Humans truly are creatures of habit. That's why the majority of my Saturday mornings have been spent sitting in front of the television watching cartoons.
In all honestly, I'd likely sleep in every Saturday morning if it weren't for the amazing cartoons that air. The tradition has evolved slightly over time to suit my age, but for about the last 15 years I've woken up early on Saturday mornings to enjoy a cup of coffee, while cuddled up in a warm blanket to satisfy my craving for animation.
Unfortunately the quality of Saturday morning cartoons has dramatically declined since the late 1990s. I'm fortunate enough to remember a time when complex classic cartoons blessed the screen, such as: "G.I. Joe;" "Transformers;" "Beast Wars;" "Thundercats;" "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe;" "X-Men;" "Spider-Man: The Animated Series;" "Batman: The Animated Series;" "Bobby's World;" "Animaniacs;" "Taz-Mania;" "Power Rangers;" "Goosebumps;" "ReBoot;" "The Real Ghostbusters;" and my all-time favorite "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
Some of my fondest early memories are getting up to watch the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" animated series that first aired in 1987. It became a regular Saturday morning cartoon that I followed until about 1996. The cartoon spawned movies, toys and other merchandise that I just had to have as a child. However, as with most franchises the market becomes saturated with less-than-top-quality spinoffs that are not worth watching.
Several other animated series were born as a result of the success of the original series. Yet, none of them ever managed to grab my attention - until now. Nickelodeon, one of my favorite networks, until I matured and began watching Cartoon Network, has acquired the global rights to "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." The network premiered the new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" animated series on Sept. 29, and I have to admit, I can't stop watching.
The show, which airs Saturday mornings at 11 a.m., is a high-quality, well voice-acted, CGI rendition of the original classic animated series. Three full episodes of the series are currently available for free at www.nick.com/videos/ninja-turtles-videos. And, they are also available on Hulu.com. If you're a Ninja Turtle fan, you owe it to yourself to at least give the first two episodes a try. They might just remind you of a time when Saturday morning cartoons were worth waking up to watch.
Musical Dinner Theater "Four Tickets to Christmas" Starts Today: Family Life will present the dramatic musical, "Four Tickets to Christmas," an inspirational, emotionally-charged story about one family's difficult journey into reconciliation and forgiveness.
With music and orchestrations by Mark Hayes, this Broadway-style musical blends ragtime, parlor music, and even a barbershop quartet with a mix of traditional and new Christmas music. Set in December 1905, and written by Deborah Craig-Claar, "Four Tickets to Christmas" unfolds as an out-of-work family of musicians find themselves unexpectedly spending Christmas at their grandparents' farm. From the moment they arrive, it's clear that time has not healed all wounds when the family is forced to deal with a longstanding and overlooked conflict. By Christmas Eve, they've turned the town upside down, and begun to realize the great importance of following God's unique call on their lives.
The shows will be performed as dinner theater today, Friday and Saturday at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville. Audiences will enjoy food and dessert in a dinner theater atmosphere. Tickets are $37.50 in advance, and include both the dinner and musical. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. nightly, and dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. To order tickets, call 800-927-9083 or visit www.fln.org/tickets. Chautauqua Suites is located at 215 W. Lake Road in Mayville.
Hillman Opera To Present Pair Of Puccini Works: The Hillman Opera will present a pair of works from Italian composer Giacomo Puccini during four performances of "Suor Angelica" and "Gianni Schicchi."
The performances are scheduled to start today and run through Sunday in the Marvel Theatre at SUNY Fredonia. The curtain time is 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
More than 110 students will be involved in the production, and a cast of 46 students bring these operas to life in the original Italian with English supertitles projected above the proscenium. Plus, 30 students will work backstage and another 40 student musicians will be in the Opera Orchestra.
Tickets are available through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center at 673-3501 or fredonia.edu/tickets.
Karen Volpe Returns To Fredonia For Performances: Karen Volpe, who began her career on the stages of Cassadaga Valley Central School, JCC, Fredonia State and Little Theater, returns to the area in promotion of her first country CD entitled: "Dinner and a Fancy Dress."
Some may remember her in numerous local stage productions in the 1980s, early 1990s and even an Elvis tribute. She has since become an accomplished musician and actress and has performed professionally throughout the country, performing in a national tour of "Schoolhouse Rock Live," CMT's "Can You Duet," TNN's "Ultimate Revenge," and even made people laugh with her comedy show on Disney Cruise Lines.
She has worked alongside Broadway stars such as Shirley Jones and Adam Pascal of "Rent" and Cady Huffman of "The Producers." She starred in a production of "Funny Girl," and received rave reviews. Recently she completed professional runs of "The Pajama Game," and her favorite role as Audrey in "Little Shop of Horrors," all while recording her first country CD.
"Country music has always been a part of my life," she stated in a recent interview. "I grew up in rural western N.Y. farm country, and my father was an accomplished musician." She sang in the family band with her mom, dad and two brothers. "When I was a little girl I learned to sing in the band and have never stopped. My love of classic country music was born in that little one-room schoolhouse on Thornton Road."
She recruited her brothers Don and Bob Volpe to head up her backup band for this leg of her tour with Bogie Griffin, Bill Eckstrom and Adam McKillip. The shows are scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m today at the CVCS auditorium, Saturday is the official "Homecoming Show" at Feegan's Witch Kitch Inn in Sinclairville and Sunday at St. Luke's Church "Undercroft" room.
In addition to performing with her country band she is also doing two performances of "The 12 Dates of Christmas" at SUNY Fredonia on Friday and Saturday.
For more information visit www.karenvolpe.com or search for "Karen Volpe" on Facebook.
"Border Patrol" To Headline Annual Barbershoppers' Show: The annual barbershoppers' show of Seneca Junction Chorus at Salamanca High School is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The members are seasoned barbershop singers from the Buffalo and Ontario region, and are currently the reigning second place International Silver Medalists senior quartet.
Several local quartets along with the Seneca Junction Chorus and Youth in Harmony Chorus will also appear in this year's event entitled "Songs of the Speakeasy."
Members of the 34-member Seneca Junction Chorus come from local communities including Olean, Eldred, Jamestown, Salamanca and Warren. The Youth in Harmony Chorus is comprised of students from area high schools who will attend an all-day barbershoppers' workshop.
Tickets may be purchased at the door. General admission is $10; the admission price for seniors and students is $8.
To include an upcoming show or event in this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 487-1111 ext. 253 by Monday.
Blue Grass Jam: 7 to 10 p.m., Celoron Legion, 26 Jackson Ave. in Celoron. Area bluegrass musicians are welcome to sit in and play.
The Music of Benny Goodman: 8 p.m., 1891 Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St. in Fredonia.
Grand Larceny: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Lakeview Hotel in Mayville.
Jamestown Thunder's Community Drum Circle: Noon to 2:30 p.m., The Lillian Ney Renaissance Center, 119 W. Third St. All are welcome, and extra drums are available. For more information contact Rich Schuler at 484-8121.
Live at the Met "The Tempest:" 1 p.m., 1891 Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St. in Fredonia.
Opera House Cinema Series "Trouble with the Curve:" 8 p.m., 1891 Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St. in Fredonia.
DJ's Unlimited: 8 p.m. to midnight, Celoron Legion, 26 Jackson Ave. in Celoron.
The Erie Philharmonic: 2 p.m., The Struthers Library Theatre, 302 W. Third Ave. in Warren.
Opera House Cinema Series "Trouble with the Curve:" 7:30 p.m., 1891 Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St. in Fredonia.