broadway, christian blog, entertainment, history, luck, luck of the Irish, st patrick's day, theater

Where Would We Be Without the Luck of the Irish?

Ah! St. Patrick’s Day. I must admit I usually forget about this fantastic day until it is too late to do anything about it. My parents never celebrated it or really even talked about it so my first introduction to this day was at school when I usually forgot to wear green so I spent the remainder  of the day getting pinched. Do they still do that?

I love a good Irish accent. I would absolutely love to visit Ireland and some of my favorite books have been set in Ireland. In recent years, I have loved learning more about the history of Ireland and the facts that continue to draw me to all things Irish.

I love four leaf clovers, leprechauns , rainbows with the idea of a pot of gold, songs about luck and of course, Riverdance.  I also love the idea of the luck of the Irish! But, what exactly does that mean?

Ireland is a small country that has had a big influence on America and on history.  It has had a long history of unrest mostly due to years of famine, oppression, and wars. And yet, they are known to be overall happy cheerful people. Is that because of luck?

In his writings, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History,  O’Donnell outlines the meaning of “the luck of the Irish.” He writes: “During the gold and silver rush years in the second half of the 19th century, a number of the most famous and successful miners were of Irish and Irish-American birth.

“Over time this association of the Irish with mining fortunes led to the expression ‘luck of the Irish.’ Of course, it carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these fools succeed.”

In 1845 a famine hit Ireland and thousands left their country. Many traveled to America, most having to stay in the bottom cargo area of the ships. Many countries considered them to be diseased and lower class. In spite of this many of them survived and the Irish people claimed “the luck of the Irish.”

When they arrived in America many of them were indeed poor and unhealthy. Americans considered them threats both because they were afraid they might carry diseases, but also because they thought they might take their jobs from them. They practiced a different religion and in short, were not Americans.

Conflict between Protestants and Catholics had already led to violence in Ireland now Americans feared the same violence. Along with that were rumors that women were held against their will in convents and that the priests raped nuns. Not a pretty union. You might say that maybe Americans treated all newcomers with distaste, unfortunately the Irish were especially vilified.

It was said if they were to succeed in this country it must be as a result of dumb luck. Yet, they performed the most dangerous and menial jobs. They dug trenches, laid rail lines, cleaned houses, they were stable workers and blacksmiths and they did it all for lower pay.

There were signs that said, “No Irish Need Apply.”  and “No Dogs, No Irish.”

Slowly they found their footing in our country. They became involved in politics. They voted. Slowly they began to control the political scene and began to climb the social ladder as more immigrants from China and Easter Europe crossed into America’s shores.

In many ways the Irish transformed America and strengthened it.

And now our country wears green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Why? Actually St. Patrick’s day started as more of a religious holiday. St. Patrick came to Ireland as a missionary. Early depictions of him show him wearing blue and soon became the official color of the Order of St. Patrick.  

Blue?? What happened?

Ireland’s nickname is The Emerald Isle. The flag of Ireland has a green stripe that represents the Catholics of Ireland and…St. Patrick is thought to have used green shamrocks to teach about the Trinity. (God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). 

I do love the folklore of the Irish and would love to meet a leprechaun! Who wouldn’t want to make friends with someone who spends his time protecting his pot of gold that lies at the end of a rainbow?

“Wherever you go, whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you!”

“May the luck of the Irish lead to the happiest heights and the highway you travel be lined with green lights.”

As this week comes to a close enjoy this number from the latest Irish musical! Once. Have you seen it? If not, I hope luck brings you to this wonderful musical soon! Oh! Sooooo good!

When this day was first celebrated it was a day of prayer and reflection.

May we all reflect on the blessings we have had this past year in spite of the disease that plagued our world.

I would love to hear your thoughts about St.Patrick’s Day! Do you celebrate it? How?

As always it would be so kind of you to follow my blog and share it!

Until next time!

acting, artist, artistic vision, audience, backstage, christian blog, christian theater, communication, entertainment, theater

Doing “YOUR THING” Matters

I am so excited to share this post from our guest blogger today! Meet Julie Gernand! I’m thankful to have her as a part of Overshadowed and blessed to have her as a friend!

Today’s guest contributor, JULIE GERNAND, is wife to Ted and mom to Benjamin (3) and Peter (5 months). She has been seen on the OTP stage in the summer 2016 musical Guys and Dolls and was honored to choreograph both I’ll Be Seeing You (winter ‘17) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (summer ‘18). She currently resides in Oswego, IL and enjoys teaching theatre classes for Heritage Homeschool Workshops and diving into her new passion of bringing joy to others through weekly online Zumba dance fitness classes. You can join her live on Facebook every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning!

Doing YOUR THING Matters.

I think it’s really important to find “that thing”. 
You know what I’m talking about. “That thing” that brings you joy in ways nothing else does. The creative outlet, class, hobby, or interest that makes you YOU. For my husband, it’s Cadillacs and baseball. Not necessarily in that order. 


For me? It’s theatre.


The fact that you’re reading this blog today probably means that you have an interest in theatre too. Is it “your thing” too?  In my case, I didn’t realize this about myself until about 7th grade. I was cast as Kate, an orphan in the musical Annie, Jr. with a small theatre group that met at a local dance academy. Sure, I had been in some hodgepodge church productions and elementary school music-class plays (for which my mom has saved every playbill and script in memoriam…anyone else?) but this was my first “big deal” role. I knew I liked being on stage, but it wasn’t until this musical that I felt it. The goofy camaraderie among the cast. The butterflies of that moment just before the curtain opened. The “going out to dinner with your show makeup on” sort of giggly pride. I really felt like I had found my people.


 Among these things, one moment that shaped this experience for me was during a live performance. We were performing the scene in which the orphans sing “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and perform an angsty dance with a rolling laundry basket when the musical accompaniment track suddenly cut out. The bunch of us, all elementary and middle school girls, were left to finish the song a cappella. I remember looking around, making knowing-glances at the other girls as we just kept singing. I mean, “the show must go on”, right!? Part of the true joy and magic of live theatre is learning what to do when mishaps occur, because they will. We threw Molly into the laundry basket, hit our final pose, and left the stage. I was so proud to be part of that cast as our director hugged us after the show, who through tears congratulated us for finishing that song strong and without missing a beat, as though nothing had happened to the music. From then on, I was pretty hooked on this musical theatre thing.


I’ve recently read a book (That Sounds Fun by Annie F Downs  – highly recommend) in which the author talks about the importance of doing something that you love, even if you’re not the best at it. In our world, we often think we have to be a professional at something to be doing it at all. This point resonated with me. Maybe it resonates with you, too.


The thing about my love of theatre was… well, I wasn’t the best at it. Sure, I had sung in our church’s children’s choir for a few years at that point and had a knack for silly faces, but I certainly wasn’t the singer they would choose to be the lead in any show, nor was I an exceedingly convincing actress at 13. But as I think back on this topic, I remember what my third grade teacher told my mom at a parent teacher conference:
“Julie thinks she has to know everything before we’ve covered it. She needs to realize she is learning!”
If I hadn’t found some brave part of me I’m not sure how I found, I never would have tried out for that musical. Well, I do know how I found it. God, in his kindness, gave me the gumption to try something that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Over time, I became  better at this craft, and found my true-love niche of musical theatre, dance.  The passion I found as a braces-wearing, awkward middle schooler became my college major, and eventually part of my career.


But sometimes, our passions don’t become our career. At OTP, so many performers hold daytime jobs that have nothing to do with performing arts, but they craft and mold their passion for theatre on the Medinah stage. This matters. Because it brings joy. Doing what you love will automatically bring joy to your own soul and to others sheerly because you love it. It will start to spill over, this thing you love. Sure, it may lead to bigger and better opportunities, but sometimes our joy is just our own. But I believe your thing is a reflection of the creativity and beauty of God. We get to see a little bit of the beauty of his creation through your passion. And that makes a difference, professionals or not.

Julie and Byron Mrowiec From Guys and Dolls Photo by Francisco Montes

What is your “thing”? Is it theatre? Building sets? Writing scripts? Share it with us!

Until next time!

acting, artist, audience, christian, christian blog, christian theater, directing, entertainment, family, stage, theater, theater education, theater professions

Why Do Theater?

This week I looked out over an audience of only 38 people. We are allowed 50, but Illinois had a huge snow storm and some of our audience decided not to come.

I always stand in the corner of the balcony at curtain call and glance over to see the audience’s reactions. Will they give the cast a standing ovation? Will they grudgingly stand or enthusiastically reward the cast for their performances? Were they moved by the performances or bored silly?

This past Saturday the cast of Noah! finished the first part of an extended run. We had performed for three weeks. We will now take three weeks off and then come back ready to perform again. Covid restrictions has reduced us from allowing 198 audience members to only 50. It is really empty in there.

(Photo by Francisco Montes)

This show is emotional and tiring and these eight characters give it their all. In fact, so does the technical crew, stage crew, box office and front of the house. So when I saw the audience enthusiastically stand to applaud, I was thrilled. We all worked as hard for 38 people as we would have for 198.

Still….

I felt a little badly for them. As an actor, director, we all want sold out, full houses. It is so quiet in the theater with such a small house.

Don’t get me wrong! We are super thrilled to be able to perform! But, what would it be like if night after night we could have the audience of 198? It might not change the performance, but would it change us?

Acting involves a great deal of collaboration from many people. As you build/create your characters you also build/create a relationship with the other cast members. The costumes add a layer to your performance as the hair/make-up and tech also does. Live theater is important because you must be FULLY PRESENT with another group of FULLY PRESENT people to truly be authentic. And especially after this past year, I believe that live theater is not only good and enjoyable, but also necessary for the human spirit.

Why?

  1. Theater reminds us that we are not alone. We share each experience with the audience and actors. We connect. Actors and audience agree for a time period that we will take a journey together.  Perhaps we will laugh, perhaps cry, but we will do it together.
  2. Live theater is never the same. The script is the same and the actors are consistent. But acting is reacting so if one actor has a little different emotion or reaction it might cause the next actor to react differently. It is a unique experience each night.
  3. Live theater allows us to forget, laugh, weep and many other emotions. For just a brief moment in time we are insulated and can forget the troubles of our days and lives.

So why do we do theater?

Because we want to be that person that can share that experience with a room of strangers. I heard recently that audience’s hearts beat together as one. I’m not sure how that was proven, but if it is indeed true it is a beautiful thought. We are sharing a moment that is so unique that will never be the same. We also want to be that performer that makes the woes of the world disappear.

If that is true, then changing even one person’s life is worth it all.

Large audiences might be a rush, but there is an intimacy in a smaller one. The person is the same. Let’s connect. Let’s take this journey together.

Why do you do theater? How do you feel about performing for small audiences? How does it make you as an audience member feel?

I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

This is just me-talking to you-from the wings!

anne frank, book review, christian, christian fiction, entertainment, non fiction, reading, theater

The Book List–2020

Last year at this time I was inspired by all of my friends who one after another listed the books they had read over the past year.

I must admit, I was a little ashamed that I realized my love of reading had gone by the wayside. Almost completely forgotten like an old toy. I decided that I could make time easily to read one book a month. I set an easy target and continued to read, “The Diary of Anne Frank” (A book that I was rereading and had been plugging away at it for almost a year by this time.)

Three months later, I finished it.

Not a good start to this lofty goal of 12.

Then….yeah..you got it….COVID.

And reading became the thing to do. I started blogging about the books. I made new friends with authors I was discovering. I convinced people to read. I learned. I was inspired. I became reacquainted with my lost love.

Thank you to Rebecca Kaser and Bob Bixby for several of the book suggestions!

I don’t recommend everything I read, but I do recommend that you read even if you start small.

2020 goal -12
Read-20
2021 goal–52

1. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank N/F 5/5
2. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull N/F 5/5
3. When I lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent N/F 5/5
4. Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon 4/5
5. The Sea Before Us by Sara Sundin 4/5
6. News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt 2/5
7. As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner 4/5
8. Educated by Tata Westover  N/F 5/5
9. The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
10. If For Any Reason by Courtney Walsh 5/5
11. The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin 4/5
12. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon 4.5/5
13. All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr  N/F 2/5
14. The Last Flight by Julie Clark 5/5
15. Untamed by Glennon Doyle  N/F 3/4
16. Homegoing by Yaa Yasi 3/5
17. Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh 5/5
18. Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh 5/5
19. The Promise of Rayne by Nicole Deese 5/5
20. The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin 5/5

Did you read any of these? I’d love to know what you thought! Did you have a favorite book this year?

Until next time!

christian, Christmas, entertainment, family, theater

What’s on Your Christmas List?

My December has not looked like any December I have ever spent. During most of my adult life December has always been full of shopping, meeting with friends, family times and tons of recitals, plays and church events.

Well, not this year. On those rare occasions that I have been around friends and family there are nagging questions, “Was this a mistake? Did they wash their hands? Where is my mask?”  and more.

But. This is Christmas. Christmas isn’t really about shopping and tons of recitals etc. Christmas should be about ONE thing. We should be focused on the birth of Jesus. The very name “Christmas” has CHRIST at the beginning. He comes first.

Is it possible that after years of struggling to keep the main thing the main thing–that this year could actually RESET our way of thinking? Perhaps with the stopping of the hustling and running around we actually can put CHRIST at the very center of all of our activities.

Over and over we ask our friends, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

What does that even mean?

Some of us make lists.

1) shopping
2) cards
3) decorate
4) bake
5) coordinate calendars
6) send Christmas lists.

And maybe a great deal other items are on that list….

This year I added:

1) Find ways to keep Christ the center of Christmas every day.

Just putting that statement on the top of my list changed my awareness.
But I added a few others as well.

2) Read a chapter of Luke each day in December. (Doing that leads you through the life of Christ so that you focus on the whole gift of God)

3) I found a calendar for Acts to Keep Christ in Christmas. There weren’t 25 suggestions, but there were several that were interesting. (All focused on giving rather than getting and most in the spirit of Jesus–giving to those in need.)

4) Watch Christmas movies that incorporate the reason of Christmas!

5) Instead of writing a letter to Santa–write a letter to Jesus. Keep them. It will mean so much to read how your relationship and thoughts about Christmas might change year after year.

6) Have a Bethlehem dinner. Tell the story of Mary and Joseph and eat a dinner they might have eaten on Christmas Eve. Perhaps dress up and maybe even eat by candlelight.

7) Study the symbols of Christmas. It is interesting to know why bells, trees, candles are so important at Christmas. Take one a day or one a week and really highlight the reason many of them are part of our celebrations.

8) This year I heard about a new tradition that some friends are adding. They are going to celebrate Christmas Eve-Eve. They will have a traditional meal and then sing Christmas songs together. Sounds like a great way to usher in the real Christmas Eve.

9) Study Advent and prepare your hearts.

Whatever you do –remember that the true gift of Christmas is Christ. Remember, it isn’t about giving or getting the biggest or best present. It isn’t about having the best decorated house or the one with the most lights. It isn’t about getting everything done on your list.

This year let the presence of Jesus reign in your home and heart.

Let Jesus reign. Allow Him to give you the hope of peace that only He can give.

One final note: Growing up I used to love to watch The King Family Christmas Special. To this very day I remember one particular episode that well, was really meaningful.  Home is pretty special more this year than others perhaps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAf806Fdc0o

What are ways that you keep you keep Christ the center of Christmas?

Merry Christmas!

acting, artistic vision, backstage, communication, entertainment, family, productions crew, theater, theater education, theater professions

One Way You Can Be A Better Actor

I’ll never forget my first live theater experience.

My aunt took me to see Showboat at the local high school. As I sat in the audience I was completely drawn in by the sounds of the orchestra tuning. I felt the excitement of the parents and friends as they were ushered to their seats and I was entirely a part of the story as the dancers, actors, and singers performed.

There was more that I didn’t see. I didn’t see the people who designed and constructed the set , costumes, light, sound. I didn’t see the people who moved the set and props to make sure each scene was staged perfectly.

That’s true of so many of us. Do you believe you have to choose between either being on the stage or behind the scenes?

I’d like to encourage you to do both. What can you learn by working in some other capacity of the theater?

1) You get to watch as the actors work. You can learn from the experience others are gaining. Also experiencing the show from off stage sometimes gives clarifying moments of the element of storytelling that you might miss when you are focused on your own acting on stage.

2) You learn about all the jobs and responsibilities of the production crew. Work on the sound or light crew and you will understand why it is important to take mic checks seriously. Or work a long tech rehearsal and you will see why it is so important to be quiet when asked or be serious to get the job done.

3) You learn to respect others. You learn why it is important not to touch other props or to put yours back where it belongs. You learn that it is important to respect the people who do so much for you backstage. Maybe it will remind you to say thank you to each of them.

4) You will make new connections. Collaboration is one of my favorite aspects of theater. Making new connections is a benefit.

5) You might learn new skills. Not everyone comes into theater knowing how to sew or work tech, but be involved with these super talented people might give you the chance to learn and who knows maybe you will end up using that new skill in your life. Your focus might be acting, but there is creativity to learn from everywhere.

6) You get to see the show from a different perspective. When you see the show night after night you hear when people say a line a different way. I actually have people that don’t get certain jokes at first, but after hearing something over and over they begin to understand the humor! You see how the other elements (such as lighting) either aids the story or distracts from it.

Recently, I asked several of Overshadowed’s favorite actors/volunteers to share their experiences from a backstage perspective.

Many thanks to Casey Bender, Al Gorr and Michael Larsen for joining our panel!



If you haven’t spent any time working in an area behind the scenes I hope you will find a place to help out. Here are just a few of the skills I think you will gain:

1) Concentration
2) Organizational skills
3) Confidence
4) Problem solving

The benefit? All of those skills help you ON-STAGE as well.

What are your favorite parts of theater? I’d love to hear from you!

As always, a special shout out to Brianna Valentine, Rebecca Leland and Yohannan Lee for their wisdom, talent and time spent to make this video!

Until next time-this is just me-talking to you-from the wings.



acting, characterizations, entertainment, theater

Acting: The Art of Creating a Character

Who are the truly great actors of our generation? And what makes them great?

It is easy to imitate a character or even an emotion, but is there realism in that? Can you do it again?

Creating realistic characters comes from knowing the character inside and out. This comes from a process of devouring the text/script. Learn everything you can about the character: what they look like, what their history is, how they think, feel, respond. Study everything that the script says about them and everything they say about themselves.

Aim to play this person as truthfully as possible. Don’t merely create a caricature. Be real. So many times people just recite lines. That isn’t acting at all.

I’m sure you have heard these questions before:
1. Who am I?
2. Where am I?
3. When is it?
4. Where have I been?
5. Where was I just before entering?
6. Why am I in the scene? What do I want?
7. Why do I want it?
8. What is this scene without me?
9. How will I get what I want?
10. What stands in my way?

Acting takes work. Consider having a notebook and recording all the answers to the questions above.

Next research history. What does history say about this time period or topic? What were politics, art, literature, foods, fashion and even religion like? Cut out pictures and descriptions and fill your notebook with those images.

You will not be able to find every detail about the character you have been given the responsibility to portray. So after you have finished your research, use your imagination to fill in the details and bring your character to life.

Use research and imagination together. Never use one without the other.

Once in awhile an actor comes along who is truly great. You can’t always teach someone how to become a good actor. But using this technique will help start the process.

Sometimes getting to know a character takes more time than others. Recently, Overshadowed was two weeks into a performance run when COVID shut us down. Months later we reopened to finish our run. Our characters changed. Why? We had more time to really get to know them. We thought about them for months. Also, we changed. I saw the desperation of Carrie Watts through different eyes.

We talk about that experience in a new episode of our new You Tube channel.


We are still trying to grow our You Tube so that people at least can find it when they search. We have been told that we need more subscribers before that will happen. Would you take a moment to join us?

Do you have a chosen technique to assure that your character is real? I’d love to hear about it.

Here’s to moments on the stage that leave the audience breathless.
Let’s create them together.

Until next time,







acting, artistic vision, audience, communication, entertainment, family, theater

The Trial of the Chicago 7-“What’s Faith Got to do with It?”

When COVID shut our country down months ago, my husband and I found ourselves in front of the TV night and after night. When we determined that this crisis was not going to go away anytime soon, we started to try to figure out how to change what we were watching as well as breaking it up so that we weren’t just watching mindless TV EVERY NIGHT.

We established Friday night movie night. He brings home a nice take-out dinner and I pick three movies for him to choose from. Then we have Sunday night documentaries–look at us being all educational!! I usually let him pick that as well.

This past Sunday our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Do you know what documentary you want to watch tonight?”

Him: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay. Which one?”

Him: “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

I had seen that advertised and knew that it was something I wanted to check out, but hadn’t had the chance to do it yet so….

Me: “Great! I thought that looked interesting too.”

Fast forward five minutes into the movie.

Me: “This doesn’t seem like a documentary to me.”

Silence.

Me: “You pulled a fast one, didn’t you? This is a movie.”

Him: “Yes. I wanted to see it. And it’s a little like a documentary.”

Uh No. No, it isn’t.

What is the difference?

  1. Actors. Generally, documentaries use real people in real situations to tell a story. (Sometimes they do reenact the stories as well.) Films use actors. And man, was the acting good in this one.

Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne plays anti-war activist Tom Hayden. Sacha Baron Cohen assumes the role of fellow protester Abbie Hoffman. The Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale is portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen), and Snowden’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt is prosecuting lawyer Richard Schultz. Throw in Frank Langella and Micheal Keaton and you see this cast of full of acting power! Their characters were believable and realistic. That alone made the movie worth watching!

2. Escape vs. Reality. The general purpose of a film is to entertain. Documentaries are meant to inform or confront the audience with reality. Now, granted, documentaries want to engage their audience and a movie can be informative, but what is the motivation?

Sorkin’s film, hit Netflix on Oct.  16 and tells the story of the riots at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention and the circus-like trial of political activists that followed the next year. Research seems to indicate that Steven Spielberg first mentioned the idea to Sorkin in ideas of themes–civil unrest, politics, police brutality, tensions in all political areas –over 14 years ago.

“I never wanted the film to be about 1968,” Sorkin says in an interview with Hollywood Reporter, I never wanted it to be an exercise in nostalgia or a history lesson. I wanted it to be about today. But I never imagined that today would get so much like 1968.”

Strike two.

3. Fact or Fiction. Movies are usually mostly fiction. They can be based on actual events or people, but elements get added and directors admittedly take creative license. Documentaries are non-fiction. The director might shape it a certain way, but they don’t add elements to the stories.

Uh. Oh. Read this article for just one of the many articles that will help you separate the movie from the real story. https://in.mashable.com/entertainment/17720/separating-fact-from-fiction-in-netflixs-the-trial-of-the-chicago-7

Now that I have won my case....

Was it good? Yes. And if the purpose was to get me to know more about this historic event, it succeeded. It was brilliantly written. The dialogue between the judge and Abbie Hoffman alone is worth the watch.

If the purpose was to awaken me to the horrors of police brutality and racial injustice it failed. Not because it didn’t show events that were horrific because it did and at first I was outraged. Taking a deeper look troubled me.

I believe part of the problem with our culture right now is that we have lost understanding of the truth. Our leaders, social media, politicians, news outlets– shout their story–twisting just a little bit here or there until we either follow blindly or turn our minds off because it is too overwhelming. Once in awhile there is the brilliant person who can make sense out of the whole mess. Why take a story that was deeply rooted in police brutality, racial injustice and twist it to make it worse? The story itself was terrible.

In twisting and adding to the story, I believe you make it a fictional story. One that we need not take seriously. There is a huge danger to that because indeed, it is a story that needs to be told. There is another danger, and that is that we allow ourselves to be shaped by what entertainments sources tell us or what us to believe instead of digging and learning the truth. People, there is power in the truth! FIND IT!

Many of the protesters were in response to the Vietnam War. As I write that, my fingers refuse to type for a few more moments. My dad and countless number of his friends fought in that war. I’ll never forget standing next to him at one of the Vietnam Walls as he searched for the names of his friends. My dad was a hero. My dad and countless others served, fought, bled and some died so that we could have freedom. I know the protestors had their reasons to be against the war, but where would we be now without all of our heroes who bled and died for our freedoms?

This year has been a struggle. We all know the reasons and we all know how we have responded.

What have we come to, America? What have we come to, Christians? Do we rise up to stop bullying, slander and injustice….untruth?

Are you part of it? Do you speak out? Or has fear caused you to “hide your light”?

I know I have been all over the place with this post, but I believe this is a story that needs to be told.

Several years ago our church was in a bad place. About ten of us decided to start a Bible study outside of the church. We read the book, Crazy Love. If you haven’t read it, do it. It will change your life when you get a small picture of how much God loves you.

Anyway, one of the ladies told us that she was going to begin to pray for a certain thing to happen that would allow our church to heal. We all laughed at her. Seriously.

But she kept praying. And praying. We told her that God was big enough for that to happen, but we didn’t think He would grant us that answer. But still she prayed. With faith. Nothing wavering.

And the prayer was answered. And then she started praying for the next step in the healing process and… well, you understand.

Maybe it’s time for us to become reacquainted with our faith and the power of prayer. It might be a really good time to drop to our knees and ask God for help, grace, mercy and compassion.

Who is with me???

P.S. Watch The Trial of the Chicago Seven. I’d love to know what conclusions you come to!

This is just me talking to you–from the wings,

Until Next Time,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVb6EdKDBfU

 

book review, christian, communication, entertainment, reading, theater

The Reading Life

I have successfully completed another month of reading one book a week. I’m pretty proud of this month because I did it even while I was studying my lines every day for the play that closed this month. Maybe….maybe I have successfully regained the love I used to have for this and found time for my new habit.

So, here is what I read this month.

Book #1 The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

This is book number two in a series called Sunrise of Normandy. I reviewed book One a few months ago. You can read that review here: https://fromthewings.org/2020/08/05/from-my-bookshelf/

It is possible to read this book without reading Book One first, but I’d recommend reading, The Sea Before Us first.

The series tells the story of three brothers who are estranged by an event. Each book highlights the story of a different brother. Reading book one will give you a better understanding of the pain of these brothers.

Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary like her great aunt, but for now she is in the American Red Cross Aeroclub in England. She wrestles with her inner demons because she believes God wants her to be working with children but that is only a small part of her job. She is recovering from a broken engagement and the men around her are crude and immoral. Except for the kindly Lt. Adler Paxton, whom she met on the boat ride over.

When Adler meets Violet, he is attracted to her but determines to avoid her. A tragic decision during a family outing led to the death of his fiancée, and in the hours immediately following that calamity Adler made some decisions that hurt a lot of people he loved. He refuses to believe that he is worth having any joy in his life as a result of his bad decisions.

We all know that God is bigger than all of our inner doubts and this is a sweet love story as God reaches out to both of them.

I enjoyed this book even more than I did the first one.

Sundin has a campy, quirky style of writing that is easy to read. I love the way she combines the plot points- such as the dangers the men faced on their missions, and the vital work of the Red Cross – by keeping the focus on how these things affect the characters. In this tale, there is also a mystery that is perfect for the storyline and is ideally utilized to show growth by Violet.

If you like Christian Historical Fiction then you will love this book! The plot tackles some big issues as the main character needs to learn how to forgive himself and others. Humility is one of those sins people don’t talk about very often and I love that this character has to deal with that as well.

Warning: There is a big plot reveal that deals with some sexual decisions in Adler’s past. When I first read the book I was able to dismiss the behaviors as plot developments. Now, thinking back, I’m a little disturbed that it was wrapped up in too nice of a package. It was confusing how violently Violet reacts to Adler’s past. I loved how she came to terms with his behavior, but I did it make sense for her to be so unforgiving at all? I think reacting in disappointment might have made more sense.

In spite of that, I really did enjoy the book. In fact, I liked it even more than I did the first one. The characters were fantastic and I loved that there were things about them that made them extraordinary. There are things to relate to in Violet if you grew up thinking that you needed to be a good “church” kid. There comes a time when you obey because God lives in your heart not just because you are doing as you are told. I love Violet’s journey to discovering for herself what God wants her to do.

I have all ready ordered the third book in the series! I can’t wait to read it!

As usual Sundin writes detailed historical descriptions.

Who should read this? Lovers of history, World War II, and love!

Favorite Quotes:

“Wars weren’t won with caution, and aces weren’t made in straight and level flight.”

Once again, God was winning the wrestling match, and Adler silently thanked him. For most of his life, he thought he’d deserved all of it. God had waited to give it to him until Adler knew he deserved none of it.”

Rating 4/5

Book #2 What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

From the back cover:


In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted with her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?”

I am a big fan of things that involve time travel. Amy’s dialogue and description pulled me in from the first paragraph. Although I didn’t know where the story was going I felt Annie’s love for her grandfather and Ireland from the start. I didn’t want to put the book down–almost feeling that if I did the magic would come to an end.

I, too, had a grandfather that I loved deeply so as we learn the details about Eoin’s (Anne’s grandfather) past and he begins to share stories with her I just wanted more. I LOVED their relationship. What a brilliantly written connection between them.

I learned so much about Ireland’s history. I was intrigued by how Anne was able to remember stories from history that her grandfather had taught her and it reminds me to listen to older people. They can give you the world in their words. I must admit, the historical detail was a tad too much for me and I had to really concentrate to get it to play out in my mind. But I enjoyed it immensely! I especially liked the details as Anne had to adjust to her life without the modern day clothes and ….other items.

And the love story? I didn’t want it to end. I was so afraid that it wasn’t possible for it to continue, but I desperately wanted it to. One word. EPIC.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes. Honestly, I could have pages of them. I love the way Amy writes. There is a certain romance in the way she uses words.

“We turn memories into stories, and if we don’t, we lose them. If the stories are gone, then the people are gone too.” 

“Time was the one thing I wanted and the one thing no one could give me.” 

“I’d heard once that our view of God has everything to do with those who taught us about Him. Our image of Him often reflected our image of them. Eoin taught me about God, and because I loved and cherished Eoin, I loved and cherished God.”

“When you are old and grey and full of sleep,” he repeated over the chuckling, “and nodding by the fire, take down this book, and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; how many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true, but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face.”

“I’d been wrong about one thing. These were not average men and women. Time had not given them a gloss they had not earned. Even those I wanted to loathe, based on my own research and conclusions, conducted themselves with fervor and honest conviction. These weren’t posing politicians. They were patriots whose blood and sacrifice deserved history’s pardon and Ireland’s compassion.”

“Don’t write a book about Ireland’s history, Annie. There are plenty of those. Write a love story.’
‘I still have to have context, Eoin,’ I argued, smiling.
‘Yes. You do. But don’t let the history detract you from the people who lived it.”

Poetic, lyrical, charming, heart-warming. Who is this book for? Lovers of historical fiction. Historical romance. Science fiction (time travel)

Warnings:

I was deep into this book before the first mention of sexual activities. There are several.

Rating 4.5/5


Book #3 All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr https://www.amazon.com/All-That-You-Leave-Behind/dp/0399179712

Do you remember the first time someone really close to you died? My dad’s mother died when I was in third grade, but we were in Germany so I wasn’t around to experience it. My Mom’s dad died when I was in Jr High and I remember it vividly. Why is it that when we first think about someone dying, all we think about are the good memories? There is the old saying, “Never speak ill of the dead.”

Isn’t it okay to still learn the good and the bad after someone is gone?

In her memoir, All That You Leave Behind, Erin Lee Carr graces us with all the wisdom imparted to her by her late father, renowned New York Times’ columnist David Carr. Told through a series of emails, Carr’s debut novel documents each dad-to-daughter pep talk that shaped her life and career.

When I started reading this book I believed it was going to be filled with these priceless letters of whit and wisdom. I was reminded that I as a human need to put my words in writing and write the people who mean something to me. That’s about as far as my love for this book goes.

Carr inherits more than career wisdom from her father. She also inherits his love for excessive drinking. Her memoir tells us the lessons that she learned from her father–both good and bad. Erin is indeed a disaster. Every time she gets a break she ruins it with her black-outs or being too drunk to behave respectfully. I respect her ability to look at herself in light of her father’s eyes. It’s a hard look because it is very ugly.

What I found more disappointing is that what could have been a touching reminder of a father’s love became an annoying perspective that became frightening. As a father do you have to do hard things sometimes? Absolutely. Do you have to deliver them with hate and coldness? No. If this book was supposed to make me like and respect David Carr it failed miserably. After reading this I think of him as a talented journalist who failed with his communications within his family.

On the cover it states: “This book shows that love does not end after death, nor should it.” That is the whole reason I read this book. Did it show me that? Hmmm. maybe. Blind love? The love that only a daughter can have for her father. Defanately.

This book was not at all what I expected. I wanted a book about a father’s love and relationship as he mentors his daughter and watches her grow. I got a book about Erin’s failures.

Things I liked:

That it was raw and honest. It didn’t hold back from really delivering punches.

I loved the list of things she learned from David that are in the back of the book.

I also loved her list of what she read while she was writing this.

Favorite quotes:

“Storytelling still attains…and that means characters and import, but also editing and writing.”

“I started to understand the spasm of grief. Once someone close to you dies, you feel loss more plainly, as it is a part of your everyday experience. It feels crushing as the wave hits you, but then you can see the tide begin to drift in and out again after the storm.

“Whenever I would send him a flare email, his response was always relentlessly positive and made me feel like I was part of a tribe, a team. That someone was taking care of me. I knew, then and now, that this was a rare relationship for a child to have with a parent.”

Warning! Language. Lots. Difficult subject matter included abuse of …well, almost everything.

Rating 2/5

Book #4 The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Synopsis:

Two women. Two flights. One last chance to disappear.

Claire Cook’s husband is ambitious, admired, and from a powerful and influential family with deep pockets. Behind closed doors, he has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career.

Claire is making plans to disappear.

But then she meets Eva James and her future is changed once again, but what has she gotten herself into now?

Julie Clark describes The Last Flight as a story about two women, both of whom have been victimized by men under different circumstances and in different settings. Now they both are seeking to run away. She knew her main character had to be a woman with “an inner strength, even if her current situation didn’t allow her to use it.”

I don’t think I have enjoyed any of my books as much as I did this one. I LOVED the characters. I rooted for both of them. Feared for both of them. Hated the circumstances and people who forced them to have to choose these paths.

If you had to make a hard decision like this, could you? Both of these women are strong and determined and afraid. As a reader, I was caught up with both of the stories and couldn’t wait to finish one chapter and start the next so that I could see what would unravel to reveal itself next.

To say I was captivated would be an understatement. I love books with an unusual plot that I don’t figure out and this one had me all the way.

It is interesting to note that Clark uses alternating narratives. Claire’s story is told in first person. Eva’s is told in third person. I loved that. For me, it added to the mystery.

The book is full of new plot developments and shocks. It will leave you with plenty of room for discussion!

Very easy to say! I LOVED IT! You will be thinking about this one long after you put it down.

Favorite Quotes:

“Eva could walk away with no regrets, knowing for certain the past held nothing of value for her. That sometimes, the death of a dream can finally set you free.”

“It’s a system that tells women we are unreliable, and then expendable. That our truths don’t matter when set side by side with a man’s.

“Are we who we say we are, or do we become the person others see?” 

“Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

“If we don’t tell our own stories, we’ll never take control of the narrative.”

“If you pay attention, solutions always appear. But you have to be brave enough to see them.”

Rating: 5/5

What are you reading? Did you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you think!

Until next time this is just me talking to you, From the wings!

entertainment, family, theater

Did Someone Say Dance Party?

I’m not sure exactly when this tradition started, but somewhere in the last 15 years it has become my habit to either have a pre-show dance party with my fellow castmates or have a play-list that I listen to that has music specifically picked for the show I am in.

The Trip to Bountiful was no different. I picked these songs back in February and at sometime during show day I listen to them.

Here are the songs I picked for Bountiful.

1) Finally Home by MercyMe. Carrie Watts has one desire: to get back to Bountiful before she dies. One of the lines in Finally Home is “When I finally make it home, I will gaze upon the throne of the King. All the questions that I swore I would ask just won’t come yet.” Finally Home. I think it means the same thing to Carrie.

2) I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe This song has always been one of my favorites. I’m not sure how we will feel when we see Jesus face to face for the first time. What will we feel? What will we do? I like to think of Carrie finally seeing her Lord where she can sing hymns for all eternity!

3) We Remember by Newsboys This song lists miracles and angels and promises of God and reminds us to not forget the lessons including death has no power and that God died for us at Calvary! Yes, God, we remember and so does Carrie!

4) The Greatest Show. Well, what can I say? Is there any other song that gets your heart beating and energized more that this one? It begins, “Ladies and Gents, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.” I feel like that every moment right before we go on stage. We can’t wait to get out and perform!

5) No One Knows Who I Am. Carrie has lost her strength and dignity. She feels like no one knows her any longer. She wants to go home to find her one true friend and remember all the things that made her who she is.

6) This is the Moment. “When I send all my doubts and demons on their way.” Carrie needed to make a decision that running away is the only thing she can do. It is a chance, a chance to see everything she has been dreaming about for years. She wants to prove she is still worth something to the world.

7) Circle Of Life from The Lion King. Carrie has a speech at the end of the play when she realizes that she can’t fight the circle of life. Things don’t stay the same way. Crops grow. Land wears out. The next generation doesn’t have the same values. Life changes. It’s life. What can we learn from it?

8) I Can’t Get Next to You by The Osmond Brothers. Well, the Osmond Brothers are a guilty pleasure. They remind me of being young and all the things that being a teenager meant to me. Carrie needs a little of that too, doesn’t she?

9) Can’t Get There Without You by The Osmond Brothers. There comes a time that Carrie realizes that she really wants Jessie Mae to like her. She wants Jessie Mae to like the things that she does. I don’t believe that Carrie NEEDS Jessie Mae, but imagine how great it would be if they appreciated each other?

10) Save Me by The Osmond Brothers. This song is much like Can’t Get There Without You. Jessie Mae has the power to save Carrie and she doesn’t even realize it. This song makes Carrie long for something better.

11) Down By the Lazy River by The Osmond Brothers. This song is full of so much fun.. I feel like this is what Carrie is singing as she wants everyone to follow her down to the river that runs along her old house!

12) One Bad Apple by The Osmond Brothers….notice a trend??
I really have no excuse for this one. I just like the Osmonds and they seemed to fit the mood I wanted to create. (Now, you probably know too much about me.)

13) Mother-in-law by Ernie K. Doe. Well, I didn’t say Carrie was all good, did I?

We still have this weekend of performances if you haven’t seen The Trip to Bountiful yet! http://www.overshadowed.org

Do you have any pre-show traditions? Let me know your go-to- songs!



Until Next time!!