Rick’s Place hosts Work Day, summer camps for military families

07RicksPlaceThis June, Rick’s Place will host a volunteer “Work Day” 
and start kids’ summer day camps to teach essential survival skills. Rick’s Place is a 50-acre reintegration park in Fayetteville for military families and contractors. Founded in 2014 by military families for soldiers and their families, the park provides fun, quality activities to help strengthen relationships around the deployment cycle. Rick’s Place’s Work Day will be held June 8 from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Work Day provides meaningful volunteer activities for teams and families to help build the park. Typical activities include carpentry, gardening, ditch-clearing and park beautification. A community meal is provided free of charge to all who register online by the deadline of June 3. The Rick’s Place staff asks that volunteers register for the event so that they prepare the right number of projects. To find the event online and register, search “June Work Day” on Eventbrite.com, with Fayetteville set as the location.

Parents must supervise their kids. Rick’s Place encourages parents and kids to work side-by-side to help build a park that is, in turn, a place that families can go to have fun and to relax.

Starting June 10, Rick’s Place hosts day camps for kids ages 8-14. This summer, a limited number of scholarships for military children are available courtesy of the Fayetteville Woodpecker’s Community Leaders Program. The day camp is called the Super Fun Quality Camp or SF Q-Camp, a play on the Special Forces Qualification Course, also known as The Q-Course. SFQC teaches kids skills that blend the best of living in nature with appreciation of key military survival skills such as land navigation, fire building, knot tying, and animal and plant threat identification. The camp also provides opportunities to let off steam with paintball battles, foam machine play and old-fashioned tale-telling.

One 23-year Army veteran and father of five said, “Rick’s Place provides my family with an environment where we can work together, play together and just be together, in a beautiful outdoor setting, no strings attached. It’s a place to unwind and disconnect from the pressures of everyday life, while forging bonds with other military families — and the community that supports us — that can sustain life long after we’ve left the grounds.

“I love the look on my kids’ faces when they pile out of the minivan and see the latest addition to the recreational scene at Rick’s Place: the trampoline in the trees, zip line, Nerf-gun battleground — there’s always a moment when they look back and me as if to say, ‘Dad, are you sure I’m allowed to do this?’ The answer, at Rick’s Place, is always yes.”

Rick’s Place is operated by the Rick Herrema Foundation to support family bonding and reintegration between deployments. The park is located at 5572 Shenandoah Drive, Fayetteville.

For more information about Work Day or day camps, visit rhfnow.org/events, email info@rhfnow.org, call the Rick’s Place team at 910-444-1743 or come for a visit. The park is open dawn to dusk every day to support war stress reduction for military families and contractors.

Fayetteville Dinner Theatre presents “‘M’ is for Mullet!”

01UAC052219Everyone loves a good murder mystery at the theater. But what happens when you deep-fry the plot in Southern flavor, salt it heavily with comedy, invite audience members to interrogate the suspects and throw in a fancy dinner, y’all? Fayetteville-born and Charlotte-based playwright Elaine Alexander explores this question with “‘M’ is for Mullet!” It debuts, presented by Fayetteville Dinner Theatre, May 31-June 1 at Gates Four Golf and Country Club.

Darleen Dewberry, beloved hair-cutter and mullet-master in the small Southern town of Grissetville, owned Curl Up and Dye Salon before her untimely expiration. She was found dead in her salon next to a spilled bottle of Cheerwine, a can of Aqua Net hairspray and a half-eaten fruitcake. But who killed her?

Audience members will have opportunities to watch for clues and talk to suspects during the show and try to figure it out. “When you arrive at the venue, you will be arriving at Darleen’s memorial service,” FDT Producer Bill Bowman said. “It’s an immersive theater experience where the actors will be interacting (in character) with you.”

In their own words, let’s meet the six official suspects in the murder of Dewberry.

Editor’s note: The following “interviews” come from a feature on “‘M’ is for Mullet!” written by playwright Elaine Alexander that was first published in the May 2019 issue of Women’s View Magazine.

Beau E. Johnson, “The Mullet Man”: “I’m a local legend as the inventor of ‘The Mullet’ hairdo. I may have cut hair too short, but I’ve never cut a life too short. If you’re investigating somebody who could have murdered Darleen, look at the other five suspects or the town’s new mayor. I heard she hated her new Mullet hairdo that Darlene gave her.”

Mario Fellini: “My restaurant has a reputation for having the best Italian cuisine, and I’ve got a reputation for cheating on the ladies. But I’m not a killer. I’m a lover! Interrogate my waitress — she’s an excon. Or maybe the town’s new mayor. She showed up at my restaurant cursing Darleen’s name.”

Kat Chatterton: “I’m the town’s biggest celebrity — the TV hostess of ‘Kat’s Chat,’ Grissetville’s local lifestyle show. Why would I risk my fame to kill Darleen — even if she was seeing my boyfriend, Mario? Y’all need to interrogate the town’s con artist psychic, Verita. Or the town’s other crook, Grissetville’s new mayor.”

Rae Shawn Simmons: “I run the Bounce That Booty Gym. I give ‘killer’ workouts. But I’m not a killer, although Darleen did threaten to sue me. If you want the real killer, I’d check out Mario, who was two-timing her with Kat. Or the town’s new mayor. She was sweating last time I saw her. And I know it wasn’t from exercise.”

Wanda June James: “I’m a former cheerleader stuck waiting tables at Mario’s Italian Restaurant. I’m also an ex-jailbird, and there’s no way I’d do something to get me caged up again. If you want to know the real killer, talk to Rae Shawn or that new mayor. I’ve heard them both at the restaurant complaining about Darleen.”

Verita Delgado: “I may be a psychic, but I don’t know who murdered Darleen. I just know it wasn’t me — even though she ruined my fortune-telling business with her lies. My tarot cards say to look at two-timing Mario or that new mayor. I saw her give me the Evil Eye.”

Of the the show, Alexander said, “It’s an unconventional night of entertainment. You’ll die of laughter; it’s not serious, and it’s fastpaced. Murder has never been so funny. All the characters have a motive. ... If (the audience) is paying attention, they’ll figure it out.”

Prior to the formal start of the show, a reception for Darleen’s memorial service will feature a wine-tasting and cash bar courtesy of Leclair’s General Store, and live music by KasCie Page.

Once seated, audience members need not sleuth on an empty stomach. Dinner includes a double entree of seasoned beef tips and chicken picatta, Southern-style green beans, buttered parsley red potatoes, dinner rolls and strawberry cheesecake. Mystery door prize bags will also be distributed.

The table that figures out who the killer is will receive a grand prize at the end of the evening.

Bowman said what caught his eye about Alexander’s script was her unique sense of humor and the story’s clever twists. “The way she tied in these different characters and everything actually had me laughing out loud because they’re almost like cartoons,” he said. “It’s unique. It’s a different kind of comedy.”

Alexander’s one-act comedies have been festival winners at theaters throughout the United States, most notably in New York City and Los Angeles, California, and as far away as Sydney, Australia, and Cuenca, Ecuador. She is a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism alumnus and a fourth-generation Fayetteville native.


“My great-grandfather rode in the first car in Fayetteville,” she said. “My family has lived on a farm that was owned by my great-grandfather since practically the 19th century, on Morganton Road.

“I grew up in Fayetteville. I’m a Southern girl. The characters in the play are ones that I have known in my life.” Obviously, Alexander, added, they’re a bit exaggerated for comedic effect.

Bringing “Mullet’s” characters to life are The Hot Mess Players, a Charlotte-based dinner theater group Alexander created to perform both private and public murder mystery productions throughout the Carolinas.

Bowman thanks the show’s pemiere sponsors for their generosity: Healy Wholesale, Ramada Plaza, and Paul Mitchell the School Fayetteville.

There are three opportunities to see “‘M’ is for Mullet!” at Gates Four Golf and Country Club, 6775 Irongate Dr. Friday, May 31, there is a matinee showing at noon; doors open at 11:30 a.m. It costs $55. That evening, there is a show at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 1, there is a show at 7 p.m, with doors opening at 6 p.m. The evening shows cost $75 per person or $65 for seniors, active-duty service members and Gates Four residents. Reserve your spot and purchase tickets at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

Photo:  L to R: Peter Guarascio as Mario Fellini, Dominic Hilton as Rae Shawn Simmons, Keith Hopkins as Beau Elvis Johnson, Kellie Floyd Payne as Kat Chatterton, Eva Montes as Verita Delgado, Eileen Davis as Wanda June James and Lonnie Gregory as The Sheriff.

Photo credit: Carlo Pieroni

Vegan Festival brings speakers, educators and more

09VeganMany people grew up with their elders reminding them to eat their vegetables. It turns out they were onto something. Prima Elements Holistic Wellness Center presents Fayetteville’s 2nd Annual Vegan Festival on Saturday, May 25, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. at the corner of Anderson and Old Streets in downtown Fayetteville.

“The general purpose of this festival is to encourage our community … to live more of a compassionate lifestyle and to have more of an educational purpose to what the vegan lifestyle is,” said Audriaunna Kitterman, executive director for Fayetteville’s Vegan Festival.

“We encourage everyone to become more aware of what plant-based nutrition will be able to provide for them in the long term of their family and those around them.”

The vegan diet involves no meat or dairy. “You are alleviating the meat and dairy and substituting them with plant-based (alternatives),” said Kitterman. “In essence, it is going to help one sustain more of a prolific lifestyle, help overcome a lot of health concerns and ailments and help with living nutrients that are predominantly derived within these plant-based alternatives. And the living enzymes help one overcome diseases and cancer (by) breaking down (inflammation) and more.”

There will be five panelists at the festival. “Dr. Sailesh Rao is the co-producer of two largely known documentaries, which are ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘What the Health,’” said Kitterman. “He will educate the community on his philosophy and passion and (share) what he plans to continuously do for the community on a worldwide basis.”

Kitterman said the additional panelists include Daniel Turbert, Adrian Burgos, Tita Nieves and Erin Fergus. They will share their journeys about transitioning to the vegan lifestyle, bring awareness about mass-produced farm animals, give insight on the importance of plant-based nutrition and talk about how the vegan lifestyle affects physical and emotional well-being.

Festival vendors include vegan-friendly businesses and groups like food preparation demonstrators, musicians, wellness organizations, educational organizations and more.

“Our first vegan festival was amazing, and it was outstanding to see such a remarkable response from the community,” said Kitterman. “We had about 2,500 people that flooded Anderson and Old Streets. The compassion, joy and love that everyone shared with one another was truly a beautiful feeling.”

Vegan food vendors will be on-site. Donations are appreciated. Individuals who make a $20 donation or more will receive a T-shirt and peace bag with samples of vegan products and coupons. Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to animal shelters and rescue groups around the United States to help and protect animals in need.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.veganfestivalfaync.com or call 910-483-8406.

Review: Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s ‘Memphis’ a crowd-pleaser

10MemphisCape Fear Regional Theatre finishes up its 2018-19 season with a crowd-pleasing production of the hit musical “Memphis,” once again bringing amazing music, dance and talent to a local stage. It runs through May 26.

Written by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, “Memphis” is loosely based on real-life Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, who introduced blues and soul music to a white Southern audience in the 1950s. In the musical, DJ Huey Calhoun wants to share the music he enjoys with a wide audience. Huey is not an activist — he simply doesn’t see color lines — a trait that makes this character almost a superhero in 2019.

When Huey, who is white, meets aspiring singer Felicia Farrell, who is black, he makes it his mission to get her song played on the (white) radio station. Huey also wants to get a kiss, which only makes Felicia’s overprotective sister, Delray, even more suspicious.

As Huey’s popularity continues to rise, he begins to take risks with breaking color barriers, including in his relationship with Felicia, whose singing career is blooming. This leads to angry and violent responses that put both Huey and Felicia in danger.

The story of “Memphis” reminds us that standing up for your beliefs is and always will be important and often requires courage. It is a story of equality, love, acceptance and striving to reach your potential. It is also a story about learning to deal with ignorance, bigotry and hatred. It is a story that, unfortunately, still needs to be told in 2019.

Director Suzanne Agins brings together a cast and crew of local, regional and national talent to deliver a unique and entertaining performance. Some of the cast and crew also worked on Agins’ production of last season’s “Dreamgirls.”

Alongside Broadway’s “Hamilton” alum Shonica Gooden (Felicia) and “Memphis” alums David Robbins (Bobby) and Dani Burke (Delray), Agins rounds out the cast with Matthew Mucha (Huey), Kathy Day (Gladys), Gerard M. Williams (Gator) and Bill Saunders (Mr. Simmons).

Gooden and Burke wow the audience with their performances as Felicia and Delray. Gooden delivers vocals and emotion that bring home the story highlighting the effects of racism and inequality. Mucha is heartwarming as Huey. His zany performance is just the right mix of naivete and measured refusal to draw color lines. His indifference to color is really the message of the story of “Memphis.”

Gooden, Burke, Robbins and Mucha deliver rousing performances with “Someday,” “Colored Woman,” “Underground” and “Big Love.”

The audience also gets wonderful surprises when Huey’s mama, Gladys, deliver the character-awakening songs “Say a Prayer,” and “Change Don’t Come Easy.” Gator, a soft-spoken bartender, and Gladys demonstrate how love and tolerance can help us all learn and grow together, supporting each other despite our differences.

Special mention needs to be made of the “Memphis” ensemble, which includes Ricardo Morgan, Tishmone’, Sha’Air Hawkins, Cheleen Sugar, Eliz Camacho, Demetrius Dante’ Jackson, Jarrett Bennett, JaRon Davis, Shawntez D’Nadre Bell, Amber Dawn French, Meagan Mackenzie Chieppor, Cherie Kaufman, Randy Cain, Sean Michael Jaenicke, and Ian Shain. You will likely recognize some of them from CFRT productions of “Dreamgirls,” “Crowns,” “Music City” and “Annie.”

The talented ensemble helps make “Memphis” a spectacular show and reminds the audience that we have a treasure trove of local and regional talent. In this show, the ensemble literally brings Memphis radio to life. Their performance also highlights choreographer Ellenore Scott’s fun, creative and energetic dance routines.

“Memphis” is a wonderful way to tide theater-goers over until CFRT’s 2019-20 season kicks off in September with “Mamma Mia,” which will also be directed by Agins.

The musical is rated PG-13 due to some language and violence. Visit www.cfrt.org for tickets and more information.

Photo: Matthew Mucha as Huey Calhoun (left) and Shonica Gooden as Felicia Farrell (right)

Cape Fear Botanical Garden presents ‘Origami in the Garden2’

01coverUAC051519001“Origami in the Garden2” opened at Cape Fear Botanical Garden May 5 and runs through Sept. 8. As the name implies, the metal sculptures in this exhibit are inspired by the Japanese art of folding paper. Husband and wife team Kevin and Jennifer Box created the exhibit, which includes original works by Kevin as well as his collaborative works with renowned origami artists Te Jui Fu, Beth Johnson, Michael G. LaFosse and Robert J. Lang.

The exhibit includes an audio tour and an explanatory sign accompanying each piece. As patrons stroll the garden, they can make a call on their cell phone, enter the artwork number and hear a recording of Kevin explaining the story of the art. “A lot of times, art is beautiful, but we have done a lot of work to answer the ‘why’ and give people access to that,” Kevin said.

There are 17 displays and 20 sculptures that make up the exhibit. The metal sculptures were made using a combination of the 6,000-year-old art of wax casting and the 2,000-year-old-art of paper making. “I pioneered a technique that combines the two processes,” Kevin said. “It makes paper more durable and bronze more light. It’s a 35-step, 12-week process.”

Several years ago, as he was working at a foundry and trying to develop his voice as an artist, Kevin started playing with the art of wax casting. “When you are working in an old art form, there is a lot that has been done,” Kevin said. “I wanted to tell a different story that would remind us of the same stories that have been told for thousands of years and address the challenge of how we navigate life and what decisions we are going to make.”

Kevin said what drew him to origami was different than the appeal for many people. “I found it to be a simple metaphor and reflection of an ancient philosophy called tabula rasa,” he said. “The philosopher Aristotle started it. The idea is that we begin with a blank slate. When I was studying that in history, I think of it as the blank page because it captures the creative challenge we all face — whether you are a writer, a painter, a mathematician. What do we do with blankness? How do we create something out of nothing?”

He started working on projects that started with a square piece of paper — because his last name is Box. He used that as a way to try and capture what he envisioned the human soul to look like. His first signature pieces looked like snowflakes. Because he was already working at the foundry, he started working on a way to combine paper and metal.

Kevin began to make bronze sculptures and patina the bronze white, transforming it into the look of paper. People reacted saying that it looked like origami. Kevin rejected that idea at first. But later, a friend gave him a book titled “One Thousand Paper Cranes.” Kevin decided to make an origami crane. After folding and then unfolding the crane, he had an epiphany. “In every origami design, the paper remembers all the creases that you’ve made,” he said. “It revealed this star pattern, and it looked like a snowflake, which was similar to what I was already pursuing. It is like origami on the inside — like the architecture of the soul.”

Kevin works in his studio near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The 35-acre property sits among spring-fed wetlands and beautiful rock formations. The studio is designed around an Earth-friendly philosophy, embracing the reduce, reuse, recycle method not only for creating but for caring for the land and its resources.

Kevin’s wife, Jennifer, has an education background, so finding ways to engage and inform audiences is a priority as well. “We are conservation- minded artists,” said Kevin. “And my wife has a master’s in education. She heard the stories I was telling and realized that if we organized the content and interpretation, there was a lot of educational programming there.

“As we traveled with the show across the country, we discovered that botanical gardens have educational departments and resources. They are places people go to rest and to learn. And sometimes the best place to learn is when you are at rest. So, we have collaborated, and things come together where we work with gardens that can educate, enlighten, enhance and inspire a lot of (people in regard to) our subject matter. And we were inspired by how generous botanical gardens are to their communities.”

Jennifer reached out to CFBG not long after Hurricane Florence hit in 2018. She was hoping to partner with the Garden. Although CFBG wanted to host the exhibit, damage from Florence made the cost of hosting it prohibitive. “Here was a garden that needed help; Jen had two choices,” Kevin said. “She could have said, ‘Oh, they can’t do this. I will stop calling.’ But her second choice was hearing that and thinking how can we work with them in a different way.” This innovative thinking led Kevin and Jennifer to start a scholarship program for gardens.

“The exhibit is here because we applied for their scholarship program after we suffered so much damage from Hurricanes Florence and Mathew,” said CFBG Marketing Manager Taryn Renz. “While the exhibit is here, the Garden will have special programing that relates to the exhibit — like an Ikebana class on May 18, which is Japanese floral arranging.” 

While there are still areas of the Garden that need work, Kevin said he hopes the exhibit will bring plenty of visitors to not only enjoy the garden but to learn how they can help it flourish.

“We’re really excited to have the exhibit here,” said Renz. “Exhibits like these give visitors a reason to keep coming back. It’s the perfect time to become a Garden member — so you can keep coming back for events and programs all summer.”

Find out more about the exhibit, CFBG and its programming at www.capefearbg.org. Learn more about Kevin and Jennifer Box and their work at https://outsidetheboxstudio.com. “Origami in the Garden2” runs through Sept. 8.

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