Front Office Manager starts on October 10, and there's a lot of work to be done. Still, I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to settling into my very own office.

Two weeks ago, I saw a spectacular production of The Velveteen Rabbit at Towngate Theatre here in Wheeling. The cast gave impressive, lively, energetic performances, Dave Henderson's set was imaginative and full of charming details, and Tim Thompson's visionary direction was evident throughout the show.

On October 15, the WSO is hosting a swing dance with Davina and the Vagabonds, a band from the Twin Cities. There will be a lesson from 7-8 and dancing from 8-11 in the Capitol Theatre Ballroom. Tickets are just $25 and include the lesson, the dancing, and food! They can be ordered by calling 304.232.6191 or commenting below.

Tomorrow (October 2) is the Wheeling Symphony Youth Orchestra's annual Bluegrass Barbecue, with food catered by Ye Olde Alpha and music by Out of the Blue and Bluegrass Express. The event is sponsored by Main Street Bank and Bachmann, Hess, Bachmann & Garden, PLLC. It will be held at Hess Shelter at Oglebay Park from 3-6 PM. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for students. Children under 5 years of age are admitted free of charge. Tickets will be available at the door.
Next Saturday, my friend Pete (whom you might remember as the Beast from way back in January of this year) is marrying his beautiful bride Bethany, and my dear friend Hannah will wed her handsome prince Joshua. On Sunday the 9th, Bob Troeger and Juan Jaramillo will present a recital (details to follow - not to be missed!). The weekend after that is the swing dance. The following weekend, the WSO String Quintet will present a chamber concert at the Scottish Rite in Steubenville, OH (again, details to follow - not to be missed!), and then I am off adventuring with my dear mother, both grandmothers, and two aunts.

Whew! Life lately makes me feel like doing this:
and that's a marvelous way to feel!

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Buy the Foot"

I adore dorky wordplay, so the title of this fundraising campaign is near and dear to my heart . . . just like the theatre its efforts will help restore.

Support the Strand Theatre . . . one foot at a time!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The End of the Cinderella Summer

Other than a brief appearance by the resident bat (literally) and a few minor hitches, the show went off beautifully. We all had a marvelous time, Kelsey and I did not injure Doug (or ourselves) during the fight scene, and Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after (of course). It’s bittersweet to see it end, to tear down the set and sort out the costumes and clear off the stage for the last time this season, but we do still have the cast party to look forward to, our last big hurrah.

It’s been a big learning summer for me, humbling at first (You can read about that here.) and then tremendously encouraging. A humongous thank you goes to Ryan, Vera, Mel and Gretchen for all of their kind, upbuilding words throughout this whole show. I do not have the words (silly English major) to express my gratitude to you so a thank you will just have to do. This show afforded me the opportunity to work with so many talented performers, some of whom were making their stage debut. It has been such a joy to watch them grow and to grow with them over the past two months, to learn from more experienced actors and to bask in all of the spectacular performances.

Another big thank you goes to Ryan for his unfailingly positive attitude, even when things weren’t going so wonderfully or when his cast’s energy was lagging or when the scene changes all went to pot. Thank you, thank you, thank you for setting an upbeat tone for the whole process and for keeping us motivated.

Finally, my love goes to the cast, crew and orchestra, for their solid performances and energetic spirit. I’ve had a wonderful summer, due largely in part to all of you: Ryan, Rae, Justin, Renee, Tiffany, Izzie, Blake, Sue, Vera, Frank, Mel, Katie, Heath, Dave, Peter, Michael, John, Kelsey, Jessica, Shanan, Val, Kathryn, Sarah, Sara, Doug, Zara, Natalie, Sophia, Megan R., Emily, Megan J., Ruth, Leslie, Lindsey, Natalie, Joan, Harry, Matt, Pat, Buddy, Ben, Keith, Wendy, Jamie, and Annie.

(Oh, and if you’d like to know what Eloise thought of the ball and ensuing events, you can read all about her experience here.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Op'nin, Another Show

In five hours, we will take to the stage for our opening performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. For two months, we've spent our evenings treading the boards in preparation for this moment. The butterflies are having a party in my stomach, but I'm excited to have a full audience.

After a bit of a disastrous cue-to-cue on Tuesday (during which the orchestra managed quite well but the rest of us stumbled through set changes and ended up in spotlights accidentally), we shone in a strong final dress rehearsal last night. Now, we must make sure not to be overly confident or we'll find ourselves making silly mistakes. In any case, we are ready to show the world (or at least the northern panhandle of West Virginia) what we've been doing this summer. Maybe I'll finally have pictures . . .

Break a leg, all!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Runnin' Wild

It's been a wildly busy summer, and it's hard to believe it's nearly August already. Tonight is the cue-to-cue for Cinderella, our first rehearsal with orchestra. Tomorrow is final dress, and we open, at long last it seems, on Thursday. Thankfully, attitudes have been top-notch, and everyone is still having fun. Energy is lagging a bit, but I'm sure we'll all be busting out all over on performance nights. (Hopefully, we won't be busting out of our costumes. Only a few snaps on my dress continue to come undone during that one scene, but "a few" is far better than "oh, wow, her whole dress is gaping open in the back".)

Last night, I strutted about in my one fabulous burlesque-ish costume, raising a few eyebrows and causing the King to comment that all of the palace staff should wear that. (It's quite an outfit, but worry not - it covers everything.) No comment from the director. That means I can wear it for the show, yes? Probably not, but I'm amused. With a pair of ostrich feather fans, I could put on a striking dance number, but it's not really appropriate for a children's show, I suppose.

In other news, my family welcomed the first great-grandchild last month. My cousin Melanie gave birth to Landyn Joshua on June 28 at 6:13 PM. He is a precious little bean and already spoiled by his many loving aunties and uncles and cousins and grandparents and great-grandparents. Mel's sister Jena is due in September, and we are all looking forward to meeting her baby girl. This weekend was the baby shower, and she is sure to be the best-dressed gal around, just like her mama.

The summer has also provided a number of opportunities to go dancing in Pittsburgh. Lots of new and old friends, including a rather comical moment of "That looks like Patrick from Tampa, but why would he be here? No, wait, that is Patrick from Tampa, but why is he here?" As it turns out, he's not really from Tampa but rather from nearer by. Huh. Lately, the dancing has taken a backseat to "I'm exhausted and really need to do laundry and I just don't want to go out tonight," but soon, there will be lindy hopping in my life again. :)

Kind of a boring update perhaps. It's all much more exciting than it reads. You can catch some of the excitement by coming to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, presented by the Strand Theatre and directed by the somehow-still-smiling-and-saying-please Ryan Ferrebee, with music by Justin Jones, choreography by Renee Zelinski, and sets beautifully painted by Ruth Keim. Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 8, 2011

If I Told Him . . .

If you know me, you probably know that for round about two years, I’ve been pining for this guy. You might have heard me gush about him. You might have noticed not-so-vague references to him in that blog about the show I’m doing right now and even at least once in this blog. I might have annoyed you with my near-constant sighs of longing. I hope not, but I’m sure it’s true of some of you. You’ve all contributed your opinions on what action I should take with regard to said guy, and here is a great chunk of that advice:

Grandma: Just tell him, “Hey, I like you. Let’s do something.” (Protests of “But I’m too shy” are ineffective in resisting the idea of this approach. Apparently, I just need to come out of my shell so that I can have a love life so that I can get married so that she can have more grandbabies to love on.)

Gram: (Essentially the same as Grandma but more adamant since she is subject to the aforementioned sighs of longing far more frequently than Grandma is by virtue of proximity)

Matt: Be bold and confident!

Mother: (Gram & Grandma combined times twelve. As my mother, she is the primary confidante and as such, has been listening to my often pathetic pining for all of those nearly two years.)

Michael: (in a terrible paraphrase of what was actually said over the course of a conversation via Facebook chat) I can’t woo the girl I’m crazy about because I’m over here in [country] so don’t let opportunity pass you by. Don’t you remember that thing you said back in college? I remember it. You said that the thing you keep coming back to is the thing you’re meant to move toward in life. (Me: I said that?) Yes, you did. So stop being so shy and ask him out!

Julia: Hold out and let him ask you! Wait, it’s been two years? Wow . . .

Jamie: You have to be very straightforward with [guy]. (Me: So I should just say “Let’s get married and make babies”?) Well, if that’s the goal . . . (and on a separate occasion; paraphrased) Man up and ask him out. (among other specific advice about [guy])

Annie: Ask him to dinner. Do something.

Gael: You want him to pursue you, don’t you? (Me: Yes, I do!) So who’s going to tell him to ask you out?

Dad: Do I need to have a talk with him? Do I need to get the boyfriend application ready? (Me: No, Dad. You’ve never needed it in the past. I doubt you need it now.)

Grandpa: I know there’s somebody out there for you, but there might not be, and you need to be prepared for that.

Ilana: (on multiple occasions) Let him pursue you. (among other advice) Do I need to send him a message on facebook? (Me: Don’t you dare!)

Darian: Just ask him out. Stop being so old-fashioned.

Ryan: (unaware of how applicable his words are in this situation and quite possibly unaware of the situation altogether; this comment was actually in reference to a bizarre scene at the end of the 1957 television broadcast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella wherein the Fairy Godmother tried to get Cinderella arrested – watch it; it’s quite comical) How many people do you know who wish and wish and then opportunity presents itself and they're too shy or too self-loathing or too lazy to seize it. I know a lot of people like that, and I'd want to throw them in jail too! (Me: Yeah, I want to throw myself in jail sometimes for being shy and self-loathing . . .)

Pete: (Tons of wise things about managing expectations and not feeling too let down about a forgotten post-show dessert)

Lisa: You're still talking about him? Oh, roomie . . .

You’re all wonderful. Thank you for putting up with my daydreams and ramblings, even when I’m annoying, redundant and delusional. I appreciate you. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dinosaurs, Dragons, and Bubbles! Oh My!

It was a quiet day at the Children's Museum of the Ohio Valley this past Saturday, and for once, I remembered to bring my camera. So here's a peek at the goings-on at the CMOV. Visit us at 1000 Main Street in Wheeling, WV, to learn more.

As part of Summer-at-the-Museum (SAM) Camp this year, campers learned about recycling.

Helen is the CMOV's Chilean Flame Tarantula.

King Charles is a South Florida King Snake. His eyes are cloudy because he is preparing to shed his skin.

Kid Construction Co. is one of the museum's most popular exhibits. It has blocks, giant tinker toys, tools, and even work gloves and aprons.

SAM campers and counselors created colorful new wall art to brighten up the museum.

More wall art and the space habitat that campers built out of old newspapers.

Step into the art box to make your own collage or draw a picture to take home or leave on the walls of the art box for others to enjoy.

Buddy is a bearded dragon. He looks quite regal here. Check out the video of him stalking his weekend meal below.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Lovely Night

A solid first run-through makes for a happy cast and creative team. :) Although it was by no means perfect, our rehearsal last night gave us a taste of what this show is going to look like come the end of July, and it was quite an encouraging snapshot.

The constant reminder written on my hand put a smile on my face and in my heart and helped me to keep a positive attitude throughout the evening. I also had some encouraging words from the director which are buoying my spirits and filling me with warm fuzzies.

Tonight, dancing for fun with friends in Pittsburgh!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's Possible . . . I Just Know It Is

Rehearsal did, indeed, prove to be difficult. My brain failed to cooperate as I hoped it would. The verse was not at the front of my mind, and though I did not complain throughout rehearsal, I did vent on the way home instead of surrendering my frustration to God.

Today, the verse is written on my hand, in the hope that the constant reminder, closer than an index card on my computer, will burn the verse on my heart. Above it are listed the fruits of the Spirit, as defined in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. They will be before my eyes as I dance, impossible to ignore.

An unfortunate side effect of writing something on the back of my hand is that it is also constantly bringing to mind Professor Umbridge's punishment of Harry Potter, during which the lines he's writing are carved into the back of his hand. So I guess I can also remember "I must not tell lies."

Although there were challenging moments, much of rehearsal was actually rather fun. We're getting the hang of the opening number and adding character layers. During the gavotte, too, we are breaking out of the "oh, no, I don't know what comes next!" mentality and beginning to enjoy ourselves a bit. The waltz is another story altogether, and the ability to sing while dancing is proving to be as elusive as ever. Practice, practice, practice, right? I'm relishing the refinement of my character and next will be exploring how she moves and what exactly makes her move that way. It is an interesting challenge of a different sort than that to which I am accustomed.

Tonight we're running the whole show. Waltzes, gavottes, and singing, oh my!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Negative Nancy --> Positive Penny!

Tonight has the potential to be a stressful evening. We are rehearsing chorus scenes for the first time since Thursday, and even then, a number of folks were missing. As we get into the thick of rehearsal and particularly as opening draws nigh (We are still more than a month out.), nights run long and tempers run high. Performers grow tired and directors weary of repeating themselves ad infinitum. Despite those hurdles, we must all strive to maintain a positive attitude. To that end, I shall take my cue from the verse that is taped to my computer tower on my desk, a constant reminder of how I ought to behave:

And failing that, I shall think of this smiley fellow:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grown-Up Catholic School Girls

This weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, DC, for a gathering of alumnae of Wheeling's Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy. In May 2008, the Mount graduated its final class, closing its doors after 160 years of educating young women. The 2009 and 2010 alumnae celebrations were still held on campus in Wheeling, but now that the property has been sold, we have to find a new home. Fortunately, our sister school in Washington was kind enough to welcome us.

It was a bittersweet visit. Roaming the halls of someone else's school, no matter how very like your own it may be, is not at all the same as roaming the halls of a place that holds so many memories, as the Mount does for me. Still, sitting in chapel with the other alumnae, singing hymns while Sister Joanne played the organ, held a kind of joy.

I look forward to future visits to Georgetown and am grateful to have been able to chat with the sisters and see the campus that I may now call home, as the mother superior there has said.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Second Girl: Eloise Esterhazy Weaver


Over the next several weeks, I'll be writing the comedic tale of my Cinderella summer in the person of my character. In the script, her moniker is "Second Girl," but I've decided to call her Eloise Esterhazy Weaver. You can read more about her over here. Of course, the actual events of the rehearsal process will be adapted to Eloise's peculiar little life, but it should be much more interesting than a day-to-day review of what really happens at rehearsals.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Chorus Girl: A Lesson in Humility

I’ve gotten spoiled playing lead roles in the past couple of shows I’ve done. In October of 2009, I was Lucy van Pelt in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and just this past January, I played Beauty in Beauty & the Beast (the play by Warren Graves). So when I went to audition for Cinderella on Friday, I had some high hopes about how I’d be cast. Those hopes were dashed when I awoke Saturday morning to find the cast list in my inbox and my name in the list under “Chorus.” My reaction was . . . unbecoming, to say the least.

I spent much of Saturday stewing, quite pathetically, over this revelation. Then I had a few wise words of encouragement from a few fantastic friends. So here are some things I’m trying to keep in mind throughout this production, some of them relevant to the above and others not at all:

  1. There are no small parts.
  2. There could be no show without the chorus. (Thank you, Megan!)
  3. No one can be in the spotlight all the time.
  4. Everyone deserves a chance to shine.
  5. Singing in the chorus is a marvelous challenge vocally and physically (dance-wise). It will make me a stronger performer all-around.
  6. I’ll still get to see a certain someone fairly frequently over the next couple of months.
  7. There will be plenty of time for me to (finally) learn to drive.

So there you have it (or perhaps I should say “there I have it”): seven optimistic things to think about being in the chorus.

I hope you’ll join me for the show on July 28-31 at the John Marshall High School Center for the Performing Arts in Glen Dale, WV. Visit the Strand Theatre website for more information and stay tuned for pictures and updates.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Little Late But Nonetheless

There is a lot going on in Wheeling these days. This past week alone, I had the opportunity to take in a couple of delightful theatrical performances.

Friday night, Towngate Theatre's production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead opened. With Jeremy Richter and Vincent Marshall in the title roles, the show soared. Its expert pacing and wonderful supporting cast provided an entertaining evening worth seeing. The run continues through Saturday, May 7. Tickets are $12.50 and are available at the door or in advance by calling 304.242.7700.

Tuesday evening, Wheeling Park High School's Park Players presented the first of their two musicals this season: Little Shop of Horrors. The students put on a charming show and received a standing ovation from the audience for their efforts. The show continues through Friday, May 6, at the high school's Phyllis A. Beneke Theater at 7 pm each evening. Tickets are available at the door or in advance by calling 304.243.0417. Advance tickets are just $8.

The second musical of the Park Players season, Working, will be presented on Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21, at 7 pm at the Phyllis A. Beneke Theater. According to this Wikipedia article, "The musical is based on the Studs Terkel book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974), which has interviews with people from different regions and occupations."

May 20 also brings the final Wheeling Symphony Orchestra performance of the 2010-2011 season. This Masterworks IV program will feature soprano Lianne Coble singing Strauss's Vier Letzte Lieder, as well as Jean Sibelius' The Swan of Tuonela and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1, in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Mahler's death. The concert will be held in Wheeling's historic Capitol Theatre. Tickets are available through the WSO office at 304.232.6191.

The Wheeling Symphony recently won a $25,000 grant through Chase Community Giving on Facebook! Exciting things are happening!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fun Things of the Day: Moore Monday Edition

Check out the fantastic folk art of Alan Moore and his daughters Isabella and Emma. They were recently featured in Southern Child magazine. You can check out the article here and then view more of their art on Alan's website, Isabella and Emma's website, the family site, at their etsy stores (folkartistalanmoore and lilsistersfolkart) and on facebook (Alan and Isabella & Emma).

Here are the two Alan Moore pieces that make my kitchen a bright and happy place:

"Four Orange Birds on an Orange Four"

"I Think Mildred Loves Purple"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Swing Dance Stories

Back in college at the University of Florida, I choreographed for a little dance troupe called Bounce Me Brother. I got my start dancing as a member of the troupe. A couple of semesters, we performed with the Dancin' Gators, a student-run dance company. Now, three years later, the Florida Swing Dancing Club's enthusiastic hepcats are still shaking a wicked calf on the Phillips Center Stage. Here's a video of this year's beginner performance:

My senior year of school, my friend Weston and I joked about doing a routine to "Never Had a Friend Like Me" from Aladdin. This year, the advanced troupe actually did it!

I'm so proud of my swing babies and wish I could have been there to see them perform. Still, yay for youtube and facebook for bringing them to me here in West Virginia. Love you all!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Beauty & the Beast, Part Two

Well, the show has ended. Over two weekends and six performances, we played to over 600 people. (And now we've nearly all got colds, but they'll pass.) The magic and the memories of our beautiful show will remain.

Many thanks to our fantastic audience members, my talented fellow cast members (Pete, Dave, Erika, Lindsey, Austin, Alex, Clare, Abby & Maguire), our delightful stage manager Peggy and, of course, our phenomenal director Tim Thompson.

It has been a wonderful journey, and I look forward to working with all of you again.

Love, Micah

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beauty & the Beast

This month, I am returning to the community theatre stage as “Beauty” in Warren Graves’ adaptation of the classic fairy tale Beauty & the Beast. (Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the “original” tale and are stuck in the Disney-fied version, here’s the text of Marie Le Prince de Beaumont’s story: Once again, I will appear opposite the magnificent Pete Fernbaugh, a.k.a. “Beast,” under the direction of the incomparable Tim Thompson. We all last collaborated on Towngate Theatre’s 2009 production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

I’d been craving the stage. In November, I worked wardrobe on the Wheeling Legally Blonde show. In December, I was the stage manager of a local production of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. Each time, I was reminded of how much I love being out there performing. Not just when the audience is there, but each night of rehearsal. Each night of discovering something new about the character or about the story. Learning lines and then bringing them from somewhere organic, somewhere real. Being the character rather than playing her. Getting to know the other actors and getting to know the crew. (There’s not much time for that in three rehearsals and two performances as in the case of The Nutcracker or a day spent ironing men’s shirts in preparation for an evening performance as was my experience on Legally Blonde.)

Maybe I had romanticized the experience a bit, having been away for over a year, but the rush is still there. I love having someplace to go each night, something to do, knowing that we’re working toward an end-product that will (hopefully) be simply breathtaking.

Last night was tough. I have this laughing problem, and while it’s improving, as it usually does over the course of rehearsals, there are still moments where I wish I could stop laughing and I simply don’t. There were missed lines (though not because of the laughing), botched blocking, forgotten cues. We started late, we ran late. A bunch of my lines all sounded the same, and I wasn’t speaking loudly enough. But at nine o’clock, I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to stay and work it out. Instead, I went home and couldn’t sleep because I kept saying those lines all the same every time I rehearsed them.

We open next Friday. Between now and then, we have seven run-throughs to work out the bugs. I know, I know—in live theatre, there’s no way to work out all of the bugs. There’s always that chance of the unexpected happening. There’s always a chance that Charlie Brown will say “abstinence” instead of “abstention” and Lucy will burst into uncontrollable laughter on opening night. (Yep, it happened.) But that’s part of what makes it so exciting.

Beauty & the Beast runs Friday, January 21-Sunday, January 23, and Thursday, January 27-Saturday, January 29 at Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre in Wheeling, WV. Shows are at 7 pm (21, 22, 27-29) and 2 pm (23). Tickets are available at 304.242.7700.