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PostHeaderIcon Shrek: The Musical Opens Saturday in Livermore

Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre presents: Shrek: the Musical opening Saturday, July 19, and running through Aug. 3 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore. Performances are on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Directied by Carol W. Hovey, the choreography was handled by Kevin Hammond and the vocal direction done by Sierra Dee. The musical director is Jo Anne Fosselman.


Based on the DreamWorks animation motion picture and the book by William Steig, the music is by Jeanine Tesori and the producer is Kathleen Bredveld.  Suitable for all ages, Shrek brings the hilarious story of everyone's favorite ogre to dazzling new life on the stage.


In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre, not a handsome prince, shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won't shut up, a bad guy with a short  temper, a cookie with an attitude and other fairy tale misfits, and you've got a big mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there's one on hand...and his name is Shrek.


The cast is as follows: Shrek: Dane Lentz, Princess Fiona: Catherine Williamson, Donkey: Aaron Porchia, Lord Farquaad: Chris Olson, Pinocchio: Burton Thomas,Gingy/Featured Dancer: Dominic Dagdagan, Dragon/Shoemakers Elf/3 Blind Mice: Danielle Pierce, Teen Fiona/Humpty Dumpty: Christine Curulla,Teen Fiona/Ugly Duckling: Claire Shepard, Young Fiona/mice: Emily Joy Kessel, Young Fiona/mice: Juliana Morrow, 3 Blind Mice/Dragonette/Queen Lillian/Rat: Katherine Stein, 3 Blind Mice, Dragonette/Rat: Tosca Maltzman, Dragonette/Wicked Witch & Mama Ogre: Nicole Squires, Straw/King Harold:Ron Pickett, Sticks/Knight: Jeremy LaClair, Bricks/Knight/Rat: Matthew Busbee, Papa Bear/Papa Ogre/Knight: Mark Flores, Mama Bear: Chelsea Ashton, Sugar Plum Fairy/Bluebird: Suzie Shepard, Fairy Godmother/Rat: Amanda Ross, Peter Pan/Deer: Eric Gateno, Big Bad Wolf/Rat: Brian Olkowski, Little Red Riding Hood/Rat: Izzy Shepard, Baby Bear/Grumpy, mice: J.D. Cerruti, Captain/Bishop/Villager/Rat: John Holst, Young Shrek/Mice:Dylan Cazin, Thelonius/Guard/Knight: Jeffrey Warner, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Heidi Amstrup, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Meghan Hornbacker,Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Kelly Lotz, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Max DeSantis, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Michelle Roque.


For tickets, go to the Bankhead Theater box office at 2400 First Street in Livermore or call 925-373-6800, Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m,. or Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. More information vist www.mylvpac.com -- KJB


PostHeaderIcon Shrek The Musical Opens Saturday July 19

Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre Presents:

Shrek The Musical

July 19 – August 3

Rated PG

Performances are 8pm Fri/Sat and 2pm Sun

at the Bankhead Theater.*

No Friday Performance Opening Weekend.

Directed by Carol W. Hovey,

Choreography by Kevin Hammond, Vocal Direction/Accompanist by Sierra Dee, Musical Director: Jo Anne Fosselman,

General Manager/Producer: Kathleen Breedveld

Music by: Jeanine Tesori

Book & Lyrics by: David Lindsay-Abaire

Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig

Shrek The Musical, based on the Oscar® winning Dream-Works film, brings the hilarious story of everyone's favorite ogre to dazzling new life on the stage.  In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre, not a handsome prince, shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won't shut up, a bad guy with a SHORT temper, a cookie with an attitude and other fairy tale misfits, and you've got a big mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there's one on hand...and his name is Shrek.


Shrek Cast:

Shrek: Dane Lentz, Princess Fiona: Catherine Williamson, Donkey: Aaron Porchia, Lord Farquaad: Chris Olson, Pinocchio: Burton Thomas, Gingy/Featured Dancer: Dominic Dagdagan, Dragon/Shoemakers Elf/3 Blind Mice: Danielle Pierce, Teen Fiona/Humpty Dumpty: Christine Curulla, Teen Fiona/Ugly Duckling: Claire Shepard, Young Fiona/mice: Emily Joy Kessel, Young Fiona/mice: Juliana Morrow, 3 Blind Mice/Dragonette/Queen Lillian/Rat: Katherine Stein, 3 Blind Mice, Dragonette/Rat: Tosca Maltzman, Dragonette/Wicked Witch & Mama Ogre: Nicole Squires, Straw/King Harold: Ron Pickett, Sticks/Knight: Jeremy LaClair, Bricks/Knight/Rat: Matthew Busbee, Papa Bear/Papa Ogre/Knight: Mark Flores, Mama Bear: Chelsea Ashton, Sugar Plum Fairy/Bluebird: Suzie Shepard, Fairy Godmother/Rat: Amanda Ross, Peter Pan/Deer: Eric Gateno, Big Bad Wolf/Rat: Brian Olkowski, Little Red Riding Hood/Rat: Izzy Shepard, Baby Bear/Grumpy, mice: J.D. Cerruti, Captain/Bishop/Villager/Rat: John Holst, Young Shrek/Mice: Dylan Cazin, Thelonius/Guard/Knight: Jeffrey Warner, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Heidi Amstrup, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Meghan Hornbacker, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Kelly Lotz, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Max DeSantis, Featured Dancer/Villager/Rat: Michelle Roque


For tickets - visit the Bankhead Theater box office at 2400 First Street, Livermore, CA or call 925-373-6800, Tuesday thru Friday, noon to 6pm, Saturday: 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., closes 30 minutes after curtain or visit online: www.mylvpac.com/.




PostHeaderIcon Everyday Beauty opens Friday

Premiering with gala style and panache, once again, The Village Theatre Art Gallery presents an all new offering of Everyday Beauty as the 4th Annual Juried Exhibition at the Danville venue on Friday, June 27.  The opening reception on this evening, from 5 to 8 p.m., will introduce the juror, Alamo resident, Micaela van Zwoll, director of Micaela Gallery in San Francisco.

An independent curator and consultant, she has been inspirational to emerging and well-established artists, offering insight and professional exposure at prestigious art fairs.  As a philanthropist and collector, the artist is dedicated to supporting the San Francisco Bay Area fine art community.  Her vision and direction is in developing a fine art community and a “dynamic growing fine art collective where everyone is a participating member.”

The artist will hold an "art chat" during the opening reception at 7 p.m. while  fine wine, compliments of Danville wine bar, The Vine, and catered small bites will be offered.  The event  is free and open to the community, as always.

Following the festive opening night on June 27, the exhibition will run through August 16 at the Village Theatre Art Gallery, 233 Front Street in Danville.  Comprised of original artwork representing various elements and interpretations of the theme,  Everyday Beauty, the display features the talent of local, regional and out-of-state artists.  The showcase includes photography, watercolor and acrylic painting, glass sculpture, etchings and other mixed media.

The Village Theatre and Art Gallery is a community-based non-profit cultural art center that presents six to seven rotating exhibitions each year, with emphasis on contemporary Bay Area Artists.  The Art Gallery also serves as the lobby for the Village Theatre, where numerous patrons have the opportunity to view and appreciate the various exhibitions, before and after the performances on stage.

The gallery hours are:  Wednesday-Friday noon to 5 p.m and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sunday and open by appointment only on Mondays and Tuesday.

Admission is free.  Donations are welcome. For questions:  925-314-3460 --KRB

Karen Balch is a retired R.N., freelance writer and lover of good art. She writes frequently for allnewsnoblues.com.


PostHeaderIcon A Good Habit: Nuns on the Bus

An online campaign is underway to raise funds for an independent documentary film about Sister Simone Campbell and a group of Roman Catholic nuns, who toured the country in 2012.

Award-winning filmmaker from SUNDANCE Productions, Melissa Regan, reports filming the “troublemaking nuns for two years, since the first day of their bus tours.”  Passionate and inspiring in their quest to generate interactive dialogue and dynamic involvement in  areas of inequity in our society, the concerns of the Sisterhood are relative to poverty, healthcare, immigration reform and overall “democracy that truly serves ‘we the people’.”

In her newly released book, A Nun on the Bus:  How all of us can create Hope, Change and Community, Sister Simone chronicles the 2700 mile trip across 9 states in 2 weeks, advocating for the true cry of the people and advancing a mission for economic justice.  Building upon the precept that change is the only constant in life, the nuns took up the cause to speak out for those who have been silenced.  With a starting point in Iowa, the heartland of solidarity that once defined our society’s ideals, “The people and their stories drove them onward”, admits Sister Simone.  Forming prayer groups, rallies and small town meetings, their outreach became a galvanizing strength for positive action.

So passionate in her commitment to share the American story of a fragmented nation with compartmentalized citizens, incongruent with our Constitution, Sister Simone became a presenter at the Democratic National Convention. Rallying support against budget cuts to strategic programs for the disadvantaged, her first-hand account delivered a powerful message. She is Executive Director of NETWORK, founded in 1972 by 47 nuns on a shoestring budget, with their work over 4 decades described as “toiling in the trenches of Capitol Hill”.  The 2- person Washington office operates to lobby for harmony between Federal policies and social justice.

Financial help is needed to finish and release the film in the amount of $50,000 by June 20th.  Over 150 persons have donated thus far, reaching an estimated 30% of funding goal, with timely update posts on Facebook and Twitter.  Proclaiming that no donation is too small and the goal direction is in the need to get all of us talking, Sister Simone’s agenda is calling for Pentagon reform.  Paramount is action, through “Faith, Family and Fairness” to shine the light on hard-working Americans, calling for budget cuts in the upper echelons.  Support for low-income earners, raising minimum wage and revising the income gap are urgent problems in our midst.

Donations are tax-deductible and enticing rewards are being offered, including DVD’s, a Sister Simone ringtone, your name in the film credits, dinner with Sister Simone and the filmmakers, and more.  Encouragement to spread the word to friends, family and networks is another way to “get on the bus” and help bring the goal to fruition. According to Director/Producer, Regan, “American politics is gridlocked, the wealth gap continues to grow, and our economic choices are held hostage by polarized debates about social safety nets vs. free-market rugged individualism.”  Called “radical feminists” by the Vatican, the movement spearheaded by Sister Simone and her entourage is bringing a joyful voice to the national debate of unresolved, overdue social concerns and the on-going rhetoric that derails true reform.

The wide-spread mission is that this project will “spark an urgently needed national conversation and tipping point for action and inspire people of any religion—or no religion at all—to take bold steps toward reclaiming our common values as a nation.”  Standing up for what we believe in and taking bold steps in aligning our values with our politics is well-deserved.

This poignant documentary film by Epiphany Productions is about courage, democracy, persistence, community, faith, laughter…and nuns in action.  For completion, 150 hours of footage editing is the next step, before release of this independent documentary film via television, internet, theaters and national community engagement campaigns.

Contact:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/nuns-on-the-bus-the-movie.


Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer, avid traveler, who earlier in life was schooled by nuns. She writes regularly for allnewsnoblues.com


PostHeaderIcon Last Chapter: Pony Express Bike Ride

It's time again for the next, and last, chapter of the Pony Express bicycle adventure. I'm not one to shout out like this but many have expressed an interest in my goofy journey and some have even enjoyed the travel blog. Who knew? So, here it is again.

In case you missed it...during the past 2 summers I've spent 15 days and 1480 miles following the historic Pony Express trail alone on my bike. It's a bit roundabout and not at all direct as it runs 2000 miles from Sacramento, Calif. to St. Joseph, Missouri. After 2 weeks of pedaling I've reached Scottsbluff, Nebraska...just across the Wyoming border. Most of those days spent riding through the endless mountain passes and valleys of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

The last week of riding, Phase 3 as it's called, takes me across Nebraska and Kansas, America's Central Plains, to finish in St. Joseph, Missouri, the terminus of the old 1860s route and home to the Pony Express Museum.

The plan is to cycle the 630 miles from Scottsbluff to St. Jo' in 6 days with overnight stops in small towns along the way. The Platte River will be my guide, as it was for the real Pony Express riders, for the first 3 days. Beyond that various other river valleys will eventually lead to the Missouri River and St. Joseph.

Six days on a bicycle crossing Tornado Alley at the height of tornado season sounds dubious, but I have a strategy: I'll begin riding each day at sunrise to finish by early afternoon and, with some luck, before the severe weather gets cranked up.

This adventure is solo and unsupported and has already offered its share of difficult challenges and fantastic triumphs. Turns out riding across the country alone on a bicycle is a wonderful way to take it all in. My view is a different one. I am not “seeing” the country from 37,000' nor from an air conditioned car driving down the interstate, Unstead I am experiencing it all from back country roads at 15-20 mph where the scenes, sounds, scents, weather, creatures and the occasional local make every mile memorable. I now look forward to seeing what Nebraska and Kansas have to offer.

I will dust off the blog and add some more daily highlights. If you're interested you can follow along through June 8 at http://bensponyexpress.blogspot.com. -BC



PostHeaderIcon Cake4Kids: Sweet Surprise for Needy Kids

For needy families who are worried about finding food or housing, birthday celebrations are low on the priority list. Yet for kids who regularly do without—without new clothes, without a meal, without a stable home—the small gift of special attention and a sweet treat goes a long way towards recouping a little bit of normalcy and a treasured feeling of joy. An army of volunteer bakers devotes themselves to giving kids that special attention—Cake4Kids.

Libby Gruender founded Cake4kids in September 2010 after reading about an organization in the South that provided birthday cakes to needy kids. For one girl who received a cake, the deceptively small gift was overwhelming, and she burst into tears. “I’ve never had a birthday cake,” she cried to the volunteer who presented it to her.

Instantly, Libby knew she wanted to provide that service in her own community. She called on a group of friends, who called on other friends, and Cake4Kids was born. They recruited local agency partners to screen and identify needy kids, and opened for business across the South Bay.

The small initiative was a runaway success, and expanded rapidly. The group quickly found that it filled a role for kids in need of special attention in the midst of trauma and hardship, for volunteers who wanted to do something simple and tangible in the lives of those kids, and for avid bakers who had run out of baked good recipients—like Jeaninne Frank of Danville, who says she ‘needs’ to bake in order to relax. Her husband and kids could not keep up with her prolific baking output, so she signed on with C4K.

“There is only so much you can bake for local firefighters and police,” says Franke.

Today Cake4kids includes active organizers and volunteer bakers in the peninsula, South and North Bay areas. The process of vetting partner agencies is formal and includes verification of nonprofit status as well as disclosure of financials. Once accepted, partner agencies fill out detailed questionnaires for each cake recipient on a monthly basis, as birthdays come up—from age and gender, to favorite flavor, color, and suggested cake designs. The volunteer bakers deliver the cakes to the agency, and remain anonymous cake angels to the beneficiary.

Says Trish O’Dwyer, lead operations volunteer, “We want to protect the confidentiality of both the kids and the bakers, and let the kids enjoy the celebration with their case workers and families.”

Baking expertise is not a prerequisite for interested bakers, as C4K provides basic foolproof cake recipes as well as decorating classes. Driver’s license and insurance information is required from volunteers, as is mandatory attendance at an orientation session. Bakers cover their own costs.

“The most important aspect of a Cake4Kids cake is not that it be expertly decorated, but that the child’s name be spelled accurately and legibly, and that the cake be made with love,” says Board Member Julie Eades.

All ages of kids are served—from one to 21 years old. In 2013, three hundred volunteer home bakers baked and delivered 1,000 cakes in the South Bay alone. Today, Cake4Kids wants to expand into the East Bay area, particularly Contra Costa and Alameda counties, as well as San Mateo County. Volunteers are particularly needed to help recruit new child and family organizations, who can connect the massive cadre of bakers with a steady stream of cake recipients.

One new recipient agency in the East Bay, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), serves homeless children and families in shelter and housing programs in Alameda County.

“Homeless kids do a lot of waiting in line for institutional meals—whether at the shelter or school lunch program,” says BOSS Development Director Sonja Fitz. “Having a beautiful cake made just for them is unforgettably special.”

If you are an agency serving foster or at-risk youth and would like to learn more about receiving cake donations for your kids, contact Trish at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . To donate or volunteer, visit www.cake4kids.org. --SF


Sonja Fitz works as the development director for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency in Berkeley. She write's regularly for allnewsnoblues.com.


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