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Lessons From The Second City

By Michael Thomas, Artistic Director

I have to admit, when our Marketing Director, Colleen Cook, asked me to write a blog about my time at the Second City I was a little stumped. “Write about something funny that happened. When something went wrong.” Of course, something going wrong was what we’d always hoped would happen. Someone forgetting to make an entrance, a missed sound cue, a server dropping a tray of glasses, a cell phone ringing… Those sort of things were like little gifts to the improv-trained actor because they knew that the unexpected is funny – and they can riff on it. Even in the worst of times – as when a drunken high schooler, celebrating her post prom at our show, vomited all over herself, the server and the unfortunate couple in front of her – I watched the actors on stage spin upchuck into comedy gold. For the rest of the evening, the actors would somehow find a way to work a barf joke into the scene – and it would send the audience into hysterics. We were taught not to resort to potty/childish humor, (see below), but when forced into it, we could keep pace with the best/worst of them.

Looking back, some of the funniest, (albeit frustrating) moments came when I first started improv classes. There was always someone in your class who ignored the basic rules of improv and would completely change the scene so that they could, presumably, insert what they considered to a funnier situation or even just a corny pun or one liner. For instance, I recall that our suggestion for a scene was “a man whose wife is cheating on him.” . My scene partner and I got up on stage and I began with “I’m so distraught. I know something is going on and it’s driving me crazy.” My partner responded with “What are you talking about? I’m George Washington and it’s my birthday!” The guy had clearly been sitting on his hands waiting to unveil a hilarious George Washington birthday party scene he’d concocted – and he was going to do it whether we liked it or not. Fans of the television program The Office may recall Michael Scott’s failed attempt at improv. When he doesn’t know how to end a scene, he simply pulls out an imaginary pistol and shoots all of his teammates dead. The star of that show, Steve Carrell, is a Second City alum – and I’m certain that scene must have been based on his real life experiences.

Of course, there were also many memorable moments dealing with certain members of the audience. I don’t think we ever did a single show when there wasn’t someone in the crowd who thought they were funnier than the folks on stage. It usually went down like this:
Actor: We need a suggestion for a place. Any place. A train station. A taxi cab. Your mother’s kitchen.
Man in audience: Poop!!!
Actor: (ignoring him) An amusement park. A doctor’s office. An operating room.
Man in audience: A urinal!!
Actor: (still ignoring him) Betsy Ross’ sewing room. The deck of the Titanic. A hamster cage.
Man in crowd: Someone farting!
Actor: (ignoring him again while cocking a hand to his ear) I think I heard someone call out “A basketball court!”
The unfortunate man in the audience really felt as though he was the first person in the history of comedy to think of toilet humor. I’m sure he envisioned the audience hoisting him upon their shoulders and celebrating him as the great wit of his generation. The Noel Coward of gastrointestinal-based comedy.

But what I remember most about my time at Second City is that I witnessed some of the best acting and storytelling I’d ever seen. When I was in acting school, we wrote off our comedy improv class as a silly, albeit entertaining, diversion from the much meatier works of Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. But what I discovered at Second City was that the best improvisers are also the most profoundly adept actors. And why? Because they are always listening and reacting. They stay “in the moment” – so their reactions are always honest and believable. Some of our most renowned actors, including Bill Murray, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Alan Arkin, John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Mike Myers and Martin Short – as well as my friends Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey – were trained at the Second City. I spent four years there in the 1990s – and met some of the most incredibly funny, kind, giving and generous folks I’ve ever known. Unlike so many, I didn’t seek out a job there, but came onboard thanks to my friend Jeff Richmond, who directed many of their main stage and ETC productions. At first it just seemed like any other gig – and I honestly just did it for the paycheck. But I quickly discovered that what they do is truly an art form – and I had fallen, bass ackwards, into one of the most profoundly life-changing experiences I would ever know.

Four Events You Won’t Want to Miss in 2017

by Colleen Cook 

Few things carry as much potential as a fresh, blank calendar. There’s just something about that blank space that feels free and exciting as you look at the next 365 days knowing they can be whatever you choose.

If you’re like me, then you’re probably thinking a lot about what you can do less of, what you want to do more of, and how you want to spend your days this year as you fill in your calendar with birthdays, appointments, social plans, and more. For me, this year I will be working to ensure that the time I’m with my family is spent more intentionally. We’ll be spending more time making memories that will last, rather than binging a Netflix show or scrollaxing through our various devices.

Here are four events that I’m putting on my calendar, and why:

January 27th: The Second City Game Night

The Second City's Game Night

I have always wanted to see The Second City in person, and this is the year! Bonus: I don’t have to make the trek into Chicago! Having been a HUGE Saturday Night Live fan since I was too young to be watching it, as SNL fans know, The Second City is the breeding ground for great improv comedians. Alumni include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steven Colbert, Steve Carrell, Bill Murray… and our own Michael Thomas! So, we’re calling a babysitter and making sure we don’t miss this night.

February 18th: Pre-Concert Dinner & When Swing Was King Concert

When Swing Was King

My husband and I sometimes downplay Valentine’s Day, but for no good reason. Our love is worth celebrating, and we never regret making a big deal out of silly greeting card holidays – because good memories last way longer than the cards and candy. So, this year, we’ll be celebrating at the Mansfield Symphony’s pre-concert gourmet dinner by Rasul Welch and Anne Massie of Altered Eats, followed by a night of swing music with the Mansfield Symphony and world-renowned conductor Carl Topilow!

April 7th: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Live

We have a preschooler in our house, and Daniel Tiger and his neighbors are like a third parent in our household. We count on Daniel to reinforce some really important lessons for our kids using earworms musical jingles like, “Use your words,” and “When you feel jealous, talk about it and we’ll figure something out,” and of course, “You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back.” Seeing the joy on our daughter’s face last year at this event made it an early contender for our 2017 calendar.

May 20: Classic Albums Live plays The Eagles’ “Hotel California”

Classic Albums Live: The Eagles' Hotel California

As a kid, I remember listening to the “Hotel California” on vinyl in my parents’ basement, the richness of the incredible acoustic guitars and the band’s gritty authentic sound pouring over me. Classic Albums Live has gained quite a reputation as the quintessential authentic recreation of these incredible albums, live – playing every note, every cut, just the way you remember it. And, these guys are good. I’ve been excited to see this group since we started talking about it more than year ago, and you can be sure this event is on my personal calendar.


Comment and tell us, what events are your must-sees this year?

 

One word for 2017

One Word for 2017

by Colleen Cook

It has become internet-popular to forego the traditional New Year’s resolution list, and instead choose one word that becomes your guiding theme or principal for the year. Admittedly, I haven’t done this for myself yet, but I will be trying it in 2017.

As most things in internet culture go, the origin of the idea seems to be hard to pin down – the earliest post on the idea I could find is on Christine Kane’s blog as early as 2006, however iterations of this idea are all over the place.

As an organization, the Renaissance has a mission and a vision statement, a strategic plan, marketing and development plans, and so many formal planning documents, but I thought it would be interesting to ask our staff to summarize their own departmental goals for 2017 into one word. Here’s what they chose:

Michael Thomas: Expand

Chelsie Thompson: Gratitude

Linda Chambers: Collaboration

Patrick Clinage: Thorough

Ashley Young: Present

Mike Miller: Sustainability

Colleen Cook: Engaging

We hope that as a cultural hub to our community, we can be all of these things, and more. What is YOUR one word for 2017? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

Year In Review

Highlights of 2016, Looking into 2017… and a BIG announcement!

by Mike Miller, President & CEO

This has been one of the most exciting and expansive years in my history with the Renaissance, and it’s all thanks to our incredible staff, board, volunteers, donors, and patrons! We have truly got the best team of people working together to bring outstanding arts and culture to Mansfield, and I am proud to be a part of it.

This year, the Renaissance has reduced its total debt down to $150,000, down from $1.2 million when I took the helm in 2010. We’ve done this through streamlining our operations and programming, fundraising for debt reduction, and improving our business practices. We want the Renaissance to exist in Mansfield forever, and adopting a sustainable business model and operating within our means was critical, and we couldn’t have done it without our incredible team.

Another highlight for the Renaissance was Michael Thomas’ original production of Hot Mess: The Musical. Never before have we sold out a production before it even opened, but that was the case with this hysterical new musical that showcases Michael’s adept skill for musical comedy. Even more exciting, renowned Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh has taken interest in the production and we will be taking our cast to workshop it in New York City in April 2017, following our spring revival of the production on our stage in Mansfield. We couldn’t be more excited for our artists at the Renaissance!

Our Mansfield Symphony conductor search has been a remarkable process, with over 100 outstanding applicants from all over the world for the position of music director! This speaks to the quality and reputation of our orchestra to have such a wealth of individuals vying for the position. Having the opportunity to showcase three of those conductors on our stage this season has already been a treat for our community.

And now for the big announcement…!!!

For me, one of the most exciting things of 2016 is only first being publicly announced right now, and that is our acquisition of a 15,000 square foot building at 166 Park Avenue West. Despite our large building, we have so many educational programs, performance groups, ensembles, and productions rehearsing in our space that we are constantly running out of usable rehearsal and performance spaces in our building. When we approached our board about a building that was for sale by the Richland County Land Bank for $89.00, but required $150,000 in work just to make it usable, rather than back away our board ran in and raised and supplied the funds in 10 days, fully funded through cash and in-kind donations. In particular, massive thanks go to Bill Hope of Alumni Roofing for providing a new roof for the building, and Ary Van Harlingen of Shaw Ott Medical and his team for remediating the extensive mold in the building and gutting it, as well as one anonymous funder.

Over the coming months we’ll talk a lot more about this space with you. We’ll be conducting a feasibility study, thanks to support from the Richland County Foundation, in order to determine what the community needs from this space. We know we’d like to see more rehearsal space, a more intimate performance space, and education classrooms. Keep your eyes open for a lot more conversation about this space soon. If you’d like to hear just a little more, you can listen to the Renaissance Podcast episode the Chairman of our Board, Rand Smith, and I released this week.

The Renaissance is committed to being the cultural hub for our community. We are energized by the partnerships we’ve formed with our region’s non-profits and we are delighted by the support we continually receive to keep our program vibrant and expanding. Thank you for making this the greatest job on earth.

3 Things You Support By Giving to the Annual Fund Campaign

By Jessica Dulle & Colleen Cook

1. Education

Teddy Bear Concert - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Teddy Bear Concert – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

The Renaissance proudly boasts that our Education Department serves 15,000 students each year! We have 13 distinct programs, numerous collaborations with area schools and agencies, and serve individuals of all ages and abilities!

2. Live Performances

Beauty and the Beast 2016 - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Beauty and the Beast 2016 – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Whether it’s our locally-produced professional Broadway-style productions, touring bands,  artists, or comedians, or offering a venue to local emerging artists and acts, the Renaissance exists to make outstanding live performances available and accessible for everyone in our region! (Did you know that no one is turned away for an inability to pay for a ticket, thanks to our Angel Ticket Program?)

3.The Mansfield Symphony

The Mansfield Symphony Orchestra - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

The Mansfield Symphony Orchestra – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

A cultural establishment in Mansfield for over 85 years, the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra is one of the premiere mid-size symphonies in the country. This season, the MSO is able to offer 6 concerts to the public, plus four educational concerts and numerous community outreach performances. As Ben Folds recently said, “Symphonies symbolize the epitome of civilization, i.e., people working together. If you go to a town without an orchestra or a bad orchestra, it’s a crappy town.”

You can give to the Renaissance Annual Fund Campaign $100,000 Matching Grant Challenge and have your gift matched 2:1 by the Landers Foundation and the Hire Foundation anytime between now and December 31, 2016! To give, click here.

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.

Giving Tuesday 2016

#GivingTuesday – What is it? How do I participate?

by Jessica Dulle, Director of Development

You’ve probably heard of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or even Cyber Monday, but there is another important commerce day celebrated each year and that’s Giving Tuesday. For social media followers, it’s #GivingTuesday.

So, what is exactly is Giving Tuesday? Per their organizational website, “#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration”. In the non-profit industry, it officially kicks off the charitable season during the holidays.

Basically, Giving Tuesday is the one day every year where nonprofits rally together to encourage you to donate to worthy causes whether global or local.

The movement has been popular since its inception only a handful of years ago and is celebrated the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.).

You might be thinking, I like the idea of investing in some of my favorite charities, but how do I get involved? The good news is the process is easy. You can visit your charity of choice website and personally donate online or you can utilize a crowd raising platform such as Razoo.com.

Most donations made via Giving Tuesday are online, but organizations will happily enjoy snail mail or in-person gifts.

If you’re living in Richland County (Ohio), getting involved in #RichlandGives is the way to go! Thanks to the wonderful staff at the Richland County Foundation, they have coordinated the logistics with all the participating non-profits in our area that are taking part in Giving Tuesday.

To participate, visit https://richlandgives.razoo.com/us/story/Renaissance-Performing-Arts-Association on Tuesday, November 29th between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Things to remember during Giving Tuesday:

  • You can give to multiple organizations at once
  • The process is safe and easy
  • Sometimes incentive gifts are provided to non-profits who participate so this is a great day to donate
  • You can become a hero for the day to your favorite charity(s)

If you have more questions about Giving Tuesday, I encourage you to contact your favorite local charity(s).

To the diverse group of heroes out there, whether they be individuals, communities, or organizations, thank you for joining forces on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 to celebrate and encourage giving. In a simple click on your computer or touch of your finger on your phone, you can make a lasting impact in the lives of so many.

SchoolBusesOBB_Web_PhotoByJeffSprang

Why Your Ticket Purchase Isn’t Enough

by Jessica Dulle, Director of Development

Ever ask yourself, “Why do many theatres ask for donations when I already purchased tickets?” The truthful answer is several theatres are nonprofits and unfortunately your ticket purchase doesn’t cover the costs to keep the theatre open.

Running a theatre is an expensive business. If your favorite theatre is historic, it costs even more to keep the doors open.

“What are some of the costs,” you might ask yourself. Like any other business, theatres must think about administrative, maintenance, technology, and marketing costs. Getting you to our productions requires lots of dedicated professionals working long hours for months. No worries, we don’t mind. You leaving the theatre memorized by seeing one of our performances make it all worthwhile.

Many theatres also dedicate some funding to giving back to your community. This investment regularly goes into educational programming. Research proves that children who are exposed to the arts regularly earn higher grades, have bigger career aspirations, and are more civically minded. Adults and senior citizens also benefit from being engaged in the arts.

Armed with this knowledge, theatres invest dollars into educating members of our community and many times won’t turn them away if money is an issue.

Another unknown factor is several theatres don’t know how many audience members will show-up until almost show time. Unlike other businesses that produce items based customer demand, theatres will put on the same performance no matter how many people show up. This means theatres sometimes lose money producing some of your favorite shows.

Nationwide, theatres estimate having 60% audience capacity to their performances.

This is all wonderful information, but you may wonder, “how do theatres keep their doors open if my ticket purchase isn’t enough?” The answer is lots of diverse revenue streams. Funding can come from individuals, corporate sponsorships, endowment gifts, foundation grants, state funding, as much more.

These wonderful contributors also keep your ticket prices affordable so you’re not spending $150 to purchase one ticket.

While running a theatre is a complex business, supporting one doesn’t have to be. Consider making an investment in your community the next time your box office ask “would you like to add a donation to the theatre with your ticket purchase?”

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!