Friday, December 19, 2014

Oliver, Presented by the Troy Civic Theatre

The Troy Civic Theater's production of Oliver was a big hit with the area theater goers. Most performances were  sold out or close to sold out.

Not as many people are free to see a play on  Thursday evening but a less crowded theater is better for Tom who sits in his scooter.  Even on Thursday the theater was more than half full which I think is a good showing..

 The director was Barry Van Kirk.  This is the third year that he has directed the theater's holiday musical.

Unfortunately, my house is piled high with "stuff".  I can't find the playbill so I don't have a list of all the actors and actresses.  As the next best thing, I cropped portions out of the two cast photos that I took.  Here they are.  If you had a family member or friend in the play I hope you can find them.  If you were in the play I hope you can find yourself.

 First row on the left

The Artful Dodger did a great job.  This is the best photo of him.  You can see his top hat in his hand and his spikey hair behind the boy with the blue shirt and cap.  I am sorry I didn't get a better photo.

Best section of the younger cast members

This photo is better for showing some of the people in the second row.

The people on the bridge.

The cast meshed well.  Oliver had a very expressive face which conveyed inner feelings well.  I could have listened to the woman singing the part of Nan for an hour.  She has a lovely sweet voice.  Fagin clearly displayed his craftiness and his dedication to the life he had chosen.  Bill Sikes was  a powerful villain.

The set was interesting. Below is a portion of it.  The center section of the "brick" wall behind the tables folded back to display an impressive gate making another entry spot for actors and serving as a quick way to remove props as well.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Drama Workshop's Presentation of Putting It Together, Words and Music by Stephen Sondheim

 After the play, I wasn't sure how I felt about it.  All the songs were unfamiliar and there was very little plot.  But this is a play which is sticking with me the way a good book does.  I continue to remember bits and pieces that made me feel this is right, exactly the way life is, exactly the way people feel.  As I told Ray after the play, I would like to see this play again.  There is too much in it to be able to grasp it all the first time.

From left  to right...Robin Baker as The Husband, Bree Hunter Sprankle as The Younger Woman,  Stephen Cox as The Younger Man, Cynthia Mottel as The Wife, David L. Radtke as The Observer.

This play does not have the kind of plot that is usual in a traditional musical. It is a revue featuring Sondheim songs from various plays  The songs are loosely held together by the theme of a cocktail party held in the home of The Husband and The Wife.  The audience are guests along with The Younger Man and The Younger Woman.

The Observer, David L. Radtke, introduces the play, provides one or two word transitions as the evening progresses and also fills in as an extra who can be whatever the situation requires, even a household maid with a little white apron.  He gets his moment in the spotlight to dance as he sings "Buddy's Blues" from Follies.

What I noticed most about the songs in the revue was that they are purposeful.

Some are thought-provoking commentaries on life such as "The Road You Didn't Take" from Follies.  The Husband, (Robin Baker) in a pensive mood, sings this one.  The Husband and The Wife also sing an amusing true to life conversation about buying a "Country House" (from Follies).

Other songs are focused on attitudes."Rich and Happy" from Merrily We Roll Along sung by the entire cast comes to mind.

The Younger Woman, Bree Hunter Sprankle, sings a wonderful  blues song, "Sooner or Later".  It's   from the movie, Dick Tracy.  Her dancing as well as her singing shone in "Bang", also from Dick Tracy,  a number which includes the Younger Man and The Observer.

The Wife, Cynthia Mottel, amazed me, never missing a beat on songs with rapid fire lyrics on a variety of topics women can relate to. Housework, homemaking and everything associated with both are satired in the song, "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  "Ladies Who Lunch" from Company lampooned  things women do  when gathered together.

What I remember most about The Younger Man, Stephen Cox, is his pensive rendition of "Marry Me a Little" from (Company).  He and The Younger Woman, Bree Hunter Sprankle, sang a lovely duet, "Unworthy of Your Love" from Assassins.

"Putting It Together"  sung by the entire company, is  from the play, Sunday in the Park with George which uses the painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, as its inspiration.  Seurat was a noted pointillist who used small dabs of paint to create his works.  And the play is just that, putting together songs to create a completed work.

There are three more performances of this play, December 19,20, and 21, 2014.  For more information, contact The Drama Workshop.

The website address is

You can also call 513.598.8303.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Changes at Charleston Falls

For years this has been the view from the Charleston Falls overlook.

But in in early November I was surprised to find concrete footers with metal uprights behind caution tape.

For several years, I have been hearing rumors that the park administration was planning to rebuild the overlook.  You can see how close to the edge the old fence posts are.  Every year for twenty years the posts have been moving closer  to the edge...or, more scientifically, the rocky cliff has been eroding.

By mid November, posts had been attached to the metal uprights.  The cliff will be eroding a few  more years before the abyss  claims these posts.  Will they be here twenty years from now?

On December 1 I walked in late afternoon.  The workmen were back.  They were finishing up fitting metal fence sections between the posts.  The viewing area is also more enclosed because of added fence sections at both ends.

I took this photo from the bottom of the ravine.  For a day both barriers were saving viewers from a long fall with a rough landing.

The next day, the old fence posts had been sawed off and workers were installing a slanted board for visitors to lean their elbows on.  You can see that the rock is eroded quite far back.              

I hiked via stairs up to the top of the ravine where workers were finishing up.  One said they expected to be finished by the end of the day.

One more day.  One more hike at Charleston Falls with a stop at the overlook.  Here is the finished overlook, finished just in time.

The Park Christmas Open House is Saturday evening.  The trail to the falls will be lit by luminaries.  The falls will be lit by colored lights.  In a clearing in the small prairie beside the parking lot, visitors can warm themselves at a bonfire and sing songs accompanied by a guitarist.

If the visitors continue to walk they will come to a large tent set up beside the old farm house which now houses the Education Department.  Inside the tent there will be cookies, coffee, hot chocolate, crafts for the children to make and more singing accompanied by a keyboard player.  Inside the house will be tables holding John,(Spirit of Thunder) DeBoer's collection of native American flutes and Touch Tables with a variety of natural objects to feel.