December 10, 2009


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Who says kids can’t run around in a restaurant?
Innovative concept on Hill may spread throughout U.S.

Rachael Williams, founder of the Little Treehouse Play Cafe, checks out the new space with her three adopted daughters (left to right) Eva, 4; Rosa Bianca, 3; and Lydia, 5. The Little Treehouse Play Café at 10 W. Gravers Lane provides a fun and stimulating place for both parents and children. (Photo by Adam Nettleton)

Everyone who eats out at restaurants has at one time or another witnessed this nightmarish scene: a family whose small child screams like his/her hair is on fire, has a temper tantrum, throws food on the floor or maybe even runs around the restaurant like a cheetah sprinting after a rabbit.

Need a ticket fixed or corpse removed? No problem

I thought you’d like to know about some new city services and regulations, all of which will surely be boons to the citizens of Philadelphia.

•First is the city’s new non-emergency 311 call center. Operators in suits and ties are standing by at attention 24 hours a day to handle your every request, and their goal is to answer all calls by the 23rd ring.

Hill area kids have major roles in Pa. Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’

Stephanie Bandura, 11, of Mt. Airy, will perform the leading children’s role of “Marie” in the PA Ballet version of “The Nutcracker.” Her brother “Fritz” will be played by Juan Rafael Castellanos, of Chestnut Hill. Other local children in the performance include Annie Bloc, of Chestnut Hill, and Esperanza Badeau and Meredith Stitt-Johnston, of Mt. Airy.

The Pennsylvania Ballet will present its nationally acclaimed production of “The Nutcracker” in the Academy of Music on Dec. 12 through 31. The series of afternoon and evening performances in Philadelphia follow the company’s first performances of the Tchaikovsky/Balanchine holiday favorite in the Opera House of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

In a startling coup local dancers and supporters of ballet, both of the major children’s roles in “The Nutcracker” — Marie and Fritz — will be danced by local youngsters. Eleven-year-old Stephanie Bandura of West Mt. Airy will dance the part of Marie, the young girl who receives the gift of a nutcracker and then dreams of a dramatic battle with the fiendish Mouse King followed by a magical journey to the Land of the Sweets. Nine-year-old Juan Rafael Castellanos of Chestnut Hill will perform the part of Fritz, the nephew of the mysterious Drosselmeyer. It’s Fritz who becomes Marie’s prince by defeating the Mouse King and then escorting her on her voyage.

Stephanie, a student at  the Springside School in Chestnut Hill, has been dancing ballet for nine years. Juan Rafael’s career has been a tad more varied.

“I have been taking all kinds of dance classes since I was two years old,” he explained. “I started taking classes in Dublin, Ireland, with my mother, who is a dancer. We moved to Chestnut Hill when I was four, and I continued to take tap and ballet at various studios. So I have been dancing ballet for about six years.”


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