Friday, November 28, 2008

Beast or Boy?

Cade came to the museum with me today. Sneakers, the mascot of the "Healthier Ever After" exhibit, made an appearance. Afterwards, Cade decided he wanted to try on the costume. What do you think?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Review for Blithe Spirit

Economy, story make this play a difficult sell
By Joe Scott, Special to the News & Record
GREENSBORO - With two minutes before the start of Open Space Cafe Theatre's production of "Blithe Spirit," I realize that with the exception of my date and the 12 other audience members sitting in the room, no one else was coming.

That's when Open Space's founder and artistic director Joe Nierle took on the difficult task of greeting such a paltry audience.

"As you can see," Nierle said, "the economy has begun to affect us also."

Then the play began, and I realized that even if the economy weren't in a downswing, the low turnout would have been just as well. With no less than two intermissions, the three hours and nine minutes it took to sit through "Blithe Spirit" was a gauntlet of endurance. There were few instances where this stuffy comedy about members of the British upper class dealing with a supernatural calamity gagged with signs of life.

For the most part, it was painfully dead.

The focus of writer Noel Coward's play is married couple Charles (Fred Nash) and Ruth (Cheryl Ann Roberts). A widower and widow, they open the play discussing their former marriages.

Meanwhile, Charles, who is a writer, is planning to take part in a seance so he can do research for his upcoming mystery novel. Add Charles' discussion of his late first wife Elvira to this scenario and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess that she will soon materialize and create all kinds of chaos on the married couple's lives.

It was Nash who delivered the most well-crafted performance of the show. His refined British accent sounded real enough to fool the Queen.

By the second act, he made it clear that he was the measuring stick by which all of his castmates should be compared. Co-stars Roberts, Betsy Brown and especially Jane McLelland fared well, but the rest of the cast was woefully lacking.

As the show's other wealthy British couple, Mary Janca and especially Michael Henry Carter, changed their accents more often than they did their costumes.

But the show's biggest sore thumb was actress Shelly Segal. For starters, Segal didn't seem too convinced with what was happening on stge. As the titular spirit, Elvira, she seldom made eye contact with her co-stars and continued to wave her nightgown back and forth like a small child in a Christmas pageant.

Was this a case of misdirection? I couldn't say, but Segal also was cheating towars the audience so much during the play that it encroached the fourth wall.

As I suffered through one of the more difficult scenes, I started to think that perhaps this was simply a case of a company doing the wrong play at the wrong time.

After all, with unemployment on the rise, it's truly difficult to sympathize with a character who says, "Servants are awful aren't they? Not a shred of gratitude."

Indeed, if local theatre is to survive an impending recession, arts groups would do well to seek out stories that will engage the rising number of groundlings hard-pressed to afford tickets.


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Four years ago today a dream became a reality as the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem opened its doors.

Now, nearly 85,000 guests visit the Museum each year for story times, birthday parties, facility rentals, field trips, group tours, outreach programs, and summer camps...that's something to celebrate!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Special Comment by Keith Olbermann on Prop 8

As tears stream down my face, I applaud Olbermann's Special Comments from last night's "Countdown" broadcast, the top-rated show on MSNBC.

It's six minutes and thirty seconds of poetic, emotional television. Hundreds of thousands of people saw this last night. Now's your chance. Please press play.