Thoroughly Talented Cast

Posted by Randy David Tuesday, March 24, 2009 12:32 PM 1 comments
I had the pleasure of sitting in the audience for Sunday's Young People's Theatre production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie". Pleasure might not be a strong enough word. To quote James Lipton, "It was a delight!"

I've never cared much for the movie version of the musical so I had pretty low expectations. The performances by the principal actors were absolutely as good as any I've witnessed. Olivia Threlkeld as Millie, Zac Erhardt as Jimmy, Ryan Anderson as Trevor Graydon, Lauren Lamey as Muzzy, Alissa Brooks as Mrs. Meers and Mallory Degenhardt as Dorothy are truly talented actors and singers. Besides Young People's Theater, many of the actors (ranging in age from 8-18) have also participated in the Muny Kids and Stages St. Louis programs. Young People's Theatre is supported by St. Charles Community College but attracts talent from all over the area. They are a non-profit organization but you would never know it from the product on the stage.

Set in New York in roaring 20's, the play tells the story of Millie who arrives in the city fresh from Kansas with dreams of finding a job and marrying her boss. What entails is a story of speak-easys, high society and white slavery. The play was very funny, especially Mr. Anderson, Ms. Brooks and her henchmen played by Nick Noto and Jacob Feldt. It is also entertaining. Check out Ms. Threlkeld as Millie, Mr. Erhardt as Jimmy, and Ms. Degenhardt as Dorothy, all tremendous singers. Ms. Lamey took on some pretty torchy numbers that were very challenging and made it look easy. Along with a tap-dancing steno pool, some great speak-easy numbers and and whiz-bang opening number by the rest of the cast, the show zipped along and was never dull.

Brisby Andrews, her staff, and the programs volunteers (mostly parents) put together a very complex and challenging palette of staging and costumes. I can't begin to imagine what this program could do with more funding.

There are four performances remaining at the St. Charles Community College's Fine Arts Building. Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28th at 7PM. There are matinees at 2PM on Saturday, March 28th and Sunday, March 29th. I strongly urge people to attend and judge for themselves. You won't be disappointed. You will probably be delighted.

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Right Whale?

Posted by Randy David Monday, March 16, 2009 1:37 PM 0 comments
According the associated press, monitoring for endangered right whales is ending because funding was lost.

In order to help with tracking, if you see one of these creatures (see picture below) please report it to the local wildlife authorities.

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Economy Down. Customer Service Up.

Posted by Randy David Thursday, March 12, 2009 3:20 PM 0 comments
s it just me, or is customer service improving with the economic downturn? With

Energy-dense foods, such as fast food (picture...Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia
one glaring exception, my recent interactions with the service industry have been more pleasant and efficient than anytime in recent memory.

When I need to stop at the local fast food joint, I actually get a smile and the correct items in my order. No rolling eyes. No heavy sighs. No looks of annoyance. In general, no attitude.

When I call for help with something the person on the other end of the line sounds helpful, confident and competent. It's exactly what I want to hear.

Here are a few theories:

With more people out of work, there are a lot of overqualified people out there taking these jobs either on a part-time or temporary basis. They actually take pride in their work.

With more people out of work AND with the average American rate of saving now at 5%, there are fewer customers to serve. This helps with shorter lines and wait times. It also makes over-worked service personnel less stressed. Let's face it, the "service industry" has been more about "industry" and less about "service" for several years now.

With high competition for the consumer dollar, companies are realizing the value of service again. The customer is no longer feeling tied to a minimal level of quality service because the location is more convenient. Their competitor has short lines and low wait times and guess what? They don't have an attitude.

Of course, I need to point out the exception that proves the rule. Back in early January, I ordered a book and a DVD from them. Both items said they usually ship in 3-7 days. I had an email later the same day indicating the book had been shipped. Sure enough, it was on my doorstep within three days. The DVD? No such luck. It was still listed as "in process" on my account.

After about a month, I sent an email to customer service listing the order number and explaining my situation. Nothing. Not even an auto-email acknowledging my request. About a week later, I sent another. Again, no response. Deciding that the emails weren't working, I called their customer service number and got a pleasant, helpful sounding woman on the other end of the line. She looked at my account and said something like, "Hmmm, that's odd. Let me take your email address and see if our supplier for that DVD is having difficulty getting it in stock. You will have a response within 24 hours." Finally someone was going to straighten this out! Well, it's been about three weeks now and I haven't heard anything back.

I did see last week that Border's was laying off some 700 workers and many of them were in customer service.

Hmmmm. That's odd.

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