Monday, March 16, 2015

Laetare Dinner Theater: Lend Me a Tenor

Emily Crouse, Brian Koehler
You know the evening's entertainment was a big hit when it is all that your family talks about all the way home. Last night was just such an evening: the much-anticipated St. Mary's Assumption 14th Annual Laetare Dinner Theater featuring the Queen's Players under the direction of Mrs. Hilary Flanery. The two weekend performances were produced as a benefit for Queen of the Holy Rosary Academy.

Mrs. Flanery's productions are always delightful, and this year's performance of Lend Me a Tenor, a Comedy in Two Acts by Ken Ludwig, was absolutely no exception. It was quick-paced, quick-witted, well-acted, and it kept the audience in stitches from start to finish.

The story is set in a hotel room in Cleveland in 1934. Opera coordinator Henrietta Saunders, played perfectly by Miss Jane Binsfeld, and her excitable, quick-speaking and star-struck daughter Maggie (Miss Emily Crouse), along with Maggie's boyfriend Max (Mr. Brian Koehler), himself an aspiring young tenor, are all anticipating the imminent arrival of famous operatic tenor Tito Merelli (Mr. Steve Crouse), who is in town to perform the part of Othello for the Cleveland Opera.

Donna Kallal, Steve Crouse
Tito arrives at the hotel room with his wife Maria (Mrs. Hilary Flanery) to the relief of all, but it is only a little while, and many comedic turns later, when Tito finds himself passed out (and thought dead) on the hotel bed, and quite unable to perform. With much arm-twisting by Henrietta, Max suits up as the Othello fill-in, only to be mistaken by many including his dear Maggie, as the real deal, Tito.

The case of mistaken identity plays out with hilarity as the remaining cast members approach the real Tito, "alive" again and in full Othello costume and make-up, all referencing his brilliant performance that evening, which he clearly knows nothing about. Whether it was Miss Lucretia Payne as Diana, an up-and-coming actress begging his positive review for her acting abilities, Miss Violanta Shamija as a hotel bellhop in pursuit of his autograph, or Mrs. Donna Kallal as the over-the-top socialite Julia, who desires every available spotlight on herself, each brought their quick-witted lines with skill and ease to the laughter of the audience.

It would be impossible to single out a star of the show, for the roles were perfectly cast and all played so well. But I must say Steve Crouse was terrific as Tito, the hot-blooded Italian with the Bob Newhart delivery. Dry as a bone and hilarious all the while. And Mrs. Flanery played an equally or more hot-blooded Italian wife Maria with the perfect "out-of-my-way!" Italian accent. And you'd better get out of her way or you might catch a face-full of her disdainful spit! An incomparable pair, those two!

Jane Binsfeld, Hilary Flanery, Donna Kallal
Throughout the play Mrs. Flanery's directorial personal touch kept St. Mary's clergy and parishioners on their toes as cast members were wont to often compare their storyline to life's real actors, the audience members, at every turn. They were all very funny and cleverly placed, but my personal favorite had to be when Max was attempting to throw several adoring fans off his trail when he pointed to the front row of the audience exclaiming, "Look! There's Father Jackson!!", giving him the needed moment to make his getaway.

What an evening! Catered by Genesis catering company, the dinner of roast beef, sides and desserts was delicious, and the company of good friends in the festive Laetare (rejoice!) atmosphere was sublime.

What better way to spend the 4th Sunday of Lent, that Laetare day, breaking the fast momentarily before settling back in for the last penitential weeks before we remember solemnly Christ's Passion! Truly it is His Liturgy in our lives. Deo Gratias!

And so now, dear readers, make certain plans for Laetare Sunday, 2016. Do not miss the Queens Players in their 15th Annual Laetare Dinner Theater weekend. Mark your calendars now, you'll be delighted that you did!

Halfway thru Lent
And we're not spent
It is Laetare Day!

Nor more repent
We make a dent
In fasting, feast away!

Together wine
Together dine
Ambrosia spread so hearty!

Then after nine
All fetes consign to
Lent...after our Cast party!!

By Long-Skirts

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Good Reading

Here is a new book I just received and can't wait to start reading: The Spiritual Life - Writings of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. From Angelus Press:

After the posthumous books of Archbishop Lefebvre, The Mass of All Time and Priestly Holiness, here is now a third volume entitled The Spiritual Life.
It gathers in a single volume the words of Archbishop Lefebvre on the subject of the life of the soul. The words of the great bishop are indeed an inexhaustible wellspring of meditation proper to nourish in the faithful their union with God, to encourage them on the field of spiritual combat and to draw them higher in the practice of Christian virtues.
This book is not an exhaustive treatise on spirituality, but a presentation of its fundamental aspects.
2014. One volume, 502 pages – hardbound (black cloth, gold lettering), with dust-jacket.. Arranged by Fr. Patrick Troadec, SSPX.

My dear brother has nearly finished it and highly recommends it as a book that will assist the reader in his earthly journey towards the sanctification of his soul and eternity in heaven. Sounds like perfect Lenten--or anytime--reading to me!

A Blessed Lent to you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Great Graces of Lent

If you have the means or ability to secure the 'The Liturgical Year', or at least Lent, Volume 5 of that work, it is well worth the time you will spend reading it.  In the chapter 'Practice During Lent', Gueranger writes

 'There is one means more whereby we are to secure to ourselves the great graces of Lent; it is the spirit of retirement and separation from the world. Our ordinary life, such as it is during the rest of the year, should all be made to pay tribute to the holy season of penance; otherwise, the salutary impression produced on us by the holy ceremony of Ash Wednesday will soon be effaced.'

A blessed Lent to you. 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday of Quinquagesima Week

Sweet is this present life, but it passes away; terrible O Christ, is thy judgement, and it endures for ever. Let us, therefore, cease to love what is unstable, and fix our thoughts on the fear of what is eternal; saying; Christ have mercy upon us!
- from the Ambrosian liturgy

Let us gratefully use this world; go through it without making it the object of our hope; not waste upon it that love, which God alone deserves; and be ever mindful, that we are not made for this, but for another and happier world.
- from 'The Liturgical Year', Gueranger, Book #4, p. 200.

May you have a fruitful Lent. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born, of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, and in piercing cold.

In that hour, vouchsafe O my God to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ and of his Blessed Mother.


From the Saint Andrew novena

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Little Lightning Bug

Summer is here! If the calendar didn't prove it, everything around us does: the early morning and late evening daylight, the ever-increasing outdoor temperatures (and the constantly running AC), the kids out of school, the early garden harvest (sweet peas!) and one of my favorite things: lightning bugs.

Five years ago in early June and in this same blog space, I wrote the following: 
Lightning Bugs 
As a transplant to the Midwest I was in my mid-30s before I saw my first lightning bug. (For all the Pacific Northwest has to offer, it is not a home to lightning bugs!) I've been here 10 years now, and I still thrill to see these slow-fliers for a few weeks each May and June.
On a warm evening as the boys chase them, catch them, and marvel at their little twinkling lights, I can't help but think that perhaps that is precisely why God made lightning bugs: simply for the wonderment and delight of every child...... and every child within the adult who still marvels too.

Our boys are now 12 and 14 years old and not so interested in chasing and catching the little fellas anymore, but we all still enjoy getting a glimpse of their lights and following them as they take their time twinkling about our back yard. 

My good friend, LongSkirts, wrote the following poem about lightning bugs. I love this poem when she posts it each year about this time:


Little lightning bug
O, fellow
Where'd you get
That torch so yellow

Flicking off
Then flicking on
Right above our
Front yard lawn

Giving children
Upon this earth

Keeping lit
Your votive flame
Compline's call
To praise His name

* * *

God Bless You!