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NASCAR schedule helps keep family bond strong

Regular Times readers know that we often print lists of places that can help people strengthen and sometimes salvage their family relationships.

Our family gets along pretty well, so I haven't needed any of those agencies so far. Even so, a list we printed on Thursday is one that could well head off major discord.

It came out Thursday, just below the big weather map. Thanks to that list, I'll know not to telephone my mother nor my sister after 7 p.m. May 8 or 9, 5:30 p.m. May 23 or 24, 6:30 p.m. July 10 and 11, 12:30 p.m. Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 or any other of about 80 times and dates, lest there be a complete disconnection of affection, so to speak.

The list was the 2009 NASCAR schedule, with times, dates, places and TV channels. My sister and mom are rabid (and I mean rabid) NASCAR fans, and I've learned over the years not to telephone them with important news during those races because they won't hear it anyway.

"Hey, sis, I just won the Florida Lottery; say the word, and I'll cut you in for half," I might say.

"Ohmigosh," she would answer. "Jimmie Johnson just passed Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle is in last place!"

"So I guess that means you're not interested in the $7 million lottery prize?"

"This couldn't have happened if Michael Waltrip hadn't spun out in the eighth lap and Joe Nemechek was in top form," she'd respond.

"Guess I'll just keep the whole thing for myself then," I'd say.

"Still, you never know what Bobby Labonte or Carl Edwards might do," she'd mutter, just before a loud shriek: "Oh, no, Kyle Busch just went into the lead," and I'd know it was time to go so she could throw a pillow at the TV set. She is not a Busch fan.

But who am I to judge those distracted by what's on TV? I'm the same way when it comes to Big Love or Mad Men.

New girl in town

Six months ago, Deborah Louise Ortiz left the New York theatrical production company she co-founded, Dangerous Curves, and moved to New Port Richey to be closer to her son and her mom.

Now she's launching a new venture, the Standing Ovation Dinner Theatre production company, and she plans to do her first show April 10, May 1 and May 3 at Spartan Manor. It's The Godfather's Meshuggener Wedding, a Jewish/Italian Comedy Wedding Extravaganza, an audience interactive comedy.

The show has been performed at the New York Dinner Theater in Manhasset, N.Y., for years, and Ortiz bought the rights to do it at Spartan Manor in New Port Richey and may take it on the road if everything goes well.

The set-up is similar to Nathan and Gina's Wedding, a show that was brought to the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in 1998 and to Spartan Manor before that. It starts out as a (fake) wedding between a New York Italian bride (and her great big loud family) and a New York Jewish groom (and his great big loud family). The wedding is all for laughs, and after the "I do's," the audience becomes part of the show, with the actors staying in character and an increasingly boisterous reception continuing into the night.

Ortiz is recruiting showbiz pals based in Orlando to help her out and holding auditions for several other roles later this month in Holiday. Rehearsals will be somewhere in New Port Richey, and all performers will be paid, though she stresses this isn't an Equity production.

"I'm scared, I'm terrified, but all I can do is to put on a good show," she said.

Ortiz is no theater newcomer. Besides her own production company in New York, she's been in several off-off-Broadway shows, danced with a troupe in New York and was nominated for two Innovative Theatre awards for a show she wrote and performed, Changing Violet.

I think Ms. Ortiz is incredibly brave to launch this new venture at this particular time and in this particular place, especially with a ticket price of $50 (tickets go on sale March 1).

The Nature Coast is blessed with a wide array of entertainment choices, with prices ranging from $2 for a band concert to $46 for an Equity production at a long-established dinner theater.

Still, a show like the Godfather's Meshuggerner Wedding hasn't been done in this area for at least a decade, and when it was presented back then, it always got a packed house.

So, break a leg, Deborah.

NASCAR schedule helps keep family bond strong 02/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 13, 2009 10:42pm]
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