Special James Whitcomb Riley Program at Center for History.
Final Event for Historical Society's "Year of the Opera Curtain".
On Monday, November 19, at 7:00 p.m. the North Manchester Historical Society
presents Jeff Keel as James Whitcomb Riley. James Whitcomb Riley was a
nationally popular poet who was especially beloved by children. He is
admired for using vernacular speech in his poems such as Little Orphant
Annie, The Raggedy Man and When the Frost is on the Punkin. He was so
admired that when he died friends and admirers established the Riley
Foundation, which in turn established the Riley Children's Hospital in
Indianapolis in his name. When he died, more people attended his funeral
than Michael Jackson's!
Jeff Keel will recite some of Riley's poems and give a first-person
presentation of his life. Keel has over 25 years of experience in
television, radio, film, and theater productions. He specializes in
storytelling. He has presented James Whitcomb Riley for over ten years,
performing for schools, historical societies, and The Children's Museum of
Indianapolis. He participated in the Indiana Repertory Theatre's Artist in
the Classroom program, and has conducted numerous workshops in acting and
As a gift to the North Manchester educational community, the Historical
Society has also arranged to have Keel perform for Manchester Elementary
School students and teachers the afternoon prior to the public presentation.
He will then be available to Manchester University education and theater
students to discuss using the resource of artists in the classroom and to
share his experience as a working theater professional.
The program is the final one of the year-long "Year of the Opera Curtain"
celebration presented by the NM Historical Society, 14 separate events
inspired by the restoration of a rare 1910 opera curtain in the society's
collection. "A program on James Whitcome Riley is a must for our opera
curtain series," said Mary Chrastil, Historical Society President. "Riley
present lectures and read his poems at the North Manchester Opera house
several times during his career as a national lecturer. Riley was an
extremely popular speaker because of his wit and humor. He even toured with
Mark Twain for a while. Image what a show that would have been!"
Because of the downtown sidewalk construction project, access to the Center
for History is available through the front door, but also through the door
in the alley to the west of the building. There is ample parking available
in the city parking lot behind the Center. There is no cost for the
program, and free admission to the museum will also be extended for the
evening. Visitors can see the restored 1910 opera curtain that inspired the
program. All are welcome.