Pulse: Highlights from Ralphie, the Hobbit and Disney
From Sun staff and freelance reports December 7, 2012 1:58PM
Johnny Rabe of Naperville will be part of the cast in "A Christmas Story! The Musical," playing now through December 30 at The Chicago Theatre. | Submitted.
Updated: January 15, 2013 6:05AM
‘Ralphie’ lauded as weekly VIP on ABC World News
They didn’t use his name, but we knew who World News was talking about.
When the late-afternoon national news program aired its weekly “person of the week” segment Dec. 7, it turned out a native son had been chosen for the distinction — sort of. Johnny Rabe, the Naperville 12-year-old playing the part of Ralphie in this season’s Broadway musical blowout version of “A Christmas Story,” was featured extensively in the piece, along with the earlier portrayal of the stalwart would-be toy gunslinger by Peter Billingsley.
ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer did not use Johnny’s name, but his poised public persona was thoroughly spotlighted in the brief bit, in which he reflected on the fun role he’d earlier discussed with The Sun (you can find that Dec. 5 story online).
“And so we choose Ralphie,” Sawyer’s soothing voice intoned.
Tree gets Feng Shui
design for Rialto festival
It’s a Feng Shui Christmas for Naperville interior designer and certified Feng Shui practitioner Joan Kaufman. Kaufman created a holiday tree using natural elements for the Rialto Square Theatre’s Festival of Trees.
The tree, called “Harmony in Nature,” uses natural elements often found in Feng Shui design, including frosted and clear sparkling icicles representing the water element, pinecones representing the wood element, poinsettias in two colors representing the fire element, golden pears representing the earth element, and accents of gold and silver bringing in the metal element. Birds and butterflies nestled in the branches represent good chi (energy) and prosperous life.
Kaufman, who is founder of Chicago Feng Shui, a firm that works with individuals and businesses to create more balanced environments that foster harmony, has participated in the Rialto’s Festival of the Trees for five years.
“It is wonderful to share our talents for tree decorating in a way that benefits the arts and the community,” Kaufman said.
After a weeklong display at the Rialto in Joliet, all decorated trees were sold via silent auction to support the theater.
for a good cause
Joe Rechenmacher proved you’re never too old to teeter totter. That’s right; we are talking about a seesaw.
Along with members of the Naperville Columbian Squires Circle 5561, a youth organization sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council 1369, the 16-year-old took part in a Teeter Totter Marathon last month to raise funds for The McGivney Center of Hope and Healing.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to raise money for a great cause like the McGivney Center,” Rechenmacher said. “Being able to have fun with all your friends while you are doing it is an added bonus.”
His dad, Don, built the seesaw especially for the fundraiser. During a 24-hour period, the boys teeter tottered through cold temperatures, with all proceeds benefiting the center that helps pregnant women in crisis situations.
“We raised almost $1,200, and (collected) a good amount of supplies for newborn babies,” said the teen. “We would like to thank everyone who donated.”
Even though there were ups and downs to the fundraiser, the teen said they plan to do it again next year.
The Warrenville-based hearing aid manufacturing company Phonak wants to make sure everyone is in the game, and last weekend, 16 employees were sent to Irvine, Calif., to volunteer at the Special Olympics games there.
Kim Rawn, a spokesperson for the company, said attendees were hand-picked based on an internal essay contest where employees wrote essays underscoring the importance of the games and Phonak’s efforts to support these athletes.
“There was no ‘criteria’ by which they were chosen,” she said. “Those that came forward volunteered with us this past weekend. It was truly incredible to read the submissions and the feedback from employees.”
One writer was Debbie Bushnell of Naperville, who said her sister-in-law has hearing issues.
“Over these years, I have spent a lot of time with my sister-in-law Jill and getting to know her and understand her life and challenges, but also seeing how strong and positive she can be,” Bushnell said. “I recognize that although I may be donating my time to Special Olympics in an effort to contribute, the reality is that this experience gave me so much more. I promised I would represent Phonak and selflessly give my time and heart.”
Athletes were given free onsite hearing screenings, and those that failed were provided a voucher for free Phonak hearing aids when they visit their own audiologist. Since 2011, more than 6,000 athletes have undergone a hearing screening, and Phonak has provided hearing aids for more than 100 athletes to date.
‘Hobbit’ Kidz Kabaret
players ready for movie
Movie fans will no doubt be queuing up this weekend for the long-awaited release of the next film in the Lord of the Rings canon, “The Hobbit,” which serves as a prequel to the series. And a Naperville-based theater group of youngsters is planning to go all out.
“My son Matt, who is 12, and a number of other kids all performed ‘The Hobbit’ play last month with the Kidz Kabaret group from Nov. 15 through 18, and now about 20 of us, including some parents, are all going to see the movie together,” said Naperville resident Diane Thomas, whose son was cast in the play as Bilbo Baggins. “The kids have kept all of their costumes and plan to wear them to the show.”
The Hobbit cast plans to see the film Saturday afternoon at the Kerasotes ShowPlace 16 theater in Naperville, at Route 59 and 95th Street. Thomas said given the age of the children and school commitments, the midnight show Friday was out of the question, but anticipation among the cast members is running high.
“The kids have all read the book, and it’s great to see children reading and being involved with this in all areas,” she said. “A lot of them have talked about the play they did versus the movie, and there are scenes with the dragon and Gollum and the battle scene they are really looking forward to seeing.”
Steps Dance Center finds way to Disney World
Members of Steps Dance Center recently took their show on the road much to the delight of visitors to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. The 76 dancers performed for people from around the globe as part of the theme park’s performing arts program.
“For many of our dancers, this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the world,” said Rebecca Rosenberg, Steps artistic director.
Trip highlights included performing at Epcot Center and Downtown Disney, as well as dancing “Gangnam Style” with Stitch in the Magic Kingdom. Along with entertaining the crowd, the dancers also had the opportunity to learn from Disney professionals.
“A highlight of the trip was taking a master class where students learned choreography from shows such as ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” Rosenberg said. “They were also given advice about putting together professional headshots and resumes, and even participated in a mock audition to give them a taste of what it might be like to audition in the real world.”
It was a trip to remember.
“It is so easy for students to become wrapped up in the competitive nature of dance, so it was wonderful for the students to have a chance to perform for the pure enjoyment of dance as a performing art.”
Sixth-grader turns 12 on 12/12/12
Does Calle Mennecke have a lucky number? One might guess that it’s 12.
This week, the sixth-grader from Scullen Middle School turned 12 on 12/12/12.
“Calle is lucky to be turning 12 on 12/12/12, but the real lucky ones are those who know her,” said her dad, Steve. “Calle is amazing. She is very sweet and kind to her three brothers and also to everyone else she meets.”
Her mom, Michi, said many friends and family members were on hand to celebrate her big day.
“She always puts others before herself, but on 12/12/12, we are putting her first,” said her dad.
Happy birthday, Calle.