Springfield, Illinois

This past weekend I was asked to be a judge for the IAAF State Talent Show contest at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, Illinois. Huge thanks to the board and my friend Kris Lowe who serves as Secretary for St. Clair County for asking me.

Jillian and I packed the crew up and we stuffed like sardines into the hotel room. Really it was meant for 2 adults, but that’s how we roll sometimes.

Before we headed home we did a little bit of site seeing around town.

One of the spots was this spot called Dumb Records. Highly recommend if you need some vinyl OR want to checkout some arcade cabinets or pinball machines. Of which they had a nice little collection!

In no particular order. Here’s a few shots I captured during our trip…

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever — “Behind the Curtain”

Curtain’s Up Theater Company, a local theater group that our family as grown close to this past year, has their final show of the season this weekend: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Z and Cash are both in the play and my sister-in-law, niece and nephew are playing as well as several friends of ours that we’ve made this year.

I asked Evan Totsch, our young actor friend in the theater community if he would help me with a “man on the street” esk behind the scenes bit last night. I filmed it and edited it within a 24 hour window. I’m very pleased with the fun result we got out of this. Evan came up with the brilliant name. He wrote all of his material that he came up with on the fly. Awesome job, Evan.

Check out the video and then go grab your ticket!


Haven Homes Grand Opening

Big thanks to Melissa MacIsaac for asking me to provide photo coverage for her Grand Opening event for her real estate business, Haven Homes, located in O’Fallon, Illinois.

The event began after sunset, so you’re only seeing the interior of this wonderful space which neighbors Harmony Health and Home Birth as well as Premier Kitchen and Bath at their new shared building space.

Also shoutout to the event planner, Trinity Griffin, who did a remarkable job setting the tone and vibe for the evening.

If you’re in need of a home purchase assistant or looking to sell your home, reach out to Melissa MacIsaac and let her know! She and her new business partner (and husband!), Charlie, are ready to serve you at Haven Homes. You can contact Melissa HERE.

Here are a few more photo highlights from the evening 🙂

The Fun and Learning Variety Show

I had the pure joy & honor of recording The Fun & Learning Variety Show. This production is put on by The Colleen Nesbit Memorial Foundation and features skits and songs performed by adults with intellectual disabilities.

This Saturday Curtain’s Up Theater Company and the Nazarene Community Theater is playing this video on their movie screen and all of the performers and their families have been invited to come see themselves on the big screen.

I really hope this brings joy to the performers as much as it did mine 🙂

New Lens…Who Dis?

Purchased this antique lens off eBay and feel like a kid in candy store.
It’s been a lot of fun shooting without the convenience of Auto Focus or anything. And I’m loving the results from this weekend… Here are a few:

Chinon F2.8 135mm
Keep trying to teach the kids about ‘hot dog fingers’ and how not to approach a dog. But they can’t help it. They love dogs as much as I do…
Give me a mean look, babe.

gsh gsh
the only woman to light my fire…
Z is loving being on stage ❤

Some Highlights from the last few weeks

I was videographer for a wedding this weekend and snapped a quick pic with my Paper Shoot Camera
Glow Ride with Belleville Mural Project
Cash has been playing Soccer this season with his buddy Zeke.
How cool are we?
Belleville Philharmonic playing some lovely tunes in Belleville. ❤
Wells experienced his first ever Cards game.
My attempt at a Norman Rockwell self-portrait
Rock and Roll
HBD buddy

Art Hill fireworks – September 14th, 2022

Not always sure what to say or how to say it.
Because I’m still trying to connect the dots of how I feel and what my feelings are in a particular situation.

Life is challenging.

Not enough money. Not enough time.
So much clutter. So many todos piling up.
And my memory just slips more and more.
And I disassociate more and more.
But I want to keep the peace for those around me and for myself.
But in doing so, I avoid myself.
I lose track of the things that matter to me.

The Nothing.

When I’m uncomfortable I avoid and/or consume.
Whether that’s the junk that I consume in my diet or in my spiritual and emotional diet.
I avoid even the good things for me. Or I throw myself at whatever feels right in that moment. Shooting from the hip.

My prayer for myself today is to find my way back to an honest and true Peace.
To find my feet and stand tall.

// I apologize for this cryptic free type of post. It was more me thinking out loud for a second than anything.

that’s a wrap

August 14th, 2022 – Cast & Crew of School of Rock The Musical
performed by Curtain’s Up Theater Company at Nazarene Community Theater in Roxana, Illinois

About 6 months ago I took my son to an audition for School of Rock – The Musical. On the way to auditions, my sister in law tells me that “I have to audition too.”

A few hours later I got a phone call where the director asked if they could speak to my son to which he was offered the principle role of Lawrence Turner (keyboardist in “the band!”) He smiled so big and accepted the part. Then I was handed the phone back and offered the spot of Doug / Mr. Green. I accepted. My brother-in-law was cast as the lead of Dewey Finn. My sister-in-law the assistant principal, my nephew as the lead guitarist and my other nephew as a student in the class.

What started as a fun hobby turned into this very demanding extra-curricular. I don’t think there was a week of less than 10 hours of rehearsals leading up to tech week which only doubled.

I noticed that my smaller parts wouldn’t warrant as much demand or effort as I could offer. So I started bringing my camera to rehearsals and filming behind the scenes when I was waiting for a scene to start and offered to create some videos to help promote the show. But honestly more for my own personal joy of documenting things and being up close to something special as its happening.

I fell more and more in love with the cast and crew and the folks involved became like family.

It’s important to note that throughout this time, my wife sacrificed so much for me to be gone so much during the week for such a long period of time. Nearly 6 months of intense sacrifice.

May 2022 hits and our 4 performances went off amazingly well. Nearly selling out each show.

About a month went by and I was going to grab a cigar and a scotch with another amazing cast member. That day I received a text from some of the leaders of the theater company saying that they had some leads on a potential venue and encore performance of the show. We ended up meeting that night and then again that weekend at the venue in question.

Could we do it one more time? Should we? Will people come? Will the venue be large enough? Will the cast be as excited for a second run?

We proceeded with what I would label as a coin toss.

Last night I left the venue knowing that not only did we make the right decision, that there were what I can only warrant as ‘bigger than just us’ moments. Spiritual moments. Lives changed. Vision refocused. I promise you I am not offering superlative words. If anything, I am underemphasizing the magic that we all experienced. Not just us performing, but the show goers too. We were a part of something bigger than just ourselves.

I can sleep knowing that it was worth the extra hours and the encore.

I know I owe it all to my wife and her support and sacrifice to make it all even accessible. Thank you, love.

And thank you to Cast, Crew and Pit for everything. – I love you so much.

w/ Carol Hodson: Director
w/ Justin Brooks: Bob of No Vacancy
Me in my No Vacancy get up. I played Doug in the first run and Theo in the second. – How do you like my Freddie Mercury attempt?

My boy getting ready to go on in Act II
From left: Zackery Coe, Laila Williams, Laurel Bleier as Celine, Spencer Kimmey as James Drake, Maeve Durkee as Marcy, Maggie Hertz as Shonelle
, Carol Hodson as Director, Poppy Bauer as Madison, Evan Totsch as Billy, Oliver Sprenger as Mason, Kya Wonders as Summer, Laila Hutchinson as Tomika, Dara Shininger as Katie, Leland Sprenger as Zach and Cash Pye as Lawrence
w/ Kya Wonders as Summer Hathaway
Jeffrey Yapp-Ellis: Choreographer
w/ Carson Robinson as Mr. Williams

The Cast and Crew:
Dewey Finn – Joel Sprenger
Rosalie Mullins – Debbie Maneke
Ned Schneebly – Vince Ojeda
Patty Di Marco – Christy Luster
Zack Mooneyham – Leland Sprenger
Freddie Hamilton – Zackery Coe
Katie West – Dara Shininger
Lawrence Turner – Cash Pye
Summer Hathaway – Kya Wonders
Tomika Williams – Laila Hutchison
Marcy Sullivan – Maeve Durkee
Shonelle Andrews – Maggie Hertz
Celine Lloyd – Laurel Bleier
Billy Sandford – Evan Totsch
Sophie Weber – Layla Williams
Madison Barber – Penelope (Poppy) Bauer
Mason Ward – Oliver Sprenger
James Drake – Spencer Kimmey

Mrs Sheinkopf – Elise Sprenger
Mr Noble – Justin Brooks
Mr Green – Owen Pye
Gabe Brown – Andrew Totsch
Mr Sanders – Hal Morgan
Ms Gordon – Donna Carli
Ms Wagner – Shameem Coppotelli
Ms Bingham – Megan Rauh
Mr Janes – Paul Durkee
Ms Macapugay – Alie Morgan
Mrs Mooneyham – Alie Morgan
Mrs Hathaway – Jennifer Hitt

Mr Spencer – Paul Durkee
Mr Williams – Carson Robinson
Mr Sandford – Hal Morgan
Mrs Turner – Ali Cummins
Mrs Hamilton – Shameem Coppotelli
Jeff Sanderson – Jeffrey Yapp-Ellis
Theo (No Vacancy) – Owen Pye
Bob (No Vacancy) – Justin Brooks
Tiny (No Vacancy) – Steve Shininger
Snake (No Vacancy) – Steele Clement
Stanley Byers – Johnny Reynolds
Police Officer – Johnny Reynolds
Bartender – Donna Carli

Director – Carol Hodson
Music Director – Steve Shininger
Assistant Director – Jeffrey Yapp-Ellis
Choreographer – Jeffrey Yapp-Ellis
Assistant Director – Vince Ojeda
Asst. Choreographer – Jennifer Hitt

Stage Manager – Jennifer Hitt
Stage Manager – Christy Luster
Costumes – Carol Hodson
Dance Captain – Megan Rauh
Props – Sharon Laswell
Set Design – Christy Luster, Paul Durkee, Leon White

Set Crew – Christy Luster ,
Paul Durkee, Leon White,
Doug Schultz, Andrew Totsch
Lighting – Diane Wingerter
Spotlights – Gretchen Hertz
Sound Engineers – Sam Poirot,
Mia Sanchez

Orch. Director & Keys – Steve Shininger
Guitar – Johnny Reitano
Bass – Aaron Johnson
Drums – Erik Westlund

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