‘Love, Loss and What I Wore’ Comes to Burlington

January 11, 2013  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Cast members, ranging in age from their 30s to 70s, are ready for an exciting two-week run at the Black Box Theater on the Burlington Waterfront.

By Phyl Newbeck

In 2010, despairing of finding high quality theatrical roles for women, Jennifer Warwick and Janet Stambolian decided to start a company to create those roles. The newly formed Girls Nite Out Productions (GNOP) featured Steel Magnolias as its inaugural play, followed by The Hallelujah Girls and then a female production of The Odd Couple. This February, they will bring Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore to Main Street Landing’s Black Box Theater. The show will have a two-week run, starting with Fashion Week and concluding with Valentine’s Day week. In conjunction with the show, the company will have an exhibit of vintage designer gowns, a photo exhibit of women ranging in age from 40 to 70 wearing those gowns and a Dress for Success clothing drive.

The mission of GNOP is to “produce high quality theater with a focus on providing great performance production and educational opportunities for women of all ages.” The cast of five will include women in their 30s through 70s. Warwick said the name of the company has the dual meaning of providing roles for women of all ages, as well as giving women the opportunity to enjoy a night out with their female friends. GNOP has recently branched out to develop educational programs including a workshop held in a women’s correctional institution.

Kathryn Blume is the director of Love, Loss and What I Wore. The eclectic Blume is also an actress, writer, speaker and environmental activist who has performed in 60 cities across Europe, the United States and Canada. In Vermont, she is probably best known as the co-founder of the Lysistrata Project and the writer/performer of the environmental play, The Boycott. Blume has worn many hats in her theatrical career, but had never directed a play until GNOP asked her to work on Steel Magnolias. She went on to direct The Odd Couple and is enjoying the opportunity to work on Love, Loss.

For Blume, directing the piece is meaningful on two levels. Given what she terms the “tragic” lack of great theatrical roles for women, particularly those over 40, she supports the mission of Girls Nite Out Productions. “There’s not a lot out there for women of that age,” she said “and it’s when women are at their richest.” On a personal level, the company was the first to hire her in a director’s role and she discovered she enjoyed directing. “There was an immediate moment of falling in love with it,” she said.

Known for her advocacy on issues like climate change, Blume doesn’t see Love, Loss as a departure from her activist work. “What I care about are things that are relevant; things that matter to people,” she said. “I’ve been in theater all my life and what I love is great theater, great acting and great storytelling about things that are meaningful. It’s often said that the personal is political and Love, Loss has great writing, great acting and incredibly relevant material.”

For those who think the play might not strike a chord with those Vermont women who spend most of their time in jeans, Blume insists that virtually all women have a deep relationship with at least some of their clothes. The relationship can be a bittersweet one toward the coat you wore to a funeral or a sentimental attachment to the blouse you wore on a first date. “For most women,” she said “there is a least one garment you have an emotional attachment to and a story to tell about it and that’s the focus of this play.”

Originally, the plan was for GNOP to produce one show a year in the fall but with Love, Loss, they are embarking on a plan to add a winter show, as well. The hope is to have a bigger production in the fall and a smaller one in the spring. Girls Nite Out Productions also partners with non-profit groups, raising money for local causes. For Love, Loss, the company will partner with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Upstate New York/Vermont and Dress for Success. The first was chosen because Nora Ephron died of leukemia.

Over 30 women auditioned for Love, Loss, and for The Hallelujah Girls, women from as far away as Plattsburgh, Stowe and Lincoln tried out for roles. “We’ve gotten great feedback,” said Warwick. “We’ve created a little niche and it’s very exciting.”

While Blume realizes men are not the target audience for the play, she believes both genders will find relevance in Love, Loss and What I Wore. “It’s funny, engaging and entertaining,” she said. “If you like women or are one, the likelihood is that you’ll find something to connect. It will help men understand the women in their lives and many women will find themselves in one of the stories.”

Love, Loss and What I Wore show dates: Feb. 7-10 and 13-17 at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center in Burlington. Info: girlsniteoutvt.com

Vermont’s largest event for baby boomers and seniors slated for Jan. 26 in Burlington

January 11, 2013  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Toni Catlin and Brett Hughes will perform at the Vermont 50-Plus & Baby Boomers EXPO on Jan. 26.

Guest speakers include former Gov. Madeleine Kunin; international elder abuse expert Lillian Jeter

The 18th annual Vermont 50-Plus & Baby Boomers EXPO will be held Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at the Sheraton-Burlington Hotel & Conference Center from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Baby Boomers, seniors and all ages are invited to enjoy a day of fun and learning featuring: more than 80 interactive exhibits; 12 seminars and workshops including Dr. Stuart Offer on age-erasing superfoods,  Madeleine Kunin on “The New Feminist Agenda,” international elder abuse expert Lillian Jeter on combating and preventing elder abuse, and Feng Shui consultant Lydia Solini; fashion show featuring F.H. Clothing Company of Quechee, Vt.; giveaways including a trip for two; Lyric Theatre Company performing songs from Broadway musicals old and new including tunes from Lyric’s current season productions of “RENT” and “Oliver”; afternoon dance party with DJ Charlie Rice; live music featuring Nashville singer/songwriter Toni Catlin with Brett Hughes, as well as an exclusive engagement with members of the Amida Bourbon Project, including international singer/songwriter Aya Inoue; hula hoop and Zumba fitness demos; silent auction to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association-VT; art workshops; free coffee tasting and more.

Tickets are $5 at the door, $4 in advance. Advance tickets can be ordered by phone, by visiting the University Mall Customer Service Desk or online at www.vermontmaturity.com/expo

For more information, visit www.vermontmaturity.com/expo or call (802)-872-9000 x18, or email vermontmaturity@aol.com.

Cheney exhibit opens in Stowe

January 11, 2013  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

Galen Cheney's work will be in an exhibit in the East Gallery of the Helen Day Art Center through Feb. 24.

Helen Day Art Center has announced that artist Galen Cheney’s solo exhibition will be featured in the East Gallery Jan. 18 to Feb. 24, with a special “artist talk” on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

Cheney’s work — featuring colorful, large-scale abstract paintings — is grounded in the history of abstract expressionism, while sampling and evoking street graffiti within the urban landscape. Her bright textured images reveal layers of history, like the architectural remnants of urban environments.

The new work created for this exhibition posits itself at the intersection of architecture and the organic. These shapes intermingle rather than collide as if both alive in a symbiotic relationship.

Paintings are filled with vibrant colors and movement, in some pieces slow and organic, in others fast and geometric. Charged and dynamic, her work is comprised of layers and layers of paint — built up, scraped down, and reconstructed like that of a city. Her process is action-based.

Rather than focusing on one painting, she works with several simultaneously, often responding to the relationship of each painting as they are created and transformed before being complete.

Cheney lives and works in Middlesex, Vt. She earned her MFA in Painting from Maryland Institute College of Art and her BA from Mount Holyoke College. She’s the recipient of several Full Fellowship Residencies at Vermont Studio Center and awards from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation, Open Studios Press and the Alliance of Visual Arts.

Visit helenday.com for more information.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Often Misdiagnosed

January 11, 2013  
Filed under Health & Wellness

A new book by Sally Pacholok and Jeffrey Stuart investigates Vitamin B12 deficiencies.

Adults over 60 are often told that forgetfulness, occasional mental confusion, dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease are a natural part of getting older. But before you accept mental disability, check your vitamin B12 levels, says Sally Pacholok, author of the book “Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses.”

Pacholok says that many cases of mental problems in older adults are caused by B12 deficiency and can be completely reversed with simple vitamin treatment.

Not all dementia or cognitive impairment is caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Family visits during the holidays are the ideal time to check on elderly loved ones and let them know the importance of having one’s B12 levels checked, Pacholok says.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a serious disorder that afflicts millions of Americans, resulting in cognitive decline, mental illness, neurologic disability, and, in many cases, premature death. Low B12 levels are associated with nerve damage and cognitive impairment. Patients with B12 deficiency are frequently misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, mental illness or other disorders, and never get correct treatment

In the majority of people, B12 deficiency is due to poor absorption by the digestive tract, the author says. There are many causes, such as stomach and bowel disease, gastric bypass surgery for weight loss, certain medications, autoimmune disorders and chemotherapy, to name a few. Because B12 is found only in animal products, vegans and vegetarians and people with eating disorders are also at risk, as well as others suffering from gene mutations.

“Whatever the cause, a B12 deficiency is an urgent medical disorder that needs prompt diagnosis and treatment,” Pacholok says.

According to Pacholok, B12 deficiency in older adults is chronically misdiagnosed throughout the United States. She estimates that 15 percent of Americans age 64 and older — 5.9 million people — suffer from B12 deficiency.

“We need to stop warehousing people in nursing homes because of misdiagnosed B12 deficiency; it’s enormously costly and inhumane,” she says. “Many mistake symptoms of the vitamin deficiency, such as forgetfulness, dementia, and unsteady gait or a recent fall with ‘getting old,’ which is tragic.”

“Could It Be B12?” makes the case that early detection and treatment of B12 deficiency can save lives at a cost that’s literally 10 cents a day — and save billions of scarce health care dollars nationwide.

“Could It Be B12?” gives readers vital information and strategies to learn if they or their loved ones are suffering from B12 deficiency and how to work with health care professionals to get the treatment they need.

Sally M. Pacholok, R.N., B.S.N., an emergency room nurse with 32 years of experience in health care, received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University. In 1985, Pacholok diagnosed herself with vitamin B12 deficiency, after her doctors had failed to identify her condition.