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Friday, January 27, 2017

Lori Valentine owner of Fort Thomas Coffee Stars in The Music Man

Every morning when I go to Fort Thomas Coffee I’ve heard the lyrics to “Till There Was You” from The Music Man as I sip my chai latte- “there was love all around but I never heard it singing (…) till there was you” (as I gaze into my latte).

Now, however, when I hear those lyrics, they might not just be in my head; they may be ringing from the voice of Lori Valentine, owner of Fort Thomas Coffee, who is currently playing the role of Maude Dunlop in the Carnegie Theatre performance of The Music Man.

The Carnegie Theatre, located in Covington KY, has been hosting professional and community theatre in the former Carnegie Library (built in 1904 and on the National Register of Historic Places) since its inception in 1972.

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The current season included such shows as Rock of Ages, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, and the currently running The Music Man.  This classic musical tells the story of “Professor” Harold Hill, a traveling salesman who has been run out on the rails from every stop along the train for his antics.  Hill stops in to River City, Iowa, a distrusting community which is quite concerned that there is “Trouble, right here in River City, with a Capital T, that rhymes with P and that stands for Pool” (the Iowans are concerned about a pool hall and the impact on their children).  As he sells the local children their instruments with the promise of teaching them to play and forming a band (Hill, it should be noted, cannot play a single note on a single instrument), he also sells himself on this small-town community and one particular librarian.

Rehearsal pictures provided by Valentine
Valentine, Fort Thomas’ favorite coffee connoisseur, is playing the role of Maude Dunlop, one of the “pick-a-little” ladies (the nosy, know-it-all women in the musical).  This musical, though, brings Valentine’s theatre career full-circle as her first ever role was as a 9-year-old in El Segundo, California, playing the role of Gracie Shinn (the Mayor’s youngest daughter) in this same play. Said Valentine, “I have been singing and acting for as long as I can remember.”  She goes on to say that after her first musical experience with The Music Man she “was totally hooked and it was (her) dream to pursue a career on Broadway.”

After attending an Arts School in California, she came to Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and entered CCM’s Musical Theatre Department.  Upon graduation, she took a different path in life going into Branding Design before deciding to stay home to raise a family and, ultimately (and thankfully) opening Fort Thomas Coffee.

Valentine is not one to do just any show given that her approach to acting and singing includes her children learning and singing right along with her, so in order to step back into the theatre she needed to find the right show that could be a family affair.  Said Valentine, “Music Man is a great fit for our family right now! And the cast is absolutely stellar.”  She goes on to call this performance her “second half of life” and state how “important it is to continue to pursue our passions.” 

Valentine also serves as the coach for the Highlands Middle School Drama Club and is continuing to look for other ways to get involved in the theatre.

Rehearsal pictures provided by Valentine

As for this show, Valentine freely admits she can see some similarities between River City, Iowa and Fort Thomas, KY.  In fact, she even admits that her “character is absolutely based on some of the ladies of Fort Thomas”- but she will “never tell (…) who.”  Perhaps, though, if you attend the show and pay really close attention, you’ll see a little of your neighbor or even yourself in Valentine’s characterization.

The show has four remaining performances through this weekend and tickets are still available. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Carnegie’s website.  Support the arts, local businesses, and local business persons who are artists.

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