OFFBEAT: Hobart grad back from Olympics, 'Phantom' in the Region

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-02-26T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Hobart grad back from Olympics, 'Phantom' in the RegionBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

During the 17-day span of the 2014 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, many media faces worked on assignment bringing world audiences the latest updates.

From Ryan Seacrest doing lifestyles and feature reporting (before he had to return back to the U.S. early to host the live premiere of "American Idol" Season 13 on Fox last week), to bespectacled Bob Costas (and his long-suffering eye ailments) and Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira paired for daily updates for the "Today" show, press coverage abounded.

Locally, for WMAQ-NBC Channel 5 Chicago, it was anchor Rob Elgas assigned to travel overseas to dispatch reports. And at his side, was 1993 Hobart High School grad Kent Van Der Kolk, serving as an audio tech for the broadcasts.

Kent, who lives in Chicago, is the son of Bonnie and the late Dr. Neil Van Der Kolk of Valparaiso. His father, who passed away in December 2011, had an academic career spanning 40 years including his time with three elementary schools in Hobart: Mundell, Foreman and Joan Martin, until his retirement in 1999. And like father, like son, Kent's father also loved to travel the world, having visited 60 different countries, including Ethiopia, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Peru and Dominican Republic.

Behind the mask

Last Saturday, Feb. 22, at Beachfront Dance School in Gary, young dancers, ages ranging from 5 to 18, from all over Northwest Indiana,  participated in a musical theater and ballet workshop with Christopher Howard, dance master and cast member with the U.S. national tour of "Phantom of the Opera." This workshop from 9 a.m to noon was sponsored by South Shore Arts Foundation, John W. Anderson Foundation, and the DizzyFeet Foundation. "Phantom of the Opera" is now playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago until Sunday. "Phantom" is Howard's second U.S. National Broadway Tour. He was also a member of the Broadway production tour of "Billy Elliot," playing the title character as well as serving as the master ballet teacher for the production. He is a former dancer with the Dayton Ballet and studied theater with Art Park & Co., Musical Fare Theatre Camp, and Park Playhouse, Inc. He holds a BFA in Music Theatre and a BA in Dance from SUNY Buffalo in New York, where he also studied with Joffrey Ballet School.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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