REVIEW: Wait Until Dark at All Beaches Experimental Theatre

REVIEW: Wait Until Dark at All Beaches Experimental Theatre

ABET, Wait Until Dark

ABET, All Beaches Experimental Theatre, opened its second production of the season, at his new home 544 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach with the classic thriller, Wait Until Dark. This play by Frederick Knott debuted in 1966 and ran for 373 performances. It had star power with Lee Remick in the lead for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. Warner Bros-Seven Arts made a movie that starred Audrey Hepburn who won an Academy Award for her role.

fri26oct(oct 26)7:30 pmsun11nov(nov 11)9:00 pmWAIT UNTIL DARK(october 26) 7:30 pm – (november 11) 9:00 pm ALL BEACHES EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE

This play is an electrifying thriller about a young lady named Susy who is blind due to an auto accident. While in the hospital she meets and marries a freelance photographer Sam (Kyle Reeves) and they live in a small basement apartment. The time is the 1990s.

This nail-biting drama finds three con men intruding into the blind Suzy’s home while Sam is away on a photo assignment. It seems that when in Canada on assignment, Sam accidently brought home a doll which unknown to him is stuffed with high grade heroin and these three bad boys of society want it so badly they would kill to get it.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

While Susy is out shopping, the trio of crooks meets in her apartment. Here we met the head of this trio is Harry Roat Jr. In some very interesting casting, Roat is played by a woman, Milan Alley who arrives wearing a long shoulder length wig, shorts and rose colored glasses. Ms. Alley is from Tallahassee, Florida and made her local debut as a singer in one of the major roles in Madam Bonaparte at Players by the Sea. She also played by two roles dressed as a male in this play and we leave those for your to discover when you see the show. Alley more than captures the psychopathic energy of the villain Mr. Roat.

One of her or his criminals is Mike Talman played by David Girard who is well known for his many outstanding performances on local stages. Mike agrees to visit Susy and pretend that he is an old army buddy of Sam’s and is just passing through the city. He spends his time looking for the doll while talking it up with Susy.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

Conman # 2 is Juan Ocharan who pretends to be Sergeant Carlino of the local police department investigating a murder of a woman in the neighborhood. He of course is looking everywhere for the doll. Mr. Ocharan is doing his first non singing role; has been a student in the UNF chorale.

Another character is the young neighborhood girl Gloria, who lives upstairs, who is a good friend to Susy. Nine years old Tatum Matthews is an excellent actress and very entertaining and engaging in this key role involved in dealing with these undesirable thugs. This is Tatum’s first non-musical role, and she has sung in several musicals at Alhambra Theatre and Dining. She has been cast in the upcoming production of Elf at the Alhambra.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

Actress Jenna Bourne, in the most demanding role of her acting career, is very convincing as a blind woman. She impressed us with her constant attention to finding her way at home as some who has no sight. Facially she expresses the fear, doubt and desperation that she finds herself in and then expertly turns things around in her favor for a thrilling hold-your-breath finish.

Franklin Ritch makes his directing debut with this show. He has been a performer in 3 musicals on local stages with Into the Woods and Madam Bonaparte at Players by the Sea and Celebration at ABET. Mr. Ritch also designed the set that is outstanding considering the small amount of space he had to work with and the incredible number of items on it.

The title of the show is Wait Until Dark, and to forewarn you. Yes, you sit in the dark in the 2nd act, with parts of the show being done in with the lights out but it lasts a very short time.

Don’t miss this true classic of theatre that will keep you spellbound. Call for reservations 904-249-7177 or visit www.abettheatre.com

PRODUCTION TEAM

Franklin Ritch (Director), Ramona Ramdeen (Stage Manager), Maureen Johnson (Assistant Stage Manager), Laura Young (Properties), Bryan Frank (Light/Sound Design) Hunter Steinke (Backstage Crew)

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/11/06/review-wait-until-dark-at-all-beaches-experimental-theatre/


Ridin’ Out The Storm ‘PONTYPOOL” At PBTS

Looking around the Players by the Sea Studio Theatre ahead of the opening of its new psychological thriller “Pontypool,” the anticipation for what was to come was building. Audiences were warned that there was no intermission and once seated, there was nothing to do but ride out the storm.

fri26oct(oct 26)7:30 pmsat03nov(nov 3)9:00 pmPONTYPOOL7:30 pm – (november 3) 9:00 pm Players by the Sea Theatre

Set in a fictional Florida town of Pontypool, reworked to bring the destination south from Canada to Jacksonville. The script was edited by local playwright extraordinaire Kelby Siddons with permission from author Tony Burgess to change the original snowstorm to hurricane – a force of nature all Floridians can relate to and following the latest rash of terrifying storms, rightfully fear.

The sets an uncanny likeness to any B-grade station with its control booth and flashing “on-air” sign above the sound-proofed door, a cheap desk and office chair and a poster of the kitten dangling perilously from a tree branch, the pad of one paw resting on the second “N” of its ironic directive to “Hang In There.”

Following an introduction by Players’ new executive director Suzanne Hudson Smith, it was difficult to determine when the production was actually underway. A cast member tidying up, the soft chatter of the crowd, nervous throat clearing and a saxophone honking out a choppy rhythm in the background. We all knew something was happening. We just weren’t sure what.

Themes of uncertainty and confusion echoed through the show that clocked in just over an hour. Directed by Stephanie Natale Frus, Pontypool takes audiences on a frenetic journey in real time. As the impending hurricane builds outside the radio station, DJ Grant Mazzy played Terrence Scott is trying to find his footing on a local program dedicated to news, weather, traffic and punctuated by a little light jazz. He shares with listeners an odd encounter with a strange woman on his way to work. As he attempts to decipher the mornings’ happenings, reports begin to trickle in of other bizarre circumstances that quickly escalate into violence and mayhem.

The pacing of the show is such that it doesn’t allow time for one event to sink in before facing another and another. It’s a deliberate plot move that makes audiences feel as overwhelmed as the characters but it never really finds its footing.

There was a few moments of levity in the spaces between violent and unexplained episodes. Bryan Martins shines as man about town reporter Ken Loney, a strange little fellow who the station allows to deliver reports from his “news helicopter” which is actually his car. Martins never actually sets foot on the stage save for a brief appearance from a side door where he delivers a perfect enactment of news coverage during the hurricane. The remainder of his performance is done behind a screen, which creates a dark and surreal look at his character’s realization of the enormity of the situation and his descent into the madness of it all.

All the while, things are breaking down at the radio studio as the personalities struggle to come to terms with the outbreak of violence as one of their own falls victim to the virus. Laurel Ann played by Deena Davis spends the length of her stage time issuing guttural sounds from the control booth as the DJ and station manager Sydney Briar played by Amanda Jackson watches helplessly. Austin Kelly is delightfully unhinged in his portrayal of Dr. John Mendez, whose clinic served as ground zero for the outbreak. Dr. Mendez begins to unravel the nature of the virus before he is overcome.

Just as the characters – and the audience – begin to understand the circumstances, the fabric of the premise begins to unravel.  Whether its a deterioration or a heightened organization as the play suggests, what was initially a clever plot devise to address the power of the spoken word overtakes the message. And what is left is a bloody stump of an otherwise entertaining concept. “Pontypool” ends just abruptly as it begins just like to the hurricanes that just skirt our coastline but fail to make landfall, leaving us wondering what all the fuss was about.

 

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/27/ridin-out-the-storm-pontypool-at-pbts/


Avoid The Splash Zone: ‘Pontypool’ at Players By The Sea

Players by the Sea is storming its studio stage with an immersive psychological thriller designed to captivate audiences in real time. “Pontypool” tells the story of a massive storm that causes the townspeople to develop strange speech patterns and commit horrific acts of violence.

The hour-long show has no intermission. Once the audience is seated and the virus takes hold, there is nothing to do but ride out the storm. “Pontypool” opens Oct 26 with an original art exhibit entitled “Verba” by Drew Edward Hunter on display in the lobby. The featured works are inspired by the production.

fri26oct(oct 26)7:30 pmsat03nov(nov 3)9:00 pmPONTYPOOL7:30 pm – (november 3) 9:00 pm Players by the Sea Theatre

The production runs through Nov. 3 on the Players by the Sea Studio Stage in Jacksonville Beach. A special show will be staged on Halloween that promises to deliver an extra bite (www.playersbythesea.org).

Terrence Scott plays radio DJ Grant Mazzy who is trapped in his studio with his staff. The cast also includes Amanda Jackson, Bryan Martins, Deena Davis, Austin Kelley, Kevin Turner and Rich Pintello. Mazzy takes to the airwaves to warn listeners about the devastating virus and its unlikely mode of transmission. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel War of the Worlds. The broadcast warned of an alien invasion and generated a nationwide panic.

Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea
Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea
Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea

“I think there are some parallels there. This show was originally written by Tony Burgess for radio. It was not a staged production at first,” says director Stephanie Natale Frus. “Once the show was produced on the radio, someone else heard it and contacted Tony and said ‘hey, this would make a good movie’. And then they went ahead and made a short movie out of it and only then did someone say this would make a cool screen play and they worked with Tony and kind of adapted it to theatre. We’ve gone a step further.”

“Pontypool” was reimagined by local playwright Kelby Siddons with the author’s permission to shift the location of the viral outbreak from a snowy Canadian town to a fictional seaside community in Jacksonville.

“The name refers to a place, a made-up town. In our version, it’s Pontypool Beaches, Jacksonville, Florida. [Siddons] has edited the show with Tony’s approval to update the storm which adds to the quarantine,” Natale Frus says. “In the original work it was sets in Canada during a snowstorm which in Florida isn’t very real-life scary, so we changed it to a hurricane. We’ve changed all the components in the written play to match a hurricane instead of a snowstorm.”

Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea
Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea

With a show that leans heavily on mental terror, it’s a challenge to present gore and violence without crossing the line to campy.  Natale Frus says the cast went to great lengths to adhere to the story’s original style with all the mechanics in place for a good scare.

“I will admit, when I first read it, I thought this could go funny so easily. With so much gore, especially live theatre gore, it does go into the funny side. But we’re approaching this from a psychological thriller standpoint and attempting to make it real-life in real time scary so we’re doing an hour show with no intermission. Once you are in that room, you’re in the room in which the virus, aka zombie outbreak does breach. We’re hoping to make it an immersive experience and keep it scary,” she says.

Natale Frus says she can appreciate the recent zombie phenomenon and the dark humor of such films as Night of the Walking Dead, but she prefers more cerebral content like Silence of the Lambs that plucks at the psychological nerves. She’s attacking all the senses to ensure audiences respond to “Pontypool” in the same vain. Coffee will be brewing in the space to stimulate the olfactory senses and hurricane drinks will be served to compliment the overall theme of the production.

Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea
Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea

“My focus as the director has been incorporating all five of the senses into the production so that we can really capture the audiences’ attention in more than one way,” she says. “The immersion is going to come from how the action is played on the stage as well. We have some water and gore elements that will be displayed right there in front of the audience, but we might have to put a warning for the very first row that they are in a splash zone.”

Audiences don’t need to be a fan of the horror genre to appreciate the thrill of “Pontypool.” The author’s love of language creates a uniquely layered subtext that gives the story its teeth and a series of surprises helps to bring all the other elements into play.

“This play is for theatre lovers because it is a play about words. That it happens to be a psychological thriller, that it happens to have a viral quarantine is almost just a plot device for the author to come across with some major themes that are applicable to our current society such as communication through public broadcasting, communication through media and his commentary about our society’s inability to silence themselves, to be quiet and take a step back from the politics and everything that is kind of noisy right now and just relax,” the director says.

“One of my favorite scenes in the play is when one of the characters says, ‘we’ve got to stop talking about this’, yet they don’t. The play really speaks to that. I think anyone who enjoys theatre will find this engaging because the characters are really well-written, and really make you think about what you’re doing with your life and that’s always a good thing.”

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/23/avoid-the-splash-zone-pontypool-at-players-by-the-sea/


Irish Singer & Songwriter Mundy

Irish singer and songwriter Mundy performs for the first time in Jacksonville October 16th at Culhane’s Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach. The Florida stop is part of a 21-day tour. Some cities he’s never played, and others he hasn’t set foot in in over two decades. But no matter where he plays, he can count on at least one fellow countryman in the room to show support.

“There’s two kinds of Irish people in America. There are the ones who are my age that come to see me play. They might be there more to drink than to listen, but they’ll support you nonetheless,” he says. “Then there’s the ones who have Irish heritage who are interested in Irish culture and are ready to listen and take everything you say very seriously. They’re the kind of people I like at my gigs because you can be a little more gentle and play songs to them rather than at them,” he says. “Especially when you’re playing solo, it can be quite hard to play crowds like that. It gets very physical.”

tue16oct8:00 pmtue10:00 pmMundy with Sharon Shannon8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Culhane's Irish Pub

Mundy, who’s real name is Edmond Enright, is looking forward to reaching new audiences, and he’s got quite the catalog to share dating back to his start in 1996. He earned his first big break with the song ‘To You I Bestow’ which was featured on the best-selling soundtrack of Baz Luhrmans’s film Romeo + Juliet.

“I’m better known in Ireland where I’ve had more success, although there’s a ton of my generation that’s emigrated to the States, so I do pull a good crowd in certain parts,” he says, noting that he’s already sold out a show in Boston and expects a big turnout for his Chicago dates. “I haven’t been to Jacksonville before. I haven’t been to New Orleans, and I haven’t been to Los Angeles in 20-something years, so I’m excited.

One unlikely spot for a group of rowdy Irishmen is Kansas City, where Mundy says he can always count on a good showing. “There’s a good Irish population down there, and they’re very supportive,” he says.

Mundy is best known for his live cover of Steve Earle’s ‘Galway Girl,’ which he first performed during an appearance on a popular Irish radio show. He was joined in the studio by famed Irish instrumentalist Sharon Shannon. The host encouraged them to perform a number together so the pair did a quick bit of Steve Earle’s song ‘Galway Girl’ from his 2000 album Transcendental Blues. Shannon had previously performed on the track with Earle.

“I got up the next day, and it was almost a hit,” says Mundy. “People were asking to hear it again and again. A lot of people thought it was my song.”

He later invited Shannon to be his guest at a live show where they reprised their cover of ‘Galway Girl,’ and it went on to be the number-one single in Ireland for over two years. “It just took off on iTunes by a fluke. There was no plan. There aren’t even any photos of the show. It was a really happy accident, and it’s gotten me a lot of walk around the place,” Mundy says, including an invitation to perform at the White House in 2014.

When he’s playing a familiar city, he’ll often seek out friends and other musicians to back him up on solo shows. He will be performing solo at Culhane’s, where he plans to entertain the crowd with a mixed bag of songs from his catalog.

“I’m going to bring some new songs, but I’m thinking a lot of my songs will be brand-new to everybody. It’ll be a mix of my songs from 1996 until now, some 22-odd years worth,” he says, a self-proclaimed “massive fan” of such Americana bands as Wilco, Lucinda Williams and Sparklehorse. “Now as I’m getting older and kind of starting to bring a bit of Irish music into my repertoire just to tick that box. People want to hear some Irish music, so I guess it’s good to have that ammunition.”

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/07/irish-singer-songwriter-mundy/


‘The Color Purple’ Opens Hearts at PBTS

Taking the stage before the opening of “The Color Purple,” director Jereme Raickett asked two things of the audience. Silence your cell phones and clear your mind of any distractions, open your heart and prepare to receive the communion that is this story. Okay, that’s technically four things but following his suggested directives ensures you will experience the maximum emotional impact of this stunning and captivating musical.

Delivering a powerhouse performance to sold out crowds, Players’ 53rd season opened with the joyful noise of choral ensemble, setting a spiritual tone for the 40-year journey shared through the lens of Celie, a poor African American girl in 1900’s rural Georgia. Raickett assembled a monster cast of 32 spectacularly gifted individuals to lift this story from the script and set it alight.

fri21sep(sep 21)7:30 pmsun14oct(oct 14)9:00 pmTHE COLOR PURPLE7:30 pm – (october 14) 9:00 pm Players by the Sea Theatre

Making her debut on the Players stage, Jamie King’s portrayal of Celie is what makes live theatre such a thrill to behold. King’s raw vulnerability, quiet desperation and unwavering determination in the face of her bleak existence is hypnotic. With an exquisite attention to detail, she conveys the transformation from childlike innocence to an embattled wife of an abusive husband and beyond with subtle precision. But make no mistake. There is nothing subtle about King’s delivery. Her masterful command of the script and soaring vocals create a nuanced and dynamic performance.

This bold cast of talented actors adhere to the authenticity of the characters in Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer prize winning book. And as the core of the original story centers on female relationships, this production belongs to the sisterhood (though the male cast members are all outstanding in their own right). It’s difficult to highlight a single standout performance. Each character is presented with dimension and great care for the overall story as well as their own.

Rashawnda Foster is superb as Celie’s sister Nettie. Foster’s vocal capabilities mesh beautifully with King’s Though separated from Celie after she is forced into a brutal marriage with “Mister,” Nettie’s connection to her sister never wavers. Her emotional turn in the show’s second act dares audiences to confront the atrocities experienced by the African missionaries with a dry eye. If that doesn’t get you, hold on to your Kleenex for the final number. The cast bows were taken, and house lights were up as many audience members sniffled and wipe away tears on their way out of the theatre.

It’s hard to imagine levity in a story ripe with incest, abuse and infidelities, but Jazz Zamor delivers much needed comic relief as the formidable, no nonsense Sofia. As the wife of Mister’s son Harpo, Sofia discovers the depth of abuse Celie suffered at the hands of Mister, she encourages the desperate young woman to find her strength in the comedic, ball buster of a number “Hell No.” When Sofia is beaten and jailed after a confrontation with the town’s mayor, Sofia’s light is dimmed but her spark never truly fades. Her fire reignites in a memorable scene with the audience rooting for her all the way.

Kristal DeVore is bawdy, raucous and tender as Shug Avery, a blues singer coming back to town from Memphis where its revealed that she’s Mister’s real true love. She arrives in poor health and Celie takes it upon herself to nurse her husband’s lover back to health, where she discovers own her emotions stirring below the surface. DeVore is a veritable force of nature as Shug. The compassion and love she shares with Celie expose a genuine soul beneath her gritty exterior. One audience member (there’s always one) failed to adhere to rule number one and interrupted an otherwise heartwarming duet between King and DeVore.

“The Color Purple” is about finding your voice and the musical numbers ranging from gospel and honky-tonk to R&B and tender ballads provide plenty of opportunities for the cast to bring down the house. The hard work and dedication of Music Director Meachum Clarke and choreographer Sherrod Brown align with the spirit of the show. The dance sequences and musical numbers are all worthy of the Broadway stage.

This story doesn’t just tug at your heartstrings. It will lasso your heart, wrestle it to the ground and sit on it while it takes away every breath you’ve had in your whole life. Powerful, strong and engaging, “The Color Purple” stands among the most triumphant productions to grace the PBTS stage and will leave audiences in breathless anticipation for the rest of the season.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/09/26/the-color-purple-opens-hearts-at-pbts/


JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH ABET THEATRE REVIEW

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW by Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

We attended the festive debut of the brand new home of the All Beaches Experimental Theatre at 544 Atlantic Boulevard in Neptune Beach, Florida on Friday, September 22, 2018. The theatre was founded by Carson Merry Baillie a number of years ago and named the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre; their new name reflects their more expansive audience. Their new home is located in the Neptune Beach Plaza; excellent parking and pre-show dining opportunities are within walking distance. We were greeted with smiles by ABET’s Managing Artistic Director Ceila Frank and ABET board members.

fri21sep(sep 21)8:00 pmsun30(sep 30)4:00 pmFeaturedJAMES & THE GIANT PEACHNew ABET Location 8:00 pm – 4:00 pm (30) ALL BEACHES EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE

The opening show for the venue and the new season is “James and the Giant Peach”, a musical adaptation of a children’s book by Roald Dahl. He has written a number of children’s books; “Matilda” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” were also adapted for the stage. The choice was excellent as it is a show appeals to both children and adults.

The show’s director is Lee Hamby, who is well known in this area as a director, designer, and actor. He is very much in demand for his talents and was the perfect choice for launching this endeavor. Lee is the managing director and founder of downtown Jacksonville’s highly successful 5 & Dime Theatre Company,

This delightful version of Dahl’s work was staged using a large screen on the back wall with projected images to provide the multiple settings, and recorded music. Amy Hancock’s colorful innovative costumes reflected a time and place filled with fantastic happenings. The large cast moved on and off stage with perfect timing.

The story is about James, an orphaned boy, performed wonderfully by Shauna Clark, who previously appeared in a number of productions at Jacksonville University. James is forced to live with two repulsive (but terribly funny) sisters Auntie Sponge (Leanne Gullo) and Auntie Spiker (Erin Barnes) who clearly have no maternal instincts whatever and make his life wretched by treating him as an unpaid menial laborer.

Life improves after he accepts a magic potion offered to him by Ladahlord (Brian Niece, who also acts as the play’s narrator). After James sprays an old fruit tree with the potion, the tree responds by growing a giant peach, and the aunts become very excited about the commercial possibilities of this wonder. However, when James tells him he made the peach grow, they don’t believe him and send him outside to sleep as a punishment for lying.

To escape the cold, James makes his way inside the peach and finds it inhabited by human-sized insects who become his friends. The colorfully garbed creatures include Jacob Pickering (Grasshopper), Christine Phillips (Ladybug), Gary Baker (Earthworm), Michael Yarick (Centipede), and Sade Crosby (Spider), and they all also want to escape from the aunts.        

Centipede detaches the peach from the tree, and it rolls into the ocean. The group travels inside across the ocean evading sharks and other hazards, finally arriving in New York City with the help of friendly seagulls. They have survived many dangers, but learned teamwork, became the best of friends, and created a happy ending.

Cast members in the large ensemble appear in a number of smaller roles and are constantly on and off stage with props and costumes, which include those of the sharks and seagulls, as well as assorted crowd members. The ensemble included Kimberly Cooper York, Jack Niemczyk, Karen Couglin, Rhodie Jackson, Kenggy Bravo, Amanda Jackson and Bryan Martins.

Director Hamby has a noteworthy support team with Benjamin Beck (Music Director); Niki Stokes (Choreography); Amy Hancock (Costume Design); Jennifer O’Brien (Assistant Director/Stage Manager); Katie Cress (Light/Sound Operator); Bryan Frank (Light/Sound Design); and Jenn Peek and Frak Sanabria (Scenic Artists).

To close the evening ABET held a reception featuring delicious food and beverages, a tradition maintained for many years.

Many thanks go to the sponsors of this production: John and Beverly Johnson and The Tom Nehl Fund of the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida.

ABET is known for intimate theatre, and we can continue to expect many interesting productions in the future. “James” will remain on stage through September 30, followed by “Wait Until Dark” (October 26 —November 11). Call 249-7177 or visit abettheatre.com for tickets and additional information.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/09/24/james-and-the-giant-peach-abet-theatre-review/


‘James and the Giant Peach’ at ABET

The newly rebranded All Beaches Experimental Theatre launches its 27th season tomorrow at its new Neptune Beach home with the musical “James and the Giant Peach.” The show runs through Sept 30 (www.abettheatre.com).

fri21sep(sep 21)8:00 pmsun30(sep 30)4:00 pmFeaturedJAMES & THE GIANT PEACHNew ABET Location 8:00 pm – 4:00 pm (30) ALL BEACHES EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE

Director Lee Hamby says the family-friendly musical based on the beloved children’s book by Roald Dahl was the perfect choice to christen ABET’s new stage. “I think the story really resonates because it talks about finding your family and finding your home,” he says. “And that’s really what ABET is doing right now. It’s finding its place and finding its home, so I think this story works well right now. It was happenstance, for sure.”

“James & the Giant Peach” is a lively and heartfelt adventure about a small boy on a journey of epic proportions. The composers behind “Dear Evan Hansen” and “The Greatest Showman” scored the oversized, fantastical, magical family musical. The cast includes Brian Neice, Shauna Clark, Erin Barnes, Leanne Gullo, Sade Crosby, Jacob Pickering, Christine Phillips, Gary Baker, Michael Yarick, Kenggy Bravo, Karen Coughlin, Amanda Jackson, Rhodie Jackson, Brian Martins, Jack Niemczyk and Kimberly Cooper York.



Artistic Director Celia Frank says the board chose to stage a family-friendly production as the first show in the new building to welcome audiences of all ages. The new season also includes the musical “The Robber Bridegroom,” a mystery for the Halloween season in “Wait Until Dark,” the Southern Christmas comedy “Dashing Through the Snow” and the thought-provoking drama “Eleemosynary.” The classic “Alice in Wonderland” closes out the season.

“We will still present the varied season of productions that we are known for,” says Frank. “Since we will finally have our own space, we will be able to add many diverse programming options, as well as classes and anything else we can imagine. Our opportunities are endless, and we are extremely excited.”

Construction delays pushed the opening back two weeks from its original Sept. 7 date, forcing cast and crew to navigate rehearsals around the unfinished stage. The new 2,500-square-foot location features an indoor lobby instead of a front porch with three restrooms, a dressing room and shop area backstage. The stage is a more conventional design, with the audience seated on six risers instead of wrapped around the side.

“Logistics was always a thing,” says Hamby. “We had to reconfigure some things. But it’s been lovely. Everybody has been really great.”

Frank says the board made the decision that last season would be its final one in the Adele Grage Center where it served the community for 25 years. “It had become apparent that the Atlantic Beach City Council wanted to turn the space into more of a multi-purpose facility rather than a theatre,” she says. “Scheduling and other issues had become insurmountable, and we knew it was time to move.”

Hamby, who directed several productions at the former ABET location, says operating within a shared space created a series of challenges. “We haven’t had the privilege of being in there the way that everyone following us will be. But just having the capability of coming and going as we wish is huge. At the old ABET space, you had to get permission, you had to be on the calendar. If you were scheduled to rehearse at 7, you couldn’t get there any earlier than 7,” he says.

“This is a huge difference. There’s nothing like having a place for your stuff. The little stuff is what makes you realize how wonderful it is to have your own space like a filing cabinet or a place for your tools rather than having to schlep everything around. It becomes a whole different experience.”

The move and build-out totaled twice the anticipated costs. An online fundraiser is underway with a goal of $80,000 to help offset some of the construction costs and replenish the coffers. ABET Through the Years: A Fundraiser Cabaret was held in July and offered a look back at many of the musical productions staged through the years.

While directing the first production on the new stage had its share of obstacles, Hamby is grateful for the privilege and hopeful audiences will embrace the new chapter in ABET history.

“It’s one of my favorite places to direct because you have to be so creative and I love that,” he says. “It’s like being put in a box in a way and finding a creative way to make that space come to life. We’ve christened it for sure and I have been so lucky to experience this. It’s been a challenge to do a good job and show people what really can happen in this space.”

 

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/09/20/james-and-the-giant-peach-at-abet/


Fishing the First Coast: Jacksonville and Northeast Florida are a Fisherman’s Paradise

Numerous fish species, unbeatable weather, and a healthy fishing infrastructure make the First Coast a fisherman’s paradise. Our state offers 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, 10,550 miles of rivers, 7,700 lakes, and countless ponds. Fishing the First Coast offers a multitude of options. From offshore saltwater fishing, surf fishing, bridge fishing, river fishing and plenty of freshwater ponds or lakes around, there are options far and wide.

Fishing the First Coast: Jacksonville and Northeast Florida are a Fisherman’s Paradise, Photos by James Brown
Photo by James Brown

Inspiration That Lasts a Lifetime

Former Jacksonville Beach Councilman and Mayor Rick Hale has been fishing Florida’s waters for close to 70 years. The Jacksonville Beach native’s passion for fishing was largely influenced by his father. “My dad used to take me fishing all the time,” Hale says, “We used to do a lot of surf fishing and we used to fish the Intercoastal Waterways.” Their father-son adventures led to a lifelong passion for fishing.

Hale owns Rick’s Bait & Tackle, a weathered fisherman’s treasure trove tucked next to the Beach Blvd Boat Ramp in Jacksonville Beach. Rick’s seasoned crew welcomes fishing enthusiasts of all experience levels. They eagerly share their knowledge of local fishing conditions and will outfit you with exactly what you need for a successful day on the water.

For best success, fishermen should check out the bait and tackle shop nearest to their fishing destination. “I think our store is one of the most knowledgeable around the Beaches area, that’s what we do,” Hale says, “If you want to go fishing down in Palm Valley, you go to Palm Valley Outdoors. And there’s a little place out in Guana, Guana Outfitters. The stores all around the different areas of town can give you information on what’s going on in your area.”

With dozens of bait and tackle shops in NE Florida, you’re never far from experienced help.

Fishing the First Coast: Jacksonville and Northeast Florida are a Fisherman’s Paradise

Keep it Simple

“When someone’s just getting into fishing, we recommend that they don’t go buy the $9000 rod and reel,” Hale advises. The specific gear required will depend on the type of fishing you plan to do, but regardless of style you don’t need to break the bank.

Lifetime Jacksonville resident and fisherwoman Christina Scott agrees. “The best advice I have is not to spend too much money right off the bat,” Scott says, “It’s called fishing, not catching!”

Plan to invest in an inexpensive rod and reel, bait, and fishing license (ages of 16-65). “You can go to the bait and tackle shop and pick up a 5’-7’ fishing rod combo. That’s your rod and your reel. It’ll come with line already on it,” says Captain James Brown of Set da Hook Charters.

Another option is to hire a guide. “When you go out with a guide, you don’t have to bring any equipment,” Captain Brown says, “All of the guides here are pretty seasoned and they’ll teach you different techniques while they have you out. It’s usually a 4-hour trip. You learn a little bit about fishing and a little bit about the area. Get out there and enjoy it.”

Add some sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water and you’re nearly ready to go. Keep careful watch for dangerous flora and fauna, read up on local fishing regulations (see below), and learn the laws of the water if you plan to boat. Lastly, a dose of patience and perseverance are recommended. “Don’t give up just because you’re having a slow day or not catching anything,” advises avid St. Johns fisherman Dave Strasser, “Tomorrow might be the day you catch the big one!”

Fishing the First Coast: Jacksonville and Northeast Florida are a Fisherman’s Paradise

The Fishing Lowdown

In order to score a First Coast Slam—catching three different fish species on the same day—anglers must snag a spotted seatrout, a redfish, and a flounder. Triple Challenge Tournaments are popular in our area. But fishing exploits need not be limited to these three species. There are hundreds of fresh and saltwater fish varieties thriving in the Southeast. With the St. Johns River and its tributaries in our backyard, anglers have nearly unlimited opportunities for good fishing. Largemouth bass and crappie are popular freshwater fish in our areas.

Miles of shoreline offer great surf fishing too. Whiting, redfish, bluefish, and pompano make for a great catch. “The first time we went surf fishing was at Mickler’s Beach and Andy (husband) snagged a black tip shark and as he was reeling it in, it flipped out of the water and spun around to snap at the line,” says Christina Scott, “We never keep sharks, but they are fun to catch!”

Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach, the Mayport Jetties, the Jacksonville Beach Pier, St. Augustine’s Ocean Pier, and the Flagler Beach Pier are just a few places to try your hand at saltwater fishing.

“The Matanzas River, the Matanzas Inlet, Washington Oaks, Bings Landing, and Princess Place Preserve all offer great fishing opportunities,” says Adam Morley, owner of Genung’s Fish Camp in Crescent Beach, “Target redfish, trout, flounder, and black drum, but don’t be surprised if you reel in some small sharks, rays, catfish, or a blue crab now and again.”

Redfish is a local favorite. “It’s a big, muscular fish that fights like a bull and they grow to crazy, dinosaur sizes,” Captain Brown says, “They get very large and very heavy and twice a year they come into the river to breed and to spawn. You can catch the big, massive ones at the jetties.” Just be careful of size and bag limit regulations.

“We have such access to water through our community of parks, just get out there and go fishing!” Captain Brown says. The more you study and practice, the better success you’ll have. “Once you’ve been fishing for a while, you start to learn the pattern of the fish. You read up, you research what they do, how they breed, how they feed, the times they like to eat, and the times that they say, ‘I don’t want nothing to eat. You’re not catching me today.’ Those are really the challenges: finding them and then getting them to eat what you’re throwing at them.”

Fishing the First Coast: Jacksonville and Northeast Florida are a Fisherman’s Paradise

Tranquility, Community, and Connection With Nature

For many of Northeast Florida’s fishing enthusiasts, fishing is an enjoyable and relaxing pastime. For some, it’s also a chance to give back. For others, it offers healing.

“The most rewarding part about fishing in our area is the awesome community of fishermen. It’s a tight knit group of great people and most of the tournaments I fish support local charities,” says Jacksonville fisherman Matt Crews, “I joined the local chapter of Heroes on the Water two years ago and have been able to make an impact on the lives of our local veterans and first responders. We take them out for a day of kayak fishing and comradery, providing the kayaks, fishing gear, a guide, and lunch. It’s all free and run by volunteers. Many of the vets we serve are struggling with physical and mental scars; we help them rehabilitate and reintegrate through kayak fishing and the outdoors.”

“Fishing is such a tranquil sport,” Captain Brown contributes, “It will probably be one of the most tranquil sports you will ever do as long as you have patience. It will build patience if you don’t have it. Or you’ll quit. And you’ll meet some of the nicest people. It’s one of the most fun sports you can do and it gets you outdoors.”

“There are plenty of great and beautiful spots to fish in our area. The challenging part is just finding time to go,” lifelong fisherman Dave Strasser adds, “It’s rewarding being out in nature and having a good day catching any kind of fish.”

Fishing is a great opportunity to get outside, connect with nature, ditch technology, and reconnect as a family. It doesn’t require expensive equipment and is accessible to people of all abilities and ages. Whether you’re into cast netting, shrimping, crabbing, deepwater excursions, fresh or saltwater angling, or even just casting a line into your neighborhood lake with your kids, fishing is a fabulous way to pass time, build bonds, and make memories. It’s an opportunity to connect with neighbors and meet new people. Get hooked on fishing! The First Coast is an ideal place to fish for the first time or to pursue a passion a lifetime in the making.

Fishing on the First Coast, regulations 2018

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/08/22/fishing-the-first-coast-jacksonville-northeast-florida-fishermans-paradise/


10 Facts About Fishing in Florida

Fishing in Florida, Photo by James Brown copy_WEB__001_

Florida is a killer place to cast a line. In addition to 4 million resident anglers, approximately 2 million people visit Florida to fish annually. Fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry. From major tournaments to laid-back fishing along the St. Johns River, there’s a bit of something for every taste and talent. Here are 10 facts about fishing in Florida that you should know.

  1. If you’re 16-65, you need a freshwater fishing license.

    For those under 16 or developmentally disabled, a license is not required. Florida residents 65+ qualify for a free Senior Citizen Hunting and Fishing Certificate. For those ages 16-65, a current freshwater fishing license is required. Annual, five-year, and lifetime licenses are available.

  2. You might need a saltwater fishing license, or you might not.

    Florida saltwater law is a bit complicated. If you’re fishing in saltwater from land or a structure fixed to land, from a boat with a Vessel Saltwater Fishing License, or from a pier with a Pier Saltwater Fishing License, you do not need a personal saltwater fishing license. There are numerous regulations, so talk to your county tax collector or bait and tackle shop about the type of fishing you intend to do and licenses required.

  3. If you fish with licensed charter captains, you don’t need a fishing license at all. They’ve got you covered.

    So long as there is a valid vessel license, you’re good to go.

    Fishing the First Coast: Jacksonville and Northeast Florida are a Fisherman’s Paradise, Photos by James Brown
    Photo by James Brown
  4. If you’re hoping to hook a big one, Florida is the place to be.

    Florida has more world-record catches than any other state–or country. The largest fish on record was a 123-lb Alligator Gar caught in the Choctawhatchee River in 1995.

  5. You must research and abide by local fishing laws and regulations or risk fines and/or jail time.

    Redfish can grow up to 45 inches and weigh up to 51 lbs in Florida, but if you catch and keep a redfish that size you’ll find yourself in trouble with Florida Fish and Wildlife. In NE Florida, there’s a limit of two redfish per person daily and fish must be between 18-27’’ in length. There are regulations about gear and fishing style too (spearing, gigging, or bow-fishing a redfish is illegal). Read up before you cast. If you’re caught breaking regulations, there are stiff penalties.

  6. Fishing from a bridge or pier is a great alternative to a boat.

    If you’d like to catch large ocean fish but don’t have a boat, no worries. Fish move through our waterways within easy reach from a bridge or pier. They love hanging out around the pilings, so fishing straight down is your best bet. There may be a charge to fish from a pier; fishing from bridges is free.

  7. The best time of day to fish depends on many factors.

    Time of day, lunar cycle, spawning cycles, and weather patterns all affect your likelihood of getting a bite.

  8. There’s water everywhere… just cast a line!

    Florida boasts 2,270 miles of tidal shoreline and over 11,000 miles of waterways. There are infinite places to fish.

  9. Shrimp run in the summer and the fall in NE Florida.

    There’s a summer run (July-August) and a winter run (November-December). You need a Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to shrimp and are allowed no more than 5 gallons of shrimp per harvester daily.

  10. There are hundreds of fish varieties in Florida’s waters.

    Some of the most popular fish to catch are tarpon, spotted sea trout, snook, sailfish, redfish (red drum), largemouth bass, grouper, panfish, mackerels, and snappers.

Fishing on the First Coast, regulations 2018

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/08/23/10-facts-about-fishing-in-florida/


From The Water: Dishes of Fishes 🐟 Around Jacksonville & The Beaches of Northeast Florida

Northeast Florida has a strong Southern food game, but we also shine when it comes to dishes from the water, sometimes from unexpected places. While places such as Safe Harbor, The Fish Company, Timoti’s and others that specialize in seafood are local favorites, there are a number of from-the-water dishes that residents love, even in places that don’t have seafood front and center.

From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville, Blue Bamboo, Ceviche, Chef Dennis Chan
BluTe Bamboo’s Ceviche

At Blue Bamboo on the Southside, there’s three dishes we recommend, depending on what you’re craving. For a lunch item we think their fish sandwich is a winner. It’s served in their bento box with their shoestring fries, which are spiced with a little bit of salt and pepper. It’s also a fantastic item for kids or less adventurous eaters. The tuna ceviche has been on the menu for several years, and it’s a go-to item for a lot of folks, at all times of the day. The recipe for it is in Chef Dennis Chan’s cookbook Hip Asian Comfort Food. It’s a favorite of mine because the citrus doesn’t overpower the fish, which is true of too many ceviches out there. The added ginger and sesame oil take it over the top as one of the tastiest ceviches you’ll find on the first coast. The Velvet Yu Kew combines steamed rice, bok choy, carrots, and straw mushrooms served with a ginger-garlic sauce with a flaky white fish and rice, for a classy-from-the-water stir fry.

Another place with an Asian flair and a recommended item is Timwah’s crispy fried shrimp balls. This dim sum delight might not be for everyone, but it’s a staple on the West Coast. Here in Jacksonville, we do things larger, so these aren’t bite sized. It’s ground shrimp rolled into a ball, bound loosely by strips of wonton wrappers and deep fried.

Cowford Chophouse, Fish of the Day, From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville
Cowford Chophouse’s Fish of the Day

Downtown’s Cowford Chophouse has a strong fish game, so if you’re going for something high-hat downtown, try the fish of the day. We also love their duck fat cornbread, which is topped with Maine lobster, and lump crab meat, with crème fraîche, dill, tarragon, paprika oil. The seafood and creme balances out the cornbread and the paprika flavor.

Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktail's Shrimp N Grits, Ariel Crawford bar manager, From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville
Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktail’s bar manager Ariel Crawford with their Shrimp N Grits

Everyone has their go-to menu item, even when they’re at a restaurant they’ve never been to before. Mine happens to be shrimp and grits, an item that has found itself on many a local menu. The best thing about the dish, is that every restaurant has their particular take on it–so it’s familiar, with elements in common, but it’s an excellent way to get to know the flavor profile of a chef. Downtown we can recommend two places to try it– the Candy Apple Cafe and Nola MOCA. At the Candy Apple, there’s a bit of Cajun flair to the dish, with the shrimp sharing the spotlight with sausage, and the grits are served Southern-style topped with a rich roux. The grits at the Nola are served as smoked cheddar grit cakes, and the sauce is white wine and mushroom based. The shrimp keep company with applewood smoked bacon and sun-dried tomato crostini.

BLK SHP, Kale & Smoked Trout Salad, From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville, Black Sheep Restaurant, 5 Points
Kale & Smoked Trout Salad from Black Sheep

Asking around on social media about fish dishes in unexpected places, Black Sheep at 5 Points’ Smoked Trout salad garnered one of the strongest responses from local residents. The Carolina Rainbow trout has been on the menu for about two years, featured in two places on their menu– in the starter Smoked Trout Rillettes and in the Kale and Smoked Trout Salad.

Although the fish isn’t local, the kale in the salad is–from the outstanding Bacon’s Select Produce. If you haven’t had anything from the Bacon family, you are missing out. The lettuce they sell at Riverside Arts Market that will benefit any salad you make at home. Everything, including the kale, is grown hydroponically.

The Kale and Smoked Trout Salad is popular at brunch, lunch and dinner. Says Chef Waylon Rivers, “It’s a lightly smoked fish, not overly done, which I think is appealing. It’s brined for a few hours ahead of time so there’s some nice background flavors aside from the smoked fish flavor. It’s a well-balanced dish.”

From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville, Bread & Board's Banh Mi Shrimp Sandwich
Bread & Board’s Banh Mi Shrimp Sandwich

A newer place that’s been heating up because of their stellar sandwich game, Bread & Board has their Banh Mi Shrimp sandwich. Chef Dwayne Beliakoff says they’re inspired by Florida seafood and love using in their recipes “Key West pink shrimp are the perfect match for our spicy homemade chili sauce in our version of the classic Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. Sweet, spicy, and exotic goodness heaped into fresh bread,” says Beliakoff

We’re sure you’ve got your own favorites from unexpected places, let us know on social media with the hashtag #UnexpectedFlavorJax.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/08/23/from-the-water-dishes-of-fishes-jacksonville-beaches-florida/


Fetch! Sit Up! Pour Me a Brew! BrewHound Comes to Neptune Beach

BrewHound comes to Neptune Beach, Lauren Wyckoff, Jason Underwood, Southern Swells
Lauren Wyckoff and Jason Underwood

It’s no secret that people love dogs. Many of those same people also love hanging with friends over a cold beer or a good cup of coffee. Sadly, most venues won’t let you enjoy both. Jason Underwood and Lauren Wyckoff developed the concept for BrewHound, an off-leash dog park with an open-air bar, to create a common ground for people to enjoy all of what they love in a natural setting.

“That’s really what we want to generate is this core community of animal lovers and a place for everybody to hang out and share ideas,” says Wyckoff. “It’s a cool way to get people out of their comfort zone and doing other things, not just being there, but the bigger picture of coordinating stuff together and getting back to the center of what it’s all about.”

Located on an acre of wooded land between Florida and Atlantic boulevards in Neptune Beach, BrewHound will offer designated areas for small and large breed dogs, trail maps, a bicycle pump station and “the porch” where guests can enjoy a craft beer, glass of wine, or locally roasted Bold Bean coffee. The property is also situated on the East Coast Greenway and connects to a new 1,050-foot paved trail which runs along Florida Boulevard from Fifth Street to A1A.

The 1,200-square-foot open air beer garden will be open to anyone with or without a dog. Daily, weekly or monthly membership fees will be required to enter the leash-free area to ensure all dogs are current with their vaccinations. Discounted rates will be offered on annual memberships for all current service-members, veterans, and first responders.

BrewHound comes to Neptune Beach, Lauren Wyckoff, Jason Underwood

 

“Ruffarees” will be on hand to monitor behavior and even keep an eye on your pup while you refresh your drink. “We figured we should be able to take our dogs literally everywhere we go to hang out,” says Underwood. “So, we had this crafty idea of combining both the social setting and dogs, off leash.”

When the couple first unleashed the concept for BrewHound, they had recently rescued their third dog and were missing the new addition to their family while they were out of town. The idea started brewing over poolside cocktails, fittingly Greyhounds. Both Underwood and Wyckoff are environmental scientists who share a love of the outdoors. Whether camping, hiking or just enjoying nature, their three dogs, Too, Wicket and Scrambles, are always in tow. A project like BrewHound was the perfect way to fuse their love of dogs with their passion for the outdoors.

“They say that ideas come and go, and not every one is a winner. But when you find one that’s a winner right off the bat, you either make it happen or you let it cruise on by,” says Underwood. “What I didn’t know was on the way home, Lauren’s wheels were turning.”

BrewHound comes to Neptune Beach, Lauren Wyckoff, Jason Underwood

With her entrepreneurial spirit in overdrive, Wyckoff quickly catalogued the couple’s available resources. By the following week, she’d framed a business plan, developed marketing strategies and tapped into her professional network to get the dog park off the ground. The pair worked with The Pratt Guys to complete renderings of the property and an architect helped develop the engineering plans for city approval.

The pair researched similar projects located in progressive, metropolitan markets including Seattle, Austin and Charlotte and realized that a mixed-use park would be the perfect fit for the Beaches community. “The beach is such a unique community. There is culture, but you still have that small-town feel,” says Wyckoff. “There’s a bit of everything, so I thought what a cool place to do something like that. What if we could find some land?”

Underwood tapped into money he saved from his yearlong deployment to Afghanistan to buy the oddly-shaped and overgrown parcel of land. After finally closing on the property in April, the couple have invested countless hours clearing the brush and cutting away branches on their own to reveal a diamond in the “ruff.”

BrewHound comes to Neptune Beach, Lauren Wyckoff, Jason Underwood

“I had some money saved up from when I was in the Army, so I said, ‘let’s make it happen. It really does make a difference when you just get outside. That’s why we’re really trying to make this a space for people to do that,” he says. “After work, take your dog and let him run crazy and get tired, and you don’t have the guilt factor of wanting to take your dog out but want to go to dinner or happy hour. So, you either let your dog out real quick and leave again or don’t go anywhere. This way you can do both.”

Being a combat veteran also played a significant role in his appreciation for pups and the services they provide for men and women who have experienced combat. He joined the Army right out of college, serving as a maneuver platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. At 24, he was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in the summer of 2010.

BrewHound comes to Neptune Beach, Lauren Wyckoff, Jason Underwood

He remembers Cali, a stray puppy he encountered on patrol in Kandahar during a routine patrol of the city. Underwood recalls the small mixed breed pup sniffing around outside of one of the patrol base gates. They named her “Cali” after the small company-sized outpost they manned in Kandahar.

“There were signs posted around some of the bigger bases overseas stating that under no circumstances were soldiers to befriend or even pet stray animals, but after nine straight months of being over there with no break, I didn’t pay much thought to what the signs said,” remembers Underwood. “I was going to get that puppy and hold it, pet it, name it, and carry it around wherever I could until someone made me stop. Metaphorically, that little puppy was a lit candle in a dark room. We kept her for as long as we could until we were moved to a new position in the city. Unfortunately, we couldn’t bring her with us.”

After he got out of the Army, Underwood left Anchorage, Alaska, behind to start a new life in Florida with Wyckoff and her dog Too, whom she rescued off the street in Orlando over 12 years ago. While he was tying up loose ends in Alaska, Wyckoff rescued Wicket, a feisty little border-collie mix, from the Clay County kill shelter. With Underwood finally settled in Florida for good, the couple brought home Scrambles, a food-crazy hound mix, from the Amelia Island Humane Society.

Underwood also decided it was time to seek treatment for anxiety and trauma he experienced during his time in service. In addition to counseling and therapy, he credits the dogs for providing a sense of balance and comfort. “I can’t put into words how crucial an animal is to a combat veteran. Coming from a life of constant uncertainty, stress, and that uneasy feeling that makes you constantly look over your shoulder, the girls gave me a reason to seek help. In a lot of ways, [they] kept me grounded. I feel at ease around them,” he says.

“It’s almost magical that they can sense our feelings and adjust their behavior based off them. Dogs often train us more efficaciously than we believe we train them. They react to our emotions, feelings, and actions in ways that make sense to them, but often not us. This pattern of behavior, if we pay attention, can teach us to keep our own behavior in check,” he says.

BrewHound comes to Neptune Beach, Lauren Wyckoff, Jason Underwood

Once BrewHound is up and running, a weekly trainer will be on site to provide instruction on various behaviors. Planned events will also include a quarterly pet market and partnership with such organizations as Go Ruck, Canines for Warriors and the VFW in Jacksonville Beach. Future collaborations could also include the Wounded Warrior Project.

“I believe dogs can give service members the most similar feeling of ‘brotherhood’ that you feel when in a combat scenario. They always have your back. They love you. They would do anything for you,” says Underwood. “My girls aren’t service dogs. They are not professionally trained to perform the duties of a service dog. However, they continue to impress upon me the strength to be a good leader and never give up.”

BrewHound comes to Neptune Beach, Lauren Wyckoff, Jason Underwood

There are still a few hurdles to clear before breaking ground. Plans for the space are still in development review in Neptune Beach, and once approved, it will take an estimated six to seven months to complete build-out and open the fences. Until then, Underwood and Wyckoff will enjoy watching their dream take shape with a cold beer or a good cup of coffee and their three dogs by their side.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/08/16/brewhound-neptune-beach/


106 Years & Thousands Saved! The American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps in Jacksonville Beach

American Red Cross Volunteer Lifesaving Corps in Jacksonville Beach, Photos by James Brown

If you’ve ever given or received directions anywhere in Jacksonville Beach, the historic lifeguard station located at the foot of Beach Boulevard is used as a unit of distance at some point. For over a century, members of the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps have kept watch over the Jacksonville Beach coast from the iconic peg tower. It’s a way of life that represents a vital part of the community’s culture as much as the sun and the surf itself.

On July 19, Capt. Rob Emahiser shared a detailed narrative of the history of the Life Saving Corps, from its beginnings to the changes that helped create a seamless unit of men and women dedicated to keeping the beaches safe. Presented by the Beaches Museum, Boardwalk Talk was held at the American Red Cross Life Saving Station followed by a brief walking tour of the boardwalk.

“We’ve got a lot in common with the Beaches Museum with our history,” says Emahiser. “The Life Saving Corps is what started it all and where the history really is.”

In the summer of 1912, a dozen volunteers formed the United States Volunteer Life Saving Corps at what was then called Pablo Beach. Since then, thousands of men and women have joined the ranks to carry on the tradition of The Corps. Today, the ranks include more than 120 active members and hundreds of alumni of the Corps who proudly hold the title of “Retired Surfman.”

Members of the Corps have recorded over 1,400 life saving rescues, over 1,800 assists to swimmers in distress, and more than 25,000 first aid cases ranging from jellyfish to broken limbs. This record of service totals over 1,300,000 hours of volunteer service along with the 4,000 members and alumni of the Volunteer Life Saving Corps.

American Red Cross Volunteer Lifesaving Corps in Jacksonville Beach, Photos by James Brown
Photos by James Brown

Emahiser has spent 23 years with the Corps, and, in March 2014, he was promoted to Captain. He also served as a Lieutenant for its sister organization, Ocean Rescue. “Lifeguarding here has two parallel organizations: Life Saving Corps and the beach patrol. I’ve been a Volunteer Life Saving Corps member and served on their staff for three different years. When I came back in 2007, I really rededicated myself to this. When the previous captain left, I saw a good opportunity to move up,” he says.

Over the years, The Corps has experienced a level growth that has elevated the perception of lifeguards. Emahiser strives to inspire confidence in his staff that they are more than a pool lifeguard that a lot of people see sitting up on a tower. “We have the whistle and we also put zinc on our nose, but these guys are athletes and professionals,” he says. “From 16 and up, they have people’s lives in their hand and they need to take it seriously.”

Daily training is an ongoing part of the job and includes various scenario-based exercises from a rescue situation to a submerged victim simulation. “We’ve really upped our lifeguard skills, training and professionalism. We had some EMTs back when I started 23 years ago but only one or two,” he says.

“Now we’ve got 25 percent or better, and we’ve got a lot of our guys who go into the medical field. We’ve got at least two emergency room physicians, several surgeons, several nurses with Masters’ degrees who still come back and lifeguard. We use their knowledge and experience to bring everyone’s level of training up. When we get out on the beach and have a job to do, I know with confidence that they’re able to handle it.”

When Emahiser was promoted to captain, among his goals was getting a medical director on staff. Dr. Andrew Schmidt was a former lifeguard who serves as the Medical Director under contract with the city of Jacksonville Beach. He oversees all the standard operating procedures and makes determinations that elevate the standard of care in emergency situations that require medical intervention.

“If anyone ever questioned what we do or why we do something, we can say well, we did this because we have Dr. Schmidt, who is an ER physician, approving everything we do and how we do it,” says Emahiser. “It affects how we make our decisions, whether we should call Fire Rescue or handle things ourselves. Whenever you touch somebody as a first responder you have to make sure that you’re acting to the standard of care that [is] accepted across the country. When we evaluate a person, we want to make sure our guards are trained to that standard.”

American Red Cross Volunteer Lifesaving Corps in Jacksonville Beach, Photos by James Brown
Photos by James Brown

As an expert in the pathology of drowning, Dr. Schmidt is also changing the way lifeguards address that risk. Emahiser and Justin Sempsrott, a former Corps member and executive director of Lifeguards Without Borders, partnered with the World Health Organization to redefine “drowning” as a process and not an event. They’re also working to eliminate terms such as dry drowning, near drowning or dry land drowning that can complicate a response.

“We’re teaching EMS, police dispatchers and paramedics in this area and around the country to stop using those terms. If we have an incident, we will report exactly what’s happening to dispatch, so they will know how to respond,” says Emahiser. “A lot of people used to think if you were drowning, you were dead, but it’s a process where you’re submerged in a liquid and you experience respiratory distress. If you are struggling and you submerge anywhere in your bathtub or in the ocean, you are then drowning. What we do is interrupt the process of drowning. It used to be that wasn’t counted. If you didn’t die, you didn’t drown, and that’s just not the case.”

The Jacksonville Beach station will soon be outfitted with a system that will allow corps members to maintain their own oxygen tanks without having to rely on the fire department for support. “We won’t have to leave the station, and we’ll always have plenty of oxygen if we have a busy day with a lot of rescues,” says Emahiser.

As the only full-time staff members, it’s up to Emahiser and his First Lieutenant Joe Walcutt to impress the younger members the importance of professionalism in all areas from communication to punctuality. The alumni and senior corps members also serve as mentors to the younger generation to arm them with the practical life skills that they will carry ahead into all aspects of their adult lives. Each recruit is assigned a mentor to help them through the physical aspect but also offer advice and help them meet their goals.

“For a lot of these kids, it’s their first job, so we’re doing a lot of basic training as well. You need to use two alarm clocks. You need to make sure you plan out how you’re going to get here. Make sure you have reliable transportation. You need to communicate, know your schedule, have a calendar, and use it,” says Emahiser. “At 9am I call roll, and they are all there on time. That’s part of teaching responsibility, so that everyday I have the same number of people showing up in uniform. They have water, they’ve got a whistle, and they’re ready to lifeguard.”

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/08/07/american-red-cross-volunteer-life-saving-corps-jacksonville-beach/


Upcoming Events

  1. 2018 Fall Family Festival

    October 12 @ 3:00 pm - November 14 @ 1:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  3. NOVEMBERFEST 2018

    November 14 @ 4:00 pm - November 18 @ 8:00 pm UTC+0
  4. SpaKitty Dinner

    November 14 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  5. The Festival of Trees

    November 15 @ 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  6. FIU’s 32nd Festival of the Trees

    November 15 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  7. School Day at the 2018 Florida Tiny House MUSIC Festival

    November 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm UTC+0
  8. 10th Annual OrlandoJobs.com Job Fair and Career Expo

    November 16 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0
  9. Florida Tiny House Music Festival (3rd Annual)

    November 16 @ 12:00 pm - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  10. Orlando Balloon Glow

    November 16 @ 5:00 pm - November 18 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0

Upcoming Events

  1. 2018 Fall Family Festival

    October 12 @ 3:00 pm - November 14 @ 1:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  3. NOVEMBERFEST 2018

    November 14 @ 4:00 pm - November 18 @ 8:00 pm UTC+0
  4. SpaKitty Dinner

    November 14 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  5. The Festival of Trees

    November 15 @ 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  6. FIU’s 32nd Festival of the Trees

    November 15 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  7. School Day at the 2018 Florida Tiny House MUSIC Festival

    November 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm UTC+0
  8. 10th Annual OrlandoJobs.com Job Fair and Career Expo

    November 16 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0
  9. Florida Tiny House Music Festival (3rd Annual)

    November 16 @ 12:00 pm - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  10. Orlando Balloon Glow

    November 16 @ 5:00 pm - November 18 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0

Join our Fun Network

  1. 2018 Fall Family Festival

    October 12 @ 3:00 pm - November 14 @ 1:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  3. NOVEMBERFEST 2018

    November 14 @ 4:00 pm - November 18 @ 8:00 pm UTC+0
  4. SpaKitty Dinner

    November 14 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  5. The Festival of Trees

    November 15 @ 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  6. FIU’s 32nd Festival of the Trees

    November 15 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  7. School Day at the 2018 Florida Tiny House MUSIC Festival

    November 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm UTC+0
  8. 10th Annual OrlandoJobs.com Job Fair and Career Expo

    November 16 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0
  9. Florida Tiny House Music Festival (3rd Annual)

    November 16 @ 12:00 pm - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  10. Orlando Balloon Glow

    November 16 @ 5:00 pm - November 18 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0