A great line about retirement

Best line I have read on the internet in a long time comes from Robert Reich, American professor, author, lawyer, political commentator and former US Secretary of Labor:

“Life is short. But retirement is not the end. It just means more time to do what you like and less of what you don’t.”

It reminds me of what I told my friends when I retired from a thirty-year teaching career in 2008: “I may be retiring from teaching, but I’m not retiring from life.” Not to say I did not enjoy my teaching career, I did. But, after thirty years in the classroom and on the playing field, it was time to move on.

Indeed, since retiring I have published an independent arts magazine, The Beat Magazine (2009-2013), written freelance for an advertising/marketing agency and numerous local publications (something I continue to this day), and put together the Program for Silver Spotlight Theatre’s production of Babes In Arms.

I have also travelled abroad with my partner Val Cavalini as much as finances and time will permit and spent plenty of time with my daughter’s family Hilary Peraza Young

My advice: Don’t view retirement as an end, but as an opportunity.

A while back, my daughter bought me a baseball cap that reads “Retired, Not Expired.” I wear it with pride.

Mourning the loss of an old friend

Residents of Wortley Village and Old South London woke up Sunday morning, April 16, to the devastating news that one of their community’s cherished landmarks and favourite gathering spots, The Black Walnut Bakery Café, had been destroyed by fire.

Deemed suspicious in nature, the fire led to the demolition of the nineteenth-century building that housed the café. Damage was estimated at $2 million.

On Tuesday, a 20-year-old suspect was taken into custody and charged with arson with disregard to human life and arson causing damage to property.

The co-owners, siblings Mandy and Ed Etheridge, have vowed to rebuild as soon as possible.

To say that it’s upsetting to walk or drive by the corner of Wortley Road and Craig Street where The Black Walnut once stood would be an understatement. All that remains is a gaping hole in the ground after excavators cleared away the rubble.

Old South residents and patrons are understandably shaken by the senseless destruction of the beloved café. To be sure, it was one of those establishments that you took for granted and figured would always be there. I had a coffee and muffin there just days before the fire.

Many patrons had formed an emotional relationship with The Black Walnut and its staff over the years. Something that was evident by the number of people crying as the café was demolished.

Other Wortley Village businesses and residents have expressed their support for the cafe’s rebuilding.

One of the most poignant post-fire photographs was of a fireman carrying The Black Walnut’s sign to give to the owners.

I am sure I speak for other Old South residents in saying that I can’t wait for The Black Walnut Bakery Café’s reopening.

Early Springtime morning meditation

One of the things I most appreciate about the coming of Spring is sitting on my back porch in Old South London with a coffee in hand watching the sun slowly rise, listening to the birds sing and watching the squirrels run to and fro.

For me, it’s an opportunity to shut out the usual din of urban life and think about the day to come and the one just gone into the history books.

It’s a time to meditate and think about life. I hope that does not sound too pretentious, but it is the honest truth. Indeed, I do some of my best thinking during early Springtime mornings.

Like Spring itself, I find mornings a time of renewal and a reminder of challenges and opportunities ahead.

My alone time is something I cherish.

A piece of music that always comes to mind while I enjoy my mornings is Joe Walsh’s Birdcall Morning off of his 1972 album, Barnstorm. While the lyrics do not necessarily conjure up Spring, its haunting melody always puts in the right frame of mind.

Give it a listen: https://youtu.be/4wVSI3u4LVw

How do you spend your early Springtime mornings?

Babes In Arms – What an absolute delight!

When my long-time friend and former teaching colleague, Art Fidler, asked me back in January if I was interested in taking on the task of preparing the Program for Silver Spotlight Theatre’s inaugural production, Babes In Arms, it did not really take a lot of persuasion on his part.

The prospect of being part of a new Broadway musical group made up of people 55+ was intriguing (I am a young 71) and the chance to work alongside the human dynamo known as Art Fidler was a bonus.

Putting together the program also reminded me of the five years I published The Beat Magazine (2009-2014), “London’s premier leading source of informed local arts news, commentary and timely reviews,” as we billed ourselves. Here was another chance to roll up my sleeves and get busy turning out the best print publication possible.

What started out as a modest plan of producing a 16-page B&W program with a colour cover, soon grew to a 20-page full colour program, then 24 pages, then 28 pages, and finally a 32-page final product.

Soliciting sufficient advertising to cover the costs of a 32-page full colour Program proved to be relatively easy for two basic reasons: The novelty of a theatre group comprised of adults 55+ (it’s a demographic that buys stuff) and the name Art Fidler.

Is there anyone in London who was not a student of Art’s or who came into contact with him at London Musical Theatre (which he helped found in 1988), or the Original Kids Theatre Company?

The mere mention of Art’s name immediately got my foot in the door in most cases. Programs often lose money. In our case, the Babes In Arms Program not only covered all the costs incurred in its production, it turned a tidy profit.

The high quality of the program was due in large part to the overly generous donated branding and graphic design work put in by BIA cast member and former student of Art’s, Mary-Ellen Willard (Daisy) and her team at adHOME Creative, one of London’s premier full-service advertising and digital agencies. In my humble opinion, the agency has created a program that will be a keepsake for all cast and crew members and their families and friends.

While the play was in rehearsal for weeks leading up to the March 24th opening, my partner in crime, Val Cavalini and I worked away behind the scenes putting the program together.

We saw the production for the first time on Saturday, March 25 on the Grand Theatre’s Auburn Stage. As I wrote in my Saturday night Facebook post: “Wow, Babes, just wow! I don’t think I have ever been as thoroughly entertained for two hours as I was tonight. Great performances, costumes and musical numbers. Congratulations to all cast and crew members for staging this wonderful production!”

Unrestrained laughter and applause were the order of the night and a much deserved prolonged standing ovation ushered the cast off the stage after two hours of pure delightful community musical theatre.

Afterwards, cast and crew members mingled with family and friends in the lobby in what can only be described as a mutual love-in. Flowers were given and hugs and kisses were exchanged.

Isn’t this what community theatre should be all about?

The play continues its run on the Auburn Stage until Sunday, April 2 when the Babes will say farewell for the last time. If you are one of the lucky ones to have tickets to this SOLD OUT show, enjoy!

Now, I wonder what Art has up his sleeve for next year’s Silver Spotlight Theatre production?

Here’s a Link to the Flipping Book version of the Babes In Arms Program for those people who will not be able to attend any of the performances: https://adhomecreative.com/BabesInArms/

(Photo Credits: Babes In Arms Cast & Crew – Ross Davidson, Art Fidler Pic – Jim Cressman.)

Silver Spotlight Theatre’s Babes In Arms Program Ad Rate Card

Fresh off the presses! Here’s the Program Advertising Rate Card for Silver Spotlight Theatre’s production of Babes In Arms, courtesy of Mary-Ellen Willard and the folks at adHome Creative. If you know of any local businesses or organizations that you think may be interested in advertising in our Program, please share the Card with them, and ask them to contact Richard Young, Program Department Head, at richardyoung51@rogers.com.

adHome Creative is also designing the Babes In Arms Program — and it’s gonna be a work of art!

Babes In Arms is being produced by Kelly Holbrough and co-directed by Art Fidler and Rick Smith, with musical direction by Janis Wallace. It opens on March 24 on the Auburn Stage at the Grand Theatre and runs to April 2.

For more information about Babes In Arms, visit www.mtplondon.ca Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased at 519-672-8800 or grandtheatre.com.