Tag Archives: perren hedderson

See this goodbye, even if it’s your first hello

If you’ve never seen a show at Near West Theatre, you may wonder: Why bother with a farewell show in a third-floor church ballroom?

The cast of Move On! at a June 12 rehearsal. Photo by Mo Eutazia

Standing for justice during a June 12 Move On! rehearsal. Photo by Mo Eutazia

My advice: do bother. Go climb the stairs and see Move On!, and not just because it’s Near West’s last production ever in the St. Pat’s Club Building, 3606 Bridge Ave. Don’t even just go for the good reason that it’s a piece of Cleveland arts history: founding Executive Director Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek and almost-founding Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. have shaped the show, and they join a cast of 65 in performing it in the same place where it all started back in 1978. No, see it above all because it’s fun, passionate and satisfying. It’s a mix of music, the spoken word and projected images a that form a grand, interesting, moving artistic experience. It’s about the power of theater — and this theater in particular, in this part of Cleveland — to change lives and build community.

Move On! presents Broadway and popular songs in a concert style and intersperses them with original poems, video interviews and testimonials written or voiced over the years by people who have seen and felt the impact of Near West’s mission. The production showcases the power of Near West Theatre’s process to build relationships and create great art, while also explaining its socially conscious roots and its place as an institution in an unusually rich, MOVE ON poster 4diverse, challenged, changing neighborhood. It’s embodied by a diverse cast of ordinary people ranging in age from 7 to 60, and augmented in a delightful way by video interviews and still images assembled by Assistant Technical Director Perren Hedderson.

Soloists, duos and the entire ensemble belt, croon and harmonize beautifully, backed by the strong work of assistant musical director Jordan Cooper on keyboard, drummer Rick Tyler and trumpeter Juan Ingram.

Hang around afterwards to enjoy refreshments, greet the actors, check out the many Near West artifacts displayed throughout the space by Designer Laura Carlson Tarantowski, and say goodbye to St. Pat’s, even if it was your first hello. Come back one more time if you can, around 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 29, after the  final matinee, to join hands with the community as we encircle St. Pat’s for a brief farewell ritual. We’re moving on to a transitional half-year of theater across the street at West Side United Church of Christ and then into our new building in the Gordon Square Arts District in early 2015. With you, I hope. — Hans Holznagel

The cast, crew and staff of Move On!, pictured on June 12, 2014. Photo by Mo Eutazia

The cast, crew and staff of Move On! on June 12. Photo by Mo Eutazia


Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.



Help us get the theater ready on Sat., Oct. 26

Hot pizza, cold pop and that warm feeling of having made a difference: they’re all benefits of showing up for an hour or the whole afternoon of Near West Theatre’s Community Work Day on Saturday, Oct. 26. We need your help preparing the theater for A Christmas Story, the Musical, which will be in tech rehearsals before you know it.

Molly Andrews-Hinders and Jason Dugger worked on a coffin and other set pieces at the 2011 Community Work Day. Photos by Mo Eutazia.

Molly Andrews-Hinders and Jason Dugger worked on a coffin and other set pieces at the 2011 Community Work Day. Photos by Mo Eutazia.

No special skills are needed. Just show up, sign in and work side-by-side with Technical Director Josh Padgett, Assistant Technical Director Perren Hedderson, Designer Laura Carlson Tarantowski and other members of the production staff to get things organized for the show. At an NWT work day you never know till you show up exactly what work is needed. You might paint, sew, organize costumes and props, or just move things around. But you’ll definitely get lunch on us (if you’re not too late!) and get that great experience of being part of the community that makes our art and mission happen. Join us at our St. Pat’s performance site, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland. — Hans Holznagel

Roxy Reminick (left) and Katie Medvec (center) were on patch-sewing, costume-organizing duty in 2011.

Roxy Reminick (left) and Katie Medvec (center) sewed patches and organized costumes in 2011.

Sam Utterback immersed herself in set-piece painting in 2011.

Sam Utterback immersed herself in set-piece painting in 2011.


Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.


A Christmas Story, the Musical

Musical by Joseph Robinette, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul,

 based upon A Christmas Story © 1983 Turner Entertainment Co., distributed by Warner Bros., written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Bob Clark, and on the book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd.

A Christmas Story, the Musical, is produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC., of Woodstock, Illinois. Produced with permission of Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc.

Thank you, Carole

As Near West Theatre prepares for a year of transition to its new building, our needs and opportunities in the areas of finance and statistical analysis have caused us to restructure our staff responsibilities.  The position of Business and Operations Director came to an end on March 20, 2013, and so we say goodbye, with regret, but with gratitude for her nearly 14 years of staff service, to Carole Leiblinger-Hedderson.

Carole first became involved at Near West as a parent, when her son, Perren Hedderson, then a teenager, was in the cast of Godspell in 1994.  Since then she has touched thousands of people through her involvement in many aspects of Near West Theatre’s life and work:  as actor, stage manager, volunteer recruiter, front-of-house manager, ad salesperson, motivator of cast playbill campaigns, leader of parent meetings, formatter and distributor of publicity materials, cash flow bills manager, and so much more. We are grateful for all that Carole has offered to Near West Theatre and her commitment to our art and mission.  Carole asked that no event be held to  honor her, but we hope that you, as individuals, if you feel so moved, will join us in thanking Carole and wishing her the best in the midst of this difficult time.  If you have questions or need contact information, please e-mail or call me (hholznagel-at-nearwesttheatre-dot-org; 216-961-9750). — Hans Holznagel

Carole Leiblinger-Hedderson (second from right) with members of the 2012 Annual Benefit cast

Carole Leiblinger-Hedderson with Annual Benefit cast members (from left) Jocelyn Perkins, Faith Green, Mary Halm, Madelyn Lockshine, Christine Larson, Isaac Jarrell, Jeffrey Braun and Louis Johnson II, Jan. 28, 2012, at Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland. Photo by Terry Schordock

Carole Leiblinger-Hedderson (third from right) at a restaurant gathering with colleagues (from left) Perren Hedderson, Lindsay Doerr, Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek, Bob Navis Jr. and Kelcie Dugger, Oct. 30, 2012. Photo by Hans Holznagel

Carole Leiblinger-Hedderson (third from right) with colleagues (from left) Perren Hedderson, Lindsay Doerr, Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek, Bob Navis Jr. and Kelcie Dugger, Oct. 30, 2012, at a restaurant in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District. Photo by Hans Holznagel

That wacky ‘Hairspray’ poster

We love our publicity images at Near West Theatre, and the crazy-colorful one below for Hairspray, the Broadway Musical — opening Friday, July 20 — is an exceptionally good example. Director Bob Navis Jr. and Scenic Designer Laura Carlson Tarantowski came up with the concept.  Photographer Geoff Short took lively face shots of the actors, with makeup by Heather Brown (and assistance from her husband, Nick), against a plain white background in our costume room.  Laura then designed and produced the entire image, including the over-the-top, graphically added hairdos and headgear and the words, “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” the title of one of the show’s musical numbers.  Ann Palotta Nagin used the image as the centerpiece of our publicity poster, postcard and fliers, which are now up in West Side windows and arriving in mailboxes. Versions of the image also appear at our Facebook page and website. You’ll see a black-and-white version on the playbill when you come to the show.

Pictured (left to right) are, top row, Oliver Deak as Corny Collins, Mariah Burks as Motormouth Maybelle, Anna Kukelhan as Prudy Pingleton; middle row, Jordan Cooper (also the show’s musical director) as Edna Turnblad, Jacqueline Uhlik as Tracy Turnblad, Perren Hedderson as Wilbur Turnblad; bottom row, Justin Woody as Seaweed Stubbs, Becca Frick as Velma Von Tussle, and Hayden Neidhardt as Little Inez.

Advance tickets are available online anytime or by phoning 216-961-6391 weekdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., during which hours you can also stop by our business office, 6514 Detroit Ave., and purchase in person. Any remaining tickets will be sold starting at 6:30 p.m. at the ticket table at our performance space, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 20, and Saturday, July 21, as we kick off an eight-performance run through Aug. 5. See performance times and show info at this page at our website.

"Hairspray" poster 2012

Director Bob Navis Jr., photographer Geoff Short, and, mostly, designer Laura Carlson Tarantowski came up with the publicity image for Hairspray, running July 20 through Aug. 5, 2012.

Come to our outdoor stage Saturday, June 9

Free public performances in the afternoon and a free public “open mic” in the evening will be featured on the Near West Theatre Stage at Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day, this Saturday, June 9, 2012. The stage will be under a tent along West 67th Street just north of Detroit Avenue (near the festival’s beer garden), on the future site of the theater’s new performance center. A picnic next to the tent will offer hot dogs and the “cornhole” bag-toss game. Afternoon stage performances, in 20-minute segments on the hour and half-hour, will include excerpts from recent Near West Theatre musical productions and performances by young NWT actors and alumni. DJ Karluis will fill in the gaps with danceable tunes. The evening open mic, from 7 to 9 p.m., will feature Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. accompanying on the piano. He’ll have Broadway and pop collections, or bring your own sheet music to sing from; or read a poem or accompany yourself on guitar. The schedule below features Jordan Cooper as musical director and accompanist from 2 to 6 p.m. and Bob Navis Jr. in the evening.

[SCHEDULE CORRECTED 6/5/12: We had inadvertently left out the “Into the Woods” segment! And corrected again 6/6/12: Molly’s now at 4:30 and Luke at 5:30.]

2:00 p.m.: Selections from Ragtime, the Musical. Performers include Geoff Short, Nikki Sumlin, Hans Holznagel, Skipper Rankin and Winter Castro. Selections include “Gliding,” “Wheels of a Dream,” “Sarah Brown Eyes.”

2:30: Solos by NWT actor Mariah Burks. A veteran of NWT’s children’s, youth and intergenerational shows who will be appearing in this summer’s production of Hairspray, the Broadway Musical, Mariah is a student at Bowling Green State University.

3:00: Selections from Oliver! Performers include Jeffrey Braun, Faith Green, Jonas Kukelhan, Skipper Rankin, Winter Castro, Edwin Smith, Gwen Stembridge, Perren Hedderson and Kelcie Dugger. Selections include “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two,” “Where is Love,” “Who Will Buy?”

3:30: Selections from Miss Saigon. Performers include Anthony Williams, Izzy Sansom and Mariah Burks. Selections include “I Still Believe” and “Bui-Doi.”

4:00:  DJ break. Picnic continues while DJ Karluis cranks dance tunes under the tent.

4:30: Performance by Molly Andrews-Hinders. A veteran of NWT children’s, youth and intergenerational shows and a theater graduate of Wright State University, Molly is an actor (currently appearing in Cleveland Public Theatre’s Akarui), playwright and stage manager.

5:00: Selections from Ragtime, the Musical. Same program as 2:00.

5:30:  Solos by Luke Wehner. Luke’s NWT credits include The Who’s TommyThe Secret Garden and Rent.

6:00: Selections from Into the Woods.  Performers include Patrick Ciamacco, Joe Kenderes, Luke Wehner, Kelcie Dugger, Faith Green, Jonas Kukelhan, Skipper Rankin and Winter Castro. Selections include “Agony,” “Giants in the Sky” and “Children Will Listen.”

6:30:  Original music by Perren Hedderson, Noah Hrbek and Alexis Hedderson. Perren is NWT’s Assistant Technical Director. All three performers are veterans of NWT’s children’s, youth and intergenerational shows.

7:00 to 9:00 p.m.: Open mic! The featured act is you! All are welcome to take a try at our open mic. NWT Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. will accompany all comers. Bring your own sheet music for him to play, or make a selection from a few Broadway and pop collections he’ll have on had. Or accompany yourself on guitar. Poetry readings are also welcome. Or, of course, bring your own coffee, relax under the tent and listen. Invited performers you might see at the mic include comedian Matt Allard, poet Autumn Smith, and singers/actors Kelcie Dugger, Mo Eutazia, CoCo Smith and Xavier Reminick.