The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, May. 28, 2020

Sunny days return to NPAC…

The Van Wert Live Box Office is now open at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center! There are safety measures in place that include the recommendation of a face mask, a limit of 10 patrons in the lobby, sanitization of the counter after each patron is served, and marked social distancing space leading up to the Box Office window. 

Is a song still a song without the lyrics? Why yes it is. A song without lyrics is like a black and white film where the listener can create a narrative and add in the color, telling a signature story of the heart. More often, pop-culture has produced songs with lyrics. Of these lyrics through the years, the age-old question applies, does art reflect culture or does culture reflect art? The lyrics we listen to have the power to alter our mood and mindset. Often we choose our music based on how we feel at the time to either align with the present emotion or change it. 
So as we journey onward through Covid and its impact on us personally and the culture, it’s always good to return to music that uplifts and encourages. Times of struggle often are a catalyst for lyrical expressions of hope. George Harrison found just that inspiration in the summer of 1969.

“Here Comes the Sun” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road. It was one of George Harrison’s best-known compilations for the Beatles. Harrison wrote the song in early 1969 at the country house of his friend Eric Clapton, where Harrison had chosen to play truant for the day to avoid attending a meeting at the Beatles’ Apple Corps organisation. The lyrics reflect his relief at the arrival of spring and the temporary respite he was experiencing from the band’s business affairs. As of September 2019, it was the most streamed Beatles song in the United Kingdom, with over 50 million plays.

The Beatles recorded “Here Comes the Sun” at London’s EMI Studios in the summer of 1969. Led by Harrison’s acoustic guitar, the track features Moog synthesizer, which he had introduced to the band’s sound after acquiring an early model of the instrument in California. Reflecting the continued influence of Indian classical music on Harrison’s writing, the composition includes several time signature changes that gives an unpredictable groove to an otherwise easy listening mood-maker.

So what struggle inspired the lyrics of this cultural hit? The early months of 1969 were a difficult period for Harrison: he had quit the Beatles temporarily, he was arrested for marijuana possession, and he had his tonsils removed. He wrote the song at a time when a dark mood surrounded the Beatles. Harrison states in his autobiography, I, Me, Mine:

“Here Comes the Sun” was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: ‘Sign this’ and ‘sign that.’ Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it. So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton’s house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric’s acoustic guitars and wrote “Here Comes the Sun”.

It is special to note that Clapton’s house at the time was Hurtwood Edge, in Ewhurst, Surrey, and he later said the month was possibly April. Data from two meteorological stations in the London area show that April 1969 set a record for sunlight hours for the 1960s. The Greenwich station recorded 189 hours for April, a high that was not beaten until 1984. The Greenwich data also shows that February and March were much colder than the norm for the 1960s, which would account for Harrison’s reference to a “long, cold, lonely winter”. So go ahead, enjoy the lyrics and then Google for the song on youtube (or visit the Niswonger Facebook page where we’ve posted it for you.) Join us in believing that It’s all right.

Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo) 
Here comes the sun, and I say 
It’s all right 

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter 
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here 

Here comes the sun 
Here comes the sun, and I say 
It’s all right 

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces 
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here 

Here comes the sun 
Here comes the sun, and I say 
It’s all right 

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes 

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting 
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear 

Here comes the sun 
Here comes the sun, and I say 
It’s all right

Here comes the sun 
Here comes the sun, and I say 
It’s all right!

The Van Wert Live Box Office is now open at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center! There are safety measures in place that include the recommendation of a face mask, a limit of 10 patrons in the lobby, sanitization of the counter after each patron is served, and marked social distancing space leading up to the Box Office window. 

Safety protocols provide this opportunity to be face to face, so we celebrate. We are wired to socially connect. From the beginning of time, humans have traveled, hunted, and thrived in social groups and for good reason. Humans who were separated from their tribe often suffered severe consequences. Social groups provide us with an important part of our identity, and more than that, they teach us a set of skills that help us to live our lives. Feeling socially connected, especially in these times in which we are living, is more important than ever.

Social connections improve your quality of life. This time of isolation is an indicator of just how much social connections shape our everyday life and well-being. Van Wert Live will soon be reaching out with Volunteer opportunities to join our community of committed friends who build social connections around the arts. Entertainment will return and when it does, our volunteers will be a vital part of making that possible.

Social connections boost your mental health. Friendships offer a number of mental health benefits, such as increased feelings of belonging, purpose, increased levels of happiness, reduced levels of stress, improved self-worth and confidence. Individuals who feel that they lack social support were the most likely to suffer from mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Now is a good time to use the phone to reach out and make sure that your friends know you care. We are doing just that from the Van Wert Live Box Office. We care about the social connections we have made throughout the years and deeply value those relationships.

Social connections help you live longer. There are a number of factors that put people at higher or lower risk for suicide. One of these factors is connectedness, which the Centers for Disease Control defines as “The degree to which a person or group is socially close, interrelated or shares resources with other persons or groups.”

One of the inherent benefits and beauties of the arts is the social connections that are created with the community that forms around performances. This is reflected vividly on a performance night. Sharing the emotions of a performance create connections as does the conversations that play out long after the curtain drops. The Van Wert Live team understands the value of the social connections that the arts play in Van Wert and beyond. 

The opening of the Box Office is a sign of the return of some of the ways that we connect with our family of patrons and for this we celebrate with gratitude. We look forward to being face to face with you soon. For now, we encourage you to check in on your friends and begin making entertaining plans for the future.

POSTED: 04/15/20 at 1:56 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment

VW independent/submitted information

For 64 years, Wassenberg Art Center has hosted the annual June Art Exhibit. Come home to one of the center’s favorite art traditions; The annual June Art Exhibit.

Forms that contain complete rules, a downloadable entry form, and labels can be found on the Wassenberg website at Entries will be accepted Friday, Saturday, Sunday, May 17-19, from 1-5 p.m. Entry is open to all artists 18 and older.

A non-refundable fee of $25 for Wassenberg Art Center members or $30 for non-members entitles artists to submit up to three entries. A total of $1,300 in cash prizes will be awarded. A free, public, opening party will be held from 6-9 p.m. Friday, May 31.

POSTED: 05/15/19 at 10:25 pm. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment

PERRY LUHN/for the Van Wert independent

Perhaps the most famous of the many plays written by the playwright trio of Jones, Hope, and Wooten, is Dixie Swim Club. It has been produced nearly everywhere: A funny, sad, and serious story of women long past their glory years, “Dixie” has come to be the standard by which these writers are measured.

There are quite a few other hilarious shows penned by this trio that are making the rounds of the dinner theatre circuit, giving loads of stage vets lots of opportunities to participate in the laughs. I guess I didn’t realize this, but just last year, I, myself, got to participate, appearing in the romp entitled Christmas Belles. It was a blast.

In fact, every one of the JHW shows I have been able to attend has been a blast, not only for the cast, but for the audience as well. On Wednesday evening at Vantage Career Center in Van Wert, I was able to see Off Stage Productions’ presentation of Farce of Habit. This story, which is a little bit romance, a little bit thriller, and a lot comedy, is next in store for the patrons of the group, which always has ’em laughing right after dinner. The OSP crew always delivers on the laughs, and I was primed to go.

The story revolves around an inn that is run by a couple with their own problems, but who somehow manage to accumulate more woes. But, hey, it wouldn’t be funny if they solved their problems too soon, right? The couple’s son is, God forbid, an actor in community theatre, to the dismay of his wife, who is unaware of his hobby and thinks he is cheating on her.  

The inn owners, Wannelle and Gene Wilburn (Kelly Smith and John Vining), each have their own cross to bear. She can’t give up caffeine and he can’t stop scratching. Everywhere. The two actors are a match for each other in parts which must be over the top. Some of Kelly’s facial expressions are precious and tortuous at the same time. Mr. Vining’s scratching is appropriately annoying. He really wants to fish, not help his wife out with the inn tasks. These two must carry much of the first act and they make it work.

Son, Ty, the theatre nerd, is hilarious, not just because of the incredible costumes he carries off, but because of the deadpan expressions he can manifest when the others are making fun of his attire. A fun role for Jonathan Denny. He did a great job in the five-inch heels. Ty’s wife (or is she?), Jenna, is played with verve by Rachael Dettrow. She is going to make her hubby pay for his “indiscretion” and plays him like a fiddle. She gets her chance to play dress-up as well later on.

In fact, if I had to characterize this script, I would call it a “comedy costume piece”. It seems like everyone gets to try something outrageous on, and director Matthew Krol and his staff have found some pretty outrageous clothes. They were colorful, appropriate, and well-constructed. I was always wondering what kind of crazy thing would appear on stage next. 


POSTED: 10/19/18 at 7:38 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Scott and Nikki Niswonger are presenting Dailey & Vincent at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert on Saturday, October 27, at 7:30 p.m. Get to know these Grand Ole Opry members and five-time Grammy Award winners.

More than 10 years ago, on December 29, 2007, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent had their first paid gig as a duo with a performance at the Grand Ole Opry. The duo became official Opry members last spring, capping a remarkable decade of building an award-winning career that now encompasses an eclectic mix of country, folk, gospel, and bluegrass music, along with television and comedy.

Dailey & Vincent will perform at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio later this month. photo provided

Dailey & Vincent occupy a unique space in popular music by forging a sound that honors their traditional music pedigrees, yet is edgy enough to appeal to more progressive audiences. That evolution has been both organic and a little calculated, borne out of trying to shake up their own routine.

“The first year or so we went out and did pretty much all traditional bluegrass and the second year we thought we had to come up with something different, so we went wireless with the vocal mics so we would walk around and sing,” Dailey told Rolling Stone Country over a plate of beans and cornbread before a Tuesday night performance on the Opry. “We were trying to make it more interesting.

“About two years later we hired a bass singer,” he continues. “When we did that, that got us into doing lots of variety — real gospel to quartet-style singing in both secular and gospel.”

Before they teamed up to become Dailey & Vincent, both men were already seasoned musicians with stellar reputations in the bluegrass and country communities. Dailey had spent nine years performing with legendary bluegrass outfit Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, while Vincent logged 11 years with Ricky Skaggs’ famed band Kentucky Thunder, as well as contributing to albums by Dolly Parton and others.

Vincent first met Dailey in 2001 at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards in Louisville, Kentucky.


POSTED: 10/17/18 at 7:40 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Paul Hoverman, coordinator of performing arts for The Van Wert County Foundation and Chancel Choir director at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, has announced the rehearsal schedule for the Van Wert Area MessiahChorus.

Rehearsals will begin Sunday, November 4, from 3-5 p.m., in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church, 113 W. Central Ave. in Van Wert. All singers are welcome.

Local singers and professional soloists sing “The Hallelujah Chorus” from the last community performance of Handel’s Messiah two years ago. photo provided

The performance will be Sunday, December 9, at 7 p.m. Rehearsals will be each Sunday afternoon from 3-5 p.m. leading up to the performance. The performance is the Christmas (Advent: Part I) portion of Handel’s Messiah,along with a few added selections from other sections of the beloved choral work.

Music books are available if singers do not already own a copy (Schirmer edition). Those participating do not need to be skilled singers, just interested in being part of a well-rehearsed and inspiring chorus. Of course, experienced singers are always welcome.

This biennial performance of Handel’s Messiahis a Van Wert tradition supported by The Van Wert County Foundation, in cooperation with First United Methodist Church. Professional soloists and a chamber orchestra will combine with the volunteer chorus to provide this Christmas tradition for the public to enjoy.

POSTED: 10/17/18 at 7:33 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert Civic Theatre has announced upcoming auditions for the comedy Dashing Through the Snowby the writing team of Jones, Hope, and Wooten. Director Steve Lane will hold auditions on Sunday, October 7, at 2 p.m. and Monday, October 8, at 7 p.m. at the theatre, 118 S. Race St. in Van Wert.

The cast can be as large as 18 or as small as eight, with actors doubling parts. Lane promises this show will be fun to rehearse, fun to watch, and fun to perform.

Dashing Through the Snowtakes place four days before Christmas in the tiny town of Tinsel, Texas, as a colorful parade of guests arrive at the Snowflake Inn to cause holiday comedy. A niece and nephew try to end a 30-year feud; actors from a touring production of A Christmas Carolarrive to fulfill a promise; Mrs. Claus and one of Santa’s elves attempt a lover’s rendezvous: and a family plans a spur-of-the-moment Christmas Eve wedding. Trina, the innkeeper of this inn, has more than she can handle coping with these lodgers.

This show is split into four scenes. Each scene has its own characters and plot arc. Once that scene is over, those characters are gone — with the exception of Trina, the owner of the inn who is in every scene; Mr Boykin, a bed and breakfast reviewer who is heard over the intercom in the first three scenes; and Lou Ida, the surly housekeeper and cook who is heard offstage in the first two scenes.

Show dates are November 29 and 30 and December 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, with 8 p.m. performances, except for Sundays matinees, which are at 2 p.m.

Visit www.vwct.orgfor more information.

POSTED: 10/04/18 at 7:19 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Off Stage Productions is opening reservations starting today to members and this Wednesday, October 3, to the general public for its next dinner theatre show: Farce of Habit, a two-act comical farce written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten.

Performances will again be held at Vantage Career Center, 818 N. Franklin St. in Van Wert. Show dates are October 19-21, and 26-28. Saturday and Sunday performances will be dinner theatre shows. For Saturday performances, doors will open at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7, and the show at 8 that evening. For Sunday matinee performances, doors will open at 12:30 p.m., dinner at 1, and the show at 2 that afternoon. Cost for the dinner and show is $28.

Residents and guests of the “Reel ‘Em Inn” lodge (above) discover there is an axe murderer on the loose. Off Stage photo

Both Friday performances will be “Popcorn Night” performances and will not include dinner, although popcorn will be included with the cost of the show. Water and soft drinks will also be available for purchase. Doors open for Friday performances at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 7:30 each evening. Cost for the “Popcorn Night” performances is $13.

Reservations can be made by members by calling the Off Stage reservation number at 419.605.6708. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. All reservations must be secured by credit card, and any cancellations must be made by the Wednesday prior to show date for a full refund.

Comic fireworks explode in Farce of Habit, an absurdly funny Southern-fried romp that takes us back to the Reel ’Em Inn, the finest little fishing lodge in the Ozarks. The proprietor, D. Gene Wilburn, is looking forward to a peaceful weekend on the lake. But there are only two chances of that happening: slim and none.


POSTED: 10/01/18 at 7:40 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

P.S. LUHN/special to the VW independent

I remember the first time someone told me about a new musical by a guy named Dan Goggin that essentially has Catholic nuns singing and dancing. I had some flip remark like “who wants to watch a bunch of penguins singing and dancing on stage?” After I saw the show, I was singing and dancing a different tune. The show was unique, cutting edge, and extremely entertaining.

This was many years ago, and this “genre” has been so successful that many spinoffs have been penned by this musical wizard, all wonderfully entertaining. I haven’t seen them all, but I know they’re still being done everywhere.

So, when Van Wert Civic Theatre put this one on their schedule, I wasn’t even worried what the story line was. I just knew these “penguins” were going to knock me out. And when I saw the list of actresses directors Amy Boley and Jerry Zimmerman had lined up to populate this cast, I was nearly salivating with anticipation. Many of the crazy characters I’ve seen and acted with are the very best you can find anywhere around. When I wrote my pre-review I ended it with “Can’t wait!”.

I took some friends from the Lima area to see the show. They had not seen many musicals at VWCT and I admit I pumped them up a bit about the kind of talent they would witness in this production. The reality did not disappoint, as my companions were highly impressed and complimented the cast again and again.

The story line of this musical goes like this:  The Convent of the Little Sisters of Hoboken is putting on a benefit to raise funds. Due to a tragic cooking accident, 52 of the sisters were poisoned by some improperly cooked vichyssoise. The sisters buried their dead. All but four, that is, which they have stored in the freezer, until they can raise the funds to properly inter their … sisters.

So the idea is, the convent is staging a “revue” showing off the talents of its residents. Now, I don’t always care for revues, but Goggin, and directors Boley and Zimmerman, never let me believe I was watching a musical revue. Just a bunch of habits having fun.


POSTED: 09/27/18 at 8:17 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

The Van Wert High School Theatre Department has announced its 2018-2019 season.

The fall play will be a production of Little Women, from the classic book by Louisa May Alcott, which will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 16-17, at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.

Rehearsals will begin this month, and students are looking forward to sharing the Alcott story, which continues to capture the hearts of readers.

The book was originally written in 1868 by Alcott, and this play version adapted by Scott Davidson allows the audience to meet the March sisters as they grow up and walk through life’s experiences. Little Women is a heart-warming play. Tickets are $6 and will be available from cast and crew members, the NPAC Box Office, and at the door. Little Women is produced with special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service Inc. of Englewood, Colorado.

On April 11-13, 2019, the VWHS Theatre Department will present Seussical, the Musical, starting at 7 p.m. on the Niswonger stage.

Auditions will be held in December and students will begin rehearsals in January for this toe-tapping musical based on the stories of Dr. Seuss.

The audience will meet famous Dr. Seuss characters, such as the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, and Cindy Lou Who and visit locations such as the Jungle of Nool and Whoville. Bring the family to watch the musical adventures of characters brought to life by Dr. Seuss in his many books.

Tickets go on sale in early March for a show people won’t want to miss. Reserved and general admission seating will be available.

Seussical the Musical is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also provided by MTI (

VWHS theatre students are looking forward to seeing area residents at the fall and spring productions, as they create, perform, and inspire the Van Wert community through the theatrical arts.

POSTED: 09/20/18 at 7:56 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News

VW independent/submitted information

Paul Hoverman, the only executive director the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio (NPAC) has had in its 12 years of existence, has announced his pending retirement.

Paul Hoverman

Hoverman, who is also coordinator for performing arts for The Van Wert County Foundation — a job the foundation created specifically for him — took over that position in March 2002. He then developed the Fountain Park Summer Music Series, which provides free concerts in the park, the following summer. Hoverman was also responsible for overseeing the growth of the Van Wert County Community Concert Association (now known as the Enrich Community Concert Series at the NPAC), which eventually outgrew its original home at the Marsh Foundation Auditorium.

Hoverman also served on the Legacy Committee to raise funds for building the Niswonger and helped establish the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation Board of Directors in 2005 to oversee operation of the NPAC. He has served as president of the VWAPAF Board since its inception and was also appointed executive director of the Niswonger, which opened in March 2007.

Hoverman said he plans to retire upon the completion of the 2018-19 NPAC season.

“We applaud the achievements of Paul Hoverman,” said Foundation Executive Secretary Seth Baker. “His role has been more than just a career. He has made it his life purpose to recruit and provide quality musical opportunities for the people of Van Wert County and our surrounding region.

“We are grateful for his work and for his tenacity, as he has kept us entertained, educated, and inspired,” Baker added. “We look forward to celebrating his achievements in the months to come.”
Hoverman said he views his retirement from The Van Wert County Foundation and NPAC as “a slowdown”, noting he will continue making music as director of the Chancel Choir at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, will play freelance trumpet, and perform throughout the region as a member of the Lima Symphony Orchestra.

POSTED: 09/07/18 at 7:15 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News