Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘entertainment’

Ted Lewis’ Grand Refrain – “Is Everybody Happy?”

Ted Lewis Museum

The Ted Lewis Museum was renovated last year for its 40th Anniversary.

For those interested in old entertainers and movies, Ted Lewis Museum in Circleville, Ohio will arouse your curiosity. Ted’s first professional singing job happened in 1906 in between movies at the Circleville Electric Nickelodeon. His salary – $4 a week. But that was just the beginning.

Ted Theater with Joyce

Joyce Keller, president of the museum, stands in front of a replica of the first theater where Ted  performed.

Born Theodore Friedman in Circleville, Ohio, his younger years were spent helping his parents in Friedman’s Bazaar, an emporium which supplied women of Pickaway County with the latest fashions. Ted spent his time sweeping inside and outside the store, as well as making deliveries. It wasn’t something he enjoyed.

His earliest musical instrument experience came at the age of nine when he played piccolo in the Circleville Cadet Band. His fingers weren’t long enough yet to play the clarinet. But Ted mowed lawns during the summer to save money to buy an E-flat clarinet he knew he wanted to play.

However, Ted became fascinated with syncopation and began taking lessons after school with Cricket Smith, a black barber. Jazz ran in Ted’s blood, which had him dismissed from the Cadet Band. The band teacher later apologized when Ted became famous.

Ted Early Days

In 1911, Ted would return home from tours when he ran out of money, which was often.

As a teenager, he played his clarinet to help draw a crowd for Dr. Cooper’s Medicine Man Show and sold balloons and cotton candy. He’d carry circus banners in parades and even followed them out of town. This caused his parents much embarrassment and they tried to send him to business college in Columbus, but to no avail.

Ted Apartment 2

The books, bookcase and photos of life long friends, Ted and Sophie Tucker, are from his New York City apartment. Even the gold wallpaper has been replicated.

Ted kept busy following his dream of becoming an entertainer. He paired up with Jack Lewis under the billing Lewis and Friedman. One day in South Carolina, he saw the billing said Lewis & Lewis. The manager said that fit on the marquee better. After that he was always known as Ted Lewis, even though he never legally changed his name.

Ted Top Hat 2

His battered top hat, cane, and clarinet are on prominent display.

In 1916, at the age of 26, Ted formed his first band – Ted Lewis Nut Band. They were very popular in the New York City area and performed at Rector’s Restaurant, a high class venue. While there, he won an old top hat in a dice game from a cab driver called Mississippi. That top hat, his clarinet, cane and the question: “Is everybody happy?” were always part of his act.

Ted Lewis 001

Ted Lewis always wore his old battered hat at every performance.

Ted Phonograph

This old hand-crank Victrola played “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me”.

His theme song, “When My Baby Smiles at Me” and hits such as “Tiger Rag” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” earned him the title, “King of Jazz”. In 1926, his Columbia recording of “Tiger Rag” sold more than five million copies. He was their highest paid artist in the 1920s. This popular performer presented his act to nine United States Presidents and even did a command performance for King George V of England.

Ted Me and My Shadow

A video in a peanut cart plays “Me and My Shadow”.

During one performance, Ted noticed the doorman, Eddie Chester, mimicking him from the wings and asked him to join him on stage. Thus was born his signature routine, “Me and My Shadow”.

Ted Is Everybody Happy

Ted starred in a movie about his life. Beautiful women played a large part in his acts.

Ted Lewis Museum opened in 1977 across the street from where Ted was born. Here you’ll be able to see classic memorabilia and watch videos of Ted Lewis performing. He told his wife that when he died he wanted everything to come back to Circleville, “The Capital of the World”.

Ted 80th 2

Pictured at Ted’s 80th birthday party are Circleville Mayor Gordon, brother Milton Friedman, Ted, and Columbus Mayor Sensenbrenner.

This showman never forgot his hometown. Ted and his wife, Adah, devoted themselves to making Circleville a better place to live. They supported Berger Hospital, the local schools, and even made possible a 13-acre Ted Lewis Park complete with playground equipment, ball fields, and a swimming pool at that time. Ted entertained the troops during WWII and was a leader in selling war bonds.

Ted and friends

Ted’s friends included Benny Goodman, Sophie Tucker, George Jessel, and Eddie Cantor.

The museum on Main Street only opens on Friday and Saturday from 1-5. After your visit you’ll be ready to put on some tap shoes while grabbing a top hat and cane.

Ted Lewis Museum is located at 133 W Main Street in Circleville, Ohio. Follow US 22 for a scenic ride.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Cambridge Lions Club Variety Show’s 40th Anniversary “Blast From the Past”

Lions Club Chorus PracticeIt’s time to celebrate and have a good time as the Cambridge Lions Club prepares for their 40th Annual Variety Show.  Back in 1974, that first show was simply called, A Minstrel Show. Many familiar local personalities participated in that first show at the State Theater for a two night run.

Dave Wilson and Ron GuthrieTwo of those performers, Ron Guthrie and Dave Wilson, actually happen to still be around today, and will be participating in this year’s show, Blast From the Past. These guys never seem to tire of the antics of the Lions Club Show. Both fun loving fellows remember that first year when members persuaded young Dave Wilson to surprise Ron Guthrie with a pie in the face before intermission.  Little did they realize that the cream on top had soured after being left at room temperature for several hours.  When Ron got his pie-in-the-face, he also got quite sick for most of the second half of the show.

By the way, Ron did get even for the pie-in-the-face, as he had promised Dave that first night.  Several years later, five to be exact, it was arranged for Dave Wilson to get arrested during one of the skits. Handcuffs seemed the appropriate method to get his hands behind his back. And you guessed it, Ron surprised him with a pie-in-the- face.  Dave said recently he was rather relieved at that time, because he had been waiting for it to happen for all five years.

Bob JonardHow did this all get started? Back in 1973 the Lions Club had agreed to help finance a wing for Guernsey Memorial Hospital and they were looking for a way to raise some extra dollars. As luck would have it, Bob Jonard moved to the Cambridge area with his musical family.  Bob had recently been involved with minstrel shows in both Adena and Wooster, so he encouraged the local Lions to give it a try.

Of course, many felt it wouldn’t work.  However, Bob Jonard found a great listening ear and enthusiasm in Ron Guthrie. Soon John Mehaffey and his wife, Frances, became supporters. This team put together that first show around their kitchen tables, and it was a great success.

Many of the performers have been around since their youth, have gone away to college or jobs, and then returned to their home town to again join in the fun of the show. For many of the participants, this is one of the highlights of their year.

Lions Show BandWhile funny skits and jokes filled the State Theater years ago, music was the main part of the program and still is today. The chorus, groups, and solos would be at a loss without the accompaniment of the Lions Show Band.  In the early years, the chorus only had a mimeographed copy of the basic music with no harmony parts included. They each sang their own special harmony to create a beautiful sound. Some of the songs from that first show included: A Bird in the Gilded Cage, Daddy Sang Bass, Sweet Gypsy Rose, and Mammy.  

The Flappers danced their way into people’s hearts with a bit of the Charleston to the then popular, Ballin’ the Jack. Since then, the can-can, black light dance specials, and even line dancing have entertained the crowds. You never really know what is going to happen at a Lions Club Show.

Bob Jonard, Howard Cherry, Dave Wilson and Bob Bistor during a 1977 showThe End Men and Interruptions create most of the laughter during the evening. The Lions Club members enjoy their own brand of humor as they tell jokes and often dress in outrageous costumes. They have great fun themselves while entertaining the crowd. Every year and even every night their antics are a little different.

Focus for the Cambridge Lions Club is on helping the blind and visually impaired. These Knights for Sight use all proceeds from the show to help those in need pay for eyeglasses and eye-related treatments. Your ticket purchase helps a great cause!

Lions_Show_2013Even though The Lion Sleeps Tonight in Cambridge, Ohio, you can be certain to Hear Those Lions Roar on March 21, 22, and 23. They will be roaring their “Blast from the Past” at the Scottish Rite Auditorium with a 7:30 showtime each evening.  They want to entertain you and will tell you in song, It’s true we make a better day, just you and me. They have over the years discovered that singing helps one harmonize with the universe. Come on and Celebrate!

Coming to the show from out of town? From I-70 take Exit 178 at SR 209. Proceed west on 209/Southgate Road until you arrive downtown at the Courthouse. Make a right hand turn and two traffic lights later you are in front of the Scottish Rite Auditorium at the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 10th Street.  It is across from the Cambridge Post Office. Coming from I-77, take Exit 180B, which is US 40 West. After approximately one mile, you will arrive in downtown Cambridge. At the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 10th Street, you will find the Scottish Rite Auditorium. Hope to see you there!

Ohio’s Johnny Appleseed Ap*peel*ing to the Core

An apple a day keeps the doctor away is a saying we have heard most of our lives. But John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, has a slightly different version:  Eat an apple before you go to bed, and make the doctor beg his bread.

Each evening before the appearance of historical scholars, local musical groups entertained with songs from frontier times.  This particular evening a group called Unwound presented lively music on two hammer dulcimers accompanied by guitar and tapping Limberjacks.  They got the crowd in the Chautauqua tent at Marietta Ohio ready for the appearance of Johnny Appleseed, an excellent yarn spinner.

John Chapman wanted to do something useful with his life that would also support his ministry. Apples seemed to be the perfect tool as they were the only fruit that could stay fresh for an extended time. There was a litany of uses given by John regarding his favorite fruit: apple chips, apple butter, apple brandy, and even payment for taxes…to name a few. Would you believe his favorite color is apple red?

Starting a nursery for Johnny was a simple affair: poke a hole, plant a seed, cover it up. He tried to anticipate where people would be settling in two or three years and would start a nursery in that vicinity. Johnny said that in order to claim the land, the homestead law required settlers to plant fifty apple trees during the first year. Sometimes you might see him going down the Ohio River with two canoes:  Johnny in the first one, 50 apple seedlings or apple seeds in the second.

In 1812 when troubles in America erupted with the British and the Indians, Johnny said the fear grew deeper than the snow. These war years were painful for Johnny, as he had always been friends with both Indians and whites.  Trying to make peace was like trying to put out a fire – while you were stomping on one, you were fanning the rest. At this time, he felt the Indians were like a tornado – you never knew where they were going to strike.  But you couldn’t always trust the British either as they burned whole villages – another white man’s promise up in smoke!

With his constant good humor, he admonished listeners not to believe everything they heard about him, “Gossip is like the measles, sooner or later it will turn your face red.”  For example, barefoot Johnny Appleseed did not walk over the entire country.  His travels and consequent apple tree plantings only occurred in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and often in a State of Confusion.

Johnny was deeply religious and felt his religion gave him a peaceful path to tread. His was the perfect life in his eyes because sometimes he was with people… but sometimes by himself.  He often enjoyed being alone and said he was not “the marrying kind”.

He spent his life doing good deeds for others and planted more than just apple trees. He also planted spiritual seeds that nourished the soul.

Along the way to Marietta, stopped just south of Dexter City on SR 821 to see a monument dedicated to Johnny Appleseed.  It is made of small rocks contributed by people in areas where Johnny planted apple tree.  The grave sites of his family are located nearby.  The tree to the right behind it is, of course, an apple tree.

Hank Fincken displayed a great sense of humor in his portrayal of Johnny Appleseed /John Chapman.  Johnny was the first historic figure that Hank ever developed. He feels it opened doors for him much the way Johnny’s seedlings opened doors for early settlers.

2012 Ohio Chautauqua continues throughout the summer with week long performances and workshops in Gallipolis (July 17-21) and Warren (July 24-28). Hope you find time to join them and learn a little more about “When Ohio Was the Western Frontier”.

Cambridge Lions Go Hollywood

“Don’t You Hear Those Lions Roar?” as you pass the First Baptist Church in Cambridge, Ohio on a Sunday afternoon January through March. The parking lot is not filled with people attending a church event, but those practicing for the 39th Annual Cambridge Lions Club Music & Comedy  Show.

This year’s theme of “Cambridge Lions Go Hollywood” offers a wide selection of favorite songs ranging from the slow and mellow to those with vim and vigor.  While the songs are familiar, the arrangements may not be, as they were specially designed for this show by local well known musician and director of the show, Paul Hudson.

Paul has recently retired as Band Director from John Glenn High School and is active down many musical avenues including being percussionist in the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra.  “You Can’t Stop the Beat” when Paul is able to get everyone on the same musical wave. Frequently he tells the chorus members things like : “You have to know the words,” or “Listen to Tom play the melody.” Know he is hoping that after ten weeks of practice, the words will all be memorized and the rhythms will be somewhat correct.

Once the chorus has practiced for a few weeks, Lion Troy Simmons arrives to record the practice session using microphones over each vocal area to pick up the parts clearly. Then he makes a CD for each member so they can practice along with it during the week. So if you see someone singing while driving down the road and tapping out rhythms on their steering wheel, it very likely could be a Lions Club chorus member trying to learn all the words and parts correctly.

A big part of the success of the show also goes to accompanist Tom Apel, who appears in the local area at the piano wherever and whenever needed . Tom attends every practice and patiently plays the parts over and over again. Sometimes it seems he could use four hands! As it gets closer to show time, Tom will be joined by some other local musicians, who are part of the Lions’ Music & Comedy Show Band.

Being associated with the Lions Club, you can be certain that after practice, chorus members will say, “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.”  Lions Club members seem to have an extra dose of humor in everything they do.  Of course, this show is more than fun as the main purpose of these Knights for Sight is to raise money to help those in the area who need some assistance in paying for eyeglasses and eye care.

Make plans to attend “Cambridge Lions Go Hollywood” on March 29, 30, or 31 at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in downtown Cambridge, Ohio for an evening of fun entertainment as well as contributing to a great cause. Tickets may be purchased online at www.cambridgelions.com or at Country Bits & Pieces. Tickets are $8 on Thursday evening or $10 on Friday or Saturday. All shows begin at 7:30.

Members will definitely tell you “There’s No Business Like Show Business” as they prepare for the 2012 “Cambridge Lions Go Hollywood.”  Let’s go on with the show!

Coming to the show from out of town? From I-70 take Exit 178 at SR 209. Proceed west on 209 /Southgate Road until you arrive downtown at the Courthouse. Make a right hand turn and two traffic lights later you are in front of the Scottish Rite Auditorium at the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 10th Street.  It is across from the Cambridge Post Office. Coming from I-77, take Exit 180B, which is US 40 West. After approximately one mile, you will arrive in downtown Cambridge. At the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 10th Street, you will find the Scottish Rite Auditorium. Hope to see you there!

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