Ask 'Mimi' Feb. 9, 2014

Melissa "Mimi" Merli answers questions about the Gifford relief concert, the long-running "Tony n Tina's Wedding" and about the Phases of the Moon festival coming in September.

1. How much did the Jan. 25 Gifford Tornado Relief Concert at Gordyville raise?

The event brought in $45,000 to help rebuild Gifford, where the Nov. 17 storm destroyed 75 homes and damaged many other structures.

Craig and Wendy Bertram and Mike Higgins of the band Southern Transfer and Ryan Ideus of Feudin' Hillbillys organized the 10-hour event, collected donations, found sponsors and convinced 10 bands, including their own, to donate their time.

Money also was raised via the sale of concert T-shirts, a live auction and raffles. Food and drink vendors gave part of their proceeds to the cause. Despite frigid temperatures, more than 2,000 people traveled to Gordyville for the concert.

2. Dolores Allhands of Watseka first saw "Tony 'n Tina's Wedding" at the Station Theatre in 1995 and 15 times after that. She asks whether it's playing anywhere other than in Las Vegas.

Yes, but in New York. A 25th anniversary production of the satire, in which theater-goers play the wedding guests, will open March 5, with the "ceremony" at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School in Manhattan and the traditional Italian-American wedding banquet at Guy's American Kitchen and Bar.

Mills Entertainment in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is presenting "T n' T's Wedding" through Dec. 31, 2015.

Samuel French Licensing, which licenses the hit play, said it's not available for production at this time.

3. Lots of people are asking Mimi who's behind the Sept. 11-14 Phases of the Moon Music + Art Festival at Kennekuk County Park near Danville. And will it be annual?

The father-son team of Barry and Sam Shear of Terrapin Ridge Productions in Barrington is responsible. Phases of the Moon — Terrapin's first production — started as an idea for a concert to benefit a nonprofit and grew exponentially from there.

For the event, the Shears teamed up with producer K Square Inc. in St. Louis, which has hired an impressive lineup of bands already. More will be announced soon.

The Shears chose Kennekuk because it's centrally located, is a beautiful park and has 3,000 acres of space and a strong infrastructure.

Sam, 23, had the idea for Phases of the Moon. His inspiration: As a fine arts major at Sierra Nevada College, he and other art students took an art piece to the Burning Man festival every year.

His father, 63, has a strong background in finance but is no longer in that field. He was "intrigued" enough by his son's idea to jump on board.

The Shearses plan to make Phases of the Moon happen every year at Kennekuk, likely the weekend after Labor Day.

Have a question? We'd love to hear from you. Please email it to mmerli@news-gazette.com.

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