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River Creek and Lansdowne Blog: Count Dracula comes to Belmont
“Count Dracula, the Musical,” will be performed at Belmont Ridge Middle School, by River Hawk Productions at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 and 19 and 2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 20.

A cast of some 70 middle school students will be circulating on the stage in the show about the notorious Count Dracula. It’s based on the novel by Bram Stoker that was published in 1897 and has since been the subject of stage plays and movies. Irish author Bram Stoker had extracted the character from European mythology in particular and tales from the Carpathian Mountains that form a 1,000-mile arc that juts into Romania. It’s the habitat of many types of wild animals that can feed into the creation of vampires. The name Dracula comes from Vlad Dracul, a 15th-century member of Romanian royalty.

Executive director Jason Augustowski and vocal director Jill Kerr have high hopes after “two-and-a-half-weeks of intensive rehearsals.” Mr. A, as he's known, says, “I’m just so impressed with this incredible cast and crew – so many of whom are rising sixth-graders. In less than three weeks, we’ve crafted a full Broadway production of a very intricate play. They have brought to life complex characters that will shock and wow audiences. I couldn’t be more proud of their hard work and dedication.”

According to River Hawk Productions, “The streets of London in the 1890s were a dangerous and sometimes a messy place.” Actors will be recreating this during the performance with some possible effects on the audience, but they said not to worry – no lasting effects.

With vampires and the like, you can expect some spookiness and the crew recommend that there be parental discretion for children age 10 or younger.

River Hawk Productions came into being in 2012. Since then, they have produced five shows: “Seussical,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Back to the 80s,” “Shrek,” “Tarzan” and “The Little Mermaid.” Having been to some of these, I can testify to the professional nature of the performances, not just in the acting but the staging, the props and sound effects.

Tickets are $10 for reserved seating and can be obtained in advance by visiting lcps.org/tickets. Tickets also can be purchased at the door.

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River Creek and Lansdowne Blog: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation continues its support for education
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation national headquarters is located inconspicuously in a heavily wooded area in Lansdowne. All of this setting belies its mission in life: to provide financial, counseling and other assistance to “high achieving, low income students.” The program is nationwide and students must submit applications that the foundation reviews and acts on.

I recently had the privilege of meeting Mr. Harold Levy the executive director. Mr. Levy says, “We support 950 students (with a portion of these graduating yearly) and add 235 each year.” He told me that they take their scholars as early as the seventh grade and can successively give them aid through high school; at 12th grade level through undergraduate school and on to graduate school. Their program includes putting students through community colleges as well. The foundation can allocate up to $40,000 a year per student and will accommodate changes in schools and curriculum.

He went on to say that they recently began a new program, Good Neighbor Grants, that awarded $150,000 for “programs in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C involving more than 3,600 students.” And as Levy describes: “These grants will benefit bright young people, including many from low-income and moderate income families, who live in the metropolitan area where the Cook Foundation is headquartered.”

The recipients of the grants include: 826DC for a young author’s book project; Audubon Naturalist Society for an enrichment program in stream science; The Bluemont Concert Series for cultural and environmental enrichment; Five Star Inc. for introducing college level classes; KIPP DC with college level English classes; Loudoun Youth for leadership training and Traveling Players Ensemble for classical theater.

His explains that, “Programs we are funding will provide high-quality learning experiences to students from elementary school through high school, helping them to reach a new level of academic and artistic excellence and better preparing them for college.”

One of these students, Mr. Dashell Laryea from Sterling, who is now graduated from Yale and working in San Francisco said, “The Foundation has changed my life. Growing up without a father, with a single mother tremendously poor, under the backdrop of an urban environment I had been told that I could only succeed by spitting out four letter words. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation picked me up, placed me on their shoulders and inspired me to reach for the stars.”

Mr. Levy likened it to having poor kids become “Rhodes Scholars.”
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River Creek and Lansdowne Blog: River Creek Art Show
River Creek resident and artist Kristi Nimmo will be organizing the 14th annual River Creek Art Show, scheduled from 5 to 7:30 p.m. July 29 at the clubhouse. It’s an opportunity for community artists to show their talents as well as visitors who soak up the talent and purchase paintings and the like makes it a special occasion. And to juice it up even more, the club is offering half-price beverages.

Nimmo emphasizes the value of temporary exhibits. “If you haven’t heard the term pop-up gallery, that is one reason to visit the show and its 14 artists. The idea that art needs to be displayed in a permanent space for a ‘reasonable length of time' is no longer as relevant as it used to be.”

She explains that she knows of Hungarian and Spanish artists who have set up temporary gallery space that became a rewarding experience for the viewer and those interested in buying the art. “That pop-up galleries often play a role in giving an ‘art’ identity to a community,” Nimmo said.

This year’s show will feature a “contemporary art project that made use of Instagram to create a photo collage on the theme of sky and trees.” In past shows, there have been not only paintings but photos, jewelry, sculptors, indeed a broad range of artwork that would suit most anyone’s taste.

Members and their guests are welcome.


Lansdowne Town Center will be showing “Bolt” on July 29 beginning at 6:30 p.m. with pre-movie activities involving face painting and a moon bounce. This animated movie came out in 2008 and involved chase scenes, animal friends separated and seeking each other. John Travolta is the voice of Bolt. Rotten Tomatoes reviewing system, based on a poll, gave it an 89 percent favorable rating. The movie should get underway at nightfall. Be sure and bring something to sit on and any refreshments as you may want to keep hydrated.

New food and beverage manager

The River Creek Club has brought in a new food and beverage manager by the name of Amir Radfar. He has come to the club from the Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm Restaurant in Ashburn. He has reportedly won awards for his abilities to manage the workings of a kitchen and customer service. He was the assistant general manager at Clyde’s and had extensive operational and maintenance responsibilities.

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