By Mary Boyle
If you've ever had a Kindergartner or a first-grader in your life, then you may have had the pleasure of reading the wonderfully quirky and hilariously funny adventures of one Junie B. Jones, in the book series written by Barbara Park. At last, First Stage has taken on the challenge of bringing Junie B. to the stage with JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK.
Playwright Allison Gregory read the Junie B. series to her own child ("at least 800 times"), and fell in love with the humor and the honesty. "Junie B. says what’s on her mind, tries things that she will fail at, and doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about how she comes off. She is blatantly, boldly flawed. I wish I were half as awesome as her," said Gregory.
The play combines two of Park's books: Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook and Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren. Junie B. (Selma Rivera/Molly Domski) and her best friends, Lucille (Tessa Benedic/GraceFisher) and "that" Grace (Erianna Ashmore-Purifoy/Faith Austin) have met a new boy in school, "handsome" Warren (Ryon Davis/Carson Pressley), and each of the girls is determined to get his attention. Unfortunately, Warren's first impression of Junie B. is that she's a "nutball." If that wasn't bad enough, someone has stolen Junie B.'s brand new furry black mittens! Kindergarten isn't easy.
Directed by James Fletcher, and featuring Kay Allmand as both Junie B's mom and her teacher ("Mrs., and that's all"), and Dan Katula as both Grandpa Frank and the Principal, Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook explores the truth about "finders keepers," and what it really takes to make a friend. Junie B. is, perhaps, the realest fictional Kindergartner you'll ever meet; consequently, adults either find her hysterical or annoying. If you're already a fan of Junie B., you will likely enjoy seeing her come to life on the stage; if you are new to Junie B., try to remember what it is like to be 5 years old, and be prepared to laugh.
JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK runs April 28th - June 4th, 2017 at the Marcus Center's Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N Water Street in Milwaukee, WI 53202. Tickets are available by calling (414) 273-7206 or online at www.firststage.org.
About First Stage
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in the 2016-2017 season, First Stage is one of the nation’s leading theaters for young audiences and families. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. Its Theater Academy, the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people, fosters life skills through stage skills and serves over 2,100 students each year. As Wisconsin’s leader in arts-integrated education in schools, First Stage’s dynamic Theater in Education programs use theater to promote active learning throughout the curriculum, serving over 20,000 students throughout southeastern Wisconsin each year. In 2012, First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. First Stage is the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Eureka Award in 2013 and 2015, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education, and the arts. First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).
The Northshore Academy of the Arts Building in Grafton has a lot going on for all ages, from yoga to art classes, to dance and theater, with the overall goal of giving greater access to the Arts in our community. Coming up in May, there will be two different theater opportunities at NSAA through Stagekids and Jr. Stagekids: Disney’s The Lion King and Disney’s Aristocats!
Based on the beloved Disney animated film, and featuring a jazzy, upbeat score, Disney’s The Aristocats KIDS is a non-stop thrill ride of feline fun, complete with unbelievable twists and turns. Produced and Directed by Angie Mack Reilly, this production is geared towards children ages 6 to 11 years old. Everyone who registers for the show will be in the show; however, if your child wants a role with lines or a solo, they can audition on Tuesday, May 2nd, at 6 p.m. at NSAA. Rehearsals will be on Mondays from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. from June 12th through August 28th.
Disney’s The Lion King has captivated the imagination of audiences around the world, and now, for the first time ever, kids have the opportunity to perform this one-of-a-kind musical with North Shore Academy of the Arts, Stagekids! Produced by Angie Mack Reilly and the NSAA Team, this production is for kids in the 9th grade or younger, and will be performed at the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center the weekend of January 12th and 13th in 2018, with rehearsals beginning in September. Auditions, should your child want a solo role, take place on Tuesday, May 9th, at 6 p.m.
If you have questions, or need more information, contact Angie Mack Reilly at email@example.com, or contact NSAA by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (262) 377-3514. See the full list of summer course offerings at the NSAA at http://northshoreacademyofthearts.com/nsaa-brochures/.
The first Earth Day was April 22nd, 1970, and it was the beginning of the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world, but you don't have to participate globally -- there are many ways to do it locally this Saturday, April 22nd!
In Newburg, there's the Earth Day Service Fest at Riveredge from 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. From preparing and planting cool garden beds in our children’s organic garden to conducing grounds clean-up and invasive species removal to trail maintenance, this fest will provide you an opportunity to get your hands dirty while keeping our sanctuary green. There’s awesome opportunities for groups, families, and individuals of all ages to get involved and make a difference. The day is free and as a special thank you, all volunteers will receive a free lunch at noon and a picnic style festival starting at 11:30am. Everyone is invited to make a nesting bag for birds, experience a composting demonstration, and play in the great outdoors. Our friends from the Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts will be joining us to lead everyone in their very own creation of a tin-can planter!
In Mequon, you can celebrate Earth Day at the Mequon Nature Preserve from 1-3 p.m. This is a free event for families and people of all ages. Kohl’s Wild Theater will perform Aldo Leopold and the Sand County Ghost, and guests can also participate in seed plantings and crafts. Please RSVP to this free event with Amy: email@example.com or call 262-242-8055.
Also in Mequon, the Unitarian Church North is hosting an Earth Day Family Festival from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. The Festival is free and all are welcome. The event activities will be both in the church and, weather permitting, on its naturally landscaped grounds. The church is located at 13800 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, in a building that replicates the Clausing barns built in the area in the late 1800s. The Festival includes children’s nature activities, live folk music, demonstrations by holistic caregivers, fresh organic juices and foods, and numerous 15-minute presentations on homeopathy, mediation, sound healing, and more.
Port Washington has a Community Clean Up in honor of Earth Day, from 8 a.m. - noon. Kickoff will start at 8:00am in Veterans’ Memorial Park. Call the Parks & Rec Office if you or a group you’re part of is interested in helping and would like more information.
262-284-5881. "Goodies" will be provided for those who help out, such as a water bottle, snack, free day at Pirates' Hollow Waterpark, and possibly a free pass to the Milwaukee Zoo!
Also in Port, the Port Washington High School PiraTech Team will host a Community Recycling from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Donations of building materials, tools, and home furnishings will go to Habitat for Humanity, while used bikes will go to DreamBike. Electronics and Appliances (some requiring a fee), as well as Textiles and Scrap Metal will also be accepted.
The Milwaukee Riverkeeper has their 22nd Annual Spring River Cleanup from 9- noon in locations all over southeastern Wisconsin, including Lime Kiln Park in Grafton. Milwaukee Riverkeeper provides the gloves, trash bags, and amazing FREE T-SHIRTS, and you provide the hands and energy to pick up the interesting and sometimes bizarre trash that finds its way into our beautiful river system. Afterwards, come to the Trash Bash, a free celebration in partnership with Rock the Green at Estabrook Park, Picnic Area #8. Music, food, and fun await volunteers!
Happy Earth Day, Oz!
Spring has sprung, and Easter is right around the corner, and that means egg hunts, brunch, and chocolate bunnies! Here's what's in store for Ozaukee this Easter:
On Saturday, April 8th, Grafton kids in preschool through third grade can bring their baskets and join the Egg Hunt at Centennial Park. Pictures with the Easter Bunny will available between 12:30 and 1, and the hunt will begin at 1 p.m.
Port Washington has their annual Hippity Hoppity Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Bonnet Contest (even pets can get dressed up!) on Saturday, April 8th. Kids ages 2-9 should go to the Possibility Playground at 10 a.m. Photos can be taken with the Easter Bunny at the park, and families can enjoy live music by Shana Harvey. Then, "hop" to downtown Port, where many of the local businesses will be handing out additional treats between 11 and 1 p.m.
Kids in Belgium who are 10 or younger can meet at Heritage Park for an Easter Egg Hunt at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 15th for their hunt.
Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg has three different hunts the same day, 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., for their special Family Easter Egg Hunt. This is a candy-free hunt and prizes will be awarded to all participants. After the hunt, discover the wonders of Wisconsin’s egg-laying animals and color eggs using natural dyes. This event will appeal to the whole family. For everyone’s enjoyment, group sizes for the hunts will be kept small, children will be divided according to age, and bag limits will be set. Pre-registration required ($7/non-member child & $5/member child).
Easter Brunch is a popular option, which means reservations are usually required. There are many places to choose from in Port Washington: Twisted Willow, Port Hotel, Newport Shores, and Tellos are the standards, and newbie General Wooster's is testing the waters this year. Nearby in Saukville, the Firehouse Restaurant will have their Easter Brunch. In Grafton, Atlas BBQ is trying out their very first Easter Brunch, while Fire Ridge is holding up their tradition. In Mequon, Joey Gerard's is a good bet. In Cedarburg, Galioto's Twelve 21 has your Easter Brunch covered.
If you're in need of Easter Candy, get it local! Amy's Candy Kitchen and Ashley's Confectionary in Cedarburg have great selections. Sweet Trio in Grafton and The Chocolate Chisel in Port have plenty of chocolate bunnies to go around, as well.
Happy Easter from Ozaukee Living Local!
Jim Bohn has been living in Grafton for most of his life; a husband to his wife, Mary Jo, father of three (Elizabeth, Joe, and Anna), and now grandfather of three. After working his way through school while helping to raise his family, Jim worked in corporate management for many years and, even in retirement, continues to find projects to dedicate his time and talents to; throughout it all, though, there has been music.
For Jim, playing guitar, singing, and performing began in his elementary school days, and never stopped -- from churches to nightclubs; in bands and as a solo artist. He has already recorded five CD's of music since 2000: his first with the Ozaukee County Jam Band, then a folk CD in 2002 called "Clear Blue Sky," a gospel/Christian Rock CD titled "Farther up the mountain" in 2004, "These Walls Tell a Story" and "Blues Cowboy Sampler" in 2006, and in 2007, a Christmas CD titled "What Child is This?"
While Jim was thrilled to record music with very talented family and friends, he longed to make some music with professionals -- people who play music for a living, and do nothing else. Finally, this past summer, he met with the guys who play rhythm section for Milwaukee native, Daryl Stuermer, who he had met at previous gigs, and discussed the project; they agreed to help and recording began. Now, the new CD, "Bound for Judah," is finished.
"All of the musicians on the CD are top-grade musicians in their class, and very well known in Milwaukee, and some throughout the US," Bohn said. "Kostia Efimov, who plays piano on the CD, is an internationally known musician from Russia. I have always wanted to do a CD with a full brass section, along with powerful backing vocals. The melodies in these songs have been around for many years, but it was time to put lyrics to the melodies and arrange the songs."
While recording the CD, itself, has fulfilled a lifelong dream, the title was inspired by a miraculous event in Jim's family. In 2008, Jim's eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was thought to be benign but, shortly after the birth of her daughter a year later, a biopsy showed the tumor to be malignant, and the doctors gave Elizabeth just 3-5 years to live. Jim and Mary Jo moved to Minnesota to help care for Elizabeth and their granddaughter from 2011 to 2014 and, against all odds, the tumor shrunk. In May of 2015, six years after her diagnosis, Elizabeth delivered a healthy baby boy named Judah (Jim's first grandson), and the title of the CD came from the many trips to Minnesota Jim has made to visit the "miracle baby."
Jim's music reflects his life: songs of faith and encouragement, and reminiscent of the music he lived through and enjoys, such as the big horn sound of bands like Chicago in the 70's, the piano-focused music of Bruce Hornsby, country songs of heartbreak, and the uplifting sound of a gospel choir.
"Music always made sense to me, ever since I was a kid," Jim explained. "Music is a tough business, but it's a great way to express yourself."
There are two events coming up to celebrate the CD release: This Saturday, April 8th, Jim is doing an Unplugged CD Release Show at Smith Bros. Coffee House in Port Washington. Then, on Thursday, May 4th, Jim and the full band will host a special fundraising Release Party for Casa Guadalupe in West Bend at the Ozaukee County Pavilion in Cedarburg. Casa Guadalupe is a non-profit serving the large Hispanic population in Washington County. This past winter, the center was vandalized; the money raised from this event will go to repairs at the center.
By Mary Boyle
Perhaps the greatest worry for parents today is autism: the CDC estimates that 1 in 68 children will have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and experts still don't fully understand why. What we do know is that, with that statistic, autistic people are all around us, so it is imperative that we have a better understanding of this epidemic, and how we can best help the children who are affected by it. Amazingly, one of the best ways to do this may be through the theater; at least, that's what I discovered when I saw Mockingbird at First Stage.
Live theater has this incredible way of giving the audience a heightened sense of walking in someone else's shoes; a path to empathy that is stronger and more real than any lecture, conversation, or story can create. In Mockingbird, based on the novel by Kathryn Erskine, we spend some time in Caitlin's shoes (Alex Salter/Emily Harris); an 11 year old autistic girl who is dealing with the loss of her brother in a school shooting. Caitlin's father (Dan Katula), a widower, is doing the best he can, but Caitlin doesn't process things the way most people do, and he is clearly overwhelmed. One of the things Caitlin and her brother loved was the movie, To Kill A Mockingbird. Caitlin envisions herself as Scout, her brother as Jem, and her father as the lawyer, Atticus Finch. While Jem is gone, it is up to her and her father to make things right, for themselves and their community.
Directed by Marcella Kearns, Mockingbird is not a lighthearted look at autism, though it is not short on humor. As Caitlin narrates her own story, her honesty and insight can be as funny as it is brilliant, and the use of lighting and sound creates a very clear experience of what it is like to be Caitlin. This play should be required viewing for anyone who has any association with autistic people; it is, quite possibly, one of the most powerful, insightful, and moving performances I've ever seen at First Stage.
Mockingbird runs through April 9th at the Todd Wehr Theater, located at 929 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets are available by calling the Ticket Office at (414) 267-2961, or on the First Stage website at http://www.firststage.org. Mockingbird is recommended for ages 7 and up. There is a special Sensory Friendly Performance: Saturday, April 8 at 1:00 p.m.
First Stage has recently announced its 2017/18 Season, which will include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Wiz, The Cat in the Hat, Spookly the Square Pumpkin, Antarctica, WI, Judy Moody and Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt. The season will also include two performances by the First Stage Young Company: The Skin of Our Teeth and Henry V. Theatergoers can save up to 50% off regular single-ticket prices and get the best seats of the season by ordering a Family Package before June 30th!