Friday, April 24, 2015

What Most of Us Never See

Tech week has finally arrived.  We know it's coming, but still, every year we comment on how fast the planning and rehearsal weeks flew.  I can't begin to understand or appreciate all the work that goes into transforming a gym into a festive playhouse.  I know that the set-up involves hours of grunt work, tall ladders that sway all to easily, and miles of heavy cable.  Applaud our set up crews when you see them. Here is what I know for sure that these crews do...

  • Pick up and deliver items from storage including stage stairs and flats
  • Hang the HAR curtain
  • Hang and focus lights
  • Program lights
  • Hang advertiser hearts and banners
  • Arrange backstage to accommodate flats and props
  • Run cables from light/sound area to front of house
  • Set up and dress tables
  • Set up and prep bars
  • Set up food service area
  • Prep dressing rooms for cast
  • Mark stage to indicate set piece placement
  • Prep backstage mic area

Oh, there's so much more but you get the idea. These set up and run crews are the all too often unacknowledged magicians for our show.  Much of this work will be done on Saturday, April 25.  The crew is lean.  Your help would be appreciated.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Saga Continues

Catching up....if you haven't heard the tragic story of the toilet seat caper, here's an abbreviated version for you......

Kevin Hansen, HAR's seat artist,  gave me an extra seat he made commemorating the year we made our first million dollars.  I had it on display in the bathroom of my store for years until some jackass stole it.  I have a strong notion of how and when it happened, but since I didn't witness it, that's all Ill say.

Now, on to part II.

I didn't cry over the stolen toilet seat.  Well, not until last weekend, and boy, when the tears came, there was no stopping Where did this happen?  In the Honey Pot, of all places.  I stopped by on Saturday afternoon to congratulate my friend Cindy on her retirement and to see if she had any fixtures that might work in my store. 

I spotted it hanging on the wall in a tiny hallway.  No, not the stolen seat, but a beautiful seat from a later year.  I am sure that Cindy and her husband Cedric bid a generous amount on the seat, and even though I am sure I could not possibly match what they paid, asking if I could buy it was worth a try.  After all, my goal was and still is, to pass a seat on to whomever eventually replaces me in the organization.

Cindy was working with two young women who were sifting through a display of hundreds of charms. Crowded in the same area were 8-10 other bargain hunters, as well as many more scattered throughout the store.  When Cindy acknowledged me, I figured then was as good a time as any to ask.  "Hey Cindy, would you consider selling your toi....".  that's when it happened.  A random flood of emotions, followed by tears.  I attempted to choke out my  tale of woe, no doubt frightening some shoppers and annoying others.  You know when you try to hold back the sobs and you begin to gasp and quiver and turn red and blue and your nose runs?  All of that happened.  

I was aware of people staring and mumbling, but I didn't care.  I clearly heard one woman offer a prayer for me.  She said "Christ, get her some help."  Another said, "I'm not sure exactly, it sounds like she needs a toilet seat."  By that time Cindy had hold of my hand and was doing that annoying guidance counselor patting thing.  The two charms shoppers had slid away from me little by little, but still, I offered them my apologies. "That's OK", one of them said.  "We get it.  You want to buy a toilet seat, but really, you might have better luck at Menard's."

That was the end.  I ripped my hand from Cindy's grip.  Turning to leave, head hanging, I plowed directly into the chest of the husband of one of our HAR ladies.  When I cry, my nose lights up like Rudolph and my eyes puff like a pug dog.  Must have been pretty scary for him to be in a store packed with women but add my hysteria to the mix - agoraphobia might be looking real good to him as a result.  More.  I tripped over a pile of boxes as I fled to the door.

All in all, Saturday was a crappy day to buy a toilet seat.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Time to Get Your Crazy On for HAR 2015 - REMIX

2015 marks Heart-A-Rama’s 45th year of fund-raising fun.  To celebrate, producers and directors have chosen to revitalized scripts from the past, and sprinkle in a few new sketches. 

Anyone 21 or older is welcome to audition for “Heart-A-Rama Remix” at 7:00 on Thursday Feb. 5 or at 1:00 on Sunday, Feb. 8.

Auditionees for the approximately 25 available roles will read from a prepared script and sing a song of choice a cappella.  Everyone is asked to bring an accurate list of schedule conflicts for February, March and April to share with directors Bev Denor, Lisa Novachek, Jim Pautz, Ellen Peronto and Brad Zimmermann.  Individuals cast must be available to attend all scheduled rehearsals, and the dress rehearsals on Sunday afternoon, April 26, and Monday night April 27, as well as all performance dates, April 30, May 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9.Performances will be at the J.E. Hamilton Community House in Two Rivers.
The Heart-A-Rama creative writers promise a variety of laugh filled sketches featuring German singers, roundabouts, mistaken identity and plenty of musical numbers.
Biff Hansen will emcee the event.  Lisa Hagenow and Lindsey Mack will share choreography duties.  The Best Seat in the House, an artistically rendered toilet seat designed by Kevin Hansen will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  General co-chairs, Tom Bartelme, Diane Hansen and Karen Schweitzer-Olson along with numerous committee chairpersons will bring together over 200 volunteers including performers, wait staff, artists, technicians, advertising and financial managers to staff Heart-A-Rama.

The 2014 six night program raised $88,500. Heart-A-Rama presented The American Heart Association Wisconsin Affiliate with a check for $79,650. The rest of funds raised stayed in Manitowoc County and were used to purchase AED’s, automatic external defibrillators, for Lutheran High School, Calvary Cemetery, School Hill Athletic Club and Wilson and Washington Junior High Schools for use in their natatorium areas. Non-profit organizations desiring an AED can send requests to Heart-A-Rama’s local funds coordinator, Sally Rasmuson at
 Heart-a-Rama’s 44 year donation total is 2469,402 with 97,615 patrons attending the show and generously supporting the cause. In 2014, Heart-A-Rama was voted the Best Special Event in Manitowoc County in a Herald times Reporter poll. Additional information about Heart-A-Rama can be found at, or on Facebook.  To inquire about auditions email

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Laughter on the Lakeshore Featuring Many of Your HAR Faves! Come Join Us!

Tom Bartelme, Jason Prigge, James Gordon and Jerri Burkart as members of The Peaceful Glen Memorial Players

            “Barbecuing Hamlet” a fast paced farce, is the featured play at the second annual Laughter on the Lakeshore, a partnership benefiting the Office of Continuing Education at the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, and Heart-A-Rama. The show will be presented Friday, September 12 and Saturday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the UW-Manitowoc University Theatre. Tickets are $12 and are available at the door, at LaDeDa Books and Beans, 1624 New York Ave, or online from the UW-Manitowoc website
Special pre-show events will take place prior to the Saturday performance. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. there will be live music by “Givin’ Up the Ghost,” with a cash bar and food, featuring pulled pork sandwiches, candied bacon and more available from Village Hearthstone Restaurant.

So here's the 411 on the play....When Margo Daley leaves New York and moves to small town America to accept her dream job, directing a production of “Hamlet”, she has no idea what lies in wait.  Her new employers, The Peaceful Glen Memorial Players, perform in a renovated funeral home, above the apartment of an obnoxious tenant who regularly, and with vigor, pounds on the ceiling when rehearsals get the least bit noisy. 
            Four well meaning but eccentric townsfolk attend auditions for a play that requires a cast of thirty.  In addition, Margo must insert the names of the theatre’s sponsors in the show.  There is no end to the absurd local requirements Margo must follow in order to please the dysfunctional theatre council.  In the spirit of the wildly popular mockumentary “Waiting for Gufman”, “Barbecuing Hamlet” pokes good natured fun at the community theatre experience.

            Cast members include Tina Prigge, Joey Putman, Ellen Peronto, Rick Oswald, Gary Moore, Lori Krueger, Jason Prigge, Charles Allger, James Gordon, Jerri BurkartKelly Becker, Tom Bartelme, and Dr, Charles Clark, Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc.
Kevin Hansen adding some artistry to the set
            Suzanne Lawrence, Director of Continuing Education is the producer and Bev Denor is the director.  Set builders and painters include Chris Lochmann, Tom Bartelme, James Gordon, Kevin Hansen and Terry YorkChris Lochmann is sound and light technician. Karen Schweitzer-Olson will stage manage with assistance from Maddie Hansen and Teak Prigge.   Poster design and marketing team includes Teresa Satori and Heidi Dahlberg.
The play is written by Pat Cook and produced in arrangement with Eldridge Publishing Company.
For more information, contact Suzanne Lawrence at 683-4702 or visit

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Toast to Hearty Fund-raising

 Diane Hansen (HAR general co-chair, Karla Ludholz, Regional VP American Heart Association Midwest Affiliate, Tom Bartleme, HAR general co-chair)

HAR 2014 raised a total of $88,500
$79,650 given to the AHA 
The rest will be used for local needs as they arise.

44 year total?  $2,469,402
So...will we hit 3 million by our 50th anniversary show?  With your help...we sure will!

Over 44 years, 97,614 patrons have laughed with us and at us and generously donated for the good of others.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tired and Trapped (and perhaps a bit of embellishment - you be the judge)

After a night of pizza, partying, long good-buys and promises of keeping in touch, Heart-A-Rama 2014 ended. Or did it?  For most, yes, but the next morning, several people were hard at it, dismantling the final trappings of a successful show.  Tom, Terry, Kevin and Chris assembled scaffolding in order to undress the stage (horrors!), taking down the curtains, hearts and transporting the flats and larger props into storage.  The transport alone took several trips, so next year...let's find a truck and LOTS of heavy lifters for this last bit of business.

Diane and Bev made final sweeps through dressing rooms, hallways and bathrooms (again, horrors!).  They collected abandoned items and both tried to secretly catch a few minutes of  nap time while the others weren't looking.  That failed.  Soon they found themselves assigned the task of delivering Tom Brokeheart's lectern to its storage closet in the basement.  Mustering up what strength they could, the two wheeled the giant apparatus across the gym floor and into the lobby.  

Another brief nap ensued, and again the duo was rudely awakened with a rather loud reminder to get their butts moving.   Diane took charge.  She led the way, steering the cadaverous piece of furniture, guiding it through springy-hinged doors, and expertly maneuvering herself and the equipment into position so as to be the one responsible for  pressing the button to open the elevator door.  In they went.  Anticipating a leisurely ride to the basement, they began talking about the show, and brainstorming ideas for HAR 2015.  Despite the lack of sleep, the conversation was lively and filled with snorts, guffaws and near trouser dampening giggles.  Five minutes or more had passed before Bev said "Hey Diane, we're not moving.  I think we're stuck."

Diane, agile minded woman that she is, said she had the phone number of the Community House attendant in her purse.  He could be called; he could call Judy; Judy could call the fire department, and in no time, there would be a rescue.  Nope.  Purse was back in the gym and they were locked in the elevator.  Again, Diane's mind, that precision instrument, went into problem solving mode.  (So, why was Diane doing all the thinking you're probably asking.  Well, I'm not sure, but Bev hates heights and small rooms, so according to Diane's version of the story, she was whimpering in a corner - a small corner of the elevator.)  "There must be an emergency phone or button in here somewhere, don't you think," Diane asked?

"I suppose," replied Bev, who was not crying but rather laughing to the point of near breathlessness.  "Why don't you just press the button to the basement?  That could work."  And it did.

 Moral of the story - if you're going to be travelling in an elevator with Diane, take charge of the buttons immediately, no matter how much she protests.