Paul Newman and the River Campus

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's not too late to grab tickets to one of the feel-good, fun productions of the fall. "The 1940s Radio Hour" at the River Campus opens Wednesday night. Full of big band music, swing dancing, patriotism and old-fashioned sound effects, the show promises to delight, enchant and entertain! Among the musical numbers: "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy," "That Old Black Magic," "Blue Moon" and "I'll Be Seeing You."

Set in a hotel lobby during a "live" radio broadcast on Dec. 21, 1942, the show captures the spirit of America during the beginning of World War II.

There's not a bad view in the River Campus Bedell Hall, and seats remain for most performances, which start Wednesday night and continue through Sunday. This is the type of event Cape Girardeau is blessed to have because of the university and its talented students and faculty. And it's the type of event that will keep you laughing throughout the evening, leave you floating with good cheer as you depart — the crowd abuzz around you with the downtown bridge lit with spectacular strings of light — and thinking, what a great place to live!

I'll be there on Saturday night. See you there.

To get your own tickets, call 573-651-2265 or go online to metrotix.com, keyword "radio." Ticket prices are $19 and less.


Who says there's nothing to do in Cape Girardeau? Besides "The 1940s Radio Hour," upcoming River Campus events include the world-class dance troupe "Battleworks Dance Company," a gala kickoff to the symphony season and ghost stories by the nationally renowned storytellers Dan Keding and Lyn Ford. These performances fall on the heels of the successful River City Music Festival that took place downtown, the colorful and lively children's band the Backyardigans at the Show Me Center, Tunes at Twilight and the River City Players community production of "When the Reaper Calls." Because my wife and I have a 3-year old, we make only a portion of these performances (though I'm blessed to have relatives who love taking our daughter to some of the Show Me Center kids' events). To others, we take daughter Yuliana, and she loves them.

Her favorite events this weekend included Slam-Fest and its energetic crowd — plus nearby swings and slide — and the Music Festival, where she spun like an autumn leaf to the sounds of the early Saturday night bands.


Talking about performances and performers, Paul Newman passed away over the weekend. He was a true inspiration — as much if not more for how he conducted himself away from the movie camera as he acted in front of it. A few years ago, I was part of the first class at Harvard Business School to grapple with a new business case on Paul Newman and his line of food products, "Newman's Own." As happens frequently when a case is first studied at Harvard, the protagonist, in this case, Newman, attends the 90-minute class to listen as the students debate potential business strategies — and to offer comments and answer questions at the end.

It was curious to see Newman, the star, intimidated by the business class setting. And he said so, which made him all the more charming. But answering the questions, it became clear that what drove him more than anything else was simply the desire to have fun, create products people like and do whatever he could to help the charity he founded, the Hole in the Wall Gang, which has grown into the world's largest family of camps serving children with serious illnesses.

Besides his quiet leadership with the Hole in the Wall Gang, Newman was one of those rare celebrities who remained committed to his wife and family and preferred life among friends over the debilitating spotlight of ostentatious fame. He and his wife Joanne Woodward were married 50 years.

His three daughters, Elinor, Melissa and Claire, issued the following statement upon his death: "Paul Newman played many unforgettable roles. But the ones for which he was proudest never had top billing on the marquee. Devoted husband. Loving father. Adoring grandfather. Dedicated philanthropist. ... Always and to the end, Dad was incredibly grateful for his good fortune. In his own words: 'It's been a privilege to be here.' He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves us with extraordinary inspiration to draw upon."

Paul Newman will be missed. He was a man who made a difference — in all walks of his life.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications. Email: jrust@semissourian.com.

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