A Merry Production, “A Miracle on 34th Street”

Westerville Parks and Recreation Civic Theatre’s first holiday production is coming to life December 11, 12 and 13 at Westerville South High School. The classic story of “A Miracle on 34th Street,” will be performed in a radiocast format.

“After a great run with ‘Seussical’ this summer, we started looking for a special holiday show to bring to the Westerville community,” said Derrick McPeak, Westerville Parks and Recreation Program Leader. “When the script for this radiocast came our way, we knew we could have a lot of fun with this type of production.”

You may be wondering what a classic radiocast entails, so here’s a preview of what to expect.

The production is set in a fictional 1940’s Westerville radio station as actors re-enact a holiday tale during a live radio show.

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“As soon as you take your seat in the theater, you become part of the live studio audience for this radio broadcast,” said McPeak. “The nine actors enter the stage as if coming into work for the day. From then on, you will see these ‘players’ tell a ‘A Miracle on 34th Street’ through voice work and sound effects.”

Many of the actors play several different characters that are completely unique.

“I have been directing shows for many years and I love to act too, but had not found the right opportunity perform in a while. When I learned about this script and the ability to play multiple characters in one setting within seconds of each other, I had to audition,” said Cast Member Luke Bovenizer.

Actress Debbie Schindehette was drawn to the radiocast style as well.

“It has been a fun challenge developing the characters, and there has been a lot creative freedom during this process. I’ve been playing around with accents while raising and lowering my voice to make sure each role is distinct,” she said.

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Although you will not see every piece of scenery or costume that is mentioned, you will hear everything. Patrons will see a foley artist create sounds to make the story come alive audibly.

“From car horns to footsteps, our foley artist, Tiffany Sisson, does small reenactments of these motions rather than using a sound board. She really is our 10th actor,” said McPeak. “The sounds she produces make this show full-bodied whether you watch in the theater or if you were to actually listen over the radio. You should be able to close your eyes the entire time and know exactly what is going on.”

But that doesn’t mean there will be a lack of visual entertainment.

“The actors never leave the stage expect during intermission. They get to improv in their ‘down time’ during the work day in the background. So the actors may seem relaxed reading a magazine, but they have to stay focused and stay in character for an hour straight,” he said.

This means every show will be a little different and even interactive.

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“We want you to laugh, cry and cheer as you would at a live talk show. The entire experience is meant to be engaging, and the cast gets to play off the crowd’s energy each performance. There will even be an applause sign that will light up for the audience to clap.”

And in the words of Kris Kringle, or at least Michael Dwyer who plays him, this is a performance you won’t want to miss. “This production combines the nostalgia of a story we know and love with a spin. It is sure to get you and your family in the holiday spirit.”

Tickets for “A Miracle on 34th Street” are still available, and can be purchased in advance at the Westerville Community Center for $10. For more information, please call 614-901-6500 or visit www.westerville.org/art.

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Creative Arts

A Colorful Community Production, “Seussical”

Brilliant colors, bright personalities and beaming performances…the cast and crew of “Seussical” have come together to create an entertaining musical for all ages.

The Westerville Parks and Recreation Civic Theatre production of “Seussical” hits the stage this week at Westerville Central High School. The show runs July 30, 31 and August 1 at 7 p.m. with a final performance on August 2 at 2 p.m.

“This musical takes the stories of Dr. Seuss, including characters and images that we are very familiar with, like the ‘Cat in the Hat’ and ‘the Whos,’ and combines them into a clever show that teaches everyone a lesson about the true meaning of friendship and community,” said Derrick McPeak, Westerville Parks & Recreation Program Leader for “Seussical.”

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In its third year, Westerville Parks and Recreation Civic Theatre is continuing its commitment to providing a high-quality and family-friendly theater outlet for the City.

“Every year, we are growing our theater program and aiming to bring a professional and affordable experience to not only theater patrons, but to those participating in the production,” said McPeak.

After performing with Westerville Parks and Recreation Civic Theatre last year, Westerville resident Char Anderson was thrilled to act again this summer in “Seussical.”

“I’ve been doing local theater for 10 years; and this is best group I have ever worked with. It is absolutely a step up from many other community theater programs,” she said. “The staff is organized and respectful of the actors and their time. The whole team is so talented from the set to the lighting and costumes.”

And the cast and crew itself is embracing the show’s theme of friendship and community.

“I live five minutes from where we rehearse. So not only am I getting the opportunity to fine-tune my craft, but I am meeting new people and making friends with neighbors in Westerville,” said Anderson.

Despite a large cast of more than 100 actors, participants say the comradery that has developed in the past two months is astounding.

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“I went out on a limb and auditioned not knowing anyone else going out for show. Since the first meeting, I’ve felt included. Everyone is supportive and works really well together,” said Cast Member Luke Hassenpflug.

“Seussical” is also bridging generations as a wide-range of ages are involved in the musical. The show’s youngest cast member, six-year-old Claire Munger, is acting alongside fellow cast member and mom, Katey Munger. This mother-daughter duo is just one of a few families performing together this year.

“We have a lot of fun. We get to dance and play at rehearsals, and are constantly singing ‘Seussical’ around the house or in the car. It gives us another way to bond and spend time with one another,” said Munger.

Munger hopes other families can experience the arts together too.

“This theater group is filling a performance arts void in Westerville. It is important for children to see live theater. Now families here don’t have to travel far or break the bank to see a great kid-friendly show. They get to watch friends and colleagues perform, and see how talented their community is.”

Tickets for “Seussical” are still available for purchase at the Westerville Community Center for $10. For more information, visit www.westerville.org/art.

Creative Arts

Arbor Day Art Contest Teaches Students Trees are Terrific

“Trees are terrific…from every angle.”

The theme of this year’s annual Arbor Day art contest is aiming to teach local kids just that.

Each April, the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with the Westerville Shade Tree Commission, hosts an art contest to educate children on the importance of trees.

“Trees are such an integral part of the City of Westerville. Our community cherishes our green spaces and we want that same love of the natural world to carry on for the next generation,” said Matt Ulrey, Westerville Parks and Recreation Urban Forest Manager.

Westerville has been named Tree City USA for the 39th year, a prestigious recognition the City values.

“Westerville is one of only three cities in Ohio, and one of 16 places in the country, to consecutively receive this honor since its inception,” Ulrey said. “This truly shows how essential continued tree planting, maintenance and education is to us.”

Area schools have been participating in the Arbor Day poster contest for more than 20 years. Mrs. Norling, a fifth grade teacher at Hanby Magnet Elementary, encourages her students to take part each spring to capitalize on the learning opportunity.

“This year, as the students completed their Arbor Day artwork, we discussed the meaning behind the posters and what this special day means for us as citizens,” said Mrs. Norling. “We also compared our natural environment to the environments of other places in the world that do not have the luxury of many trees.”

Jaden Mapes, right, with her sister, Antonia, at the 2014 Arbor Day Poster Contest Award Ceremony at Everal Barn.

Jaden Mapes, right, with her sister, Antonia, at the 2014 Arbor Day Poster Contest Award Ceremony at Everal Barn.

In 2014, one third-grade winner from Hanby was Jaden Mapes.

“I was really surprised I won, but was excited. My sister encouraged me to participate because I like to draw and she thinks I’m a good artist,” she said.

Jaden’s sister was at the annual awards ceremony at Everal Barn to support her last year. Their father, Jerry Mapes, says both his girls have always been creative.

“I want the girls to be well-rounded. It is important for them to be outside, experience new challenges and be artistic. This contest is the perfect example of a positive outlet for them to do exactly that,” said Mapes.

Jaden, along with any other third, fourth or fifth grader living in the City or attending Westerville City Schools, has the chance to show off their imagination once again. Students can now submit a poster or a photograph, which is a new addition to the contest.

“We typically see photos from adults, but not children. In this day and age, with such easy access to cameras, it will be neat to see this kind of perspective from a child’s eyes,” said Ulrey.

As someone who is passionate about tree care, Ulrey enjoys being one of the judges for this competition.

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Jaden Mapes stands with her 2014 winning poster above.

“Kids in Westerville come up with some really cool ideas,” he said. “Last year, many of the posters reflected the ‘Minecraft’ craze and the designs were very blocky. I’m excited to see what they create this time and how it relates to the specific tree topic.”

The deadline to enter the contest is Monday, April 20. The grand prize winner will have a tree planted in his or her name at school or a favorite city park if home-schooled.

And, even if you don’t fall into the contest age range, there are many ways to celebrate this coming Arbor Day.

“The benefits of trees are endless. I encourage you to plant a tree is possible or spend some time in a park on Friday, April 24. We will have free seedlings at the Community Center on Arbor Day for people to pick up and take home,” said Ulrey.

For complete details on the 2015 Arbor Day Art Contest, follow this link.

 

 

Creative Arts

And the Winner is…

Thanks to all who participated in the Winter Wonders in Westerville Instagram Contest. Congratulations to Mary Pat Turner who took first place with her winter photo taken at Heritage Park!

Photo by Mary Pat Turner

Photo by Mary Pat Turner
Heritage Park

Check out some of the other top images from the contest below. We encourage you to continue to tag us in your winter photos using #westervillewinterwonders. And be sure to stay tuned for our next Parks and Recreation social media contest.

Photo by Terrence N. Banbury Westerville B&W Pedestrian Bridge at sunrise

Photo by Terrence N. Banbury
Westerville B&W Pedestrian Bridge at sunrise

Photo by Keiko Kume

Photo by Keiko Kume

Photo by  Anita Sherrard  Millstone Creek Park

Photo by Anita Sherrard
Millstone Creek Park

Photo by Brenda Turner Everal Barn and Homestead

Photo by Brenda Turner
Everal Barn and Homestead

Photo by Allison Graham

Photo by Allison Graham

Photo by Julianne Ward

Photo by Julianne Ward

Photo by  Diana Lynn Noble Trigg

Photo by Diana Lynn Noble Trigg

Photo by  Amy Welty

Photo by Amy Welty

Photo by Roger Howard Westerville City Hall

Photo by Roger Howard
Westerville City Hall

 

Creative Arts

The Art of Thanksgiving

What is your Thanksgiving tradition? Do you watch the parade, run a turkey trot or play games with the family?

After our stomachs are full and we have an extra moment to spend with loved ones, Westerville Cultural Arts Coordinator Ana Underman recommends an artistic craft to make with the kids that will not only entertain, but also highlight the importance of this holiday. You can create your own Thankful Tree.

“Having a physical reminder of what you are thankful for can be a great addition to your holiday celebration. It is also a good way for the kids to connect art with things that are important in their lives,” said Ana.

A Thankful Tree can be as extravagant or simple as you like. And, you can use items around the house to assemble it.

Here is what you will need:
Three pieces of cardboard (or heavy card-stock, cereal box)
Construction paper
Glue (or pushpins, hot glue gun, tape)
Decorations (watercolor, markers, crayons, stamps, etc.)
Scissors

To get started, trace a tree trunk on the cardboard and cut out.

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Once the trunk is cut, use this as a template to trace out another separate piece of the trunk, this time only drawing half the trunk to a triangle point. Cut.

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Decorate the tree trunk; the kids can add roots and knots. Then cut a slit halfway down the top of tree trunk and halfway up the bottom of the other triangle trunk so that the two pieces can slide together and meet in the middle.

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Now that your trunk is ready to go, draw and cut out a circle for the top of the tree. Add another small cut in the middle to attach the circle to the trunk.

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Assemble the trunk to the circle and glue down the sides of the tree to the circle.

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It is time to create the star of the show…the leaves. This is the part the kids will love.

As a family, trace out different shapes of leaves on multiple sheets of colored paper. You can find free templates online or free-hand draw. Decorate half of the leaves however you want, using watercolor, markers, or even festive stamps.

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With the remaining leaves, write what you are thankful for and share with your family. After the paint has dried, cut out the leaves and glue them on the circle, varying the color, shape and design. (A glue gun will speed up this process, but requires adult supervision.)

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Voila! You have a Thankful Tree. It can even be used as a centerpiece at the Thanksgiving table.

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The Parks and Recreation Thankful Tree includes the Community Center and our community parks. But above all, we are thankful for you, our residents and patrons this holiday. We wish you and your family a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

For more artistic holiday fun with Ana, the kids can join our next ArtMix class on Tuesday, December 16 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Community Center. Click here for online registration.

Creative Arts

A Celebration of Life & Public Art

Cobert C edited for blog“My fondest hope is that the positive side of human relationships is reflected in my work.”

These are the words of sculptor Cobert C. Collins, a man who loved art and life and desired to share his passion with the world. He believed the process of making art was only complete when it was seen by others.

A collection of Cobert C. Collins’ art work, the bronze metal sculptures you see sprinkled throughout the City, are on display for you to enjoy, appreciate and interpret.

How these sculptures came to Westerville is quite a story. Collins started his career as a restaurateur, owning a couple successful eateries in upstate New York.

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“He started fooling around with clay and began creating ice carvings for catering orders for the business. He realized the talent was there. He liked doing it and wanted to pursue this growing artistic ability further,” said Mike Collins, Cobert Collins’ son.

In 1971, Cobert Collins began learning the craft of welding. He developed the technique of modeling bronze into stainless steel through a direct welding process. His concept was to eliminate the hard, manufactured look of welded steel.

“He used the metal to show movement, change and the importance of bonds between people. He was so full of joy and fascinated by our connection to the world, to each other and art,” said Mike.

After exhibiting at a couple small galleries in New York, Collins wanted to transition into making art full-time. So, he sold the restaurants and moved to West Palm Beach to focus on his craft.

“Both my father and I moved the same year for our careers. As he traveled to Florida, I settled into Westerville. It was definitely a turning point in our lives, a new chapter,” said Mike.

By 1981, Collin’s work began to take off. At the pinnacle of his career, Collins had his pieces in 16 different cities.

“He was one of the leading artists in Palm Beach County. I was so proud of him,” said Mike. “He had the perfect combination of business savvy and true artistic skill that made him so successful.”

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During the same time, Mike Collins’ love for the City of Westerville, the education system and the parks was growing. Mike Collins helped create the Westerville Parks Foundation when he served a term as Chair for the Recreation Advisory Board, and he is now an Ohio State Board of Education member.

After his father’s passing on March 19, 2013, Mike and his sister, Ricki, wanted to see their father’s legacy live on. A large portion of Collins’ work was given to the Westerville Parks Foundation in partnership with the Cobert C. Collins Memorial Sculpture Fund, LLC. Through this partnership his work continues to be displayed and sold in the greater Westerville area. (Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sale of these sculptures goes to the Westerville Parks Foundation, which further supports the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department and its programs.)

Mike Collins and Ricki Collins with Shadow Dancers

Mike Collins and Ricki Collins with Shadow Dancers

“I have such a deep history with the Parks and Recreation Department and with the art world,” said Mike. “I saw this as a chance to marry those two interests. It is heartwarming to see my father’s work being appreciated here.”

It is too difficult for Mike to narrow down the list when it comes to his favorite piece. Many of the sculptures remind him of memories of his father and their family, like “Challenger” in front of the Westerville Community Center.

“It was 12:05 p.m. in January. I had gone to Florida to visit my Father. We were all driving in the car and looked up knowing the Challenger shuttle was set to take off around that time. We saw the explosion right before our eyes. It is something you will never forget. He made that piece as a tribute to the crew members,” said Mike.

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The Collins sculptures are now part of a community-wide art initiative being developed in Westerville for years to come.

“We are honored to have the Collins pieces in Westerville as the Parks and Recreation Department continues to grow public art in the community. The sculptures truly add aesthetic and educational value to the City,” said Westerville Parks and Recreation Director Randy Auler.

Mike hopes the collection will serve as a doorway for more artists in the area.

“Over the years, my father mentored many young artists. He wanted to see the art industry flourish. Our hope is that his work will continue to expose Westerville to various forms of artistic expression, become an inspiration to others and help pave the way for other artists to start a career here,” said Mike.

The next time you see a Collins sculpture, stop for a moment. See the celebration of life and help complete the artistic process that Cobert C. Collins believed in.

Click here for additional information on Cobert C. Collins and where to view his sculptures in Westerville. The Parks and Recreation Department is in production of a video featuring ways to enjoy public art in the City including the Collins Collection, so check back for more.

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Creative Arts

Free Artistic Play Sparks Creativity and Learning for Kids

There you are sitting at a table with colored paper, pipe cleaners, markers, glitter and stamps. The world is your oyster, the possibilities endless and the only thing on your agenda is to create. So what do you make with these supplies?­

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This task may be harder for some children than it once was. Some research suggests kids are becoming less creative than they were two decades ago. Increasingly, children are losing non-structured spaces for playful art-making, replaced with standardized tests and scheduled activities in which there is an expected outcome or answer. Structure is important, but free time to play, create art and become open-minded supports the well-rounded development of a child.

This fall, Parks and Recreation is offering a new class called ArtMix! to give children that designated time and place for artistic play.

“I am trying to offer a space where the freedom to create, learn, and explore can still exist in child’s life. This is a non-judgmental time when kids are free to try new things, free to be silly and free to fail,” said Westerville Cultural Arts Coordinator Ana Underman.

Free play is one of the fundamental ways kids learn how things work, whether it’s mixing colors or building snow forts. It also encourages abstract thinking, creative problem-solving, and an understanding of structure and three-dimensional forms in space.

Free art-making is not just about kids being artistic; they get to choose what they are creating and can explore whatever interests them.

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Ana enjoys seeing what is important to her students through their art work. “Kids’ minds are built to teach themselves—they thirst for knowledge and endlessly search for ways to explore the things that excite them. For example, if a girl loves mermaids, she will build a mermaid princess and a dolphin for her to ride on all out of “junk” materials. This teaches her how to build and construct out of unusual materials. It is beautiful to witness this process,” she said.

The end result – students learn without even realizing they are learning because they are having fun. “When you are give your child time for free artistic play, you are not only benefiting aspiring young artists, but also engineers, fashion designers, journalists, teachers and scientists—creative problem-solving is fundamental to innovation in our society,” said Ana.

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The first ArtMix! is September 18, 2014. Click here for details on enrolling your child in this class.

Creative Arts