"Freaky Friday is Fantastic!"
Review By Megan Wirts
Freaky Friday opened last weekend to a crowd of excited family members, friends and theater lovers last weekend at the Grant Fine Arts Center. If you missed it there will be three more shows this weekend: March 3rd at 7:00pm and March 4th at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. So don’t you worry, you too can experience the magic created on the beautiful stage at Grant Public Schools.
Freaky Friday is a familiar favorite. Originally a novel written by Mary Rodgers and adapted to the screen several times spanning many generations. Director Lukas Sweers said that the reason that this story has lasted so many years is because, “The relationship struggles between parents and children have not changed. What this story has always aimed to do is highlight the nuanced frustration that each generation faced and because of this generational divide, every audience member should be able to identify with someone on stage.” With his strong direction the students on this stage shine!
Speaking of the characters, the show is led by the magnificent Alaina Keelean and Deidre Kennedy. Both seniors at Grant High School, and their last high school musical, you don’t want to miss seeing them both completely wow the audience every night! It has been a joy to watch them grow and become the incredible actresses and vocalists they are now. Their futures are bright! Playing mother and daughter that switch bodies due to a magical hourglass, they had the crowd in tears from laughter from their comedic timing and their tender moments with each other and their family. Ellie just wants her mom to understand her and Katherine just wants her daughter to be her best self and they are not communicating well. Through this transformation they are allowed to spend a day in each other's literal shoes and come to an understanding that neither of them are perfect and both feel pressure in their lives and they truly love each other. Alaina plays Ellie, the teenage daughter of Katherine, played by Deidre. Their acting chops and vocal abilities blew me away and I felt like a proud mama sitting in the audience watching in awe. I could listen to both of them sing all day long and I would never tire of it. I loved the bluesy “Bring My Baby (Brother) Home”, their vocal acrobats and power was impressive. You will tear up while Deidre tenderly sings “After All of This and Everything” and will be feeling the power when Alaina busts out “No More Fear”. Bravo!
You can’t have a high school musical without a love interest. Bobby Johnson plays Ellie’s crush, Adam and “list master” of an extravagant scavenger hunt happening on the night of Katherine’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Bobby is not a stranger to the stage and they were an awesome addition to this cast. They played the cool heat throb Adam excellently and I loved them during “Women and Sandwiches”. I especially loved their entrances, you must see this show to know what I am talking about, but you will love it too. Then there is Gabe Malone, who plays Mike, Katherine’s doting fiancee. Gabe has the voice of an angel and his solo song “Vows'' will have you saying “wow” and giggling a little.
The cast was filled with familiar faces like the incredibly talented Gracey Koogler as Torrey who is a vocal powerhouse and absolute joy to watch, and Julia Simon as Savannah, who played the best mean girl. Just so you know, Julia is very sweet in real life. There are also many new faces, like the talented 8th grader Padrick Metz as Fletcher, Ellie’s puppet loving little brother, who brings some comedy and sweetness to the show. The large ensemble numbers like “Oh Biology” and “Watch Your Back” (Lead by the impressive Emerson Mayra as the gym teacher Ms. Meyers) were so much fun to watch with fun dance numbers and lots of laughs! Everyone on that stage was an integral part in making this show a success.
Not only do the kids you see on stage work hard, but those in the back are working just as hard. They keep the show running, build the sets, keep the lights on, play beautiful music and allow us to hear the actors on stage. Without the crew and the pit, a show could not happen. Congratulations to all of you on your efforts behind the scenes!
It is such a joy to see these students finding themselves through theater. I have seen shy young kids completely transform into confident young adults on that stage. The theater is a wonderful place to learn teamwork and form lifelong friendships. Thank you so much to people like Lukas Sweers and Philip DeYoung (Our new GHS Band Director who directed the pit.), for showing these students that if you work hard, you can have incredible results.
I hope that you will find the time to support this incredible group of hard working students and get tickets to see this show! You can find them at https://grantfac.booktix.com/ or they can be purchased at the box office an hour before show time. Performances are at the Grant Fine Arts Center on March 3 at 7:00pm, March 4 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $10 for adults.
The Grand Rapids Symphony returns to the Dogwood Center on Thursday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. for a sure to be incredible performance! Join us and you will experience a world-class orchestra performing for you live at the Dogwood!
The evening's performance will be conducted by assistant conductor Duo Shen, and will feature the music of Offenbach, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Marquez.
The Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. The Grand Rapids Symphony presents more than 400 performances each year, touching the lives of some 200,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. Their mission is “to share great music that moves the human soul”…..and that is what they will be doing right here in Newaygo County!
This program is funded in part by the Fremont Area Community Foundation. Tickets are $17.50 for adults, $5 children 18 and under and seating is reserved. Tickets are available online at www.dogwoodcenter.com, at the Dogwood Box Office, or at NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or make it easy and click here!
The Dogwood Center Box Office is open Tuesday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. For information, phone 231.924.8885.
Foster, by Claire Keegan
Less a review than an admiring tribute
By Ken DeLaat
I’m a sporadic reader at best. Part of this has to do with my selection of time set aside to curl up with a book. Late-night-in-bed-about-to-fall-asleep has become my primary reading time these days and this time slot is not conducive to making much ground toward book completion.
Editor Mercer occasionally reviews some of the mountain of novels she is able to consume despite a rather rigorous schedule. Last month when she wrote an article rating the 27 (yes, 27!) books she paged out on over the past year I felt personally humbled to say the least.
Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil is able to devour books at an impressive rate as well. On the rare occasion we share a book there is never a question as to who reads it first since if she waited for me she could have seen not just the movie but perhaps even a sequel or two before getting her hands on it.
My reading tends to go in spurts. On our recent vaca last August I tore through several books and vowing to continue this oft forgotten recreational pursuit when we got home I kept the momentum going for a while eventually settling back into the chapter at a time pre-sleep ritual. It’s ok. can accept these limitations. I merely need to realize most books will turn into a marathon rather than a sprint or even a middle distance run.
Then just before Christmas I read a review of a book that sounded intriguing. My interests tend to be something with a bit of mystery to them. A unique plot or perhaps something a bit offbeat. I love Elmore Leonard’s characters, enjoy the plot twists of Alex Michaelides, and read the entire alphabet series of the late Sue Grafton (ending unfortunately in Y). This one looked different. The review I heard was on NPR and the reviewer Heller McAlpin is a favorite of mine. She is able to capture the essence of her reads in an articulate manner and I find her to be impeccably honest about the content as well as her thoughts on the quality of the prose.
The book is Foster, by Claire Keegan and though published in her home country of Ireland in 2010 (where it is part of the school curriculum there) the hardcover version only arrived here last fall.
When I searched it out I found it was just 96 pages. A perfect kick start for a short spurt reader like myself to get back into regular reading mode. I would likely burn through it in a day or two and move on to something more ambitious in terms of length
It wasn’t the way it worked out. From the first few paragraphs I realized this wasn’t a book to whip through. Ms. Keegan is perhaps the finest wordsmith I have ever encountered. Her sentences are like little gems. Thus far I have read it 4 times and each time something more is revealed such as one of her nuanced phrases that captures so much in so little. And that is what she does. She compresses a great deal in a small package, a primary challenge to any writer.
Prior to this read I had not heard of Ms. Keegan. She primarily pens short stories and for whatever reason I don't often visit those genres. However my current goal is to get my hands on as much of her work as possible. She is a true artist of the written word.
Axe And You Shall Receive
Axe Throwing Arrives In White Cloud
Story by Ken DeLaat
The closest I have ever come to Axe Throwing may have been tossing lawn darts (aka Jarts) back when they were legal. Or maybe it was darts in a favorite tavern on occasion back when I was young, single and spending an inordinate amount of time in such establishments.
But I was admittedly intrigued when River Country Chamber’s Rachel Porter let me know about a ribbon cutting ceremony to be held at Aximum Effort, a new business opening in the downtown of our county seat featuring, you guessed it, Axe Throwing.
Shoni and Makiiya Jodway were looking for a way to raise funds to support the Youth Center they opened in their downtown White Cloud storefront just over a year ago.
“We have received a lot of generous support for the Youth Center from many places but when it comes to fundraising we’re not good at just going out and asking for money, “ said Makiiya.
Always up for something new and fun they decided to give ax throwing a try. They checked out a couple of locations around the state, found it to be a good time and decided to bring a similar venue to their hometown.
And on Valentine’s Day after much planning and preparation the Jodway’s opened the doors and greeted a couple dozen well wishers from the area who came to help celebrate the opening.
Hosting a few private parties prior to the Grand Opening allowed the Jodways a few trial runs and it proved to be not only a fun way to spend time with friends but also a team building exercise for groups.
Since I arrived early I was given the opportunity to try out the sport. After Shoni deftly tossed one into the target he delivered a few tips and I gave it a go. With my past experience involving Jarts and darts it would be great to tell you how well I did. How I sank the tip of the axe into the wooden frame directly dead center of the target with an accuracy that would remind onlookers of Conan the Barbarian
But truth be told, it was not to be and I failed to rise to the occasion. I gave it 4 or 5 goes and not one time did my axe achieve the intended result. Being slightly more than mildly competitive with myself I was willing to press on but the time for the ribbon cutting drew near and I yielded my weapon with a promise to myself that there would be a return trip.
Aximum Effect looks to be an outstanding addition to our areas ‘things to do’ list. We love the name, the art of throwing an axe is one that Shoni assures me will come with practice, you can do this as a group venture and while they do not serve drinks it is a BYOB facility so friends can enjoy adult beverages while channeling their inner Viking or if you are a LOTR fan maybe your inner dwarf.
Want more info? Care to reserve one or more of their three lanes?
Here’s the skinny
And for younger readers, google “Ed Ames Teaches Johnny Carson How To Throw A Tomahawk” and watch the youtube video.
If you are like me it will be impossible to not think of it when axe throwing is the subject.
A Capella Excellence
“Another Round” Concert at the Dogwood Center on February 25
You can expect a pitch perfect performance when Another Round, Indiana University's all-male a cappella group, performs on February 25 at the Dogwood Center! The group, whose performance will begin at 7:30 p.m., was originally known as Straight No Chaser back in 1996 when the group originated. An evening with the group will leave you with a tune in your head and a smile on your face.
A cappella singing has been incredibly popular thanks to movies like “Pitch Perfect”. Major movements in modern a cappella over the past century include Barbershop and doo wop. Some a cappella groups use their voices to emulate instruments; others are more traditional and focus on harmonizing.
Ten male students founded Straight No Chaser in 1996 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. In April 2006, a 1998 video recording of “The 12 Days of Christmas” was posted on YouTube. Straight No Chaser added humorous touches, and more than 16 million people tuned in. In April 2012, the collegiate group changed its name to Another Round, and the legacy continues.
The singers provide their audience with not only a wide variety of music but charming and funny personalities to enjoy.
Tickets are $17.50 and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com or just click here. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
Looking For A Unique V-Day Gift?
CBD Store of Michigan Now Carries Hemp Apparel
CBD Store of Michigan in Fremont now carries hemp apparel, hand bags, jewelry and more, announced Owner Rod Glupker, in addition to the 200 different CBD products already in the store. "We have shirts, skirts, dresses, hoodies and more," said Glupker. "You can find exactly what you need to express your unique style."
All apparel is made from high-quality hemp and comes in a variety of sizes and colors, with brands like Toad & Co., Henotic Hemp and more. Shopping at CBD Store of Michigan is hassle-free in the Fremont location or online, with quick, free shipping and easy returns.
"Hemp is an incredibly versatile, sustainable plant that has a variety of uses," said Glupker. "It can be used for textiles, paper, construction materials, food, fuel and more. Hemp is also an excellent source of nutrition and can be used as a powerful natural remedy for a range of ailments. Its sustainability makes it an ideal choice for those looking to reduce their environmental impact.
CBD Store of Michigan opened in 2018 selling CBD from hemp. With over 60 brands and 200 different CBD products, it is one of the largest CBD retailers in the country. Also available for wholesale.
From our friends at Camp Henry:
Camp Henry wants all children to have the opportunity to have a life changing experience along the shores of old Lake Kimball this summer. They have established a significant Scholarship Program for Day Camps and Overnight Camps, so that the cost of camp will not be a barrier that could prevent a child from having the chance to attend. A portion of the funding is available specifically for Newaygo County Residents. Camp Henry’s summer programs are for children ages 5-17.
Camp Henry awards over $120,000 in scholarship funding to over 225 children each summer. The Scholarship Program is made possible due to the generosity of the Fremont Area Community Foundation, the Gerber Foundation, as well as other supportive foundations and donors.
Camp Henry scholarships are awarded based on a sliding scale that considers a family’s annual income and the number of children in their household.
Camp Henry has had the privilege of serving campers, families, and guests since 1937. They believe that a camping experience at Camp Henry has the capacity to transform lives in many ways. With such a concentrated amount of time, a beautiful natural environment, intentional camp programs and activities, opportunities to try something new, and campers being surrounded by positive Christian role models - the combination is perfect for enhancing and positively changing the lives of campers and guests who go to Camp Henry.
For more information about Camp Henry or the Scholarship Program, please visit www.camphenry.org, or contact Leigha Oberle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 231.652.6472.
Engaging In Our Environment
Kropscott Farm Environmental Center Hosts Winter Social Event
Monday, February 20th, Kropscott Farm Environmental Center (KFEC) will host a community open house to celebrate winter from 1:00 pm until 4:00. Visitors will enjoy a winter hike, bonfire with s’mores and hot cocoa, and a lesson on identifying winter trees. This event is made possible through a generous donation from Magna Mirrors of Newaygo.
In the mid-1990s, Earle and Mildred Kropscott donated their 80 acre farm, six miles north of Fremont, to the Newaygo Conservation District. The Kropscott's wishes for this property were that it be used for educational and agricultural purposes, as well as scientific studies pertaining to the environment and our natural resources. In the late 90’s, funding was secured to construct learning labs and a dark-sky observatory named for former Fremont Earth and Space science teacher Stephen Wessling.
In addition to being the home of the Stephen Wessling Observatory, the Kropscott property also contains Kropscott Farm Environmental Center. As per Kropscott's wishes, environmental education coexists with agriculture here. Visitors will see ecologically responsible farming in action.
KFEC’s environmental education pairs community outreach with a variety of lessons targeting middle school students. Community outreach events have included sun viewing using special solar telescopes, hay rides, learning the science behind fall colors, ice cream making, and apple cider tasting.
According to Lucas Cotton, executive director of the Newaygo Conservation District, “The main thing we want to convey is our desire to help our community engage with their environment in a way that is real and meaningful to them. We hope that this would result in a more unified community that will share their thoughts and ideas with us and each other, leading to sustainably managed natural resources both in publicly shared spaces as well as their privately owned lands. How do we use our natural resources to meet current needs without jeopardizing their use by future generations? This is the question we hope to answer together.”
Dave Bennett Trio at the Dogwood on February 11
The Dave Bennett Trio will perform on the Dogwood Center Main Stage on Saturday, February 11 at 7:30 p.m.
The Trio will perform the music of Elvis, Jerry Lee, The Stray Cats, Robert Gordon, Eddie Cochran, and so many others. The performance features Bennett on electric guitar, piano, vocals and clarinet, with Kurt Krahnke on bass and Doug Cobb on drums.
Bennett is a multi-instrumentalist and singer who performs everything from jazz and swing to rock and roll. He has been a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops and has been featured with 35 other US and Canadian orchestras including Nashville, Detroit, Rochester, Omaha, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Orlando, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Portland, OR and Portland, ME.
Some of his annual appearances include The Elkhart Jazz Festival, The Suncoast Classic Jazz Festival, The Arizona Classic Jazz Festival, The Sacramento Hot Jazz Jubilee, The Clambake Music Festival, and The Redwood Coast Music Festival.
Tickets are $20 and are available online at www.dogwoodcenter.com, at the Dogwood Box Office, or at NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont or click here. The Dogwood Center Box Office is open Tuesday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
The NCCA-Artsplace Winter Community Photography Contest is a free annual contest for all ages and all levels of skill. The 2023 contest winners were selected by local photographer Ashley Folkema of Fremont.
The first place award was given to Preston Hunt for his photograph “Tahquamenon Falls”, Nan Pokerwinski received second place for the entry "Winter Wander" and Sarah Ames was awarded third place for “Glaxe”. Honorable mentions went to Laura Johnston for her photograph "Winter Frost" and Carrie Homrich for "Winter Thaw".
All entries will be on display through February 11 in the corridor gallery at NCCA-Artsplace, 13 East Main Street in downtown Fremont. Winter hours are Tuesday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
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