“A Christmas Carol”

Fox 10 weatherman McCloskey brings Scrooge to life

Published in SanTan Sun News Dec. 6, 2014 issue

For years, Cory McCloskey dreamt of playing Ebenezer Scrooge, but he never believed he looked old enough to pull it off.

Despite that, the popular Fox 10 Arizona Morning weatherman decided to audition for the role in “A Christmas Carol” at the Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert. He figured he would try out and leave the rest up to theater staff. Apparently, they believed in him. He serves in the role in the “red” cast, while the “green” group features Mark Kleinman as Scrooge.

A Christmas Carol“I think people who know me from television will be shocked at how disgusting I look in this role,” McCloskey says.

“A Christmas Carol” runs Monday through Saturday until Wednesday, Dec. 24, at the Hale Centre Theatre, 50 W. Page Ave., Gilbert. There are 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances, as well as matinees at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Tickets range from $20 to $36 and can be purchased by visiting www. HaleTheatreArizona.com.

“This has been a thrill and a half for me because I really haven’t thrown myself into a complete role in a show in 25 years,” McCloskey says. “I’m enjoying this so much.”

The role of Scrooge is nonstop. He has to have the “pedal to the floor from scene one to the curtain because Scrooge is on the stage every scene whether he is speaking or not,” McCloskey explains.

He enjoys playing the character because Scrooge evolves from being unpleasant to generous.

“The journey is rather grinding for him and for an actor, too,” McCloskey says.

His favorite moment in the play is when Scrooge sees himself as a young man in love. McCloskey describes the scene as heart-wrenching and powerful.

“I love doing it,” he says of the scene. “It still hits me very hard every time.”

McCloskey explains “A Christmas Carol” is a special production because of the many magical moments.

The musical version of Dickens’ classic is full of special effects, stunning costumes, talented singers, dancers and actors.

“It is going to be an exciting show to see,” he says.

McCloskey recounts his journey of acting as that of a typical high school kid growing up in a small Pennsylvania town. After discovering he enjoyed musicals, he performed in his first community theater production of “Camelot” in his 20s.

“I was spotted there by a director of another theater, a dinner theater,” he explains. “She approached me and told me they needed a young man of my type for a few shows for their upcoming season. (She asked) would I be interested in coming on board and she said we would pay.”

That was a selling point for McCloskey. When he moved to Philadelphia, he was referred to a modeling agency, which led to an eight-year career.

“It was a city in the 1980s that had a few large, family-owned department stores that had enough work to keep a few men pretty busy,” he explains.

During that time, he traveled to New York  to audition for commercials and films.

“I had some moderate success,” McCloskey says. “I had a small role on a soap opera ‘Another World’ and sang some jingles.”

He also toured with a company that did children’s productions, all the while earning his Actors Equity Association card. Soon, his inspiration changed.

“We were sitting in the living room one night watching the evening news in Philadelphia and the weatherman came on,” he says. “I remember saying, ‘You know honey, I think I can do that job.’ The way (wife) Mary Jane is, she said, ‘Well call him up and see how he got his job.’”

The initial conversation with Philadelphia WPVI Channel 6 weatherman Dave Roberts turned into career move.

The couple moved to Illinois where McCloskey landed a part-time job, for which he learned how to work the camera. He then moved on to weatherman. He relocated to Arizona and has been a popular weatherman at Fox 10 Arizona for 13 years.

“The acting was just the best preparation, at least for me, for that job,” he says.

“We gave them a lot of attention”

Chandler mom returns from volunteer opportunity in Peru

Published Nov. 1, 2014 in SanTan Sun News

Photographer Rachel Tabron traveled abroad for the first time to Peru, where she spent time volunteering at an orphanage.

She witnessed extreme poverty and poor living conditions, but the Chandler resident would go back in a heartbeat.

“Overall the experience was very positive,” Tabron says. “Easy travels for the most part, met a lot of nice locals and learned a lot. (It was) very different economically wise of course, but still many beautiful areas and things to see.”

Tabron lent a hand to El Arca Orphanage, outside of Cusco, where she stayed with a host family. The two-week visit was set up through International Volunteer HQ.

“Each day they would tell us about the area and cook us Peruvian food,” she explains about the three meals a day. “I think being around them we got to see more than the average tourist.”

The orphanage housed 45 children that ranged from 2 to 17 years old. She spent her time serving lunch to the kids, hanging laundry that was handwashed in buckets and helping with homework.

photograph taken and provided by Rachel Tabron

photograph taken and provided by Rachel Tabron

“We gave them a lot of attention,” Tabron explains.

She says they spent about five hours a day at the orphanage. Although there was a language barrier, her friend Viviane Gomes de Souza spoke Spanish and helped translate.

Besides helping with everyday activities, Tabron shot photos for the orphanage’s website, http://www.elarcafam. org, which is used to attract sponsors. She says the kids “had a blast” posing for photos.

Tabron took headshots of all the children, as well as action shots of them playing, and detailed photographs of the orphanage, the building, cooks prepping food and the clothes being washed.

“I documented it pretty well,” she says.

The orphanage was basic with a few rooms for the kids, she explains.

“They had triple bunk beds and divided the rooms up for boys and girls and one little kitchen area and basically a little shack with a shower in it,” she says. “For the most part it was so organized and the kids were well taken care of.”

Tabron says it felt like one big family at the orphanage, founded by Americans Alan and Laura Lenz. Tabron says she and her group raised $2,500 for shopping money for the orphanage.

“We were able to get them a lot of groceries, supplies for the orphanage and a large stove,” she says, which was all on their shopping wish list.

Only one burner on the previous stove worked.

While Tabron was in Peru, she had the opportunity to Skype with her three small children.

“They learned a lot from it and why I went,” she says.

Tabron also spent time showing the Peruvian orphans photos of her children.

She says it was also apparent how lucky she is as an American. Peru’s pollution, noise and economic standing stuck out during her time in the country.

“They were really poor down there,” she says.

For those interested in seeing more photographs, visit Tabron’s website at http://www.arayaphotography.com/peru.

 

Halloween Spooktacular returns for 33rd year

Halloween Spooktacular returns for 33rd year

Published Oct. 18, 2014 in SanTan Sun News

The City of Chandler is offering a safe alternative to trick-or-treating with the 33rd annual Halloween Spooktacular from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, at the Downtown Library Plaza, 125 E. Commonwealth Ave.

More than 1,200 are expected to converge on the plaza, which will also host a costume contest, according to City of Chandler Recreation Coordinator for Special Events Stephanie Feldaverd.

The contest will be split into different age categories—0 to 4-years-old, 5 to 7 years old, 8 to 10 years old and 11 and older. There is also a category for the best overall family costumes.

“Last year we had a group come out as ‘Hook,’” she says of the different characters from the movie “Hook.”

A first- and second-place prize will be given to the best boy and girl costumes for 0 to 4 years old; best superhero, cartoon character, best princess and scariest costumes in age groups 5 to 7 and 8 to 10. The best overall costume will be given for participants 11 years old and older.

The evening will be filled with different events, which are free or available for a nominal charge. For haunted house fans, there will be an attraction organized and designed by Teens Actively Serving Chandler.

Five City departments will provide trunk-or-treat for the youngsters. A souvenir photo opportunity and frame to capture this year’s memories will be offered for $3. Face painting will be $1. Feldaverd says the money raised will go to the Mayor’s Youth Commission.

A pumpkin patch with 250 pumpkins will be part of this year’s Halloween Spooktacular, with families allowed one pumpkin. Kids will have the opportunity to paint their pumpkins and leave them to dry before heading home.

An array of eight carnival games will fill the plaza, as well as an assortment of other interactive games and arts and crafts.

A new game offered this year is the Witch’s Broom Race. Feldaverd says participants will use a broom to push a pumpkin down a designated path around a witch’s broom and back to the starting line. She says only five participants will compete at one time in different age groups.

“The winner will receive candy,” she says.

A cupcake walk and pumpkin bowling are other games the youngsters can participate in this year. Participants will receive a Halloween cupcake when they end up on a certain number when the music stops.

The Chandler Lions Club will have refreshments, drinks and snacks for sale at the event.

For more information, call the Chandler Special Events Hotline at (480) 782-2735 or visit http://www.chandleraz.gov/default.aspx?pageid=605.

 

‘Developed incredibly as a player’

Teen travels to Boston to hone clarinet skills

Published in SanTan Sun News July 19, 2014

A 16-year-old Chandler student is calling Boston University his summer home as he perfects his clarinet performance at a workshop for teens.

“I have certainly developed incredibly as a player,” says Thomas Desrosiers, who attends Corona de Sol High School.

Desrosiers is participating in Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute Clarinet Workshop and Young Artists Wind Ensemble through Monday, July 28. He was accepted into the program after providing an audition videotape of him playing a few clarinet excerpts and two contrasting solo pieces.

“In March, BUTI offered him a spot and a scholarship. A week later, CWU (Central Washington University) offered him a spot and a scholarship,” his parents, Julieta and Bob Desrosiers, explain in a joint emailed statement. “It was a difficult decision, but we opted to focus solely on BUTI’s two-week clarinet workshop. We thought that was the end of it, but later received another invitation to participate in BUTI-Young Artists Wind Ensemble, a four-week program right after the clarinet workshop.”

The scholarship was a very nice offer, but we still could not afford the second program. After a few calls back and forth, Thomas received a hefty scholarship to attend the Young Artist Wind Ensemble for almost free of charge.”

Since arriving at the camp, Thomas has participated in ensemble rehearsals, individual practices and attended afternoon concerts. He says he has learned a lot of new ideas, techniques and materials.

“It is really incredible because it is such a high level of playing and high level of maturity,” Thomas says. “Back at home, there would be only a few kids practicing 10 hours in a day. Here it is everyone. You get to be with your own kind in a way because they enjoy the same things you do.”

The camp, Thomas says, develops individuals into players, not only during the weeks they are enrolled, but when they return home. He says the Boston University camp provides ample opportunities to make connections with professors and guest artists.

Thomas says he came to the camp hoping it would guide him toward a career path.

“I came to this camp hoping it would be a deciding factor of whether or not I would pursue music in the future or science,” he says. “Even though it has been almost a month of being here, I still have not come to a conclusion.”

Alexander Borodin, an 1800s composer and chemist, is the teen’s inspiration.

“He was not only a great performer, but a noted chemist,” Thomas says. “He found time to do both science and music, which is really what I admire.”

Thomas’ interest in the clarinet began while he was in fifth grade after a musician visited his elementary school and demonstrated various instruments. The sound of the clarinet grabbed his attention, and he has kept it for the past five years because of its versatility.

He says he can play jazz or classical music with the clarinet with a dark tone or bright clear sound.

“It can really do anything depending on the player,” Thomas explains.

He is a member of the Youth Ensemble at Phoenix Youth Symphony. In the fall, he will join the Youth Symphony of Southwest and will continue playing with the Wind Ensemble at Corona del Sol High School and King of Glory Clarinet Choir.

 

‘This drug can and will bring you to your knees’

I interviewed a Scottsdale resident many months ago about his new book release that shares insight about methamphetamine addiction.

‘Paranoia’ Almost Destroys Scottsdale Man

Published in the Ranch Report May 15, 2014 issue

The highly addictive drug methamphetamine brought one Scottsdale resident to his knees after losing everything and everyone in his life. But he found sobriety, and, using a penname, has released a self-help book about his experience.

“Paranoia: A Meth Memoir” is a gritty, tell-all book that exposes the cycle of “Stephen Mucci’s” addiction. It is available in bookstores nationwide and on Amazon.

“The book is very unblinking, a very graphic look at what life becomes like when people get involved in meth,” he said. “If this book makes one person say ‘I will never touch that drug,’ it was totally worth it.”

A Pennsylvania native, Mucci has lived in Scottsdale for the past five years after moving to the valley in 2001. He worked for state government offices for mental health and substance abuse services after earning his masters degree in social work at Florida State University.

After 25 years in the profession, he decided to make a career change and attended culinary school.

Mucci was not exposed to drugs until he attended culinary school, which changed his life forever. At the age of 48 he decided to try methamphetamine, thinking “I would just try it. No big deal.”

“I was Mr. Clean and then I went to culinary school,” he said. “Eighty-five percent of the people I went to culinary school with were alcoholics, addicts and dealers.”

What started off as a weekend binge, turned into an everyday addiction when he decided to do meth one Monday morning instead of going to work. The addiction lasted for three years.

He was able to support his habit through a divorce settlement and his 401K.

“I had at least a quarter of a million dollars and became an addict,” Mucci said. “I doesn’t matter who you are. This drug can and will bring you to your knees.”

The first time he was arrested for possession he went to drug court and was told if he attends treatment and stays clean for a year all charges would be dropped.

“They gave me a nice chance to do the right thing,” Mucci said. “But I didn’t. I went back to the drug and forgot about it. I ignored the court and I got caught again.”

He was given a nine-month sentence in jail and three years of probation. Soon, he was caught with the drug for a third time and sent to prison for three years. After a few days in prison, he decided to do something positive. The result is “Paranoia: A Meth Memoir.”

Mucci said his story is told in three parts – the addictive qualities of meth, how destructive it can be and that the addiction can be beat.

He has been clean for five years.

“I feel wonderful,” he said. “I have never been happier and healthier in my life. I feel like I am doing something good with a good purpose.”

 

 

 

 

“We could have a substantial impact”

When people come together anything is possible. This article shares a glimpse of that.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

On June 12, 2014 I received an incredibly sweet email from Bryan Newman, a gentleman I interviewed for the article:

Thank you so very much for writing a great article of the Risen Savior Spring Food Drive. I don’t know how it could have been better.

You were a joy to work with and I hope we will have the opportunity to do so again. I will be sure to contact you the next time we provide a

noteworthy service within the Chandler community. On behalf of all of us at Risen Savior Church & School, thanks again.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Risen Savior collects, donates 3.6 tons of food

Published in SanTan Sun News June 7, 2014 issue

Risen Savior Lutheran Church and School’s four-week food drive yielded 3.6 tons of food for the Chandler Christian Community Center’s Chandler Food Bank and the congregation is deeming the community outreach program a success.

“Knowing that there are some in the Chandler area that struggle to even put food on the table while our cupboards are full was just unacceptable,” says the Rev. Ron Burcham, Risen Savior Lutheran Church and School senior pastor. “We also knew that as individuals, we could make a difference, but if we pooled our resources and asked for God’s blessing we could have a substantial impact.”

The program began the first week after Easter and concluded Sunday, May 18. In conjunction with the drive, Burcham prepared a four-week sermon series about feeding people in need, whether spiritually or through food assistance.

“It was marvelous,” says food drive cochairman Bryan Newman.

The sermon focused on the Miracle of Five Loaves and Two Fish, with a message that not just one person can feed 5,000 people, but together, as a congregation, a huge difference can be made. To make his point and to encourage the congregation to donate, Burcham displayed the collected food on the altar.

“We had people dropping food by the church every day of the week,” he says. “What a privilege to witness the generosity of God’s people and their desire to make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Six members of the congregation gathered after church the last day of the drive to begin counting what was collected.

“It took the six of us five hours to box and move the food outside of the sanctuary to be picked up from the food bank,” says Newman, who added that the food filled one and a half trucks and a van.

He says they collected 8,241 food items that had an estimated value of more than $16,000. The donations weighed 7,244 pounds, which is equivalent to 3.6 tons of food.

“That is enough to provide about 5,660 meals,” Newman says.

More than $1,000 in donations from the congregation was also collected during that four-week food drive.

Risen Savior Lutheran Church and School plans on continuing its services for the community.

“This is the first move in doing that,” Newman says.

The congregation, located at 23914 S. Alma School Rd., has been generating ideas on how to further help the community, including providing turkeys to the food bank.

“I am extremely proud of our congregation,” Burcham says. “They gave freely and generously from their hearts. As a result, they are a blessing to others and in the end it was a blessing for each member as well.”

For more information about the congregation, call (480) 895-6782 or visit http://www.rslcs.org.

Meant to be

From 1999 to 2009 we went our separate ways, which at one point included a distance that stretched from Australia to Arizona  . . . Relationships with others came to a hault, which brought us both back to Fort Myers.

With only minutes separating us, a lunch finally reunited us. A lunch with my best friend, a man who I missed tremendously, but didn’t know the full extent until I saw his smiling face. His smile filled his truck and years of memories flooded my thoughts.

Sometimes our journeys don’t go as planned. But for me, my journey led me back to the one that has shown me more than I could have ever imagined.

image

Sometimes these thoughts come at the most random moments.

This September we will celebrate five years of sharing our lives. There have been so many wonderful moments created in this time span. Some trying moments, that now looking back have only made us stronger as a couple.

Life has been a beautiful adventure since Jason entered my life again.