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Cole fires 1-hitter to power Southwestern past South Central

Encore's Encore
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Encore Theatre of Madison will stage its second ever production this weekend when “The 39 Steps,” is performed at Madison Consolidated High School’s Opal E. Sherman Auditorium.

Director Alec Lichlyter said the play, adapted from a 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock, is “basically a spy thriller” that is also a comedy set in London in the 1930s during the buildup to World War II.

Encore Theatre, a new group that staged its first ever production last year, will be performing Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Sherman Auditorium.

Lichlyter said the story, adapted as a play in 2005 by Patrick Barlow, begins with Richard Hannay, who is “middle aged and doesn’t really know what life is about,” yet he happens upon a disturbing situation when he meets a woman who says she’s a spy trying to stop a plot by Germany against Great Britain. And because of her efforts, he said people are chasing after her. Hannay takes the woman back to his apartment to hide her, and she is murdered, leading him to run because police are nowafter him.

“He’s trying to figure out who killed her, and what plot against Great Britain she was trying to stop,” said Lichlyter.

He said the play involves actors playing multiple roles. “Because they’re trying to do all these different characters really quickly, it adds the humorous element to the play,” he said. “Plus the characters are larger than life funny characters that show up throughout the play.”

Lichlyter noted some characters will change several times in the same scene. “They’re quickly changing back and forth from the different characters so they’re all in one moment,” he said, adding the script “requires a lot of talent” on the past of the actors. “Most of them have background from high school theater, so they’re really using that to their advantage,” he added.

Thomas Cifranik and Adam Norris will share the role of Hannay, playing the character in different performances of the play. The play also has two clowns that take on several roles. Cifranik and Norris will alternate as one of the clowns with Tristan Kelsey and Patrick Magrath alternating performances as the other clown. “It’s pretty intense. The lines are pretty heavy” for the actors, said Lichlyter.

Holly Magrath will perform the roles of Annabella, Margaret and Pamela while Kamra Smith is also playing Pamela.

Encore’s first play, a performance of “Barefoot in the Park” was staged last fall. Lichlyter said that first effort “went really well” and noted most of the cast members were previously involved in high school theater and “love the chance to get involved again, and to offer their creative skills. It’s just been great.”

Lichlyter said proceeds from the play are earmarked for a scholarship for a student graduating from the MCHS Fine Arts Academy. The goal is to give a $500 scholarship depending on how much money is raised from the performances.

“Long term we just want to be a group that supports the Fine Arts Academy,” said Lichlyter, adding they hope to do a student theater workshop this summer, along with staging plays at least twice a year with one in the spring and another in the fall. “We just want to try to get more high school alumni involved and more people in the community involved, and just grow each year somehow.”

Tiffany Lichlyer is helping with the technical aspects of the play while MCHS students Isa James and Owen Schmidt are coordinating the lighting and sound. Miriam Stancampiano is providing assistance with the LED stage backdrop.

Tickets, which cost $15 for adults and $5 for K-12 students, are only available at the door, where cash or credit cards will be accepted. Adult tickets are $10 for the Saturday and Sunday matinees.

Charlie’s Beat
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I thought it might be fun and instructive to take a look back at last Saturday night in Indiana’s Music City. An “After Action Report,” if you will, to borrow military parlance.

Last Saturday night was cold and windy, capping off a gray day that didn’t really engender getting up off the couch and going out. To complicate things even more, there were several high profile college basketball games on TV. So it was easy to just cozy up and call it a night.

But what did my wife and I discover when we rolled downtown to check things out? Thomas Family Winery — packed to the rafters. Mad Paddle Brewery — big crowd in the big room. Off-Broadway Taproom — every table taken. The Central — nice crowd for early evening, and getting bigger.

What could possibly drive so many people to take off their comfy sweatpants, put on hard shoes and brave the chilly night? Well, in a nutshell, the quality of the music. Rusty Bladen had the whole place singing along at Thomas Family. Mad Paddle had a very popular Tom Petty tribute band. And Robby Cox at The Taproom was weaving a magic spell that at one point compelled a patron to break into a spontaneous interpretive dance to Waylon Jennings’ ”Are the Good Times Really Over.” I can report definitively that they are not!

Not to be outdone over at The Central, a band I’d never seen play called Old Man River broke into a tight, spot-on cover of Blackberry Smoke’s song “Good One Coming On” and the whole place was mouthing the words. It was only about 9:30, so that scene was gonna get nothing but better as the night wore on.

If all this sounds like fun — you are starting to smell what I’m cooking, as the Rock so aptly says — pretty much any weekend night in downtown Madison will offer some version of this scenario, and did I mention all four of these places were easy walking distance?

I guess what I’m doing here is asking you, no I’m entreating you, to make the effort and come support and enjoy this amazing musical stew that’s brewing downtown. If you love live music you’ll find something to your liking and you won’t regret for a minute that you came.

Now I know, some of you will say “I’m not a bar person” and I totally respect that. Don’t go to The Central. But Thomas Family Winery is like a delightful cozy living room, nothing like a bar. And the Taproom, for all its outward bar appearances, is more like a warm bistro with great food and lively company.

And if you’re not a drinker and might not feel comfortable in a bar-like setting, you need to check out Mad Paddle Brewery. It feels more like a big dance hall or barn party, and there are no waiters coming around to the tables trying to sell drinks. You are totally welcome to sit and watch the show nursing a soda or even a water.

Bottom line is, Madison is transforming into this amazing Music City, and the venue owners are making the investment to bring in the bands. It’s our job to make the effort, get out there, and support live music. If we do, there’s no telling how big this thing can become.

Hot Tip of the Week

If you’re a regular watcher of our Music Calendar you might have noticed that the Rivertown Grill (formerly On The Rocks, across from the courthouse on Jefferson Street) has been booking more and more shows.

Owner Joe Breeck is committed to live music and is ramping up his bookings as we head into warmer weather. In fact, this Saturday Joe’s very own rock band, Cold Steel, will be playing at Rivertown from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Joe slings a pretty mean lead guitar, and he likes to start late and play late!

Also on Saturday, in the same vein the venerable band Powerplant will be rocking The Central until the wee hours, so break out your black T-shirts and get out there if you like it loud and rockin’.

Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.

This Week in Music

Thursday, March 31

Central Hotel — Karaoke

Friday, April 1

Off Broadway Taproom — Brandon Gray & Coy Comer

Mad Paddle — Jackson Snelling

Central Hotel — Kill’n Smalls

American Legion — Keith Swinney Band

Rivertown Grill — Strange Brew

Cuzz’s (Vevay) — Rusty Bladen

Brown Gym — No Name Band (Senior Citizens dance 6:30 p.m.)

Saturday, April 2

Mad Paddle — Jordan Tyler

Central Hotel — Powerplant

Rivertown Grill — Cold Steel

Off-Broadway Tavern — Amy & Joe & Deano

Thomas Family Winery — Davis & Devitt

Fairgrounds — Bluegrass Jam (2 p.m.)

Tuesday, April 5

Off-Broadway Taproom — Open Mic Night

Ribberfest granted $40K boost for 20th anniversary event
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A request for additional funding for this summer’s 20th Ribberfest BBQ and Blues festival was granted at Monday’s meeting of the Jefferson County Board of Tourism but the amount approved was half what festival organizers had sought.

Erin Kindle, coordinator of Ribberfest, had approached JCBT in February with a request for an extra $80,000 to be used to land higher profile performers to help commend the festival’s 20th anniversary.

JCBT board treasurer Curtis Chatham, who also serves as president of Madison City Council, recommended the board provide half the organization’s request with the possibility that Ribberfest approach the City of Madison to match that amount to provide the full amount requested.

Chatham noted that last year when JCBT supported the Madison Regatta with $50,000 the city matched that amount. “I don’t think we can do the full $80,000 ourself but I’d like to see the city contribute and match what we did for Ribberfest,” said Chatham, adding that JCBT’s $40,000 pledge to Ribberfest is not contingent on whether the city matches.

Kindle said 62% of the funds from JCBT will go toward the blues music program, which is what Ribberfest pays artists that perform. “With this being our 20th anniversary, we are trying to hit big,” she said. “We’re going after some larger artists, but just artists in general their price tags are pretty phenomenal this year.”

She said 5% of the funding will go toward marketing for new signage and to promote that 2022 is the 20th anniversary event. She said 33% will be spent on 20th edition specialty items and operational costs.

Kindle also noted that Ribberfest is seeking increased sponsorship support this year. Sponsorships covered 12.5% of the budget in the past, but Ribberfest is seeking to increase that to 26.5% this year. “Again, we’re pitching this is our 20th anniversary. We want to make it big, but we’re also trying to keep in mind we’re trying to make it affordable for locals, and bring people in at the same time,” she said.

Kindle said an Economic Impact Calculator has indicated that Ribberfest had a $1.08 million economic impact locally during the 2021 event. “That’s pretty incredible,” she said.

“Ribberfest has been a sustainable event on its own,” Kindle said, noting the request for funding is tied to the anniversary. “We have had a couple of hard years, but we’re looking at this that it is our 20th anniversary, and we’re hoping to make it a huge bash, but we don’t have any intentions of coming back year after year.”

The $40,000 appropriation to Ribberfest was approved unanimously by JCBT with exception of board member Jim Bartlett, who abstained because he served on Ribberfest’s organizing committee.

In other business:

• At JCBT’s February meeting, the possibility of moving the Visit Madison Inc. offices into the former Madison Bank and Trust Company building, 215 East Main Street, was suggested by Chatham and discussed by the board. “It’s my understanding that the Realtor has the contract, and he is reviewing it after his attorney has reviewed it. I am hoping we will have it by our April meeting to have some discussion,” Chatham said in an update.

Board president David Bramer noted it will likely “take a little time to move through that but it’s good to get that discussion going.”

• The possibility of increasing the county’s innkeepers tax by 1% — from 5% to 6% — was also discussed at the February meeting. Chatham said he has invited State Rep. Randy Frye to the May JCBT meeting to discuss the process of changing the innkeepers tax.

Bramer, who also serves as a County Commissioner, said he will update the County Council at its April meeting about JCBT’s plans to evaluate working toward increasing the innkeepers tax.