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Sewing Holes Book Club Discussion Topics

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on February 4, 2016

Art in the Garden

As more and more book clubs meet to read and discuss  Sewing Holes, here are some questions to get the discussion started:

  1. The protagonist of Sewing Holes, Tupelo Honey Lee, is bullied by a neighbor child named Kat. What caused Kat to be a bully? How did Honey choose to handle the bullying? Was it effective?
  2. Honey’s cousin Susie comes to live with the Lee family, and Honey has to deal with her own feelings of jealousy. How does this lead to Honey seeing how a bully might feel? Discuss how their new, non-traditional family structure leads to Honey learning that hearts are big enough to hold love for many people.
  3. The role of children in families has clearly changed from the 1970’s to the present. Were female children valued by the various characters in this book? How was it similar or different in your family?
  4. Honey’s family is torn apart due to differing opinions on the Vietnam War conflict. What is the nature of patriotism? Does it take cowardice or courage to refuse to fight?
  5. After a series of incidents, Honey comes to believe she can heal people through prayer. Then she is unable to save her own father, which results in a crisis of faith. How do different people react differently when things don’t go their way? How do some people find hope in the midst of despair?
  6. After her father dies, Honey tries to limit her mother’s grief and return things to “normal.” Instead, she makes things much worse. How important is it to let people be who they are, instead of trying to control them?

If your book club develops additional topics or questions, please send them to Darlyn Finch Kuhn at .


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Elephant and Piggie at the Shakes

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on February 4, 2016


Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF presents the Central Florida Premiere of Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!”, script and lyrics written by Mo Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma. Based on the popular book series Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems, the Children’s Series musical production runs from April 7 – May 7, 2016 in the Margeson Theater. Tickets ($9 – $15) can be purchased by calling (407) 447-1700 ext. 1, online at, or in person at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 E. Rollins St.).


Who are Elephant and Piggie? Only the best of friends! In this toe-tapping musical, best friends Elephant Gerald and Piggie sing and dance their way through pachydermal peril and swiney suspense as they face fundamental questions like, what do you wear to a fancy pool party? Should you share your ice cream? And how can two friends play with one toy? Backed by nutty backup singers The Squirrelles, the inseparable duo get the audience involved in the fun as well.


“Watching the joy on your child’s face when they see their favorite fictional characters come to life on stage is a moment every parent should experience,” said Elephant and Piggie Director Melissa Mason Braillard. “In keeping with the spirit of the books, Orlando Shakes production of Elephant and Piggie will explore everyday dilemmas like sharing, friendship, and problem solving in an engaging way.”


Orlando Shakes production of Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!” will be led by a Female creative leadership team.


Director Melissa Mason Braillard has appeared in several Orlando Shakes productions including The Taming of the Shrew,  A Little Night Music, Into the Woods, The Imaginary Invalid, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has also appeared in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mad Cow Theatre), Shhh! (PB&J Theatre Factory/Garden Theatre), and Sweeney Todd (Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra). Braillard currently serves as Director of Marketing Communications at Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

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Making her Orlando Shakes debut is Musical Director Megan Tsurumaki. Megan currently serves as the Director of Outreach at the Winter Park Playhouse, where she tours musical theatre productions into Title I elementary schools in the Central Florida region. She formerly served as chair of the Performing Arts Department at Maret School in Washington, DC. and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from UCF and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Appalachian State University.



Choreographer and musical theater triple threat Rachel Arnett will also be joining the creative leadership team.


“I’ve been watching an interesting conversation unfold about the lack of gender parity within the entertainment industry,” said Braillard. “Sitting around the table, I realized that the Elephant and Piggie all female creative team was unique and the first of its kind at Orlando Shakespeare Theater.”
The challenge of bringing the simply illustrated books to life on stage has been answered by three other women as well, Set Designer Robbin Watts, Lighting Designer Colleen Doherty,  and Costume Designer Mel Barger. Sound Designer Britt Sandusky will also be joining the artistic team.


Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!” features Jacob Valleroy as Gerald (Elephant) and Corynne Wagener as Piggie. Other casting includes Sarah Summerwell (Squirrelle), Kimmi Johnson (Dog/Squirrelle), and Austin Ryan Hunt (Penguin/Squirrelle).


Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!” is presented by Orlando Magic.


Orlando Shakespeare Theater is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of, and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts. This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida.



Preview Dates – April 7 and 8 at 10:15 a.m. and noon

Opening Date – April 9 at 2 p.m.

ASL Interpreted – April 30 at 2:00 p.m.



Join members of the cast for interactive pre-show fun for the whole family. The fun starts 10-15 minutes prior to every performance.



Stick around after Saturday performances of Elephant and Piggie for a special autograph session with the stars of the show.



Each actor is shadowed by a sign language interpreter, providing a rich theater experience for our patrons who use sign language. This is also an excellent experience for hearing theater patrons as well as they will be able to enjoy a new and different style of theater.




Monday/Tuesday//Thursday/Friday at 10:15 a.m. and noon – $9

Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. – $9

Saturday at 2 p.m. – $12 children; $15 adults


Group Sales: Up to 20% off groups of 10+

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Benefit Concert for Urban Think Foundation

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on February 4, 2016

Orlando Mixtape Volume 4

Orlando Mixtape vol. 4: British Invasion

Thursday, March 10th | 6:00pm 


Presented by the Downtown Orlando Foundation

Benefiting the Urban Think Foundation


6:00 – 7:30pm – VIP “Never Mind the Bollocks Cocktail Tour,” $100

Tickets include concert admission, and specialty craft cocktails

at The Woods, The Courtesy Bar, Olde 64, and Aero


7:30pm – Benefit Concert, $25 (advance) / $30 (at the door)

Featuring covers of your favorites songs by your favorite Brits

The Social | 54 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, 32801



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Wil Haygood to Visit Valencia

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on February 4, 2016

Wil Haygood

Wil Haygood, journalist, historian and writer of the screenplay for the film “The Butler,” will appear at Valencia College on Feb. 17 and 18 to talk about his new book about Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Best known for “The Butler,” Haygood will discuss his work portraying African-American leaders and his new book, “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America.”

Although Marshall had more experience and a more distinguished resumé than most Supreme Court justices past or present, he faced a hostile and contentious confirmation process in the U.S. Senate in 1967. Haygood’s book details the behind-the-scenes intrigue and the open hostility that Marshall faced.

The author of previous biographies of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson, Haygood is a former journalist and is now serving as a distinguished scholar at Miami University in Ohio.

The first in his family to attend college, Haygood has written six nonfiction books, including prize-winning biographies of 20th-century figures: “King of the Cats: the Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.,” “In Black and White: the Life of Sammy Davis Jr.” and “Sweet Thunder: the Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson.” His other books are “Two on the River,” the story of a 2,500-mile journey down the Mississippi River, and “The Haygoods of Columbus,” a family memoir.

Haygood’s books on Sammy Davis Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson are currently being developed in Hollywood as motion pictures.

Valencia students, along with the public, are invited to hear Haygood’s speech. Haygood’s appearance is being sponsored by the Valencia College Humanities Speakers Series. Both events are free and open to the public.

Haygood will speak at Valencia’s East Campus on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in the college’s Performing Arts Center. Tickets are free, but must be reserved.  To reserve tickets, go to

Valencia’s East Campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando.

On Feb. 18, Haygood will speak at Valencia’s West Campus from 1 to 2 p.m. His speech, which will primarily focus on his research for and work on “The Butler,” will be followed by a panel discussion. Haygood will be speaking in Building 8, the Special Events Center. Valencia’s West Campus is located at 1800 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando.

For more information about Valencia’s Humanities Speakers Series, please visit

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