Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quality of Place

I spent a day last week in a conference center discussing the future of Elkhart County, Indiana. The day was hosted by the Horizon Project 2.0, a county wide effort that began in 2002 when the economic landscape looked much different than it does today. Then Elkhart County was the number one manufacturing county in the country. Today Elkhart County’s unemployment rate is famously (MSNBC is squatted in Elkhart following our misfortune) the highest in the nation. The signs of overdependence on the RV industry were there in 2002 although no one thought that our world could fall apart in virtually a single day last fall.

Now the focus of the project, supported by Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs and a slate full of high powered speakers, is on how to transform ourselves into something else more resistant and competitive. Most of the “talk” focused on creating a quality of place—used to be life—and education reform. This is why I am writing.

Today a national tour of Click, Clack, Mo came to The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres for two performances before 800 young elementary students from Elkhart and surrounding counties. After sitting through both shows, I am biased to tell you this is the real education those community leaders were searching for, but can’t imagine. I found it humorous that The Round Barn Theatre was not listed as a unique asset when the Horizon group set about “mapping” them. Today, the imaginations of the young minds in the audience were stretched to their limits; if cows can type, they know anything is possible, and they will go to bed tonight with enriched dreams.

Here is an email from a teacher that was sent this afternoon:

I just wanted to write and let you know how WONDERFUL we thought Click, Clack, Mo was today! After talking with the kids back at school, I got a true picture of just how much they enjoyed it. (I was too busy laughing myself while at the play to notice!) Really Jenni, what a professional performance and perfect for first graders! I’m sure we will be talking about this play for awhile here in my class. We came back right away and made a Venn Diagram of the play and the book and how they compare.

We appreciate all that you do to involve Amish Acres into the curriculum here at school. Thanks Jenni!


There, ladies and gentlemen, is your quality of place, even if I have to say so myself.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

How Do You Herd Cats?

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats opens in The Round Barn Theatre Friday night, curtain time 8:00 p.m. After watching rehearsals over the last three weeks, I am in awe of the talent it takes to mount this production. It is by far the most complex and demanding show we have ever done. The cast that Laurie Schotz has assembled resembles a thoroughbred stable—bad analogy—but it fits. The dancing and athleticism required is grueling. Preventing injury by intense “pre-game” warm up makes my experience in sports seem pale.

Fifteen highly professional dancers/singers have been assembled from thirteen states. Bryan J. Wlas and Nathan W. Brown are directing/choreographing and music directing the show. Matt Green is lighting the production in addition to designing the sound. Makeup takes an hour before each show as every cat’s personality comes to life through the faces of the actors. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot is, of course, genius.

Many people are trumpeting the end of live theatre because of the ease of watching your favorite TV show or movie on your IPhone. Well, Cats is not your grandfather’s live theatre. It is an ingenious escape into a world of imagination at its best. I won’t reveal the set details, but there is no doubt these are domestic cats who stand 24 inches on their hind legs. Interwoven is a story in song about the circle of life that anticipates the next generation’s Lion King. 800 of our season subscribers saw the opening number this week during our 2010 Theme Buffet and Theatre Preview Party. If their response is an indication, nearly all 68 performances will be sold out.

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