show of hands: court square theater.

Court Square Theater nightI was expecting a different lesson, one about working hard to overcome obstacles and achieve a lifelong dream. After all, Little Bread HenBarefoot Puppet Theater‘s rendition of the old, similarly named story – follows a little red hen’s endeavor to make bread from scratch. Planting and tending the field, cutting down the wheat, doing whatever-is-typically-done to make flour… seems a bit ambitious for a chicken, if you ask me. So I was expecting a lesson about struggle and reward.

But Heidi and Sam Rugg, who operate this outfit, had something else in mind. In a spoiler-free nutshell, Herr Brotmeister and his daughter Maguerite own a bakery in an undisclosed European nation. They have a few hens running around – you know, for eggs – and Marguerite gets particularly attached to one of them, Millie, named for her deceased mother. Business is good.

barefoot puppet 4Then the villains show up: a fox and an older lady who’s got a thing for the widower Brotmeister. Another woman comes in and orders sixty strawberry custard pies for the Strawberry Festival in Paris. A tall order for this tiny operation run by two people and a herd of chickens.

At this point I think, “Wait. Maybe this is about Herr Brotmeister finding new love after the death of his wife! Then again, maybe it IS about overcoming obstacles, what with the pies and all.”

barefoot puppet 2This is what happens when an English teacher attends a puppet show. She tries to pin down the THEME. So I stopped taking notes and decided to just enjoy the show like a kid would. Wasn’t hard.

Herr Brotmeister is so distracted by all these women that he forgets to tell Marguerite about the fox… and Marguerite leaves the gate open… and then gossip spreads through the farm animals like mad cow disease about a dog named Fred and his possible murder… which, of course, causes all the animals to be unwilling to help evil, old Millie make bread, which results in a bread shortage. Ah, consequences. It’s all cause and effect, people.

And so the lesson is a bit less hopeful than my original prediction: If no one helps, everyone gets NOTHING.

barefoot puppet 1The husband and wife proprietors of Barefoot Puppet Theater, Heidi and Sam Rugg, take lots of folktales and add twists and quirks. They also make all their puppets and sets, man all the puppets, each with a different voice, and use props for interactive improv with the audience. It’s really very clever and fun to watch, their antics resulting in squeals and giggles from everyone in the audience, blurring the line between kiddo and grownup. After the performance they were happy to answer everyone’s adorable questions.

barefoot puppetbw 9They’ve been known to perform in major cities up and down the East Coast including Long Island, DC, and Atlanta, and isn’t it nice that we live in a community where awesome entertainment for all ages is just a quick stroll downtown? A quick note to parents: A membership at Court Square Theater is about as vital to your family as your library card and your Kohl’s cash. Court Square Theater members get twenty percent off tickets and FREE popcorn, for the equivalent of about seven bucks a month. Plus you’re helping support the arts in your community. And you can purchase and drink beer and wine in there!! (And of course the usual sodas and other beverages, which I’m admittedly not as excited about.) Now THAT’S family friendly!

Tonight through Sunday you can catch a performance of Valley Playhouse’s Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun. In coming weeks, you’ll find a variety of entertainment, including a dance performance, a craft beer film (yow!!), and concerts like Danny Knicely and Ellis Paul. Time to get that membership!

barefoot puppetbw 3Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

shackin’ up in the ‘burg no. 28: billy jack’s.

Sometimes you just want WINGS.

And the last time that happened to me, I found myself sitting on a wooden stool at Billy Jack’s Wing and Draft Shack. I’m not really sure how I got there, but who cares? I’m glad I did.

Here’s the thing about eating wings. Once you start, you really can’t stop for any reason. You have to continue on til they’re gone. Why?
1. They’re just that delicious. I had the Classic Buffalo, and Brandy had the Sticky Sweet Chili sauce. (By the way, they use only fresh, never frozen, locally sourced chicken. So there.)
2. It’s dangerous. If you take your attention away from the task for even a second, you could get wing sauce in your eye, and then you’ve just ruined the whole experience, haven’t you?
3. Manners. Let’s face it–eating wings is kinda gross. Best to plow through that messy, sauce-on-face, skin-stuck-in-teeth ordeal quickly and do one big finger-licking session at the end.

One thing I’ve learned from this blog gig is patience. Because Brandy is always taking my beer away to photograph it. Maybe I should order a “dummy beer” for her to photograph so I can hold on to mine. (Mine!!) Not to mention the delayed food gratification I must also endure. The mouth-watering aroma of buffalo wings wafts upwards from the steaming plate…only to be snatched away by Brandy before I can make a mess of it. On this day she had to build a little barricade of stools, tidy up the surrounding area, search out the perfect light, and climb up on another stool (by this time I was ready to chew my own arm off) arrange the plates just so, and snap the picture.

Sheesh! Sometimes you just want WINGS. just kidding :)

While I’m partial to Classic Buffalo, Billy Jack’s has many sauces to choose from, like Habanera “Shocker” and Thai Peanut, plus other indulgences like Fried Chicken and Waffles, Loaded Fries, Doughnuts, and a Fried PB&J. I think they’ve officially proved that you can fry anything. In fact, now that I think about it, the whole place is based on cravings.

In addition to the food (and the beer, of course), it’s an interesting little joint. Where do Aaron and Patrice get all these awesome knick-knacks?? I love the firefly-in-a-jar chandelier. And the colander lamps. And all those doors.

You can drop by Billy Jack’s on S. Main downtown, right across from Dave’s Taverna. They’re open Sunday through Wednesday 11 am til 12 midnight, and Thursday through Saturday 11 am til 2 am. That’s plenty of time to eat your weight in wings. But get in there soon before the June specials are gone!

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.