Family values explored in ‘The Meaning of Normal’ by BETH ALTENA Anyone who knows Phil Mann can concede he does a convincing creepy. Surprisingly, so does his daughter, lovely 16-year-old Tiffany, a straight-A student who will be a junior this year at Rockford High School. The two were recently featured in a news segment titled “The Meaning of Normal” that proves family values can take a ghoulish twist and still make the memories of a lifetime. The news segment won WZZM TV 13 one of seven Emmy Awards the station was awarded this year by the National Press Photographers Association in the category of television. Nationally it took third overall and first in its category. Mann works second shift at Steelcase, making family time tough to arrange around Tiffany’s schedule of school and homework. Their solution? Spend time together as the zombie groom and zombie bride at The Haunt. “This is their together time, scaring people,” explains mom and wife Debbie. The Mann family has a long tradition of enjoying and creating haunted houses and considers a “haunt hunt” a nostalgic family outing. Two years ago Phil and Tiffany signed up as staff at the Grand Rapids spook house and found a perfect fit for their creepy creativity. “I am so lucky to have my dad,” Tiffany said of the pair’s ghoulish hobby. She has Facebooked to her friends that her dad is cool. Any parent to a teenage girl will appreciate the gesture as atypical. Perhaps the juxtaposition of straight-A school work, a real appreciation for dressing up as the dead to scare strangers and a daughter-dad relationship that is admirable helped give the segment its appeal. It was produced by Andrew B. Sudgen for WZZM-13, who Phil said “practically lived with us” during the filming. Mann is interviewed at his Steelcase job and at home, and Tiffany was filmed singing with the Rockford High School choir. And then there is the filming from The Haunt, where Tiffany moves with slack-jawed, broken necked jerkiness, dragging her damaged wedding gowned self toward screaming visitors. Dad, dressed as undead groom, likewise performs in deathly makeup, with vacant eyes and a lopsided, looming gait. Pure father-daughter fun. “We get paid with scares and dropping people to the […]
Arts & Entertainment
Local talent filled Rockford during the third annual ArtCapsule event in downtown Rockford, and voters picked the winners in each of three categories as well as Best in Show. Local photographer Stacy Niedzwiecki was the overall winner with her photograph earning her Best in Show. In the Photography category Paul Willis, whose work was on display at Sassy Pants Boutique, received the most votes. Winning in the category of Three-Dimensional was Lois Carpenter, whose work was on display at the Frame and Mat Shop. Best Two-Dimensional artist was Kelly Bennor, whose work was on display at Kimberly’s Boutique. “We had outstanding publicity for the event this year, with articles in The Rockford Squire in March, June and [on the front page in] August,” said Jeff Lewis, chair of the Rockford Area Arts Commission, organizers of the event. “Our website traffic reached its highest levels of the year last week, and hundreds downloaded the smartphone app. Over 1,200 people read our Facebook posts and Heart of Rockford and Ada Arts Council and shared the event with their fans. WZZM13 and a number of other local organizations and businesses also included the event on their community calendars.” Lewis offered thanks to the many volunteers who sat in the 95+ degree heat to pass out ballots, sell tickets, give directions, babysit bicycles on the White Pine Trail and make the event possible, the business venues that gave up retail selling space to make way for beautiful artwork, the restaurants who raised the funds to award the artists through their donation of Taste of Rockford food and time, the Frame & Mat Shop for hosting the afterglow, Tom Scott for the artist photographer and, belatedly, T-Square, for their 2011 material donations to enrich ArtCapsule. “A special thanks goes to Arts Commission member Jeannie Gregory for her work in organizing the event again this year. As you might imagine, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes footwork and last-minute maneuvering needed to pull off an event like this,” Lewis continued. “In addition to the dozens of hours registering artists, signing up venues, printing forms, collecting money and organizing Taste of Rockford, Jeannie became a grandmother twice the week of the event and moved her mother into a new apartment. And, to rest […]
It’s been 100 years since the unsinkable HMS Titanic went down in the north Atlantic, but the lives of its passengers will be revisited in the upcoming theater production “A Ship of Dreams.” Rogue River Community Theater Company of Rockford is holding auditions September 5 for the two-act play that traces the lives of passengers aboard the ill-fated luxury liner that sank April 15, 1912. “Being this is the 100th anniversary of one of the most famous shipwrecks in history, we thought it fitting to honor all the souls lost on that fateful day,” said playwright Patricia Rose, who wrote and will direct the play. Due to the diversity of characters involved, actors of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to audition. Auditions are 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5 at Rockford Community Center, 8450 Shaner Ave. NE, located at the northeast corner of Ten Mile Road in the Rockford Ambulance building. Performances are scheduled November 15-18 at the historic Kent Theatre in Cedar Springs. “The play follows the lives of passengers ranging from aristocracy to poor immigrants hoping to build a better life for themselves and their families in America,” Rose said. “Destiny draws them together in an epic struggle for survival that also brings out the best and the worst in people. It truly is an unraveling of human drama.” “A Ship of Dreams” is the first presentation by the newly formed theater company, formerly known as Rogue River Community Theater. For information on auditions, call (616) 874-5264.
The past 12 months has been an exciting year for one local band. Vertical Bridge is set to release their debut album “Never Too Late” August 10. The 11-song album features nine originals and two covers including “Shine” by Collective Soul and “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes. Brad Thomas of Rockford is the band’s guitarist. Jamie Sorsen of Greenville plays drums, and Jim Douglas, also of Greenville, is the lead singer. The three members have been playing together for over 12 years. The recording process started a year ago in June, when the band made a trip to Nashville for an indie music conference. They went with a demo CD in hand—not knowing what to expect. While at the conference, they met producer Billy Smiley, founding member of the Christian rock band Whiteheart. He was speaking at the conference. The band talked with him and gave him a copy of their demo CD. A couple days later, Smiley phoned them and said he liked what he heard and wanted to meet again with them and discuss making an album. A month later, Smiley flew to Rockford from Nashville and met with the band. They quickly hit it off and scheduled another visit from Smiley to work on pre-production of five songs. Smiley came back to Michigan in September to complete pre-production and the band was in Nashville in October, recording five songs. The guys in the band didn’t realize what they were in for. In Nashville, they were introduced and worked with some of the music industry’s great pros, including mix engineer Billy Whittington, who has worked with Carmen, Michael W. Smith, Vanessa Williams and many other artists. Also mixing part of the album was mix engineer Richie Biggs, who has worked with many artists and bands including Switchfoot, Newsboys, Michael W. Smith and most recently won two Grammy awards for his work on the Civil Wars Album Barton Hollow. The band was between bass players during recording. Smiley, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., but works in Nashville, is friends and neighbors with Megadeth bass player David Ellefson. Smiley sent the material to Ellefson to see if he was interested in providing the bass tracks for the band. Ellefson liked the music and […]