2014 NAIA National Champions, Alexandria Miller, Ashley Elizabeth, Ban-David Alencar, Bretlyn Schmitt, Caitlin Theobald, Dixie Arnold, Dr. Michael Beals, Drew Bradford, Dustin Laemmlen, Ed & Dixie Arnold Stage, Ed Arnold, Ian Jenkins, Joshua David Martin, Josiah Dominguez, Justin McIntee, Kelsey Coleman, Kristina Leopold, Mark Austin Nunn, Michelle Laemmlen, Ryanna Marsh, Sue Berkompas, The Beat Goes On, Vanda Eggington, Vanguard University, Vanguard's Lyceum Theater, Vincent Catalina, Winter Bassett
I wouldn’t have missed attending the special tribute reception at Vanguard University for two of my favorite people, Ed and Dixie Arnold. Little did I know, however, I would also be attending the opening night of a knock-your-socks off musical revue at the university’s Lyceum Theater, but more about that later.
There just aren’t two sweeter people than Ed and Dixie Arnold. I’ve known them for 30 years, and they have never changed. Dixie has been in education for 38 years as a teacher and principal and the last 12 years (after she retired!) at Vanguard as Associate Professor and Chair of Liberal Studies. “I fell in love with the university the minute I walked on campus,” Dixie said at a recent reception in she and Ed’s honor at Vanguard. Ed, retired television news and sports anchor for KTLA, KABC and KOCE, has given his time at no charge as emcee and auctioneer for charity events throughout the county ever since I’ve known him. He even emceed my 60th birthday party for 120 friends! And, he loves Vanguard too!
The reception at Vanguard’s Cafeteria Patio drew 100 guests, many of them the Arnold’s close friends and family. Dixie and Ed spoke about their love for Vanguard. A recent example regarded Vanguard men’s basketball team, who won the 2014 NAIA National Championship. The team needed new uniforms but, because of recent cutbacks, the school could not afford them. Dixie bought the team the uniforms. “I have such joy knowing that I can affect the students lives in a positive way to show we care,” she said. Ed continued, “We just love the kids at the university, and the people, from the president on down, are fabulous.”
Justin McIntee, Associate VP for Development and Campaign Management, welcomed everyone and introduced Theater Department Chair Sue Berkompas, who talked about the upcoming theater season and the season’s kick-off production of The Beat Goes On. Vanguard President Dr. Mike Beals shared the Arnold’s areas of support at the university: Theatre – season ticket holders; Athletics – behind the bench at every single basketball game – both Dixie and Ed sported a reminder of the teams national championship, Ed with a championship ring and Dixie with a pendant (“Ed’s not shy with the refs,” Mike joked); Music (Fantasia Christmas Show) – faithful supporters of the Christmas program for many years; Student Scholarships – care deeply about supporting students financially.
Following a musical tribute to the Arnolds by students Dustin and Michelle Laemmlen, who sang George Gershwin’s “‘S’ Wonderful,” and Caitlin Theobald, who performed the famous hymn, “To God Be the Glory,” Berkompas and Beals announced that the stage in the Lyceum Theater would be known as the Ed & Dixie Arnold Stage in their honor. They both beamed, with Ed calling out their family – son Dean, his wife Rachel, and grandsons Jake and Luke.
Then, it was on to the 180-seat Lyceum Theater to see the world premiere of The Beat Goes On, and what a beat it was! The musical revue, created and directed by the extremely talented Vanda Eggington, was a rock ‘n’ roll road trip through the last half of the 20th Century, with stops in small town malt shops, sunny California beaches, mirror ball disco balls, and MTV extravaganzas. The 14-member cast never stopped moving! They sang and danced throughout the two-hour show, and it was impressive. The songs took you back to the times you remember hearing them, and the use of video throughout the decades to show what was happening at the time, was very effective.
The students really knocked it out of the park and were well cast. Kudos to narrators Vincent Catalina and Kelsey Coleman, whose comedic turns were hilarious, and to the rest of the very talented cast – Ben-David Alencar, Winter Bassett, Drew Bradford, Josiah Dominguez, Ashley Elizabeth, Ian Jenkins, Kristina Leopold (also assistant director), Ryanna Marsh, Joshua David Martin, Alexandria Miller, Mark Austin Nunn, and Bretlyn Schmitt (also the brilliant choreographer).
The show runs September 26-28 and October 3-5 at 8:00pm. There are also 2:00pm Saturday matinees. Ticket prices are $17 for general admission and $14 for seniors and children. Visit http://www.vanguardtickets.com or call the box office at 714-668-6145. You won’t be disappointed!