Joanna Hlavacek is the K-12 education reporter for the Lawrence Journal-World.
Ian Stepp remembers visiting his aunt’s house as a kid, where he’d play classic games like Duck Hunt and iterations of the Mario Brothers saga on the family’s trusty old Nintendo Entertainment System. Now pushing 30, Stepp is still a fan of the now-classic video games that in recent years have spawned a thriving culture and industry capitalizing on the nostalgia of grownups who coveted Nintendo game systems as kids in the 1980s and 90s.
Lawrencians will find no shortage of entertainment this New Year's Eve, from afternoon screenings of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" to The Crumpletons' annual early New Year's show at The Jazzhaus to late-night karaoke and champagne toasts at the Yacht Club.
In Ireland, where acclaimed harpist Cormac De Barra grew up, Christmas is a time for families and loved ones to come together. “No matter where you are, you drop everything and make it home for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day,” De Barra, an internationally touring musician based primarily in Dublin, says of the holiday tradition he and fellow Irishmen hold dearest.
In a pinch-me moment of Caribe’s decades-long presence in the Midwest music circuit, the reggae-Latin ensemble played at a party for industry big shots such as the Oakridge Boys and Roy Orbison. It was glamorous, to be sure, founding member Gary Frager recalls now. But for Frager, who went by the stage name Willie Skate in his tenure as the band’s trumpet-trombone-sax player, rubbing elbows with famous musicians wasn’t the point.
Think of it as “The Big Chill” for a new generation. That’s how Peter Zazzali, the director of KU Theatre’s upcoming production of “Pooter McGraw is Not Dead Party,” describes the coming-of-age tale set to open Friday at 7:3o p.m. at KU’s Crafton-Preyer Theatre, 1530 Naismith Drive.
Lawrence’s public-radio nerds are in for a treat this weekend. On Saturday, longtime “This American Life” host and producer Ira Glass (the veteran journalist is also the editorial adviser behind the megapopular “Serial” podcast) will stop by the Lied Center to share “Seven Things I’ve Learned.” The multimedia talk, slated for 7:30 p.m., covers more than just seven lessons, however, from a career that spans nearly four decades, several broadcasting accolades and more quirky, poignant and ultimately informative “This American Life” stories than we could possibly mention.
The Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission has announced the winners of this year’s Phoenix Awards. The awards, now in their 21st year, annually recognize outstanding artistic achievement in the Lawrence community.
On Saturday evening, country singer-songwriter Clint Black will perform under the bright lights of the Lied Center stage, 1600 Stewart Drive. In the weeks leading up to his Lawrence visit, Black shared his thoughts on the current state of country music, among other things, with the Journal-World in an email exchange. (In the interest of preserving his voice for the big show, of course.)
On most days, Steve Chronister keeps himself busy tending to patients’ dentures and crowns at his Topeka dentistry practice. After business hours, though, the “Smile Doctor,” as he’s advertised online, is more likely to tinker with an old car than an old tooth.
Judy Locy Wright is more than familiar with “A Chorus Line,” the Pulitzer- and Tony-winning musical slated to open Theatre Lawrence’s 40th season Friday evening.