Emily’s Reflections on 2017 and Wishes for a Happy New Year 2018

As the year 2017 ends and we prepare for the new year, Emily has more profundity to share than me so I’m pleased to give her this guest blog post:

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Wow! I can’t believe that 2017 is almost over. The older I get the faster time goes, it seems. While I celebrate two New Years each year I see that there are certainly differences between the two although they certainly overlap in some ways. The Jewish New Year in the Fall is about the spiritual. In other words, what can I examine about myself that is keeping me apart from the divine and to work on those pieces of my life to be a better human being.

The New Year that we will usher in tonight is also important to me. First, it is based on the calendar of which my paycheck is based. You bet I take that seriously. But it is also the New Year that allows me to look at my earthly life of the past year; where I’ve been (both figuratively and literally), look at what I have in life and to feel gratitude for it, and look to the future to those places where I’d like to go (again, both figuratively and literally). Of course, my future is predicated upon my plans aligning with G-d’s plans but looking forward is one wish I always hope to have.

It’s been quite a year! First and most importantly, I was granted one more year of health and well-being. Although I’ve been eating way too much and exercising way too little during the holiday season, I look forward to getting back on track in 2018 and am grateful for the opportunity to do so. Next, I can never truly express the gratitude I have for my family! Ken has been my partner for over 40 years (of which 38+ have been married years). He is a wonderful man in so many years and I look forward to another year to continue our “happily ever after” story together.

Both David and Carrie are the best of children (albeit they are most certainly adults). They are living their own adventures and I love hearing about their lives. I am truly blessed that, as adults, they still want both Ken and me to be part of those lives. I have many other family members (both by blood and chosen) and friends who are wonderful human beings. We may not always agree politically but they are all terrific people and I am so lucky that they are in my life. This past year we made new friends, both when we traveled to Spain and Las Vegas, and here at home in Ann Arbor. They are all great people and I look forward to seeing them again, in what I hope won’t be too far in the future.

I am grateful for having steady employment. I’ve met a lot of terrific people during my experience at the State of Michigan and I’ve learned a lot in 2017. I truly believe that the Children’s Trust Fund where I work plays an important role to strengthen our families so that all children can grow up to their full potential. I’ve been there 9.5 years and I’m always amazed at the fantastic child maltreatment prevention work being accomplished across the state.

On the hobby front, I continued my singing and am honored to perform with the Ann Arbor Comic Opera Guild. Our next play, Apple Blossom, will be coming up in three weeks in Ann Arbor (so, locals, please think about coming and look for the ads). My voice teacher Lynda has a special place in my life and she has helped me to be a better soprano and person.

I live in a great city. It is no mystery why Ann Arbor gets high ratings year after year in a variety of polls. OK, so January and February aren’t the best, but, hey, where is there perfect weather all year round? Michigan in summer is perfection and one of the most beautiful states I’ve seen. To behold the Straits of Mackinac is like seeing one of the world’s greatest wonders. In this lovely city of Ann Arbor I have a nice home and neighbors. On days like these past couple of weeks, in the sub-zero temperature range, I feel intense gratitude for having a warm home, hot showers, electricity for lights and watching Law and Order reruns, and having healthy food on my table.

I look to 2018 with optimism. There will be the usual irritants closer to home and situations around the world that will be upsetting but I truly believe that we will all be OK. To get the new year started, we are sharing the evening with friends who will come over for a celebratory dinner of appetizers, cream sauce-seafood enchiladas and spinach-cheese enchiladas, Mexican rice, frijoles, and chocolate mousse. Oh, there will be lots to drink, too, both leaded and unleaded varieties. We’ll watch the ball drop in Times Square (like so many others do) and I’ll use tomorrow to get psyched up for Tuesday’s return to work.

I know this was a long narrative, but it really comes together to wish you and yours a wonderful and happy New Year celebration, and only good things in your lives in the coming year, 2018! Enjoy!

Guild Stakes Future on The Grand Duchess

Against a backdrop of shrinking audiences and grant money for live theater, Ann Arbor’s Comic Opera Guild is mounting its biggest production in six years with Offenbach’s The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. Whether the Guild will offer a full-scale production next season rests on this season’s attendance.

The Guild’s mission for 38 years has been the promotion of the comic opera and operetta form, combining, as it does, top vocalism, dance, spoken acting, orchestral accompaniment, and scenic design. Of course, this form of theater is the most expensive, requiring greater forces than a play. In order to keep ticket prices down, the Guild relies on considerable volunteerism to bring its shows to the boards.

The works of Offenbach have always been dear to the heart of Guild founder, Thomas Petiet. They combine challenging music with really funny plots in a way that few musicals do. In America, they have been hampered in the conversion to English. The Guild solved the problem by creating its own English versions that not only come closer to wit of the originals, but strive to make them even better and usually shorter. Many of the Guild’s versions have been performed by companies around the United States and as far away as Australia.

The subject of The Grand Duchess is timeless (the military and the need for war), and so the setting for the Guild’s production is the onset of World War 1, the war that introduced the technology to kill multitudes. While the subject is treated in a lighthearted way, the message is clear: war doesn’t solve anything. When a lovelorn monarch promotes a handsome but inept soldier to commander-in-chief, disastrous consequences would seem to be the result, but all ends happily (if not in victory).

The Guild has put a professional level cast and considerable time and money into the production, and sees it as a litmus test on whether shows of this scale can be supported by today’s audiences, distracted as they are by so many electronic entertainments. Live theater depends on the audience to exist, not only financially, but artistically. No two performances are exactly the same, and audience reaction has a lot to do with that. Performers draw their sustenance from the audience, and in turn make them a part of the performance.

Offenbach’s The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein

Thurs.-Sat. Feb. 24-26, 8 p.m.: Mendelssohn Theater, Ann Arbor. Credit card orders: 734-763-8587, or at Michigan Union Ticket Office, Ann Arbor

Sat., April 2, 8 p.m. and Sun., April 3, 2 p.m.: Village Theater, 50400 Cherry Hill Road, Canton, MI 48187. Credit card orders: 734-394-5460; online: www.canton-mi.org/villagetheater or at Summit on the Park, 46000 Summit Pkwy, Canton

Adults: $20 Seniors: $17 Students: $15