Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018
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Former teacher debuts children's musical at Valentine Theatre

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    St. Angina students giving the crossing guard salute are, from left: Rory McLin, Megan Beckett, Amy Carpenter, Laura Crawford, and Joshua Mohler. At rear are Paul Huering, and Perry Andre.

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    Amy Carpenter, left, Paul Heuring, and David Bensch, as Sparky the Labradoodle, in a scene from the play.

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    Laura Crawford is Amanda, for whom being a crossing guard is a serious undertaking, in 'Captain of the Crossing Guards.' She is leading Joshua Mohler, left, Alisa Cutcher-Marier, Megan Beckett, and Rory McLin.

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    Jennifer, portrayed by Megan Beckett, left, is mimicked by her annoying twin brother Bradley, played by Joshua Mohler, in a scene from 'Captain of the Crossing Guards.'

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    Alisa Cutcher-Marier, left, and Rory McLin in 'Captain of the Crossing Guards.'

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    Gretchen Zyndorf, center, a former Rossford teacher who wrote 'Captain of the Crossing Guards,' rehearses with actors Joshua Mohler, left, and Patrick Boyer.

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Captain of the Crossing Guards, a new children’s musical, will debut in the Valentine Theatre’s Studio A on Friday for the first of three performances.


Amy Carpenter, left, Paul Heuring, and David Bensch, as Sparky the Labradoodle, in a scene from the play.

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It tells the story of Monica Goodman, a sixth-grader who is the captain of her school’s crossing guards. She is going off to middle school and has to choose her successor from six potential candidates, one of the biggest decisions she has ever had to make.

All of the candidates are good, but she can only choose one for the job, and she doesn’t want to hurt any of them. She wants to make the best decision in a fair and honest way, director Amy Spaulding-Heuring said.

Monica turns to Mr. Roosevelt,head of transportation and bus safety, for advice. He tells her to go to the candy store — he’s done some of his best thinking there — and from Mrs. Bentley, the school principal. Monica’s Future Self also appears; 80-year-old Monica comes to sixth grade Monica in a dream and gives her some sage guidance.

The show is written by Gretchen Zyndorf, a former elementary school teacher in Rossford. She also is a Valentine Theatre supporter and donor, with her husband, Mark Zyndorf.

“It’s notable what a charming place the Valentine is, and filled with people who truly love theater,” she said. “That’s what makes it so special. And the staff is beyond wonderful. It is great that Toledo has something like the Valentine to support and keep.”

The overall message of her work is “kindness,” Zyndorf said. “And if you’re a kid, you’ve got a great head on your shoulders, just use it. Especially with girls, we need to get more girls into science. I want girls to know there’s nothing they can’t do, you just have to keep plugging away.”

Anyone who is young at heart will enjoy Captain of the Crossing Guards, Spaulding-Heuring said. “It is a great show for the family, especially children ages 4-11, with its snappy dialogue, physical humor, and charming score. It has a certain innocence and kindness.”

Six fifth-grade crossing-guard characters, played by adults, are candidates for the captain’s job. Juan (played by Rory McLin) is the coolest of the crossing-guard kids, who does a rap and hip hop number. Jennifer (Megan Beckett) and Bradley (Joshua Mohler) Krupnick are twins; Bradley’s goal is to be a newscaster while Jennifer always goes by the book, and the two clash in a funny way. Amanda (Laura Crawford) is the “science girl with her charts and graphs, whose goal is to save the environment and the world.” Rosalee (Amy Carpenter), who is very sweet and kind, has her heart in the right place but her head in the clouds, and she is a little klutzy.

Then there is Sparky the Labradoodle (David Bensch), who wants to take care of the kids. Playing Monica is Alisa Cutcher-Marier; Perry Andre plays Mr. Roosevelt, Reed A. Reamsnyder plays Richard the Artist, Paul Heuring is Sound Effects Guy No. 1, Patrick Boyer is Sound Effects Guy No. 2, and Jill Reinstein plays Mrs. Bentley/​Old Monica.

The music is composed by David Nelson Jex, with musical direction and accompaniment by Bob Duris.

Performances of Captain of the Crossing Guards are sold out.

Vegas in Van Wert

A new Las Vegas-style musical show will premiere on the stage of the Niswonger Performing Center of Northwest Ohio. And residents of the area will have the opportunity to be part of the audience as the show is videotaped for future promotion.

Vintage Vegas with Jimmi K will feature the music of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Tom Jones performed by singer-dancer Jimmi K, who has appeared in off-Broadway shows and the Birdland Jazz Club in Manhattan. He will be backed up by a seven-member band, some of them from the Van Wert area, and a team of Las Vegas dancers.

Otherwise known as Jimmi Kilduff, Jr., Jimmi K is scheduled to appear in the new musical by Tony and Grammy-winning Steven Schwartz.

Vintage Vegas will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Niswonger,10700 State Rt. 118 S, Van Wert, Ohio. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from npacvw.org or the Niswonger box office, 419-238-6722, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Contact Sue Brickey at: sbrickey@theblade.com.

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