Melissa Merli

Melissa Merli

Australian ambassadors

URBANA — Have you ever wondered why Australia is called Oz?

It's because Australians pronounce "aus" as "oz," according to Jeremy Davies, who hails from Down Under and is a performer in Circus Oz, which will offer up three shows next weekend at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Studio Visit: Laura Wennstrom

Studio Visit appears in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, a visit with artist Laura Wennstrom.

Q: What will you talk about at the Hatch Festival lecture this afternoon?

Melissa Merli's Art Beat: Comic pays tribute to a major voice for equality

The late John Lee Johnson was an uncompromising civil rights activist who could at times be a pain in the you know what.

But we needed someone like him to keep us honest and to move us forward in the area of racial equality.

I, as well as many other folks, miss him.

Studio Visit: Betty Lusk Hughes

Studio Visit appears in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, a visit with artist Betty Lusk Hughes.

Photographers give it their best shots at annual event — and it's a sight to see

URBANA — Walter Alspaugh of Urbana has never entered the Champaign County Camera Club's Best in Show Photographic Print Competition. But every year he makes sure to visit Lincoln Square Village to see all the entries — 520 this year.

Actors find continued relevance in 'You Can't Take It with You'

CHAMPAIGN — Through his long career in community theater, Nick Schneider has appeared three times already in the American classic "You Can't Take It with You" by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

He played Mr. Kirby once and Paul Sycamore twice. In the Parkland College Theatre production opening Thursday night (Feb. 21), Schneider plays the eccentric pater familias: Grandpa Sycamore.

Melissa Merli's Art Beat: Visiting vocalist puts on a great show

There's a new "girl singer" in town, and she's really good.

Kate Paradise, an instructor of jazz vocals at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., is here through the end of this semester, working on a University of Illinois doctoral of musical arts degree in jazz vocals.

Studio Visit: Kevin Hart


Studio Visit appears in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, a visit with musician and teacher Kevin Hart.

Getting Personal: Larry Fredrickson

Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with 60-year-old Savoy resident Larry Fredrickson. The WDWS-WHMS-WUIL radio employee develops marketing plans for advertising clients and plays drums in the Tons O' Fun Band.

Plenty of chances to try Zumba in Champaign-Urbana

Tori Heeb has danced since she was 5 years old. She even majored in dance at the University of Illinois.

After graduating and moving to Chicago, she continued to dance, mostly modern and concert. Eventually, though, all the technique reduced the fun for her.

Enter Zumba, a fitness program that incorporates Latin dance and music and is designed to be like a dance party.