A Christmas Carol Returns to the ACTC Stage

christmas carol

Charles Dickens’ holiday tale holds a special place in my heart for many reasons.  My acting premiere in a big stage show was in a 1991 Community Players performance as Peter Cratchit in the Fred Fout directed A Christmas Carol at Old Main in Huntington.  To say that play changed my life would not be an overstatement.  And just eight years later, in Norfolk at Virginia Stage Company, my Ghost of Christmas Future came face to face with the great Jerome Kilty’s Ebenezer Scrooge, a most memorable experience in many wonderful ways and a pretty incredible sign of how far theatre took me in a relatively short span of time.

More often than not, though, I have been an audience member marveling at what I consider to be the greatest story ever told.  It’s a magical tale with an important message, one that will just as easily elicit tears as smiles.  It is one that goes to the very reason for the upcoming Christmas season, if you will.  I know I’m not alone, for many folks in this community have fond memories of seeing the show presented at Ashland Community and Technical College at some point over the past two decades.  Be it your local community theatre, a classic film adaptation, the book itself, or the Muppets version, it’s enjoyed all over.

Ashland Community and Technical College will continue their long tradition of presenting the show in early December.  Public performances are Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3 at 7pm and Sunday, December 4 at 2:30pm.  For the second year in a row, Jim Maggard takes the helm as director.  If you saw how beautifully he orchestrated last year’s show, you know what a gem the 2016 staging will be.  Hopefully, all will leave the theatre with a carol in their head, a message in their heart, and new memories of an age old story.  Who knows, but somewhere in the mix may be a young one whose life will be forever altered.


New Works Abound at ARTS!


Below is the lineup for ARTS second New Works Festival.  I am excited to take part again.  Last year the talented folks at Arts Resources for the Tri State presented a wonderful reading of my Pilfering Rome play, which went on to open the West Virginia Playwrights Festival in Clarksburg in May 2016 and to win 1st Place at the 2016 WV Writers Annual Writing Competition (Stage Play category).

This year I have four short pieces hitting the stage for readings at ARTS.  Included will be Down on Sandusky Road, which won 2nd Place in the same WV Writers 2016 Writing Competition back in June, was an Inge Fest Official Selection (Kansas, 2016) and a Semi-Finalist at the 2016 Minnesota Shorts Play Festival.  Also included:  a ten minute play titled Beans and Franks, the first scene of a new full length I’m working on titled Emmitt’s Mystery Pit, and a 20 minute comedy Debbie Sue’s Little Girl Went and Got Drunk.

My stuff is all going up Friday, December 2 at 7pm, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Look at all this cool work ARTS has planned for the first two weeks of December.

Come out and support your local theatre, film, and new original works.  You’ll be glad you did.


New Works 2016 (New Works Festival)
Arts Resources for the Tri State (ARTS)

Thurs. Dec. 1, 7pm – “Butcher Holler” by Dan Shea $5

Fri. Dec. 2, 7pm – 6 short plays from all over the world + 4 by Jonathan Joy including a talkback with Jon. $5

Sat. Dec. 3, 4pm – 9 short plays from all over the world + “Sarah’s Fire” by Mike Murdock including talkback with Mike – $5

Thurs. Dec. 8, Noon – Beginning of 72-hour film challenge

Sun. Dec. 11, Noon – End of 72-hour film challenge 4pm – Award ceremony and film festival screenings

ARTS Renaissance Ballroom
900 8th St. Huntington, WV
Ticket prices: $5 each night, $35 to participate in the film challenge, award ceremony / film fest are free to attend



And here, ladies and gentleman, is your first sneak peak at some of the talented playwrights that have been hard at work crafting new comedies and dramas for the upcoming 4th Annual New Play Fest at Ashland Community and Technical College.

Students in ENG 207: Playwriting have been composing monologues, short scenes, and ten minute plays since mid-August.  We have spent much of the last four weeks in the J.B. Sowards Theatre reading their work, rewriting it, and preparing it for the stage.

Fourteen playwrights total will be represented in the April fest, bringing to fifty the total number of dramatists that have participated since this class was first offered.  Dozens more actors and technicians have worked to make these authors’ dreams a reality.

An annual tradition, the ACTC New Play Festival has premiered three dozen new works in 2014, 2015, and 2016.  The 4th Annual New Play Festival will run in April 2017, in conjunction with the annual Student Art Showcase.  This year’s lineup of plays and more information will be announced very soon.  Stay tuned!

What is an Etheree Poem?


An Etheree Poem is a ten line poem. The first line should be one syllable, and then another syllable is added with each subsequent line. So the second line is two syllables, the third line is three, up to ten syllables in the tenth, and final, line. An Etheree Poem typically focuses on one subject, the season of fall in my example below.





School bells

Trick or Treat

Jack O Lanterns

Football Friday night

Pumpkin spice treats abound

A jaunt from Poage Landing Days

To a whole month of Thanks givings

Sweatshirts shield a welcome chilly air

Leaves change color as the summer submits





Little Donkeys and Elephants at the Chappaqua Library – UPDATE

book cover

Last month my political comedy Little Donkeys and Elephants was one of eight plays (out of 130 submitted) to be performed as a part of the 2016 Comedy Play Festival at the Chappaqua Library in New York.

According the festival organizers, the event drew big crowds and they raised $2,000 for library programming.

Little Donkeys and Elephants is one of seven plays published in this collection, which celebrates 4 YEARS on Amazon’s Top 100 Comedy Plays list this month.

Check it out!


Elliott County Voted for Who?


Elliott County, Kentucky is very near and dear to my heart.  I travelled there once when I was working the Al Gore campaign in 2000.  I didn’t have to go there more than that, because virtually everyone in Elliott County is a Democrat.  Gore was going to  win that county easily.

That’s not why it is so important to me, though.

Many years later, after accepting a teaching job of Ashland Community and Technical College I was assigned an off campus dual credit class at Elliott County High School.  It was a gig none of my colleagues really wanted because it was an hour away, through twists and turns over hills and through Eastern Kentucky valleys – a winding road that could lull the most alert of drivers off to dreamland.

For four years I taught ENG 101 and 102 to some of the best students I have ever or will ever teach – bright, inquisitive, driven learners.  And the school was staffed by helpful, friendly, wonderful folks.  Except for the mind numbing drive, it was a delight.

I post this article here (below), because I think it’s the single best piece I have read about the 2016 Presidential Election.  And I’ve read a lot.  It’s intriguing, well written, and spells out exactly how Hillary Clinton lost a once proud Democrat stronghold.  In this case, one of the strongest, proudest, and long lasting in the entire country…maybe, literally, the strongest.  It may be that Elliott County is not only a fascinating place to teach, but also the most interesting bellwether county in the entire country when it comes to Presidential politics.

Read this.  If Trump is to live up to the grand promises made to coal country in 2016 and/or if a Democrat is ever again to lead this country, he/she better understand Elliott County, Kentucky.



The Daddy Show’s Second Annual Christmas Spectacular

reindeer-546924_960_720 —–

Praise for The Daddy Show blogs:


-ArtReach Children’s Theatre Plays

“So sweet!”

-HarperCollins Children’s Books


-Levi Joy


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even though the big day is still 49 days away. Jingle bells and Christmas carols filled our Sunday morning shopping trip, and that planted an important seed in my six year old’s brain. Christmas is here…now.

Why not?

The Daddy Show is an imaginary television program “filmed” at my house. I am the host. My son is always the guest. Each episode revolves around constructing a top ten list on some specific subject. There’s also a lot of physical comedy, hiding and seeking, and throwing stuffed animals at the studio audience.

This week’s top ten list revolved around Christmas. I asked my son to list ten things that come to mind when he thinks of Christmas.

(drumroll, please)

10.  Family…ahh…how touching that is was literally the tenth thing he thought of…after a bit of prompting.

9. Our miniature Christmas village. It is pretty cool.

8. Christmas Carols. He then proceeded to sing a couple, while substituting the word “poo” every so often. “We wish you a Merry Poo Poo! We wish you a Merry Poo Poo!” “Jingle Poo, Jingle Poo…” You get the idea. He was rolling on the floor laughing.

7. Santa. Oh, and Breaking News – according to Levi – Santa fled the North Pole recently and has taken up residence in America. I am unclear of the circumstances surrounding this abrupt move, but my son assures me Santa and his elves immigrated legally.

6. Christmas colors…green and red.

5. Christmas stories and books. (Yes!)

4. Jesus’s birthday. Jesus almost cracked the Top 3.

3. Games!

2. Candy!

1. Toys!

Noticeably absent, of course, is GIVING. It did not come up on this list, though we did discuss it after. (To his credit I should add that earlier in the day, and completely unprompted, he suggested taking a name off the Christmas tree at Wal-mart to buy a toy for a kid that might not get Christmas gifts otherwise. That made me happy. He remembered that from last year. It had an impact. And he wants to do it again.)

The show ended with him jumping on the bed and cackling loudly, still blending the word “poo” intermitted into the songs of the season. Then, we signed off.

That’s it for this episode of The Daddy Show. Tune in next time. And have a Merry Poo Poo.