Heavenly Iowa and yet another life lesson

Roosevelt! the play

Roosevelt! the play

I was fortunate to premier Roosevelt! at the Donna Reed Theater in Denison, Iowa this past week.  I gave two performances there – one with almost 350 fourth and fifth graders who learned about their 26th President and many of his adventures.  They were so well behaved that both Mrs. Roosevelt and I couldn’t believe it.  I was told afterwards that usually these children are fidgeting in their seats, but that they were so engaged in the stories that they didn’t move a muscle!  We did an evening performance as well, which went great with much discussion in the hallway after.

I also performed at The Kaleidoscope Factory in Pocahontas, Iowa the following day to a fun crowd.

Many years ago I read a book entitled “Blue Highways” by William Least Heatmoon about traveling the back roads of America.  After a very scary near-death experience on the Interstate, I have for almost 3 decades preferred the road less traveled.  My beautiful wife is great at hunting out places to see when we drive the unbeaten path and one such trip she found a factory that made Kaleidoscopes.  It was in a very small town and when we stopped we ended up spending several hours with the owner.  When he asked what I did, I told him I was just starting to portray Theodore Roosevelt and he offered at that moment to “Hire me someday”.  Five years later I received an email from him saying he was ready – if I was.  He had moved to a larger town, and was converting his shop  – when he could – a few evenings a month into a specialty live entertainment venue for performances.

When we arrived there was sawdust on the floors and tables set up for manufacturing!  Within a few hours, we had converted the whole place to a small theater complete with seating and a stage.

Life lesson From Roosevelt “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

Life Lesson from Leonard: “I just do what I can, with what I have, where I am”

Please take a moment to learn about this amazing man by visiting him at http://www.kaleidoscopefactory.com/ and like him on Facebook at The Kaleidoscope Factory.    I highly recommend one of his handmade scopes – they are a great way spend a few minutes of enjoyment each week without the need for batteries! (Had mine for over 5 years so I know!)

New Year with Gusto

On the Set with Roosevelt

On the Set with Roosevelt

The new year is starting with a very busy schedule of events, theater and more.

I am finalizing a one man play entitled “Roosevelt”! that will premier at the Donna Reed Theater in February.  This is an exciting time as I pull together the set, finalize the script and add the elements that make a play engaging, memorable and entertaining.  Roosevelt himself said “It is better to wear out than rust out” and there are many days where being worn out is how I finish my day.

When I envisioned how the set would look, I decided to recruit my artist friend to help me develop the concept.  We both agreed that an easy to set-up set was important, but that it had to truly set the stage of the “largess” of the man.  As you can see by a few of the elements as we stand in front of  a portion of the set, I found the right helpers!  The amazing part is that two people can snap together the panels in less than 10 minutes and entire ensemble stores flat and is designed to get through a standard door. (it was designed for theaters, so that other part was more about getting it out of the house once we built it)

This set will be used in inside events I do only, and mostly Theaters.  However, there may be a few opportunities where I could include it in other Roosevelt presentations, such as the one I just did for the Mountain Lake Historical Society, which you can read about in the “Travels with Teddy” portion of this blog.

My calendar is filling fast and I am blessed to be able to recreate a most amazing man.  I am looking forward to the adventures!