It practically gallops!

Drama Nut

After hearing the Nutcracker music every day for a month, I miss it now that my performances are over. I can hardly wait to receive the DVD that my wife ordered on Sunday.

At the conclusion of Sunday’s show, my wife presented me with a nutcracker that looks like the character I played, Uncle Drosselmeyer. He is carrying presents and a smaller nutcracker.

I have great respect for the dancers in the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association. They put on truly graceful and athletic performances. My “dance moves” consisted mostly of dramatic walking. What I loved was being a part of the story. The directors let me add a few flourishes to the role. I did some magic tricks during the party scene and a little bit of comedic reacting to the ballerina playing a masquerade doll. I was also allowed to mysteriously appear during a few scenes throughout the rest of the show, as the character does in many other productions.

Each year ORCBA brings in professional dancers to play the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier. They also play the Snow Queen and Snow King in Act I. This year’s professionals were Courtney Dressner and Mark Burns of The Georgia Ballet. In addition, ORCBA hired Grant Howard of Great Gig Dance Company as the Russian soloist.

At least four of the “dance moms” take great photos of their kids during performances. I’ve started seeing some of their pictures on Facebook, including a few good shots of the party scene while I’m doing a magic trick. I will ask them for copies that I can share here in the coming days.


Ye Who Sang Creation’s Story

The Knoxville Choral Society performed several selections by composer Dan Forrest at the Tennessee Theatre a week ago. I was especially impressed with his arrangements of “Angels from the Realm of Glory,” “The First Noel,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” To my delight, Forrest has posted five videos so far from the Knoxville concert on his YouTube channel. Forrest played piano on several of the selections.



Although it’s not even Advent yet, I will attend the same Christmas party four times this weekend. I have the privilege of playing Herr Drosselmeyer in the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association’s production of The Nutcracker.

On Saturday morning, Mona Nair interviewed me on WATE-TV about the show and about ORCBA’s non-profit status. I also mentioned that ticket discounts are available to those who bring a can of food for Second Harvest Food Bank.

When I arrived at the Oak Ridge High School Performing Arts Center, tables were being set up to sell souvenirs, snacks and DVDs of the shows. I was happy to see a representation of Drosselmeyer on the souvenir table.

After the matinee, my wife and I went to lunch in Oak Ridge rather than drive home. There wasn’t much time before I had to be back in costume for the evening show, which featured professional dancers Courtney Dressner, Mark Burns and Grant Howard. The professionals also appear in the 2:00 p.m. Sunday show.


Ballet Selfie

The piece of music stuck in my head on Friday night was the finale of act II of The Nutcracker. For some reason, my Nutcracker earworms tend to be the parts right before my character goes on, as opposed to the parts when I am actually doing something on stage.

On Thursday evening, a photojournalist from WATE-TV recorded about 20 minutes worth of the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association’s dress rehearsal. They can use the footage on Saturday morning at 9:45 when I will be interviewed in-studio by Mona Nair.

On Friday morning, we performed a shortened version of the ballet for an audience of school kids on a field trip. The show went well, which meant that Friday night’s rehearsal was more relaxed. We focused on the scenes with the three professional guest dancers, Courtney Dressner, Mark Burns and Grant Howard.


Shine a Light

The FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award honored me for my involvement with several charities. I’m happy that those non-profit organizations can receive additional attention and awareness from the publicity surrounding the award.

The president of East Tennessee PBS asked me for photos that the station could post online. I sent a couple of pictures to them and to each of the charities mentioned in the FBI press release.

On Thursday, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and East Tennessee PBS posted very nice messages on their Facebook pages.


Nut-T Uncle

The Nutcracker cast t-shirts were distributed Wednesday night. Over the summer, visitors to the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association’s Facebook page voted to choose the artwork on the front. When we voted, we didn’t know who had submitted the various designs. Now that the shirts are printed, I was pleased to learn that the winning design was submitted by my friend Jenny Collins. She played my wife in the 2012 and 2013 productions of The Nutcracker.

An article in The Oak Ridger points out that I have a new role this year: “Special guest Frank Murphy of Classic Hits 93.1 WNOX radio station returns and will take on a new role as the Drosselmeyer.” Herr Drosselmeyer is the eccentric uncle who has some magical powers. He gives the Nutcracker to his niece Clara and casts a spell that sends her to an amazing dreamland.

The back of the cast t-shirt lists all the talented dancers who will bring the story to life on Saturday and Sunday. Three professional dancers from Georgia Ballet will be featured. You can buy tickets at the door, including student tickets for a penny with the purchase of an adult or senior ticket.


A Great Honor and Privilege

The FBI will send me to Washington in the Spring for the Director’s Community Leadership Award ceremony. I will get to meet the honorees from each of the other FBI divisions across the country. This week, I was announced as the award recipient from the Knoxville division. On Tuesday, Special Agent in Charge Edward Reinhold presented me with a certificate during a press conference at the FBI building on Dowell Springs Boulevard.

My wife was able to take a break from work to be there for the presentation. Dennis Reedy, who preceded me, and Angie Luckie, who followed me as president of the FBI Knoxville Citizens Academy Alumni Association attended the event. Longtime FBIKCAAA member Jan Maskarinic was there too. I was also joined by my colleagues Bruce Patrick and Todd Roberts and my pastor, Fr. Michael Woods.

WATE-TV and WBIR-TV sent cameramen. On WATE’s 4:00 p.m. news, Bo Williams and Lori Tucker had very kind words for me. Similarly, John Becker and Robin Wilhoit said nice things during WBIR’s 5:00 p.m. news.

Bruce and Todd recorded videos of Mr. Reinhold’s remarks and my remarks.



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