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The Peep Show is better than ever

2 Apr

The Greater Rochester Peep Show returned to the Webster Recreation Center Saturday, live and in-person for the first time in three years, since COVID made them postpone, then ultimately cancel the show in 2020.

And I gotta say, it’s outstanding.

About 120 families, businesses and community agencies created displays for this year’s show, colorful and creative dioramas depicting everything from sports events and TV shows to schoolrooms and Broadway plays. I especially liked the ones which were made almost entirely of Peeps, like Marge Simpson pictured here.

In addition to the displays, there’s a children’s room, plenty of snacks for purchase, raffles and vendors, all spread through five rooms at the Rec Center. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets to be used to vote for your favorite displays. All proceeds benefit the Webster Community Chest.

When I was there Saturday afternoon, I was surprised by how many people were there admiring the displays. It seems like everyone’s excited to get back out and do things like this again, and jumped at the chance to bring the family out for some free entertainment.

I’ve posted a slideshow here of many of the displays, but there are SO MANY MORE you’re going to want to see, and there’s still plenty of time. The Peep Show continues Sunday April 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Webster Recreation Center on Chiyoda Drive (just off of Phillips). There’s plenty of free parking.

And, I’m told that Coldstone Creamery is going to be there Sunday to hand out FREE ice cream!

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

A beeswax sunflowers update!

1 Apr

Just a quick post today to update you all on Amy Stringer’s efforts to raise money for Ukraine by creating and selling hand-made beeswax ornament at her Village of Webster shop, The North Bee.

Sunflowers, or sunyashniki, are the national flower of Ukraine. Amy has created three different designs, each being sold for $10 apiece. Funds raised will be donated to ROC Maidan, who will distribute them to where they’re needed to help refugees and soldiers and offer humanitarian aid.

A second local TV news station has taken notice of Amy’s efforts. WROC-TV Channel 8 stopped by the shop yesterday morning and posted this story later in the day.

Amy originally scheduled the sale to just run through March, but the community has been so supportive (she’s already raised $3,000), she’s decided to continue it. Beginning today, a portion of the proceeds from each ornament sold will be donated to ROC Maidan.

Click here to read the original blog I wrote about Amy’s incredible gift to Ukraine, and to see how Spectrum News covered the story.

The North Bee is located at 27 North Ave. in the Village of Webster.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

No getting “tired” of this seasonal display

31 Mar

What do you do with a bunch of old tires that you don’t want to throw away? Paint ’em green and stack ’em up outside your business as a holiday tire tree!

That’s what Kevin Finn has done outside Finn’s Automotive on East Main St. I first noticed the “tree” back in December when it was decorated like a Christmas tree. In February, it was plastered with hearts for Valentine’s Day. In March it sported a St. Patrick’s Day theme.

Then just yesterday, just in time for Easter, the tire tree has sprouted bunny ears.

Next time you’re in the village, make sure to check out Finn’s whimsical tire tree; it’s sure to make you smile. (I can’t wait to see what Kevin has in store for later this spring and summer.)

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Local recording studio helps people with special needs find their voices

28 Mar

Tucked in the basement of an unassuming Webster village home, there’s a recording studio. It’s a very professional operation which features two studio booths, a recording room, podcasting space and a classroom.

At-home recording studios are not that unusual. But this particular one has found a way to stand out from the crowd. Cassano Studio, owned and operated by Chad Cassano, specializes in teaching voice and acting workshops to an under-served population: children and adults with disabilities.

It’s a calling, Chad readily admits, that he never actually went looking for. Instead, it kind of found him.

Chad Cassano has been interested in acting from a young age. He performed with the Webster Theater Guild in middle school, and continued working on his craft through high school and college. After graduation, life led him in a different directions for a while, including getting married and having five children.

Several years ago, though, he found his way back to acting, and also started to learn about the very different skills and techniques involved in voice acting. Then, one day out of the blue, he got a phone call from some friends who hired him to teach an acting class.

After completing that class, Cassano’s friends suggested he put an ad in KidsOutandAbout.com. He did, and a mother reached out. Her son has autism, and she was looking for an acting studio that would work with children with disabilities. So far, every other one she’d contacted had turned her down.

“She was desperate,” Cassano remembered.

I was honest with her. I’m not a speech pathologist, I’m not a Hollywood actor. I’m just somebody who can maybe teach him a few techniques that I learned and maybe some concepts.

That’s exactly what happened. It was magic. Because of his autism, and because of his interest in this kind of thing, it just stuck. He was speaking better, his intonations were better, his inflection, his volume control. He was able to do things he’d never done before with his voice. And that started the whole thing.

From that single student about five years ago, Cassano’s client list now numbers 80. They range from 9 to 45 years old, and 95% of them present some kind of special need, including autism, Down syndrome and brain injury. He teaches them in small groups, individually and even remotely, conducting online classes with students as far away as New York City.

A typical class begins with vocal warm-ups, where Cassano leads his students through a variety of vocal slides, tongue twisters (“I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen”) and “shout phrases,” especially emphasizing inflection and diction.

After warmups, each student gets a turn in the studio, where they record songs (guided by a karaoke-like teleprompter), dramatic readings or multiple-actor scripts. Each exercise, from the warmups through recording, is carefully adapted to the student’s ability level and objectives.

“Some kids just want to have an activity where they can express themselves, singing or yelling,” Cassano said. “Others have specific goals in voice or acting.” Those goals can be as diverse — or focused — as the population he works with.

That was especially the case with 13-year old Lorenzo, who had selective mutism. “He has autism,” Cassano remembered. Wouldn’t say a word. He would write everything down, just the same as he would do with his parents and his clinicians.” 

The goal? Just get Lorenzo to talk.

Cassano started with a rapid-fire, verbal/nonverbal word-for-word exchange with him. It took weeks, but finally he got Lorenzo to whisper the word “cat.” Eventually, he got Lorenzo to increase his volume to the point where he was fully speaking.

Cassano said, “That was the moment where I was like, ‘I don’t know what this is for, but clearly it has a purpose.'”

That calling to work with the special needs population had found him.

“I was not looking for working with kids with disabilities,” Cassano said. “I would have, but I just didn’t think about it. I was just going to teach acting classes, but once I found out that this had a therapeutic side to it, that this was helping kids be more confident and able to speak better than they’d ever spoken,” he knew he’d found his niche.

Cassano Studio became an acting workshop which concentrates on the voice for all people with all abilities.

“What I’m hoping will happen for each of my students is that they’ll find success in any of their acting endeavors, gain more confidence, and ultimately happiness in the way they communicate. … I realize not everybody is going to find a career in acting,  but whatever they decide to do, I hope their voice brings them joy.”

To learn more about Cassano Studio, check out the website here, or email ChadCassano@gmail.com.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Webster community mailbag

26 Mar

I anticipate writing longer blogs about a few of these events in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here’s a tease so you can get them on your calendars.

One of our town’s most creative and fun FREE family events — the Great Rochester Peep Show — returns Saturday and Sunday April 2 and 3 to the Webster Recreation Center on Chiyoda Drive (off of Phillips).

This fun, completely free, family-friendly event features at least four entire rooms filled with incredibly creative sculptures, dioramas, and various other works of art, all created with marshmallow Peeps candies. In addition to the displays, several entertainers and community groups will be performing.

Hours are 10 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, 10 to 4 on Sunday.


Community Arts Day returns the following weekend after a two-year COVID-induced hiatus.

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Webster Schroeder High School, 875 Ridge Rd. This very family-friendly festival showcases Webster CSD students’ creative talents and involves the entire community in a day to celebrate the arts.

Dozens of activities are planned throughout the day, including art displays, carnival games, sweet treats sale, plant sale, crafts, community group exhibits and more. Musical groups and demonstrators (dancers, gymnastics, etc.) perform free all day, and you can even grab lunch and snacks.

This is one of my favorite events of the whole year.


Webster’s next American Red Cross blood drive is coming up in just a few weeks. Here are the details:

Tuesday April 5, St. Martin’s Lutheran Church (813 Bay Rd.), 1 to 6 p.m. (Click here to make an appointment)
Wednesday April 6, American Legion (8181 Ridge Rd.), noon to 5 p.m. (Click here for an appointment)

Anyone who donates at one of these drives will receive an exclusive Red Cross t-shirt, while supplies last.

The need right now is critical, so please consider donating!


The Webster Public Library, is hosting a meet-and-greet with new library director Adam Traub on Wednesday April 27 from 3 to 5 p.m. Snacks will be served!


And since we’re talking about the library, next time you’re there, make sure to check out the Webster Museum’s current display. It features square-dancing fashions provided by the Copy Cats Western Square Dance Club, currently celebrating their 50th anniversary. The group was started by Xerox employees.

At the museum itself, at 18 Lapham Park in the village, a new exhibit looks at women’s nineteenth century garments, occupations, voting and working rights efforts, and the story of the “Great Women’s Uprising” of 1910. 

The museum is open 2:30 to 4:30 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.


This is exciting news.

The Webster Business Improvement District (BID) is sponsoring a FREE Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday April 16 at the Webster Firemen’s Field on West Main St.

Our local merchants will be providing the eggs, filled with prizes and surprises. Children will be divided into three different age groupings for the hunt, and there will be an extra prize basket for the child in each group who finds the golden egg.

The hunt will begin at 10 a.m. More details to come!

This great event is just the first in a long line of special events the Webster BID is working on for this spring and summer, which include a Beer Walk, Bourbon Bash, Family Games Nights, the Trick or Treat Trail, Jazz Fest, Wine Walks and more. Watch for more details about these in an upcoming blog.


The Webster Quilt Guild has an upcoming show.

“Envision the Possibilities” will showcase approximately 250 quilts, plus special displays of quilts created for Breast Cancer Coalition, Quilts of Valor, Bivona Child Advocacy Center, Asbury Storehouse, and Meals on Wheels. Other activities include vendors, boutique table, and book and pattern sale.  The guild will also be collecting non-perishable food items in support of the Webster Backpack Food program. 

The show will be held April 23 and 24 at Holy Trinity Church, 146 Ridge Road. Tickets will be $5, available at the door.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

North Bee’s efforts to support Ukraine got some notice

24 Mar

Amy Stringer, owner of The North Bee gift shop in the Village of Webster, has found a very creative way to support the people of Ukraine: through the end of the month, she’s making and selling beeswax sunflower ornaments, with 100% of the proceeds going to support ROC Maidan, the charitable arm of the Ukrainian Cultural Center of Rochester.

Sunflowers, or sunyashniki, are the national flower of Ukraine. Amy has created three different designs, each being sold for $10 apiece. Funds raised will be donated to ROC Maidan, who will distribute them to where they’re needed to help refugees and soldiers and offer humanitarian aid.

Her efforts have been very well received so far, and recently got some notice one of our local television stations. Last week, Spectrum News posted a story about the sunflowers, which you can see here.

Amy is calling her three designs the Full Sunflower, Monet Sunflowers, and the Dinner Plate Sunflower. She was thrilled to report that she’s already sold almost 250 of the sunflowers, and the event isn’t over yet.

Click here for more information about this special event and ROC Maidan. The North Bee is located at 27 North Ave. in the Village of Webster.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Fall in Love With Webster was a big success

23 Mar

On Tuesday morning, I attended the monthly meeting of the Webster Business Improvement District (BID). My primary reason for attending these meetings is to keep on top of all of the great events the BID hosts every spring and summer, so I can let you all know about them with plenty of advance notice.

The meeting did not disappoint. I left with a whole list of events — old and new — which are on the calendar for this year. I’ll tell you all about them in a future blog. Today, I’d like to focus on an event that has already happened.

I’m talking about Fall in Love With Webster, the month-long community celebration held in February in which residents and visitors enjoyed daily discounts and special events at dozens of our local small businesses. Even if you didn’t take advantage of any of those, if you were in the village anytime during the month, you probably noticed the heart-emblazoned flags on the lightposts, the trivia questions posted in the merchant windows, the banner at the cobblestone gazebo on North Ave., and special heart-themed decorations all over the village.

Fall in Love With Webster was an incredibly successful event, due in large part to the efforts of Lisa Schlonski, owner of Lala Gift Shop on Main Street, and her able assistant Jody Laurer. Lisa and Jody spent countless hours helping organize events, managing the Fall in Love With Webster Facebook Page, and hosting some memorable events of their own. (Remember Betty White Night?)

The purpose of the event was two-fold: to highlight all of the great businesses in Webster, and bring people into the village to enjoy everything we have to offer — basically, helping people fall in love with Webster.

By all accounts, both goals were achieved big time. Here are some of the highlights from the month-long event:

  • More than 30 businesses participated
  • More than 50 calendar events were organized and publicized
  • The Webster Volunteer Fire Department Boot Drive donated much-appreciated funds to Webster Comfort Care
  • 33 merchants took part in Random Acts of Kindness Day, including Kittelberger Florist, which donated more than 300 bouquets for merchants to hand out
  • Valentine’s-themed crafts created by the residents of The Maplewood were sold at Lala and the proceeds used to purchase more craft project materials for the residents
  • Spectrum News took notice and broadcast a story
  • Businesses collaborated on events, like “Betty White Night” when Lala offered snacks and discounts, Jojo Bistro created Betty White-inspired cocktails, and Webster Hots created two meal combos
  • Several merchants noted increased sales and foot traffic during the month

Grown from a simple idea that Jody’s daughter brought home from a small town in Connecticut, Fall in Love With Webster was an amazing success. Thank you to all of the community members who participated, and especially all of the businesses who so enthusiastically joined the effort. I hope this first big collaborative event will be followed by many more.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Thank you, Colin Minster

19 Mar

I read some sad news in the Webster Herald the other day. In a short letter on the opinion page, Colin Minster announced that after next week’s edition, he would be resigning his position as editor.

Colin has only been in the role since last summer, when he took over from Anna Hubbel, and I think he was doing quite well in what was a very difficult position. I say it’s difficult, because with a small, hyper-local, weekly publication like the Herald, the editor has to be a Jack-of-all-trades, not only managing the layout and editing, but actively searching out and writing stories of local interest. It’s a 24/7 position from which you can never take a vacation.

He hasn’t been perfect, but despite the challenges, Colin did his best to fill the Herald’s pages with both hard news and interesting features, and established some great community connections with contributing writers (including my bi-weekly blog).

He mentioned those connections in the announcement he printed last week, in which he wrote,

I’d like to thank those in the community who have helped me and given me great stories. Furthermore, during my time as editor, I have trried to get members of the Webster community to contribute with their own columns or “corners” and credit them as guest contributors. I am happy for the participation I’ve seen from community members who are willing to share their expertise with their fellow neighbors and I hope this will continue after my departure and the newspaper can be a place for the community to come together and where one can stay informed.

In a follow-up email, Colin added, “What I will miss most about the Webster community are the many events they put on where business owners and various volunteers work together to help their community enjoy a night in their village.”

Empire State Weeklies, which owns the Webster Herald, hasn’t yet found a replacement, but Colin says they’ve been looking. He plans to provide the new editor a list of ongoing projects to make the transition as seamless as possible.

When the new editor is named, I hope everyone will welcome him or her with characteristic Webster warmth. Because, if you haven’t noticed, local news is a dying breed. Ever since the Webster Post ceased publication in October, the Herald has been one of the few places to find news about our community. Lord knows the Democrat and Chronicle doesn’t pay us any attention unless something bad happens.

Think about it. Aside from the Suburban News on the west side, there is no other weekly local newspaper in Monroe County. We’re pretty fortunate to have the Webster Herald. We need to remember that and remember how difficult the job of editor is.

Thank you, Colin, and best of luck in your future endeavors.I’ve enjoyed working with you.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Come on in, Webster, the music’s fine!

10 Mar

Despite being such a small town, the Village of Webster has an amazing amount of great music.

Every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, plus the occasional Wednesday, you can find live music SOMEWHERE in the village, performed by a variety of local and regional bands, playing folk, Irish, country, oldies, rock & roll and more.

Pub 235, at 235 North Ave., starts off every musical week on Tuesdays with Eggman’s Traveling Carnival, which plays from 7 to 9 p.m. Once a month or so, Nate Michaels also takes the stage.

Jojo Bistro & Wine Bar at 42 E. Main St has live music every Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m. Among the regulars performing there are Thurlow, Amanda Ashley and Sean Rosenberry.

The music at Barry’s Old School Irish, 2 West Main St., starts Friday night, and it’s usually Irish. Saturday, a folk music jam session meets in the bakery side of the pub from noon to 2 p.m., followed by a traditional Irish music session from 2 to 5. Then, after THAT, another (usually non-Irish) band provides entertainment. Barry’s often brings in bands from Buffalo in addition to featuring local talent.

The Coach Sports Bar, 19 West Main, also usually has music on Saturday nights from 9 to 1 p.m.

Even the village’s newest restaurant, Cobblestone on Main, at 109 West Main, has dipped its toes into the local music scene. Cobblestone has already hosted Claudia Hoyser three times, and will be welcoming Amy Montrois later this month and in May.

Owner Dan Bresnahan has chosen to schedule his live music dates on Wednesdays, so he doesn’t step on any other venue’s toes. At least for now, however, he doesn’t expect to host entertainers every week, but rather have them in for special events. But, he adds, “We want to help support local music. They suffered as much as anybody during COVID.”

This weekend in particular is a big one for local music, thanks in large part to Saturday being “Parade Day.” For some bars and restaurants, Rochester’s St. Patrick’s Day parade marks the beginning of the St. Patrick’s Day season. So in addition to the regular music dates mentioned above, several venues have added even more bands to their schedules.

Barry’s Old School Irish’s Saturday music schedule, for example, begins with a traditional Irish session at 10 a.m. and continues all day and evening with three more bands. (Click here to see the whole schedule). Cobblestone is featuring two bands, Sean Rosenberry from 2 to 5 p.m., followed by Leecy & Greg from 6 to 9 p.m.

On St. Patrick’s Day itself next Thursday, look for even more music at Barry’s Old School Irish.

As the pandemic continues to wane and we all feel more and more like going out in the evenings and getting back to normal, it’s great to know there are so many opportunities so close by to enjoy exceptional live music. And it’ll only get better as the weather gets warmer and the music gets piped onto the patios. (Or sometimes the musicians themselves set up outside.)

Thank you to the pub and restaurant owners who understand how important music is in our lives, and for supporting our local musicians.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Webster community mailbag

5 Mar

This is a rather botanical-themed mailbag today, featuring sunflowers, trees and a carnivorous plant that wants to take over the world.

First, something bright and happy. The North Bee wants to flood the community with sunflowers, or sunyashniki, the national flower of Ukraine.

Amy Stringer from The North Bee writes,

For the month of March, 100% of proceeds from the sale of a Beeswax Sunflower Ornament will be donated to ROC Maidan so they can get the funds appropriated to where they are needed to help refugees and soldiers, offer humanitarian aid and help rebuild and recover from this devastation unfolding before our eyes (in Ukraine).

Amy is offering three different designs, the Full Sunflower, Monet Sunflowers, or the Dinner Plate Sunflower. “Whichever you choose,” she added, “I cannot wait to see them displayed everywhere! Come on friends, I’m ready to pour sunflowers all day!”

Click here for more information about this special event and ROC Maidan. The North Bee is located at 27 North Ave. in the Village of Webster.


Here’s a quick look at some of the fun the Webster Public Library has in store this month:

  • Bad Art Night, Friday March 25 from 6 to 7 p.m., for tweens and teens grades 4-12. The library will provide the supplies, you bring the creativity to make some crazy art. Click here to register.
  • Space, eclipses and all things in the sky, Tuesday March 29, 7 to 8 p.m. for all ages. Local space enthusiast Gaylon Arnold will talk about upcoming eclipses that will be viewable in our area, and other space events that might interest you during 2022 and beyond. Click here to register.
  • Family Friday Movie Night, April 1 at 6 p.m. Enjoy some snacks and get comfortable at the library while watching the movie Encanto! Bring pillows and blankets from home so you can get cozy to watch on our big projector screen. Click here to register.

This month’s make-and-take crafts are a leprechaun trap for the wee ones, origami star garland for teens and a decorated plant stake for adults. All crafts are available on a first-come-first-served basis while supplies last.

The Webster Public Library is located at 980 Ridge Rd., at the back of Webster Plaza.


Your next two Webster-based opportunities to donate blood and help save lives happen in just a few weeks.

There are all sorts of incentives this month to get you to make a donation.

Donate at any blood drive in Webster this March for a chance to win a $50 Wegmans gift card. PLUS, give blood or platelets in March and get a $10 e-gift card from Fanatics! PLUS, get a chance to score a trip to the 2022 MLB All-Star Game in Los Angeles.


This notice from the folks at the Friends of Webster Trails, who have embarked on a program to save the trees of Webster.

The forests of Webster are under attack. Insects and disease are going after the ash, hemlock, oak, and beech. As they die, they will be replaced by invasive and most times non-native trees unless we do something.  

The Friends of Webster Trails has established a group to come up a plan and set it in motion.  ReTree – Replanting Our Native Forest aims to do just that. Tree surveys have been completed of many of our trail areas telling us what trees are present and their number.  You may have already noticed efforts to clear invasive plants along the Blue Trail in the Whiting Road Nature Preserve. In fall, potted trees of appropriate species will be purchased and planted in this area.  In spring, we will be building a tree nursery to grow native trees from seeds for future planting.  

Stay tuned for more information about this initiative.


Tickets are on sale now for Webster Thomas High School’s spring musical, Little Shop of Horrors.

Little Shop of Horrors is a sci-fi horror musical with a 1960s pop/rock score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. It tells the story of meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn, who stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II.” The egotistical, sweet talking R&B-singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down-and-out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it, BLOOD. Over time, though, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s out of this world origins and intent towards global domination.

Shows will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday April 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. Reserve tickets are $12, or $10 for groups of ten or more. Click here to get yours.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyblog)

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.