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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jun. 23, 2017

VW independent/submitted information

The Ten Years of WOW 2016-2017 Season was one for the record books. What a privilege it was for the staff of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio to celebrate 10 years being part of Van Wert with all of the people who helped give the NPAC life and continue to make it great, season after season.

With the closing of the curtain after REO Speedwagon rocked the house, the NPAC bid a fond farewell to its 10th anniversary season and a hearty hello to Season 11.

NPAC Season 11 artwork 6-2017Just around the corner is the 2017-2018 Season 11 unveiling. At noon on Wednesday, June 14, the public is invited to visit the Niswonger to witness the big reveal of the shows featured in the  2017-2018 season, as well as a complimentary lunch for the first 200 attendees, courtesy of Collins Fine Foods.

Who’s coming for the power-packed Season 11? Gather some friends, visit the Niswonger Wednesday, June 14, and be the first to see. The Live adventure awaits. Go ahead, dive in, and make a splash!

The 2017-2018 Season 11 is sponsored by Statewide Ford Lincoln, Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, and Chuck and Karen Koch.

Ticket purchase dates for Season 11 will be announced at the unveiling, but the 2017-2018 Enrich Community Concert Series is on sale now! Tickets can be purchased at the NPAC Box Office from noon-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, by calling 419.238.6722, or online at NPACVW.ORG.

Corporate and individual memberships can also be purchased now to lock in advanced purchasing opportunities for the new Season 11.

The Niswonger Performing Arts Center is located at 10700 Ohio 118 on the south edge of Van Wert.

POSTED: 06/07/17 at 8:17 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

PERRY LUHN/for the VW independent

The Last Roundup of the Guacamole Queens is the third in a trilogy by a trilogy of authors. The first in the series is The Red Velvet Cake War. Second came Rex’s Exes. This last is sort of a last hurrah for three cousins who have poor luck with men, and not so much luck overall.

In Roundup, these three get a chance to create a great reunion party for their school, and possibly impress people who can make them wealthy.
I had a chance to see this performance on opening night. To the practiced eye, there were some major glitches in the first act, but those on stage found their way so quickly, that most of the audience never blinked. For the most part, the cast is so rich in experience, especially in comedy, that any glitch is simply a minor bump. I did enjoy watching them struggle briefly.

Uncle Aubrey (Burdette Bolenbaugh) certainly has a way with the ladies in Van Wert Civic Theatre's production of The Last Roundup of the Guacamole Queens. (photo submitted)

Uncle Aubrey (Burdette Bolenbaugh) certainly has a way with the ladies in Van Wert Civic Theatre’s production of The Last Roundup of the Guacamole Queens. (photo submitted)

The audience began laughing in the first moments and did not quit until the end. It’s what I expected. It was obvious that they came stoked to have fun. And the show is fun. It is certainly not about social issues, or political issues (thank goodness!) or even spiritual issues. It’s about telling a very loony story, in a hilarious way. And this cast certainly knew how to make that work.

To begin with, the director, Amber Evans, cast herself in one of the three larger women’s roles. By that I mean the roles were large, not the women. I don’t know if Amber was forced to do this, because she couldn’t cast this important part otherwise, or because she knew she was the best man, er, woman for the job.  Not relevant.

This actress knows how to kill every part she tries and this was no exception. Gaynelle Verdeen is an over-the-top character, and Evans gets over that top right quick. My favorite part of the show, and also my scariest, is when she is rolling all over the floor, a position she seems to assume in many shows. This is dangerous for someone with a bum knee, so I always worry for her. But, even so, I laughed myself silly.

There were so any other guffaw-laden moments, it’s hard to describe them all, but absolutely the guffawing-est character(s) were  Dewey Davenport and his little friend, Obediah. Steve Lane, master of all things comedic, had just the right mannerisms for both of these guys. His scenes with the cousins were a stitch!

A terrific romantic scene occurred later, when the not-so-bright sheriff, Grover Lout (Ed Eichler) discovers he has a huge thing for Jimmie Wyvett Verdeen (Lisa Eichler). Their “make-out” bit is both awkward and never-ending, but so delicious for the knowledge of these two actors’ offstage relationship. I thought I would fall off my seat when Jimmie keeps nuzzling Grover’s neck causing a distinct rise in his voice. His exit from that scene was a knockout.

I should mention the third of the cousins, Peaches Verdeen Belrose (Monica Campbell). Campbell is always natural and in charge of herself. She played the love-starved Peaches with an energy that made us root for her. When she was admiring her hot body, near the beginning of the story, the audience ate it up, and I was so tempted to let out a wolf whistle. The three women had chemistry and obvious experience to make the show a success.


POSTED: 05/10/17 at 8:13 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

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For 61 years, the Wassenberg Art Center has hosted the annual June Art Exhibit. Amateur and professional artists 18 years and older are encouraged to enter their artwork in various media for a chance to win cash awards and a venue in which to sell their work. Top prize is $400 or over.

This painting by Allen Hutten of Sylvania won the Charles F. Wassenberg Award during the 60th annual Wassenberg June Art Exhibit. (photo submitted

This painting by Allen Hutten of Sylvania won the Charles F. Wassenberg Award during the 60th annual Wassenberg June Art Exhibit. (photo submitted)

Artwork will be accepted for consideration on May 19- 21, from 1-5 p.m., at the Wassenberg Art Center in Van Wert.
To obtain an entry form, which contains complete rules and instructions, artists may call or visit the art center, email,  or click here  for a downloadable entry form. Entry fee is $30 for non-art center members and $25 for Wassenberg members.

A total of $1,300 in cash prizes will be awarded; sponsors include Van Wert Federal Savings Bank and Van Wert Manor.

The 61st annual June Art Exhibit opens at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 10, with an opening party. Live acoustic music will be provided by Zak Ward and Christopher Zielinski, both of Toledo. Free appetizers and a cash bar will be available. The exhibit will be on view through July 2.

For more information on classes, exhibits, and events, call Wassenberg Art Center at 419.238.6837, email at the above address, or access the art center’s website at

POSTED: 05/09/17 at 8:48 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

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The Van Wert Area Boychoir needs a new director due to its current director moving.

The Board of Directors is seeking someone that is already an accomplished musician and someone able to work with boys in grades 1-8. The director should also have energy and enthusiasm for musical performance, understand the developing young male voice, and be able to perform all the duties of the position as set forth by the board.

Current Van Wert Area Boychoir Director Lindsay Newlove directs the boychoir. (photo submitted)

Current Van Wert Area Boychoir Director Lindsay Newlove directs the boychoir. (photo submitted)

Those duties include assisting in selecting singers for the Boychoir; selecting and locating music; planning and conducting rehearsals; working with an accompanist, with parents, and the board; and also generating interest in the group throughout the community.

Rehearsals run for 90 minutes weekly from August through the December concert, and January through a May concert. A mini-camp is held each summer and no more than two sing-out community concerts are scheduled.

Repertoire includes songs such as “On This Still, Silent Night” by Laura Farnell; “God Bless Us, Every One” by Sally Albrecht/Jay Althouse; “Firefly” by Andy Beck; and “Hush! Somebody’s Callin’ My Name” arranged by Brazeal W. Dennard.

The position is paid per rehearsal and performance. For more information or to apply, contact Van Wert Area Boychoir board member Romaine Whetstone at 419.238.1962 or Larry Taylor at 419.513.0554.

POSTED: 03/31/17 at 7:34 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

DSO String Trio concert 3-26-17

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra String Trio entertained a small audience at First Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoon with a program of music from composers Josef Haydn, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Hungarian Erno Dohnanyi. Trio members Yoonshin Song on violin, Eric Nowlin on viola, and Wei Yu on cello, all principal players with the DSO, played Haydn’s Divertimento for String Trio in G Major No. 2, Beethoven’s String Trio in D. Major No. 2, and Dohnanyi’s Serenade for String Trio in D. Major, Opus 10. The concert was sponsored by The Van Wert County Foundation (click here for video from the concert). Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 03/27/17 at 7:10 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

A.J. KOCH/for the Van Wert independent

9 to 5: The Musical, what a terrific surprise to the theatre-going person unfamiliar with the movie. This performance is set in 1979 and goes back to the days of the “boys club” type of office setting, where men were the bosses and the “girls” were the workers. The movie even references a part of history with the liberation of more than just the female movement!

9 to 5 is about a trio of female office workers who take revenge on their “lying, hypocritical, sexist, bigot” boss. This talented cast of Mary Ann Falk, who plays widowed single mother Violet Newstead; Stacy Rife, who plays the divorced mousy housewife, Judy Bernly; and Victoria Recker, who plays the hated blond bombshell, Doralee Rhodes; pool their wits together to get back at their boss, Franklin Hart, played by Steve Lane.

Doralee (Victoria Recker) takes dictation from boss Franklin Hart (Steve Lane) during Van Wert Civic Theatre's production of 9 to 5: The Musical. Monica Campbell/for the VW independent

Doralee (Victoria Recker) takes dictation from boss Franklin Hart (Steve Lane) during Van Wert Civic Theatre’s production of 9 to 5: The Musical. Monica Campbell/for the VW independent

Lane plays the unlikable boss so convincingly the audience actually gasps at some of his statements about “the girls”. You know the acting is spectacular when the audience reacts in this manner. He also gives an outstanding performance in delivering his song, “Here for You” to an unsuspecting Doralee, the Dolly Parton lookalike.

The development of the main characters Doralee, Violet, and Judy is excellent. They start as co-workers and as Violet says to Judy, “we hate her”, referring to Doralee, the one accused of sleeping with the boss. The three friends finally unite over a “party” at Violet’s house and they fantasize how they’ll take revenge on their boss. Furthermore, they accidently take their fantasy revenge out on their boss in real life.

The vocal harmony of the three women is absolutely amazing: pay particular attention to the song “Shine Like the Sun”, it will have the audience sitting on the edge of its seat. Another highlight of the performance comes from Joe the Accountant, played by Chad Kraner, who is in love with the widowed Violet, but she won’t give him the time of day because he’s “in his thirties”. Joe sings an absolutely incredible love song to Violet.

Then there’s Roz, played by Kari Gall. We all have that one person at the office who grates on our very last nerve; well Kari does it and does it well and her rendition of “Heart to Hart” is exceptional. Keep an eye out for Margaret (Jan Miller): she is a cameo but commands the stage and the audience’s attention whenever she takes the stage.

The cast also includes Ed Eichler as Tinsworthy, Daniel Sanderson as Judy’s husband Dick, Shelby Merkle, Darcy Hitchcock, Lisa Eichler, Faith Maurer, Josh England, Daileas Duclo, and Cory Ream. This very talented cast gave everything with their singing and dancing and added superb support to the performance.


POSTED: 03/25/17 at 8:22 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

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Off Stage Productions Inc. concludes its 2016-2017 season and announces the cast for its upcoming dinner theatre show, Farce of Nature, a Jones Hope Wooten comedy. The two-act comical farce will be directed by Mandy Fifer, with plans for seven performances, opening on Saturday, April 22.  Additional show dates are Sunday April 23; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday April 28-30; and Friday and Saturday, May 5-6.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 12:30 p.m. for Sunday matinees at the Van Wert County Senior Center (220 Fox Road in Van Wert). A buffet style meal provided by Romer’s Catering will be served, starting at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 1 p.m. on Sundays, and the show will begin at 8 Friday and Saturday evenings, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Fifer, a first time director at Off Stage Productions, has also announced the cast for Farce of Nature. The cast of nine includes eight veteran performers, as well as a new actor, Jonathan Dennie, making his debut performance in community theatre with this production.

The cast is as follows: Jewell Kurtz (Wanella Wilburn), Dan Bulau (D. Gene Wilburn), Kelly Smith (Jenna Sealy), Terri Stevens (Maxie Wilburn Suggs), Matt Krol (Carmine DeLuca), Jonathan Dennie (Ty Wilburn), Mary Yackey (Lola Barbosa), Travis Nihiser (Sonny Barbosa), and Staci Kaufman (Roxanne Thorne).

Cast members for Farce of Nature include (seated, from the left) Kelly Smith, Jewell Kurtz, Dan Bulau, Staci Kaufman; (standing) Jonathan Dennie, Matt Krol, Terri Stevens, Travis Nihiser, Mary Yackey, and Director Mandy Fifer. (photo submitted)

Cast members for Farce of Nature include (seated, from the left) Kelly Smith, Jewell Kurtz, Dan Bulau, Staci Kaufman; (standing) Jonathan Dennie, Matt Krol, Terri Stevens, Travis Nihiser, Mary Yackey, and Director Mandy Fifer. (photo submitted)


POSTED: 03/13/17 at 7:14 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

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Van Wert High School Theatre is preparing for its upcoming production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid on April 6-8 at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

Music is by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, while the book was written by Doug Wright. Disney’s The Little Mermaid is based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and Disney film produced by Howard Ashman and John Musker and written and directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. This musical was originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

The audience will join Ariel, Prince Eric, King Triton, Sebastian, Flounder, Scuttle, and Ursula and many other recognizable characters as they discover life on land and under the sea are different, yet intriguing. Will Ariel get her voice back from Ursula and find true love? Bring the whole family as famous songs such as “Under the Sea” and “Part of Your World” will be featured.

Little Mermaid logo 2-2017The cast and crew for the production include the following students: Mikayla Hernandez, Michaella Johnson, Austin Carnahan, Cade Chiles, Noah Miller, Zach Blakeley, Marshall Healey, Austin Voors, Madison Buecker, Anna Reichert, Emma Verville, Julianna Vanbrabant, Aeris Blakeley, Cloey Spry, Korey Oechsle, Brady Place, Dante Jones, Gabe Steyer, Bradley Wilder, Storm Matthews, Jenna Covey, Gabby Bollenbacher, Alaina Arney, Alisha Terhark, Hannah Kraner, Natalie Riethman, Kaylin Bledsoe, Madison Turnwald, Hannah Springer, Kaylena Kelly, Alli Morrow, Makenzie Laney, Katie McVaigh, Rebekah Fast, and Katie Able. Joining the cast are 12 Van Wert Middle School students and nine Van Wert Elementary students.

The stage crew consists of stage manager Erin Richardson, assistant stage manager Erienne Cassidy, Alaina Alvarez, Lexi Allmandinger, Erin Gemmer, Camryn Nouza, Abbey Bradford, Zach Stevens, Sterling Rigdon, Wesley Wagner, Allison Hauter, and Kendall Rauch.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid is being directed by Melissa Bloomfield, assistant and choreographer Katey Gamble, technical director Hugh Saunier, lighting director Matt Saunier, set artist Sam Tindall, and costume manager Caitlin Walker. Show time for the production is 7 p.m. on April 6-8 at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

Parents of students in the cast and crew, along with VWHS Theatre patrons, can purchase tickets starting March 1. All tickets are $8 each. The general public will be able to purchase tickets starting March 8. Tickets may be purchased by stopping by or calling the NPAC box office at 419.238.6722. Tickets will also be sold at the door. Disney’s The Little Mermaid is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI (

POSTED: 02/18/17 at 8:28 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

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They’ve performed over the decades with favorite artists, now they will perform live at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

Releasing tickets at noon today is The Hit Men, as part of the 16-17 Community Concert Series presented by Unverferth Okuley Dentistry. The Hit Men will perform at the Niswonger at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 6.

The Hit Men

Tickets are available today for The Hit Men.

A group of amazing performers, superb musicians, superior vocalists, great arrangers, and creative composers, The Hit Men are hit makers of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s — including performing and recording members of superstar acts like Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Critters, and bandmates who played and performed with Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Cheap Trick, and more.

On the road touring as The Hit Men, this brotherhood of musicians — keyboardist and group founder Lee Shapiro, lead guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Ryan, keyboardist/percussionist/vocalist Russ Velazquez, and new members: bassist/vocalist Jeff Ganz and drummer/vocalist Steve Murphy — relive the magic they created on world stages and in recording studios years ago, bringing audiences a night of mega-hit, after mega-hit, after mega-hit.

Reliving the magic they created on stages around the world, and in recording studios with some of the greatest and most famous of the royalty of rock, when The Hit Men now take the stage, it’s easy to see why their music has transcended generations.

Now touring across the country, the group has performed at prestigious theatres such as Town Hall in New York City, the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, Florida, the Gallo Theatre in Modesto, California, and with symphony orchestras in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Birmingham, Alabama, and Des Moines, Iowa.

Get ready to rock down memory lane and back as The Hit Men share their love and passion for an era of music they themselves helped create. The stories they’ll tell are unbelievable!


POSTED: 02/08/17 at 12:01 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

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The Niswonger Performing Arts Center’s 2016-2017 Ten Years of WOW! Season reaches its halfway point, more and more events for 2017 are releasing — and just in time for Christmas. Thursday, December 15, at noon marks another release for one of the most unique events included in this season with Artrageous! This one of a kind, cross-over multimedia event, presented by TAG Menswear, comes to the Niswonger on Saturday, March 11, at 7:30 p.m., presented by TAG Menswear.


Tickets for Artrageous! on sale staring this Thursday at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. (photo submitted)

Artrageous is an event that engages the creative senses. Imagine an artist creating a masterpiece before your eyes in mere moments. With a palette that also mixes captivating vocals, intricate choreography and exciting audience interaction, Artrageous takes you on a unique visual journey packed with wild inspiration, creativity and fun. The Artrageous troupe of artists, musicians, singers and dancers pay tribute to a variety of art forms, pop icons and musical genres culminating in a gallery of fabulous finished paintings. The result? A one of a kind crossover experience. The signature of the Artrageous Troupe is interaction and engagement, so be prepared to be a part of the show!

Arts and music gone wild in the streets of Van Wert. Through a unique collaboration with The Wassenberg Art Center, Main Street Van Wert, TAG Menswear, and other Van Wert businesses, this day will bring additional activities that will color your world. Stay tuned for details of downtown exhibits and attractions, preshow dining options and more.

This wonderful mashup of media will be something completely new the Niswonger making it one of the can’t-miss events of the season. And don’t forget, tickets and NPAC gift cards make great Christmas gifts!

This event is made complete with the generous sponsorship support of Bee Gee Realty and 2016-2017 Season Sponsors Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, Statewide Ford-Lincoln, and Chuck and Karen Koch.

Tickets for Artrageous! will be available at noon Thursday, December 15, and can be purchased online at NPACVW.ORG or through the Box Office, from noon-4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 419.238.6722.

The Niswonger Performing Arts Center is located at 10700 Ohio 118 on the south edge of Van Wert.

POSTED: 12/13/16 at 8:57 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News