News + Views

Westchester Broadway Theatre Welcomes Sister Act

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel




For families looking for a unique experience on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, or to celebrate a special night out with friends and family, there is a new production at the popular Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) in Elmsford that will be playing until July 1, 2018.

Sister Act, based on the Touchstone motion picture, tells the hilarious story of Deloris Van Cartier, a disco diva, whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody, she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found—a convent! Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of the Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. This is a sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music.

As anticipated, the WBT continues its habit (pun intended) of offering both fantastic entertainment and a wonderful dining experience to its audience! The dazzling dance routines and songs inspired by Motown, soul and disco are perfectly entwined in the storyline that takes place in the 1970s. Casting is always superb and audiences quickly empathize and root for the characters in WBT plays.

This show features: Zuri Washington (Deloris Van Cartier), Mary Jo McConnell (Mother Superior), Lani Corson (Sister Mary Robert), Ken Jennings (Monsignor O’Hara), Philip Michael Baskerville (Curtis Shank), Danny Wilfred (Eddie Souther), Corben Williams (TJ), Jayson Elliott (Joey), Mike D’Amico (Pablo), Sandy Rosenberg (Sister Mary Lazarus), Katelyn Lauria (Sister Mary Patrick). Many cast members have dual roles and multiple costume changes so the equally talented ensemble of Melanie Burg, Joanna Caruso, Sincee Daniels, Hannah Eakin, Hector Flores Jr., Keyonna Knight, Jose Plaza,  T. Shyvonne Stewart, Jessi St. George, Stephanie Sable, and Karen Webb add to the strength of this inspiring production. Sister Act music is by Alan Menken with lyrics by Glenn Slater and is based on the book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner. This production contains additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane, is directed and extraordinarily choreographed by Donna Drake, with musical direction by Bob Bray.

The banter between the Mother Superior, who’s against hiding a showgirl and the streetwise Deloris Van Cartier is hilarious. Professional singer Deloris can’t believe her ears when she is assigned to join the off-key choir of nuns in the poorly funded congregation. How the nuns find their vocal talents and combine with disco dance moves provides some of the best choreography. The cast of 25 keeps the stage ablaze with song, dance, glitzy costumes and scenery. The WBT continues to impress with set design, as convent scenes are depicted with floor to ceiling stone archways and passages that replicate the nuns’ domain.

Throughout the show the audience could be heard laughing at the humorous lines, then clapping enthusiastically following the song and dance numbers. The finale brought a well- deserved standing ovation.

The WBT dinner theatre continues to offer the best value around. Parking is free.

For Reservations: Call (914) 592-2222 or visit:

Gift certificates, matinee performances and group discounts are available.


April 25, 2018 |

Time to Take Responsibility for Your Actions

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Have you noticed that people always seem to be coming up with excuses and reasons for why they are not responsible for something they have done or have taken part in? Why has skirting responsibility for one’s actions or passing the blame on to another party or entity the normal reaction when someone is in a predicament? Look around and think about what you see on the news or read in the papers. The problem or error is often somebody else’s fault. Why should this be?

School Days

When I was a child it was my duty to make sure my homework was done each evening and brought to class on the next day. Sure, my mother would remind me that it had to be done, but after that gentle prodding, it was my responsibility to complete the assignment. I knew that when I went into class the next day I would be the one who had to open my notebook for the teacher to see as she slowly walked up the aisle previewing our work. It would have never occurred to me not to do my homework and then blame an outside reason for it not being completed. Back then, a teacher would send home a note for a parent to sign if a student did not produce the homework that day. Pity that student whose parent received such a note!

Fast forward to my children’s school years when one of them had fallen behind with assignments in a high school science class. The teacher was kind enough to call and let me know so I could be on top of the situation. When I thanked the teacher for taking the time to call she sounded relieved. After making over 35 calls the teacher related that only five parents thanked her for the call. The rest were annoyed that they were being “bothered” with this problem and began making excuses why the homework was not done. The parents’ excuses were that the student was on a sports team, in a club or after-school activity or worked a part-time job. How come the parents weren’t responsible for seeing that the students had time to fit in their homework?

Remember the hot coffee lawsuit against a popular fast food chain that made the headlines years ago? A customer placed a piping hot cup of coffee between her legs while leaving the drive- through and it spilled all over her lap, causing severe burns. After a lengthy trial, the food chain was found guilty of selling coffee that was too hot. Why wasn’t it the customer’s responsibility to not drive with hot coffee on her lap or to not having the intelligence to place the cup in a holder until it was cool enough to drink?

Blaming corporations for problems or bringing lawsuits against them is another form of not being responsible for one’s actions. Have you read a shampoo label closely to find out the company has a warning on the instruction label “not to take internally”? When did it happen that we have to be told not to drink shampoo, creme rinse or other liquid beauty or cleaning products?

Accepting responsibility is not an easy task to undertake, and it develops only after years of practice. If there is one legacy a parent can leave or teach a child, it is to take responsibility—own up to what you have done and work to fix, amend or rectify any mistakes you have made. People will respect you for this trait, and you will stand tall in anyone’s eyes when they think of you.

It’s your responsibility!

April 18, 2018 |

Inventors and Their Brilliant Minds

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Thinking back to grade school days when I was learning about the wonderful inventions devised by the most brilliant minds, I was certain that all of the world’s best inventions had already been discovered. We had the radio, telephone, airplanes, television and rocket ships, so what else was left to be invented? As a nine-year-old child, I could never have imagined the many fabulous inventions and discoveries that were awaiting me in the decades ahead.

We are so technologically advanced now that it is hard to keep up with all the scientific advancements that have since taken place. Just think of the world of medicine, what with body parts being replaced or renewed and cures for diseases that previously wiped out thousands of lives. Then there were discoveries about the negative and body-damaging impacts of certain foods, alcohol, and tobacco that have since helped extend the life span of humans.

Who could have imagined the current status of communications in this new world? We now have the Internet and we walk around with a handheld device that keeps us connected to others via phone and texts, plays movies, and delivers emails? If someone told my fourth grade class what was ahead in the world of inventions, it would have sounded like a science fiction movie and absolutely unbelievable to imagine!


How many of us remember back to our grade school days to recall the names of the “pioneering inventors” we learned about in our classroom? Everybody knows that the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell and that Robert Fulton invented the steamship; those are easy ones. As a fan of the television program Jeopardy!, I see these names often as the topics headlining the question categories. Ingrained in me by the somewhat demanding teachers of my classes, those names are still on the tip of my tongue and are easy for me to recall. I’m amazed how many of the intelligent contestants on the show have missed simple answers.

See how many inventors’ names you remember, or test your grade-school child or grandchild to see if they know the answers to these questions.

  1. Who invented the cotton gin back in the 1700s? (Hint: it’s the machine that separates cotton fibers from the seeds, making the process faster and easier.)
  2. Braille printing was developed by ___?
  3. Who invented the Kodak camera?
  4. The polio vaccine was discovered and developed by ___? (If you are of a certain age, you might remember lining up in the school gym for this inoculation.)
  5. Easier reading was possible because of bifocal spectacles designed by ___?
  6. The first phonograph was invented by ___?
  7. The airplane was invented by ___?
  8. Who invented and designed the first helicopter?


  1. Eli Whitney
  2. Louis Braille
  3. George Eastman
  4. Jonas Salk
  5. Benjamin Franklin
  6. Thomas Edison (We know him best for inventing the light bulb.)
  7. The Wright Brothers
  8. Igor Sikorsky






April 11, 2018 |

Cherry Blossom Splendor — Visiting Our Nation’s Capitol

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel




One of the items on my list of New Year’s resolutions a while back was to finally get to see the cherry blossom trees in Washington, D.C. These breathtaking, gorgeous trees blooming each spring were a gift from Japan and are the center of an organized Cherry Blossom Festival that attracts tourists from around the world. The total number of trees planted around the D.C. area is about 3,700! Visitors are often fortunate that Easter or spring recess coincides with the blooming of these splendid trees, presenting an opportune time for visiting them. These magnificent trees line a walkway around what is called the Tidal Basin. Massively built memorials to both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson are situated on grassy hills overlooking this basin. In the background, off in the distance, stands the Washington Monument.

Temperatures may be in the delightful low sixties in April and tourists can be seen snapping photographs standing under these delicate, pink trees or taking close-ups of the blossoms themselves. Since blooming time is short — sometimes only six days — being there at the right time to catch this breathtaking, spectacular floral display is critical. It was everything I thought it would be!

To take a peek yourself, check out the Washington, D.C. cherry blossom camera that is focused on the trees around the basin. To follow the Cherry Blossom Watch and to read about events and activities planned for the festival, visit:

It has been reported that with the cooler weather we have been having, the full, peek blooming time frame has been delayed a bit. The dates for blooming are merely a range of historical averages.


While in D.C., you will surely want to visit the grandest museum that our great country has to offer — The Smithsonian Institution. This is the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 16 museums and galleries, plus the National Zoo. The Smithsonian’s collections, containing 142 million objects, are staggering in their scope. The Star Spangled Banner, meteors, moon rocks, the Hope Diamond, Morse’s telegraph, Edison’s light bulb, 5,000 musical instruments, the first Apple computer, the Wright Brother’s first airplane, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, art both ancient and modern from America and all over the world are only a sampling of what you can find housed in their huge complexes.

One of the walking maps we picked up describes Washington, D.C. the best when it stated: it is “a place created and planned as the seat of government, a young city that powerfully evokes the past, and is a treasury of a nation’s heritage, home to hundreds of thousands of people.” In addition to the museums, there are the war memorials — a moving and heart wrenching part of our history — wonderful displays of ancient architectural design paying homage to our early presidents and the early growth of a budding nation.

Washington, D.C. is one of the most popular attractions for tourists from around the world. It should also be part of every American’s itinerary at least once in a lifetime.


April 4, 2018 |

Think Spring — By Doing Spring Chores

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat








By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Springtime house preparations seem almost like a pleasure after the winter we’ve had this year. To avoid the busy season at the repair shop, my husband starts surveying our garden equipment now to see what needs to be repaired, replaced or serviced. If you have a riding or hand mower, take a survey to see what needs to be done. A riding mower needs servicing similar to that of a car. The battery may need to be recharged or replaced, or the oil and muffler may need to be changed. Mowing blades might have to be sharpened at a lawn mower repair shop if you used your mower extensively during the previous season.

In addition to the lawn mower, there may be an assortment of tools used for yard work (a weed trimmer, hedge cutter, chain saw and other mechanical devices) that are squirreled away in your garage. This is the time to make sure the cords and plugs of any electrical devices are in good condition and are not frayed or worn.   Go to the repair or service shop now to order parts for your equipment in the event that it may take weeks to order replacements.


What my husband often does before spring arrives is to walk around the house and yard, taking an assessment of what needs to be done. With pad in hand he makes notes when he sees siding that needs to be replaced, a roof shingle that needs repair, a downspout that is rusted or loose, etc. The same is true for any other home maintenance or decorative items we are contemplating buying. New windows, new shutters or doors are usually not in stock for every household’s measurements and may need to be ordered weeks ahead. Now is the time for estimates if you are hiring someone to do this type of work or to purchase the items you need if you are doing the project yourself. Waiting too long to hire someone might put you on the end of the work list.


A bigger task is cleaning out items we no longer want. If you haven’t fixed that old lawn chair or replaced parts on that ten-year-old bicycle, then it is time to get rid of them. Properly recycle old paint cans, tires and batteries stored in your garage. Families with small children should inspect swing or playground equipment. Check the bolts to make sure they are secure and replace rusted swing chains. If your little ones have riding toys and other non-stationary playthings, check each one to make sure they are safe to use. In storage, things can get broken if another item is pushed against them or they are placed in the wrong position when they are put away.

Spring’s first month of arrival is so invigorating that we want to accomplish everything at once. However, taking time to go over what is needed will make this task more efficient and manageable in the long run.

Happy Spring everyone!


March 28, 2018 |

Spring Happenings at the Norwalk Aquarium

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



It’s time to go for a drive and explore the fascinating places that are only a car ride away! There are always wonderful events taking place at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and it’s worthwhile to check their website frequently to see what they are.

The only aquarium focused on Long Island Sound presents sharks, seals, river otters, sea turtles, jellyfish and nearly 300 species from Long Island Sound as well as daily harbor-seal training demonstrations. Three staffed touch tanks allow hands-on close encounters with intertidal animals, sharks, rays, and moon jellyfish.

The Aquarium’s IMAX® movie screen is Connecticut’s first and still largest. There is also a unique hybrid-electric research vessel, the R/V Spirit of the Sound, for exciting hands-on animal encounters out on the Sound.  Come and visit the Sea Turtle Nursery and watch the newly hatched turtles on loan for a year to institutions like the Aquarium to make sure these rescued babies survive until released in the fall. There is also an opportunity to join the Maritime staff for breakfast and help them with their rounds feeding the turtles, horseshoe crabs and rays. This program also allows a behind-the-scenes look as the aquarist feeds the big sharks and other fish in the Ocean and Beyond exhibit. Advanced registration is required for these programs.


If you have never seen an IMAX movie, you are truly missing a wonderful experience! One of our family’s favorites, the IMAX makes one feel as if they are in the midst of the film. This is Connecticut’s largest IMAX theater with a screen that’s six stories high and eight stories wide. Standard IMAX movies are about 40 minutes long and are generally suitable for even the youngest viewers. Pandas, their latest movie, follows a young panda as she takes her first steps in the wild with biologists in China teaching her how to survive on her own. These adorable creatures are totally irresistible and on an IMAX screen are even more so.

Another new addition to the IMAX theater is Backyard Wilderness, which reminds audiences that natural beauty is mere steps away, right in our own backyards. Once those attached to their devices stop to take time to look around, this beauty is waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. This film explores the wildlife that may be right outside our homes, including deer, coyotes, wood ducks, frogs, salamanders, raccoons, hummingbirds and more. The beauty of a suburban wilderness is captured in rare intimacy by IMAX cameras mounted inside dens and nests, moving along forest floors and pond bottoms, and (through time-lapse and slow-motion) revealing the marvels of nature unavailable to the human eye.

The Aquarium offers a host of children’s activities such as a Spring Break Camp, Fish Tales Story Time and Toy Boat Making workshops.

Location: 10 North Water Street, Norwalk, CT

Contact Information: (203) 852-0700 or visit:

March 21, 2018 |

New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show Features Daniel Ost

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Just in time to relieve us from the doldrums of winter, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) is featuring its annual Orchid Show. Now in its 16th year, this highly popular exhibition showcases thousands of dramatically displayed orchids in the Garden’s historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. This crystal-like architecturally gorgeous structure features a different themed orchid show each year, with show-stopping presentations.

This year, the work of the acclaimed Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost is on display March 3rd through April 22nd. Each of his works is a “living sculpture that celebrates the individual beauty of these stunning flowers.” Mr. Ost, one of the world’s leading floral designers, lists as his clientele numerous royal families, sheikhs, and multi-national organizations, as well as humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF. His large-scale artworks have been tailored to the unique environment of the landmark Victorian-style Haupt Conservatory, complementing the architecture of the building while creating a transformative, dazzling spectacle of color, form, and texture. Bamboo arranged in grids, calling to mind the glass grids of the Conservatory, and clear tubing meant to both evoke water and connect to the Conservatory’s glass are among the materials employed in his artful installations to which individual orchids are attached so that each flower and form can be seen and appreciated.

We learned that the thick, pipe-like bamboo comes from northern Georgia and gives the imagery of both strength and delicacy when laced with exotic orchids. Along with the cascading colorful orchids on display, Ost has infused a range of tropical plants to add botanical interest.


Daniel Ost lives and works in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, where he was born and raised. He was trained in Belgium and the Netherlands before visiting Japan for the first time in 1983 when he befriended Noboru Kurisaki, one of the most prominent grand masters of ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging), who became his mentor and teacher. He taught Ost that a single flower used the right way can have more impact than thousands of flowers used en masse. This concept is particularly evident in one of Ost’s designs on view in the show. Throughout his career, Daniel Ost published numerous books about his exhibitions, decorations and gardens. He has also been featured in numerous magazines such as Elle, Vogue, Architectural Digest and Bloomberg with regard to floral design and garden architecture.

This is an opportune time to experience the floral design creations of this master artist on display in our area.

The NYBG is located at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road. The best way to enjoy the Garden is with the All-Garden Pass, which includes admission to the grounds as well as to seasonal gardens, exhibitions, and attractions such as the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, and Ram Tour.

For more information, please call 718.817.8700 or visit


March 14, 2018 |
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