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volume 2 issue 4 | NovemBeR 2009 | VOLUME 6 ISSUE 10 | August 2013 | theVIPmag.


















That’s Entertainment!

how to dress like a rock star ... everyday the art of appetizers Meet the symphony’s new concertmaster VIP’s 2013-14 live theater guide a lake house built for entertaining actress Katherine Boecher

Still our Idol
Coming off a second-place finish on American Idol, Southeast Texas’ Kree Harrison looks ahead to a promising music career

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vip magazine
c o n t e n t s

07 vip home 15 vip style

07 A dream lake house 15 How to dress like a rock star everyday

inside august

Editorial Editor DAVID CONSTANTINE Contributing Writers CATHLEEN COLE LArENA HEAD grACE mATHIS jANE mCbrIDE HOLLI pETErSEN CHEryL rOSE Editorial Assistant LAurEN mCgEE

20 vipersonality

20 American Idol’s Kree Harrison 24 Actress/model Katherine Boecher 28 Symphony of SE Texas No. 2: Matt Detrick 30 Studio 33: Beaumont’s first pro theater group 33 2013-14 SE Texas live theater guide 40 SE Texas events 43 Creating the perfect hors d’oeuvre

30 vip worthy 33 vip leisure

Photography Contributing Photographers SCOTT ESLINgEr LACIE grANT rENé SHEppArD LEE E. STINSON Graphic Design DAVID CONSTANTINE Advertising To advertise in VIP, 409.880.0700 Contact Us VIP of Southeast Texas 380 main Street beaumont, TX 77701
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40 vip spotlight 43 food&drink 47 vip adviser

15 43


47 5 great dates this month 48 Calendar 49 Crossword puzzle 50 Creating memories for the next generation

50 vip voices

A division of hearst newspapers Publisher mArK ADKINS


on the cover

Born in Port Arthur and raised in Woodville, singer Kree Harrison rose to stardom this year as a day before her 23rd birthday, 29.4 million viewers tuned in to see her finish second in the 12th season of American Idol. While preparing for a nationwide tour, Kree took a moment to speak with VIP about her Idol adventure and what’s next. Cover photography: Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

4 August 2013


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6 August 2013


vip home
l a k e h o u s e

textures and natural materials dominate in this grand lake house
ton loves to fish. He fishes

Castle by the
text by CHERYL ROSE photography by LEE E. StinSOn

the woods to support his fishing habit. However, for his wife, Melissa, and his teenage son and daughter, the rustic camper had lost its appeal and no one wanted to go to the lake with daddy any more. “Our big dream was to have a lake house,” Melissa said. “It started as a small project, but it grew and grew into this big house.” >>


ammy Christian of Lumber-

30 to 40 weekends a year. For years, he would camp in a small travel trailer in


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Dramatic and unique
At 10,000 square feet on eight acres, the Christians’ house in Tiger Creek Estates at Lake Sam Rayburn is a dramatic and unique culmination of their dream. As the owner of Absolute Elegance Builders, Melissa designed and built the thoroughly customized home in 2010. She said that in the initial plans, the space for the boats and water equipment was making the garage bigger than the house, so the house got bigger, too. As they planned the design, if she found a special piece of furniture or art, she would add a niche to showcase it. Also, because the house essentially has two fronts — the driveway façade and the lake façade — she was particular that the architecture on both the front and the back be equally attractive. When it came to the interior, husband and wife reached a compromise. “My husband wanted this real rustic Colorado ranch, but I didn’t want to go there – that’s not my style,” Melissa said. “I suggested we mix in some medieval elements and he said, ‘This is going to start to look like a vampire house.’ I like the vampirish castle thing — rich,
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plush textures and gothic elements with a little bit of the Colorado thing in there, too.” Ultimately, Sammy asked for only a few things — space for his hunting trophies, a big garage, slot machines and a stuffed raccoon — and Melissa honored them all. Working with her interior designer friend and partner, Regina Young of Regina Young Designs in Lumberton, Melissa indulged her love of textures, natural materials, curvy lines and plush fabrics.

Tile, travertine and faux finishes
As a builder, Melissa often has extras and overruns on materials. She repurposed many of those high-end materials in the lake house. She used travertine pool coping on the stairway, for example. “We wanted the house to speak for itself without filling it with furniture and window treatments,” Melissa said. “We built in all the decorations. We put in all the faux work. We wanted to keep the theme of the natural products.” A mélange of tile, wood, stone, brick and granite creates depth and variety in every room. >>


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Regina and Melissa also created some textured ceiling and wall décor by using anaglypta wallpaper, faux painting and framing. They even created a faux headboard out of these materials. In Sammy’s office, they used a fabric that looks like alligator hide to decorate a wall and the ceiling, along with some iron elements Regina found. Melissa travels frequently in her work and is always on the lookout for quaint or unusual home décor shops. She has picked up pieces all over the state for the house, but all of her bed linens come from a designer in Dallas. One thing she found was that stuffed raccoon Sammy wanted. She was not thrilled, but he had asked for very few things and now the raccoon has become a family mascot of sorts. “It’s gotten to a point where we fix it up for the holidays,” she said. “We put wings on him for Christmas, for example. Since we’re stuck with a rac-

coon, we might as well have fun.”

The house has four bedrooms, with 2,200 feet of unfinished space intended for another three bedrooms and a big game room. With two daybeds with trundles in the current game room, the house can hold quite a few friends for weekend retreats and holidays. Visitors particularly praise the view from the living room, which is Sammy’s favorite space in the house. He enjoys the two-story fireplace and the windows looking over the land and water, where they often spot wildlife including bald eagles, deer, foxes and raccoons (still living and without sporty holiday gear.) Other than his office, Sammy’s main domain is the fully-equipped outdoor kitchen. “My husband loves >>


August 2013 11

to cook,” Melissa said. “We have a lot of friends on the lake and he will invite them to come eat dinner and it turns into a little gathering. The first holiday we stayed at the house, Sammy was grilling fajitas, eggs and flapjacks on that grill for everyone.” Sammy often cooks for his fishing buddies, especially on tournament occasions. “Sometimes fish is on the menu, but it’s mostly barbecue,” he said.

Relaxation Retreat
Melissa’s two favorite spaces in the house are both relaxation retreats. “I love my master bathroom because it’s so big and spacious and has the colors that I love,” she said. “On the back porch, we just got that hammock and I love that hammock.” The outdoor coffee table near the hammock tells an interesting story and is a frequent conversation

piece. Melissa took copies of old family photos and covered them with resin to create the table top. She still has many projects left at the house and is always adding new items as she comes across them in her travels. She’d like to find a cigar store Indian and a roulette table for the game room. She’d like to cobblestone the driveway. And of course, there is still all the unfinished space to eventually finish out. For now, during their weekend retreats Sammy gets to pursue his favorite pastimes of fishing and cooking while Melissa relaxes and acts as hostess to the company, taking rides out on the pontoon boat and enjoying the amazing views. “People tell us they would never leave it if they owned it,” Sammy said. VIP

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14 August 2013


vip style
f a s h i o n

sheen and accessories, as well as animal print and fringe. The finishing too-cool-forschool touches are the headscarf and fun eyeshadow.
From YaYa Club: Animal print denim, $38; Fringe Tiger tee, $35; Glitter ankle bootie, $49; Brass and stone bangle, $20; Set of wire stretch bracelets, $16; Lily and Laura stretch bracelet, $12; Silver beaded cuff, $24; Gold beaded pull bracelet, $15; Silver hammered cuff, $19; Mesh clutch, $58. From The Purple Door: Cross chain bracelet, $13; Wavy stackable bracelets, $6; Silky print scarf, $15


girls night glam
t’s girl’s night, so don’t worry about sticking to man-friendly styles. Let your rock star shine with plenty of metallic

r a t S k c Ro ... everyday
text and styling by Grace Mathis and Larena head photography by scott esLinGer modeled by shanna hawa
ou may never have a Top 10 hit or a mantle full of Grammy’s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t release your inner rock star. Elements of metal, fringe and animal print, mixed with plenty of black will give you an edge. Take clues from the mistresses of rock and roll and be a star everyday.

a e k i L s s e r D o t How


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rock of errands
even when running around. Comfortable and you in rock star mode.

rock star may not always be dressed to the nines, but you can be sure they keep it cool and casual,

effortless pieces allow you to chase after the kids or run a million errands, while a touch of unexpected flair keeps

From The Purple Door: Chambray shirt, $29; Gold disc headband, $43; Wavy stackable rings, $4 each; Yellow round sunglasses, The Purple Door, Beaumont, $9. From YaYa Club: Denim shorts, Lucky Brand, $70; Navy crochet Toms, $63.

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date night diva
or those times when you want to look extra special for the one you love, stay elegant in all black with hints of gold. Balance a sheer top with modestly covered legs and his eyes will be on you all night. So will everyone else’s, but well, you’re a rock star.
From YaYa Club: High-low tunic, $35; Black bandeau, $14; Black skinny jean, Citizens of Humanity, $184; Platform bow pump, $20; Lion hoops, $12; Black and gold clutch, $65


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grocery grunge
ometimes, a rock star just does she wants. If that means wearing a tube-top with overalls and crazy wedges to pick up milk and bread at the grocery store, then so be it. Just make them say “What was she thinking?”
From YaYa Club: Denim Overall, $57; Purple bandeau, $14; Statement necklace (sold with earrings, not shown), $40; Bird print orange wedge, $43.

18 August 2013


peace pop
you have to take it easy, just ask, “What would a rock star wear?” She would keep it flowing and flattering, with a bold pattern and touches of black. Always, always black.
From YaYa Club: Sheer oversized jacket, $35; Black and gold hoops, $15; Gold mesh cuff, $33. From The Purple Door: Black tank, $14; Mocha linen pants, $25; Black sandals, $21.


hether it’s a plane or

limousine ride, or a lazy Sunday afternoon, when


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k r e e h a r r i s o n

photography by LaCiE gRanT, RandY EdWaRdS, ap and fOx
20 August 2013 |

Talented Woodville native looks to a solo career post American Idol adventure
ree Harrison has been singing her heart out since she was 3 years old. Twenty years later, the day before her 23rd birthday, 29.3 million viewers


tuned in to see her become the runner-up in American Idol’s 12th season.

Born in Port Arthur and raised in Woodville, Harrison has been the hometown sweetheart for Southeast Texas this year since the American Idol reality singing competition premiered in January. Harrison auditioned for the show in Oklahoma City, Okla. in the fall of 2012 at the urging of her sister. Though Harrison had some early breaks into show business, such as appearing on network television on the Rosie O’Donnell Show when she was only 10 years old, she has struggled for the last decade to stand out from the crowd of other hopeful singer/songwriters. Locals may remember the pint-sized Harrison singing all over the Golden Triangle in the 1990s at any opportunity — churches, rodeos, ball games. Her vocal talent and stage presence was out of the ordinary even then and led to opportunities to sing with music celebrities including Percy Sledge and

The Doobie Brothers. When Harrison looks back on those years, she doesn’t remember needing particular courage to perform. “Whenever I was on stage, I felt like I was where I belonged,” she said. “I felt more at home on stage; felt more myself.” Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award, final rank has not always indicated solo success for Idol’s finalists. At the end of June, Harrison began a 40-city tour with other American Idol 12th

Early struggles
Harrison has a large extended family in the Woodville area, but she has lived in Nashville, Tenn. the last 13 years. “But Texas will always have my heart,” she said. Harrison and her family moved to Nashville to pursue her singing career, having secured a recording deal when she was 10. Within the year, her father died in a plane crash and, a year later, the record deal fell through. Harrison kept performing and writing songs through her teens amid the teeming Nashville wannabees. Then her mother was killed in a car crash when Harrison was 19. With each emotional setback, Harrison kept moving forward, determined to choose hope over self-pity. When the idea of trying out for American Idol came up, she was initially lukewarm to the proposal, but decided it would be worth a try. “The whole reason I tried out was to get a following,” she said. “No matter where I placed in the contest, if I could get some TV time, if I could just get a following, I could maybe sell some records. I feel real good about my journey. I feel thankful.”

“Everything that happened on that show was real. Before, when I watched it I thought it was so put together and staged, but what you see is what you get.”
season contestants. She’s genuinely happy to be spending the summer singing with her new friends. “For the most part, the whole Idol family, especially the girls, we are all so close,” she said. “Everything that happened on that show was real. Before, when I watched it I thought it was so put together and staged, but what you see is what you get. People ask me, ‘Are you faking it?’ but I can’t act. You will never see me in a movie. You should just know that is me.”

Shortly after American Idol wrapped up, Harrison got to fulfill a lifelong dream of singing at the Grand Ole Opry. “Being on the Opry stage was such an honor,” she said. “I couldn’t believe I was in that theater singing to those people, in that circle that is so special. I kept asking the people who’ve been there for years — the ladies cleaning up and the announcers — surely this never gets old for you because this is such a magical place.” With so many dreams coming true so >>
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American Idol
Though ultimately Harrison — nicknamed “Kreedom” — was the runner-up to winner Candace Glover. Considering the career of seventh place Idol contender Jennifer Hudson in 2004, who has gone on to win an Academy

suddenly, Harrison is setting some new goals. In June she released her first single, “All Cried Out,” which she performed on the American Idol finale episode. “My next goal is to make a great record and go on my own tour,” she said. With the Idol tour, promoting the new single and developing material for an album, Harrison is so busy it’s hard to look too far into the future. However, she said she’d like to settle in Texas eventually with another place in Nashville. “I’d love to have a family one day,” she said. “I’m probably going to have four kids. Whoever I marry, God bless him, because I love kids.” For now, she is excited to be young and on the cusp of great opportunities. “I’m holding on to my youth as long as I can,” she laughed. “I already feel 33 instead of 23, like I’ve lived a few lives already at this point. Every single day in this industry is hard work,
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but it’s something that I love, so I feel like it’s play.” Often praised by colleagues and reviewers as “genuine,” Harrison is not letting all the sudden fame push her into being someone she’s not. “I’m not going to be anything other than myself and I think that’s what fans like about me,” she said. “I’m a pretty laidback kind of person. I’m very social, and feel like there’s always a time and place to be silly. I think I have a dry sense of humor. I’m a gowith-the flow person. On Idol or in any chaotic situation, my character is to become calmer.” If she can be silly, she can also be serious and is prepared to work hard to take advantage of her efforts and fan support so far. “To be successful at any point in anyone’s career, you just have to work your butt off,” she said. “And it’s not just about being selfish. It’s about giving back your God-given talent.” VIP

k a t h e r i n e b o e c h e r

Beaumont’s Katherine Boecher credits her modeling and acting success to a mixture of hard work, God and luck
24 August 2013 |

From the girl next door to “The Spy Next Door”
Door” with Jackie Chan, she kept the accent even off the set so she’d be sure to have it right when the cameras were rolling. Her distinctive speech was so convincing that people who didn’t know her thought she was from Eastern Europe. More like Eastern Texas, she’d tell them – Beaumont specifically.


hen Katherine Boecher played the role of an evil Russian operative in “The Spy Next

A little girl called Pippi
When Boecher was a little girl in Beaumont, she acquired the nickname Pippi. “I used to look like Pippi Longstocking when I was a kid,” she said, referring to the fictional children’s book character who wore her hair in pigtails, donned colorful socks and loved pets. “I was always collecting animals.” She attended St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica School for pre-school and St. Anne Catholic School for kindergarten and first grade where both her parents were teachers. Her father, Barry Boecher, still lives in Beaumont and still works at St. Anne’s. She was 7 when her parents divorced, moving with her mother, Sherry, and her sisters to Kansas City, Kan.

photos were purchased. Soon after, her mother enrolled her in a program at a modeling school that was also an agency. The school put on a fashion show at the end of the course and scouts from big agencies came. The place was packed, Boecher remembered. “It was one of those defining moments,” she said of the fashion show. “Suddenly, everything changed.” She won several awards given by the modeling scouts, one of which was “Best New Face.” After the show, a scout from Ford Models asked her to go to New York. “Mom said absolutely not because I was 10,” Boecher recalled. But, at 14, she did sign with Ford. She was only 5 feet 4 inches tall at the time. She grew two more inches, but 5 feet 6 inches is still considered short in the modeling business. “I was very determined,” she said. “I was kind of the underdog. I wasn’t

going to take no for an answer.” When she came home from a shoot, she tried to be a “normal” teenager. “I stayed enrolled in high school,” she noted. Her teachers and the school’s administrators were accommodating and let her take her school work when she went out of town for a shoot. She also kept her grades up. “My mom was very strict,” she remembered. “My mom’s big thing was that I had to have a chaperone.” She even lived with agency founder Eileen Ford in New York City from age 14 to 15.

Career change
When Boecher was 18 in 2000, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. “By then I was ready for a new challenge,” she explained about wanting to leave modeling. “I had been doing it long enough that it had kind of lost its sparkle.” Ford has an acting agency and the >>

Models at the mall
Boecher started her modeling career at a young age. “It was sort of a fluke,” she said. When she was 10, she entered a contest at the local mall to win a professional photo shoot and she won. Her mom gave her permission to have her picture taken but she warned the little aspiring model that she wasn’t going to buy any of the photos. To her mother’s surprise, the photos turned out very well and plenty of


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Her (2013) Post (2011): Kristin The Spy Next Door (2010): Creel Twice as Dead (2009): Heather The Last Word (2008): Clara Who’s Your Monkey? (2007): Angi ShadowBox (2005): Ginny May Just Hustle (2004): Office Worker Trash (2003): Luna Crossroads (2002): Dylan’s Other Girl Shop club (2002) Scream at the Sound of the Beep (2002): Amber

Perception (2012): Olena Marchenko Prentice Past Life (2010): Jenny Stafford Supernatural (2009): Lilith Heroes (2009): Alena The Closer (2008): Callie Rivers Mad Men (2007): Annie CSI: NY (2005): Nicole Jordan The Tracy Morgan Show (2003): Sparkle CSI (2003): Red Rider Malcolm in the Middle (2002): Greta ER (2001): Jenny Undressed (2001): Bobbi That’s Life (2000): Student #1

26 August 2013


Los Angeles office called and asked her to come for the television series pilot season to be available for auditions. “The door opened and I walked through it,” she said. “I came here and started working right away.” She admits there were some lean times in the 13 years she’s been an actress. But overall, she feels her career is on track. She credits her success to “a mixture of hard work, God and luck.” In 2009, she played the demon Lilith on the television series “Supernatural.” For such a nice person, she does evil well. “That’s where training comes in!” she emphasized. “It was really fun.” The thrill of being an actor, she believes, is playing people not like yourself and pulling it off. In 2010, she played evil Russian spy Tatiana Creel in “The Spy Next Door.” Even though she had a stunt double, Boecher did all her own stunts. “We had a few mishaps, but he was very kind,” she says of Chan. She worked with a dialect coach and stayed in character even when she wasn’t being filmed. “I committed to never breaking from the Russian,” she said. “People thought I was from Eastern Europe. It was so important to prove myself. Doing that movie was a big break for me.” Boecher’s Russian accent later helped her land the part of Olena Marchenko on “Perception.” “That Russian accent has come in handy!” she confirmed.

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Recent projects
Boecher’s most recent film project is Spike Jonze’s “Her,” which is scheduled for a November release. Joaquin Phoenix plays a lonely writer who develops a romantic relationship with his computer’s new femalevoiced operating system. “I play her,” the actress said. But being a mother is her newest role. Married to actor Lukas Behnken, she had their first baby on April 5 at their home in Los Angeles – a boy named Sterling Thomas. Behnken was on the television series “Mad Men” and the fictitious ad agency is called Sterling Cooper, so they thought of Sterling for a baby name. “I’m sure there will be another at some point,” she said about future siblings for Sterling. She knows she’ll want to get busy acting again, but, she says, “As of right now, I am enjoying mommyhood.”

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Best and worst
The best part of being an actress, Boecher believes, is the schedule. She likes being able to work really hard for long hours and, when she’s not working, it’s like being on vacation. The critics are the worst aspect of acting, she contends. It’s hard not to take it personally, she admits, and she tries to shut it out. “It can take its toll,” she said. “I don’t read gossip magazines. It’s hard to have your life picked apart. It makes me sad.”

Making progress
“It’s really important that with everything I do it’s better than I did before,” Boecher said of her acting. “I’d like to win a Golden Globe – win some awards.” She also strives to be a better person. “I want to know that I’ve always made progress,” she said. “I want to know that I left a better person than I came. It’s all about progress.” VIP


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m a t t d e t r i c k

The Symphony of SE Texas’ new second-in-command Matthew Detrick embraces classical and folk music
also the new official concertmaster of the Symphony of Southeast Texas after two seasons as acting concertmaster. Second-in-command after Music Director Chelsea Tipton II, Detrick has some administrative duties and acts as a liaison between the conductor and the orchestra. He’s also the leader of the first violin section, which affords him solo opportunities. He appreciates the support that the Southeast Texas region has for the arts. “It’s great to be here as a musician and make a living,” he noted. The symphony is glad he’s here too. “The youthful energy, enthusiasm and positive attitude that he brings to the orchestra are unparalleled,” Craig Escamilla, executive director of the Symphony of Southeast Texas, said. “I look forward to seeing many more of his accomplishments in his new role as our concertmaster.”


atthew Detrick

is a classical violinist who likes to fiddle around with folk tunes. He’s

In many of his early school performances, he played with older students. “I was always the smallest one,” he remembered. “Sometimes I was up there with high school students.” His first solo was in fifth grade when he played with a high school orchestra. “That was a formative experience,” he said. The young musician knew he wanted to be a professional violinist as a junior in high school when he was selected to play in an honors orchestra with peers from all over the United States. “When you’re that young, you don’t realize what the career entails,” he admitted. He found out. After earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in music from Rice University in Houston, he auditioned with about 20 orchestras around the United States with no luck. The positions were very competitive – one opening might have about 150 candidates applying for the spot. “It’s a very different experience than performing,” he said of auditioning. But his luck did change.

to disseminate our arrangements on iTunes and other mediums,” he said. “Many of the same classical music works have been recorded ad infinitum by any number of groups, and I feel like this is our chance to do something new and original.” In October, the Players will head to New York City to make their Carnegie Hall debut in a self-produced concert. “When I started Apollo, in no way had I thought we’d be playing at Carnegie in five short years,” he said. “I hope it takes us to the next level.”

Calming the butterflies
Besides his work with the Symphony of Southeast Texas and the Apollo Chamber Players, Detrick also performs with the Houston Grand Opera and Houston-based ensembles. And he’s a violin coach for the Houston Youth Symphony. With all his experience, you’d think he wouldn’t get stage fright. “I still get nervous when I perform,” he said. “But the more I do it, the easier it gets.” Before a performance, he tries to stay active. “The best way to assuage nervousness is to be as prepared as possible,” he believes. After a performance, he likes to go out to eat and celebrate with his fellow performers.

The Apollo mission
In 2008, Detrick co-founded the Apollo Chamber Players with his friend Timothy Peters. Today, the group consists of Detrick, Anabel Ramirez (who is also Detrick’s longtime girlfriend), Matthew Dudzik and Whitney Bullock. The Players explore the intersection of classical and folk music. For Apollo’s folk melody arrangements, Detrick does the bulk of the arranging and transcribing from recordings and YouTube videos. The other members also play an integral part in producing a polished, finished piece. “We usually get together once I have my ideas on paper and then try new things and experiment in rehearsals,” Detrick said. “Everyone always has great ideas to contribute, and it’s a fun collaborative process. Our arrangements are always stronger for it.” Musicians from around the world have requested to buy the group’s arrangements. The Players plan to copyright and publish the collection. “Our CD recording project this summer will help us along in this direction and will give us the opportunity

An odd-looking piece of wood
Although Detrick is devoted to classical and folk music, he likes some rock. Favorite bands include Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Folk has some intense rhythms like rock, he explained, and some of the best rock artists have some training in classical music. For the violinist, music is his passion. “It allows for a medium of self-expression and level of fulfillment that is unparalleled in life,” he said. “And it’s a lot of fun!” He’s thoughtful when asked to describe the stringed instrument that is so much a part of his life. “The violin is just an odd-looking piece of wood,” he mused, “a weirdly-shaped inanimate object until played and brought to sonorous life by a human being.” VIP

Born to play
Born in Lafayette, Ind., Detrick grew up in York, Pa. where his parents still live. His mother is a retired music teacher and his father is a retired pastor and also a musician. Detrick’s mother, a violinist, encouraged him and his two younger brothers to be musicians. When he was 3 years old, he started learning how to play the violin with the Suzuki method where parent involvement is critical. He started performing early on with his family at church programs and parties. “When you start so young, it becomes a part of your life,” he said. “As I started to get older, I realized this is what set me apart from my peers.”

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vip worthy
s t u d i o 3 3

Nothing but pros
Area thespians establish resident acting group
to the stage. Some have been able to turn talent and determination into success. Others struggle before finally giving up. Ashley Burton Riley, whose big personality and self-assuredness charmed an audience of family and friends at age 3 and won her a regular slot on the Charley Pruitt show at the Jefferson Theater a few years later, believes she has what it takes. It helps that she’s not easily intimidated, whether it’s singing, dancing, acting — or forming a professional theater company. Stage fright? Never. Not even during her first multi-role appearance in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” at age 12. “It was invigorating — pure excitement and anticipation. I absolutely loved being on stage. When I was trying to decide on a college major, my mom said, ‘You’ve always loved this. Why not pursue theater?’ I thought of it as a hobby. I said, you can do that?” Ashley attended Lamar on a scholarship for music and theater, pursuing a double major. Her junior year she was “spread too thin,” so she decided to place more emphasis on theater, earning her masters. “I found such a passion for it. I had done only musicals until then but discovered I loved plays and character work.” At 19, she performed summer stock at the Texas Outdoor Musical Drama in the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, amazed
30 August 2013 |


The smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd have lured many a wide-eyed young girl

photography by sCott EslINgER and JosE D. ENRIquEz III

Top left: Studio 33 founder Ashley Burton Riley and Board President Donny Avery. Other photos from this summer’s production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at The Gig on Crockett Street.

Studio 33 upcoming events
The Gary Garrison Playwriting Festival
Saturday, Aug. 10: Lamar Theatre at Lamar University, Beaumont, $5 per play or $25 for an all-day pass. Shorts and plays by local playwrights

“Speakeasy” Fundraiser & Silent Auction
Friday, Aug. 16, 6:30 p.m.: No admission, silent auction and donation table, The Gig on Crocket Street, Beaumont. Song/dance numbers by Studio 33 members, Music by DJ Andrew Fison met my husband-to-be, Jeff Riley. I was supposed to be in Chicago in January of 2008. I knew I couldn’t leave. I wanted to stay with Jeff. I haven’t regretted it for a moment.” Ashley and Jeff have a 2-year-old daughter, Roxy Star. Yes, it’s a theatrical name, Ashley said, laughing. Ashley’s mom had wanted her to do the musical, “Always, Patsy Cline.” While considering it, Ashley had a thought: why not create her own professional theater company to produce it? She turned to friends with theater backgrounds. “Our long-term goal is to have a resident acting company. We’ll need more funding, more stability and a venue of our own. And a grant writer, which we don’t have.” The biggest challenge is day jobs that compete for time. That, and the money it takes to support a professional group. “We pay the actors and directors and >>

that someone would pay her to do the three things she most loved: act, dance and sing. “My mom and I stood there looking up at the giant stage with the beautiful canyon wall in the background and I had tears in my eyes. She said, ‘What?’ I told her, I’ve always set goals and my highest goal was to be paid for doing this. What will my next goal be?” Between her undergrad and grad degrees, Ashley worked in a professional theater setting. After graduation, she performed as a musical theater actress across the U.S. when Keith Cockrell, Professor of Speech and Theater and Director of Theater at Lamar State College-Port Arthur, called and asked if she would do a one-woman show based on her thesis for her masters. “They were opening the small Black Box Theater at Lamar University Port Arthur in August of 2007. (My thesis) was one of my favorite shows, so I said yes. It was then I


August 2013 31

technicians. It’s a small stipend, but we want to build that up to a full payment,” Ashley said. “When people come to one of our productions, they can expect to see professional-caliber acting, singing, directing and performance elements.” Studio 33 has presented three productions, “Always Patsy Cline” at Port Arthur Little Theater, “Doubt, a Parable” at The Art Studio in Beaumont, and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at The Gig on Crockett Street. They also perform at Dickens on the Strand in Galveston each year, where they put on a play and beg for change from the crowd for the theater department at Lamar University. The Galveston Historical Society has donated to the group and invited them back each year. Donny Avery of Groves, President of the board of Studio 33, began performing as a child. When he took his first theater class in the sixth grade, he “got it.” “That’s when it hit me.” Donny went to college in New York City and worked on a cruise ship for six months. He moved to Dallas/Ft. worth as a theater company intern, staying on as a production assistant. He moved back to Southeast Texas in late 2011. Ashley asked if he wanted to be involved with Studio 33. “I’ve always loved theater and used it to express myself as an artist. It opened

me up to a world where I could be myself and be happy. Some people will try it out and stop, but I can’t leave it,” Donny said. “It’s hard to find paying work, but I still want to do it. It means that much to me.” While Ashley prefers being on the stage, Donny’s degree is in theater with a concentration in directing. He will direct his first play for Studio 33 next spring. Studio 33’s latest venture is launching the first of what they hope will be an annual festival celebrating new works by local playwrights. This year’s short and one act plays are written by locals Beth Gallaspy, John Lara, Cody Underwood, Keith Cockrell, Ashley Richard and Andy Coughlan. The festival is named after Lamar alum and NYC playwright Gary Garrison. Shows will be anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes. “We are hoping for great response and to continue this on a yearly basis so that local playwrights can show Southeast Texas what they’ve got,” Donny said.

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text compiled by grace mathis

September >>
How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying
Beaumont Community Players Sept. 6-7, 13-14, 19-21 A hilarious satire of big business in the sixties and all it held sacred, this musical follows the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch, who uses a little handbook called “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” to move from lowly window washer to high-powered executive.

ou don’t have to go far to enjoy quality theater in Southeast Texas. Just look in your backyard, down the street, or maybe head to Houston for an evening. Check out our source for what’s going on in community and professional theatre for 2013-2014.
VIP picks Musical, comedy Musical, drama Play, comedy Play, drama Concert, music tribute, dance, other event

A Band Called Honalee
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Sept. 7 A tribute to the music of Peter, Paul & Mary, and their friends in the folk movement of the 1960s. Musically accomplished, interactive and energetic, the show features the music of Peter, Paul & Mary, as well as Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkle, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, The Mamas And The Papas, The Weavers and Judy Collins.

The 39 Steps
Orange Community Players Sept. 19-21, 26-29 The 39 Steps is a melodrama adapted from the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock. The play’s concept calls for the entirety of the 1935 adventure film to be performed with a cast of only four. One actor plays the hero, Richard Hannay, an actress (or sometimes actor) plays the three women with whom he has romantic entanglements, and two other actors play every other character in the show: heroes, villains, men, women, children and even the occasional inanimate object. This often requires lightning fast quick-changes and occasionally for them to play multiple characters at once. Thus the film’s serious spy story is played mainly for laughs.

November >>
Boeing Boeing
Beaumont Community Players Oct. 18-19, 25-26, 31-Nov. 2 Parisian lothario Bernard, who has Italian, German and American fiancées, each beautiful airline hostesses with frequent “layovers”. He keeps “one up, one down and one pending” until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to Paris and Bernard’s apartment at the same time.

Almost, Maine
Lamar University Oct. 24-Nov. 2 Almost, Maine is a play by John Cariani, comprising nine short plays that explore love and loss in a remote, mythical almost-town called Almost, Maine. It premiered at the Portland Stage Company in Portland, Maine in 2004 where it broke box office records and garnered critical acclaim.

Beyond Glory
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Nov. 5 Hear the voices of eight veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, rendering first hand accounts of valor, which resulted in the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor. Stephen Lang, award winning playwright, stage and screen star, brings these men to life in a oneman show that reaches into your very soul.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Orange Community Players Nov. 7-9, 14-17 This Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is based on the “coat of many colors” story of Joseph from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. The show has little spoken dialogue; it is completely sung-through. Its family-friendly storyline, universal themes and catchy music have resulted in numerous productions.

34 August 2013


Shak Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
Port Arthur Little Theatre Sept. 20-22, 27-29, Oct. 4-6 A classic Shakespearean comedy thought to be the blueprint for the modern romantic comedy. Claudio & Hero are deeply in love & plan to marry, but the villainous Don John sets out to thwart them with his sullen attitude and a terrible prank at Hero’s expense. Yet, as with any good romance, everything ends up “happily ever after”. Filled with wit, a faked death and wonderful plot twists, there’s enough here for Shakespeare lovers & Shakespeare novices alike. VIP says: An annual Shakespeare play keeps the doctor away. Well, not necessarily, but laughter is surely good for the soul, and if you’ve never seen a Shakespeare comedy, then don’t pass up this opportunity.

>> Beauty and the Beast
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Oct. 22-23 You’ve seen the classic Disney movie. Now see it reinterpreted on stage. The kids will love it.

A View From the Bridge
Lamar University Director: Steven Hoffman Jr. Sept. 26-29 Eddie Carbone, an Italian American longshoreman, lives with his wife Beatrice and his orphaned niece Catherine. Eddie has an improper love of, and almost obsession with, Catherine. His attachment to her is brought into perspective by the arrival from Italy of Beatrice’s two cousins, Marco and Rodolpho. They have entered the country illegally, hoping to leave behind hunger and unemployment for a better life in America. The play ends tragically, and is filled throughout with emotion and drama.

Disney Live! Three Classic Fairy Tales
Beaumont Civic Center Oct. 18 Join Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck and Goofy as they bring the timeless fairytale adventures of Cinderella, Beauty and The Beast, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to life. Featuring dynamic storytelling, award winning music, stunning costumes and glittering special effects, audiences will be captivated by the humor, fun and adventure of these spellbinding stories. Dream with the princesses, cheer for the heroes as they conquer evil villains, and marvel as these classic tales are brought to life in a theatrical experience that’s pure magic.

I Do! I Do!
Port Arthur Little Theatre November 8-10, 15-17, 22-24 It’s Michael & Agnes’s wedding day and with the vows behind them, they (and the audience) embark on their life journey together. Following the couple through their wedding day, raising a family, infidelity and mid-life crises, the show touches on themes of love, forgiveness and reconnection.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Nov. 16 The record-setting Broadway holiday sensation based on the original animated special, makes its Lutcher debut. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the Holiday loving Whos.

Lutcher Theatre, Orange Nov. 22-23 From the underground dance clubs of 1950s comes a hot new Broadway musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Memphis is about a radio DJ who wants to change the world and a club singer who is ready for her big break. Come along on their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves — filled with laughter, soaring emotion and roof-raising rock ‘n’ roll.

Beaumont Community Players Nov. 29-30, Dec. 6-7, 12-14 Leapin’ Lizards! The popular comic strip heroine takes center stage in one of the world’s best-loved musicals. With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts, despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. She is determined to find her parents, who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage run by the cruel, embittered Miss Hannigan. With the help of the other girls in the orphanage, Annie escapes to the wondrous and magical world of NYC. She finds a new home and family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace Farrell and a lovable mutt named Sandy.


August 2013 35


>> American Idiot
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Dec. 16 The New York Times calls American Idiot “thrilling and emotionally charged, as moving as anything on Broadway!” Based on Green Day’s ground-breaking rock opera of the same name, this daring new musical tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia, and features the smash hits “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Holiday” and “21 Guns.”

Jan. 3

>> Cabaret – The Musical
Beaumont Community Players Jan 17-18, 24-25, 30-Feb. 1 An aspiring writer named Cliff Bradshaw has traveled to Berlin in search of inspiration when happens upon Sally Bowles at a cabaret called the Kit Kat Klub. She ends up moving in with him in a boarding house run by Fräulein Schneider and her suitor, Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit-shop owner. As the Nazis grow stronger, everything is thrown into disarray. Musical numbers include It Couldn’t Please Me More, Willkommen, Cabaret, Don’t Tell Mama and Two Ladies.

A Christmas with Shoji Tabuchi
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Dec. 14 Celebrate a new holiday tradition with us as we welcome back Shoji Tabuchi and friends. For two decades, Shoji Tabuchi has presented the hottest must-see show in Branson, Missouri and he returns to us again holding the record for the most sold-out Lutcher performances. Experience the joy and music of the season along with Shoji favorites, including Broadway, movies, classical, country, pop, rock and western music.

Four Stand-Up Dads
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Forget your troubles for a while and laugh at life. The Four Stand-Up Dads are so funny they bring tears. Comedians Dan St. Paul, Tim Bedore, Kelly McDonald and Milt Abel turn their wit and nutty observations about family life into a show that keeps the audience laughing almost from beginning to end. Each comic performs a routine infused with good-spirited humor, along with a little tenderness about parents, wives and cherished but maddening children.

A Soldier’s Play
Beaumont Community Players/ Common Ground Performing Arts Feb 21-22, 28-March 1, 6-8 In a Louisiana army camp in 1944 Capt. Taylor, the white C.O., has a problem. He commands a black company whose sergeant has been murdered. He is worried the murderer may be a white officer or the local Klan. A black captain, Richard Davenport, is assigned to investigate. Taylor tries to discourage him because he feels the assignment of a black investigator means the case is to be swept under the rug. Capt. Davenport perseveres and, as he probes deeper, he finds the black soldiers are as corrupted with hatred as the whites. Each one had a motive for the killing. Davenport solves the case and the truth is even more shocking than the murder itself.

>> Parsons Dance
Lutcher Theatre, Orange March 14 Savor the sexy athleticism, exuberant personality and joyous movement of Parsons Dance, the internationally renowned contemporary dance company under the artistic direction of dancer/choreographer David Parsons. Parsons Dance is committed to building new audiences for contemporary dance by creating American works of extraordinary artistry that are both engaging and uplifting to audiences.

Uncle Vanya
Lamar University Feb. 27-March 2 This play by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov was first published in 1897 and received its Moscow première in 1899 in a production by the Moscow Art Theatre. VIP says: With the re-workings of theatre instructor Joel Grothe, this production will be thoughtprovoking and give you a unique theatre experience. It is Russian after all.

The Miracle Worker
Lutcher Theatre, Orange March 7 Produced by Montana Repertory Theatre, The Miracle Worker tells the story of Helen Keller, deaf and blind since infancy, who finds her way into the world of knowledge and understanding with the help of Anne Sullivan, her gifted tutor. In some of the most turbulent and emotion-packed scenes ever presented on the stage, Helen overcomes rage and confusion to triumph over her physical disabilities. VIP says: There is nothing like seeing an emotionally impactful stage production. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss this play that will give you a whole new perspective on the life of a significant historical figure.

36 August 2013


The Ten Tenors
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Jan. 30 Bringing rock and classical music together, and having created a sound that is uniquely theirs, Australia’s “Rock Stars of the Opera” return offering a special treat for Broadway fans consisting of a wonderful collection of Broadway’s greatest hits. Expect the contrast of raw power and soothing beauty in this special evening of the best of Broadway presented by Australia’s hottest tenors. Feb. 7-9, 14-17

>> Million Dollar Quartet
Lutcher Theatre, Orange Feb. 14-15 Million Dollar Quartet is the Tony award-winning Broadway musical, inspired by the electrifying true story of the famed recording session where Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll” brought together icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for one unforgettable night. Savor timeless hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more.

Tuesday’s with Morrie
Orange Community Players The autobiographical story of journalist Mitch Albom and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. Sixteen years after graduation, Mitch happens to catch Morrie’s appearance on a TV news program and learns that his old professor is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Mitch is reunited with Morrie, and what starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life.

Legally Blonde: The Musical
Port Arthur Little Theatre Feb. 14-16, 21-23, 28-March2 Based on the popular movie, the relatively new Legally Blonde: The Musical brings the charm of Elle Woods & company to the modern Broadway stage. Elle Woods appears to have it all, but her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend dumps her for Harvard Law School. Determined to win her man back, Elle finds herself enrolled at Harvard as well and struggles with peers and professors alike. But, with the help of friends, Elle realizes her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world.

Hello Dolly
Lutcher Theatre, Orange March 26-27 Winner of ten Tony Awards including Best Musical, Hello Dolly is one of the most enduring Broadway classics. Emmy-award winning Sally Struthers (All In the Family, Gilmore Girls) stars as the strongwilled matchmaker Dolly, as she travels to Yonkers, NY to find a match for the ornery “well-known, unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. Featuring an irresistible story and an unforgettable score, Hello Dolly has been charming audiences around the world for nearly 50 years.

>> West Side Story
Lutcher Theatre, Orange April 11-12 More than fifty years ago one musical changed theater forever. Now it’s back and mesmerizing audiences once again. From the first note to the final breath, West Side Story soars as the greatest love story of all time. This revival, based on Tony Award-winning librettist Arthur Laurents’ Broadway direction, remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever. The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway’s Broadway’ finest and features such classics of the American musical theatre as “Something’s Coming,” Coming, “Tonight,” “America,” “America, “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.”

A Streetcar Named Desire
Beaumont Community Players March 28-29, April 4-5, 10-12 Steamy and strong, A Streetcar Named Desire is Tennessee Williams most celebrated work. The play introduces Blanche du Bois, a fragile Southern Belle, who has retreated into fantasy because of harsh life experiences. She comes to live with her sister, pregnant and married to the loutish Stanley, in a squalid section of New Orleans. To her brother-in-law, Blanche is an unforgivable liar. Crudely, he unmasks the lies and delusions that sustain her, until her frail hold on reality is shockingly severed. A Streetcar named Desire is a modern tragedy, which ranks as one of the greatest in American Theatre.

Sweet Charity
Lamar University April 10-13 Charity works at a dance club where she has seen only the dark side of life through bad relationships. One day she meets Oscar and believes her luck has changed. When things turn sour, Charity stays sweet and hopeful that someday her ideals will materialize.


August 2013 37

Jeanne Robertson
Lutcher Theatre, Orange April 17 In her positively hilarious style, 6’2” humorist Jeanne Robertson captivates audiences with her stories of friends, family and life with her husband, “Left Brain.” Her clean comedy with class will have you rolling in the aisles. Heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio’s Family Comedy Channel.

>> Dreamgirls Dr
Beaumont Community Players/ Common Ground Performing Arts May 9-10, 16-17, 22-24 Dreamgirls is a musical based on the show business aspirations and successes of acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles and James Brown. A young female singing trio from Chicago gets their big break at an amateur competition. However, things begin to spin out of control when their agent, Curtis Taylor, Jr., makes Deena and not Effie, the star of what will become known as “The Dreams.” VIP says: Combining the efforts and respective talents of two local theatre groups is bound to result in a top-notch production, in terms of acting, vocals and staging. Be sure to get your tickets early.

Murder On the Nile
Port Arthur Little Theatre April 25-27, May 2-4, 9-11 A classic murder mystery. A paddle steamer churns down the Nile. On board are newlyweds Simon Mostyn and Kay Ridgeway, Kay’s guardian Canon Pennefather, Kay’s maid, Simon’s spurned lover Jacqueline, a strange, young German man with a grudge to bear, and an ill-tempered old woman and her niece. When Kay is found shot in her bunk, the conspiracies begin.

Les Miserables
Orange Community Players May 1-3, 8-11 Les Miserables is a sung-through musical based on the novel of the same name by French poet and playwright Victor Hugo. Winner of 8 Tony awards, it is the story of Jean Valjean and his quest for redemption. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade. Full of epic songs, romance and heartbreak, this is sure to impact all who see it. VIP says: This musical epic is one of the longest-running Broadway musicals in history. For those who love the stage, this show contains roles of a lifetime, so you can be sure there will be a strong cast of local talent.

2290 IH-10 S @ Washington Beaumont, TX 409-842-0686

Looking to spend a weekend in Houston. Houston’s Hobby Center and Alley Theatre offer a large selection of shows this season, including:
A Christmas Carol The Book of Mormon Chicago Communicating Doors Elf, The Musical Evita Freud’s Last Session Good People Ghost The Musical Green Day’s American Idiot The Hollow The Little Mermaid Never the Sinner Other Desert Cities Peter & the Starcatcher Priscilla: Queen of Desert Vanya,Sonia,Masha &Spike Venus in Fur War Horse We Will Rock You Wizard of Oz You Can’t Take it with You
Ticket and show information: www.thehobbycenter. org,

Houston bound?

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How to buy tickets
Beaumont Community Players (409) 833-4664 Lamar University (409) 880-2250 Port Arthur Little Theatre (409) 727-7258 Orange Community Players (409) 882-9137 Lutcher Theater (409) 886-5535

38 August 2013


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Change a Pop, Change a Life. Kameleon now presents the Karma Pops collection, which contributes $5 to the KLEO organization from the sale of each JewelPop. New designs and styles now available exclusively at Nickolina’s.


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August 2013 39

vip spotlight
s e t e x a s e v e n t s

Excellence in Media Awards
Karen Gilman, Mary Williams Matt Billiot, Chris Moore, Harold Mann

Nick Vikos, Melanie Lanuza Pat and Patti Calhoun
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Mary Meaux, David Coleman, Cody Edgerton, Morgan Jones

Darren and Katie Erwin

Josh Reeter, Kelsie Wilson

O’Brien Stanley, Gordon Williams

Heather and Gabriel Pruett

Kevin King, Virginia Villanveva

Rush and Louise Wood 40 August 2013 |

Kiear Moffett, Coti Matthews, Rebekah Richardson, Tonya Moffett, Macy Matthews, Beth Richardson, David Starnes

Morline Guillory, Bill Sam

Box Fan Bash
Joe Isbell and Dawn Hall Kacy and Crisesth Compton

Clay Choate, Brett Maida

Rosie Kelly, Kaylynn Borges

David and Emily Leger

Sharon Prejean and Doug Combs

Ashley Timms, Randi Paine

Brittany Carrell, KC Shay

SETx Wakeboarding Tournament
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Experience the resort feeling without the price!
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John Hartel, Dylan Lundy, Jacob Lopez


August 2013 41

First Thursday on Calder
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Hannah Prince, Sydney Olsen and Tracey Prince

Stephanie Montes and M.C. Carrington

Karen and Sean Philip, Darryl and Chad Nequent

Katherine and Rob Santos

Barney and Libby Mitchell

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Robin Moore, Tyler Lewis

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Gary and Mona Chalmers

Ted and Amy Harp, Beverly and Gary Bernard

Lynn Fazio, Amelia Hebert

Andrew Messina, Shelby Price, Rebecca Higginbotham and Leah Trevino

Jon Price, Amy Richard, Jamie Scott and Chrystal Farris 42 August 2013 |

Tim McGraw concert

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Artfully Appetizing

food dining
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Moncla’s Catering – family owned and operated, serving the Golden Triangle since 1918.

hether they comprise the main meal or just a whet-the-appetite snack, hors d’oeuvres provide the opportunity to shine with presentation and unusual flavors. ites of hostesses everywhere, appetizers While there are many tried and true favor-

shift with seasons and trends. Two trends in Southeast Texas that are

gaining popularity are small vessel servings and gluten-free options. On the following pages, three of the area’s most popular caterers share their

insights about customer favorites, seasonal options and hostess tips.

text by CHERYL ROSE photography by LaCiE gRant

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August 2013 43


Debbie Bando, Owner
sing small serving vessels for appetizers has made its way from the professionals to home cooks, Debbie Bando has noticed. “In the catering business, small, shapely glassware as a vehicle for hors d’oeuvres is very popular. “For example, instead of serving boiled shrimp, we gussy it up and call it shrimp shooters,” she described. “We’ll take a two ounce, skinny, tall glass, add a bit of sauce at the bottom and a perfectly boiled shrimp. A shrimp shooter has more finesse; it’s more visual. At a recent pool party, we served shrimp and grits in tiny margarita glasses no more than three inches high. Everything is mini.” Though crab cakes and bruschetta are perennial favorites in Southeast Texas, Bando also has limitless ideas for the more daring. “Take the traditional English cucumber and fill it with anything tasty – let’s say smoked salmon, dill and Boursin cheese,” she said. “Then for the more adventurous, we’d make that sashimi salmon, cured and thinly sliced with fresh dill.” Another favorite method is to use skewers for meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. Bando said there are a variety of pretty skewers available, making the appetizer visually attractive while also helping to apportion foods into bite-size bits. Summer flavors and dishes she likes include avocado, mango, cold soups, tabouleh and layered cheeses. She also recommends offering gluten-free options when possible, having both crab cakes and crab salad, for example. “The biggest compliment for me is that someone saw something we did and they try to reproduce it,” she said.
44 August 2013 |


Katharine Carmichael, Owner

Katharine & Co.

hough there are many favorites requested by customers consistently over the years, Katharine Carmichael likes to add some new flavors while being responsive to changing tastes. She’s always practiced a farmto-table approach using the local farmers market in season, but now she is also adapting to the requests for gluten-free menus. “So many don’t people eat bread now,” she observed. “Crostini was popular and universal, but now a big percentage of people are gluten-free, so we are using more vegetables as a base.” Some customer favorites include Roquefort cheesecake, maple-bacon wrapped apricots, basil-Parmesan pate on crostini, herbed goat cheese and sundried tomato salsa, grilled shrimp and remoulade and cold avocado soup. “A watermelon gazpacho shooter is one of the most popular choices for the summer,” she said. Estimating quantities is always tricky, even for the professionals. Carmichael said to consider if there is a meal to follow and how long before the meal is served in determining appetizer options. Advance preparation is also desirable. “Something good for the home cook is a coated or spiced nut that can be done ahead, or a baked pâté or terrine with crackers, hummus or baba ghanoush to serve with vegetables,” she suggested. “Even if you use really simple ingredients, present it beautifully and with garnish.” >>



August 2013 45

Integrity from the Ground Up




The Beaumont Club
Christina Delgadillo, Owner


7770 Gladys, Beaumont • 409-860-3133
46 August 2013 |

o Christina Delgadillo’s mind, the critical difference between memorable appetizers and the ho-hum is using fresh ingredients. “You can do shortcuts, but it won’t taste the same,” she said. As an example, she described spinach dip, a party staple that can be bought pre-packaged at any grocery store, but when made with fresh ingredients and seasonings by their chef, Rodney Ellis, is so popular that customers will book whole events based on tasting the dip. Another simple hors d’oeuvre that depends on fresh ingredients is a bruschetta with olive oil and tomatoes. “People can’t get enough of it,” Delgadillo said. “Something else very popular for us recently is macaroni cups and bars.” She also named teriyaki pork skewers and cucumber canapés with shrimp. The type of event is influential in choosing appetizers to serve, Delgadillo pointed out. “What is good for a football party is different from a bridal shower,” she said. Her key advice to home cooks is to pre-prep all ingredients and to use fresh whenever possible. She also recommends setting appetizers in multiple places throughout the home rather than having one food table. “What you can see is the guests racing for the food table, but what you want to encourage is snacking, mingling and conversation before the meal,” she advised. VIP

great dates in august
Humane Society of Southeast Texas Bike Ride and Wine Tasting
47-mile and 30-mile ride beginning at 8:30 a.m., and 18-mile route beginning at 9 a.m. from Bruno and George Winery in Sour Lake. Routes will be marked and maps provided. Rest stops will be set up along the routes. Lunch provided followed by a wine tasting. Register at the Kick Stand Bike Shop, Beaumont, or 6-9 p.m. Aug. 16 at Sertinos Coffee Café, Beaumont, or 8-9 a.m. Aug. 17 at the winery. (409) 833-0504 or

Tasting for Some Other Place
More than 56 churches, civic and religious organizations, businesses and manufacturers are preparing a wide selection of food and beverages for the self-proclaimed “world’s largest covered dish dinner.” The annual fundraiser for the work of Some Other Place will offer free parking and shuttle service to the Beaumont Civic Center from First Baptist Church, First Methodist United Church and Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and available at Some Other Place, the Civic Center Box Office and both Jason’s Deli locations and all participating congregations. Event is 5 to 7:30 p.m. (409) 832-7976.

August 20

August 17

Larry’s Old Time Trade Days
August 9-11
8 a.m.-5 p.m., Winnie. Antiques, collectibles, arts, crafts, home decor items, plants, clothing, jewelry, purses and more. (409) 296-3300 or

5-9 p.m., starting at the Mildred Building, Beaumont. Monthly event featuring food, live music, sidewalk vendors offering clothing, jewelry, art, photography, recycled and handmade items and more. (409) 833-9919.

First Thursdays on Calder Avenue

Vince Neil, Great White and Slaughter
August 17
Legendary Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil joins with Great White and Slaughter for this night of rock. Ford Park Pavilion, Beaumont. Gates open 5 p.m. Tickets $38.50, $28.50, $18.50 at the Ford Park Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets. or call (800) 745-3000.

Food, entertainment, 6 p.m., the Event Centre, Beaumont. Attendees are encouraged to wear attire in accordance with the theme, “Famous TV Couples.” Tickets $75 per person. Fundraiser for Leadership Beaumont. (409) 838-6581 Ext. 102.

Spice of the Season

Do you have an event you would like to promote? Do it with VIP for FREE! Please send us details—dates, times, location, contact phone, web address and a brief description—to Information should arrive at least 60 days in advance of the event.

Event Submissions


August 2013 47

8:30 a.m.-midnight, the Mud Farm, Sour Lake. Entertainment by Shawn Newell and Straight Six. 409) 7695714, (409) 880-6356 or go to www.

Spindletop Roller Girls

Mud Races Birthday Bash Barbecue Cook Off

7 p.m., Ford Exhibit Hall, Beaumont. Advance tickets $10, $15 at the door, children 2-12 $5. (409) 951-5400 or

be “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”; concert, 4-9 p.m. featuring Brian Jack, Solid Sounds and the Flava Band. (409) 838-3613 or www.

by Nora and Delia Ephron, 6:30 p.m., Logon Cafe, Beaumont. The event includes an exhibition of art work by Andy Coughlan. Cover $8. (409) 832-1529.

Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club “Hope for Tomorrow” Luncheon and Style Show
11 a.m.-1 p.m., the Event Centre, Beaumont. Tickets $75. (409) 8962363, (409) 350-1268 or michael_

Arts and Crabs Fest

Lunch at the Lake
11 a.m.-2 p.m., the Event Centre, Beaumont. Every Monday.(409) 8383435.

4-8 p.m., Lake Charles Civic Center exhibition hall, Lake Charles, La. Food, music, handcrafted items and art. (337) 439-2787.

AUGUST 23-25
7 a.m.-7 p.m., Big Thicket Trade Days Grounds, Kountze. More than 250 vendors, shows, children’s activities, food booths and more. Free, parking $2. (409) 246-3413 or (409) 880-5667.

Kountze Trade Days

“Fishing For Our Future”

Pioneering Women 2013 “Shattering the Glass Ceiling” Honorees Luncheon

Vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan meal, 6 p.m., Nutrition and Services for Seniors, Beaumont. Cost $15. Due to limited seating, reservations are required. (409) 892-4455.

Real Food Feast

11 a.m., Holiday Inn and Suites, Beaumont. (409) 842-1577.

Annual Sabine Lake Fishing Tournament presented by the Beaumont A&M Club and the Southeast Texas A&M Foundation, 6 a.m., Sabine Lake and S.A.L.T. Clubhouse, Pleasure Island, Port Arthur. Weigh-in 12:30-2:30 p.m., lunch 1-3 p.m., door prizes and silent auction. (409) 835-4212 or (409) 718-8668.

Meet and greet, 6 p.m. with NFL Hall of Famer Earl Campbell, dinner and program 7 p.m., Montagne Center, Beaumont. (409) 880-8303.

Lamar Cardinals Football Kick Off Celebration

7 p.m., Honky Tonk Texas, Silsbee. (409) 386-1995 or www.

Cody Johnson

Movie Night

Jazz Night at Rao’s Mid County

6:30-8:30 p.m., Rao’s Bakery and Coffee Cafe, Nederland. (409) 8807984 or

“The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer,” 6:30-8:30 p.m., McFaddin-Ward House Visitor Center, Beaumont. Complimentary popcorn and refreshments. Doors open at 6 p.m. Free. (409) 832-1906.

6:30-10 p.m., Brown Center-Lamar State College-Orange, Orange. Local judges, attorneys, law enforcement, school officials and business leaders serve as “celebrity wait-staff.” Event includes dinner, a live auction and entertainment. Tickets $100 per person, $150 per couple. Sponsorship tables available. Proceeds go to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). (409) 880-5876.

7 a.m., Sabine ATV Park, Burkeville. Food, show-n-shine contest, ATV races, Jason Cassidy concert. (409) 697-1330. Musical gospel play, 7 p.m., Julie Rogers Theatre, Beaumont. Advance general admission $12; $30 at the door; groups of 10 or more $10 each. Tickets at Ticketmaster outlets, online at or call (409) 838-3435 or (800) 745-3000.

Justice is Served and CASA Volunteer Recognition Gala

AUGUST 16-18
Orange Trade Days
9 a.m.-5 p.m., Orange Trade Days grounds, Orange. Flea market, farmers market, food and music. Free. (409) 883-434

“Den of Thieves”

“Dick Dowling Sesquicentennial Art and Photography Exhibition”
The Texas Artists Museum, Port Arthur. Reception 7-8 p.m. Free.

10 a.m.-2 p.m., Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont. Explore the current exhibitions, children’s activities, refreshments. Free. (409) 832-3432 or 7:30 p.m., Palace Theater, Kirbyville. Adults $7, children 7-12 $3, free for children younger than 6. (409) 4233319.

11 a.m.-3 p.m., Cowboy HarleyDavidson, Beaumont. Music, food, games, door prizes and more. (409) 842-1478. Magnolia Park, Beaumont. Family activities, snow cones, popcorn, drinks, cotton candy, door prizes, jump stations, vendor booths, blood drive and more, 2-6 p.m. Movie will

Family Arts Day

Lot party

Visions of Vintage Style Show for Single Moms

Band Night
Mad Anthony and Cat Bag, 7 p.m., Art Studio, Inc., Beaumont. Admission $5. (409) 838-5393 or 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Lakewood Shopping Center, Vidor. Free lemonade, iced tea and cookies. Drawing for a basket of goodies. For booth rental, call (409) 673-8982.

Texas Country Music Show

Neighbors and Concerts in the Park

6-9 p.m., Calder Baptist Church, Beaumont. Tickets $10 (meal included). Bring a guest and your ticket is $5. Childcare for ages six months through fifth grade. Reservation deadline Aug. 16. Hosted by SMORE for Women. Reservations: (409) 721-5953.

Triangle Trade Days

“Love, Loss and What I Wore”

Readers theater production of the play

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48 August 2013 |

vip magazine
c r o s s w o r d

1 3 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 16 18 20 21 22 25 26 27 28 29 Mark Sloane on “Grey’s Anatomy,” was played by Eric ___ “The Wrestler” actor, ____ Rourke Degree in English, for example Ralph Lauren shirt brand “Opposites Attract” singer, Paula ___ Main character in “24” Jack _____ Presidential nickname Be indisposed Corleone first name Measurement of land “No Fences,” country singer, ____ Brooks Superman actor’s last name Argentinian leader, Peron La____ Jackson As an example, for short Letters that protect a product Soldier, for short “__ can do,” Hall and Oates lyric “Michael Clayton” star, ___ Clooney

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 11 14 16 17 18 19 23 24 25 _____ Ross and the Supremes Tennis star from Spain Tea Party state Accountant, for short One of the Kardashian sisters Safari animal, ___phant “In the Deep” singer Kathleen ___: this song was used in the film “Crash” “The Aviator” star, Cate ___ “_____ Hills Cop” comedy starring Eddie Murphy Savings account In that location Running Back who was a Saint, now a Lion “Dookie” singers, ___ Day Clancy hero, Jack ___ Oh my god! (for short) Shakespeare’s “Much __ About Nothing” Easter item



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Find answers on page 4

August 2013 49

vip voices
g u e s t c o l u m n

The Glow of Fond Memories

50 August 2013 |

text by Holli Petersen

ucked away in the southwestern corner of Tennessee, is a little town called Memphis. Probably most famous for the Graceland home of Elvis Presley, this beautiful southern city is the birthplace of some of the best music and barbeque in the world. Memphis is also the home of my most precious memories because I spent the majority of my teenage years in a quaint suburb just outside of the city limits. My memory is cast in a golden glow when I picture my old hometown. The sidewalk parades that commemorated just about every holiday on the calendar, the beautiful churches dotting every corner and the wooded parks, heavily populated with families of every variety, are sweet reminders of some of my happiest years. The hub of my hometown revolved around the “Square” — a block of restored buildings, flanked by old trains, dating all the way back to the Civil War era. On weekends, my mom and I would each brunch before touring the antique stores there. And, it didn’t hurt that one of my best and most generous friends worked at a little chocolate shop on the corner. When no one was looking, she’d sneak truffles to her friends.

You could meet most of your neighbors and friends on any given day at the Square. Everyone knew just about everyone. And, even perfect strangers still offered happy greetings as you passed. When small-town life got too stifling, there were always the bright lights of Memphis to dazzle an eager teenager. Beale Street was a playground. Local teens knew all the sympathetic bouncers who would look the other way for a couple of ID-less youth, just innocently looking to dance in the street to the roadside soul singers or frequent the fortune tellers and odd little voodoo shops that left your clothes drenched in the stench of patchouli incense. It was a magical, wonderful place, even for a naïve young girl who was a little too oblivious about the world and its dangers. I wax poetic about Memphis and the suburb I once called home because I find so many similarities between that beloved city and my new hometown in Southeast Texas. The cobblestoned streets of Calder hearken back to the roads where I first learned to drive. There is a sincere sense of community in Southeast Texas that is difficult to duplicate — invisible threads that connect everyone to one singular sense of pride. Our family calendar revolves around local events — the fairs and festivals, the free family arts days, the annual Christmas Tree lighting and the fireworks celebration on the 4th of July. Like Memphis, South-

east Texas is rich in culture, diversity and unbelievably delectable food! Yet, some may argue that if you scratch the surface of Southeast Texas, you can find plenty to be dismayed about. Adulthood has a way of awakening you to the truth of what’s around you. Sure, there are bad people, with bad intentions. There is crime and poverty and seedy behavior. There’s corruption of power and dishonesty. Simmering contentions and public tirades sometimes cast an undesirable light on our community. At times, it is easy to feel discouraged about the only home my children will ever know, particularly when I want them to cherish their memories as I have mine. But, I’m one of those people who believe that the good always outweighs the bad. After all, just when I’m most dispirited, something happens that strengthens my hope. There are the gentlemen that hold the doors open for passing ladies, librarians who welcome my children with hugs, neighbors who wave hello, good Samaritans who stop to help change tires. There are good teachers and loyal friends and honest, admirable leaders. All I can do — all anyone can do — is to aspire to be a part of the web of contributors who strive to make our community a little better for everyone. I hold out hope — and I hope you will, too — that there will be plenty of happy memories to go around for all of our children. VIP