The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Dec. 17, 2018

PERRY LUHN/for the Van Wert independent

Perhaps the most famous of the many plays written by the playwright trio of Jones, Hope, and Wooten, is Dixie Swim Club. It has been produced nearly everywhere: A funny, sad, and serious story of women long past their glory years, “Dixie” has come to be the standard by which these writers are measured.

There are quite a few other hilarious shows penned by this trio that are making the rounds of the dinner theatre circuit, giving loads of stage vets lots of opportunities to participate in the laughs. I guess I didn’t realize this, but just last year, I, myself, got to participate, appearing in the romp entitled Christmas Belles. It was a blast.

In fact, every one of the JHW shows I have been able to attend has been a blast, not only for the cast, but for the audience as well. On Wednesday evening at Vantage Career Center in Van Wert, I was able to see Off Stage Productions’ presentation of Farce of Habit. This story, which is a little bit romance, a little bit thriller, and a lot comedy, is next in store for the patrons of the group, which always has ’em laughing right after dinner. The OSP crew always delivers on the laughs, and I was primed to go.

The story revolves around an inn that is run by a couple with their own problems, but who somehow manage to accumulate more woes. But, hey, it wouldn’t be funny if they solved their problems too soon, right? The couple’s son is, God forbid, an actor in community theatre, to the dismay of his wife, who is unaware of his hobby and thinks he is cheating on her.  

The inn owners, Wannelle and Gene Wilburn (Kelly Smith and John Vining), each have their own cross to bear. She can’t give up caffeine and he can’t stop scratching. Everywhere. The two actors are a match for each other in parts which must be over the top. Some of Kelly’s facial expressions are precious and tortuous at the same time. Mr. Vining’s scratching is appropriately annoying. He really wants to fish, not help his wife out with the inn tasks. These two must carry much of the first act and they make it work.

Son, Ty, the theatre nerd, is hilarious, not just because of the incredible costumes he carries off, but because of the deadpan expressions he can manifest when the others are making fun of his attire. A fun role for Jonathan Denny. He did a great job in the five-inch heels. Ty’s wife (or is she?), Jenna, is played with verve by Rachael Dettrow. She is going to make her hubby pay for his “indiscretion” and plays him like a fiddle. She gets her chance to play dress-up as well later on.

In fact, if I had to characterize this script, I would call it a “comedy costume piece”. It seems like everyone gets to try something outrageous on, and director Matthew Krol and his staff have found some pretty outrageous clothes. They were colorful, appropriate, and well-constructed. I was always wondering what kind of crazy thing would appear on stage next. 

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POSTED: 10/19/18 at 7:38 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Scott and Nikki Niswonger are presenting Dailey & Vincent at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert on Saturday, October 27, at 7:30 p.m. Get to know these Grand Ole Opry members and five-time Grammy Award winners.

More than 10 years ago, on December 29, 2007, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent had their first paid gig as a duo with a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. The duo became official Opry members last spring, capping a remarkable decade of building an award-winning career that now encompasses an eclectic mix of country, folk, gospel, and bluegrass music, along with television and comedy.

Dailey & Vincent will perform at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio later this month. photo provided

Dailey & Vincent occupy a unique space in popular music by forging a sound that honors their traditional music pedigrees, yet is edgy enough to appeal to more progressive audiences. That evolution has been both organic and a little calculated, borne out of trying to shake up their own routine.

“The first year or so we went out and did pretty much all traditional bluegrass and the second year we thought we had to come up with something different, so we went wireless with the vocal mics so we would walk around and sing,” Dailey told Rolling Stone Country over a plate of beans and cornbread before a Tuesday night performance on the Opry. “We were trying to make it more interesting.

“About two years later we hired a bass singer,” he continues. “When we did that, that got us into doing lots of variety — real gospel to quartet-style singing in both secular and gospel.”

Before they teamed up to become Dailey & Vincent, both men were already seasoned musicians with stellar reputations in the bluegrass and country communities. Dailey had spent nine years performing with legendary bluegrass outfit Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, while Vincent logged 11 years with Ricky Skaggs’ famed band Kentucky Thunder, as well as contributing to albums by Dolly Parton and others.

Vincent first met Dailey in 2001 at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards in Louisville, Kentucky.

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POSTED: 10/17/18 at 7:40 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Paul Hoverman, coordinator of performing arts for The Van Wert County Foundation and Chancel Choir director at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, has announced the rehearsal schedule for the Van Wert Area MessiahChorus.

Rehearsals will begin Sunday, November 4, from 3-5 p.m., in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church, 113 W. Central Ave. in Van Wert. All singers are welcome.

Local singers and professional soloists sing “The Hallelujah Chorus” from the last community performance of Handel’s Messiah two years ago. photo provided

The performance will be Sunday, December 9, at 7 p.m. Rehearsals will be each Sunday afternoon from 3-5 p.m. leading up to the performance. The performance is the Christmas (Advent: Part I) portion of Handel’s Messiah,along with a few added selections from other sections of the beloved choral work.

Music books are available if singers do not already own a copy (Schirmer edition). Those participating do not need to be skilled singers, just interested in being part of a well-rehearsed and inspiring chorus. Of course, experienced singers are always welcome.

This biennial performance of Handel’s Messiahis a Van Wert tradition supported by The Van Wert County Foundation, in cooperation with First United Methodist Church. Professional soloists and a chamber orchestra will combine with the volunteer chorus to provide this Christmas tradition for the public to enjoy.

POSTED: 10/17/18 at 7:33 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert Civic Theatre has announced upcoming auditions for the comedy Dashing Through the Snowby the writing team of Jones, Hope, and Wooten. Director Steve Lane will hold auditions on Sunday, October 7, at 2 p.m. and Monday, October 8, at 7 p.m. at the theatre, 118 S. Race St. in Van Wert.

The cast can be as large as 18 or as small as eight, with actors doubling parts. Lane promises this show will be fun to rehearse, fun to watch, and fun to perform.

Dashing Through the Snowtakes place four days before Christmas in the tiny town of Tinsel, Texas, as a colorful parade of guests arrive at the Snowflake Inn to cause holiday comedy. A niece and nephew try to end a 30-year feud; actors from a touring production of A Christmas Carolarrive to fulfill a promise; Mrs. Claus and one of Santa’s elves attempt a lover’s rendezvous: and a family plans a spur-of-the-moment Christmas Eve wedding. Trina, the innkeeper of this inn, has more than she can handle coping with these lodgers.

This show is split into four scenes. Each scene has its own characters and plot arc. Once that scene is over, those characters are gone — with the exception of Trina, the owner of the inn who is in every scene; Mr Boykin, a bed and breakfast reviewer who is heard over the intercom in the first three scenes; and Lou Ida, the surly housekeeper and cook who is heard offstage in the first two scenes.

Show dates are November 29 and 30 and December 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, with 8 p.m. performances, except for Sundays matinees, which are at 2 p.m.

Visit www.vwct.orgfor more information.

POSTED: 10/04/18 at 7:19 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Off Stage Productions is opening reservations starting today to members and this Wednesday, October 3, to the general public for its next dinner theatre show: Farce of Habit, a two-act comical farce written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten.

Performances will again be held at Vantage Career Center, 818 N. Franklin St. in Van Wert. Show dates are October 19-21, and 26-28. Saturday and Sunday performances will be dinner theatre shows. For Saturday performances, doors will open at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7, and the show at 8 that evening. For Sunday matinee performances, doors will open at 12:30 p.m., dinner at 1, and the show at 2 that afternoon. Cost for the dinner and show is $28.

Residents and guests of the “Reel ‘Em Inn” lodge (above) discover there is an axe murderer on the loose. Off Stage photo

Both Friday performances will be “Popcorn Night” performances and will not include dinner, although popcorn will be included with the cost of the show. Water and soft drinks will also be available for purchase. Doors open for Friday performances at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 7:30 each evening. Cost for the “Popcorn Night” performances is $13.

Reservations can be made by members by calling the Off Stage reservation number at 419.605.6708. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. All reservations must be secured by credit card, and any cancellations must be made by the Wednesday prior to show date for a full refund.

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.

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POSTED: 10/01/18 at 7:40 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

P.S. LUHN/special to the VW independent

I remember the first time someone told me about a new musical by a guy named Dan Goggin that essentially has Catholic nuns singing and dancing. I had some flip remark like “who wants to watch a bunch of penguins singing and dancing on stage?” After I saw the show, I was singing and dancing a different tune. The show was unique, cutting edge, and extremely entertaining.

This was many years ago, and this “genre” has been so successful that many spinoffs have been penned by this musical wizard, all wonderfully entertaining. I haven’t seen them all, but I know they’re still being done everywhere.

So, when Van Wert Civic Theatre put this one on their schedule, I wasn’t even worried what the story line was. I just knew these “penguins” were going to knock me out. And when I saw the list of actresses directors Amy Boley and Jerry Zimmerman had lined up to populate this cast, I was nearly salivating with anticipation. Many of the crazy characters I’ve seen and acted with are the very best you can find anywhere around. When I wrote my pre-review I ended it with “Can’t wait!”.

I took some friends from the Lima area to see the show. They had not seen many musicals at VWCT and I admit I pumped them up a bit about the kind of talent they would witness in this production. The reality did not disappoint, as my companions were highly impressed and complimented the cast again and again.

The story line of this musical goes like this:  The Convent of the Little Sisters of Hoboken is putting on a benefit to raise funds. Due to a tragic cooking accident, 52 of the sisters were poisoned by some improperly cooked vichyssoise. The sisters buried their dead. All but four, that is, which they have stored in the freezer, until they can raise the funds to properly inter their … sisters.

So the idea is, the convent is staging a “revue” showing off the talents of its residents. Now, I don’t always care for revues, but Goggin, and directors Boley and Zimmerman, never let me believe I was watching a musical revue. Just a bunch of habits having fun.

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POSTED: 09/27/18 at 8:17 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert High School Theatre Department has announced its 2018-2019 season.

The fall play will be a production of Little Women, from the classic book by Louisa May Alcott, which will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 16-17, at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

Rehearsals will begin this month, and students are looking forward to sharing the Alcott story, which continues to capture the hearts of readers.

The book was originally written in 1868 by Alcott, and this play version adapted by Scott Davidson allows the audience to meet the March sisters as they grow up and walk through life’s experiences. Little Women is a heart-warming play. Tickets are $6 and will be available from cast and crew members, the NPAC Box Office, and at the door. Little Women is produced with special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service Inc. of Englewood, Colorado.

On April 11-13, 2019, the VWHS Theatre Department will present Seussical, the Musical, starting at 7 p.m. on the Niswonger stage.

Auditions will be held in December and students will begin rehearsals in January for this toe-tapping musical based on the stories of Dr. Seuss.

The audience will meet famous Dr. Seuss characters, such as the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, and Cindy Lou Who and visit locations such as the Jungle of Nool and Whoville. Bring the family to watch the musical adventures of characters brought to life by Dr. Seuss in his many books.

Tickets go on sale in early March for a show people won’t want to miss. Reserved and general admission seating will be available.

Seussical the Musical is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also provided by MTI (www.mtishows.com).

VWHS theatre students are looking forward to seeing area residents at the fall and spring productions, as they create, perform, and inspire the Van Wert community through the theatrical arts.

POSTED: 09/20/18 at 7:56 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Paul Hoverman, the only executive director the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio (NPAC) has had in its 12 years of existence, has announced his pending retirement.

Paul Hoverman

Hoverman, who is also coordinator for performing arts for The Van Wert County Foundation — a job the foundation created specifically for him — took over that position in March 2002. He then developed the Fountain Park Summer Music Series, which provides free concerts in the park, the following summer. Hoverman was also responsible for overseeing the growth of the Van Wert County Community Concert Association (now known as the Enrich Community Concert Series at the NPAC), which eventually outgrew its original home at the Marsh Foundation Auditorium.

Hoverman also served on the Legacy Committee to raise funds for building the Niswonger and helped establish the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation Board of Directors in 2005 to oversee operation of the NPAC. He has served as president of the VWAPAF Board since its inception and was also appointed executive director of the Niswonger, which opened in March 2007.

Hoverman said he plans to retire upon the completion of the 2018-19 NPAC season.

“We applaud the achievements of Paul Hoverman,” said Foundation Executive Secretary Seth Baker. “His role has been more than just a career. He has made it his life purpose to recruit and provide quality musical opportunities for the people of Van Wert County and our surrounding region.

“We are grateful for his work and for his tenacity, as he has kept us entertained, educated, and inspired,” Baker added. “We look forward to celebrating his achievements in the months to come.”
Hoverman said he views his retirement from The Van Wert County Foundation and NPAC as “a slowdown”, noting he will continue making music as director of the Chancel Choir at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, will play freelance trumpet, and perform throughout the region as a member of the Lima Symphony Orchestra.

POSTED: 09/07/18 at 7:15 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Wassenberg Art Center in Van Wert is now accepting entries for its 41st annual Photography Exhibit. Amateur, professional, and youth photographers are encouraged to submit their work for this revered photography tradition. This is a juried exhibit and entry does not guarantee exhibition. There is more than $1,300 in total cash prizes. Entry deadline is midnight Thursday, September 14.

Those interested in submitting an entry may download the prospectus, which contains complete rules, entry forms and instructions, by visiting www.wassenbergartcenter.org or the Wassenberg Facebook page. A non-refundable fee of $25 for Wassenberg Art Center members, $30 for non-members or $15 for photographers under 18 entitles an artist to enter up to 12 images. Those wanting to enter may also receive a prospectus via email by mailing info@wassenbergartcenter.org or by calling 419.238.6837.

The exhibit will open Friday, October 5, with an opening party from 6-9 p.m. Live music, 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 the above number or email address, or visit the center’s website.

POSTED: 08/23/18 at 7:54 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

The Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio is honored to be the recipient of a very generous contribution from US Bank’s Community Possible giving and engagement platform. US Bank, with local branches in Van Wert and Convoy, works to build strong and lasting partnerships by supporting institutions like the Niswonger that are focused on improving the lives of individuals and their families in the community. Thanks to US Bank’s commitment, the Niswonger has been a recipient of $5,000 to support NPAC Family programming. Shown is US Bank Van Wert Branch Manager Natalie Gibson, who presented the check to Niswonger Marketing Director Tafi Stober.NPAC photo

POSTED: 08/22/18 at 3:09 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News