TOPS NOTES

 

Fall is in the air, and that means that it's time for Fifth Third Bank’s “Dracula” at Actors Theatre. The yearly productions of this timeless institution are always a wonder to behold, with a classic story, amazing special effects, and exciting acting. 

This year's production has an exciting twist- actress Rebecca Hirota portrays vampire hunter extraordinaire Van Helsing. Rocko Jerome has the scoop. 

One of Louisville's favorite Fall traditions, the Actors Theatre production of Fifth Third Bank’s “Dracula” returns to the 

stage this month. The thrilling and chilling crowd-pleasing show is a treat as sweet as any Halloween candy, sure to leave you smiling despite its dark and gothic subject matter. Whether you're a fan of the arch vampire as depicted by Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, or a devotee of Bram Stoker's original novel, you are sure to find something to love in this performance... and also discover new ideas to engage with. 

“Dracula” has been a major staple of Actors Theatre's yearly programming going back decades, but they've never been known to rest on their laurels. If you haven't been since a long-ago class field trip, you owe it to yourself to check it out again. Chances are, it's evolved quite a bit since you last saw the show. Recent years have brought a modest dose of sly humor to the production in the form of Neill Robertson's maniacally wild take on Renfield, a perfect comic foil for Santino Craven in the role of the undead title character. Craven portrays Dracula as an entity equally pragmatic as malevolent. His depiction strikes a chord as an entity who has survived thousands of years by feeding off of mortals and simply considers our ideas of right and wrong as beneath him. He plays the role with a particular world weariness about him, creating a new view of this very familiar archetypal character. We don't usually think of Dracula as particularly relatable, but Craven makes it so. 

In a bold move, this year's production features Rebecca Hirota as Van Helsing. Hirota is an acclaimed actress new to Actors Theatre, sure to do something exciting with the part of the vampire hunter, classically depicted as a British man. On the matter, Rebecca says, “As for any character with a long history, the challenge lies in making it your own. I would say that's also where the triumph lies. You want to grow and respect its legacy without either on one hand, gratuitously changing it for the sake of change or on the other, falling into the pre-existing idea and simply emulating it. Finding your own honest path that still rings true, that's the triumph." 

IF YOU GO

Fifth Third Bank’s “Dracula” runs September 6th through October 31st in the Bingham Theatre. Tickets are available at www.actorstheatre.org 


Meet TOPS Photographer Dick Arnspiger

From the first issue of TOPS back in January of 2017, Dick Arnspiger and his pho-ography have been an ever present fixture. 

He's been our man on the scene at countless events, snapping shots and taking down names for Out and About and Top Shots sections. Always quick with a smile or an amusing quip, Dick understands that it's definitely not just about pointing a camera and taking a photo. "I think of myself as a sort of photographic ambassador," Dick says. "For many people, I'm their first point of contact with TOPS, and I've certainly gotten to know a lot of different folks." 

That's definitely an understatement. Mr. Arnspiger is a man in high demand, with his name often coming up specifically by request from event planners and business people all across the city. In addition to events, Dick also captures moments for much of our editorial material, including frequently taking pictures for features like our Meet the Media and Boutique Spotlight sections, as well as special content like last month's Women in Business spotlights. As usual, you will see his name many times throughout this very issue. 

Perhaps surprising considering the amount of work that he takes on for TOPS, Dick is technically retired. He ended a long and lucrative career in sales at Hewlett Packard in 2014 before devoting himself to photography. "I guess you could say that I like to keep busy," he says with a smile. 

He's definitely always on the go, and with the wide variety of events and features that TOPS covers, he never quite knows what might come up on his calendar next. It could be a ribbon cutting for a grand opening, one of many fantastic fundraisers around town, parties of many sizes and themes, or portraits of the special people that we here at TOPS make a mission to recognize. He has tremendous technical skill as a photographer, but it's really his nature as a people person that really makes him shine. "I think at the end of the day, I just really like interacting with interesting individuals, and I sure meet a lot of those!" 


Defying Expectations and Making Differences Every Day 

Heather French Henry is a truly remarkable lady. She works tirelessly to make a difference daily in the lives of all Kentuckians, as well as doing big things for our veterans. We would be remiss not to mention that she also means a great deal to TOPS, as she was our very first cover story back in January of 2017. Heather was gracious enough to take a quick break and spend some time with our own Rocko Jerome. 

Raised in Augusta, Heather came from a working class family. The lessons of her father still guide her today. 

"He's a decorated veteran of Vietnam," she says, "and he's of that generation where we're only just now recognizing concepts like PTSD and its long term effects. He's always been a figure of great strength to me." The first line about Heather's life story is almost always that she was Miss America in 2000 and the first from Kentucky, but perhaps her most important work has been in devotion to improving the lives of veterans. Selflessly, she used the attention directed towards her from that pageant's accolade towards the monumentally important task of making a difference for those who served. All too often, these brave men and women are left disabled or fall through the cracks and become homeless. Heather formed the Heather French Foundation for Veterans. It's an ongoing campaign of compassion. The organization's motto is "Honoring those who died by serving those who live." It's about as personal as it gets for Heather. "Their sacrifices are incalculable, and that doesn't stop after wartime ends," she says. In 2014, she was appointed as Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, where she's served as an out- standing advocate. She also worked as Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of KDVA, serving under two governors, Steve Beshear and Matt Bevin. 

"One of the things about the great honor of becoming Miss America is that it changes the course of your life and plans," Heather says. "I was on a trajectory for a career in fashion design before winning that title afforded me so many new options and avenues, so when I came back to that it was with fresh eyes." Heather had graduated from the prestigious University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning just before she took the crown. In the years since then she's put her passion for fashion to work creating elegant designs for every woman. It was something that she knew would be important to her from an early age. “For as far back as I can recall, I always found fashion and style captivating," she says. The name of her line is Frenchy, and you can peruse her luxurious work online. 

For all of the tremendous work that Heather has done, her greatest pride comes from her daughters. She beams when she talks about the family she's formed with her husband, former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry. "I watch the way that they engage with all kinds of people, they're so far ahead of most kids their age. There's so much importance in a handshake, eye con- tact, and a smile, it makes all the difference in opening doors of opportunity for everyone." 

As she gears up for a run at becoming the Kentucky Secretary of State in next year's election, Heather has built a life full of defied expectations, making impacts and improvements to the world in ways few might have expected, a Miss America leading foundations to help homeless veterans, a fashion designer serving in public office. Heath- er’s is a life well lived. "Maybe I just like the challenges," she says with a laugh. "One thing that I can tell you for sure is that as much as I like getting fixed up, I'm just as happy in a ballcap!" 


Stoneware & Co. Opening New, immersive Retail Space in Spring 2020 

Stoneware & Co., one of Kentucky’s oldest and most enduring iconic companies, is embarking on a new and ambitious journey 

to achieve a vision that has been 200 years in the making. A vision based on the belief that today’s customers appreciate an immersive shopping destination – one that feels comfortable, authentic, and inspired. A place that invites shoppers to relax, browse, and discover hand-crafted treasures around every corner. A special kind of store, where one feels a connection to the creative spirit of the artisans who carefully crafted beautiful, unique products perfect for the home and garden. 

A key anchor in the burgeoning cultural arts and entertainment district of Paristown, the Stoneware Art Factory Building – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – is undergoing a major historic restoration. When completed in early Spring 2020, Stoneware & Co.’s transformed Home, Garden, Café, and Event spaces will collectively provide an ideal experience designed to meet the taste of today’s discerning customers. 

Stoneware’s new retail space will double in size and will include expanded offerings of beautifully curated gifts, all presented in the same comfortable, enticing fashion designed to tantalize all the senses. While exploring, customers will be treated to the aroma of pies, cookies, and other delicious local offer-ngs wafting from the nearby sample kitchen. 

Factory tours and “paint your own” experiences will continue to be both educational and entertaining. Guests are captivated as Stoneware guides take them through each step of the 200-year-old production process from raw clay to finished product. Budding artists of all ages can enjoy the popular “paint your own” experience as the new studio is being enlarged to accommodate up to 50 people. The studio can also be rented out and is perfect for all kinds of parties and special events like girls night out, bridal showers, and various corporate gatherings. 

Jennifer Faitelson, Manager of Stoneware’s acclaimed retail space enthusiastically notes, “Brides are going to love spending time in the new bridal registry area.” Complete with a table and chairs, the intimate area is designed to provide a bride with a non-rushed, relaxed atmosphere where they can plan out, actually set, and redesign their product choices with special attention from one of Stoneware’s bridal registry experts. 

A separate Home and Garden section where customers can actually dig into learning proper potting techniques for Stoneware’s various herbs and specialty plants will appeal to both novice and expert gardeners. Stoneware’s new garden offerings will expand from the current line of gorgeous, artisan garden pots and whimsical, collectible birdhouses. 

After the historic restoration is complete, guests will be able to experience a totally redesigned and curated Stoneware Museum. With more than 200 years of history, Stoneware & Co. has quite a story to share with those who cherish a Simple. Beautiful. Life. 

IF YOU GO

Stoneware & Co. is currently located at 731 Brent Street, and can be reached by phone at 502-582-1900 or online at: stonewareandco.com 


Walter Wagner: The Man Behind Chenoweth Square 

Walter Wagner just celebrated his 87th birthday, but he insists that you not call him Mr. Wagner. "Please, call me Walt," he says with a laugh. An endearingly cheerful gentleman, he's the man behind that St.Matthews institution, Chenoweth Square. He told Rocko Jerome about his place in Louisville history. 

When Walter Wagner graduated from Notre Dame in 1952, he had no dreams of entering into the real estate business. "A couple of years later, I took this test on a lark with a friend of mine, and I passed! So suddenly, I had a real estate license. I didn't even study. I think they're probably harder to get now, though," he quips. Two years later he found- ed the Walter Wagner, Jr. Company, at which time he borrowed $5,000 from his father. He found enough success to pay back the loan in 5 months. He's always specialized in commercial real estate rather than residential. "It's worked out pretty well," he observes. 

Chenoweth Square became a reality for him in 1973. "We very deliberately called it a square and not a center," he says, "because we've always wanted it to have a unique feel. The idea is for people to come and be very comfortable in this one place." Walt has carefully curated everything about it over the years, from the wide variety of unique and inviting businesses to the lovely landscaping. "Early on, my wife Beverly and our kids would go out there and weed." 

In a world full of high tech glare constant- ly competing for our attention, Chenoweth Square has remained a successful oasis of calm and elegance. Each of the boutiques and shops that Walt hosts is unique and offer something indispensably pleasant. "I've been blessed by the tenants that I've had over the years," Walt says. "They've been good to me, and I strive to be good to them. I think our customers are sort of above the internet, I like that they can come here and really enjoy their time shopping and engaging." 

For our photoshoot, Walt had a keen idea, after confirming that TOPS is indeed a color magazine throughout its pages. "I like to wear these britches with really wild colors and patterns, and I've got an orange drop top convertible. Do you think that would look good in the magazine?" Indeed it does, Walt. Indeed it does. 


SHOW STOPPERS

You’ve bought your tickets and counted down the days, tonight’s finally the night of the big show. If you want to look gloriously glamorous enough to fit the bill and make the scene like you’re ready to take the stage yourself, the ladies of Rodeo Drive are the hosts of your destination location. With these luxe looks, you’re sure to be the brightest star in the room.

Location:The Galt House Hotel 

PHOTOGRAPHED BY:Andrew Kung 

ASSISTANTS: Rachel Lutz Zach Browning 

MODELS: Katie Tarr, Breya Birdsong, Maria Bohn, and Rosa Farfan Tello for Heyman Talent 

HAIR AND MAKEUP BY: Devyon Cohen, Juliana Salisbury, and Mikhail Schulz for J Michael’s Salon & Spa 

CLOTHING: Rodeo Drive 

JEWELRY: Kendra Scott 

 

Posted on 2019-09-06 by
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