Actor’s comedy chops shine

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (04.28.2016)

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JC- (w) Tommy Beardmore

Tommy Beardmore print PDF

When I received word from Tommy Beardmore that his film — “The Life and Death of an Unhappily Married Man” — was set to show at a West Lafayette movie theater, I knew this had the makings of a solid story.

Our readers enjoy the success of people with local connections, and Beardmore had grown up in Greater Lafayette and attended Purdue before moving to Chicago and New York to pursue acting. What’s more, his diverse resume and talent for comedy and drama provided great points of interest as did the film’s popularity at festivals inside and outside the U.S.

Overall, these elements opened up several angles.

Marching band is no breeze

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (08.20.2015)

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Purdue band tryouts print PDF

Purdue band tryouts print PDF

The subjects of back-to-school stories often center on sports tryouts and curriculum. What can be left out are students’ activities in the arts. The dedication of band members at Purdue University — which does not offer a music major — was worth exploring.

I came at the story from the eyes of a freshman, explaining the difficulties of auditions and the challenges of combining new marching techniques with musical skill and athleticism. In doing so, I hoped to tap into a readership with ties to the “AllAmerican” Marching Band who are proud of its tradition and their memories. As it ended up, this has been one of my most shared features at the Journal & Courier.

Pole’s possibilities — and baggage

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (07.23.2015)

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Pole possibilities print PDF

Pole possibilities print PDF

Poles are becoming increasingly popular in exercise and modern dance. In a preview to a modern dance performance by a group of women in Greater Lafayette, I explored the way they used the pole to open up vertical space on the dance floor and find new movement vocabulary by mixing this aerial technique with jazz and ballet.

You’ll also notice another angle to this story. Because so many associate pole dancing exclusively with strip clubs, many of the women in this story asked that I use their stage names for fear that their participation would damage their professional reputations. I did — after consulting with my editors — and used it as an opportunity to explain to readers this angle of the art form.

Fire sculpture folds in community

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (04.14.2016)

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Fire sculpture print PDF

Fire sculpture print PDF

Ceramic artist Nina Hole’s fire sculptures are both magnificent and rare — only about two dozen exist in the world. After Hole designed them, her team built and fired them on site, inviting the community to be involved in the entire process.

Purdue University’s Lonsford Committee commissioned one of these sculptures, which turned out to be the last Hole designed. The celebrated artist died in early 2016 and never saw her last piece, which was built in late March and early April.

Because of its prominent construction spot outdoors on campus, the fire sculpture received plenty of local media attention. So when I wrote in depth on it, I had to find a fresh, meaningful angle. That it was Hole’s last designed sculpture and was to be what one of my sources called an “avant-garde bonfire” were spectacular.

But the artist’s care for people — even after her death — and the community connections the sculpture’s construction formed proved to be both a touching and largely uncovered storyline.

Isbell’s relatable songwriting

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (07.09.2015)

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Jason Isbell print PDF

Jason Isbell print PDF

When Jason Isbell’s publicist sent me the details before my interview with the rising Americana singer-songwriter, she told me I’d have eight minutes to talk with him because he had so many media requests. Eight minutes.

So I found out everything I could about Isbell and dissected his music and lyrics so that I could make my time count. My research paid off with a great interview, and he actually ended up talking to me a bit longer than eight minutes.

Talks with fans and venue owners where Isbell was set to play rounded out the story and unpacked why his songwriting — which tackles the gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable along with the joys of life — has grabbed so many people.

Story through opera & dance

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (03.31.2016)

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"Dido and Aeneas" print PDF

“Dido and Aeneas” print PDF

Choreographer Mark Morris’ production of “Dido and Aeneas” offered incredibly rich material for me to dive into. His version, which sets dance to Henry Purcell’s famous opera with the singers and orchestra just off stage, premiered in 1989.

So suffice it to say that “Dido and Aeneas” has been covered many times by the press. The freshest angle I could take was to write about Morris’ vision and how the current performers interpreted it and fused their performances into one point of view — even though they can’t see one another.

A sisterhood with depth

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (09.10.2015)

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"Sisterhood" print PDF

“Sisterhood” print PDF

For this preview of “The Charitable Sisterhood of the Second Trinity Victory Church,” I received a rare opportunity — an interview with an award-winning playwright whose work was receiving its Midwest premiere.

Writing a feature about a fairly new play, without giving away its ending, is no easy feat. But I wanted to give potential audience members the playwright’s point of view so they could more easily peel through the work’s layers.

Bo Wilson proved to be a fascinating interview, and I was able to relay part of what he hoped audiences would take away after the laughs — people of faith with different beliefs who found ways to get along.

Extraordinary art and garden

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (06.25.2015)

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Art in the Garden print PDF

Art in the Garden print PDF

Visual artists have often told me a drawback to working solo in a studio is that they miss being with people. So a causal fair like “Art in the Garden,” which encourages patrons to stop by artists’ booths and ask about their work, stands out.

Capturing that vibe, and its difference from larger art fairs, is at the center of this story along with the garden and its owner. The grounds and home in Battle Ground, Indiana, have been passed from artist to artist, and the details, sculptures and plants on the property tell that story.

Ultimately, I knew encapsulating that would grab the spirit of this popular event.

Chemistry & chamber music

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (03.19.2015)

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Academy and Denk print PDF

Academy and Denk print PDF

As a cellist who has listened to the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields since I was a child, I could barely contain my excitement when I saw they were part of Purdue Convocations’ season.

Add to that pianist Jeremy Denk as soloist, and you have a recipe for a brilliant evening.

While the chamber music group has existed for decades, however, I knew not everyone would have had the same experience as I did. So for my preview, I set out to peel back some of the lesser-known details of performances in the genre, which included the group’s singular chemistry, sections passed back and forth between soloist and orchestra, and the flexibility and listening skills required from world-class performers.

More most-read stories

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (2015-2016)

These stories, along with others posted in the “Most read” category, are clips that met a major goal: storytelling that people felt the need to read and pass around on their social networks.

On notable people connected with Tippecanoe County:
On the Greater Lafayette arts scene: