The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Aug. 17, 2018

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation will be holding an information event that will kick off its building campaign for the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

The kick-off event will be held Monday, August 13, beginning at 6:30 p.m., in the Saltzgaber Music Hall of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served, compliments of Willow Bend Country Club, Van Wert City Schools, and the Van Wert Band Parents Association.

The public is invited to attend this kick-off event to learn about the planned addition to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. RSVP is requested by calling the box office at 419.238.6722. Respond by Thursday, August 9.

Shown is a design for the proposed addition to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. artwork provided

The kick-off event will include a newly designed 3D virtual walk-through of the new addition, which will include two star dressing rooms with private bathrooms, a laundry area, a production office, a wigs and wardrobe/multi-purpose room, a janitor’s closet, a storage room for tour cases, and drama construction area. NPAC Executive Director Paul Hoverman will also explain the need and motivation for this annex and how the public can get involved in this campaign.

Special guests will also be on hand to perform and talk about how the annex will benefit performers, the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, guests, and students of the schools. All funds for the annex will be raised by the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation, a non-profit corporation in charge of operations at the Niswonger PAC.

The State of Ohio has granted a $200,000 facility grant to the Van Wert Area Performing Art Foundation to help facilitate this annex. Additionally, the VWAPAF has raised an additional $170,000 to date for the project, which is expected to cost a total of $980,000 when completed. Naming rights are available and recognition of donations $1,000 and above will be recognized in the Grand Lobby.

The Niswonger Performing Arts Center opened in March 2007 and has become one of the leading performing arts centers in the Midwest. To learn more and experience the excitement of the project, RSVP the box office by August 9.

POSTED: 08/04/18 at 7:20 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Off Stage Productions will be holding auditions for Farce of Habit,by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten, on Wednesday and Thursday, August 15-16. Auditions will be held at Vantage Career Center, 818 N. Franklin St. in Van Wert, from 7-8 p.m. both days. Those auditioning should enter at Door 7. Best parking is straight in on the north driveway (the driveway farthest away from Van Wert). Auditions are open to adults of all ages, and no prior acting experience is required to try out.

The play’s story is as follows: Comic fireworks explode in Farce of Habit, an absurdly funny Southern-fried romp that takes us back to the Reel ’Em Inn, the finest little fishing lodge in the Ozarks. The proprietor, D. Gene Wilburn, is looking forward to a peaceful weekend on the lake, but there are only two chances of that happening: slim and none.

Why, for example, has his wife, Wanelle, picked these three days to white-knuckle her way through caffeine withdrawal? Why is his son Ty’s marriage to Jenna falling apart so fast? Could it have something to do with the French can-can costume Ty is wearing? How on earth would D. Gene’s feisty sister, Maxie, allow herself to get caught up in such a bizarre undercover police assignment?

And that’s just his family.

If this isn’t enough to thwart D. Gene’s weekend plans, he’s got a gaggle of nuns who’ve converged on the Inn hell-bent on experiencing a nature retreat — which might be tolerable if D. Gene didn’t have a chronic fear of anything in a habit. Add to this the presence of Jock McNair, a nationally known relationship guru whose colossal ego threatens everyone’s sanity, a shy retiree anxious to cut loose and embrace his “inner caveman”, and a couple of wild women who may or may not be who they claim to be.

Throw in the storm of the century that’s fast bearing down on Mayhew, Arkansas, and D. Gene has no prayer of baiting a hook any time soon. Oh, and did we mention there’s an axe murderer on the loose?

For those who enjoy gloriously preposterous hilarity, laughing through the take-no-prisoners lunacy of a Jones Hope Wooten comedy is one habit they’ll never want to break.

Matt Kroll, who will be directing this comedy, is looking to cast four men and five women of various ages. Performance dates will be October 19-21 and 26-28 (also at Vantage). Scripts are available to check out prior to auditions; call or text 773.793.4456 if interested, or for additional information.

POSTED: 08/03/18 at 6:38 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

The Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio has released an upcoming season that will “Ignite Your Life with Star Powered Entertainment”.

Select Series Sales begin at noon Thursday, July 12. As part of Select Series Sales, ticket buyers can bundle three or more events, receive a discount of 10-15 percent, and get tickets in advance. Bundling three to five events receives a 10 percent discount off the ticket price, while selecting six or more events earns a 15 percent discount.

The Grand Series of 22 events is available now for a 20 percent discount. Individual event tickets release for sale approximately 60-90 days prior to the event date. Purchasing in bundles provides advanced purchase before the release date. Advanced purchasing keeps patrons from being sold out from a desired show. Customized Select Series are on sale online at NPACVW.ORG or through the Box Office (in person or by phone) at 419.238.6722.

The Niswonger is located at 10700 Ohio 118 on the south edge of Van Wert. For more information visit the NPAC website at

POSTED: 07/10/18 at 7:47 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

This past Saturday at Willow Bend Country Club, the Van Wert Civic Theatre officially wrapped up the 2017-18 season with its Annual Banquet and Awards.

Updates on the various theatre projects were also given, including an invitation to attend the youth production of Madagascar Jr. set to run June 21-24 and to audition on June 24 and 25 for The True Story of Hey Diddle Diddle, also a youth production to be produced in late July. Elected to three-year terms on the Board of Trustees were Keith Allen, Lisa Eichler, and Amy McConn.

Shown are the cast and crew of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, the Van Wert Civic Theatre’s top production of the 2017-18 season. VWCT photo

The Board of Trustees honored Eichler with the Trustee Award, the highest honor VWCT bestows on a member. Production of the year went to The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Each show has an option to give a Company Choice Award. The director or cast and crew give these awards. The director determines how the choice is made. The award can be given for any contribution to the production that was meaningful.

Company Choice awards were presented to Daileas Duclo for Gypsy, Joe Maurer for It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Stan Lippi for Deathtrap, Mary Ann Falk for The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and to Alexis Gossett and Trent Gossett for Love, Sex, and the IRS.

The most exciting part of the evening is always the awards presentations. Each year, VWCT invites three adjudicators attend each production. The adjudicators determine awards to be presented for various aspects of each production.

Gypsy, which ran in September 2017, won awards for Merit in Costuming to Ruth Ann Boley and Kristy Bidlack; Excellence in Ensemble to The Strippers: Amy Boley, Stacy Rife, and Megan Ryan; Excellence in Direction to Jerry Zimmerman; Outstanding in Musical Performance to Mary Ann Falk; and Outstanding in Acting to Mary Ann Falk.

The cast and crew of the holiday production of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Playgarnered the following awards: Merit in Set Design to Chad Kraner; Merit in Acting to Daniel Sanderson; and Merit in Sound Effects to Travis Nihiser and Whitney Nihiser. The thriller Deathtrap, which ran in January, was honored with Merit in Sound Design to Burdette Bolenbaugh; Excellence in Set Design to Chad Kraner and Matt Krol; and Excellence in Acting to Amy McConn.


POSTED: 06/09/18 at 7:46 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment

KARI GALL/for the independent

Sometimes I walk into a show knowing everything about it, hoping it’s as good as I envision in my mind. Other times I don’t know a stitch about the show except the title. This is one of those shows.

I recently attended a play put on by Van Wert Civic Theatre called Love, Sex, and the IRS, written by William Van Zandt and Jane Milmore. I know what you’re thinking: “What do love and sex have to do with taxes and the IRS?” Well, let me set the tone for you. Jon and Leslie (both males) are struggling musicians sharing an apartment in Manhattan. To save money, Jon comes up with the brainy scheme of filing his taxes on his own, and files his claim as “married.” To Leslie. Jon and Leslie get audited, and in the midst of evading the taxman, the men end up on a whirlwind adventure of mistaken identity, cross dressing, and drunken hijinks.

Cast members of Van Wert Civic Theatre’s current play, Love, Sex, & the IRS, shown here include Jan Miller (seated) and (standing, from the left) Stan Lippi, Steve Lane, and Audra Mohler.VWCT photo

A farce like this takes a skilled director and a cast that can swing a punch and hold back the giggles. And that they do. Director Randy Wieging has assembled an energetic cast. Doug Grooms seems to effortlessly portray the part of Jon Trachtman, whose brainy scheme got them into this mess in the first place. Full of energy and always on top of his cue, Doug nails the part of Jon, making you wonder if he must always be thinking “a plan so crazy, it just might work!”

And who can’t forget the other half of this duo: Steve Lane, who plays the part of Leslie Arthur. Steve is no novice to the theatre. You can’t help but get the sensation that Leslie is a real person, not a character in a play. Steve allows his character to completely engulf him, cold cream face mask, feather boa, and all.

Amy McConn and Jan Miller play the parts of Kate Dennis (Jon’s fiancée) and Vivian Trachtman (Jon’s mother), respectively. These two ladies are all over the stage in bouts of flourishing, and sometimes physical, comedy. These women are great counterparts to the leading men on stage and definitely hold their own. Kudos to both.

We must not leave out Mr. Taxman himself, Floyd Spinner. Mr. Spinner is hilariously played by Chad Kraner. Try to picture a grown-up version of Stuart from “Saturday Night Live”. Chad had me laughing out loud through the entire show with his zany one-liners and outlandish physical comedy, never missing a beat. Whether groping Ms. McConn, being caressed by the feet of Ms. Miller, or fighting off suspecting Jehovah Witnesses at the front door, Mr. Kraner was at the top of his game. Well done!


POSTED: 05/07/18 at 7:47 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

Five dancers from Kim Hohman’s DanceWorks were selected to perform in the Ballet Theatre of Toledo’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The dancers are Sayler Wise, Rilee Conrad, Olivia Treece, Conner Baldauf, and Kaden Hohman. The performances were held at the Valentine Theatre in downtown Toledo November 24-26. The show will also be held at the Sandusky State Theatre on Saturday, December 2. photo submitted

POSTED: 11/27/17 at 8:20 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Wassenberg Art Center in Van Wert will be accepting entries for its 40th annual Wassenberg Art Center Photography Exhibit. Amateur, professional, and youth photographers are encouraged to submit their work for this photography tradition. This is a juried exhibit, so entry does not guarantee exhibition, while the show includes $1,300 in total cash prizes. Entry deadline is midnight Thursday, September 14.

Those interested in submitting entries may download the prospectus, which contains complete rules, entry forms, and instructions, by visiting: Those entering must pay a non-refundable fee of $25 for Wassenberg Art Center members, $30 for non-members, or $15 for photographers under 18. The fee entitles artists to enter up to 12 images. Those seeking to enter may also receive a prospectus via email at or by calling 419.238.6837.

The exhibit will open Friday, October 6, with an opening party from 6-9 p.m. Ezra Miller and Josh Liebhauser of Bryan will perform on acoustic guitar and cello. Free appetizers and a cash bar will be provided. The exhibit will be on view through October 27.

For more information on classes, exhibits, and events, call Wassenberg Art Center at 419.238.6837, email, or go to its website at

POSTED: 08/31/17 at 7:18 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Summer vacation is drawing to a close, kids and parents are preparing for school to resume, and the Van Wert Civic Theatre is kicking off its annual membership drive.

Enthusiastic volunteers met recently to gather information and have begun the daunting task of contacting former season ticket holders, as well as recruiting prospective members, in an effort to invite folks to be a part of this year’s season at VWCT.

Though the theatre has been in existence for 58 years, it remains a hidden gem in the heart of Van Wert producing award-winning shows and entertaining audiences year after year. This season’s lineup includes the hit musical Gypsy, which has been cast and is set to open September 21.

VWCT’s Christmas offering, It’s a Wonderful Life, promises to bring hope and joy to the holiday season.  The theater group will warm up the winter blues with a haunting thriller, Death Trap, in January followed by a knee slapping feel good musical, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, in March. The season ends with a farcical comedy, Love, Sex and the IRS, in May.

The mission at VWCT is to provide quality live theatre at affordable prices. Cost for a musical is $15 and all other shows are just $13. In today’s world, area residents won’t find a better bargain for live theatre … unless they purchase a season membership. The total cost of one ticket per show for the season is $69 if purchased at the door. The total cost of one coupon per show using a season membership is $50 — a savings of $19.

And it gets better. VWCT coupons can be used in any combination, so season ticket holders can choose to use all five coupons for one show.

Those who have purchased a membership in the last two years should already have received information in the mail. If a brochure didn’t arrive, it’s been misplaced, or people want more information, give Jan Miller a call at 419.204.7246.

POSTED: 08/16/17 at 7:06 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Due to an overwhelmingly positive response to the return of The Texas Tenors to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio, tickets for the performance on Saturday, December 9, at 7:30 p.m., presented by Okuley Unverferth Dentistry and Roger and Kay Okuley, are sold out.

Because of the demand for tickets, the Niswonger is adding an additional matinee performance for The Texas Tenors that same day at 3 p.m. Because of this addition, tickets for The Texas Tenors will release ahead of schedule, starting at noon today.

The Texas Tenors perform during their 2015 concert at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. VW independent file photo

A truly unique vocal trio, The Texas Tenors showcase diverse musical styles, from country and pop to classical. Their theatrical live show and record-setting response to now two PBS specials has garnered them an enthusiastic fan base.

Appearing again on the Niswonger stage after selling out in 2015 with a record breaking number of standing ovations, fans come from near and far to hear The Texas Tenors. These gents take popularity to an entirely new level. Turn up the holiday season heat with these smokin’ hot cowboys!

The Enrich Community Concert Series is presented by Unverferth Family Dentistry and Roger and Kay Okuley, and made complete with the supporting sponsorship of Taylor Auto Sales, State Farm Insurance agent Tisha Fast, Van Wert County Hospital, Central Insurance Companies, Eaton Corporation, First Financial Bancorp, and E&R Trailer.

Tickets to The Texas Tenors can be purchased through the Box Office, noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday at 419.238.6722, or online at NPACVW.ORG

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

POSTED: 08/10/17 at 6:49 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Off Stage Productions, a community theatre company providing quality and affordable dinner theatre, announces open auditions for its fall production The Queen of Bingo, a comedy written by Jeanne Michels and Phyllis Murphy. This full length play will be co-directed by Matt Kroll and Whitney Nihiser.

Open auditions are set for 7 p.m. Sunday, August 13, and Tuesday, August 15, in the St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church gymnasium, 611 Jennings Road in Van Wert (use the bell tower door when entering).

The cast requires a minimum of four adults (2-3 females, 1-2 males). No prior acting experience is necessary to audition. Scripts are available for review before auditions; call 419.238.9394 for details.

The show dates will be October 15, 20-22 22, and 27-28 at American Legion Post 178 in Van Wert, and a final performance on Sunday, October 29, at the Overdrive near Celina.

This play is an exploration of the world of sisterhood, weight issues, romance, winning, losing, and Bingo!  The sisters are very different individuals bound together by genetics, history, and love. Both a bit lonely at this stage in their lives, each has found a different balm.

Babe enjoys being the center of attention, but she also has a real issue about her size. She has a tendency to mood swings and her buttons are easily pushed. Sis is a quiet gal who enjoys involving herself in her activities and other people’s lives. And she knows just which buttons to push.

All of their best and worst qualities come out on this one night at church Bingo. They both need a change in their lives and routine — and tonight just might be their lucky night!


POSTED: 08/08/17 at 7:44 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News