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August 11, 2011
The Herald-Star

Brooke Hills Playhouse to stage comedy-drama

WELLSBURG - The Brooke Hills Playhouse will host the world premiere production of "bf F?" a play for young actors by Diana Mendel of Wellsburg.

The comedy-drama about middle school students, their younger siblings and the peer pressure and other challenges they face will be presented at 8 p.m. today through Sunday and Aug. 18-20 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 21. For reservations and information, call (304) 737-3344.

The play is directed by Mendel's daughter, Julia Barnhart of Wellsburg. Mendel says it was Barnhart who urged her to write the original work.

"Julie couldn't find a good play for young actors for this season, so she asked me to write one," Mendel said.

A retired teacher for Brooke County Schools who also spent a year teaching in England and now runs an after-school program as a volunteer, as well as being a mother and grandmother, Mendel knows the problems of young people first-hand. She also has a lot of experience as a playwright.

"When I taught middle school at Beech Bottom and Hammond I wrote a play every year for my students, directed them and choreographed the dances, so this is just picking up where I left off in the '80s," she said.

Mendel reports the play has changed a lot from her first draft.

"The first draft was for a small cast, but the story and the cast kept getting bigger and bigger and I ended up writing for a cast of 21," she said.

Director Julia Barnhart reports the cast of 21 includes actors portraying members of the Williams, Sanders and West families. Roberta Fedoush of Weirton is cast as Jacqui Williams, the mother of Sarah Grace, portrayed by Karleigh Kowcheck of Wellsburg, Madeleine is played by Abby Nickerson of Wellsburg, and Hannah is enacted by Caitlin Cuomo of Follansbee.

The Sanders family includes the mother, Robyn, played by Amy Balog of Follansbee. Peri Dimitiriou of Weirton is cast as daughter Melissa, and Amy Marosz of Follansbee will portray daughter Megan. The West family includes siblings Meredith, enacted by Emily Fournier of Weirton, and Lizzie, played by Carly Balog of Follansbee,

The cast also includes Ellie Talbott of Wintersville as Morgan Harris, Zach Spurrier of Wellsburg as Adam Murray, Rhiannon Macom of Wellsburg as Emma Kelly, Katie Spurrier of Wellsburg as Mackenzie Wallace, Gabriella Narus of Avella as Mary Jane Baxter and Lauren Fritz of Follansbee as Ashley Morgan.

The cast of "bf F?" also boasts the talents of Alexa Gerrard as Kayla Tennant, Shyla Stroud as Brianna Carlson and Grant VanCamp as Dan Roberts. All three are Follansbee residents. Ben Fedoush of Weirton as Jake Allen and Madison Buxton of Wellsburg as Faith Miller complete the cast.

"bf F?" is the final show of the Brooke Hills Playhouse's 40th anniversary season. Season sponsors are WTOV-TV and the Center of Music and Art. Show sponsors include the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, Koppers Inc., Kwik King Food Stores, Main Street Bank and Brooke County Rotary Club. For information, go to

Big mousetrap at Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH-Carnegie Science Center, in partnership with The Toonseum, will bring the rollicking, nationally renowned Life-Size Mousetrap to the Carnegie Science Center Sunday through Aug. 21.

This kinetic sculpture is a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation. In a Rube Goldberg-like fashion, this massive contraption brings science and engineering to a whole new level with chain reactions, bowling balls, live music and a crew dedicated to giving the audience a smashing good time.

Visitors to the center will see this fun-filled spectacle come to life. Each vaudeville-style performance is a lively and interactive experience, with "clown engineers," mischievous "mice," a one-woman musical juggernaut called Esmerelda Strange and lots of contraption action. This 25-ton machine offers viewers an experience in Newtonian physics on an unprecedented scale. The grand finale is a two-ton safe falling from a 30-foot crane.

Contained in a 50-foot, outdoor space, the Life-Size Mousetrap will cover a large part of the science center's riverfront area. In addition to daily performances, an evening party on Saturday will kick off the exhibit for those ages 21 and older. A summer camp for budding contraption constructers ages 8-12 is offered from Monday to Aug. 19.

All daily performances are free with general admission to the science center. Carnegie Science Center is at 1 Allegheny Ave. on Pittsburgh's North Shore next to Heinz Field. For information, go to or call (412) 237-3400.

Mud bog trifecta at

Brooke Hills Park

WELLSBURG -Brooke Hills Park will be hosting its last mud bog trifecta of the season Saturday.

The mud bog will kick off the day at 1 p.m. followed by the flea market at 4 p.m. and free concert at 7 p.m. General admission to the mud bog is $5, and pitt passes are available for an additional $5. For information, call 737-1236.

The mud bog at the Brooke County Fair will begin at noon Sept. 11. The Brooke County Fair is Sept. 9-10 at the Brooke Hills Fairgrounds. For information, visit


celebration at Weirton church

WEIRTON - The Weirton Heights Memorial Baptist Church, 121 Ivy St. will be the site of its Summer Gospel Celebration from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday on the church lawn, weather permitting.

The event will include music, food, games, face-painting, crafts, school supplies for children and prize drawings. There is no cost to those attending. Scheduled performers include Carrie Oliver, Danielle Howland, Kelle Martin, Ted Soplinski, the Mennonite Choir, Carla Stone, Leslie Veltri, Judy Pratt, Renee Leathers and Judi Bartlett-Tomes. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held in the church. For information, call (304) 723-2571.

Upcoming exhibits at

Oglebay Institute

WHEELING - Upcoming exhibits at Oglebay Institute include:

Today - "Everyone's Exhibit," an Ohio Valley favorite, opens at the Stifel Fine Arts Center with a free and festive public reception from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. With nearly 80 artists and 125 works, this show highlights the diverse talents of many area artists with mediums ranging from traditional painting, to mixed media to 3D dioramas. This diverse show is a great opportunity for new artists to begin showing their work and for the public to enjoy viewing the talent and creativity in our local communities. "Everyone's Exhibit" will be on display for free through Sept. 17

Today through Saturday - Oglebay Institute's Parcel Players youth theater program will close its 2011 season with "The Diary of Anne Frank" at Towngate Theatre. Written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and directed by Dave Henderson, the play is adapted from the well-known book "The Diary of a Young Girl" illustrating the lives of a Jewish family hiding from the German occupying forces in war-torn Amsterdam. Curtain is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 and are available at the door or by calling the Stifel Fine Arts Center at (304) 242-7700. Towngate is in the Centre Market district of Wheeling, 2118 Market St.

Aug. 21 - Oglebay Institute has teamed up with local farmers and chefs to present a Farm to Table Culinary Tasting Event for the public to enjoy fresh, locally grown food and learn about the advantages of buying food locally. The event takes place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Stifel Fine Arts Center. Guests will enjoy tent hopping, tasting sweet and savory dishes prepared by featured chefs Craig Aubrey, Stratford Springs; Gene Evans, WVNCC; Mark Glass, Bethesda Market; Sarah Lydick, Sandscrest; and Charlie Schlegel, Ye Olde Alpha.

Tickets are $15 ($10 for children age 10 under) and can be purchased at the Stifel Center, Ohio Valley Farmers' Market and Wheeling Farmers' Market.

Aug. 28 -A Touch of Thai will feature a buffet of authentic Thai dishes from noon to 4 p.m. at the Stifel Fine Arts Center. Guests also will enjoy traditional dances, martial arts demonstrations and more, creating the atmosphere of this southeast Asian country. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Stifel Center or at Golden Chopsticks on Wheeling Island. For information, call (304) 242-7700.

Mahrajan Lebanese

Heritage Festival at Oglebay Park

WHEELING -The 78th-annual Mahrajan, a Lebanese Heritage Festival, will be held at site one, Levenson Shelter in Oglebay Park on Sunday.

From noon to 7 p.m. or until supplies last an ala carte menu of homemade Lebanese dishes, such as lamb shish kabob, stuffed grape leaves, kibbee, tabouli, hummus, meat and spinach pies, shawarma (gyros), falafels, baklava and other Lebanese pastries, will be served.

A Maronite Catholic liturgy officiated by the Rev. Bakhos Chidiac, pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon, will be held on the festival grounds at 10:30 a.m. Live Middle-Eastern music by David Hakim of Cleveland and dance shows performed by Conchi and the Alhambra Dancers of Cincinnati begins at 1 p.m. and will continue throughout the day.

The mahrajan is open to the public, rain or shine. Admission is free of charge. Tickets for food and beverages can be purchased at the festival. Free non-reserved seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the general dining area.

Funds raised from the festival are used for the regular upkeep and special improvement projects of the historic Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church on Eoff Street in Wheeling.

For information, call (304) 233-1688 or visit

Theater begins to begin new season

PITTSBURGH -The Pittsburgh Public Theater's 37th season includes a six-play subscription series and a special event, led by Producing Artistic Director Ted Pappas.

Those include:

Sept. 29 through Oct. 30, "Electra" by Sophocles, adapted by Frank McGuinness and directed by Ted Pappas.

New stagings of ancient Greek plays are Pappas' signature. After productions of "Medea" and "Oedipus the King," he will now stage "Electra," the story of a family torn apart by adultery, assassination and revenge.

Nov. 10 through Dec. 11, "Red," by John Logan and directed by Pamela Berlin.

First produced by London's Donmar Warehouse, "Red" jumped to Broadway and won the 2010 Tony Award for best play. The setting is the studio of temperamental abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, who, in 1958, accepted a commission to create paintings for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York.

Jan. 5-7, the Second City's Laugh Out Loud.

The Second City comes back by popular demand with its Laugh Out Loud tour. From the company that launched the careers of Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray comes the next generation in an evening of sketch comedy and improvisation.

Jan. 19 through Feb. 19, "As You Like It" by William Shakespeare and directed by Pappas.

At the palace, Rosalind and Orlando fall for each other at first sight, but their courtship is cut short when she is banished by the duke.

March 1 through April 1, "Freud's Last Session," by Mark St. Germain and directed by Mary Robinson.

Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud pioneered the id, the ego and the superego. Writer C.S. Lewis created "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Two men, both brilliant, yet vastly different - Freud the atheist and Lewis the believer. In this play, they meet in 1939 as England goes to war against the Nazis for an evening of conversation about God, love, sex and the meaning of life.

April 12 through May 13, "Around the World in 80 Days," by Mark Brown, based on the novel by Jules Vernes and directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge.

The year is 1872 and Phileas Fogg has accepted a bet to travel around the globe in record time in this classic novel brought to theatrical life. With his eccentric

May 24 through June 24, "Private Lives," by Noel Coward and directed by Pappas.

After a tempestuous marriage, Amanda and Elyot got divorced. Just a few years later, however, each goes to the altar again - Amanda with Victor, and Elyot with Sibyl. Honeymooning at the same seaside hotel, the newlyweds discover they have rooms next to each other.

Subscriptions are available at or by calling the box office at (412) 316-1600. Single tickets go on sale in September. The Public's home is the O'Reilly Theater at 621 Penn Ave.

Raccoon Creek State Park public programs for August

HOOKSTOWN - Upcoming activities at Raccoon Creek State Park in August include:

Saturday -Poisonous Plants to Dogs, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at parking lot adjacent to F-loop restroom in campground.

For those who have dogs it's known that chocolate, raisins and onions can be dangerous to dogs. However, there are some plants, inside and outside, that are just as dangerous. During this program visitors can learn about some of the plants best avoided to keep dogs safe and healthy. Each dog attending the free program will get a dog biscuit.

Sunday - Wildflower Walk, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Visitors can take a stroll around the Wildflower Reserve and discover spectacular summer wildflowers. The walk will cover identification, medicinal/edible uses and folklore associated with various flowers. Those interested should meet at the Wildflower Reserve Interpretive Center on state Route 30. The program is free.

Saturday and Sunday - Edible Wild Plants Workshop

Visitors can learn to properly identify summer edible plants, trees and poisonous plants. Participants will forage and prepare meals, discuss nutritional values of wild plants, plant history and past usages as edibles. Registration is required by Friday at (under park events); visiting and selecting Raccoon Creek State Park; or calling (724) 899-3611. Details will be e-mailed prior to workshop. The cost is $45.

Aug. 20 - Beginning Archery for Youth, 10 a.m. to noon

Children ages 9-15 can learn how to correctly and safely shoot bows and arrows. A certified instructor will teach the basic skills and proper shooting techniques needed to safely enjoy the sport of archery. Registration is required by Aug. 17. To register, visit under park events; visit and select Raccoon Creek State Park; or call (724) 899-3611. The cost is $5.

Aug. 21 - Conservation Day at Wildflower Reserve sponsored by AmeriCorps, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers can help restore native wildflowers at the Wildflower Reserve of Raccoon Creek State Park by battling invasive plants. Those attending should bring gloves and sunscreen. Tools such as loppers, hand saws and pruners are welcome but not required. Cold drinks will be available to participants.

Aug. 27 - Native Pollinator Workshop, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

More than 400 species of bees call Pennsylvania home. Visitors can learn how to help the native pollinators at this workshop. Attendees will learn about the importance of pollinators, different kinds of pollinating bees and build a bee condo. Registration is required by Aug. 25. To register, visit under park events; and select Raccoon Creek State Park; or call (724) 899-3611. The cost is $5.

Aug. 28 - Native Plant Gardening, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Visitors can discover the possibilities of using native plants in landscaping. This program will discuss how to grow native plants, proper site selection and the benefits of using native plants.

Following the program at 3:30 p.m. those attending have the option of staying to help park staff and volunteers clean up native plant gardens. As a thank-you to those who help, extra native plants will be given from the garden. Those interested should meet at the Wildflower Reserve Interpretive Center on state Route 30. The program is free

Aug. 28 - Weeding Party Volunteer Event, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Those interested in flowers, gardening, native plants or just wanting to meet some people in the area are invited to keep native plant gardens looking good for visitors, butterflies and hummingbirds. Those attending should bring gloves and appropriate dress. Weeding parties will not be held in the rain. Those interested should meet at the Wildflower Reserve Interpretive Center on state Route 30.

Aug. 29 - Raccoon Lake Evening Nature Paddle, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Visitors can join park naturalists for a guided evening nature paddle exploring the shoreline and wetlands area of Raccoon Lake. Kayaks and canoes can be rented from the Raccoon Creek boat concession at (724) 513-6740. Those attending should meet at the boat launch by the concession at 6:15 p.m. For information, call (724) 899-3611.

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