TSO CONDUCTOR ADAM FLATT BACKYARD WATER FEATURES GAME-DAY RECIPES 6 INTRIGUING PEOPLE & SO MUCH MORE
DRESSING www.tuscaloosamag.com $3.95
A behind-the-seams look at Tuscaloosa theater costume creations
Publisher James W. Rainey Editor-in-chief Becky Hopf Design Editor Lindi Daywalt-Feazel Photographers Gary Cosby Jr. Erin Nelson Copy Editors Amy Robinson Kelcey Sexton Edwin Stanton Operations Director Paul Hass Advertising Director Beau Laird Prepress Manager Chuck Jones Published by The Tuscaloosa News 315 28th Avenue Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 Executive Editor Michael James Controller Steve Hopper Magazine (205) 722-0232 To advertise (205) 722-0173 To subscribe (205) 722-0102
saw my first Broadway show — and I mean actual Broadway, as in the Majestic Theatre in New York City — when I was 21. I was working at a coed summer camp in Kent, Connecticut, and on our rare days off, we would borrow someone’s car — few of us had cars there — and head to The City (that’s what the locals called NYC), or Boston or Newport or Mystic Seaport. It was my first trip to NYC. Same for my fellow travelers, three counselors from the boys’ side of camp. (I worked in the infirmary, which was on boys’ camp.) Two were from England and one from Scotland. We planned to go to a Broadway show and, somehow, Tuscaloosa’s theater I talked three companies put a great college-age men deal of work into every aspect of their presentations, into going to see especially the costume designs. “Annie.” “Annie” had been a big ing, the acting, the singing, the dancing, the hit for a couple sets and the costumes. Oh, the costumes. The of years at that point. I remember holding my costumes lure us into that world taking place on breath as we waited our turn in line at the halfstage. They are a show among themselves. It’s price ticket booth in Times Square, hoping that an art form that is alive and thriving in our own it wouldn’t sell out before we got to the window, and hoping the guys wouldn’t change their minds city, Tuscaloosa, and in this issue, we pay tribute to some of the costumes and the seamstresses about our choice. It didn’t. They didn’t. Our seats and designers who bring our local theatrical and were in the second-to-last row of the balcony. dance productions to life. Horrible seats. I didn’t care. I will never forget We also catch up with our Tuscaloosa the thrill I felt when the orchestra started playSymphony Orchestra conductor, Adam Flatt; ing the overture. I was in New York City. I was visit a baseball lover’s field of dreams and some seeing “Annie,” a hit musical on Broadway. My breathtaking backyard water features; share friend Brian, the Scot, was sitting next to me, recipes and local food destinations; and meet “6 and, as dear friends can do, he sensed my joy and Intriguing People” who include a hero, a college reached over and squeezed my hand and smiled. football insider, two TV stars, a Miss America I was so happy. contestant and a former basketball star intent on Over the years, each time I’ve gone to New making his community shine. York, I’ve seen a play or musical. My count is at eight, and the seats have improved. Second row at “Nine,” where John Stamos stomped in fountain water on stage and, as I cringed at being splashed by nasty stage water, I quickly recovered, Becky Hopf, editor realizing it was John Stamos stage water. Reach Becky Hopf at Theater is a spectacular art, between the email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
BLACK & WHITE FACTS Bringing you the best coverage of college sports in West Alabama
CRIMSON ALL OVER
VOLUME 15, NO. 3
08 DINING OUT
14 DINING IN
25 FOODIE NEWS
Cravings draws folks who hanker for out-of-the-ordinary food and drink. Johnie McKinzey makes mealtime a fiesta.
Places to go, things to see and do.
The latest in local food, trends, recipes and epicurean events.
TSO CONDUCTOR ADAM FLATT BACKYARD WATER FEATURES GAME-DAY RECIPES 6 INTRIGUING PEOPLE & SO MUCH MORE
40 33 MUSIC
Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra conductor Adam Flatt is living his dream.
40 AT HOME
From Italian fountains to infinity pools, these Tuscaloosa homeowners have made their backyards works of art.
ON THE COVER Storm Steinke of the Actor’s Charitable Theater models costume designer Joey Lay’s creation of Rafiki from ACT’s production of “The Lion King.” Photo by: Gary Cosby Jr. See story: Page 60
STORY A behind-the-seams look at the artistry and creations by Tuscaloosa’s costume designers. Page 60
Baseball Country combines a ministry with America’s game.
85 6 INTRIGUING PEOPLE
Meet six folks who are making a difference in the community.
98 ON THE SCENE
The best bashes, parties and charity events of the season.
114 LAST LOOK
A snapshot that captures life in West Alabama.
IN THE MARKET FOR
Cravings draws folks who hanker for out-of-the-ordinary food and drink
BY DONNA CORNELIUS PHOTOS BY ERIN NELSON hat happens when you mix tastes from Tuscaloosa, New Orleans and New York? Stop in at Cravings, and you’ll find out. The specialty grocery, beer and wine store in downtown T-Town gets its diverse culinary profile from its owner, Dan Robinson. He grew up in New York and operated restaurants in New Orleans, where he lived before moving to Tuscaloosa a few years ago. It’s fun to explore the University Boulevard market, which is stocked with an assortment of foods and drinks, some of which are hard to find anywhere else in town. Robinson makes
it his mission to find and offer authentic tastes to his customers. “I go down to New Orleans once a month,” Robinson said. “I bring back olive salad and muffuletta bread.” He also stocks Louisiana products like Zapp’s Potato Chips in hard-to-find flavors like Voodoo Heat, Barbecue Ranch and Pimento Cheese, as well as Elmer’s Fine Foods’ Chee Wees, which are cheese curls. Crawfish rolls — his version of lobster rolls — are a hit with customers, as are his muffulettas and his soft-shell crab and shrimp po’boys. Cravings serves freshly brewed Community Coffee, another Louisiana staple. “We have Cajun meats like boudin, smoked sausage, jalapeño bacon and pork belly,” Robinson said. >>
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The dining area overlooks a vast wine selection. Televisions ensure patrons never miss a play. • Dan Robinson, the owner of Cravings, creates a bacon and egg sandwich, served on a New York bagel. • Soft-shell crab po’boys and deep-dish caprese quiche are among the food selections which can be eaten there or ordered to-go.
There’s a nod to the Big Apple with pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and with bagels. “We get bagels out of New York and make bagel breakfast sandwiches all day,” he said. Other popular foods that you can eat at the store or take home to scarf down in private are clam chowder, house-made pimento cheese, and quiches ranging from spinach to crabmeat. “I get here at 3 o’clock every morning to make the quiches,” Robinson said. “We don’t stint on the ingredients.” A variety of tempting desserts comes in single servings. One sweet treat that’s often ordered is cheesecake made by Kareem McNeal, the former University of Alabama football star who’s turned into a cheesecake-making expert. “Kareem makes his birthday cake cheesecake for us and nobody else,” Robinson said. Cravings, at 2320 University Blvd., is deceptively large once you get inside. Across from the food counter at the front of the store are shelves full of exotic (think edible crickets) and old-fashioned candy, snacks and even gluten-free dog treats. In the back are tables and chairs, a wine display, and a 30-foot cooler and freezer. “We have free wine tastings on the first Thursday of every month from 5 to 7 p.m.,” Robinson said. “They’re completely casual. We can cork a wine bottle so you can take it home if you don’t finish it here. “We have over 150 different wines — a good selection and pricing. Most are in the $12 to $20 range, but we have more expensive options, too.” The first section of the cooler has more than 100 nonalcoholic drinks: Shirley Temple soda pop, Frostie Blue Cream Soda, Mexican Fanta, and Duff Energy Drinks, a play on the name of TV character Homer Simpson’s favorite beer. “We have more than 350 craft beers, all cold,” Robinson said. “We sell by the individual bottle, and you can make your own four-pack or six-pack. We have mainly domestic with some imports. And we sell our beers at retail prices, not bar prices. “You also can buy beer and wine by the case and get a 10 percent
discount. If we don’t have what you want, we most likely can get it for you.” In the freezer section are cartons of Mercer’s Dairy wine ice cream, which Robinson said is 5 percent alcohol. Other frozen treats are New Orleans Ice Cream Co. products, gelatos and ice cream pops. “We have protein ice creams — all the Halo Top flavors and also Enlightened Ice Cream, which some people think is even better than Halo Top,” Robinson said. In addition to the Cajun meats, the Cravings freezer has burgers that Robinson said are more than 40 percent brisket. “We’re planning to start having frozen seafood in individual portions — like a single soft-shell crab or red snapper,” he said.
A cross-country culinary journey CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Customers can choose from more than 300 beers and, if desired, make their own mixed six-pack assortment. • Cravings owner Dan Robinson. • Bacon and egg bagels are among the popular breakfast sandwich selections, served all day. • Cravings offers more than 150 wine selections, including champagnes and proseccos. • The crawfish tail roll is flavored with Cajun mayonnaise, spices, red onion, celery and sweet red bell pepper.
Robinson was born in Scarsdale, New York, and has been in the restaurant business since he was 15. “My sister was working at a chain restaurant called Beefsteak Charlie’s, and I started there as a dishwasher,” he said. He lived in New York through high school and then spent a year in college at the University of Southern California. He came back east to attend New Hampshire College, now Southern New Hampshire University. >> 11
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Cravings is located downtown in Tuscaloosa, at 2320 University Boulevard. • The stock includes more than 300 domestic and imported craft beers. • The menu. • Old favorites, such as Goo Goo Clusters, are among the candies, snacks and sweets offered.
“I played lacrosse there and later at Colorado State University and Whittier College,” he said. “With all those transfers, I only lost six college credits. I majored in business administration.” Robinson lived in Houston for about 12 years and worked in restaurants there. He later moved to New Orleans. That’s where he got acquainted with George Stennis, who is now Cravings’ general manager and head chef. “I’m from Pass Christian, Mississippi, and met Dan in New Orleans,” Stennis said. “I knew Dan was on a big adventure.” The two men worked together in NOLA at Candy Bar, which Robinson said had a concept similar to Cravings. Stennis also worked at Muriel’s Jackson Square and at Mr. B’s Bistro, both in the city’s French Quarter. Robinson owned a New Orleans restaurant called Storyville. “It was right off Bourbon Street,” Robinson said. “I lost my space there and started looking around at other cities with SEC schools.” He narrowed the field to Tuscaloosa and College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University. “I like being outside, and Tuscaloosa has a lot of outdoor activities to offer,” he said. “My nephew is graduating from the University of Alabama soon and going to medical school.” In Tuscaloosa, Robinson opened two restaurants — Tuscaloosa Burger and then the New Orleans Fry House, which he later renamed The Kitchen. He closed both and is concentrating on Cravings, which has undergone a personality change since it opened. “At first, we had dry goods — now we don’t have as much shelf stuff,” Robinson said. “We’ve put in indoor seating and seating on the patio out front. We have free Wi-Fi and high definition TV for watching sports. We 12
have board games that you can play. Students can study here.” There’s even a resident artist — Jennifer Hoewe, a UA professor, whose colorful paintings are displayed on the walls of the store. “We’re a mixed concept,” Robinson said. “We’re very casual and family friendly.” Customers who come in and buy more than they can comfortably carry to their cars need not worry. “You can leave your stuff here, pull up out front, honk your horn, and we’ll bring it out,” Robinson said. With the advent of fall, he and Stennis are gearing up for football season. “It’s a good idea to call ahead for bulk or game-day orders,” Robinson said. “When we sell out, we sell out. You can call ahead and order quiches or other food, and we also can do things that are not on our menu. “We cut our own meats and cheeses and make our own sauces and marinades. People can come in and pick up pesto, our homemade ranch dressings and other dressings, sauces, and marinades.” The advent of fall also means it’s time for Robinson to start making his shrimp and crab gumbo — another authentic taste of New Orleans. He’s got more long-range plans, too. “I’d love to franchise this concept,” he said.
— Cravings is at 2320 University Blvd. in Tuscaloosa. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and for late night food. The menu and delivery information is at www.crimson2go. com. You also can follow Cravings on Facebook and Instagram.
FIESTA Johnie McKinzey spices up ‘Mexican nights’ with passed-down recipes, authentic pottery
BY DONNA CORNELIUS PHOTOS BY GARY COSBY JR. e Southerners love tradition, especially when it comes to familiar foods. But fried chicken and sweet tea don’t figure into one Aliceville family’s favorite get-togethers. “We have Mexican nights, and we have such a good time,” Johnie McKinzey said. These spicy gatherings started with her mother, the late Johnie Johnston, who lived in the Dancy community near Aliceville. “My family’s love for Mexican food is directly related to my mother and her parents, who lived five minutes from the Mexican border in Donna, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley area,” McKinzey said. “My mother and daddy met at the University of Texas and married before my dad shipped out to serve in World War II. “My earliest memories of my mother’s cooking include Mexican food. Her mother was a caterer, who prepared a lot of authentic Mexican food. I can remember visits to my grandparents and making a ‘run south,’ which was what they called going across the border to the Mexican market, 14
The food is the hit of the party, but decorating touches, like a piñata as a centerpiece, make Mexican food night (or day) at the McKinzeys’ even livelier.
When Johnie McKinzey and her family host their Mexican meals, they go all out with the spread, creating tablescapes with family treasures picked up on trips to Mexico and Texas, and their Homer Laughlin Fiesta dinnerware as well as Mexican pottery the family has collected.
to buy staples such as sugar, flour, cornmeal, all kinds of peppers, coffee, cumin, chili powder, garlic and other supplies.” McKinzey and her husband, Billy, who served five terms as Aliceville’s mayor, have passed on their love of Mexican food to their own family. Their son, Bill McKinzey, and his wife, Carol, live in Dancy, as does their daughter, Susan McKinzey Milner, and her husband, Barry. Their granddaughters are Caroline McKinzey Wright, who lives in Tuscaloosa with her husband, Josh; Katie McKinzey, a University of Alabama senior; and Anna Rose Milner, an eighth-grader at Pickens Academy in Carrollton. “We all loved my mother’s Mexican food, and my family is carrying on the tradition,” Johnie McKinzey said. “They all help and have things they like to bring. My daughter-in-law, Carol, makes
delicious black bean salsa, and my daughter, Susan, makes great margaritas. Granddaughter Katie makes the best guacamole ever, Caroline has a good hot corn dip, and Anna Rose likes to make hot cheese dip.” Also on the menu are refried beans, Mexican rice and chips with salsa. A taco bar includes beef, fish or shrimp as the main ingredient and serveyourself bowls of traditional toppings. The family’s all-time favorite dish, however, is one that’s named for Johnie Johnston. “We call it Gay-Gay’s Casserole; that was what my children and grandchildren called my mother,” McKinzey said. “We even have the old clay pot that my mother cooked this dish in for almost 60 years. It’s so old that you can see the marks where it was used to cook over an open fire. My grandmother used it more as a mixing bowl.” >> 15
McKinzey also has green handmade vases from Mexico that belonged to her mother. “You can tell the vases are old and authentic because on the bottom of each vase is a sharp edge where the glassblower came to an abrupt finish,” she said. She’s supplemented her collection of passed-down pottery with newer pieces. She found a colorful footed bowl with scalloped edges and a matching platter during a trip to visit a friend in Snyder, Texas. Her son and daughter-in-law spent their honeymoon in Acapulco and brought back a flowerpot that often holds zinnias for fiesta nights. McKinzey collects Fiesta dinnerware — the bright colors of the glazed ceramic pieces pair well with her Mexican pottery — and now has more than 100 place settings. “Through the years during visits to Texas and trips south of the border, I’ve collected many fun decorations for our celebrations,” she said. She and her husband recently shared her family’s history as well as its food. “Over the last few years, my granddaughters, especially Katie, have wanted to know about their grandparents, who died before my grandchildren were born,” Johnie McKinzey said. “This spring, we went on what we called a ‘finding your roots’ trip. “My dad’s parents were from Bay Springs, Mississippi, so we started there by visiting the old homeplace, the church they attended and the cemetery where they are buried. My Texas grandparents both grew up in a small ranching community, Stockdale, which is a few miles from San Antonio. They moved to the Rio Grande Valley, where my grandfather farmed large tracts of land.” During their trip, the McKinzeys and their daughter and granddaughters stayed in San Antonio and went out each day to explore. They also reconnected with extended family members. “My granddaughters Katie and Caroline have a great-uncle, Charlie Wade, living in San Antonio,” McKinzey said. “Charlena Wade, who is Charlie’s mother and Katie and Caroline’s grandmother, recently moved there to be near her son. We got to visit her in her new home.” Even this impromptu mini-reunion had a Mexican flavor. “We met Charlie and his wife, Agatha, on the River Walk, and they treated us to a delicious Mexican lunch with a mariachi band playing,” McKinzey said.
A SOUTH-OF-THEBORDER SPREAD While the McKinzeys enjoy Mexican meals all year long, these zesty dishes are perfect for cool-weather parties. Johnie McKinzey shared some of her family’s favorite recipes:
GAY-GAY’S CASSEROLE Serves 8 to 10 INGREDIENTS: • 2 pounds ground chuck • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped • 1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce • 1¾ cups water • 1 teaspoon ground cumin • 1½ teaspoon chili powder • 1 teaspoon garlic powder • Salt and pepper to taste • 1 7-ounce package of tortilla chips (McKinzey likes to use chips with a nacho cheese ﬂavor) • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the ground chuck. Remove from pan. Sauté onions in the grease left in the pan. Combine the meat and onions. Mix stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour over meat and onions, and mix well. Simmer this mixture for 15 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Place half the tortilla chips in the bottom of the dish. Spread
half the meat mixture over the chips. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Then repeat the layers of the remaining chips, meat mixture and cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until the casserole is hot in the middle. Cook’s note: “My mother always kept two cans of Hormel chili without beans,” McKinzey said. “If unexpected company came in, she would use the chili in place of the meat mixture, and in a short time, she’d have a tasty casserole for a crowd — she just added a salad, and supper was ready. We lived 13 miles from a grocery store, so we had to be prepared.”
CHICKEN ENCHILADAS Serves 10 to 12
INGREDIENTS: • 1 medium onion, chopped • 2 tablespoons butter • 1 4-ounce can green chiles • 12 ounces cream cheese, cut in chunks • 4 cups cooked chicken, chopped • 8 ounces mild salsa verde • 12 ﬂour tortillas • 16 ounces Mexican blend cheese, grated • 2 cups heavy cream or evaporated milk INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté onions in butter. Add green chiles and sauté for 1 minute. Add chunks of cream
cheese. Over low heat, stir until the cheese is melted. Add the chicken and salsa verde and mix well. Place tortillas out separately on work area. Divide chicken mixture into 12 equal portions, placing each portion on a tortilla. Roll up tortillas, folding the ends under. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Place tortillas, ﬂap side down, in the dish. Sprinkle Mexican cheese on top and pour heavy cream over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly. This recipe can easily be divided in half and also freezes well.
REFRIED BEANS Serves 10
INGREDIENTS: • 1 small bag of dried pinto beans, cooked according to package instructions, or 3 15-ounce cans of pinto beans • 1 cup of liquid reserved from the beans • 1 large onion, chopped • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 teaspoon ground cumin • Salt to taste • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, divided • 2 tablespoons bacon grease or butter INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350
degrees. Mash beans with fork or pulse slightly in a food processor with reserved liquid. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is transparent. Mix this with cumin, salt to taste, 1 cup grated cheese and the mashed beans. Place bacon grease or butter in a skillet and heat until it’s hot over medium heat. Pour the bean mixture into the skillet; fry it on one side for 5 minutes and then ﬂip it over and fry another 5 minutes. Place the mixture in a large baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes.
GUACAMOLE Serves 6 to 8
INGREDIENTS: • 3 ripe avocados • 1 tablespoon cilantro, ﬁnely chopped • Juice of 1 lime • Juice of ½ a large orange • 1 tablespoon red onion, ﬁnely chopped INSTRUCTIONS: Scoop out the ﬂesh from the avocados and mash slightly. Add other ingredients and mix. Serve with corn chip dippers.
HOT CORN DIP
INGREDIENTS: • 1 medium onion, chopped • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced • 2 tablespoons butter • 2 cups uncooked rice • 2½ cups chicken broth • 1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes, undrained • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce • 1 4-ounce can green chiles, undrained • Juice of 2 limes • 2 tablespoons cilantro, ﬁnely chopped • ½ teaspoon ground cumin • 1 teaspoon salt
INGREDIENTS: • 2 11-ounce cans yellow corn with red and green peppers, such as Mexicorn, drained • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated • 1 cup mayonnaise • 2 4.5-ounce cans of green chiles, drained • 2/₃ cup Parmesan cheese • Dash of chili powder
INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients and bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Serve warm with corn chips or tortilla chips.
INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté onion and garlic in butter. Mix this with all the other ingredients. Place in a large baking dish. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
BLACK BEAN SALSA
INGREDIENTS: • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans • 1 15-ounce can of corn with peppers • Half a green onion, chopped • ½ cup cilantro, ﬁnely chopped • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped • 1 small can of sliced black olives • 1 can of mild diced tomatoes and green
INGREDIENTS: • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice • 1 ounce orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec • 1½ ounces tequila • Lime slices • Kosher salt
chiles, such as Rotel • 1 cup Zesty Italian salad dressing • ½ teaspoon sugar • 2 tablespoons lime juice • Salt and pepper to taste INSTRUCTIONS: Mix all ingredients. Let the mixture marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Serve with tortilla chips.
Makes one drink
INSTRUCTIONS: Mix lime juice, orange liqueur and tequila. Run a lime slice around the edge of a glass. Dip top of glass in kosher salt. Place crushed ice in the glass and pour mixture over. Garnish the glass by hanging a slice of lime on the rim.
Things to do, places to go, people to see this fall. ENTERTAINMENT
Vernon Alabama’s Gospel Music Weekend Sept. 8, 6-10 p.m. • Sept. 9, 5:3010 p.m. • Vernon City Complex Auditorium • Vernon More than 20 gospel and Christian country music artists will perform over the two-night annual event, and the price is right at absolutely free. For more information, check out its Facebook page under Vernon Alabama’s Gospel Music Weekend.
Eric Church Sept. 15 • 7 p.m. • Tuscaloosa Amphitheater Eric Church is the headliner, and Brothers Osborne and Ashley McBryde kick off the evening. Tickets available at the box office, online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.
Black Jacket Symphony Performing Grateful Dead’s “American Beauty” Sept. 15 • 8 p.m. • Bama Theatre The creative musicians will perform songs from the Grateful Dead’s 1970 album. For ticket information, call 256-656-9144.
“The 39 Steps” Sept. 22-Oct. 1 • Sept. 22, Sept. 23, Sept. 28, Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. • Sept. 24, Sept. 27, Sept. 30, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. • Bean-Brown Theatre Here’s how Theatre Tuscaloosa describes this bit of fun: “Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have ‘The 39 Steps.’ ” It even advertises an on-stage plane crash, missing fingers and “some good old-fashioned romance.” (Hopefully none of the missing fingers involved the ring finger.) Tickets are $17 for adults; $15 for seniors (65+), Shelton State Community College employees and military; $13 each for groups of 10 or more; $12 for students and children; and $6 for Shelton State students. Tickets may be purchased through the box office or online at www.theatretusc.com.
“The Caucasian Chalk Circle” Oct. 3 “Inspired by a classical Chinese play, the parable examines the battle between two women over the possession of a child.” A University of Alabama Theatre and Dance production. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for UA faculty/staff/seniors and $14 for students. Tickets can be purchased through www.ua.tix.com or at the box office in the lobby of Rowand-Johnson Hall at 348 Stadium Drive. For more information, call 205-348-3400.
“Disney Aladdin JR.”
Sept. 22-25 • Bama Theatre
Oct. 6-8 • Bama Theatre
Earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos — what better subjects for a musical comedy? The Actor’s Charitable Theatre presents this fun homage to 1970s disaster films. The cast visits a casino/disco where all sorts of disasters suddenly hit. For ticket information, call 205-393-2800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A whole new world (yes, I went there) awaits the audience in the Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre performance that brings to life a favorite Disney classic. Check online for tickets at TCT’s website, www. tuscaloosachildrenstheatre.net.
Willie Nelson and Family Oct. 11 • 7 p.m. • Tuscaloosa Amphitheater He’s on the road again and planning a stop in Tuscaloosa. Jamey Johnson will also perform. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, online at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.
“We are Proud to Present” Sept. 25 Here’s how the University of Alabama Theatre and Dance department describes this show: “As six actors plan and rehearse a presentation about an African genocide, tensions flare over just how to tell the story.” Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for UA faculty/ staff/seniors and $14 for students. Tickets can be purchased through www.ua.tix.com or at the box office in the lobby of RowandJohnson Hall at 348 Stadium Drive. For more information, call the box office at 205-3483400.
“Cards and Letters: A Celebration of American Opera” Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m. • Oct. 1, 3 p.m. • Bryant-Jordan Hall • Tuscaloosa Presented by University of Alabama Opera. Tickets are $5 for students with ID and $20 for general admission.
Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre Oct. 10 The University of Alabama’s Theatre and Dance department’s annual showcase of classic and contemporary dance pieces. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for UA faculty/staff/ seniors and $14 for students. Tickets can be purchased through www.ua.tix.com or at the office in the lobby of Rowand-Johnson Hall at 348 Stadium Drive. For more information, call 205-348-3400.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Nov. 6
Kings of Leon Oct. 23 • 7:30 p.m. • Tuscaloosa Amphitheater C’mon and “Use Somebody” and bring them to hear the Grammy Award-winning band, with special guest Dawes. Tickets are available at the box office, online at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.
Page to Stage: Kate Campbell Oct. 27 • 7:30 p.m. • Bean-Brown Theatre The award-winning singer with a storytelling style returns to Tuscaloosa for a performance. Tickets may be purchased through the box office or online at www.theatretusc.com.
“SecondStage: CQ/CX” Nov. 1-5 • Nov. 1, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. • Nov. 2, Nov. 3, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. • Bean-Brown Theatre A Theatre Tuscaloosa production of the play that asks: “What is the truth: facts or feelings? A young, hotshot writer’s fast and loose writing style forces The New York Times to dig for an answer.” Tickets are $8 and may be purchased through the box office or online at www.theatretusc.com.
“Avenue Q” Nov. 3-5 • Bama Theatre Follow Princeton, a recent college graduate, who moves to Avenue Q in New York, where life in the real world isn’t quite what he had envisioned. It’s an award-winning musical comedy — featuring puppets — that the Actor’s Charitable Theatre is bringing to Tuscaloosa. Parental guidance is suggested for this production. For ticket information, call 205-393-2800 or email email@example.com.
The Tony Award-winning musical comedy makes its way to Tuscaloosa in a performance by the University of Alabama’s Theatre and Dance crew. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for UA faculty/ staff/seniors and $14 for students. Tickets can be purchased through http://www.ua.tix.com or at the box office in the lobby of RowandJohnson Hall at 348 Stadium Drive. For more information, call 205-3483400.
Dance Alabama! Nov. 7 The talented students at the University of Alabama’s Theatre and Dance department choreograph and perform a variety of productions, from ballet to hip-hop. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for UA faculty/staff/seniors and $14 for students. Tickets can be purchased through http://www.ua.tix.com or at the box office in the lobby of Rowand-Johnson Hall at 348 Stadium Drive. For more information, call 205-348-3400.
“August: Osage County” Nov. 14 “This rambunctious play takes dysfunction to a whole new level,” so saith the description by the University of Alabama’s Theatre and Dance department, which will put on its version of the play that won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama along with several Tonys. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for UA faculty/ staff/seniors and $14 for students. Tickets can be purchased through www.ua.tix.com or at the box office in the lobby of Rowand-Johnson Hall at 348 Stadium Drive. For more information, call 205-3483400.
“The Nutcracker” Dec. 7-10 • Dec. 7, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. • Dec. 9, 10 a.m. • Dec. 10, 2 p.m. • Bama Theatre Everything about it is absolutely lovely — OK, gun-toting mice, maybe not — but the dance, the music, the costumes, the story, the season, it’s pure ethereal beauty. Tickets for the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers’ production are $21 for adults, $17 for ages 60 and above, and $12 for children and students of all ages, and can be purchased in advance through www.tututix.com/ TuscaloosaCommunityDancers.
“A Christmas Carol” Dec. 8-17 • Dec. 8, Dec. 9, Dec. 14, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. • Dec. 10, Dec. 13, Dec. 16, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. A grumpy old man morphs into a benevolent soul. Who needs a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger when we’ve got Ebenezer Scrooge? Theatre Tuscaloosa’s holiday classic returns. Tickets are $17 for adults; $15 for seniors (65+), Shelton State employees and military; $13 each for groups of 10 or more; $12 for students and children; and $6 for Shelton State students. Tickets may be purchased through the box office or online at www.theatretusc.com.
Hilaritas Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. • Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. • UA School of Music Concert Hall A Tuscaloosa holiday tradition. Tickets are $5 and $7 for students, $10 and $15 for general admission. For more information, go to www.uamusic.tix.com or call 205-348-7111.
UA MUSIC PRODUCTIONS
The University of Alabama puts on several concerts this fall. Among them are the Oct. 12 Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 p.m., University Choirs at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19, the Tuscaloosa Youth Orchestra Fall concert at 4 p.m. Nov. 26, and the Alabama Symphonic Band at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4. Visit https://music.ua.edu/events/2017-09/ for the calendar with dates, times and ticket prices.
FUN AT ANY AGE
Tinsel Trail Dec. 1-Jan. 1 • Tuscaloosa Riverwalk at the Tuscaloosa River Market and Amphitheater It’s impossible not to get into the holiday spirit with a free walk along this trail — which is actually perfectly accessible pavement. Local businesses and organizations decorate Christmas trees that flank both sides of the walkway. The attraction at the River Market has been so popular that in 2016, another area for trees was opened at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. It’s a selfie-lover’s paradise, though you’ll want to include family and friends with every step.
Holidays on the River ice rink 46th Kentuck Festival of the Arts Oct. 21-22 • Kentuck Park • Northport Mecca for the folk arts lover, this nearly half-century-old event beckons craftsmen and artists to West Alabama. It features live demonstrations and items for purchase made by craftsmen from potters to quilters, to jewelers to basket makers. Single-day tickets are $10. A weekend pass (both days) is $15. Buy tickets at the gate or in advance at Kentuck’s downtown Northport Gallery Shop or online at www.kentuck.org.
Moundville Native American Festival Oct. 4-7 • Oct. 4, Oct. 5, Oct. 6 from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. • Oct. 7 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. • Moundville Archaeological Park Visitors learn the history and how it relates to its early Native American settlers through performances, artists and craftspeople. For ticket information, visit www.moundville.ua.edu or call 205-371-2234.
December through January • Tuscaloosa Amphitheater Check online for exact dates — they hadn’t been set yet when this issue went to print — but it’s a winter and holiday delight. In the oh-sodeep-South, this outdoor ice skating rink is a West Alabama resident’s answer to the rink at Rockefeller Center. For more information, including dates, hours and ticket prices, call 205-248-5280 or visit holidaysontheriver. com.
Tuscaloosa Barnyard 11453 Turner Bridge Road • Tuscaloosa • Fridays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. • Saturdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. • Sundays, 1-6 p.m. • In October: Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Old-school family fun. Hayrides, a fall pumpkin patch (everyone gets one), fishing, pony and horse rides, boat rides, culvert slides, swimming pool, jumping pillow, swings, cow milking, animal petting and feeding, splash pad, pool, picnic tables — it’s all a part of the experiences available there. Admission at the gate is $10 plus tax. For more information, call 205-248-0773, text Kami Combs at 205-454-8841 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Its website is www.tuscaloosabarnyard.com.
AHSAA SUPER 7 Dec. 6-8 • Bryant-Denny Stadium It’s championship weekend for the Alabama High School Athletic Association, the end to the football season, where the top two teams in each of the seven classes clash for the state title.
BY DONNA CORNELIUS, THE SNOOTY FOODIE | PHOTOS BY GARY COSBY JR. AND ERIN NELSON
Girls just want to have ... food
’d looked forward for months to my family’s girls’ trip — a few days away from home to celebrate my mom’s birthday in July. (Even now I am listening for the knock of the PC Police at my front door because I’ve referred to women over age 18 as “girls” — but this is the South, after all. We’re girls until we die, and then we become girl angels.) Presented with several destination options, my mom chose Callaway Gardens. When I was growing up, we went every summer to the resort in Pine Mountain, Georgia. We’d go with Shirley and Johnny McDonald, my parents’ longtime friends from Montgomery, and their two daughters. Thinking back, my mother and Shirley got the short end of the stick vacation-wise. Daddy and Johnny were avid golfers, so they’d leave early in the morning for one of Callaway’s three courses and be gone for most of the day. We kids would go to the recreation program put on by the students from the Florida State University Flying High Circus, which performed at the resort all summer, until lunch. Then Mom and Shirley would have to feed us and keep us entertained all afternoon with swimming, bike-riding and game-playing. I’d been back to Callaway Gardens about nine years ago for a press trip. But I was eager to again experience it with family members — my sister, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law and three nieces along with my mother. I got the fun job of planning our meals. I hear that some people make their vacation itineraries based on activities. Mine revolve around food. On our trips to Callaway years ago, the moms would make big breakfasts — with bacon, sausage, eggs, grits and toast — and serve them at the crack of dawn so the golfers could make their tee times. Rule No. 1 for our girls’ trip was that we would not exert ourselves in the kitchen, especially first thing in the morning. Everyone got up when she wanted to and either had a bowl of Cheerios or heated up cinnamon rolls, which my mom had thoughtfully brought along from Edgar’s Bakery. Rule No. 2 was that we would not worry
about calories. We ate lunch one day at the Callaway Gardens Country Store, which has long been famous for its stone-ground grits and muscadine jelly, jam, sauce and preserves. Several of us got the vegetable plate, which seems like a healthy option until you consider that our selections included potato salad, fried okra and, on the side, biscuits and cornbread muffins. On another day, we ate lunch at the pavilion at Robin Lake, which had surprisingly good cheeseburgers and french fries — again, food that does not appear on the Whole30 diet. We had dinner at The Gardens restaurant, a charming place that was the resort’s first clubhouse. Determined to obey Rule No. 2, we started with shrimp shooters — grilled shrimp served in shot glasses with creamy lobster sauce. On the advice of the hostess, we saved some of the sauce to slather on our bread. Then several of us ordered the stuffed bone-in pork chop, with rosemary whipped potatoes, garlic green beans and beurre rouge sauce. It was one of those perfect meals you suspect you will remember for years to come. The next night, we had yet another fabulous dinner at Carriage and Horses, a restaurant in a Pine Mountain farmhouse. Dagher Bechara, its self-described owner, chef and chief bottlewasher, fed us escargot, trout and steaks. After we’d eaten, he handed my niece, Mary Wade, a bag of carrots and urged us to use them to get acquainted with the horses on the property, which we did. Chef Dagher also presented my mom with a bottle of champagne and a big serving of tiramisu — with a candle in it. That leads us to Rule No. 3, which is closely related to Rule No. 2: Eat desserts whenever possible. Hey, life is short — and so are girls’ trips.
TRUCKS BY THE TRACKS
Sept. 17 • Birmingham Birmingham food trucks will be at this event at Railroad Park, 1600 First Ave. S, serving gourmet grilled cheeses, specialty burgers, popsicles and lots more. A VIP experience includes special seating, a private bar and dessert by the Birmingham Candy Co. Gates open at 11 a.m. Each food truck will have individual sales. For more information, visit www.railroadpark.org.
GARDEN PARTY 2017
Sept. 24 • Tuscaloosa Druid City Garden Project has a new name — Schoolyard Roots — but is keeping its popular signature fundraiser. The organization’s Garden Party will feature food prepared by Tuscaloosa-area chefs and provided by farmers. The event is 5-8 p.m. at the Tuscaloosa River Market. For more information, visit www.schoolyardroots.org.
BREAKIN’ BREAD: THE LOCAL FLAVOR FESTIVAL
Sept. 24 • Birmingham This 15th annual event is for the whole family. Many of Birmingham’s best local restaurants bring their signature dishes to the festival at Sloss Furnaces, 20 32nd St. N. Drinks include local brews, imported and domestic beers, wines and soft drinks. The festival is from 1-4 p.m. Proceeds go to Jones Valley Teaching Farm’s Woodlawn High School Urban Farm. For more information, visit www.birminghamoriginals.org.
Sept. 29-Oct. 1 • Dothan This three-day Oktoberfest at the Houston County Farm Center has a sanctioned barbecue competition and a division for backyard cooks, too. There’s also an indoor beer garden, car show and entertainment. For more information, visit www.porktoberque.com.
NATIONAL SHRIMP FESTIVAL
Oct. 12-15 • Gulf Shores This outdoor festival on the beach celebrates a seafood staple — shrimp. It’s one of the largest outdoor festivals in the state. All kinds of shrimp concoctions will be for sale on the Food Boardwalk. The event includes entertainment and a sand sculpture contest. To learn where to park and for more information, visit www.myshrimpfest.com.
WEST ALABAMA FOOD BANK’S ALL ABOARD
Donna Cornelius is a Tuscaloosa writer whose motto is: So much food, so little time. Contact her to share recipes, restaurant news or anything food-related at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @blonderavenous.
Nov. 9 • Tuscaloosa Sample food from Tuscaloosa-area restaurants and learn how West Alabama Food Bank gets food to those in need at “All Aboard.” The fundraiser, which includes music, is part of the organization’s 30th anniversary celebration. It’s at the Tuscaloosa River Market. For more information, visit www.westalabamafoodbank.org.
coffee connection M ON A R CH ESPRESSO BAR
onarch Espresso Bar is a downtown Tuscaloosa craft coffee shop with a distinctly uptown vibe. Spend a little time there, and you can’t help feeling a little cooler — figuratively speaking. The spacious shop, which opened in February 2017, has urban-industrial elements such as concrete floors, sleek subway tile and walls made of reclaimed brick that owners Audrey and Paul Vermilyea said came from all over Alabama. On a wall in the back of the space are plaques bearing quotes from folks ranging from Helen Keller and Winston Churchill to Johnny Cash and Nick Saban. The menu, too, is a cut above an ordinary coffee shop’s offerings. In addition to espressos and filtered coffees, Monarch has specialty drinks, teas and even wine, beer and craft cocktails. Eats include avocado toast, almond
butter toast, baked treats, house-made granola, and cereal with coffee milk, which is iced coffee with a splash of milk. The shop was on trend even before it opened. The Vermilyeas, who met while both were University of Alabama students, funded their venture through Kickstarter, a popular funding platform for creative projects. “We had a $50,000 goal,” Audrey Vermilyea said. “You only get the money if you meet your goal within a certain time period. This was our way of seeing if there was enough interest.” Audrey is from Birmingham, and Paul is from Monroeville. They’ve been married for three years. “When we were dating, we always checked out every new place that opened in Tuscaloosa,” Audrey said. “When we traveled, the first thing we looked for was coffee shops. There weren’t a lot of coffee shops in Tuscaloosa when we were in school.”
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Audrey Vermilyea pours steamed milk into a cup of espresso as she makes a latte at Monarch Espresso Bar. • Paul Vermilyea pours hot water over ground coffee as he makes a pour-over cup of coffee for a guest at the shop. • A splash of half-and-half blends in a glass of cold brew coffee. • Orange shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate. • Paul and Audrey Vermilyea.
The couple were living in Nashville when they began to take a hard look at opening their own place. Audrey worked for Sifted, a lunch delivery service that’s now expanded to places like Atlanta, Denver and Austin, Texas. Paul taught fifth-grade math with Nashville Teaching Fellows, an organization that recruits and trains people to teach in high-need schools. “In Nashville, there’s a coffee shop on every corner,” Audrey said. “We were fortunate to connect with some owners there, and they were very nice about talking to us. We knew there was no way to afford to open a shop on our own, so we used Kickstarter.” She said that during the first half of the
funding campaign, she and Paul weren’t sure their pitch would be successful. But contributions from their UA connections as well as family members and friends helped them meet their goal. Audrey majored in marketing and management, while Paul majored in finance, and they enlisted help from some of their former professors. “They let us talk to their classes,” Audrey said. “We got to meet and talk with a lot of students. So many of them are from out of state and are used to a variety of restaurants and coffee shops.” Once their funding was in place, the Vermilyeas moved back to Tuscaloosa in June 2016. They found a space for their shop at 7714 Second Ave., near The Alcove International Tavern. “In late October, we started construction,” Audrey said. “We were super hands-on. Paul made the bar, put in the subway tiles and made the tables. It was fun to be part of the design. We got lots of help from our parents and our friends.” Paul said some who gave substantial amounts of money to the project were “complete strangers.” “Some were Alabama alumni,” he said. “We didn’t know them then — now, we do.” Several donors have Monarch drinks named after them. Another specialty drink is the result of one of several special events the shop has hosted. “We had a barista throwdown,” Audrey said. “Most of our baristas are students, and four of them presented a drink.” The winning creation by Spencer Pennington is now on the menu. His Turbo Lemonade combines espresso, lemonade, turbinado sugar and tonic water. “Fifty people came to the event and were the judges,” Paul said. “We set up a Twitter poll, and the baristas were judged on presentation, taste and creativity.” In July, the Vermilyeas teamed up with Dustin Spruill of Local Roots food truck to hold a wine dinner. The response was so enthusiastic — 65 people attended — that they plan to hold another dinner later this year. Monarch’s coffees include espressos and filtered coffees. In the filtered coffee category are batch coffees, a decaf option, and pourover selections from places like Ethiopia, Peru, Colombia and Honduras. Pour-overs are made with a brewing system
where hot water is poured over freshly ground coffee. It’s a favored method among coffee enthusiasts because it allows you to control taste and strength. Monarch has offered pour-over classes for groups such as the Young Professionals of Tuscaloosa. The shop’s equipment includes grinders and an espresso machine from La Marzocco in Florence, Italy. “We’re what’s known as a third wave coffee shop,” Audrey said. “First wave would be a place like a diner, where the coffee sits on a burner for a while. Second wave is like Starbucks, where baristas push a button. Third wave shops usually are locally owned places, more hands-on and artistic.” Monarch’s blends, on tap daily, are from Birmingham-based Revelator Coffee. “Our roaster is Lyons Coffee Roasters in Florence, Alabama,” Audrey said. “We researched Alabama roasters, and this is a smallbatch company that’s pretty new. That’s what we use for pour-overs and espressos.” The Vermilyeas said they’re working on adding “more substantial food” for lunch. “We have a talented baker, Sarah Grace Rogers,” Audrey said. “She can make glutenfree and dairy-free things. We make our own bread using my grandmother’s recipe. We have lemon-blueberry scones and chocolate chip cookies.” We Have Doughnuts, a Birmingham artisan doughnut company, sometimes schedules deliveries at Monarch. You can check Monarch’s website and social media pages for delivery dates and times. Monarch Espresso Bar opened in February and already is drawing a variety of customers. “The downtown community has been supportive,” Audrey said. “In the early morning, we get a lot of professors and businesspeople. Students tend to come in later in the day.” Despite the hard work involved in getting Monarch off the ground and the long hours they put into their shop, the Vermilyeas are happy to be back in the city where they met. “We couldn’t get Tuscaloosa out of our heads,” Audrey said. — Monarch Espresso Bar is at 714 22nd Ave. in Tuscaloosa. Itʼs open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays. For more information, visit www. monarchespresso.com or follow the shop on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
HOME-FIELD GET YOUR TAILGATE IN GEAR WITH THESE THEMED GAME-DAY DISHES ot all the action is on the field when Alabama football kicks off. Tuscaloosa kitchens can be pretty exciting places, too, as fans huddle up for pregame get-togethers. We’ve come up with some ideas for tailgate food for each home game, from California’s Fresno State to Georgia’s Mercer University. Some teams have easy tie-ins — think Loui-
FRESNO STATE UNIVERSITY | SEPT. 9
siana Cajun fare for LSU, pork for the Arkansas Razorbacks — while others present more challenging themes. You’ll find food to make at home, a pickup option if you don’t want to cook, and a drink suggestion. You’ll be a good sport by giving a nod to visiting teams. After all, when you’re Alabama, you can afford to be generous.
Go west — West Coast, that is — when the Bulldogs come to town. The avocado leaps to mind when you think about fresh California food (although I wonder if folks there get as tired of avocado associations as we Southerners do of fried chicken and front porch references). With that in mind, try a decidedly different dish: avocado pasta.
MAKE AT HOME:
AVOCADO PASTA 2 to 4 servings INGREDIENTS: • 8 ounces bucatini pasta (or your favorite pasta) • 1½ avocados, peeled and pits removed • ½ cup whole milk • ½ teaspoon garlic powder • 1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning • 2½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice • 1½ teaspoon olive oil • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus more for topping) • Salt and pepper • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved • Finely chopped basil or Italian parsley, optional INSTRUCTIONS: Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Drain pasta and set aside. Put avocados, milk, garlic powder, Adobo seasoning, lemon juice, olive oil and 2 tablespoons cheese in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, thin it out with the reserved pasta liquid. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add cherry tomatoes to pasta. Pour sauce over pasta and toss. Sprinkle with additional cheese and fresh herbs, if desired.
PICK UP: A cheese and meat tray, then add fresh fruits and veggies as a tribute to California’s bountiful produce.
TO DRINK: California wines.
COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY | SEPT. 16 A bighorn sheep named CAM the Ram is this school’s official mascot. (Just FYI, CAM comes from the university’s former name: the Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College.) Also, Colorado lamb is on the menu at many posh restaurants. Thus, you can’t go wrong offering your guests lamb before this game — and making lamb burgers and stuffing them into pitas is an easy, no-forks-needed way to serve it. We’ve slightly modified a recipe from www.finecooking.com.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI | SEPT. 30 Oxford, Mississippi, is the home of Ole Miss, famous writers like William Faulkner and John Grisham — and, of particular note to those of us who love to eat, Big Bad Breakfast, a wildly popular restaurant. With that in mind, why not serve brunch when the Rebels come to town? If you’re tired of the old standby breakfast casserole made with sausage and eggs, try this recipe slightly adapted from one in a cookbook put together several years ago by the UA Alpha Gamma Delta chapter.
MAKE AT HOME:
CHEESY SHRIMP AND GRITS CASSEROLE Serves 6 to 8 INGREDIENTS: • 4 cups chicken broth • ½ teaspoon salt • 2 cups quick-cooking grits (not instant) • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, divided • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided • 2 tablespoons butter • 6 green onions, chopped • 1 green bell pepper, chopped • 1 garlic clove, minced • 1 pound small fresh shrimp, cooked for about 3 minutes and peeled • 1 10-ounce can of diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained • ¼ teaspoon salt • ¼ teaspoon pepper
MAKE AT HOME:
Makes 4 servings
INGREDIENTS: • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar • 1 teaspoon sugar • ½ teaspoon kosher salt • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced (use a mandoline for best results and if you can do so without slicing a finger)
INGREDIENTS: • 1 to 1¼ pounds ground lamb • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika • 2 teaspoons dried oregano • 1 small clove of garlic, minced and mashed into a paste (or use about 1 teaspoon of garlic salt) • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • 6 ounces of feta cheese, cut into 8¼-inch thick slices • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (use lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil for a zesty taste) • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped • 4 pita breads (warm them before serving) • 8 thin slices of cucumber • Pickled onions (recipe follows) INSTRUCTIONS: Heat up your grill and oil the grates. Mix the lamb with the paprika, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Form into four patties, each about ½-inch thick. Sprinkle feta slices with the olive oil and dill. Set aside. Grill the burgers about 5 minutes on each side. Burgers should be light pink inside. Place a burger in each pita and add two slices of feta, two slices of cucumber and a spoonful of pickled onions.
INSTRUCTIONS: Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and dill. Add onions and stir. Let mixture sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
PICK UP: That’s easy: your favorite Colorado beer.
TO DRINK: Boy, the things you can find out on the internet. I learned that a Snowball is the official state drink of Colorado. Make it with one part vodka, 2 parts Fresca and 1 part lime juice.
INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish. Bring broth and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, but take the cover off and stir the grits several times to make sure they’re not getting too stiff (add a little more broth or water if you need to). Cook at a simmer for about 20 minutes. Combine grits with ¾ cup of each cheese. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add green onions, bell pepper and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Stir together green onion mixture, grits mixture, shrimp and next 3 ingredients. Pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of each cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
PICK UP: Check out the story on Cravings in this issue to read all about the market’s yummy quiches — which you can pre-order.
TO DRINK: Big Bad Breakfast serves mugs of Octane coffee, but if game day is hot (extremely likely), you might want to offer iced coffee instead. Look for some pretty decent cold brews, including some made with almond milk, at Tuscaloosaarea grocery stores.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS | OCT. 14 Razorback fans’ chant — “Woooo! Pig Sooie” — is one of the most recognizable cheers in college sports — though of course not on a par with “Roll Tide.” Duh! So bring a bit of pig heaven to your tailgate party with tacos al pastor. The official way to make them involves cooking the pork on a spit and all kinds of complex things. Here’s a shortcut.
MAKE AT HOME:
TACOS AL PASTOR Makes about 6 servings INGREDIENTS: • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder or pork tenderloin • 2 tablespoons each of taco seasoning, chili powder, smoked paprika, white vinegar and pineapple juice • About 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder and salt • Small tortillas • 2 cups of chopped cilantro • ½ cup onion, thinly sliced • Crushed pineapple or fresh pineapple cut into small cubes • Lime wedges INSTRUCTIONS: Slice the pork very thinly, about ½ inch thick. Mix the taco seasoning, chili powder, paprika, vinegar, pineapple juice, garlic powder and salt. Pour over the pork and marinate the mixture at least 3 hours in the refrigerator. Cook the pork slices on the grill or in a grill pan, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. (Since heat levels can vary, check the pork’s internal temperature and make sure it’s at least 145 degrees. Food poisoning and football do not go together.) Remove the pork from the grill or grill pan and let it rest for at least 3 minutes. Meanwhile, grill the tortillas for about 1 minute per side. Combine the cilantro and onion. Cut the pork into small strips. Place pork on tortillas and add the cilantro-onion mixture and pineapple. Serve immediately with fresh lime wedges.
PICK UP: No problem here, since barbecue options abound in T-Town. Or, if you like the taco idea, check to see if Animal Butter in downtown Tuscaloosa has the pork version on its menu.
TO DRINK: If you serve tacos al pastor, go with margaritas. For plain old barbecue, soft drinks and beer should fit the bill.
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE | OCT. 21 Since the UT mascot is a bluetick coonhound named Smokey, you can always smoke a slab of pork or some chicken — if you have a smoker, of course. If not, Tennessee is where hot chicken originated, so here’s an easy takeoff on that dish: chicken and waffle sliders.
MAKE AT HOME:
CHICKEN AND WAFFLE SLIDERS This is so easy it’s almost embarrassing: Buy a bag of fried chicken tenderloins and a box of small frozen waffles. Cook both according to the instructions on the packages, and then make sliders. Jazz them up with a dollop of honey mustard (I love Robert Rothschild’s raspberry honey mustard, available in Tuscaloosa at The Fresh Market) and a generous splash of hot sauce. Of course, you can fry up your own chicken and make your own waffles, but you may want to spend the pregame hours in more productive pursuits, such as drinking Bloody Marys and mimosas.
KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken. It’s also fun to put out a basket of Moon Pies and/or Goo Goo Clusters, both of which originated in the Volunteer State.
Jack Daniel’s, of course, or if you happen to know someone with a handy backyard still, honest-to-goodness moonshine.
LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY | NOV. 4 Jambalaya is not only an iconic Cajun dish but also one that’s extremely easy to stretch if unexpected — or unexpectedly hungry — guests show up. Just add more chicken broth, rice, some extra chicken (no shame in using a roasted chicken from the supermarket) and/or sausage, and you’ll be good to go. We’ve slightly adapted a Southern Living recipe.
MAKE AT HOME:
JAMBALAYA Makes 8 to 10 servings INGREDIENTS: • 1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced • 2 tablespoons canola oil • 2 cups onion, diced • 1 cup celery, diced • 1 large red bell pepper, diced • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced • 1 bay leaf • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning • 1 teaspoon dried thyme • 1 teaspoon dried oregano • 2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
• 3 cups chicken broth • 2 cups long grain rice, uncooked • 2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded • 1½ pounds medium-sized raw shrimp, peeled and deveined • ½ cup Italian parsley, chopped • Green onions, chopped INSTRUCTIONS: In a Dutch oven, cook sausage in hot oil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until sausage is browned. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon. Add the onion, celery, red bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf, Creole seasoning, thyme and oregano to the pot. Sauté about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in tomatoes, chicken
broth, rice and chicken. Bring to a boil over mediumhigh heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is tender. Stir in the shrimp. Cover and cook about 5 minutes or just until the shrimp turn pink. Stir in the parsley and top with green onions.
PICK UP: Muffulettas from Broadway Pizzeria or Cravings.
TO DRINK: Louisiana’s Abita beer (try Purple Haze, Andygator and/or Amber).
MERCER UNIVERSITY | NOV. 18
This team presented the most daunting challenge for a food pairing. Luckily, my daughter-in-law is from Warner Robins, Georgia, which is near Macon, the home of Mercer’s main campus. She told me about a really popular Macon restaurant called Nu-Way Wieners, and it’s known for its chili dogs and fries. Well … problem solved, because who doesn’t like a messy, yummy chili dog? Here’s a way to make them en masse. The original recipe from www.thecookierookie.com includes ketchup and mustard. We prefer them without these two condiments, but add them to the buns if you want even more delicious gloppiness.
Nu-Way pours its lemonade over something called “flaky ice” (we’re betting it’s Macon’s version of Taco Casa ice). Serve regular lemonade to the younger crowd and this kickedup version to adult guests:
FIREBALL LEMONADE MAKE AT HOME:
Serves 8 INGREDIENTS: • 48 ounces of lemonade (make your own or buy it ready-made at the supermarket) • 2 cups Fireball Cinnamon Whisky • 2 to 4 tablespoons grenadine • Ice • 2 lemons, sliced
CHILI DOGS Makes 8 hot dogs INGREDIENTS: • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 8 hot dog buns • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped • ½ cup cilantro, chopped • 3 cups shredded cheese — cheddar or a Mexican blend • 8 bun-length hot dogs, uncooked • 2 cups of chili (buy it ready-made or use your favorite recipe) INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place olive oil in a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the buns (inside side down) in the skillet just until they’re lightly toasted. Be careful — they’ll burn quickly if you’re not vigilant.
Place buns on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish. Sprinkle buns with onions, cilantro, and about 1 cup of cheese. Place a hot dog in each bun. Top with chili and then the remaining 2 cups of cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes.
PICK UP: (Georgia) peach ice cream.
INSTRUCTIONS: Combine the lemonade, whisky and 2 tablespoons of the grenadine in a large pitcher. Stir and taste. Add more grenadine until you get the color and flavor you like. Serve over ice. Garnish each glass with a lemon slice, and float the leftover slices in the pitcher. NOTE: We tried this recipe using limeade instead of lemonade, and it’s just as good.
VISION TSO conductor Adam Flatt knew music was in his heart and future at an early age
BY MARK HUGHES COBB PHOTOS BY ERIN NELSON dam Flatt can’t remember when he didn’t know his life’s melody. Before elementary school, he’d begun his journey, one that’s led him to the podium of not just the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra as its conductor, but also the Newport Symphony in Oregon, and the Colorado Ballet in Denver, where he lives with his wife, Jenny, 5-year-old son, Edgar, and 1-year-old daughter, Helen. By Edgar’s age, Flatt was taking violin. The seeds had been planted two years before: One of his earliest memo-
ries, age 3, is of witnessing Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” in a fully staged performance, with live orchestra, in his hometown of Sacramento, California. “I was thunderstruck,” said Flatt, who’s been with the TSO since 2011, when a 140-candidate search narrowed down to four possibilities, then to his unanimous choice by the selection committee. “The music, the whole thing bowled me over; but the music really stayed with me, in an important way. It stirred the magical feelings and butterflies in my tummy, for a long time.” Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” with puppets, also lodged in his memory, a show where he and other kids sat on the floor with performers.
Adam Flatt conducts the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra during the 2017 Reveries and Wonders concert at Moody Music Concert Hall on the University of Alabama campus.
“I think I was a musical kid in those very vivid first exposures.” His parents enrolled him in a preschooler’s music exposure class. Visiting Jack’s House of Music, an oldschool Sacramento store with sheet music and walls of instruments, from which employees would demonstrate, led him to the violin. “I told Mom I wanted to try that,” he said. “To her great credit, she rented me a quarter-sized violin and found (teacher) Mrs. Heilbrun,” who influenced generations of musicians. Flatt recently visited with her: At 102, she’s still lovely, he said, and gave him a big smile. “She seems very touched by what she characterizes as my success.” Through hard work, he became proficient, but no prodigy, he said. The Sacramento public school system featured “fantastic music programs,” so his next major evolutionary step came in seventh grade, with the junior high school orchestra. Joining together for Schubert’s “Rosamunde” overture overwhelmed him. “The first day, I sat down, and this was like a physical ecstasy that ran through my body, like electricity … it was coursing through my body, it felt like, this sound,” Flatt said. “I thought, ‘This is why I’ve been standing alone, practicing, all these years!’ Because now I can play with other people and make this magic that seems to be so much more than the sum of its parts. “I was never a soloist, or frustrated soloist. It’s always been about finding my voice in the larger ensemble.” Other life opportunities arose — he suggests, perhaps jokingly, the professional kickboxing circuit — and hobbies and interests, but music ran throughout, from public school orchestras to a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of California at Berkeley, and a master’s in conducting from the Indiana University School of Music. But he can let down his hair, lower his brow. “I’ve always been rather devoted to kitsch, the cheesiest of kitsch, really,” he said, laughing. “So I have had a certain amount of enjoyment with lounge music.” Flatt recently conducted for Thomas Lauderdale, who fronts a Portland, Oregon, band called Pink Martini, making ’50s-style drinking music, with elements of pop, jazz and classical blended into a mellow mix. “Some of that stuff is really quite lovely.” But the pop came later in life. “Growing up, I was really a classical music nerd. I listened to the classical music station as a kid. I was completely unconnected to my own generation of pop music, but I could tell you all the keys of the four Schumann symphonies.” This made him immensely popular, as you might guess, he said, “... with the girls, especially.” >>
Still, he has knowledge “a mile wide and an inch deep” over numerous interests. Flatt’s been working professionally for 20 years, from Austria and Germany and the Aspen Music Festival, to Oregon, Colorado and Alabama — with numerous guest-conducting stints for symphony orchestras, and opera and ballet companies across the United States — and that ecstatic feeling can return, in performance. At times, surrounded by good people on a good day, “Things just come together; I wish I could always predict when they are, when somehow the collaborators and the piece of music itself kind of bundle into one thing. And there’s a sense of inevitability and oneness of purpose that is as strong as that first electrical jolt. “I live for those times, though those don’t happen every day.” It’s his job now to gather in that collective voice, to prepare dozens of individuals to create one magic sound. “There’s such a difference between rehearsing and performing, in my mindset,” he said. “I have to have this second brain that is so critical and agenda-focused in rehearsal, but then be able to just throw it away in performance, just be in the moment.” When it works, Flatt can feel it, even with his back turned. He recalls one such night conducting Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” in a small theater, bearing down, deep in concentration. “But I was nearly driven to distraction by the sound of weeping,” he said. “It added something remarkable to the performance.” Audiences needn’t be highly educated to share in the ecstasy, he noted. “I used to go to concerts sometimes with my grandma, a typical east Texas lady, who hadn’t had a musical background or education.
But she always had something astute to say. She could explain how (the music) moved her, discourse on specific movements. “What it’s all about is connecting with people. That has to come from 100 percent commitment from the performer on stage. It’s not whether (audiences) know the material on hand: It’s about how convincingly you’re delivering it.” In his years with the TSO, Flatt’s brought emphasis to the family concerts, echoing those early moments in his life, and brought together dancers and voices with the musicians. “Strict symphony music would be my first child, my most enduring love,” he said. But he’s worked elsewhere. When the Colorado Ballet approached him to direct, he’d had “diddly squat” to do with dance, despite that seminal “Nutcracker” performance. “Now I’m a huge fan; the repertoire is stunning,” he said. “Over the years I’ve also conducted a fair amount of opera; that may be the most extravagant art form we have. Opera comes out of music, out of singing, but ballet
is an interesting hybrid, so it’s kind of harder to get up to a high level of proficiency in it. Because how many people have real backgrounds in both dance and music?” From what he’s been told, openmindedness and adaptability earned him those job offers. “I took (the Colorado Ballet job) thinking it might be a placeholder activity for me, but it’s been a good number of years now, and I do it with pleasure,” he said. Still, “I wake up in the morning for symphonic music.” When the TSO opportunity came along, Flatt in fact was “sort of borderline fat and happy; I had two good other jobs at that time. I was doing just fine.” But Elizabeth McGuire, the TSO’s thenexecutive director, reached out to him, and he was happy to visit. “What was great about that first encounter was just how open I was to what the experience was going to be. I wasn’t desperate. I didn’t need a job,” he said. With companies seeking leadership, myriad possibilities can arise. Once the field had been narrowed to
four, each was invited to guest conduct for the 2010-11 season. “By that point in this kind of situation, it’s kind of like dating: You can get two perfectly fine people together, and there may be a spark between them, and there may not. And that’s just fine. That’s the way the world is.” Sparks flew — in a comfortable way — between Flatt, the musicians, the TSO staff and board, and the audience. His was the final guest performance of the season, early April 2011. “At the risk of sounding like a cliche, within like five or 10 minutes of getting to work with the orchestra, I loved them,” he said. “We have a nice connection here; we’re making a good effort. I saw what an obviously lovely group of people that is.” Orchestras such as the TSO, with a halfdozen or so concerts per season, cannot afford a full-time music director. Flatt has kept his Oregon and Colorado positions. As with the TSO’s previous music directors, he flies in for rehearsals and performances, communicating with staff over email and phone. >>
“To everyone’s credit, they had thought ahead of time about what they required of the position, what they needed for an effective leader,” he said. “We had good, frank, open conversations about it; they were real up front about what they expected. I saw that it was imminently doable.” Still, he’s been “scrambling” to plug in deeper to the community, to increase his presence. “People identify well with a face,” he said. “They don’t have an easy time identifying with 75 faces.” So any musical director stands like a coach, or quarterback, the most visible part of a team. He’s emphasized local artists, to “vocalize our image to a certain extent, through artistic, musical collaborations.” The TSO has worked with voices from existing groups such as the Prentice Concert Chorale, the University of Alabama Opera Theatre and Alabama Choir School, to choirs created for specific concerts. 38
The TSO teamed with UA’s Huxford Symphony last year and has twice brought the Tuscaloosa Community Dancers on stage for concerts. Seasons have highlighted Alabama soloists, and those from within the symphony. Flatt and the TSO commissioned a symphony, “Rise,” by Joseph Landers, a UA School of Music graduate, as a requiem for the April 27, 2011, tornado, which devastated the city just weeks after Flatt accepted the job. The TSO has raised its public profile through the Fourth of July pops concerts at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater and through outside shows, including backing Judy Collins at her 2013 Bama Theatre concert. Collins offered effusive praise, saying the TSO was one of the best orchestras she’d played with in the country. “This to me is of vital importance, that we are not an orchestra that could be anyone’s orchestra: We are the Tuscaloosa Symphony,”
he said. Having built that template, Flatt sees Phase II as reaching wider, engaging with the “greatness beyond our own region.” “If you look at old binders and programs, 20 years ago the TSO was performing with Itzhak Perlman,” he said. “That strikes me as a challenge.” To that end, the May 7 conclusion to the 2017-18 season will feature Stewart Goodyear, one of the greatest pianists of his generation, on the Moody Concert Hall stage to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. “(Goodyear) works around the world,” Flatt said. “Even more importantly, he has a stellar reputation among great pianists and musicians. This is someone we’re going to have to sit up and support at his level. It is crucial for our artistic well-being.” Flatt must communicate to the board and other TSO parties that such guest artists offer more than “reflected star power.” “A healthy organization is thriving; it’s not simply staying afloat,” he said. “We are striving. We are on our toes. We’re not on our heels.” Even with the “greatness project” in the works, and with two other demanding positions, Flatt considers himself a family man. Jenny and Edgar have traveled here, and Edgar has especially enjoyed moments at Lake Tuscaloosa. “It’s been a little heavier of a lift since Helen was born,” he said. “She hasn’t been to Tuscaloosa yet.” Still the maestro finds time to squeeze in other pursuits. In mid-August, he journeyed with his brother-in-law on a 10-day hike, the Tour du Mont Blanc, a 170-kilometer trek with 6 miles of vertical elevation, passing through Switzerland, France and Italy. “By our estimation, two of those kilometers were flat,” he said, laughing. Still, he described that time as “magical.” “I’m on the go,” he said. “But yes, absolutely: I feel like I have a pretty good balance.”
BY BECKY HOPF • PHOTOS BY ERIN NELSON
MARVEL When a tornado destroyed the original imported antique fountain, the homeowners sought and found its identical replacement
hen Dee Davis and her husband, Jack, were on a trip to Italy with friends in the 1970s, they found a souvenir they couldn’t leave without: a larger-than-life-size sandstone fountain. “I just fell in love with it,” she said. “It was made of stone, and it was from a small town near Venice. We bought it and had it shipped by boat.” Dee and Jack had the fountain installed in their front yard on Cherokee Road. It was no small water feature, weighing hundreds of pounds and standing some 10 feet tall. It featured three tiers with two shell-shaped basins. It was anchored by stallions at the base and topped with a cherub. After Jack passed away, Davis’ daughter, Alice Maxwell, and Alice’s husband, Johnny, who had been living with the Davises, decided to move their family and Davis to a larger home in The Highlands neighborhood. The move would include two very important items: camellias that Jack had cultivated, including a hybrid he named after his wife, the Dee Davis; and the fountain.
“Our backyard then was overgrown,” Alice Maxwell said of their Highlands yard when the project began in late 2001. “We totally excavated the entire backyard, so it was a clean slate. We had a set of plans we presented to the man who was going to work on the yard. He was from Huntsville. He looked at the plans, rolled them up and said, ‘I don’t work from plans.’ So, we put our trust in him, and he designed the entire yard around the Italian fountain.” For years, the fountain stood tall and grand in the Maxwells’ backyard, the feature accent of an idyllic setting that included Davis’ 50-year-old camellias — they dug up and brought a couple of hundred from Davis’ yard on Cherokee Road, along with snowball bushes that were gifts from Davis’ parents-in-law in the 1950s. Those all blended spectacularly with the Maxwells’ landscape of hydrangeas, azaleas, roses, dogwood trees, holly and other flowers and greenery. It took a year to pull it all together and involved a crane to install the fountain and 18-wheeler trucks to bring in plants and materials. It was such a long and large undertaking that the designer often spent nights at their home. When it was finished, they were thrilled with the results. >> CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The basin was designed to fit the original fountain. It survived a 2011 tornado and did not have to be rebuilt when the fountain was replaced. • A cherub tops the fountain. • The elephants were also purchased from Italy. • A sundial keeps track of the time.
But the century-old treasure’s reign came to a crumbling end on April 27, 2011, when The Highlands fell prey to a massive tornado that struck Tuscaloosa. “The tornado destroyed it,” Davis said. “An oak tree fell on it,” said Maxwell, who was at home with her mother, huddled in their basement, when the tornado tore through their neighborhood. “We were heartbroken.” While most of the original fountain was crushed, the bottom layer — the horses — was somewhat salvageable. “We’re thinking of making a table or something out of them,” Maxwell said. While they started the post-tornado cleanup — it had also damaged their air conditioner, roof, windows and some doors — her husband immediately went to work, going online, searching for a replacement for the fountain.
“That was our pride and joy,” Maxwell said. “Johnny Googled ‘old Italian fountains in Venice.’ Hundreds of sites popped up,” Maxwell said. “He went to the very first one, and there was our fountain. It was one that they had never sold and had weathered out in their courtyard (of the seller). He couldn’t believe it. He called me. He was so excited.” The fountain, which was also very old — Maxwell estimates it is the same age as their first — was nearly identical to the one that was destroyed. They spoke to the owner several times and arranged to have it shipped. It was sent in six specially built wooden crates and had to pass through customs. It took close to six months from the time they purchased it to the time it arrived in Tuscaloosa.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The covered porch, which features cypress flooring that weathers well, goes across three-fourths of the length of the back of the house, with living areas that include four ceiling fans, two televisions, a seating area and a dining area. Johnny Maxwell designed it. • Flanking the wing where Davis’ apartment is and anchoring a corner of the porch are two swinging beds they had specially made. • The view of the backyard.
“It was like Christmas when it arrived,” Maxwell said. Joe Lee Hutt, who Davis said did the original install of the first fountain at her home on Cherokee Road, returned to reconstruct the fountain in the Maxwells’ yard. It took about two weeks. The basin survived the tornado, but the motor that powers the water had to be repaired. The flowing waters that spill into the basin are now enjoyed by four generations of the Maxwell family as they gather on their back porch. “We grew up riding a Welsh pony. I love horses,” Maxwell said. “That’s probably my favorite feature about the fountain, is the horse heads. And I love it that we were able to bring a lot of the camellias that were my daddy’s because my mama and daddy started the camellia society in Tuscaloosa. And I love that we have flowers all year round that we can take in the house. We just love it all. We have so many happy memories associated with it.”
THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Dee Davis, left, with her daughter, Alice Maxwell, and their dog, Henry. Davis has her own wing of the home. Maxwell and her husband, Johnny, have three grown children, Anne Maxwell Liles, Davis Maxwell and Stuart Maxwell. • A detail of the fountain. • Many family hours are spent on the covered porch with their children and grandchildren. When he saw how much his young grandchildren loved frogs, Johnny bought about 100 frogs to live in the backyard. The children like to get flashlights and go on frog-spotting hunts at night. • Though it has yet to house any chickens, the coop was a surprise Christmas gift to Alice from her husband, Johnny. The surprise may have been on him, however, when they learned city ordinances prevent them from raising chickens in their neighborhood.
INFINITY A couple designed their
pool to blend with their view of Lake Tuscaloosa BY BECKY HOPF â&#x20AC;¢ PHOTOS BY ERIN NELSON 44
t was a quality-of-life decision, Bruce Henderson says, when he and his fiancée, Felicia Ellison, decided to build their new home on Lake Tuscaloosa. “When we bought the lot, we knew we wanted a pool or a boat dock because that was what fit our lifestyle,” said Henderson, a Tuscaloosa attorney. The couple weighed the options: building a boat dock and making the very steep climb from their backyard that overlooks the lake, or building a pool. In the end, they decided the pool would get the most use. It was a choice they say they’ll never regret. “We are both early morning people, and we get to wake up every morning to a beautiful sunrise. We come out in the morning and have coffee before work. And, after work, we get to sit out on our deck that overlooks the pool, and the lake, and talk about our day and have a glass of wine and view the incredible sunsets,” Henderson said. Ellison, Henderson said, worked closely with Birmingham architect Brian Jernigan to maximize the lake presence. “And I think he did a fantastic job,” Henderson said of Jernigan’s work. “We wanted it to be so that every place you look when you walk into the bedroom, you’d have a lake view,” Ellison said of the home where not only bedrooms but also the living room, dining room and kitchen overlook the pool and lake. They bought the lot in 2015 and, with the help of Ellison’s son Justin, who runs Ellison’s Tree Service, started clearing the lot in February 2016. It took about a year to draw up plans. They moved into the house in May 2017. The infinity pool was among the easiest of their decisions. >> LEFT: The pool is 18 feet by 25 feet and is lined in French gray gunite, which is a concrete mixture of sand and water. Its depth ranges from 3½ feet to 5 feet at the edge. It has steps leading into the shallow end. BELOW: When they were designing the outdoor space with the architect, the idea was to make it feel almost like they were on a boat.
“We wanted it to be so that every place you look when you walk into the bedroom, you’d have a lake view.” — BRUCE HENDERSON
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The couple grill out two or three times a week in the summer. • Among the features of the pool are lights set in a medley of colors that turn the water blue, green or, their favorite in Tuscaloosa for football season, red. • Bruce Henderson and fiancée Felicia Ellison.
“We got the idea of the infinity pool and some of those things when we were on a vacation in St. Thomas,” Ellison said. “We wanted to feel like every morning when we wake up and every night when we (go) to bed it was almost like we were there again.” With the pool design came an elevated, covered deck that combines a living space, dining area and outdoor kitchen. The open-concept kitchen and dining room in their interior opens to the exterior living area. “We decided that we wanted to have a kitchen but to have it as minimal as we could,” Ellison said, “because we have everything right in there. We wanted to have a grill and cook out here, but we still have access to the kitchen.” The exterior kitchen features a Viking grill, counter space and storage space. Ellison had originally planned for an outdoor sink, but friends talked her out of it, reminding her of the nightmare that could occur in the winter, when exterior pipes tend to freeze and burst. The outdoor living area that overlooks the pool is 13 feet wide by about 50 feet long. “We like living outside because we work inside,” said Henderson, referring to his job as an attorney and Ellison’s as director of employee health services at DCH Regional Medical Center. “There’s
something that’s so therapeutic about being outside.” The stone in the outdoor living area and surrounding the pool is a concrete by Peacock Pavers, which gives it the resort look and feeling the couple intended. The pool itself is 18 feet by 25 feet. The depth ranges from 3½ feet to 5 feet at the infinity edge. They took care in selecting shallower depths because Ellison’s two grandchildren are frequent (supervised) visitors in the pool.
The pool deck allows space, on both sides, for sunning or relaxing in lounge chairs. The pool features blue azure tile, which accents the French gray gunite of the pool’s interior surface. From the edge, a waterfall feature empties into a basin, all tiled in blue azure. Keith Coley at Paramount Pools in Rainbow City built the rectangular pool and its tiling. The couple say they’ll never grow tired of their view and all it can
offer. One of the first days they spent in the house, they spotted something swimming across the lake and realized it was a beaver. Deer are also among their neighbors. “It’s all about lifestyle. We both work very hard and very long hours. We like to come home at the end of the day and relax. This is all about our lifestyle, to come home and de-stress,” Henderson said. “I like the combination of being able to cook outside and relax in the pool, have coffee out here in the morning. Our outdoor living space is probably our primary living space. We really enjoy it. We both ride bikes, so it’s fun, after a long ride, to come back and jump in the pool.” Ellison, too, finds their new home and backyard life as their own little slice of heaven on earth. “My favorite feature is being able to stand in my kitchen and look at every angle and see a beautiful view,” Ellison said. “The view of the pool, the view of the water, the view of nature. Any window I look out of when I’m standing in my kitchen cooking, I can see the water. It’s just so relaxing for me. I enjoy the peace and serenity of walking outside and seeing everything. It’s just so relaxing. So peaceful. So beautiful.” LEFT: The couple chose blue azure for the tile in the pool because of how well it accentuated the French gray gunite. • BELOW: Football will be a big draw this fall on the outdoor television. They purchased much of their outdoor furniture with suggestions and help from Rand Cooper at Bama’s Backyard Living, located at Lighting Plus in Tuscaloosa, where they also found many of the lighting fixtures.
New technologies. Expanded facilities. Community outreach. Improved patient care. When you give to the DCH Foundation, you do so much more than make a charitable contribution. You provide the funding necessary to support our hospital’s mission to enrich all our lives. You impact this place we love for the better. And, you improve the strength of our community. Here, our patients are more than a chart number and a diagnosis. They are our friends, family, neighbors and fellow Tuscaloosans. By investing in each other, we build the capacity to move all our lives—and our home—forward. Because nothing is more important than your health.
Nestled in the woods in West Alabama is Baseball Country, a place where kids, and grown-ups, ﬁeld their dreams with a higher learning through baseball BY STEVE IRVINE • PHOTOS BY GARY COSBY JR. 50
LEFT: Former Major League Baseball player Sam Marsonek teaches baseball and ministers the Christian gospel at his facility, Baseball Country. George Feliz, left, and Alexander Ramirez are seen in the dugout near Marsonek.
inding Baseball Country, at least for the first time, requires a GPS. Officially, it’s off County Road 62 in Ralph. Unofficially, it’s in the middle of nowhere. The final leg of the journey involves turning down a gravel road, passing Grant’s Deer Processing & Slaughter House and maneuvering down a narrow driveway covered by tree branches. Cellphone service is long gone by the time you pull up to the two-story house that is flanked by a pair of full-sized baseball fields and a small-scale field used for Wiffle ball games. It’s impossible, at that point, to take in everything that the 50-acre facility offers. It’s equally impossible, however, not to immediately feel a bit of peace and comfort as you stare out on the baseball fields that are named Corniskey Park, Wiggly Field and Henway Park. “The cool thing about this environment, like I said, there are no distractions,” said Sam Marsonek, Baseball Country’s director of operations. “Cellphones don’t work. You take cellphones away from kids, and, it’s like, ‘Oh, man, now I’ve got to talk.’ It’s awesome.”
BELOW: A Dominican team trained at Baseball Country in July.
FROM TOP: Baseball Country’s Sam Marsonek, director of operations. • The sign that marks the facility. • Players kneel in prayer before the start of a morning practice session.
On a recent summer afternoon, Marsonek, whose official title doesn’t come close to detailing all his responsibilities, sat in a rocking chair on the porch, which stretches over the front of the house, talking to a reporter. The initial question centered around how he became involved with Baseball Country, which has always been about much more than just baseball instruction. “It’s a long story,” Marsonek said after a moment of hesitation. Indeed it is a long story. It’s also a story, obviously, that includes plenty of baseball. “For me, the game was everything,” Marsonek said. “My love was not based on how I did. I loved it no matter what was going on. It was unconditional love. I loved the game. I went to bed thinking about it, woke up thinking about it. I was ate up with it. But the game ended up controlling everything about me, to where I had no freedom to go out there and just enjoy it. The pressures of always trying to be the best and falling way short, it killed me.” Marsonek was 17 years old, fresh off leading Jesuit High School of Tampa, Florida, to three consecutive seasons in the national rankings, when he was a first-round draft choice of the Texas Rangers in 1996. Three years later, he was traded to the New York Yankees for major leaguer Chad Curtis. However, it wasn’t until July 8, 2004, that he made his major league debut, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings against Tampa Bay. Two days later, his season ended because of an off-the-field injury. He never returned to the major leagues, pitching until 2008 before retiring. >>
ABOVE: Fields are named in fun homage to Major League stadiums. Wiggly Field mimics Chicago’s Wrigley Field. BELOW: George Feliz works at second base.
The move toward his next step actually began three years earlier. “In 2005, I went to the Dominican (Republic) on a mission trip,” Marsonek said. “I didn’t know at the time it was a mission trip. I just knew, we’re going to work with kids and play golf. I went down there, and it pretty much wrecked my whole life. In ’08 I got released. I just walked away and started coaching at the amateur level. I really just fell in love with it.” He founded Score International Baseball, a faith-based travel baseball program, in his hometown and began pouring himself into the lives of young players. He took kids from Florida, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Venezuela, Canada and the Bahamas, put them together and “allowed the cultures to impact each other.” It was a special time, both on and off the field. More than 45 of his players have signed professionally and more than 100 have played collegiately. He wanted to take another step with his baseball ministry but wasn’t quite sure what that looked like. “I had wanted to do something like (Baseball Country) full time,” Marsonek said. “I had an automotive shop back home, and my wife is a physician. Our time was limited, and it was just crazy. We had really been praying about being able to (decide on where to live) — whether it was purchase or do a long-term lease — back home >>
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The welcome sign • Marsonek chalks the baseline. • The playing field comes complete with a Press Box and a concessions stand. • Catcher Justin Eliezar flips the ball to Marsonek. • Henway Park is a pun on Boston’s Fenway Park. • A dorm not only houses the players with bunk space but includes an indoor practice facility.
in Tampa. We pursued it for five years and nothing came up. Finally, I said, ‘God, you don’t want me doing this full time. And that’s fine.’ I put it to bed and moved on.” Then, he got a call from Baseball Country founders Kenny and Angeline Burns in the winter of 2015 asking if he had any interest in taking over Baseball Country. Tampa was where his family was rooted. The obvious answer was no, at least until prayer began chipping away at that thought. “We started praying and really came to a point where we felt some peace and (thought) this is where God wants us,” Marsonek said. “The last small deal was, ‘What are we going to do for money?’ Just a crazy God story, out of nowhere, someone dropped a check and it was, ‘OK, we’ll go.’ ” Marsonek, his wife, Kristen, and their three young daughters headed to Alabama. A promise of an easy transition wasn’t included. Buying the property took several months to complete. Marsonek said the previous owners had “kind of moved on” during that time, which meant that cleaning up the property was his first task. He had spent a few years as a chaplain at Plant High School in Tampa and was asked to serve a similar role at Greene County High School in Eutaw. “I went there and was not prepared for that,” Marsonek said. “I remember the first day I spoke to those kids. I sensed a sense of despair, hopelessness.” He began working with the kids three days a week. On weekends, groups of kids from Greene County come to Baseball Country. He will pick them up, feed them and “just kind of encourage them, love on them, give them some hope, let them know they matter, they’re important.” “It’s kind of cool,” Marsonek said. “We get here, thinking it’s going to be all baseball, we’ve got all these ideas and stuff, and here I am in Eutaw, hanging out in Branch Heights, doing clinics, outreach events, whatever I can. Everyone that comes to Baseball Country goes to Eutaw. That’s part of the program.” >>
The curricula for programs at Baseball Country are very similar to what has been done since the facility opened in 1995. They change subtly, depending on the group. There is housing for 48 people right now, and Marsonek said the plan is to build cabins that could house up to eight teams, which would allow for tournaments. A group of young Dominican players, each of whom is expected to begin a professional career within the year, spent the summer of 2017 training under Marsonek’s tutelage. High school coaches bring their teams to the facility, and youth camps are held there. In addition to the fields, there is an indoor batting cage, archery range, skeet shooting facility and hunting land. “In the beginning of the summer, I had a youth camp, ages 8 to 13,” Marsonek said. “I had the Greene County kids doing a leadership camp. We had 20 boys and 10 girls.
My wife was working with the girls. And I had the Dominican kids. We played a Wiffle ball tournament with the Dominicans, Greene County kids and the American kids. It was awesome because we all kind of got together.” That’s just a small snapshot of how he sees the future of Baseball Country. He’s already had a coaches’ retreat, which included coaches from travel ball, high school, junior colleges and major colleges. Much of the fall will be filled with high school and team camps. Training for international players will take up much of February through April. The summer months will focus largely on travel ball. “There is a lot of team-building stuff,” Marsonek said. “Baseball is minimal. It’s more building some chemistry and speaking to the players off the field.” Marsonek is in talks with several play-
ers’ agents to have their clients come for offseason programs. He’s also working with several Major League Baseball organizations to have their rookie players come for a similar program, with purpose, perspective and process serving as the main components. There is also a thought of building a football field on the property and expanding the program. “It’s just the life change that happens,” Marsonek said. “It’s not me. It’s the environment. It’s the inner provoking of ‘What is this all about?’ Whether it’s a football guy, basketball guy, baseball guy, it doesn’t matter. I feel like you get out here and you can’t really deny that there’s something more than just your personal agenda. I think the atmosphere, obviously, sets that up, but also speaking to them about life and purpose. I’ve seen all kind of change and get crazy feedback from coaches.”
COVER STORY George Thagard as Jacob Marley from “A Christmas Carol,” Colton Crowe as the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” and Farris Turner dressed as Puck from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” show costumes used in Tuscaloosaarea plays. Tuscaloosa’s theater companies put a great deal of work into every aspect of their presentations, especially the costume designs.
BY BECKY HOPF • PHOTOS BY GARY COSBY JR.
A behind-the-seams look at the designs and designers who bring theater in Tuscaloosa to life hey are some of Tuscaloosa’s most talented artists and greatest treasures. Their imaginations are large, their creativity larger. The designs that grace the stage are works of art. And, together, they form a proud fraternity, each cheering and singing the praises of the work the others do even though, technically, they could be considered opponents of one another. They are among the costume designers who bring to life the characters and performers in Tuscaloosa’s theater and dance community. “We have a great relationship with Theatre Tuscaloosa. We all borrow from each other and share,” said Janelle Heinrich, the designer and costumer for Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre. “And Joey Lay, the director and designer from Actor’s Charitable Theatre, came through the Children’s Theatre. He played Genie in our performance of ‘Aladdin Jr.’ It’s great to see how theater here has influenced so many lives.” Lay, who also worked in the costume shop with Jeanette Waterman at Theatre
Tuscaloosa when he was a Shelton State Community College student, doubles as both artistic director and costumer for ACT. He’s one of the original founders of ACT, which incorporated in December 2008. He studied theater at the University of Alabama but got his start behind the seams when he took his first sewing lessons as a student at Hillcrest Middle School. He’s taken that humble start to constructing some 200 costumes a year. “I used to work from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.,” said Lay, whose wife, Alisha, is among the actors in his company. “We have a 2-yearold now, so that makes it a lot harder. I try to do some things during naptime, and do some outsourcing. For instance, someone may help build wings.” Among his wingmen is Vanessa Jones. She also helps with the sewing and designs for Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre. “She’s an amazing seamstress,” Lay said of Jones. “Her work is impeccable.” Lately, Lay has been experimenting with prosthetics, the result of which can be seen on the face of Puck, the featured character in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Puck is a supernatural sprite in the Shakespearean play. “ ‘Shrek the Musical’ was the first time I tried it. I had never done anything prosthetics-wise,” Lay said. “I took an oven out of my grandmother’s house and
put it in the basement of my house. You have to bake it. There’s been many a day where black smoke is emitting from the basement with my experimentations. I have a very understanding wife.” Waterman is Theatre Tuscaloosa’s resident costumer. She designs and runs the department at Shelton State. She says she can’t even estimate how many costumes she pulls together each year. “If I had to count, I’d pull my hair out,“ Waterman jokes. Theatre Tuscaloosa typically does six plays and shows each year, plus she designs for Shelton State’s student productions. Waterman studied costume design at the University of Alabama, but it was her neighbor who led her to her role. “He was the designer then,” Waterman recalled. “I met him in the yard one day, and he said he could use some help. I said I could, and he told me to come the next day. For three years, I volunteered. When he left, I took over. That was 15 years ago. I’ve been there 18 now. “I like to say I’m an army of one. I’ve worked with the same directors for so many years that I know what they like,” Waterman said. “I do sketch out when there’s something I want to come across to make it clearer, but we are on such a fast pace that I don’t have time to do sketches beforehand.” >>
COVER STORY The magic these designers create can be found not only in their finished products but also in how they manage to handle the sheer volume and demands of their jobs. “ ‘Ragtime,’ which we just finished this summer, was one of the biggest I’ve done,” Waterman said. “When we did ‘Gypsy’ several years ago, there was one song where Gypsy changed four times. She went from awkward teen to sophisticate to a burlesque performer,” said Waterman, who faced another challenge in transforming the character Edna Turnblad, played by a male, into a woman in “Hairspray.” For ACT’s nine performances of “Hairspray,” Lay said they went through 32 cans of hairspray and 3,000 bobby pins to create the iconic hairstyles. MarLa Moss styled the wigs. The makeup for “The Lion King” was also
a massive undertaking, one he credits Miranda Pierce for creating to perfection. Heinrich had never even sat down in front of a sewing machine when she was recruited by costumer Judy Holland 17 years ago. Heinrich’s daughter was a performer, and she asked Holland one day if she needed any help. Like Waterman, Heinrich inherited the job. She’s been at it three years now and is designing and sewing costumes for sometimes as many as 120 kids, a situation she faced when Tuscaloosa’s Children’s Theatre put on “Seussical.” There were 118 kids, each with three costumes, in “The Wizard of Oz.” “You learn a little each time,” Heinrich said. “I learned then I’d never use black feather wings again for flying monkeys. Feathers were flying everywhere with all those jumping kids.”
Glinda, The Good Witch The color of the dress is a result of costumer Janelle Heinrich’s first attempt using dye. It was originally a white silk wedding dress. Seamstress Vanessa Jones added the puffed sleeves. They embellished the bodice with more rhinestones than it originally contained.
“The Wizard of Oz”
Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre
The Tin Man Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre marked its 30th anniversary with a production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Costumer Janelle Heinrich said she reworked a costume they had in the shop for the upper portion. The pants were new to fit the actor. Special touches included paint to age the character so he would look rusty. MODEL: Colton Crowe
Poppy The blossom that tops the costume was constructed using a sombrero and required wiring and cutting to form the bloom. The skirt is designed to mimic flower petals. There were 18 poppies in the production. MODEL: Mary Baxter Harzell
“Little Shop of Horrors” Theatre Tuscaloosa
Orin Scrivillo, DDS (The Dentist) MODEL: John Walker
“At the end of this show, the characters eaten by the alien plant Audrey II usually come back as blooms on the plant, but we wanted to go in a different direction and turned them into plant zombies. The characters were in different stages of plant-ness depending on how long ago they had been eaten!” said costume designer Jeanette Waterman.
Audrey MODEL: Harley Sabbagh
Mr. Mushnik MODEL: Charles Prosser
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Theatre Tuscaloosa
Joseph “I wanted something other than the traditional look for the dreamcoat. So we decided to play up the Vegas aspects of the show. In my backstory, Joseph and his family all live on a commune in the desert — hence the tie-dye,” said costumer Jeanette Waterman. MODEL: Eli Waterman
“The Producers” Theatre Tuscaloosa
Leo Bloom and Ulla Inga Hansen Benson Yansen Tallen Hallen Svaden Swanson Bloom The couple has just returned from vacation, thus the matching Hawaiian prints. MODELS: Margaret Carr and John Walker
“The Lion King” Actor’s Charitable Theatre
Zazu Zazu, the bird, was crafted with the ability to flap his feathers and move his beak and mouth. MODEL: Caleb Burdette
RaďŹ ki Costume designer Joey Lay modeled the look after those used in the Broadway production. It includes burlap and natural materials, such as feathers and grass. He created the mask from prosthetics. MODEL: Storm Steinke
Joey Lay poses with Storm Steinke, who is in costume as Rafiki.
Actor’s Charitable Theatre
Mary Poppins The character was costumed to look like the iconic Disney character. MODEL: Mary Kathryn Mathews
“James and the Giant Peach” Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre
Ladybug The ladybug was one of several insect costumes created for the production. Costumer Janelle Heinrich chose a steampunk style for the costumes. MODEL: Olivia LeComte
“It’s a Wonderful Life” Theatre Tuscaloosa Sally Applewhite Costumer Jeanette Waterman adapted this pattern from a 1940s dress she had in stock that was too fragile for stage. MODEL: Lindsey Kennedy Jones
“Pinocchio” Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre
Blue Fairy Originally, the dress was a formal from the 1960s that costumer Janelle Heinrich spotted at an estate sale. She re-worked the sleeves, adding rhinestones that she discovered and purchased on a trip to New York. MODEL: Adriana Decubellis
“Ragtime” Theatre Tuscaloosa
Mother The blue Edwardian suit has secret fasteners for a quick change. MODEL: Lisa Waldrop
Younger Brother “The opening of this show has three distinct ethnic groups. Younger Brother and the family are all dressed in white in contrast to the Harlem Chorus and the immigrants. By the end, all the groups are blended,” said costumer Jeanette Waterman. MODEL: John Walker
“Fiddler on the Roof” Theatre Tuscaloosa Tevye MODEL: Charles Prosser
“Hairspray” Actor’s Charitable Theatre
Tracy Turnblad MODEL: Alisha Lay
Amber Von Tussle MODEL: LeeAnna Sparks
For the nine performances of “Hairspray,” the show went through 3,000 bobby pins and 32 cans of hairspray. MarLa Moss styled the wigs, which included netting for volume.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Actor’s Charitable Theatre
Fairy MODEL: Raven Ferguson
Puck Costumer Joey Lay experimented with prosthetics to make Puckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s face. The makeup application took close to two hours before every performance. The boots were also specially made so Puck would walk like a faun. MODEL: Farris Turner
“A Christmas Carol” Theatre Tuscaloosa
Jacob Marley Three different fabrics were layered on the ghostly colonial-style suit to create a cobwebby look. The chains are key to his character, who says, “I wear these chains I forged in life” from his unscrupulous business dealings. MODEL: George Thagard
Jeanette Waterman helps George Thagard into his Jacob Marley costume from “A Christmas Carol.”
“The Marvelous Wonderettes” Theatre Tuscaloosa
Songleaders The dresses and go-go boots were designed for the 1960s-era musical. Costumer Jeannette Waterman couldn’t find go-go boots to her liking — she needed four pairs for the show — so she ended up making the boots herself. MODELS: Margaret Carr (left) and Harley Sabbagh
STORY BY BECKY HOPF PHOTOS BY PORFIRIO SOLORZANO AND THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PHOTO DESCRIPTIONS BY UA’S DONNA MEESTER
BUILD “The back view of a costume is just as important as the front. These shots are from ‘Othello.’ You may recognize Michael Luwoye, who made his Broadway debut in ‘Hamilton.’ ”
“Most costume designers love to sink their teeth into a good period piece. These are from ‘Tartuffe.’”
t is called “a build.” That’s the term used for the creation of a costume. Colleges, including the University of Alabama, dedicate degrees to the art, training students from start to finish on how to build a costume. At Alabama, a student who has completed a four-year undergraduate degree, often in theater or fashion, applies through an interview and portfolio process for a three-year Master of Fine Arts program. The program at Alabama is for costume design and production. Donna Meester, professor of theater and dance and director of costume design and production at the University of Alabama, teaches those students the art of costume design. Her department, which includes assistant professor Jacki Armit and costume shop manager Todd Roberts, is key in creating the costumes that will be worn in the university’s dance and theater productions. Often that means simultaneously preparing for three productions. Creating the costumes is part of the coursework for students, many of whom will take what they learned in school and go on to make a career in costume design and/or technology. Typically, there are nine graduate assistants working in the costume shop five days a week for 20 hours a week. Five more undergraduate students work 10 hours a week. Still more students work in the shop for their practicum. There are cutters, drapers, first hands, stitchers and costume crafts artisans, all involved. The process of creating a theatrical costume typically begins with the designer reading the script to get a feel for the character and the period. It’s followed by a series of meetings with the director, the design team, set designers and lighting technicians. They’ll research the environment, style of clothing, fabrics and hair for that period. All must be approved, down to fabric swatches, by the director.
“There are a number of gray areas when it comes to costumes and props. Who is responsible for umbrellas/ parasols? Canes/walking sticks? The general rule of thumb is that if it is worn, it is a costume. In this case, the actress was to be a statue. The question became, is this a set piece or a costume? The costume designer was eager to undertake this project and designed, as well as built, the costume. She researched and experimented with a variety of techniques and products before settling on this for the final product.”
For a fall production, that process will begin as early as April. “The designer sees the director’s concept. We’ve had times where, for a Shakespeare production, it was not period. The director set it in 1920s New Orleans. “When we are not able to meet in person, we send the sketches back and forth by email. It used to be by snail mail, but technology has made the process so much faster,” Meester said. Before cutting and sewing can begin in earnest, they must wait until they know who will wear the costumes. The first show is cast when the students return in the fall. Once casting is complete, the design team takes measurements of each performer. Once those measurements have been taken, they can begin the physical build. “Our hands are on every single costume piece that goes in the show,” Meester said. This can potentially involve, particularly for one dance production, hundreds of costumes. Alabama has a costume stock that runs deep with clothing saved from past productions, but even outfits that are being reused or rented from other sources must still be fitted and altered for each individual actor or dancer. UA’s process involves Armit, the costume technician, starting from scratch by making a flat pattern or draping on a dress form. “Either way, we are looking at a sketch,” said Meester, who earned a bachelor’s degree in apparel technology from Purdue and a Master of Fine Arts in stage design from Southern Methodist University. “We don’t typically start with a pattern. The big, professional theaters start from scratch, so that’s what we teach our students to do.” A mockup, usually in muslin, is made of each costume. Once it’s finished, the performer is called in to try it on. After adjustments are made, this will serve as the sample for the costume’s construction. The process includes what insiders refer to as a bible. It’s a large binder that includes anything and everything about the production, details of each costume, the performers’ measurements and contact information, even the budget. “There is so much that goes into the build of one single costume,” Meester said. “I interned at the University of Northern Iowa one summer and worked in the costume shop. I discovered then that I loved working in the costume shop. I think you have to love it or it could be overwhelming.”
FROM SKETCH TO COMPLETION: “ ‘The School for Lies’ was a blend of 17th and 21st century. This was great fun because it allowed me to work with period silhouettes but spice it up with contemporary touches, which included contemporary footwear, various clothing items (T-shirts with sayings), and a number of hidden jokes — like the houndstooth apron. I took advantage of today’s vibrant colors. This show is a perfect example of ‘over the top’ design.”
“The University of Alabama costume shop is also responsible for designing and building costumes for Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre.” Those costumes can range from classical ballet to modern dance, and each individual piece in a single concert can range from one to more than 20 dancers. Many times dancers are double and even triple cast.
Meet six folks who make a difference in our communities
Football Bowl Association director
JESSICA PROCTER 2017 Miss Alabama
Attorney and one-time schoolchildren hostage negotiator
Sumter County Commissioner
TAMIKA ALEXANDER TV news anchor/ United Way administrator
FULLER GOLDSMITH TV cooking champion
SIX INTRIGUING PEOPLE
WATERS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FOOTBALL BOWL ASSOCIATION
BY BECKY HOPF PHOTO BY GARY COSBY JR.
etirement lasted all of two months. It was the summer of 2012 and, after spending his entire career in athletics, including the last 14 years as Sun Belt Conference commissioner, Wright Waters had left the field — he thought, for good. And then the phone calls, the not-sogentle nudging, began. The Football Bowl Association was looking for an executive director — its first. For many, there was but one choice: Wright Waters. When athletics is in your blood, mingled with what one knows in his soul is a true calling, it’s hard to say no, especially when you’re a man who has a deep grasp of the impact the role could have. Waters took the job with one stipulation: His headquarters would be Tuscaloosa where he and his wife, Sara, had returned to make their home. “I honestly intended to retire,” Waters said. “I had gotten to the point where I was tired.” Waters, 68, grew up in Montgomery, and, after graduating from Sidney Lanier High School, he enrolled at the University of Alabama. “I am arguably the worst student that ever graced this campus,” Waters said. “When I was a junior in high school, in 1966, I had a tumor removed. It came back my senior year, and I had it removed again. I had grown
Name: Wright Waters Age: 68 Hometown: Montgomery Personal: Wife, Sara Anderson Waters; daughter, Ashley Anderson Waters; parents, Dr. Hinton W. Waters Jr. and Margaret Kemper Waters. People who have influenced my life: Almost everyone I have come in contact with over the last 68 years; no one has any success in athletics by themselves. Something people don’t know about me: I’m a “foodie.” My proudest achievement: Personally, I am very proud of the administrator (my daughter) Ashley has become. She is a tough, strong administrator who happens to be female competing in a male-dominant business. Professionally, the Student Life Program we established in 1979 at the University of Florida. We were so far ahead of our time creating a holistic approach to the student-athlete experience. I take great joy in the successes of the student-athletes that came through our program during those years. The other is moving the Sun Belt from an IAAA (non-football) conference to
an IA (major football) conference. So many people had tried previously and failed. If I had a dime for every yahoo that told us it couldn’t be done, I could buy an island in the Bahamas. Why I do what I do: Postseason football is important on so many levels. In a three-and-a-half-week period, these 40 bowls contribute $1.5 billion in economic impact; last year they returned $608 million to 10 conferences, and even after all the bills were paid by the schools, the 10 conferences had a net of $420 million. But if you believe as I do that intercollegiate athletics is and should be an extension of the institution’s educational mission, then the opportunity to participate in a bowl trip is special. Whether it is ﬁve days in Nassau, ﬁve days in Pasadena, ﬁve days in New Orleans or any one of 37 other sites, it is a unique opportunity to learn something about the area. We have encouraged each bowl to have an educational component for teams. Bowls bring fans together in a common cause. Probably the No. 1 thing that makes bowls special is unlike NCAA Championships, half the teams ﬁnish the season with a win. My goal is to try and create a structure that will keep the bowls viable for years to come.
up with this structure of moving seamlessly from playing football to basketball to baseball, and, all of a sudden, I had no structure in my life. I was a freshman at Alabama with no structure in my life.” By mutual agreement, he and his father decided some time away would do him good. He went to live with his bachelor uncle in Germany to “find myself.” The strategy worked. While he was in Germany, he helped coach a football team on a U.S. Air Force base. “I loved it. I loved everything about coaching,” Waters said. He was so enamored of the idea of coaching that, after a year in Germany, upon his return home, he brazenly scheduled a meeting with one of the most legendary coaches of the game, the University of Alabama’s Paul W. Bryant. Waters was still of college age, mind you, and there he was, in Bryant’s office, sitting face-to-face. “I told him, ‘Coach, I want to coach, and I want to do it here at Alabama.’ He laughed.” Bryant’s right-hand man, Associate Director of Athletics Sam Bailey, was waiting at the door. Bryant advised Waters that he wasn’t ready. He needed to go somewhere else. Bailey stepped in and took over, and, the next thing he knew, Waters had changed his major from business to education and was enrolled in school at Livingston University, now the University of West Alabama.
“Coach Bryant was right. He said, ‘Go to Livingston. You won’t get to coach, you’ll have to coach.’ And he was absolutely right. I had to do everything. I got to do everything there. I was the trainer, the equipment manager, did team travel plans. I was the recruiting coordinator — if it needed to be done, I was ready to do it. I was all in.” From there, his career evolved with college coaching stops — and even a stint at Vincent High School, “where one of the worst tricks was ever played on a human being. They said if you come here, you’ll be the offensive line coach. They forgot to tell me that I’d also have to teach eighth-grade civics, coach the defensive line, JV basketball, baseball, track — we did it all.” He moved into athletic administration at Southern Mississippi in 1976, then went on to Florida, Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane. He has served long tenures as commissioner of two conferences, the Southern Conference and the Sun Belt, the latter of which he accepted after spending a year in Tuscaloosa as general manager of Crimson Tide Sports Marketing. In his latest role, “My job is to help the bowls understand how good they can be,” he said. “And to make sure we have postseason football for a long time. Postseason football is so important in the big picture.” Twenty-five years ago, there were 12 football bowl games. Now there are 40. While some complain that there are too many bowls, Wa-
ters disagrees. “It used to be if you didn’t have nine or 10 wins, you could shoot a shotgun in the stands and no one would know differently. Now, the last week in December, there are still teams playing hard to get bowl eligible, and there are still people in the stands because of it. That’s one of the subtle things people don’t understand about postseason football.” He is a believer in the pluses a bowl trip can create: national exposure for universities; allowing players to travel to destinations, like the Bahamas, that otherwise they may never have been able to visit; experiencing those trips together as a team; extra practice time; and a financial windfall for the schools. “Nobody is losing money on a bowl,” Waters said. “The conferences and bowls contract. The conferences put the schools on a budget to go to a game. We know that the 10 conferences netted over $400 million last year. Nobody is losing money on the bowls.” Waters travels around the country, speaking at conference football media days as well as on radio and TV, emphasizing those points and attempting to clear up misconceptions people have. “I really believe in what we’re doing. Postseason football is not only unique, it’s really important to intercollegiate athletics on so many levels. It’s got to be preserved. It’s got to be embellished.” 87
SIX INTRIGUING PEOPLE
Jessica NO. 2
PROCTER MISS ALABAMA 2017
BY TIFFANY STANTON PHOTO BY ERIN NELSON
eigning Miss Alabama Jessica Procter entered her first pageant as a Northridge High School junior just four years ago. But her experience competing for the Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen title was far from her first experience performing for an audience. The Tuscaloosa native practically grew up singing for a crowd. “Our whole family sings. They used to call us the ‘von Procters,’” she said. Her parents, Doff and Laurel Procter, spent 10 years as opera singers in Germany and Austria before moving to Doff Procter’s home state of Alabama to lead the Alabama Choir School and raise her and her two older sisters, who also sing. “We would travel all around, doing patriotic songs and singing at churches.” Procter can’t recall exactly how old she was the first time she took to a stage, but she remembers it was a solo in front of a crowd of thousands in Atlanta. “I feel like I was singing before I could talk,” she said. “My parents said I would sit at the dinner table and hum before I was even making words, and I was harmonizing in the car before I even knew what that meant.” She continued singing with family and for the worship team at The Church of Tuscaloosa. And a year ago she formed a singer-songwriter duo, called You and I, with church worship leader and
her best friend Kortnie Heying. The two write music and sing at local coffee shops and for fundraisers — or at least they did before Procter succeeded in her third attempt at the Miss Alabama crown in June 2017. Now everything, including Procter’s senior year at the University of Alabama, has been put on hold so she can focus on upholding her duties as the face and voice of the state’s program. And she says she’s happy to do it because it gives her a chance to promote her work fighting food insecurity and hunger. “A lot of Alabama is covered in food desert, which means there’s not a grocery store within a mile,” she said, noting that one in five Alabamians struggles with food insecurity. “So a lot of people aren’t getting the best nutrition, whether because they can’t get enough food or they can’t get the right food.” She learned about the issue in high school, and the knowledge inspired her to contact the West Alabama Food Bank. With organizers’ help, she started Step Up to the Plate and The Fifth Quarter Initiative, programs that together deliver leftover skybox and special event meals from UA’s football and basketball games and gymnastics meets to people in need instead of into the trash. So far, that initiative has collected more than 65,000 pounds of food, or 79,000 meals, for local families. She says the program, combined with frequent canned food drives and food collection programs at area schools and churches, helps her meet a mission she sees as a calling.
Name: Jessica Procter Age: 21
Personal: Parents, Doff and Laurel Procter; sisters, Leslie Procter and Christina Procter Price. Hometown: Tuscaloosa. People who have influenced my life: My mother, and my Young Life (a Christian ministry) Leader Rebecca Longshore. Something most people don’t know about me: I was a pole vaulter all through high school. My proudest achievement: Becoming Miss Alabama felt like having an out-of-body experience. Why I do what I do: My faith, and knowing that I’m not here for myself, but to give to others.
“Obviously, hunger is not something that is going to be stopped overnight, and it’s not something I’ll be able to stop alone,” she said. “However, I know that I’m called to make a difference in people’s lives, and whether that’s one person, 10 people, 20 people or 100, I
don’t care. When I’m delivering food to that one woman who knows this week her family is going to have a hot meal every night, that matters, and I am making an impact.” Her focus on that work, along with speeches and appearances as Miss Alabama, mean
songwriting and other personal goals will have to be set aside for a while, and finishing college will have to wait. She hopes to return next year to UA’s New College, where she is pursuing a self-designed interdisciplinary studies major with coursework in music, sociology, communications and human development, among other things. And she’s not worried about funding these studies, and possibly grad school, thanks to the more than $43,000 in scholarships she’s earned through the Miss Alabama system over the last four years. “I literally haven’t paid a dime for college,” she said. The financial aid makes it easier for her to throw herself into a role that requires more of its holder than meets the eye. Procter, for example, must be knowledgeable enough about current affairs to have an informed opinion, yet flexible enough to see other points of view. “Miss Alabama is a PR job. You kind of have to put your feelings on the back burner in order to fairly represent everyone and be someone everyone can look up to,” she said. “Becoming Miss Alabama has taught me to serve in a realer way than ever before, because it is such a selfless job, and, every day, it doesn’t matter if you’re sick, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired, it doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a headache. You may be the first and the last Miss Alabama that 6-year-old girl is ever going to meet, or that 85-year-old woman at the Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant is ever going to meet, and to them right there in that moment, you may mean the absolute world.”
SIX INTRIGUING PEOPLE
Robert PRINCE NO. 3
ATTORNEY AND ONE-TIME SCHOOLCHILDREN HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR
BY STEPHEN DETHRAGE PHOTO BY ERIN NELSON
hen Tuscaloosa attorney Robert Prince woke up on Feb. 2, 1988, the most pressing thing on his mind was likely the trip he was taking to Tallahassee, Florida, later that week with the University of Alabama advocacy trial team he still coaches today. A few hours later, Prince was trying to calm down a highly agitated and wellarmed man, and the lives of dozens of schoolchildren hung in the balance.
That morning, a rainy Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, 43-year-old James “Bud” Harvey and another man walked into West End Christian School, wearing ski masks and holding guns, and took more than 80 people hostage. Shortly after, Harvey told police he wanted an attorney, and he asked for Prince by name. That may seem strange, considering that Prince has spent the lion’s share of his legal career practicing private, civil law, but just before the hostage situation, Prince had gained notoriety by winning a few eye-catching criminal defense cases. One such case even landed a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records after his client, Dudley Wayne Kyzer, was taken off death row but sentenced to 10,000 years in prison for committing a triple murder in Tuscaloosa on Halloween 1976. When Harvey called, Prince answered, although he said agreeing to spend the day inside the school with the gunman was nothing particularly special. “Who wouldn’t go? I would think any lawyer who got that call would have gone,” Prince said. “I went in there with one goal, and that was to get the children out of there. I didn’t care what I had to say or do.” For hours that day, Prince told Harvey what he wanted to hear — that then-Gov. Guy Hunt was going to pardon him for taking the children hostage, that Harvey would be allowed to hold a press conference on live television to air his grievances about the state of the world, that he’d be allowed to go free with a supply of gold Krugerrands, which are gold coins of South Africa. Prince said he faced some criticism for lying to Harvey to bring an end to the crisis, but he said the gunman was never his client, so the rules of engagement didn’t apply. “If you hire me and we have a contract — you pay me and I agree to represent you — that’s one thing,” Prince said. “But if you hold a child hostage and say, ‘You’re going to help me,’ that’s something else entirely.” Ultimately, after releasing more than 60 hostages over the course of the day and with two dozen more still inside the school, Harvey agreed to step outside for his press conference. Tuscaloosa Police Department then-Assistant Chief Ken Swindle,
who later served as chief from 1990-2008, tackled him and took him into custody. All the hostages were freed, and no one was hurt. “Everything works back from the end result, and we have the great distinction that nobody got killed, nobody got shot,” Prince said. “I lied to him like a dog, and he walked out that door thinking he was going to a press conference then on to New York, and I’d do it again. I’d lie to him tomorrow if I thought it’d help.” Prince said he was never truly worried about the outcome of the hostage situation because he knew Harvey was buying what he was selling, so when he got the opportunity to make a phone call that night nearly 30 years ago, he didn’t bother worrying his family about the danger he was in. “Someone said, ‘Hey, do you need to get a phone call out to anybody, to your family?’ and I said, ‘My family’s not in Tuscaloosa, and there’s a good chance they don’t even know what’s going on,’ ” Prince said. “I told them, ‘You call this number and tell my students to be at the airport tomorrow because we’re leaving tomorrow at six o’clock sharp for Tallahassee.’ At that point, I knew I had him.” Prince’s practice now is less adrenalineinducing. He has his own firm, Prince, Glover & Hayes, which overlooks the Black Warrior River off Rice Mine Road. Swindle came on as an investigator after retiring from the police force. Prince said he mostly handles civil insurance lawsuits from there, although some high-profile cases still come his way — Prince represented Kristen Saban, daughter of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, when she was sued over a fistfight with a sorority sister in 2010. Harvey, now 71, continues to serve a life sentence in prison for taking the schoolchildren hostage. He has been denied parole 10 times, and Prince said that although he “felt like he’d won the Super Bowl” after he got Kyzer off death row, he hopes Harvey is not granted parole. “At some point he had to ask himself, ‘OK, should I do this?’ ” Prince said. “So he wanted to get an audience, but taking children as hostages, having guns in the room with them? Who would do what he did?”
Name: Robert “Bob” Prince Age: 69 Personal: Wife, Dena Drury Prince; children, Courtney Walker, Mary Elizabeth Garvey, Willis Prince and Grace Prince. Hometown: Russellville; later lived in Leighton. People who have influenced my life: My maternal grandfather, Floyd Willis; my wife, Dena; Jesus of Nazareth (listed last, but isn’t). Something most people don’t know about me: That I have been an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama’s Law Center teaching trial advocacy and coaching Alabama’s trial teams since 1983. My proudest achievement: Having UA Law School’s Prince Advocacy Center named for me while I was still teaching and having my daughter use it during her law school days. Why I do what I do: I like to help people, especially the “underdog.”
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CAMPBELL BASKETBALL STAR-TURNED-COUNTY COMMISSIONER
BY STEVE IRVINE PHOTO BY GARY COSBY JR.
arcus Campbell’s life has featured more than basketball. Much more. But the sport has driven the Sumter County commissioner throughout his life. “Basketball has been an engine,” said Campbell, who grew up in Coatopa, near Livingston. “I am so grateful for basketball. Without basketball, I know I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet, go, see and experience so many wonderful people and places. I am just so grateful for that object that weighs (so little) and truly has been a great inspiration to my life.” Campbell was a state basketball team champion at Livingston High in 1987, earning Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A MVP honors along the way. That led to an athletic scholarship at the University of Alabama, where he was a member of the Crimson Tide’s basketball team from 1988 to 1991. He played professionally for eight seasons in Europe, mostly in Belgium, from 1992-2000. It’s safe to say basketball has meant a lot in Campbell’s life. “I thank my family for allowing me to play basketball at an early age,” Campbell said. “My father was kind of hesitant, at the beginning. My mother, being a former basketball player and educator for 40 years, she just knew it would tie in for me.” Campbell said his father was a blue-collar farmer and construction worker and thought he might get hurt. “He came around, and I’m so glad he did,” he said. In many ways, Campbell’s journey through life and basketball is about persistence. He was an excellent student in high school but was ineligible to play as a freshman at Alabama because he was “a tenth of a point short on the ACT.” As a Proposition 48 student — it was the first year of that particular NCAA legislation, which stipulates the minimum high school grades and standardized test scores that student-athletes must have to participate in college athletic competition — he was unable to participate in any activities with the men’s basketball program. So how did he respond? He made the Dean’s List in his freshman year and became a better basketball player through his work on the floor and in the weight room. He left the Capstone following his third and final season on the floor — and fourth overall — and signed to play with a professional team in Holland. He followed that with a year in France and six years with two different clubs in Belgium. It was quite a change from the dirt road he grew up on in his hometown. “Here I am going to Holland, Paris, France, all over Europe,” Campbell said. “Had the opportunity to go to Italy, Spain, Luxembourg — from A to Z — I like to say.” While it was often difficult being away from home, he had a bit of unin-
Name: Marcus L. Campbell
People who have influenced my life: Family, former pastor, current pastor, teachers, coaches and friends.
Personal: Daughter, Macy Campbell; parents, Alex H. and Dora M. Campbell Jr.
tentional training at UA that was helpful. “I remember getting ready to go to class one day,” Campbell said. “I was a senior and Latrell Sprewell was a junior. We were taking this Dutch class. And it was an 8 o’clock class. We were walking to class and I said, ‘Why are we going to this Dutch class?’ And, lo and behold, here I am, my first job is over in Holland, in the Netherlands, where their native tongue is Dutch. It just goes to show you can’t take any opportunity for granted.” His basketball career ended — prematurely in his mind — when he suffered a knee injury in the final minutes of a practice session during his eighth season in March of 2000. He returned to the United States and, having left school at Alabama short of earning his degree, re-enrolled in classes at Alabama to finish his coursework. He obtained a bachelor’s of science in education in 2002. Once that was completed, he taught elementary school for a year and a half in Meridian, Mississippi, then spent six years in pharmaceutical sales. “After the sixth year of being in sales, the Lord said, ‘OK, run for county commissioner,’ ” said Campbell, who has also served as a Sunday school teacher. He ran, and he won. “It has been great trying to do things and make resources available for not only my county but the region to grow. I work with a group of 66 other counties that make up this great state of Alabama to be the best we can possibly be. I truly enjoy that and want to continue to grow in government. I serve as chairman of the Sumter County Commission. I want to do my best each and every day for Sumter County.” He’s served since November 2010. Since 2014, he’s also served as project manager of the Black Belt Community Foundation. Among the main things he does is drive a truck to Tuscaloosa to gather supplies from the West Alabama Food Bank to disperse among people in need in Sumter County. “I am a servant for servants,” Campbell said. Which brings us back to the basketball court. He just recently completed the 17th year of the Marcus Campbell Future Stars Basketball Camp he holds for boys and girls. The camp is held in his home county, but it touches people from a much wider area. “The camp has empowered people from all over the state,” Campbell said. “We have campers out of state. We get a lot of campers from east Mississippi. We’ve even had campers from Detroit, Michigan.” Former NBA forward Charles Oakley, Campbell’s cousin, often participates in the camp, as do other former NBA and collegiate standouts. However, that is just part of what the camp offers. He brings in doctors, lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs, business leaders, judges and others to show the kids that athletics is not the only avenue to success. “I’m a prime example for any youngster,” Campbell said. “I had a career-ending knee injury. After that injury, I knew, without a doubt, I had to get a college education to do anything in life. It is important for youngsters to know they need to be in a triple-threat position for life. That’s an old basketball term. You need to prepare yourself for other things.”
Something most people don’t know about me: I am very quiet and reserved. My proudest achievement: Graduating from college.
Why I do what I do: I am a servant for service, and, at the end of the day, I want to make sure that I have given my all.
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Tamika NO. 5
ALEXANDER TELEVISION NEWS ANCHOR/UNITED WAY ADMINISTRATOR
BY KELCEY SEXTON PHOTO BY ERIN NELSON
hen Tamika Alexander leaves her job at the United Way of West Alabama office in the evening, one might assume she’s heading home to wind down her workday. But, while she may be on her way home, her workday isn’t over just yet. “It’s a busy, full day,” Alexander, 38, said with a laugh. She not only gets an early start, working full time as United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral director, but Alexander also anchors the 10 p.m. news broadcasts at Tuscaloosa’s WVUA 23 television station. She reports to the newsroom around 8 or 8:30 weeknights after spending time at home with her 11-yearold son, Jayden.
“I like to help people, and that’s one of the joys of being able to wake up each morning, and even though I have two jobs and it can be stressful, and I’m a mom, I get to do something I love, and that’s what makes it so fulfilling,” she said. “I get to help people on my day job at United Way by connecting people to (social service) resources that can help them get to self-sufficiency, and at night, I give people information that can make a difference in their lives.” United Way of West Alabama’s 2-1-1 information line serves anyone in the nine-county coverage area, which includes Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties. Alexander fields calls, helping “people get connected to the agencies that can help them out,” whether they are in search of food, clothing or other social service needs. In August 2017, United Way of West Alabama kicked off its annual campaign to raise money for its nearly 30 partner agencies. It uses the kickoff event to “get the community pumped up and ready to give” so that the organization can work toward reaching its annual goal. The donated money is then allocated to United Way’s partner agencies to help them continue offering services to the community. “I see people are givers here in Tuscaloosa,” Alexander said. “They give a lot, and we’re able to do a lot with those donations to help people.” And that’s what both her jobs are all about, she said. “I feel like that’s my calling, is helping people.” Alexander said she knew early on that she wanted a profession in communications but wasn’t sure what medium. After graduating from Tuscaloosa’s Central High School, she took courses at Shelton State Community College, also working at the college’s newspaper at the time, before transferring to the University of Alabama. There, she interned at the campus radio station, reading news updates during
Name: Tamika Alexander Age: 38 Hometown: Tuscaloosa Personal: Son, Jayden; parents, Ethel and Lovell Taylor Jr.; and sister, LaToya Stepter. People who have influenced my life: My parents. Something people don’t know about me: I am very funny! My proudest achievement: Graduating from college and becoming a mom. Why I do what I do: I enjoy helping others.
cut-ins between songs and radio shows. She also interned at WVUA-TV and realized broadcast news was where she wanted to be. So she majored in broadcast news with a minor in English — a marriage of her two favorite things, talking and writing. “I was able to partner them together and make a career out of them,” she said. Alexander worked her way up from the bottom at WVUA, producing and reporting before she was asked to anchor. She said she began filling in for people, enjoyed it and was offered a full-time anchoring position. Shortly after having Jayden, she left WVUA for a full-time position at United Way of West Alabama, but then “life happened.” She and Jayden’s father divorced, and Alexander said she needed something else to supplement her time. “I did miss (anchoring) after I started working (at United Way) full time,” Alexander said. “I missed working on the news side of things and keeping up with what’s going on, what’s
current. The opportunity came about when they were looking for a replacement after another anchor left, so I applied and I got it, and I was able to do both. Now I’m able to do both. “I think the key to making all of this work is having a great support system,” she said. “I have my parents, I have (Jayden’s) dad, and we get along great and co-parent, and at the end of the day I couldn’t do what I do without my team.” Between her jobs, Alexander spends all the time she can with her son, whether it’s cooking, going to sporting events or traveling. Sometimes he even accompanies her to work at United Way. “My dad instilled in us the importance of working, and that’s what I try to teach him,” she said. She grew up seeing her dad work two jobs while her mom worked as well. “Now I see why he had to work two jobs. He did whatever he needed to do so we could have, and that’s the kind of parent I am.” Alexander said it’s important to her to show Jayden that life doesn’t hand you anything. “We have to work for what we want, and I want to instill that in him,” she said. “Sometimes you can’t always tell people something, you have to show them, and that’s why I take him to work with me.” She said her favorite part about working at United Way is being able to follow up with someone who’s called needing assistance, and learning that they’ve gotten the help they needed. It’s rewarding, “knowing the services we have been able to give them have helped them get back on their feet,” she said. “I think when the Lord blesses us, he isn’t thinking about us, but thinking about how we can use our blessings to help others. I really believe helping people is the key to a good life, and I try to show my son that. “I want (Jayden) to grow up to be a person who learns to help others, because we never know, we might need some help someday ourselves.”
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GOLDSMITH TV COOKING CHAMPION
BY DREW TAYLOR PHOTO BY ERIN NELSON
uller Goldsmith’s love of cooking came from a time-honored tradition: tailgating at Crimson Tide football games. Fuller, a student at Tuscaloosa Academy, remembers all the chicken wings and barbecue his father and others would cook. The memories, from as far back as age 4, stuck with him. “Ever since then, it’s been a pretty cool journey,” Fuller said. That journey led Fuller to try his hand at cooking, beginning with making salads and progressing to being the main person who makes dinner for his family every night. That same journey also placed him in the national spotlight when he competed on Food Network’s “Chopped Junior” during the spring of 2017, where he won $10,000 after defeating several other aspiring young chefs. Judges praised Fuller for his poise, his unique style of cooking and how he performed under competitive pressure. “Fuller’s body language is like that of a line cook; he’s like a pro,” host Ted Allen said during the contest. Since then, Fuller has received wide-
spread attention. “I was getting recognized everywhere I went at first,” he said. “It was pretty shocking.” Fuller’s mother, Melissa Goldsmith, said that after her son’s spot on the TV show, she knew he was serious about cooking. “It’s evolved over time, but we have always wanted to support him in what he has wanted to do,” she said. For Fuller, cooking was not just a pleasure, but also a way to distract from several obstacles. When he was 3 years old, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which required many visits to Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham and many rounds of chemotherapy. Fuller has been in remission for the past three years. “When I was sick, cooking was the only thing that got me up,” he said. “If I was just laying down doing nothing, my feet and legs would hurt, but when I was moving around in the kitchen, I wouldn’t be hurting as much.” Fuller’s health issues still play a big part in his life in terms of how he gives back. He donated a large portion of his “Chopped Junior” winnings to the same hospital that helped him get better. “That’s what you’re supposed to do,” said his father, Scott Goldsmith. Fuller describes his own cooking as essential Southern fare, and he tends to add different kinds of barbecue to his dishes, including pizza, chicken egg rolls and his own homemade steak sauce. “I grew up all my life in the South,” he said. “I’ve tried all different kinds of foods, and it’s just good to me.” Although he is only in junior high, Fuller is already thinking about his future in cooking. When he graduates from high school, he plans on traveling to New York City and studying at the Culinary Institute of America, an institution that has produced such renowned chefs as Anthony Bourdain, Roy Choi and Yoni Levy. Eventually, Fuller would like to open his own restaurant one day, but he would like to do it his way. “I don’t ever want to be afraid to try new things,” he said. Fuller’s family is proud of how far his passion has taken him and where it could take him next. “We’re grateful that he’s taken us on the adventures he has been on,” Melissa said.
Name: Edward Fuller Goldsmith V Age: 13 Personal: Parents, Scott and Melissa Goldsmith; sister, Lele. Hometown: Tuscaloosa People who have influenced my life: Jack Kapphan, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Justin Holt and Brett Garner. Something people don’t know about me: I like to draw. My proudest achievement: Winning “Chopped Junior” on Food Network. Why I do what I do: I love to make people happy with my food.
“When I was sick, cooking was the only thing that got me up. If I was just laying down doing nothing, my feet and legs would hurt, but when I was moving around in the kitchen, I wouldn’t be hurting as much.” 97
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MR. PIG GOES TO THE ZONE
JULY 28, 2017 BRYANT-DENNY STADIUM PHOTOS | JAKE ARTHUR
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Joe Jacobs, McKayla Sanders and Nick Sanders Daniel Watts and Amanda St. John John Wood and Lauren Dorrall Joshua Golson and Angela Anders David Bullard and Peggy Bullard Deryl Cory, Tina Cory, Monica Harbin and Shae Harbin Carolyn Powell, Tiffany Hammond, Holland Powell, Holland Hammond, Ga-
briel Hammond and Sophia Hammond Patricia Johnson, Ashley Johnson and Carthenia Blackmon Jacob Bannerman, Sydnee McCoy, Sydni Bannerman and Brooklin Bradley David Norris, Gail Norris, Allison Gunter and Chris Gunter Ben Welborn, Mollie Sims, Hayden Welborn, Bayley Welborn, Avery Mitchell and Leigh Powell
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NICK’S KIDS LUNCHEON
AUGUST 2, 2017 THE ZONE, BRYANT-DENNY STADIUM PHOTOS | ERIN NELSON
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Cash Miller, Katelyn Channell, Luella Tolbert and Cadence Miller I’Kelin Martin and Chris Prater Herbie Newell, Caleb Newell, Emily Newell, Adelynn Newell and Graham Kemp Alabama head football coach Nick Saban signs autographs Anniston Hurst and Karsyn Hurst Caroline Hornsby and Meredith Hornsby Aubrey Perdue, Brynn Perdue and Zari Hamner Jordan Shines, Devin Shines, Carroline Shines and Johnny Shines, front Kalea Jackson, Devan Harris, Channing Lawson, Lilly Hasenkopf and Kaitlyn Jackson Garret Grace Waid and Ashley Waid Drew Pierce and Whitt Winfield Jack Plowman, Kathryn Marbutt and Kylie Hosey Ty Lewis, Cameron Prince, Joshua Grimes and Evan Huff
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UNITED WAY OF WEST ALABAMAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S 2017 KICK-OFF LUNCHEON AUGUST 15, 2017 BRYANT CONFERENCE CENTER PHOTOS | GARY COSBY JR.
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Jenna Case, Robbie Case and Jake Case Briana Martin and Tanya Winstead Cathy Sanford and Sarah Pederson Holly Beck and Sabrina Thomas Cynthia Hood and Omeggan Bush Lisa Irby and
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William Harden Will Grimsley and Ryan Stallings Yvonne and Henry Mixon Latrelle Porter and Karen Thompson Jonathan Foster and Jordan Plaster Brittany Knight and Robbie Burdine
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TUSCALOOSA COUNTY ALUMNI CHAPTER MEMBERSHIP DRIVE WINE TASTING JUNE 13, 2017 | SPIRITS WINE CELLAR PHOTOS | MICHELLE LEPIANKA CARTER
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Merlene Hamner and Kimberly Baggett Scott Lawrence, Stephanie Lawrence, Danny Owen and Jon Garner Andre Taylor and Jennifer Wichitnak Erin Owen and Steve Hagood Linda Snelgrove, Judy Brown and Sabrina Keating Liza Wilson, Travis McCulley, Helen McCulley and Bob Helms Alyson Jarnagin and Paul Jarnagin Diann Hayes and Helen Smith Holly Grof, Julie Brand and Sue Giamo Bobby Wooldridge, Cathy Wooldridge and Pat Whetstone
AUGUST 3, 2017 THE HOME OF UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA CHANCELLOR RAY HAYES PHOTOS | KARLEY FERNANDEZ
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ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE SOCIAL
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Christine Blakley, Dan Blakley, Vicki Burch, Rick Burch, Noel Amason and Robert Amason Ray Taylor, Weldon Cole, Tom Joiner and Terry Waters Kristi Pierce, Bob Pierce and Jackie Wuska Mike Reilly, Debbie Reilly, Kara Warr and Michael Warr Eric Heslop, Katherine Heslop, Gina Miers, Jordan Plaster and David Pass Sarah Patterson and Delores Cole Terry Waters and Sam Foster Tom Joiner, Scott Phelps and Jim Harrison Stuart Bell, Susan Bell, Kathy Hayes and Ray Hayes
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OMEGA PSI PHI BALL JULY 29, 2017 EMBASSY SUITES PHOTOS | JAKE ARTHUR
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Anthony Gary, Cynthia Gary, John Archibald, Tamara Archibald and Fanita Dunn Greta Eubanks and Gregory Eubanks James Granger and Cynthia Warrick Cedric Arrick and Suzette Arrick Stan Shamley and Thomas Newsome Sandra Robinson and Cecil Robinson Albert Ike Jr., Versie Ike, Marcus Williams and Quyanetta Williams Kaye Granger, Bettye Hutchins, Sandra Robinson, Marua Smith and W. Scott Smith John Hodges, Erin Hodges, Ann Fairley, Khristy Large and Gaston Large Bettye Hutchins and Lee Dennis Tyler Bobo, Brittany White and Tatyana Brintley Osielia Lewis and Teshawn Hardy
JULY 13, 2017 INDIAN HILLS COUNTRY CLUB
PHOTOS | ERIN NELSON
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Anna Kniphfer, Lisa Ketchum and Tara Ketchum Reiner Goers and Ricky Shoub Walker McKee, Will Collins, Annie Holt and Carter Thomason Inez Rushing and Sandra Pike Lynn Johnson, Jean Swindle, Susan Whitt and Amanda Arnold Keith Jenkins, Chris Game, Calvin Goodman and David Welch Audrey Lawrence, Addison Osborn and Kacy Howard Maggie Duncan and Lauren Richmond Tracy Singleton and Merrell Ketchum Martha Zeanah and Katie Wheeler
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PRITCHETT-MOORE MENâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S CITY INVITATIONAL PLAYERS PARTY
ON THE SCENE
1â&#x20AC;&#x201C;YEAR BIRTHDAY PARTY
APRIL 27, 2017 HOLLER AND DASH BISCUIT HOUSE PHOTOS | MICHELLE LEPIANKA CARTER
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Morgan Kirkland, Caroline Kirkland, Drew Kirkland and Annabelle Kirkland Jermaine Mickens, LaFaye Mickens, Charles Mickens and Matthew Mickens Keith Andrews and Carol Andrews Ron Simon and Jessica Simon Kelli Miller and Jamie Miller Mike Chiseler, Jay Holdren, Ally Clokey, J.P. Mendes and Brandon Frohne Susan LaGrone, Christian LaGrone, Cameron LaGrone and Doug LaGrone Ben Shearer and Hamilton Philips Joe Phelps and Maria Phelps Lindsey Blumenthal, Owen Blumenthal, Jason Blumenthal and Carter Blumenthal (standing)
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FAMILY OF THE YEAR MAY 18, 2017 UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESIDENTâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S MANSION PHOTOS | ERIN NELSON
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David Patterson, Sarah Patterson, Susan Bell and Stuart Bell Greg Hahn and Sam Faucett Michael Warr and Mike Reilly Allison Leitner and James Leitner Karen Brooks and Jean Hinton Elizabeth Hahn, Susan Bell and Pat Jessup Jim Brooks and Jim Flemming Weldon Cole, Delores Cole and Bill Battle Debbie Reilly and Julie Townsend Anne Moman and Cherry Bryant Anne Jones, Claudia Harrison, Kara Warr and Amy Davis
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SUNSET SUPPER ON THE RIVER MAY 11, 2017 RIVER MARKET
PHOTOS | MICHELLE LEPIANKA CARTER
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Linda Coleman, Sandra Williams, Lillie Lawson and Regina Williams Billy Kirkpatrick, George Mugoya Carol Gilliland and Daphne Tice Melinda Williams, Annabel Stephens, Amy Martin and Safiya George Radhika Delaire, Jennifer Smith and Debbie Besant Dia Harris and Kimaya Williams Shannon Hubbard,
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Gwen Harper, Kelly Dickey and Matt Orndorff Tim Dreyfus, Anna Dreyfus, Wayne Jones and Sam Robinson Ann James and Vicky Carter Teddy Pace, Randy Bolch and Martin Gutmann Amanda Cassity and Bernard Cassity Peggy Roberts and Bob Roberts Kim McIntyre and Bob McIntyre
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PRESENTATION OF THE TUSCALOOSA BELLES APRIL 27, 2017 FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, TUSCALOOSA PHOTOS | JAKE ARTHUR
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Maggie Partlow and Emily Grace Grier Katie Tindol, Caroline Krieger, Morgan Roberts and Lillian Woolf Curtis Tucker and Katherine Tucker Ashly Blount and Katherine Tucker Anne Mason Smith and Caroline Jessup Madison Farden and
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Susannah Jones The Tuscaloosa Belles Susannah Jones and Lauren Hudson Raygan Chism and Victoria Jones Virginia Adair and Victoria Plott Morgan Roberts and Lucy Morgan Kelli Sandras and John Sandras
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JUNIOR LEAGUE ANNUAL AWARDS
MAY 8, 2017 INDIAN HILLS COUNTRY CLUB
PHOTOS | ERIN NELSON
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KEITHâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S CLASSIC TENNIS TOURNAMENT
Lindsay Mountain and Gina Sevedge Kari Keplinger and Rachel Jones Barbara Kucharski, Jamie Burke and Kathleen Duffy Melissa Wilmarth and Delshonda Thomas Peyton Cork,
Susan Page, Jennifer Hayes and Patricia Powe Caroline Williams, Susanna Whitehead and Erica Shumate Nikki Richardson, Cat Whitehill and Brandt LaPish Christine Ringler and Katie Tibbett
MAY 4, 2017 UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA INDOOR TENNIS FACILITY PHOTOS | ERIN NELSON
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Anna Mills Fleenor, Keith Swindoll and Bella Swindoll Cynthia Stone and Carol Deas Betty Howard, Carol Deas, Cynthia Stone and Rhonda Allen Linda Weiss and Julie Smith Carson Ryan and Grace Evans Keith Swindoll and Bella Swindoll Jenny Mainz and Celia Partlow
AUGUST 5, 2017 LOGANâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S ROADHOUSE
PHOTOS | LAURA CHRAMER
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ON THE SCENE
AMERICAN LEGION POST 34 BASEBALL TEAM REUNION
Carl Wright and Judy Wright Randy Ryan and Sandra Ryan David Elmore and Fay Elmore Wayne Rushing, Johnny Rushing and Inez Rushing Loretta Belk and Jerry Belk Sylvia Homan and Marlin Homan Glenn Woodruff and Sue Woodruff Conner Woodruff and Katie Baughman Gail Rushing and Johnny Rushing Linda Griffin and Mike Griffin Marvin Herring and Bill Parker Wayne Rushing and Jan Rushing
PURE GOLD PHOTO BY GARY COSBY JR. A field of sunflowers is seen at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Joe Mallisham Parkway in Tuscaloosa.