For the City Times
With a focus on reading and the importance of literacy, actress Kathy Kinney will return to Stevens Point to present “An Evening with Mrs. P” for United Way of Portage County.
During the event, Kinney, best known for her iconic role as Mimi Bobeck on “The Drew Carey Show,” will bring her website character Mrs. P to a live stage at the Theater@1800 starting at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26.
In 2008, Kinney became the co-creator and star of MrsP.com, an entertainment website for children. Kinney portrays Mrs. P, an eccentric redhead who loves books and reads classic children’s stories from her magical library.
Admission to the event is free and every kid will go home with a free book, courtesy of Sentry Insurance, Central City Credit Union, Associated Bank, and Dennis and Sharon Peterson. Admission will be limited to the first 670 people.
As Mrs. P, she will recreate the look and feel of “story time” by reading a classic of literature. In addition, she will talk about creativity, reading, and what an exciting life can be led by people who read. She will also answer questions from the audience and be available for autographs after the event.
Kinney said she and business partners Clay Graham and Dana Plautz created the character and started MrsP.com because reading and being read to was an important part of their childhoods. “We wanted to make sure that in this world of technology and with parents being so busy, there was a safe and entertaining place for kids to go on the Internet,” she said.
Kinney attributes her success to reading. “I believe that any successes I’ve had and the woman I am today is because I have been a lifelong reader,” she said. “It was a gift given to me by my mother who always had a book within arm’s reach. As a child my favorite place to go was the library. It was full of books about romance, travel, how-to craft projects, the history of Portage County and it was all free!”
A 1971 graduate of Stevens Point Area Senior High School, Kinney first gained attention as Miss Goddard the librarian on “Newhart.” Before taking the role as Mimi on “The Drew Carey Show” in 1995, she also appeared on “Seinfeld,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Full House,” and numerous other shows, as well as the films “Scrooged,” “Arachnophobia,” and “This Boy’s Life.” She appeared in 213 episodes of “The Drew Carey Show” as Mimi from 1995 to 2004, and since then has appeared in “My Name Is Earl” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”
Kinney said that despite living in Hollywood now, she will always remain a Wisconsinite. “I always say, ‘You can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can’t take Wisconsin out of the girl,” she said. “I will always think of Stevens Point as my home.”
She said she is looking forward to “An Evening with Mrs. P. “I’m thrilled to be able to come back and help United Way of Portage County, which does so much for the community,” said Kinney. “I want adults and kids to take away from Mrs. P the understanding that reading is the key to leading a happy and creative life. Mrs. P always says, ‘Reading is cool and so are you!’”
In addition, family entertainer Randy Peterson will perform at the event. Equal parts entertainer, educator and storyteller, Peterson finds his song material by looking at the world through children’s eyes and promises that people will be singing, clapping and dancing along to his songs.
United Way of Portage County recently announced a new initiative, the Early Years Collaborative, which will focus on children during the early years from birth to age 5. United Way will work with a number of community partners, including the Stevens Point Area School District, Portage County Health & Human Services, Ministry Health Care, Skyward, Sentry Insurance, and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, to develop programs and processes to support a vision that all children in Portage County are safe, healthy, and ready for kindergarten. “This event ties in well with the initiative,” said Sue Wilcox, United Way of Portage County Executive Director. “Reading to children is critical to their healthy growth.”
The United Way of Portage County 2015 Campaign is currently taking place throughout Portage County at approximately 200 worksites, via direct mail, and through other individual and organizational giving. Donors of $52 or more to the 2015 United Way campaign will receive a GIVE & GET UNITED Coupon Book AND eligible donors of $52 or more will also be automatically entered into the TRAVEL UNITED Sweepstakes for a chance to win a 2016 vehicle donated by Scaffidi Motors or a number of other great prizes.
For more information about “An Evening with Mrs. P,” the United Way campaign, Early Years Collaborative, 2015 United Way campaign incentives, or United Way, call (715)-341-6740, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.unitedwaypoco.org.