Anything Goes at Marquette Theatre

April 7, 2017
Anything Goes

Kristi, Erin, and I just got back from seeing Anything Goes at the Helfaer Theatre on the Marquette University campus. Normally, I would wait until the morning and then post something on Facebook or Twitter letting all of my friends know how much I enjoyed the show and reminding them to get tickets if they can. Instead, I decided that this message can’t wait. Tonight, I saw one of the best shows that I’ve seen in quite a while. And that is saying something because I’ve been very impressed with the whole season at MU this year.

Over the years, I’ve seen Anything Goes no less than four times. The first being at the Helfaer Theatre in 1985 (the last time MU performed this show) when my college roommate, Wally Schmidt, played one of the sailors in the show. I have to say that, without a doubt, I enjoyed tonight’s performance more than any of the others. The music was well performed, the set was clean and functional, and the costumes were just short of phenomenal. But it was cast and their acting, singing, and dancing that impressed me the most.

With A.J. being a junior at Marquette, I’ve seen many of this show’s performers in other productions and I am always impressed with how they practice their craft. All of the principals in this production are so very good and I could name something amazing about each of them, but I won’t. It is obvious that the actress playing Reno, Aileen O’Carroll, has put in a lot of work preparing for this role. She was a joy to watch. Also fun was watching the chemistry between Billy and Hope (Nick Parrott and Lindsay Webster). They really clicked. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the comic antics of A.J. Magoon as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh stole the show for me. I may be slightly biased but he was perfect for that role. The last two that I will call out for their comic genius were Michael Nicholas and Caroline Norton as Moonface and his sidekick/girlfriend, Bonnie. The two of them never dropped their NY accents and were a delight to watch even when they weren’t the focus of the scene.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to see this extraordinary show. There are two more performances this weekend, Saturday night and Sunday matinee. And then they take a week off for Easter and have five more performances, April 19th through the 23rd. I’ve already got tickets to see it at least one more time. Go! Get your tickets! You won’t be sorry.


Rumors at Imagination Theatre

November 9, 2016
Rumors at Imagination Theatre

For those of you that don’t know, I’m going to be performing in Rumors with Imagination Theatre in Germantown very soon. In fact, the show opens on Friday. Yikes!

This is an extremely funny farce with an excellent cast… and, of course, ME! Come on out and let us tickle your funny bone. After this long and contentious political season, this will be the perfect thing to ease you back into normalcy.

Here are the details:
Imagination Theatre present Neil Simon’s Rumors.

The show runs November 11 to 20, 2016. Evening performances are on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00pm. Matinee performances are on Sunday afternoons at 3:00pm.

The location is the Lutheran Church of the Living Christ, W156N10660 Pilgrim Rd, Germantown, (About halfway between Donges Bay Rd and Mequon Rd)

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students.

Here is the cast list:

  • Chris Gorman: Jackie Benka
  • Ken Gorman: Kurt Magoon
  • Claire Ganz: Niko King
  • Eric Salter: Lenny Ganz
  • Cheri Cusack: Jeannette Paules
  • Cookie: Nicole Martin
  • Glenn Cooper: Todd Sabin
  • Cassie Cooper: Nicole Gross
  • Officer Welch: Matt Brown
  • Officer Pudney: Laura Powell

And here is the amazing crew:

  • Director: Heidi Salter
  • Stage Manager: Laura Powell
  • Light/Sound Designer: Mike Van Dreser
  • Costume Designer: Darcy Devens

Thank You!

June 3, 2016
Contemplative Rosie
Contemplative Rosie

I would like to thank all of our friends and family for your amazing support of Erin as she gets ready to compete in the NHD National Contest at the University of Maryland in a little over a week. Your words of encouragement and financial contributions have been an absolute blessing. Early on, we contacted several local and national organizations to ask for assistance and so far Erin has benefited from the generosity of the the Waukesha Elks and the American Rosie The Riveter Association. Additionally, she received a grant from the Hamilton Education Foundation (a charitable body associated with our school district) to pay for her registration fees.

On top of all that, I have been truly amazed by the support shown by everyone through Erin’s GoFundMe page. It is wonderful how small amounts from many people can make quite a difference. We are so happy that nearly two-thirds of Erin’s travel, food, registration, and lodging costs are taken care of by your kindness.

Thanks again to everyone! We are looking forward to an amazing experience at the University of Maryland and in Washington, DC soon.

Memorial Day 2016

May 30, 2016

“With courage and a love of country that knows no limits, America’s men and women in uniform exemplify patriotism at its core — stepping into harm’s way to protect our people and to safeguard the ideals that have long sustained our democracy. Those who serve under the stars and stripes embody the highest form of citizenship, and on Memorial Day, we pay solemn tribute to those brave Americans who laid down their lives to defend our freedom.”

“Those who gave their last full measure of devotion for the values that bind us as one people deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. In recognizing those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we pledge to never stop working to fulfill our obligations to all members of our Armed Forces so they know we stand beside them every step of the way — not just when we need them, but also when they need us.”

“Today, and every day, let us remember the servicemen and women we have lost, and let us honor them by rededicating ourselves to strengthening our Nation’s promise. With love, grace, and reflection, let us honor our fallen fellow Americans, known and unknown, who sacrificed their freedom to ensure our own.” -excerpts from the White House Presidential Proclamation — Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2016

Dramagoon Central Gets a New Roof

May 17, 2016
Roofing - End of Day One
Roofing – End of Day One

When we purchased our lovely home more than 18 years ago, the home inspector said that the roof looked good but would probably need to be replaced in about 5 years or so. Those five years came and went. And then, a few years ago, we called a contractor for an estimate and and while inspecting the roof he noticed that we were severely lacking in attic insulation but the roof actually still looked pretty good. So, of course, we tackled the attic insulation instead. This winter, we noticed a little discoloration on the ceiling near the chimney. So, after a great many years, the shingles are getting replaced. And with them, we are getting rid of the odd cupola/weather-vane that never worked and the rooftop antenna that we haven’t needed for over 10 years. Hurrah for home improvements.

Erin’s Trifecta – Part 3

May 5, 2016
Erin's State Solo/Ensemble Score
Erin’s State Solo/Ensemble Score

This is the third and final of three posts that discuss what we have begun to refer to as Erin’s State-Level Honors Trifecta. The first two posts can be found here and here. The final event in this trifecta was the Solo/Ensemble State Festival at UW-Milwaukee on April 30th. Erin participated in two events for Solo/Ensemble this year. She performed a Euphonium Solo, “Bride of the Waves,” and a Euphonium Duet with her band-mate Tommy. Tommy and Erin have been playing low brass together since sixth grade and have always wanted to play a duet together. It was their “Bucket List” duet.

Both pieces were Class A and if played well enough would qualify for participating in the state festival. At the district Solo/Ensemble festival at Brown Deer High School in mid-March both performances received *1 ratings, which advanced them to state. At the state festival, Tommy and Erin played the duet well enough to earn a rating of 1; the high rating available for an ensemble. Erin’s Euphonium Solo garnered a rating of 1-N. State judges have an opportunity to nominate soloists whose performance is truly exceptional for the Exemplary Soloist Award. Those soloists get a rating of 1-N and at the end of the day of the judge chooses a single nominated individual from their room to receive the award. Last year, Erin also got a 1-N score but did not get selected for the award. This year however, Erin not only got the nomination but also received the Exemplary Soloist Award for her amazing performance.

As you can see, this is quite the trifecta; fourth place at State Forensics, national finalist at State NHD, and Exemplary Soloist Award at State Solo/Ensemble. Erin’s hard work and dedication all year long has definitely paid off in the end. I am so very proud of all that this young lady has accomplished and look forward to many more amazing things in the future.

Erin’s Trifecta – Part 2

May 4, 2016
Rosie at State NHD 2016
Rosie at State NHD 2016

This is the second of three posts that will discuss what we have begun to refer to as Erin’s State-Level Honors Trifecta. The second event in this trifecta was the National History Day (NHD) in Wisconsin state event at UW-Madison. For those that have never heard of NHD, it would be best described as a science fair for history. Students compete in one of five different areas: Exhibit, Paper, Documentary, Website, or Performance. In all of areas except Paper, a student can compete either as an individual or in a group. In Erin’s case, she competes in the Individual Performance category.

Erin's Medals from NHD 2016
Erin’s Medals from NHD 2016

To provide a little background, Erin first got involved in NHD back in eighth grade when her social studies teacher had the entire class create NHD projects as an assignment. They also had to compete for the opportunity to advance to the regional competition. Erin and many of her classmates competed at regionals and she was lucky enough to be the only person from her school to qualify to compete at the state event that year. She even won the state “Women in History” award for the junior division. And that just happened to be three years ago today.

Erin at State NHD 2016
Erin at State NHD 2016

Due to the great enjoyment she got from that competition, Erin endeavored to compete in NHD when she got to high school. Unfortunately, the regional competition dates conflicted with scheduled forensics tournaments and solo/ensemble for band and she was unable to compete in both her freshman and sophomore years. Undaunted, last spring she found a way to arrange her schedule in order to compete this year. She began to research possible topics over the summer and once school started she developed her individual performance, “We Can Do It: Women’s Exploration of Work During and After WWII.” A performance that chronicles the lives of three “Rosie the Riveter” type women from the WWII era.

On March 5th, Erin competed at the regional competition at UW-Milwaukee and qualified to advance to the state event. She even won a regional “American Labor History” award as her topic discusses women workers. At the state event on April 23rd, 2016, she performed early in the morning and found out that she had done well enough to advance to the final round in the afternoon. At the awards ceremony that evening, it was announced that Erin would be one of two young women representing Wisconsin in the Senior Individual Performance category at the national competition at the University of Maryland in mid-June. Additionally, she won a state “American Labor History” award as well. Erin was the only competitor there that both qualified for nationals and won a special award. You can see her proudly wearing both medals above.

Needless to say, we are all very excited about the upcoming trip to our nation’s capitol (University of Maryland is just outside Washington, DC). And I am extremely proud of all the hard work that Erin has put into this project. It is amazing.

Erin’s Trifecta – Part 1

May 3, 2016
2016 Forensics Trophies
2016 Forensics Trophies

Erin has been having an amazing junior year in high school when it comes to extra-curricular activities. This and the next two posts will discuss what we have begun to refer to as Erin’s State-Level Honors Trifecta. The first event in this trifecta was the Wisconsin State Forensics Tournament at UW-Whitewater on April 2nd, 2016. As you will recall from my previous post, Erin and her partner Samantha have been participating in the Duo Interpretation category this season and presenting “The Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris. Throughout the season, they placed in the top three at four separate tournaments and Erin placed an additional two times when she double entered with her Four Minute Speaking piece on “Rosie The Riveter.” What an incredibly awesome season.

Erin and Samantha at State Forensics
Erin and Samantha at State Forensics

The way that the state forensics tournament works is that you present your piece three separate times to three separate judges. If you do well enough, you advance to semi-finals where you perform once in front of three judges. From the semi-finals, they choose six presentations to advance to the finals and perform in front of five judges. Most people involved in forensics will tell you that advancing to finals at the state competition is the ultimate goal. All six of the competitors at that point are so good that they are all truly winners.

Both Erin and Samantha had advanced to semi-finals in different categories twice each in previous appearances at the state tournament. And both had not been able to break into finals in those events. This year, however, things were different. Erin and Samantha finally made it to finals and placed fourth overall in the Duo Interpretation category. As you can see by the picture above, they were very excited.

As an interesting side note and strange coincidence, three years earlier, during his junior year, Erin’s brother, A.J., also performed “The Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris. He performed in the Solo Humorous category. And he also placed fourth overall in his category at the state tournament using that same piece. How peculiar.

Mid-Season Forensics Update 2016

February 29, 2016
2016 Forensic Trophies

Just about a year ago, I posted an update about Erin and how she had been performing on the Forensics team. I was bursting with pride because Erin had “placed” in her first four tournament of the Forensics season and had four trophies to prove it. With four tournaments completed again this year, I am again pleased to announce that Erin doing a fantastic job. By looking at the attached picture, you notice that there are five trophies that have been earned this year.

Having competed in the Four Minute Speaking category for two years in a row, Erin decided to try something new this season. She joined forces with Samantha Moore, a senior and captain of the Forensics team, to participate in the Duo Interpretation category. The ladies are presenting “The Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris and so far have placed first twice, second once, and third once. Much like Erin did last year, they have placed in every single tournament so far.

At the encouragement of her coach, Erin has also decided to double enter at those tournaments that allow doubling and has prepared a Four Minute Speaking piece on “Rosie The Riveter.” In the two tournaments that she competed in that category, she has placed third once. Thus, breaking her personal record by placing five times in four tournaments.

Words can’t express how proud I am of Erin and Samantha. They have put a lot of hard work into both of their performances and it has really paid off. And I crossing my fingers and sending them good vibes for continued success for the rest of the season.

To Kill A Mockingbird at Marquette University

November 13, 2015

On Thursday night, My Dad and I went to opening night of To Kill A Mockingbird at the Helfaer Theatre at Marquette University. And as I have come to expect, the cast and crew did a fantastic job putting this show together. To illustrate just how well they told this iconic story, as the lights came up at intermission, my Dad mentioned to me that it had felt like the show had started just five minutes earlier when, in fact, an entire hour had passed.

The entire cast of twenty-five performers did such an amazing job that it will be difficult to single out only a couple of the truly remarkable performances. That being said, I was very impressed by the student actors that played the children: Jem, Scout, and Dill. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be nearly twenty years old and believably play a role half your age without it becoming a caricature.

I was simply awed by Madeleine Farley, the young women playing the role of Scout. The physicality and mannerisms that she brought to the part reminded me so much of my kids when they were that age. As always, I need to add a disclaimer that my son, A.J., is a sophomore in the MU theatre program. In fact, he plays the role of Jem Finch in this show and I couldn’t be prouder of his performance. And the last of the children, Dill Harris, was well-performed by Amelia Strahan. Her child role was further complicated by also having to believably play the opposite sex as well.

While I would love to go into detail about the portrayals of Atticus Finch by Micheal Cienfuegos-Baca, Heck Tate by Ben Braun, Calpurnia by Zandra Starks, and Rev. Sykes by Terry Lee Watkins, I fear that this post would get way too long. Suffice it to say that they were spot on. I will, however, mention two more truly wonderful performances. Mackenzie Possage and Annie Kefalas played Miss Maudie and Miss Stephanie respectively. These two characters really act as the narrators of the story. These two could not have been better cast and I really enjoyed the way they helped to keep the audience informed about what was going on.

Finally, I hope that you can see in the attached photos just how amazing the set, costumes, lighting, and sound were. They really took this show to the next level. There are still two shows left this weekend and another five shows next week starting on Wednesday. Please go and support these fantastic student actors. You won’t be sorry that you went.