Backstage Lake County: Romantic Fools

Ten years ago, local theatre couple John Tomlinson and Barbara Clark shared the stage “examining love, lust, dating, and romance” in the two-person comedy Romantic Fools by Rich Orloff. Now, a decade later and married to each other, they are re-examining these characters and taking us along for the ride.

Holiday Reading from The Bloom: A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Over the years, our family has enjoyed some Christmas reading. We’ve read through The Little Match Girl, The Elves and the Shoemaker, A Christmas Carol, Sherlock Holmes and The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle, and many other great stories. But one of our favorites is poet Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which we read every Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful story that shares Christmas memories from over one hundred years ago. If you’re looking for an enjoyable short read, here’s a link to a public domain version:

Lake County Music Guide – 12.20.22

The good news: it’s gonna be a pretty busy week in terms of holidays and observances, where Hannukkah started two days ago on Sunday, Winter Solstice happens on Wednesday, Christmas is on Sunday and the doubleheader of Kwanzaa and Boxing Day occurs on Monday. The bad news: because Christmas eve is on Saturday and Christmas Day is on Sunday, many places will be closed for these observances. But despite those days being sans live music, there’s at least one joint each day from Tuesday through Saturday to go out and get your live music fix. WOOHOO!!! Here’s the schedule, plus an updated NYE rundown for the week of 12/20 through 12/26.

Lake County Music Guide – 12.13.22

“Eenie weenie chili beanie, the spirits are about to speak!” Anybody out there remember where this famous quote came from? Here’s a hint… Boris Badenov referred to this dynamic duo as “Moose ‘n’ Squirrel.” Okay, times up! It’s a line from the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, which aired from 1959 through 1964. Like most kids, I would watch cartoons, but this was pretty much the only one I really liked because it was silly in a Three Stooges sort of way – full of puns, sarcasm, self-referential dialog, and other socially unacceptable wordplays, especially so for impressionable children like I was. I would watch the show with friends, laughing hysterically – but they didn’t really get it. I could relate to the patience and empathy of Rocket J Squirrel, marveled at the perseverance of Bullwinkle J Moose, who never stopped trying despite his constant failures, and sneered at the comic depiction of Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale, and Fearless Leader. This, to me, was cartooning at its comic best. Okay, maybe I’m entering into my second childhood, but I hope you don’t mind me including references to the show throughout this music schedule. Here’s the live music guide for the week of 12/13 through 12/19…

Backstage Lake County: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Last Spring I attended a Middletown Middle School performance of the Seussification of Romeo and Juliet directed by Joleen Jessen. I knew several of the students, and there were some hilarious standout performances.  It was very entertaining.  What struck me the most, however, was not the performances, but the stats that Jessen, the 7th-grade Language Arts and Drama teacher, gave out prior to the start of the show. Last year, out of 22 participants, 50% had all A’s (Principal’s List), over 50% had participated in both spring sports (softball or track) and the play, 9 had been chosen by their teachers as Students of the Quarter, 2 had Fs in English but by the time of the performance had brought their grades up to Bs, 2 created the Daily Bulletin for school every day, 100% had zero disciplinary incidents, 3 were bilingual, and 1 student had a major truancy problem and had completely turned that around by the time the play happened.  And, spoiler alert, this past quarter she was on the Honor Roll and has a big role in this play as well!  That is quite a testament to the power of the arts on learning outcomes.

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