Arts Around Town: Baseball scores home run for children’s author, teacher Louisa Luisi
Parents and coaches sometimes aren't the best partners on the field when it comes to youth sports. For Louisa Luisi, her parents were her best coaches in those formative years, especially when she would be thrown a curve. Even at age 30, she still finds herself turning to mom and dad for the best support. Now the Northern New Jersey teacher is on a mission to spread a positive message to the younger set as author of the newly-published 24-page, hardcover picture book, "Your Best Coaches," the story of a young baseball player who discovers his best coaches and role models in life are his mother and father.
The Lincoln Park, Morris Co., N.J., resident and Ridgewood High School English teacher will be doing a book signing and fundraiser in the Lehigh Valley on Sat., Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Giacomo's Italian Market & Grille, 700 Cattell St., in Easton’s College Hill section.
Giacomo’s is co-owned by Luisi’s first cousins, brothers Mario and Sal Famularo, who have themed the book signing as "The Grand Slam Event." Mario Famularo said there will be raffles, prizes and a chance for someone to create his or her own "Grand Slam Sandwich" to be featured on Giacomo’s menu. The event is being sponsored by Coca-Cola and Boar's Head.
Luisi said she wanted to work with a foundation in raising awareness for a cause. She chose to have proceeds of her book signing go to the Children’s Heart Foundation-Pennsylvania Chapter, to help fund research on congenital heart defects. According to Patty Cheshire, chapter president, congenital heart defects are America’s number one birth defect and affect nearly one out of every 100 births, or 40,000 babies each year. Mario Famularo said Giacomo's will be matching all proceeds.
Luisi found inspiration in writing poetry for many of her close friends who were becoming wives and mothers. She said the story behind "Your Best Coaches" actually was penned as a poem for Brian and Jess Zorger, upon the birth of their son, Charles Anthony. Jess was Luisi's college roommate at Bloomsburg University, and Brian was a baseball player on campus. Luisi used baseball as a metaphor for life.
Through fundraising efforts with Kickstarter.com this past summer, Luisi said she was able to cover expenses in publishing her book, which she dedicates to her parents and "best coaches," Francesco and Anna Luisi of Saddle Brook, N.J. Through an Internet search, she located illustrator Kika Esteves in Brazil, who brings the story to life with vibrant watercolor illustrations.
Luisi leaves no stone unturned in her book, relaying how parents "will stand behind you, whether a grand slam or strikeout, knowing you have played your best without any doubt. …In their eyes, you will always be the team’s star." The teacher that she is comes out with flying colors at the end of the book with baseball-related activities young readers can enjoy.
Positive feedback is coming back to her, Luisi said, with a book signing and fundraiser already under her belt in early November at Lord & Taylor in Scarsdale, N.Y. She has attracted the attention of teachers with an educator's guide and even child psychologists interested in using the book as a tool with children whose parents have gone through a divorce.
Luisi holds a bachelor of arts in English and education and a master's degree in English education. She has written a number of plays performed in New Jersey and New York. In addition to teaching English, creative writing and acting, she is a resident theater director for Ridgewood High School's New Players Company. Through the organization, she created a playwriting program for students whose original one-act plays had opportunity as professionally staged readings in New York City and as full production at the high school.
For further info: louisaluisi.com pennsylvania.childrensheartfoundation.org
Players of the Stage, a Christian youth theater group, will present the holiday classic, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," beginning tonight at 7 and running through Dec. 8, at Living Hope Presbyterian Church, 330 Schantz Rd., Allentown. Sharon Barshinger is artistic director. The presentation benefits the Allentown Rescue Mission. To date, Players of the Stage has raised more than $50,000 for local charities. Tickets are free; reservations required.
For further info: PlayersofthestagePA@gmail.com
Pennsylvania Youth Theatre presents "The Happy Elf," with music and lyrics by Harry Connick Jr., book by Lauren Gunderson and Andrew Fishman, beginning Saturday at 1 p.m., at the Charles A. Brown Ice House in Bethlehem. "The Happy Elf" holiday musical, which runs through Dec. 16, is adapted from the original song by Grammy-winning Connick that was later turned into a 3D-animated family television special. It's the story of Eubie, the happiest elf at the North Pole, who longs to be a part of Santa's sleigh team. It's when he discovers the entire town of Bluesville to be naughty that he uses his elfish magic and some help from his friends to turn everyone nice in just one day. Director is Bill Mutimer.
For further info: 123pyt.org
The family-favorite holiday film tradition, "The Snowman," based on the classic children’s book by Raymond Briggs, will be featured on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m., at the Miller Center for the Arts at Reading Area Community College. The event is presented by Kutztown University, but due to renovations to Schaeffer Auditorium on campus, it will be held at the downtown Reading location this year. The Kutztown University Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Will Rapp, will be playing the score.
For further info: kutztownpresents.org
The New York Tenors return to Easton’s State Theatre on Saturday at 8 p.m., with a concert of "Christmas: Memories of Herald Square." Tenors and solo artists Andy Cooney ("Irish America’s Favorite Son"), Daniel Rodriguez ("America’s Beloved Tenor") and Michael Amante ("The People’s Tenor") team for a night of holiday celebration.
For further info: statetheatre.org
Some returning favorites are included in this year's "Christmas City Follies," now in its 13th year at Bethlehem's Touchstone Theatre, beginning tonight at 8 and running through Dec. 22. The high-spirited vaudevillian variety show directed by Jp Jordan features Touchstone founder Bill George's beloved character, "The Old Guy," coming to terms with difficult questions in his life. Follies veterans with the Touchstone Ensemble such as Mary Wright present "Little Red" in her quest for seasonal happiness. There’s the "Shopping Cart Ballet" and even a take on the Mayan Apocalypse.
For further info: touchstone.org
"America’s Romantic Piano Sensation" Jim Brickman delivers his annual holiday tour, "On a Winter’s Night," with humor, warmth, holiday favorites – plus his hits – on Friday at 8 p.m., at Miller (Allentown) Symphony Hall. His signature style has brought him Gold and Platinum albums, Grammy nominations and a Dove Award, to name some. He’s starred in four TV concert specials. Brickman devotes much time to charitable foundations for children, including Autism Speaks and UNICEF.
For further info: allentownsymphony.org
The annual Holiday & Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Concert with the Allentown Band will be performed Sunday at 3 p.m., at Miller Symphony Hall. Featured artists are soprano Susan Boyer, pianist Michael Toth, and Summer Harmony Men’s Chorus with conductor Clair Neamand.
For further info: allentownband.com
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