Tag Archives: Artistic Director

Alton Central School (ACS), N.H.: Mr. Shaffer’s Last “Bring A Loved One To Lunch Day”

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Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> ACS
“Loved One For Lunch”
, 2013.
>> ACS Thanksgiving Lunch, 2012.

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Mr. Shaffer has been Alton Central School’s much beloved, hugely popular, well respected and ultra competent Director of Food Services. There are many outstanding people, programs and features at ACS and ‘Food Services’, THANKS to Mr. Shaffer and his protégé, Mr. Cowan, the Supervisor/Cook, is one of them.

We have known Mr. Shaffer ever since Devanee started attending ACS in 2007 and Deanna has dealt with him, keeping Devanee’s account topped up, with great success, over those years. I talk to him whenever I see him and I am very fond of him. He does a great job — with what I assume are limited resources.

He will be sorely missed, though I am sure Mr. Cowan will step into the breach. Mr. Shaffer is one of those lucky people that will be remembered, with fondness, for years to come. We wish him all of the very best. He sure has earned it.

Yesterday, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, was HIS last “Bring a Loved One To Lunch Day”. As ever it was very good BUT it was also poignant that folks like I knew that this was to be Mr. Shaffer’s last. It was good that, at the end, Mr. Cowan announced it and, as was to be expected, there was a huge round of heartfelt applause.

I don’t think I have missed a “Bring a Loved One To Lunch” in years. I always enjoy them. Also a chance to meet other parents and grandparents.

I, however, in addition to Mr. Shaffer’s upcoming retirement, felt kind of sad yesterday. About half the kids, if not more, did NOT have any loved ones present. I think that affected some of the kids — as is understandable. We are lucky that we are both ‘at home’ — and Deanna even volunteered for a few hours for the lunch. I was seated next to William. He was not somebody I knew. Very nice boy. He did not stop talking. That was fine with me. Told me about an upcoming trip to Fenway, his mother’s birthday which had fallen on Mother’s Day, his unrequited love for his girlfriend etc. etc. You could tell he was compensating for not having someone there with me. So I had to do, and I felt honored. I like kids and he was all boy — and I miss not having a young son. Matthew, at that age, was 15 years ago. But, there was a problem. He was not eating. He had a hot dog and french fries and we helped him open his ketchup, which he smothered over everything. But he wouldn’t eat. I learnt that normally he was a fast and thorough eater. I coaxed him to eat some of his french fries and he nibbled at his hot dog. But he didn’t eat it all. You could tell, that deep down, he was upset. Some other kids, who also didn’t have any ‘loved ones’ present, congregated at their own, kids only table. It was kind of sad. It even got me thinking whether these lunches, despite their value, popularity and success, are the right thing to do. Obviously it hurts some kids — like William. Something to think about.


‘The Trocks’ Truly Rocks The Hopkins Center Audience Last Night. The Laughter & Applause Was Non-Stop. An Amazing Tour de Force.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.Hop50red

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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
1.Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’ June 29 – 30, 2013 
>>May 28, 2013.

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All the pictures of the dancers from their Website at http://www.trockadero.org/. Click on any of the pictures to ENLARGE.




The spoofs on the fabricated, way-over-the-top, Russian names was a work of art in its own right. The ‘Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers’ of NPR “Car Talk” would be very jealous since these names made their efforts look insipid.


The Hop did it again. They set some very high expectations and then went onto exceed them with effortless elan. To say that they hit it way out of the ballpark with ‘The Trocks‘ wouldn’t even come close to capturing the unqualified success of last night’s performance.

I have not heard this much laughter from an audience since the last time I saw “Noises Off” – and that is considered one of the funniest comedies to hit the stage. We saw “The Producers” on Broadway a few years ago and this show sure had the audience in much more mirth than that clever comedy. There was this palpable, electric, kind of staticky, ‘rustle’ from the crowd right through the 2(+) hour performance – an energy you only feel at a show when the whole audience, as one, is totally captivated, sitting on the edge of their seats.

During the first intermission I heard a lady call it ‘hysterical’. At the end, an older gentleman sitting in front of us, stood up and shouted out ‘Thank You‘. During the ‘Swan Lake‘ act the lady behind us shouted out ‘Bravo‘, on average, every 90 seconds! And you can’t blame her for her unstinted joy and appreciation. This was a show that delighted one at multiple levels.

It was an astonishing creative synergistic mashup of above average classic ballet, farce, clever choreography, pantomime, pinpoint timing and incisive (insider) parody.

It was very clever and ever so entertaining. That they did, for their encore, a very convincing rendition of ‘Lord of the Dance‘ from Riverdance was just icing on the cake. The audience erupted in awe and appreciation. I have seen Riverdance (at least twice) and Michael Flatley in ‘Lord of the Dance‘ (in Vegas). This was up there. I know that Michael would have joined us in leaping to his feet to applaud.


'The Trocks' doing the Riverdance from over a year ago. They did not use a fogging machine last night (which was talked about in the post show discussion). They were much better last night than what you see here. Trust me, as Brit (and adopted Scot), I know my celtic dancing. Click to access YouTube video.

‘The Trocks’ doing the Riverdance from over a year ago. They did not use a fogging machine last night (which was talked about in the post show discussion). They were much better last night than what you see here. Trust me, as Brit (and adopted Scot), I know my celtic dancing. Click to access YouTube video.


The kids loved it. On the way home, my 12 year old instructed me that I had to give it a GOOD writeup. I hope I am meeting her request.

Deanna, who is a much harsher critic than I am, was beyond delighted. She loved it. Raved about it. I know she wants to see them again.

If you got to see them at The Hop this weekend you must know that you were privileged to be a part of something very special. If you didn’t get to see them try and catch another of their shows – but they are performing overseas for much of the rest of 2013. Lets hope that The Hop gets them back next year.

We stayed after the show for the post-performance discussion with the Artistic Director, Tory Dobrin. He was very personable and impressive. I asked the first question: ‘had they ever done Nutcracker and would they consider doing it in the future‘ (and I promise there was no double entendre in that question, though Deanna always assume that I am trying to be ‘cute’). The answers was that I wasn’t the first to have asked about the Nutcracker and no they have never done it and don’t plan to do it. He then went onto explain why. It has to do with his belief in ‘karma‘. The Nutcracker is a Christmas show and as such is only done during December. Since ‘every’ local community seems to have a production of the show, a ‘Trocks’ production would eat into these sales and they don’t want to do that. I can appreciate that.

Learned some interesting things from him. Only 40% of the 14 to 16 performers are from the U.S. They do not have any corporate sponsors or get any grants! So they survive entirely on monies made from performances (though I notice that they do seek donations on their Website). Since the non-U.S. dancers can’t collect U.S. unemployment they try to do as many performances a year as they can — and that means around 120 shows a year.


The post-performance discussion with Tory Dobrin who was an ex-dancer (and you could tell). Not sure who the young lady was. She was good. But, she never told us who she was. This is one of the rare shortcomings at The Hop. They can be remiss in introducing people. Click to ENLARGE.