Category Archives: Holidays

Fresh Ideas for Easter Baskets - the Renaissance Blog

Fresh Ideas for Easter Baskets

by Colleen Cook

It’s officially spring, and I still have Halloween candy in my pantry. From two years ago. Does it ever feel to you like we just go from one candy-consuming holiday to the next? We trick-or-treat, then Christmas stockings, Valentine’s parties, and now Easter baskets. The last thing we need is more candy in our cupboard.

So, I’m the Easter Bunny is thinking outside the box when it comes to Easter baskets this year. One of the tenets of our mission at the Renaissance is to “celebrate the imagination in each of us,” so here are some great ideas for Easter basket gifts that celebrate imagination (without rotting your teeth!):

Carrousel Rides

Richland Carrousel Park

We’ll be stuffing Easter eggs with tickets to the Richland Carrousel Park – my girls adore riding the Carrousel, and what better way to welcome spring than to enjoy a day at the Carrousel? And, bonus, you can get 6 rides for just $5! (As I’m writing this post, my 3 year old walked up and saw just the bottom of that photo and shouted, “Hey! Look! That’s the carrousel! I LOVE THE CARROUSEL!”)

New Books

Main Street Books Mansfield

Our friend Llalan Fowler at Main Street Books has a wealth of great choices for families. Here are a couple of sweet suggestions from Llalan:

GuessHow

“Guess how much I love you,” says Little Nutbrown Hare. Little Nutbrown Hare shows his daddy how much he loves him: as wide as he can reach and as far as he can hop. But Big Nutbrown Hare, who can reach farther and hop higher, loves him back just as much. Well then Little Nutbrown Hare loves him right up to the moon, but that’s just halfway to Big Nutbrown Hare’s love for him.

 

EggQuiet

This stunningly beautiful and wonderfully informative book from award-winning artist Sylvia Long and author Dianna Hutts Aston makes for a fascinating introduction to the vast and amazing world of eggs. Featuring poetic text and an elegant design, this acclaimed book teaches children countless interesting facts about eggs. Full of wit and charm, An Egg Is Quiet will at once spark the imagination and cultivate a love of science.


Children’s Museum Visits

Little Buckeye Children's MuseumWe have several gems for families in Mansfield, and Little Buckeye is definitely one of them! Two floors jam-packed with creative exhibits cultivated to foster imagination in your child. If you haven’t been to Little Buckeye before, or in a while, pick up a gift certificate to visit and stick it in this year’s Easter basket – it’s a wonderful way to spend a day as a family.

Theatre Tickets

The Renaissance Theatre - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

There are few things I enjoy as much as sharing something I love with my children. Whether we’re attending a Teddy Bear Concert, a full-stage musical, a family show, or a concert by the Mansfield Symphony, I’m always amazed by the permanence of that memory with my children – they talk about it for years after.

Some great upcoming choices for Easter baskets include tickets to our summer show, The Little Mermaid (July 29-30, Aug. 5-6; tickets starting at $15), the Mansfield Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Spring Concert (May 7th; student tickets $5), and Little Johnny Jones presented by our Renaissance Youth Opera Theatre (May 27-28; tickets $15).


How will you be celebrating the imagination of your children this year? Tell us in the comments over on our Facebook page!

Mansfield Symphony Cellist photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

What to Expect When You Come to the Symphony

by Colleen Cook and Chelsie Thompson

Something we hear from our patrons a lot is that one of the reasons they hesitate to come to a symphony concert is because, well, they just don’t know what to expect. Doing new things can be intimidating, especially if your perception of the experience is outside of your comfort zone.

So, here are some answers to some of the frequently asked questions about attending a symphony concert:

What should I expect?

Expect that you’re in for a treat! If this is your very first symphony concert, you might be a little nervous because this is all new to you, but that’s okay – you’ll soon realize that your role as an audience member is one of the best: to sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience. After all, the orchestra is playing this concert for you.

What should I be paying attention to?

Notice the beat of the music, and the way the tunes make you feel.Let your thoughts go, and instead, allow yourself to simply focus on what you hear. For just a couple of hours, you can pretend that there is nothing else in the world except the musical moment that you are experiencing at the time.
Here are a few things to look for:

    • The bows that the string sections use to play will always be moving in the same direction within their section.
    • Woodwinds will be adjusting their instruments and reeds, perhaps changing out their instrument to a smaller or larger model to play higher or lower notes.
    • The percussionists will be moving from instrument to instrument and changing the mallets that they use to play each one, with the timpanist occasionally tapping the drums lightly while holding his ear to them to make sure they are in tune.
    • The brass will be emptying their spit valves – yes, this happens, although any brass player will confirm to you that the “spit” is actually condensation that builds up in the instrument as they blow air through it. The French horns will be the most noticeable in this, as they are notorious for annoying their fellow brass players by purposely emptying up to ten slides in a row.
    • After solos, you might see the string players tap their bows lightly on their stand or the wind players tap their foot on the ground, or hand on their knee, to show their appreciation to the soloist during the music.

What do I wear?

Well, what do you like to wear? There’s no dress code for the symphony, so you’ll see everything from jeans and tees to cocktail dresses and suits. Going to the symphony is all about experiencing the magic of a live orchestra, so you might even notice that the orchestra dresses in all black so as not to draw your attention away from the music. Wear something that’s comfortable to you, and feel free to dress up as you see fit.

Where do I park?

You’re in luck – the Renaissance Theatre, which is the Mansfield Symphony’s home, has its own large parking lot, which connects directly to the back main entrance of the theatre (you can’t miss it – you’ll see four glass doors marked “Theatre Entrance” on your right as you walk towards the building). On busy nights, you may end up in one of our secondary lots: the two adjacent lots just West of the Ren on Park Avenue, and the gravel lot behind the main parking lot, next to the Sons of Italy building. You might also find parking on the streets in front of and behind the theatre.

Will it be interesting to watch?

There’s quite a bit going on during a symphony concert, which can have anywhere from 60 to 100 musicians onstage, so there’s plenty to see – in fact, when we add the chorus, the number of musicians onstage at one time can reach 170! The conductor is in command of all of these musicians at once, so his arms, hands, and the rest of his body are perpetually in motion to make sure that everyone is always on the same page.The musicians themselves are enjoying the music, too, so you’ll see some who are smiling, some with looks of intense concentration, and some moving to the beat.

Will I know any of the songs?

You might! You’ll probably know some of the music, and some of it will likely be new to you. Even if you don’t think that you are familiar with orchestral or classical music, chances are good that you hear it on a daily basis – it’s in commercials, movies, and in the background of radio ads. Since music speaks for itself, it’s used quite frequently to convey a mood or elicit an emotion in these formats. In fact, even current pop and hip-hop music often uses familiar melodies from classical pieces. Don’t believe us? Check out this list of just 25 of them on ClassicFM. (In case it isn’t obvious, our personal favorite is Nas + Beethoven).

Who are the musicians?

The Mansfield Symphony is an exceptional group of professional musicians from right here in Mansfield, as well as Cleveland, Columbus, and everywhere in between. They are professional musicians, music teachers, graphic designers, college professors, managerial professionals, and even music students who are currently completing their Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees. They are all different in many ways, but one thing they have in common is that they love to play music for you, the audience.

Will anyone be singing?

We have a fantastic chorus, and they do accompany the orchestra on a few different occasions each year – the Holiday Pops is a perennial favorite, and we often perform at least one additional large-scale work each year that features our talented vocalists. In addition, the Mansfield Symphony Chorus is active in the community, performing an annual “Sing Out! Choral Extravaganza” with several area schools each fall – and this year, the chorus will perform their inaugural “Sing into Spring” concert in April. Shameless plug: if you love to sing, then this is the group for you!

Can I bring my children? Will they like it?

Children are always welcome at the symphony, but you’ll find that some concerts are better than others. Many regular season symphony concerts are almost two hours long, which can be hard for the little ones to sit through without getting antsy and distracting your fellow audience members and musicians. Concerts with lots of extra action onstage (like the Holiday Pops concerts)are a great first symphony experience for the family, as the multimedia and interactive aspects offer more to catch kids’ eyes and keep them engaged.

You can also give us a call to ask whether a specific concert might be okay for kids – we can give you some insight on the music and length of the concert that may help you make your decision. And if you’re still not sure, why not try out our interactive Teddy Bear Concerts with members of the Mansfield Symphony? These concerts are slated for afternoons three times each season, and offer a small group or soloist from the MSO accompanying an original story or children’s activity.

When should I clap?

Okay, this is a very common question, with good reason! After all, no one wants to be “that guy” that clapped at the wrong time. There are a few easy spots to remember:

  • At the beginning of the concert, the Concertmaster (a.k.a. the first chair violin) will enter the stage to tune the orchestra. As he or she enters, clap to welcome him or her.
  • When the orchestra is done tuning and the Concertmaster sits down, the Conductor will enter the stage, so you’ll clap to welcome him or her as well.
  • If there is a soloist, they will enter the stage when the orchestra is ready to play their piece, and the audience claps at that time.

It is also appropriate to applaud at the end of each piece – and this can be a little tricky, since some of the songs you’ll hear have multiple parts, which are called “movements.” The movements are listed in the program, and the orchestra and conductor prefer that the audience does not clap between movements, as they need that time to concentrate on the next part of their music.

A good rule of thumb is to watch the conductor: the conductor will turn around when it’s time to applaud. If the conductor’s hands are still in the air, or is still facing the orchestra, then most likely they’re still concentrating and need quiet. When the conductor’s hands drop, and he or she turns to face the audience, the orchestra is ready to hear your appreciation and applause. If ever in doubt, just hang back a bit – regular symphony-goers will help you know what to do by starting the applause at the right time.

How do I buy tickets?

Easy-peasy: you can purchase tickets through the Renaissance Box Office by calling (419) 522-2726, or visiting in person. The Box Office is open 12-5 Tuesday through Friday, and 2 hours before every show, but you can purchase online anytime.

We hope this is a helpful guide for any symphony-goer. Did we miss your question? Comment below and we’ll happily answer you! If you’d like to see what performances are upcoming in our Mansfield Symphony’s season, you can find that out right here.

Give an Experience

Best Christmas Gift Ever: Give an Experience

by Colleen Cook

As a mom of two kids under 3, sometimes I just “can’t even” with the clutter around my house. It seems like every room has an abundance of stuff that’s threatening to overtake. No matter how frequently I tidy up, each week the surfaces pile up and the clutter starts to take over like kudzu.

As I prepare for the holiday season, I’m trying to be thoughtful about each person on my list – thinking about what they already have, what they don’t, what they might want, what they might need, what they wouldn’t get themselves, and for my immediate family: what won’t add to the abundance of stuff in our house.

When I was 14 years old, I received my most favorite Christmas gift from my parents. It was a gift certificate to our local professional theater, packaged alongside a season brochure. I don’t remember one other thing I got that year, but I vividly remember my glee at the promise of a shared experience with my Dad, and the hours I spent pouring over the season lineup trying to choose. We redeemed the gift certificate for tickets to see the tour of the musical Annie, a performance that I also vividly remember – it was one of the first live musicals I had seen.

That gift gave me the power of choice as a young teenager, and it was one of the sparks that kindled a life-long love for the performing arts. I formed a memory with my dad that day that will be with me forever, just the two of us (which was unusual, since I have two younger siblings). I think my parents spent $50 on the gift, which is funny since they’ve certainly given me more expensive gifts before and after, but the memory was worth so much more.

When I think about the “stuff” I’ve received as gifts over the years, only a handful remains in my possession longterm, but the experiences I’ve had have created memories that are mine forever. I don’t have to think about where to put them in my house, I don’t have to go through the trouble of packing it up when we move, I don’t have to worry about the sentimental moment of parting with an item I’ve been gifted that I no longer need and am ready to donate. It’s just mine, for good.


If you’d like to give the experience of a memory at the Renaissance this year, our Box Office offers gift certificates at every dollar amount – we recommend buying in denominations of $30 since that’s our average ticket price. With each gift certificate, we provide a beautiful gift card holder and a season brochure. Gift certificates never expire and can be used on any production.

White Christmas, 2015. Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

A Few of Our Favorite Things: Mansfield Holiday Gift Guide

by Colleen Cook, Director of Marketing (and mom of 2 little ones)

The holidays are upon us and if you’re like me, you’ve already been listening to your Christmas playlists on Spotify and have begun your holiday shopping. One of my goals this year is to simplify – less of everything. Less stuff, less busy-ness, less stress – just, less.

So, this year we’re starting a tradition in our house that will reel in the insanity when it comes to gifts for our kids. (I didn’t invent this, just came across it on the internet) the philosophy is that you buy just 7 good gifts per child, each representing a category:

  1. Something to wear
  2. Something to read
  3. Something you want
  4. Something you need
  5. Something to do
  6. Something for me (think: keepsake)
  7. Something for family

The Renaissance is so proud to be a part of an innovative, incredible community. So, we wanted to take an opportunity to highlight just a few of the area’s greatest finds for this holiday season.

Small Business Saturday is coming up on November 26th and Mansfield shows up in a big way! Many local businesses have terrific specials on that day, so be sure to include them in your holiday shopping.

(Quick note: the Renaissance is supported by and partnered with many local businesses as a part of how we support the programming for our non-profit. This post was not in any way influenced by those relationships, but some of those supporters may show up in this gift guide, and others are well-deserving, but might not fit this list this time.)

Here’s our shortlist for where you might want to do your holiday shopping this year:

Something to wear:

With winter putting a chill in the air, keep those toes warm with a great pair of boots from The Boot Life, with an incredible inventory of boutique options unmatched in our region. Visit their store at 36 West Fourth St. in Downtown Mansfield.

Something to read:

Main Street Books is your one-stop shop for a carefully curated selection of incredible books. Their “book lady,” Llalan Fowler is one of the most interesting and thoughtful people in Mansfield, so be sure to ask her for her recommendations when you stop in. They’re located right by the Carrousel in Downtown Mansfield at 104 North Main Street.

Something you want:

Visit the Mansfield Art Center for a unique and one-of-a-kind gift. Their classes for kids make an awesome grandparent gift, and their pieces for sale are memorable gifts perfect for anyone on your list this year. You can visit them at 700 Marion Avenue in Mansfield.

Something you need:

Did you know that Relax, It’s Just Coffee has some of the best coffee around? Their innovative and delicious (not to mention beautiful) drinks are a requirement for any groggy winter morning. A bag of their fresh-roasted coffee or a gift card makes a pretty awesome gift! Visit them at 105 North Main Street in the Carrousel District of Downtown Mansfield.

Something to do:

We’d be remiss if we didn’t put in a plug here for our Renaissance Gift Certificates! They never expire, and can be used on anything in our season – from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to Diamond Rio, and more. We’ll be offering discounts for Small Business Saturday, as well as extended hours this holiday season. Visit our box office from 12-5, Tues- Fri. at 138 Park Ave W.

So that we’re not just self-promoting with this list, we’d also like to recommend Tog Loft’s great photography classes and photo sessions! Our staff took the Intro to DSLR class about a year ago, and we’re still using their great tips on a regular basis – this would make a great companion gift for someone getting a new camera this year. Their mini sessions are the perfect way to squeeze in a photo shoot when your family’s too busy to schedule a session. You can visit them 41 B East 4th Street in Downtown Mansfield.

Something for me:

One thing that separates a local, independent jeweler is the opportunity to find that perfect keepsake that is unique and special, just for the person you love. Our friends at Miller’s Diamond Jewelry have just the thing to make your season a little more sparkly, and incredibly special for the one you love – even if you don’t have a huge budget! Visit them at the Appleseed Shopping Center at 1442 Lexington Avenue in Mansfield.

Something for family:

If you haven’t visited the Little Ren exhibit at Little Buckeye Children’s Museum yet, you are in for a treat! We love this special place for families to experience and explore in Mansfield, and a family membership for a year only costs $100 – you actually can’t beat that! Visit the in the Carrousel District of Downtown Mansfield at 44 West Fourth St.

 

Happy Holidays!