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People to watch in 2010

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Posted: Saturday, January 9, 2010 12:00 am

From a local band that going international to a Lodi Middle School student's TV breakthrough, these Lodians will be busy in the new year

A Skylit Drive: The Lodi band performing overseas

A Skylit Drive has been making a name for itself since the members graduated from Lodi high schools and went on to spread their lyrics throughout the Valley. Three years later, the band is as strong as ever, and they're taking the Lodi-made sounds out of the area, out of the state and out of the country as they prepare for an overseas tour that will kick off in April 13.

While keyboard player Kyle Simmons says the band is excited for 2010 and the upcoming tour, they are no strangers to the Europe music scene. A Skylit Drive spent two weeks in November '09 on tour, playing in Germany, Holland, Belgium and cities such as Paris, London, Birmingham and Manchester.

"We got a very good response from those kids," Simmons said.

Of all of the cities they visited, the London show was his favorite.

"All the shows were awesome, but London was over-the-top crazy," he said. "It was packed to unbelief."

Locally, A Skylit Drive performs in smaller venues. However, in Europe, the band played for packed audiences of 300 to 500 people.

With the tour not being until April, A Skylit Drive is keeping busy with other tours and projects. The band finished 2009 off with a few California shows and they're spending the early days of 2010 at home with family and girlfriends. They have a couple of Lodi shows lined up, including tonight's show at Modesto Virtual, 947 10th St.

When it comes to tours, Simmons is most excited about the band's U.S. tour with Alesana that will start in Pennsylvania on Feb. 13. While the tour wraps up March 26, they'll play the shows closest-to-home on March 5 and 6 at the Boardwalk in Orangevale.

After the U.S. and international tour, A Skylit Drive will write its next album. Its last album, "Adelphia," was released in June.

Simmons says the band is also planning to headline its own tour later this year. Seeing how many supporters there are for A Skylit Drive, he can see how the band and its fanbase have progressed.

"I've noticed a big difference," he said.

Madisun Eisenbeis: Middle school student getting TV break

Though Madisun Eisenbeis is only in the eighth grade, she has had an acting and modeling career for years. With a part in a widely-released film and a regular role on a CW show, the new year is already busy, and she hoping to be even busier.

"It's a new year, so I'm hoping it will bring in opportunities that open doors for me," Eisenbeis said.

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One of Eisenbeis' biggest acting jobs so far is her regular part in "Veronica's Blog." Eisenbeis plays a classmate named Angelina Gomez, the best friend of the lead character's enemy. The show has already started playing at 3 p.m. and 6 a.m. on CW, which is channel 31 locally.

Her manager and grandmother, Patricia Towle, says it's exciting to watch as the Lodi Middle School student gets acting jobs.

"Madisun is beyond excited to have her big break so soon after beginning her acting career," Towle said. "Our little Lodi girl has come far — hard working and humbled, as always."

While filming for "Veronica's Blog," Eisenbeis was also chosen to be featured in a CW commercial, in which she says, "Coming up next on the CW …" Eisenbeis and her family have seen the commercial several times, and she still gets excited.

"It was so unreal," she said, of the first time she saw her commercial. "It was like I was a dream."

Eisenbeis is also excited for the release of the February film, "My Name Is Khan." She was originally an extra in the film, but was later given a speaking part.

The young actress who enjoys texting her friends and riding her skateboard will continue to audition (including trying to audition for "Breaking Dawn" in the "Twilight" series), but in 2010, she has another goal, too. Eisenbeis plans to start a charity that will help collect donations for kids, from books to toys and jackets.

Mike Bartram: Year-round theater in Lodi

Changing Faces Theater has been teaching Lodi-area students the craft of theater, from acting to set design and production, since 2002. Audiences have enjoyed wine and picnic dinners while watching the theater company perform "Comedia Delight," "A Pirate's Tale," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Peter Pan & Wendy" and more.

In 2010, Changing Faces director and founder Mike Bartram, who has also taught theater for 23 years, plans to bring the same kind of theatrics to Lodi year-round, and also wants to find a permanent home for the theater company as it grows.

For the first time in Changing Faces history, Bartram is staging a play at Hutchins Street Square. "Bad Seed," based on the 1954 novel by William March, opens Jan. 14 and will run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 23. In the past, shows have been held at Peirano Estates and Jesse's Grove Winery.

Smaller than typical Changing Faces performances, this play has a cast of eight actor portraying 10 roles.

Bartram will also work with students to present a summer performance that will be performed at Jessie's Grove during the winery's Groovin' in the Grove concert season. While he's still reading in hopes of finding the perfect play, he says auditions will be held in April.

As Changing Faces, a non-profit organization, gains more actors and strives to produce plays throughout the year, Bartram says it also needs a permanent home, where actors can practice, make sets and store props that don't have a home now.

With a large space, Bartram says the group will also be more beneficial to the community who is interested in learning various aspects of theater.

"I foresee Changing Faces to have workshops and classes available," Bartram said.

D.B. Pacini: Music, writers in Woodbridge

Woodbridge writer D.B. Pacini is going into 2010 doing what she already does daily: writing. However, she has some new plans brewing beside her story ideas and fictional characters.

"My horizon for 2010 is exciting because my husband, who is a very creative person, is retiring and we are embarking on a number of unique projects," she said.

One big accomplishment will be the 2010 release of the second book in her children's trilogy, "The Universal Knights." She will also publish a collection of short stories that is a collaboration between different writers around the world.

In 2009, Pacini mentored teen and young adult writers, and she will continue to do that this year. She is finishing a project in which each writer wrote 2,500 words and handed the story to the next writer who would also write 2,500 words of the same story. She says the participants each enjoyed it so much that the want to continue with the story, which may be published as a novel.

While she is dedicated as a full-time writer, Pacini also hopes to bring more musical and writing events to the Woodbridge Grange Hall. She and her husband already have weekly Starry Night acoustic music jams on Wednesday nights, but they would like to expand music events at the venue to include special music showcases for local musicians.

Pacini also wants 2010 to be the year to start an annual writers showcase at the Grange Hall in Woodbridge, where she would like to invite published writers from Sacramento and San Counties to showcase their books and talk about writing with the public.

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