Join us this holiday season for the heart-warming and much-loved classic story about a very shy toy rabbit who longs for nothing more than to become real. Bright Star Touring Theater will present "Velveteen Rabbit" in the Dogwood Center Black Box on Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 p.m.
The Velveteen Rabbit is the story of a toy rabbit who is loved so much that he becomes real. In this live action play, you will get a taste of the wonder, the heartbreak, and the magic of Margery Williams' tale of love between a child and his favorite toy. It is a wonderful tale for young audiences, or for anyone who is young at heart.
Bright Star Touring Theater performs nationally with theatrical productions comprised of literary and education based classics that are as entertaining as they are educational. The company has grown into being one of the largest professional touring theater companies in the country. In their 16th year of touring, they travel and perform to bring the magic of theater to young people.
The performance is geared toward pre-K to 5th graders, but the classic tale is entertaining for all ages.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 18 and under. Purchase your tickets through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
It’s that time again! Time to visit NCCA-Artsplace to shop for great personal holiday gifts! The Holiday Artist Market opens on Saturday, November 16 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Make your selections from handmade functional or decorative pottery, unique paintings, prints, textiles, candles, photography, wood turning, sculpture and jewelry. Decorate your tree this year with a variety of handmade ornaments or give them as the perfect holiday gift!
Whether you’re looking for fine hand made jewelry for the special someone, new ornaments for the tree or an original painting, you’ll find it all at NCCA-Artsplace Holiday Artist Market! And you can give the gift of creativity this holiday season with NCCA-Artsplace’s gift cards available in any denomination and can be used towards original art and classes.
The NCCA-Holiday Artist Market will be open through December 28. Regular hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
For more information stop by or call NCCA-Artsplace, 13 E. Main, Fremont, 231.924.4022. www.ncca-artsplace.org
By Megan Wirts
LionHeart Productions has done it again! Their take on the classic disco delight Mama Mia is a must see! Even if you aren't a disco fan, you will love this show filled with talented people from all around this great community. There are new faces, LionHeart stage staples and lots of sequins.
Under the direction of Dana McKnight, the cast comes to life at the Grant Fine Arts Center stage set on a quaint island in Greece to celebrate a wedding. Sophie, played by the magnificent Meghan McKnight who’s voice shines in this role, is about to be married and she longs to be walked down the aisle by her father. The only trouble is, she doesn’t know who her father is! Here mother Donna, played by LionHeart newcomer Mandy Casebolt, has kept the secret from her daughter for 20 years and thanks to Sophie’s meddling the three possible papas show up to attend the wedding festivities causing much chaos and shenanigans to ensue. All of this is set to the classic sounds of ABBA and there is plenty of disco dancing!
The stage, designed by Mike Gesler, is set to look like a beautiful Taverna on a small Greek island. Even with snow on the ground outside, it felt like a warm summer day by the ocean on stage. You are immediately are met with the beautiful voice of Meghan McKnight as Sophie singing I Have A Dream and the wild ride begins. This show left me laughing and wanting to get up and dance, which I did by the end! Mandy Casebolt is an excellent Donna, the tough single mother with a wild past, she really shows us her power in solo The Winner Takes it All. She is joined by her two best friends and former band members of Donna and the Dynamos played by Julia Scarlett Cole as Tanya and Cammie Hollinger as Rosie. Julia and Cammie play the feisty, fun and flirty besties. Julia will have you cracking up during her number Does Your Mother Know? and Cammie will make you want to get up and wiggle your disco booty in her take on Take a Chance on Me! Individually all three ladies have strong vocals and when all are together they knock it out of the park! Dancing Queen’s indeed!!
Then there are the three disco dads, Jamie Evans as Harry, Nick Koogler as Bill and David Hatter as Sam. All three are LionHeart veterans and are always a pleasure to watch! Jamie is great as Harry, the former headbanger that has only ever loved one woman. Nick shines as Bill, the traveling author and has great comedic timing. David is fantastic as Sam, the architect that is reluctant at first to be on the island again after 20 years. You will love their excellent dance moves in the number Gimme Gimme Gimme!
The cast also includes Jarod Howel as Sky, the love of Sophie’s life. He has an excellent voice and is perfectly cast as Sky. Raymond Gardner as one of Sky’s groomsmen Eddie, adds some great comedic relief. Then there is Graydon Gesler as Pepper. Pepper is definitely a scene stealer and will have you roaring with laughter.
Rounding out the cast are the vivacious and fabulous Anya VanderMeulen and Gabby Horrisberger as Lisa and Ali, Sophie’s bridesmaids and best friends. They both have lovely vocals and their bubbly personalities light up the stage during their scenes. The strong ensemble is filled with many members of the community, from highschool students, college students, stay at home moms and retirees. It was a joy to watch!
LionHeart Productions is comprised entirely of volunteers. From the board members to the set builders and costume designers, the musicians in the pit and the actors on the stage, all of it is done simply because of the love of theater and wanting to share it with our community. The people on stage and behind the scenes work at your local schools, churches and banks. You might see them in line at the local grocery store or supporting their own children at sporting events. In a small community like Grant and all over Newaygo County, we are so incredibly lucky to have such phenomenal entertainment provided by LionHeart Productions. Countless hours are put into shows like this behind the scenes and I want to personally thank you for putting in the time, effort and sacrifices to bring shows like Mama Mia to us!
Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing show!
Show dates and times: November 9 at 7:30pm, 10 at 2:00, 15 at 7:30pm, & 16 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for Seniors (60+) and students. Groups of 10+ receive the 10th ticket free.
Get your tickets online at Grant Fine Arts Center
Tickets are also available in person or via phone at the Fine Arts Center Box Office. Hours are 3-6 pm Monday through Friday during the weeks of the performances, and one hour prior to performance. The Box Office can be contacted directly at (231) 834-5630.
The NCCA-Artsplace Winter Community Photography Contest is an event that anyone can enter and showcases the season as we turn toward the winter months. Entry deadline is Tuesday, December 10 by 5:30 p.m.
This free contest is for all ages and all levels of skill. All entries will have “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!” as the theme. Participants may submit up to two entries. Each entry must be an 8”x10” unframed photograph.
All entries will be on display December 13 through December 30 in the corridor gallery at NCCA-Artsplace. First, second and third place ribbons will be awarded on December 13 at 5:30 p.m. just prior to Fremont’s Holiday Parade.
Registration forms for the competition are available at NCCA-Artsplace, 13 East Main Street, downtown Fremont or call 231.924.4022. The guidelines and forms may also be printed from www.ncca-artsplace.org or click here!
Story and photos by Mike Gesler
The moment I stepped into the auditorium of St. Cecilia Music Center and saw the orchestra exposed, I thought, “This is going to be fun.” Last night I had the opportunity to attend the final dress performance of Opera Grand Rapids production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado.” This is Gilbert and Sullivan’s ninth operatic collaboration, and arguably one of their most popular and beloved operas.
The story is a two act comedy set in the town of Titipu where a handsome, yet poor, minstrel with a secret past named Nanki-Poo comes seeking Yum-Yum, a schoolgirl his heart pines for. Unfortunately, he learns from the haughty Poo-Bah, a nobleman who holds all the official town’s posts that Yum-Yum is to marry Ko-Ko, her ward, the next day. Ko-Ko however, who is a prisoner, in a twist of fate, is made the town’s Lord High Executioner. The town reasons that in order to thwart the decrees of the Mikado and stop the beheadings, since Ko-Ko was next to be executed, if Ko-Ko is the Lord High Executioner then he cannot cut off his own head. However, the Mikado has learned that the executions have stopped in Titipu, and orders that an execution take place within a month or the town will be reduced to a village. A distraught Nanki-Poo and an anxious Ko-Ko come up with a scheme that will allow both Nanki-Poo and Ko-Ko to marry Yum-Yum and save Titipu from being reduced to a village. It all seems like a perfect plan until Katisha arrives on the scene to claim Nanki-Poo as her husband. Now folks, that’s just the first act. If you want to know how the second act resolves this crazy mess, you’ll need to go and see for yourself.
It’s not too often that I watch a production and find myself so drawn into the cast that I completely forget about set design, lighting, choreography, costumes, and all those nuances that go into a production. But last night I was completely taken in by what appeared to be a cast that so genuinely enjoyed themselves and what they were doing that I almost completely overlooked everything else. Eve Summer, a rising star in stage direction, directed this amazing cast, and she does a brilliant job with the stage at St. Cecilia’s. From the moment Drake Dantzler (Nanki-Poo) stepped on stage, I was drawn into his infectious tenor voice and radiant smile. I found myself wishing that Nanki-Poo was my friend as there would never be a dull moment with Nanki-Poo around. Andrew Potter’s (Poo-Bah) towering presence and imposing bass voice is casting brilliance.
Now I’ll admit that Steven Condy (Ko-Ko) frustrated me at first, but it wasn’t for lack of talent. Condy is one very talented baritone. What frustrated me was that he reminded me of someone else and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it hit me. He reminded me of George Rose, and that really says a lot about Condy’s performance. But it was Grand Rapids native Rachel Mills (Yum-Yum) who stole my heart. I now have a new favorite Yum-Yum. I honestly believe that Gilbert and Sullivan had someone like Mills in mind when they composed and wrote “The Mikado.” Her comedic timing and sense of theatrical flair is spot on. Watching Mills, Dantzler, Potter, and Condy interact with each other was so refreshing and enjoyable. They took the fun I first anticipated, and brought it to levels of pure delight. Diane Schoff (Katisha) and Donald Hartmann (The Mikado) round out the cast, and are equally talented in their own right.
The set design is simple and minimal, but very effective. Images of London and English gardens are projected to help set the scene. The Edwardian period costuming is simply beautiful. The lighting design while not complex, is subtle lending to the mood of each scene. And the music is so wonderfully played by the orchestra. Conductor Ace Edeward’s passion for the music comes through with each note. All-in-all, this truly was a special production by Opera Grand Rapids that I for one am glad I didn’t miss, and sad that I can’t see one more time.
“The Mikado” is being presented this weekend at 7:30pm on both Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, at St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids. As near as I can tell, tickets are sold out for Friday’s performance, and only a few single seats are available for Saturday’s performance. Any questions regarding tickets can be made by calling the Opera Grand Rapids Box Office at 616.451.2741.
A few Halloween doings.
“Halloween is the only time people can become what they want to be without getting fired.-Sylvester Stallone
There is some serious Halloween celebrating going down in the county seat Thursday.
The Boomerang folks have helped organize a variety of events, and the library is to become haunted once again.
Get your face painted at the library starting at 3pm...maybe as part of your entry into the costume contest... the one beginning at 4:30 in the Rosenberg’s parking lot. Then there’s a sidewalk parade of the costumed kids from there to the library. From 5-7pm it’s Trunk of Treat time at the Rudert’s parking lot.
The talented troupe of the White Cloud Library are hosting their 2nd annual literary themed haunted house from 6:30-8pm.. They plan to incorporate stories from a childhood favorite, “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” into the experience so while this may be a bit scary for smaller children, but the library assures that “ there is an option to hold a ‘glowing talisman’ that when used, scary characters will not jump out at you.
I gotta admit I’ve not had great experiences at these things. A particular one visited years ago still brings tears to the eyes of my Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil who describes my yell as “Pretty much like the scream of a pre teen girl at an early Justin Bieber concert”, a story she loves to tell when able to stop laughing long enough to tell it.
Yup. Yours truly will be looking to get one of those talismen.
Then of course there is the Haunted Museum in downtown Newaygo (5-8pm) Here we have a couple dozen creative peeps channelling their macabre side to bring a healthy dose of terror to the citizenry who enter their doors.
And thankfully there are two tracks. One for those who enjoy engaging in scary endeavors and even relish the experience (LSC Lil) and another for those of us who have a reputation for being a little, uh, skittish at such things.
It’s free but donations are encouraged and listen, this type of thing goes for around $15 and up at other places so pony up a couple bucks and you’ll feel good, they’ll feel good, and the museum is haunted on this night so we want it to feel good as well.
Not enough Halloweening? Already gone through the kids’ candy for the reeses cups and twix? Ready to celebrate your own holiday without manning the door for trick or treaters, traipsing about in the rain and cold that always seems to accompany the day, or being trapped in a haunted museum or library?
Well Friday is the day for you.
River Stop Saloon in Newaygo is having a bit of a shindig with a costume contest that nets a cool Franklin to the winner, half a C for 2nd and $25 in goods for 3rd. Food and drink specials are on the agenda as well as some live music. The costume winners will be announced at midnight so don’t peak too early.
Reminder You can arrive anytime but don’t arrive the day before in costume because that will likely be a little weird despite it being Halloween.
Although I once knew a guy who used to on random occasions wear one of his many costumes to a bar.. He always claimed his Gumby outfit was best for meeting women though the Lone Ranger also fared well.
Got other Halloween doings? Add them to our comments.
Do you find yourself diving into a duet performance when one of your favorite Seger songs comes on the car radio? When you mention Alicia Keyes to Alexa and the song selected channels your inner R&B artistry do you bust out the pipes for some soulful synchronicity?
Or perhaps you solo in the shower with a litany of favored hits that echo resoundingly off the walls of the room.
You, my friend, need to join the Newaygo Community Choir.
Every year a group of citizens whose vocal abilities span a wide range, gather together to rehearse a set of songs to be performed at their annual Christmas concert.
The cast has some enduring characters who have long been involved but each year they welcome in new folks to the mix and from all reports thus far it appears to be time well spent and a boatload of fun.
Besides singing in a choir reduces stress, increases sociability, and according to research can help with things like blood pressure, heart rate and even snoring.
How you ask? How do I join this eclectic collective choir?
Show up. Tuesdays at 6:30pm
Rehearsals begin next week so there’s time to mark it off your schedule.
Here’s the skinny on the whole deal courtesy of our good friend Barbara Boss.
The River Country Community Choir will soon begin rehearsals for our Community Christmas concert! This choir and concert has been a tradition for Newaygo Country for over thirty years! Anyone who enjoys singing—especially with a choir of nearly fifty voices—is welcome to be part of the 2019 choir! Rehearsals begin on Tuesday November 5 at 6:30 pm. We will rehearse every Tuesday through December 3 from 6:30-8:30 at Family of God Community Church, 90 Quarterline, Newaygo. The Annual Christmas Concert, held at the Grant Fine Arts Center, will be on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 at 6:00 pm.
If you have questions, please email Barb Boss at email@example.com.
Come sing with us!
Che Apalache will perform at the Dogwood Center on Thursday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box. Combining instrumental prowess with tight vocal harmonies, they curate an authentic blend of genres to reflect the nature of their lives, evoking images from Appalachia to the Andes. Their most recent album, "Rearrange My Heart", is produced by banjo legend Béla Fleck.
The four-man string band is based in Buenos Aires with members from Argentina, Mexico and the United States. The group’s founder is Joe Troop (fiddle), a North Carolinian multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and composer who moved to Argentina in 2010. While patiently carving out a niche in the local music scene, Joe taught bluegrass and old-time for a living. That’s how he met Pau Barjau (banjo), Franco Martino (guitar) and Martin Bobrik (mandolin), his most dedicated students. They quickly became picking buddies and in 2013 decided to hit the stage.
They began as a bluegrass band, but eventually incorporated Latin American styles into their repertoire. They affectionately titled their debut album “Latingrass”, a testament to a powerful cultural and musical exchange. The band has been featured on NPR's "Weekend Edition" and have performed at the Kennedy Center.
Tickets are $15.00 for this Black Box performance and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
Local tunes, karaoke, TV and a smidge of theater
Friday night is the Halloween Shindig at NC Sportsmans Club with a costume contest starting at 730pm. We include this because we now there are costume enthusiasts among you who are always looking for an opportunity to alter your identity and channel some serious imagination.
Besides there’s Karaoke as well.
Doors open 530pm and if you come as a clown you are not our friend.
The RStop Saloon in downtown Newaygo promises “You’ve never experienced a show like this” whan Emma Loo & Sam take to the stage starting at 8pm. We know nothing about this but who can resist a come on like that?
Adam Labeaux is taking to the stage at Newaygo Brewing Co. for their Acoustic Lunch Noon to 4pm Saturday.
Yay Community Theater!
Stage Door Players in White Cloud presents ‘Anne Frank and Me’ Friday and Saturday starting at 7pm. Downtown in the Cloud.
The cool thing about community theater is the whole community thing. The chance to see folks you know giving it their all on stage.
And Mama Mia is about to descend on the Grant Fine Arts Center. The LionHeart musicals have yet to disappoint so grab your tickets while you can.
TV Notes: If you haven’t been a fan of “This is Us” the compelling and well written series that has delivered shows ranging from really good to incredible you either haven’t taken the time to watch it or feel confused because you didn’t see it from the start or prefer your TV time to be occupied by the standard crime, hospital, law firm etc. dramas that churn out formula driven scripts that always seem to substitute long meaningful looks for dialogue.
It’s in season 4 but I’m speaking to the folks who have already entered the world of binge watching and are well acquainted with the advantages of On Demand.
Pay attention if you will to the writing because it is some of the most well crafted work I have witnessed on the tube since the days of West Wing.
And Netflix releases season two of The Kaminsky Method Friday featuring Michael Douglas and the incomparable Alan Arkin. You’re either going to like this or not. If you’re around say, 50-55 years old you will likely find it entertaining.
It will be hilarious.
Got some inside knowlege about things happening in the area like live music, fun events, and such? Send us a little info about it and we'll pass it on to our readers at the next Around The Town-N3.
Halloween Night On Monster Island: A Local Author’s Book
It’s that time of year where people subject themselves to creepy, scary, frightening haunted houses and terrifying movies. While some prefer to go the route of pumpkins and beautiful fall decor, there is no denying the gory and petrifying scenes are most popular!
Clark Roberts, a resident of Newaygo County, authored a book titled Halloween Night on Monster Island. In this holiday themed book, a group of kids tour a Halloween theme park, and things turn terrifying quickly.
The story is aimed at 3rd through 8th grade students, but in reality, older students and adults alike would enjoy this spooky tale.
Roberts answered some questions for N3 about his book and the experience of writing and publishing the story.
You can purchase the book at this Amazon link: Halloween Night On Monster Island
What is the publisher of your story?
Junior Deadman's Tome
How much does the book cost?
$9.99 for the paperback
$2.99 on kindle
Free if you have the kindle unlimited membership
How long did it take you to complete?
Each night I committed to writing 1,000 words. After the first draft I did 3 major revisions and then edited my final manuscript to send off to publishers. All in all, it took roughly two months from start to finish.
What inspired the theme of this book?
The first year my daughter participated in Halloween she wore a Gecko costume (Gecko is a character from the cartoon P.J. Masks). Even after Halloween had long passed she enjoyed dressing up in that costume from time to time. This led to me writing a horror short story about a family whose daughter turned into her Halloween costume ( a Komodo Dragon in that story). Eventually an offer was made for me to write a kid's book, and I thought the idea of kids turning into their costumes could be a really fun concept to explore. The idea needed a bit more for an actual book (a slim one), so I coupled it with an amusement park being shut down to the public for a group of cousins to enjoy on Halloween. I remember loathing waiting in line for rides when I was younger, and I think a lot of kids fantasize about having an entire theme park for their very own amusement.
Take the readers through a bit of your process as a writer.
I've learned, at least for me, the most important thing to do is to finish the story! Sometimes a story just naturally flows and comes together as easily as a dream; however, other times it's like I'm trying to turn the wrong key in the wrong keyhole. For me, it's very important to just finish the first draft. Some of my stories are ready to be published after one or two quick revisions. Others are lacking that little something and will sit for months before a decent idea strikes me seemingly out of the blue, and then I can work on the revision.
There is also great debate amongst writers about whether one should outline or just wing-it. My rough outline is almost always done in my head. Rarely do I start writing fiction with the answer of how to conclude the story. Even as the writer, I thoroughly get a jolt when I "discover" the ending to a story I'm writing. Being a very small-time freelance writer I don't have hard deadlines to meet. If I had deadlines, it's more than likely I'd draw up outlines and for the most part stick to them.
What made you decide to donate a portion of the proceeds to Newaygo and Coleman basketball? (In the first few months of his sales, Roberts, who is also an educator, donated to his favorite basketball teams.)
I enjoy sports. I enjoy watching sports, I've enjoyed coaching, and certainly I enjoyed participating in sports during my high school athletic career. The Newaygo and Coleman basketball programs are important to me. I played ball at Coleman and have some very fond memories of games, coaches, teammates, and just general competition. At Newaygo I coached in the basketball program at the middle school level and am truly thankful for that experience. I follow and root for both schools' basketball programs.
Who are your favorite authors?
Gary Paulsen (only when I'm wrinkled and can't remember my own name will the experience of Hatchet fade from memory), Stephen King, and Peter Straub.
Do you have any plans for future books?
Yes. If everything goes well with Halloween Night on Monster Island I have the idea for at least one follow-up novella if not two. I'll also continue to write short stories from time to time and send them out to get published.
What advice can you give to local writers who are looking to get published?
If you haven't already, learn to accept rejection. What I consider my best short story was rejected by over 30 magazines and/or anthologies. At least half of those publishers responded by emailing me the story ranged from very well-done to even great, but it didn't "fit" what they publish and therefore was being rejected. Eventually it landed, and I am very pleased with the anthology in which that story appears. So, if you do send something out and it gets rejected by a couple publishers, don't necessarily give up on it. If the editor is kind enough to offer advice that is a very good sign. In my experience, editors don't offer advice unless they think a story is at least solid, but keep in mind the story is still your creation and you don't have to follow their advice. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
If writing is something you really want to do, don't quit. Obviously you need income, so that means a job or a career or whatever, but if you truly enjoy writing then get after it with your free-time. Mr. Stephen King suggests writing basically every... single... day. Well, I don't love writing as much as Stephen King. Writing is a very passionate HOBBY for me, and I'm absolutely comfortable with it remaining a hobby.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
In some capacity, yes.
What is one memory you have from the whole process that you look back on fondly?
Earlier I stated a significant portion of the inspiration for Halloween Night on Monster Island was my daughter's first trick-or-treat experience. That's the best memory. Could it be anything else? No.
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