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Not just any festival….It’s the World’s Fair!


Join ASPI for their production of Meet Me in St. Louis! The year is 1904, the Smith family experiences life and love’s woes, all leading up to a family trip to the St. Louis World’s Fair.

So, what exactly is the world’s fair?

The world’s fair is an international exhibition meant to showcase a nation’s accomplishments. The most recently hosted was the Expo 2017 held in Astana Kazakhstan.

The tradition of the world’s fair began in Paris with the French Industrial Exposition of 1844. After which, other European countries decided to follow suit. A world’s fair can last anywhere from three weeks to six months.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was constructed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle? Many structures and towers built to be used temporarily for the fair are dismantled at the close of the festivities. But not the Eiffel Tower! While some opposed the construction, and wanted it dismantled after the fair, the Eiffel Tower is here to stay and has become an icon of Paris.

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also knows and the St. Louis World’s Fair, was held in St. Louis, MO from April 30th to December 1st, 1904. It was intended to celebrate the centennial of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, though the opening of the exposition was delayed until 1904. It cost $15 million to fund the construction and festivities. The fair site took place over 1200 acres and close to 19.7 million people who attended the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Exhibitions included concessions, theater troupes, educational displays, local history displays, etc. from 50 nations, and 43 U.S. states (of the then 45 states).

One exhibition building was the Palace of Electricity. With a cost of $400,000, the building was to share progress in electrical engineering. Different technologies on display included the Finsen light, x-ray apparatus, radiophone, electrical lighting, and electric locomotives (to name a few).

While not invented at the fair as previously believed, there were many foods that were popularized by the fair. Can you guess what these foods are? Hamburgers, hot dogs, peanut butter, and cotton candy. The fair is also said to have introduced Dr. Pepper to the mass of attendees.

Come and join ASPI family on December 1st-3rd and the 8th-10th for their production of Meet Me in St. Louis. Tickets are on sale NOW! For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

Cushioned chairs will replace church pews

Bond Foundation presents $11K grant to Abrams theater

By Joan Koehne
Owner of Writer to the Rescue

Theater Chairs Bond Foundation

Seated in a church pew at the Byng Community Theater, Bill Koehne, president of Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc., and Debra Jolly, vice president, accept an $11,535 grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation, presented by Mary McMonagle, left, president of the foundation, and Jenni Hanna, executive director. The theater will use the grant funding to replace the pews with cushioned chairs.

The Byng Community Theater in Abrams will install new seating for its audience, thanks to an $11,535 grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation. Abrams Spotlight Productions will replace the theater’s church pews with more comfortable and versatile chairs.

According to Bond Foundation executive director Jenni Hanna, the project was selected for funding because of the theater’s significance in the community.
“The foundation’s board of directors recognized Abrams Spotlight Productions as a great creative outlet for the local community as well as an entertainment venue for people of all ages,” she said.

“The board was also impressed with the dedication and hard work of the many volunteers who are responsible for the success of Abrams Spotlight Productions. The board felt the theater seating will improve not only the function of the theater but also allow Abrams Spotlight Productions to better serve the community.”

“We are so grateful to be selected for a Bond Foundation grant,” said Bill Koehne, president of Abrams Spotlight Productions. “These chairs will provide added comfort for our patrons and the opportunity for us to better utilize our space and more easily accommodate patrons with disabilities.”

The 200 new chairs will replace all 22 pews in the church, plus three rows of metal folding chairs. The new chairs are solidly built, durable, washable, and stackable.

The grant also provides funding for the flooring to be cleaned and prepped before the new chairs are installed. In order to keep costs to a minimum, volunteers will remove the pews and install the chairs. The renovations will take place in late December or early January, and the church pews will be available for purchase.

The pews are remnants of the building’s previous use as St. Louis Catholic Church. The facility, home to Abrams Spotlight Productions since 2007, has undergone a series of transformations that include the construction of a stage with modular set booms, backstage dressing rooms, a concession stand, and a light, sound, and projections booth.

The new seating is scheduled to be unveiled Feb. 15, 2018, at a joint Oconto Falls/Oconto Chamber of Commerce event. Patrons attending the spring performance of “Singing in the Rain” will be the first to sit in the new chairs. The show will be performed March 16-18 and March 23-25 at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple St. in Abrams.

The theater is currently running “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a classic holiday musical presented Dec. 8-10.
The Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation is a family-endowed foundation committed to the growth and improvement of Oconto County and its surrounding areas. The foundation was established in 1993 by Leon Bond (benefactor of the foundation and founder of the Bond Pickle Company) and Earl DeCloux.

Halloween Munsters Throwback

Halloween musters feelings of magic and mystery. In the spirit of this spooktacular season, join ASPI as we take a look back at some of our most frightful, fantastical, and mysterious productions!

Let’s start with our 2012 production of Arsenic and Old Lace starring Bill Wons as Mortimer Brewster. Mortimer must figure out a way to deal with his homicidal aunts, Abby and Martha Brewster (played by Karen Fuller and Sharon Fischer, respectively) who kill off lonely old men with a drink of elderberry wine laced with arsenic. Mix in a waiting fiancée, one brother who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt, and another brother with ill intentions and you’ve got a dark comedy that will make you think twice about accepting that glass of elderberry wine.

Pictured L to R Early Fuller, David Woosencraft, Conner Suddick, Karen Fuller, Sharon Fischer

Pictured L to R: Megan Sopata as Elaine Harper, Bill Wons as Mortimer Brewster along with Karen Fuller and Sharon Fischer

Let’s go back a little further with our 2010 production of CLUE: The Musical. Go from the board game to the actual scene of the crime. Who killed Mr. Boddy? The cast of iconic characters included Bill Koehne as Mr. Boddy, Linda Druckrey as Mrs. Peacock, Brandon Byng as Professor Plum, Suzie Wons as Miss Scarlett, Jerard Nighorn as Colonel Mustard, Sharon Fischer as Mrs. White, and Bill Wons as Mr. Green. This interactive musical comedy had the audience deducing from clues as the actors went from room to room. Was it Mr. Green in the conservatory with the revolver? Only the cards know!

Pictured L to R: Jerard Nighorn as Colonel Mustard, Bill Wons as Mr. Green, Suzie Wons as Miss Scarlett, Bill Koehne as Mr. Boddy, Linda Druckrey as Mrs. Peacock, Sharon Fischer as Mrs. White, Brandon Byng as Professor Plum

Spelling B-E-E and After Dark Productions

2017 is zipping by, especially at Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. where we have been busier than usual because we added a fourth show to our season’s line-up.

Our theater is well known for family-friendly shows, and we don’t want to change that. We remain committed to bringing three, high quality community theater productions to the stage each year. So far in 2017 we’ve produced “Annie” and “Steel Magnolias,” and we’ll wrap up the year with “Meet Me in St. Louis” in December.

As a bonus this year, we added a fourth show, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” We wanted to produce something out-of-the-box that would be fun for the audience. We knew it would be a challenge to break away from the traditional shows we’ve been producing, but we believed the community was ready for something edgier and PG-13, as long as it was done well and was highly entertaining.

We found that combination with this show. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is performed by an extremely talented cast and maintains the perfect balance of humor and poignancy.

To bring this show to the stage, Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. created a division called “After Dark Productions.” The purpose of After Dark Productions is to present plays that don’t fit into the mold of our three family-friendly shows each season. The new division allows us to draw upon the talents of new actors, directors, and outside resources. After Dark Productions creates an additional entertainment opportunity for the audience, and it also allows the theater to grow into a more mature theater without losing sight of its principal values.

If you’ve been a regular patron, you’ve seen a lot of growth at the theater over the years, and you can be sure to see more growth to come. We want Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. to be a special part of the community and a long-lasting source of entertainment, offering something for everyone.

We’re glad you’re here to join us for a spelling bee unlike any you’ve ever experienced. You’re encouraged to laugh out loud and have a good time. You’re also encouraged to become even more involved with our, and more importantly, your community theater. Just ask one of our volunteers how!

Enjoy the show!

Sincerely,
Bill Koehne
President, Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc.

Before there were spotlights and solos… there were homilies and hymns!

Written by: Anna Olson

The Byng Community Theater was not always home to ASPI and their theatrical performances. The building used to be St. Louis Catholic Parish and its history goes all the way back to 1909.

It all began as a mission church of St. Patrick’s in Stiles. Father Philip St. Louis, who was pastoring in Stiles at the time, came together with 13 other families to begin organizing the first Catholic Parish in Abrams. In 1910, services were being held in a hall above the general store and it wasn’t until the fall of 1911 that the church on Maple was built. Unfortunately, on Sunday February 6th, 1927, a chimney fire destroyed the church. But the congregation came together and rebuilt the church, and in August 1927 it was blessed by the Bishop of Green Bay.

In August 2003, ASPI held their first show, Emmerella, at the Abrams Town Hall. Then in 2007, ASPI found their future home, the St. Louis Church. The building was acquired and the crew was busy making updates to create their theater. This included remodeling to create a stage, a backstage area, and a concession stand.

On October 24th , 2008, ASPI held their first production, Unwrapped, in their new theater.

When you walk into the theater, you can still see and feel the history of days gone by. But the theater is constantly looking for ways to improve and maintain its valuable presence in the community. Recent updates include a fresh paint job; a new and improved control booth for sound, lighting, and projecting; the addition of modular set booms (see past blog post); and more future updates to be announced.

Come and check out the theater on August 4th-6th and the 11th-13th for ASPI’s latest production of STEEL MAGNOLIAS. Tickets are on sale NOW! For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

 

Pictured:

Top left- the old paint job, remember the stars?

Top right- St. Louis Catholic Church mass, date unknown

Bottom- the new paint job completed June 2017

 

 

She said what? : A Steel Magnolias Trivia Contest

ASPI is proud to present their production of Steel Magnolias, where you can take a trip to Truvy’s beauty shop and visit with six resilient women as they experience life’s ups and downs with laughter, tears, and the power of friendship.

Meet the ladies:

M’Lynn- She is the family matriarch who cares deeply for the well-being of her family.

Shelby- She is the daughter of M’Lynn and is considered the prettiest girl in town.

Truvy- The beauty shop owner who has a personality with style and sass.

Annelle- The young newcomer who is looking to find a fresh start.

Clairee- The proper yet witty wife of the former mayor.

Ouiser- While she is a wealthy curmudgeon, she is equal parts eccentric and lovable.

Instructions for the contest: 

Whether you are an avid fan or just meeting the ladies for the first time, here is your chance to score 2 tickets to a performance of ASPI’s production of Steel Magnolias. To enter, submit your answers to which character said which quote in the form below.  All correct entries will be entered for a chance to win 2 free tickets to a performance of your choosing.  The drawing will take place June 22nd!

  1. Because I have a strict philosophy that I have stuck to for fifteen years… There is no such thing as natural beauty.
  2. Pink is my signature color.
  3. A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste.
  4. We can sell T-shirts saying “I Slapped Ouiser Boudreaux!” Hit her!
  5. I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.
  6. Today is very special. And my work tends to be too poofy when I’m nervous. Does your dress have to go over your head?
  7. As somebody always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me.
  8. I’m not crazy. I’ve just been in a very bad mood for forty years.

You must correctly guess the author of the quotes for your chance to win.  Enter your answers in the form below!

Are you interested in being a part of the show?  Auditions will be held June 6th or 7th 6pm-8pm at The Byng Community Theater.  Backstage volunteers are also needed- please contact the theater if you would like to be involved!

Steel Magnolias will be presented August 4-6 and August 11-13.  TICKETS GO ON SALE SATURDAY JUNE 3rd!!   For more information on the show or to order tickets, go to www.abramstheater.com or call the box office at 920-826-5852.

 

 

“Steel Magnolias” auditions for summer show,

Abrams, WI May 19, 2017: Abrams Spotlight Productions will hold auditions for its summer show, “Steel Magnolias,” a production full of sass, style and sisterhood.

Written by American playwright Robert Harling and based on his experience with his sister’s death, the show is set in Louisiana in the 1980s and is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming. At Truvy’s beauty shop, the motto is: “There’s no such thing as natural beauty.” Gossip, revelations, and witty Southern banter flow like refreshing sweet tea on a hot summer day. Through clouds of hairspray and over the buzz of blow dryers, six southern spitfires gather each week to chat and support each other through thick and thin.

The play was adapted as a film released in 1989 which earned Julia Roberts an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Shelby. Infused with heart and humor, “Steel Magnolias” is a story of love, loss, and enduring friendship.

Auditions will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, and Wednesday, June 7, at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple Ave., Abrams. The play calls for six adult females of various ages. Women auditioning will be asked to read from the script.

Newcomers are encouraged and welcome to audition! Back-stage volunteers also are needed, so consider sharing your time and talent.

The show will be performed Aug. 4-6 and 11-13 at the Byng Community Theater in Abrams. Rehearsals are set for Sundays and Thursdays.

For more information about auditions or to volunteer, call 920-826-5852.

Looking for something new? Time for After Dark!

By now our patrons have been seeing snippets of information related to After Dark Productions and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. What is After Dark Productions you may be asking yourself? Well, to sum it up, it is FUN!

After Dark Productions is an education based theater group created by Abrams Spotlight Productions and Directed by Kari Devine. You were introduced to Kari in our April newsletter. It was Kari who came to the Board of ASPI with the idea of doing 1 show a year that was edgier and focused on adult themes. She also came up with the idea for After Dark Productions. “Anyone involved is working with staff and resources from the semi-professional or professional theater levels” Kari says.

ASPI received feedback from patrons and past actors that there was an interest in adult only theater experiences, which resulted in the creation of After Dark Productions, along with Kari Devine’s guidance. The goal of After Dark Productions is to produce edgier productions geared towards the adult only crowds. When you see “After Dark Productions”- you are in for a wild ride!

The first production that After Dark Productions will be presenting is “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. The 2005 Broadway production is a one act musical comedy that takes place at Putnam Valley Middle School as six middle schoolers compete in their annual spelling bee hosted by three eccentric adults. Each show is bound to be different each night because the actors improvise based on the participation of the audience. It will be “adult night at the spelling bee” meaning that the festivities and humor are intended for an adult audience. Kari says “It is a comedy with a good bit of honest adult content and audience participation. It’s a nice show to get away and laugh for a night or afternoon and put normal life aside.”
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will be running September 15-17 and 22-24. Go to www.abramstheater.com for more information. Tickets go on sale SOON!  Announcement will be made on Facebook!

Family Spotlight: The Wons Family

Bill, Suzie, and their children Leah, Garrett, and Sophia

  • Roles
    • Suzie and Leah’s first play was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in October 2007
    • Bill and Garrett’s first play was Unwrapped in October 2008 along with Suzie and Leah
    • Sophia’s first play was Rented Christmas in December 2008 along with Garrett
    • Bill is currently an ASPI board member
  • What got them started in ASPI?
    • When Leah was not able to make the dates for the Missoula Theater, a friend suggested that they check out ASPI. It was something Leah really wanted to do, so Suzie and Leah both auditioned and got roles in the 2007 production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
  • How does it feel to be involved in ASPI as a family?
    • Sophia- “You get to practice lines together.”
    • Bill- “You get to spend quality time with the family!”
  • What draws them to ASPI?
    • Bill- “It’s a lot of fun to perform and build relationships with the other actors. We built a lot of friendships over the years that now extend outside the theater because of the shows we have been in.”
    • Suzie- “It’s something we can do as a family. It’s close to home.”
  • What would they say to other families about getting involved in ASPI?
    • Bill- “Don’t be scared. It’s a lot of fun! It’s a great way to strengthen and build your relationships with your children. There will be plenty to talk about around the dinner table.”
  • Favorite family activity outside of ASPI

The Wons family enjoys sailing and traveling.

Fun Facts

  • Leah is currently pursuing performance as a career majoring in musical performance at Viterbo University in La Crosse.
  • Sophia is also involved in Missoula Theater and Destination Imagination.
  • Bill has also been involved in performances at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Little Suamico.

The Wons family was recently in ASPI’s production of ANNIE on March 31st, April 1st, April 2nd and April 7th, April 8th, April 9th.

Family Spotlight: The Jolly Family

David, Debra, and their daughter Liz

David, Debra, and their daughter Liz

  • Roles
    • The family’s first play was Bah, Humbug in the winter of 2009.
    • Debra helps with costumes, makeup, and hair and is also the board’s Vice President and resident choreographer.
    • David is involved in tech and is also a board advisory member.
    • Liz has performed in many shows and helps with costumes.
  • What got them started at ASPI?
    • David- “All of our backgrounds.”
    • Debra- “We are theater people!”
    • Liz- “We were here from the beginning.”
  • What draws them to ASPI?
    • Debra- “It’s a good group of people!”
    • Liz- “We do such high-level, high- quality productions for a community theater.”
  • How does it feel to be involved in ASPI as a family?
    • Liz- “I think it’s cool to work together as a family. That’s not an opportunity you get much in your life.”
  • Favorite family activity outside of ASPI
    • The Jolly family likes to travel and watch old movies and musicals.
  • Fun Facts
    • David and Debra met on the stage in ’76 when he volunteered for a ballet she was involved. “So Elizabeth had no choice but to be involved in theater. It was inevitable,” says Debra.
    • Liz graduated from St. Norbert in 2012 and studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York where she graduated in 2015.

Recently Liz was Miss Hannigan and David was Daddy Warbucks in ASPI’s production of ANNIE on March 31st, April 1st, April 2nd and April 7th, April 8th, April 9th.