Saturday, 03 June 2023

Arts & Life

Performers at a previous festival. Courtesy photo.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The Lake County Arts Council will host performers from around the county to share their love of dance with the community this spring.

The 42nd Annual Spring Dance Festival hits the stage at the MAC Theatre on April 1 at 1 and 6 p.m.

Admission is $15, and tickets are available at or at the door.

This year’s theme is “Dancin’ In the Street” and the show will be dedicated in memory of Betty Lou Surber, who was a driving force of the Spring Dance Festival for many years.

The Spring Dance Festival is a time-honored tradition, showcasing a variety of styles, including ballroom, ballet, belly dancing, hip hop, hula and more over the years.

Over 50 dancers of all ages will share their talents with the community.

The event would not be possible without the contributions of local dance studios, including Antoinette’s School of Dance, Michelle Smith’s Clear Lake Clickers, Jeanette Marchais’s Center Stage Studios and Claire Zimmerman’s BiZi Dance Co.

Other talented choreographers include Brianna Rojas, Audrey Showen, Elise Johns and Jamie Bracisco.

Come out and support our talented local dancers.

You can learn more at


Thirty years ago, Federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), along with Texas state law enforcement and the U.S. military, were engaged in a violent standoff with the Branch Davidians cult.

“Waco: American Apocalypse” is the immersive three-part Netflix documentary series that seeks to be the definitive account of what happened in Waco, Texas in 1993 when cult leader David Koresh faced off against the government in a bloody 51-day siege.

The conflict began with the biggest gunfight on American soil since the Civil War and ended with a fiery inferno captured live on national television. In between, it riveted TV viewers across the globe, becoming the biggest news story in the world.

Released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of this national tragedy, the series is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Tiller Russell (“Night Stalker”) and features exclusive access to recently unearthed videotapes filmed inside the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit.

In addition to the videotapes, the series includes raw news footage never released to the American public and FBI recordings. There is also a look at life for the men, women and children who lived at the compound and had been convinced that the David Koresh was their messiah.

The series is driven by intimate and revealing interviews with people from all sides of the conflict, including one of David Koresh’s spiritual wives, the last child released from the compound alive, and a sniper from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team.

Additional interviews include the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit Chief, the key journalists covering the story, as well as members of the ATF tactical team who watched their colleagues die in the shootout against members of the religious sect.

Using cutting-edge visual technology, “Waco: American Apocalypse” plunges viewers inside the multifaceted clash between the Branch Davidians and federal law enforcement. The nearly two-month blood gunfight resulted in the deaths of dozens of people, including as many as 28 children.


The holiday season just a few months ago now seems like a distant memory, and though celebrating Christmas with family and friends is cherished by so many, at least now we get to move away from the cheesy Christmas movies churned out by the Lifetime Channel.

Instead, we are back to the cable network’s obsession, or so it seems, with crime dramas, many of which are based on true events. These movies might tell the tale of a group of snotty cheerleaders harassing a teacher or recurrent child abduction cases.

Sometimes the Lifetime crime movies involve people who made national headlines. For example, Heidi Fleiss, known as “The Hollywood Madam,” ran a high-class prostitute ring catering to wealthy corporate executives and Arab sheiks, and Lifetime ran with this story.

The current crime dramas may seem more run-of-the-mill. Inspired by actual events, “Girl in the Closet” follows 10-year-old Cameron who was accidentally placed into the custody of her aunt Mia (Tami Roman), a convicted murderer.

This happened after Cameron’s mother Patricia (Remy Ma) suffered an aneurysm. Mia enriches herself with benefit checks and unspeakable atrocities occur at her hands while Patricia pleads for help to find her daughter’s whereabouts for over a decade.

The ugly truth is that Cameron finds herself locked in a closet and near death, with only her faith to see her through. It is another harrowing tale of women who survive horrific circumstances.

In “The Hillsdale Adoption Scam,” Keshia Knight Pulliam stars as Bethany, who along with her husband Terrence, have a thriving business, lots of friends and a beautiful family.

Unable to have more kids, Bethany thinks it is a blessing when Georgia, who is pregnant, shows up on their porch looking for help. Though Terrence is hesitant about Georgia, Bethany dives in headfirst with the idea of adopting the unborn baby.

As the pregnancy progresses, a nagging feeling sets in that things don’t seem right, and the couple begins to discover unsettling things about Georgia and her cunning and unscrupulous motives.

“Twisted Sister” stars Mena Suvari as Emily, who seems to have it all with a beautiful daughter, a successful PR firm, an inheritance from her parents and, after couples therapy, her marriage is back on track with her husband Kyle (Mark Famiglietti).

When Lily (Joy Nash) shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her half-sister, Emily welcomes her with open arms. After all, Emily’s parents passed away and she would love to have another family member around.

But the more Emily gets to know her sister, the more things start to go awry in her life. At a loss to who she can trust, Emily begins to question everyone around her including Lily.

The “twisted” part of the sisterhood is that Lily, unbeknownst to Emily, is jealous of her success and has devised a plan to seduce her husband and steal her life. Though not based on true events, “Twisted Sister” does not seem a completely far-fetched scenario.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.


Truth is stranger than fiction, and in the case of drug smuggler Andrew Thornton II, a deep dive into his history would probably be even more fascinating than the “inspired by true events” movie that fictionalizes the story of a black bear ingesting cocaine.

“Cocaine Bear” lifts off from an actual event in 1985 when Thornton, an Army paratrooper-turned-racehorse trainer-turned-narcotics cop-turned DEA agent-turned-lawyer-turned-cocaine smuggler (oh, and alleged CIA operative, too), jumped from a Cessna.

After ditching duffel bags of cocaine that landed in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Thornton, while strapped with packets of cocaine and wearing dress Gucci shoes and cargo pants stuffed with cash and gold coins, attempted to parachute to the ground.

The film opens with actual news stories of Thornton, nicknamed “The Cocaine Cowboy,” discovered after plunging to his death by landing in a gravel driveway of a residence in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Thornton was not the only casualty of that flight. Months later, it was discovered that a black bear, weighing about 175 pounds, had been lumbering through the wilderness when it bumbled upon a duffel bag that had been ditched.

The bear took some sniffs, and decided to consume the white powder contents of the bag. This turned out be the only known case of a large mammal succumbing to a deadly overdose.

“Cocaine Bear,” taking plenty of liberties with true events, runs with a dark comedy/horror tale by turning the black bear into a 500-pound apex predator that ingests a staggering amount of cocaine and goes on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow and blood.

The ursine behemoth is first introduced through the perspective of Norwegian hikers Olaf (Kristofer Hivju) and Elsa (Hannah Hoekstra), a newly engaged couple taking a break from the stress of wedding planning to vacation in the woods.

Depending on what trailer you may have seen or heard about, it’s probably not a spoiler alert to reveal that the bear becomes so enraged that it transforms into a psychotic monster willing to slaughter anyone that gets in its path.

St. Louis drug kingpin Syd (Ray Liotta), whose mobile office is often a fast-food joint, enlists his trusted fixer Daveed (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) and his headcase son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), to retrieve the coke before his Colombian overlords go full “Scarface” mode.

Meanwhile, at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, detective Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), struggling to complete a quest of many years to take down Syd’s crime family before he retires, heads for the Georgia forest knowing he’s got a chance to make good on his mission.

Bob has an obsessive affection for his dog Rosette, a prim, white Maltese who looks more like a contestant for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show than a regular household pet.

The closest thing to law enforcement at the Chattahoochee National Forest is hapless Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), who’s oblivious to teen punks stealing candy because she’s fixated on attracting the attention of animal-rights activist Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson).

Worse than engaging in petty theft, the gang of kids are tearing through the woods stabbing and robbing people. The punks think of themselves as agents of chaos. The one who stands out is Stache (Aaron Holliday), who might lead Syd and his crew to a hiding place for the cocaine.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that drug dealer Daveed was jumped by the three punks in the men’s room, which they come to regret. Later, surly Eddie strikes up a conversation with Stache about being distraught over losing his wife to cancer.

On this fateful day, precocious 12-year-old Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) plays hooky from school with pal Henry (Christian Convery), who’s got a big crush on her, so she can paint a picture of a waterfall and use it gain admittance to an art camp.

Dee Dee’s mom Sari (Keri Russell), a gutsy, skilled nurse who’s divorced, has a fraught relationship with her daughter. Piecing together what has happened, Sari goes chasing for the lost kids, putting her on a collision course with the furry drug addict.

If anything, Sari proves to be the film’s primary hero, seeking to protect her daughter and Henry like a mama bear would guard her lost cubs. She’s tougher and smarter than anyone would guess by her pink jumpsuit.

One stunning sequence involves the ambulance drivers who think they are making a quick getaway once they hit the road with an injured passenger. Let’s just say a coked-up bear has jaw-dropping endurance.

“Cocaine Bear” boils down to living up to its title, causing what to think what the heck is this all about. Given the oddball assortment of characters involved and the overall weirdness of the situation they find themselves in, it’s a combination of dark comedy and slasher film.

The filmmakers were looking to create a surreal rollercoaster ride, making the audience laugh, making them scream, and making the jump.

“Cocaine Bear” reaches its goal, if you are willing to take the ride.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

The state of California is making an unprecedented investment in the arts.

The “California Creative Corps” program will award $60 million in grants statewide to implement media, outreach, and engagement campaigns.

The goal is to increase awareness related to issues such as public health, water and energy conservation, climate mitigation, and emergency preparedness, relief and recovery.

The Nevada County Arts Council is the administering organization for the upstate region, which covers 19 counties in the northern part of the state.

It will award more than $3 million in grants for artists, as well as for arts and social service organizations that will employ artists between spring 2023 and spring 2024.

Supporting local outreach with local knowledge, as well as technical assistance for artists, and program development and evaluation, are multiple county arts agencies serving what amounts to the largest, most diverse, geographic area in California.

“We are identifying issues that are specific to communities across our service region, and inviting artists to position themselves to create awareness around them and get paid for it,” says Eliza Tudor, executive director at Nevada County Arts Council. “We want our process to be as inclusive and accessible as possible and to draw upon creative processes that spur conversation around how to create lasting change that our diverse populations can take pride in.”

The launch of a statewide Creative Corps pilot program is the result of a recommendation from the Governor’s economic and jobs recovery task force and is the first of its kind in the nation.

Grant applications are now open and will run until April 28.

There are multiple mechanisms in place for support in the grant application process, both regionally through Upstate Creative Corps, and locally, through county arts partners. These include informational webinars, grant writing workshops, training and panel discussions.

To learn more visit

LAKEPORT, Calif. — The city of Lakeport requested input on arts and culture through a survey that was published on Nov. 2.

A total of 59 individuals shared their comments and interests.

The feedback identified the top reasons that keep individuals and families from attending or participating in creative activities and cultural events as not knowing about the event or can’t attend due to conflicts with schedules and locations.

Additionally, the survey yielded that social media, online publications, and friends through word of mouth are the top platforms where individuals become informed about activities and events.

The survey participants voted that an urban design in arts and cultural activities is a great idea, with a focus on addressing health and wellness, environmental and social service issues.

Results of the survey will be considered as the City develops an arts and culture component in its next economic development strategic plan.

The objectives of the plan are to uplift and celebrate local artists, stimulate a creative economy, make the Lakeport area an arts destination, support the work of arts groups and organizations, and engage the community.

To review the complete survey analytics, please click here.

For more information, contact Victor Fernandez, associate planner, 707-263-5615, Ext. 203, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Julian Sterling (Guy) and Heidi Peterman (Girl) in the Mendocino College production of the musical Once. Photo by Scott Spears.

UKIAH, Calif. — The Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department will present the Tony Award-winning musical “Once” March 23 to April 2 in Mendocino College’s Center Theatre on the Ukiah Campus.

Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, “Once” tells the story of a guy who gives up on love and music, and a girl who inspires him to dream again. The show is based on the motion picture of the same title.

Set in Dublin, the musical is about the relationship between an Irish street musician/Hoover vacuum repairman whose heart stops in its tracks when he meets a Czech pianist with a vacuum needing repair.

It is a story of two people who share a moment in time that changes them forever, a moment that happened “once.” It is a powerful and moving celebration of humanity and music.

Performances will run for two weekends only.

Written by Enda Walsh and with music by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglová, the play features a multi-talented cast of performers who sing, dance , act and play musical instruments.

According to director Reid Edelman, “This beautiful production and astonishingly talented cast present a musical experience that will captivate your soul.”

The production is recommended for all audiences ages 13 and older.

With musical direction by Phillip Lenberg, original choreography by Eryn-Schon-Brunner, and vocal direction by Marilyn Simpson, the production will feature costumes and scenery created by students in Mendocino College’s CTE program in technical theatre under the direction of faculty and staff members Steve Decker, Kathy Dingman-Katz and David Wolf.

Voice and dialect coaching is by Alicia Bales, and theater arts alumna Rickie Emilie Farah is the show’s assistant director, and alumna Shianne Robertson is the assistant costume designer. Student Sarah Jansen is the production Stage Manager.

The talented cast features local musician and guitar instructor Julian Sterling in the leading role of “Guy,” and college Music major Heidi Peterman in the leading role of “Girl.”

The show also features theater students Dakota Laiwa-McKay and Gwendolen van Wyk in the supporting roles of Eamon and Reza. The cast also includes an impressive array of professional local musicians and music educators including Anthony Melville as Billy, Sam Kircher as the Bank Manager, Jean François Buy as Andrej, and college voice instructor Marilyn Simpson as the violinist.

The cast, a mix of students and community members, also includes Kay Spencer as Baruska, Joe Swearengin as Svec, Neil DiBernardo as Da.

Ensemble members also include Hannah Eddy, Shianne Robertson, Stacey Sheldon, Anita Stearns, Cora Schon-Brunner, and Amanda Tuttle.

Once will have a “pay what you wish preview” on Thursday, March 23.

Opening night is Friday March 24. Opening night will include a free gala reception starting one hour before the show. The performance on Saturday, March 25, benefits the Mendocino College Foundation and student scholarships. A free glass of wine is included with the ticket price for this performance.

Following the opening weekend, additional performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30; Friday, March 31; and Saturday, April 1. There will be a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 2.

Tickets cost $20 for general seating and $15 for students and seniors, and are available at the Mendocino Book Co., online at and at the door as available.

The performance on Thursday, March 30, is a special discount night, with all tickets costing only $10. Audiences are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

For information, call 707-468-3172 or visit

Please note regarding Mendocino College Covid Safety Policy: Proof of vaccination is no longer required to attend live performance events at Mendocino College. Masks are optional, but are strongly recommended.

Upcoming Calendar

06.07.2023 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
East Region Town Hall
06.08.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
06.09.2023 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Crafters group
06.10.2023 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Crafters group
06.10.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
06.10.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.12.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
Lakeport Senior Center
Flag Day
06.15.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center

Mini Calendar



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