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As many of you know, I have been very lucky to have a relationship with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier. I have been to many of their shows and it is always a brilliant time.We’ve been to family friendly shows for the entire family and romantic date nights for the Big Guy and I. No matter when or why we are there, it’s always an amazing time.We like to make it a day, or night out. Our girls love a show at CST, a nice lunch and some walking around and shopping or taking in the sites downtown. Or if you are doing a date night, the pier under the stars is a great follow up to watching a production with your special guy.

I couldn’t make it to this production myself due to some scheduling issues but I wish I could have. Macbeth is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. But the good news is I have a family 4 pack to give away to one of my lucky readers! Yey, for you! It’s very easy. All I ask is that you click on the “more info” tab at the top right hand side top of my homepage and then become a GFC follower and then leave me a comment telling me how you would spend your day in the city or your favorite thing about the city! It’s that easy. I will randomly select a winner this Friday @ 10 pm EST. Good Luck!

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) provides an introduction to William Shakespeare for all audiences with Short Shakespeare! Macbeth, a 75-minute abridged production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth adapted and directed by David H. Bell. A perfect outing for busy professionals and families, Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is performed Saturdays at 11 a.m. in CST’s Courtyard Theater as part of the CST Family Series, providing an opportunity for adults and young audiences alike to be introduced to Shakespeare’s masterpiece. Tickets for Short Shakespeare! Macbeth Saturdays at 11 a.m. from January 22 through March 5, 2011, in CST’s Courtyard Theater are $16–$20 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier garages. Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is recommended for ages 10 and up. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Short Shakespeare! productions give busy professionals, families and young audiences the chance to watch the magic of Shakespeare’s verse come alive, performed by a cast of professional artists—all in just 75 minutes. Immediately following each Saturday performance of Short Shakespeare! Macbeth, actors remain on stage for a discussion with the audience about the Macbeths’ quest for power and their own experiences stepping into Shakespeare’s iconic roles. After the discussion, audience members are invited to join the actors for one-on-one conversations and photo opportunities in Chicago Shakespeare’s lobbies, which provide stunning views of the Chicago skyline. CST patrons can make an afternoon of it on Navy Pier, with specially priced menus at the Pier’s most popular restaurants available by displaying their tickets day-of-show. Visit Chicago Shakespeare’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com for more information.

A theatrical, percussive world of swords, sound and the supernatural make Macbeth one of William Shakespeare’s most spellbinding plays—and CST’s 75-minute abridged production, Short Shakespeare! Macbeth, provides a perfect introduction to his work. When Macbeth and his wife hear of the haunting witches’ prophecy that they will soon rule the land, they move to plot the murder of the King. Greed, torment and evil pave the Macbeths’ path toward destruction, ultimately proving all of the witches’ divinations true.

Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is performed Saturdays at 11 a.m. from January 22 through March 5, 2011, in CST’s Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $16–$20 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier garages. Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is recommended for ages 10 and up. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.

Disclosure: I was provided with tickets to giveaway for Macbeth by The Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were NOT influenced by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

*Contest open to US readers only, 18 years old and older.Must be in or around the Chicago land area at time of performance. Contest ends 2/18/11 at 10 p.m. EST. Winner will be chosen randomly. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment unless it’s visible on your Blogger profile. (If I can’t contact you, a new winner will be drawn.) Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If winner does not claim their prize in the 48 hour period, a new winner will be chosen at random.

*Subject to availability. Valid by phone or in person only. Not valid in combination with other promotions or on previously purchased tickets.

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Recently, we took our children to see Shrek the Musical at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.

Our girls have been waiting to see this production since they knew it was on Broadway. Unfortunately, we live in the Midwest and so we have been waiting patiently for Shrek the Musical to come to us. Luckily, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater for about 4 years now. Our daughters have been to many performances at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater but never have we seen a production like Shrek the Musical. It was bold, bright and outrageous; everything any child or child at heart would want in a production.

Just like the movie, in a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre, Shrek, not the usual expected handsome prince, shows up to rescue a feisty princess, Fiona.

Throw in a donkey who won’t ever shut up, a hilariously small bad guy with a temper, a fire breathing dragon who needs some love, a cookie with an attitude and a whole bunch of other fairy tale misfits and you’ve got a story that calls for a real hero.

I was really concerned how an onstage adaptation would measure up to an animated movie but let me assure you, it exceeded my expectations in every way. The characters were rich and vibrant, passionate and colorful, and even though they were not cartoon characters, they were larger than life.

Every actor in the production lived and breathed their character. The characters were multidimensional and lovable. I felt like I was part of a fairy tale. If you’ve ever been to a Chicago Shakespeare production, you know that the stage and theater are small and intimate and you feel like you are part of the story, part of the production itself.

Shrek the musical, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Shrek, Fiona, Musical, kids, Broadway, show, funny, arts,culture, Chicago, Navy Pier, Travel, FamilyI’d advise anyone who lives in the Chicagoland area to bring your whole family to Navy Pier this summer for this heartwarming, 75-minute musical adventure based on the Academy Award-winning film. It recounts the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim his once-secluded home.

Shrek the musical, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Shrek, Fiona, Musical, kids, Broadway, show, funny, arts,culture, Chicago, Navy Pier, Travel, Family

Accompanied by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon and rescues the cursed Princess Fiona. On this fairytale journey, Shrek discovers the value of friendship and realizes that true love is more than skin deep.

Following each performance, audience members are invited to meet the cast in the theater lobby. We did and my girls, and my husband, were thrilled to have their photo taken with Donkey.

In my opinion, make a day of it! We had lunch at Harry Caray’s and walked the pier. It was a beautiful July afternoon in Chicago. The girls rode the merry go round and we made some memories. Then we picked up some Garret’s popcorn and headed home.

If your children liked the Shrek movies, they will adore the stage production.  I don’t know that I have ever been quite so captivated by performers. Shrek the Musical calls for big, larger than life character to deliver a larger than life story and this production pleasantly exceeded all of my expectations.

Shrek the musical, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Shrek, Fiona, Musical, kids, Broadway, show, funny, arts,culture, Chicago, Navy Pier, Travel, Family

Shrek the Musical will be running at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater from now until September 1, 2013. Tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for children 12 and under.

Disclosure: The Chicago Shakespeare Theater provided me tickets to the production for review but all opinions are my own.


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Seussical, Chicago, Shakespeare Theater, Dr.Suess, Review, arts, culture, kids

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Presents Seussical A whimsical adventure through the world of Dr. Seuss July 5–August 17, 2014.

Do your kids love Dr. Seuss? Do you? I grew up reading Dr. Seuss and now, I read Dr. Seuss to my girls. They love the Lorax, the Whos in Whoville and especially the Cat in the Hat! Well, guess what? The awesomeness that is Dr. Seuss has been made into a musical, perfect for kids of all ages to enjoy this summer.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is bringing the humor and magic of Dr. Seuss to life onstage this summer for young audiences and their families in the Broadway musical comedy Seussical. I hear that it’s playful, energetic and full of whimsy and Seussical engages the imagination with clever lyrics and melodies, unforgettable characters and the colorful world of Dr. Seuss. I don’t know how they will top last year’s production of Shrek the Musical but I can’t wait to see them try.

Seussical will be performed July 5 through August 17 in CST’s Courtyard Theater with a run time of 75 minutes.

Every performance features special opportunities for audiences to interact with the actors for one-on-one conversations and photo opportunities. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, CST partners with the Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) to offer hands-on craft activities in CST’s Lobby. Tickets start at $18.

My girls can’t wait. They look forward to our annual family trip to The Shakespeare Theater. It’s become quite a tradition. We walk along Navy Pier, have lunch in the city, ride the merry-go-round, munch on some Garrett’s popcorn and just go where ever the day takes us. The best part of the entire weekend is that we make memories; just the four of us and that makes me look forward to it too.

Aside from getting to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Chicago with your family taking in the arts I get to giveaway a family 4-pack to the 2 pm shows this Saturday, July 12th, to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment naming your favorite Dr. Seuss book and/or quote below and 1 winner will be chosen randomly. But hurry. The contest ends on Wednesday July 9th at midnight. Good luck.

I can’t wait to tell you all about Seussical and our weekend in Chicago this weekend!

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The winner of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater family 4 pack to Macbeth is ….
comment # 2, Bertha “OMG, I LOVE Shakespeare! I have always wanted to see one of his plays and have never had the opportunity! I also am within 20 min of Chicago, so to be able to enjoy a Full day of festivities in Downtown Chicago is also something I don’t get to do very often, But would love the chance to! English was one of My Strong points in school, and Macbeth was one of My favorite plays, so please consider me when giving these tickets away! Thank You so Much!”

Congratulations and I hope that you have a wonderful time at the play. You will have a blast.Please email me at truthfulmommy@gmail.com so I can get your information to get you your tickets!For the rest of you, I hope you will still go see the production. It is always a fabulous time and stay tuned, there is usually a production every couple of months.

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On my birthday, as a very special treat, my husband and I had the privilege of seeing  Romeo and Juliet  courtesy of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. This was a particularly sweet part of my birthday because  not only am I a big fan of the theater, the works of Shakespeare are my absolute favorite. Even more importantly, I have been in love with the story of Romeo and Juliet since I first read it when I was 13. I remember fantasizing as a young girl about being immersed in a love as deep as that of Romeo and Juliet. You can imagine my delight at being given the chance to watch the production with my very own Romeo.

As you may know, from my last experience at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater , the theater itself is very impressive. We arrived and were ushered into this gloriously enchanting theater, set up very similar to what a traditional Elizabethan theater would have been set up.Basically, the stage juts out into the center of the theater and there is truly not a bad seat in the intimate theater.I particularly love the lighting, upon arrival it was very warm and gave the theater a romantic glow.

The production itself was amazing. This being one of my favorite plays of Shakespeare, I have read the book several times, seen every movie variation ever made ( My personal favorite being Franco Zefferelli’s) , and seen it on the stage via television but I have never had the pleasure of seeing it live on stage. So, to say that I was excited for this opportunity is a great understatement.
I was particularly impressed by how contemporary yet timeless the play was portrayed. It opens with the Capulet’s men and Montague’s men bickering in a fight scene in the street. The two families were easily identifiable by either blue or red stitching on their clothing. It was very gritty and because of the size and shape of the theater you felt like a bystander on the street watching the feud unfold.Actually, the entire time I was watching the play, I felt like I was part of the production; an extra, if you will.The Elizabethan theater shape really is genius. I wish all theaters were set up like this.
I found it very interesting that the costumes transcended time by including clothing from just about every era of the 20th century. It was apparent but very subtle. More of a nuance than a direct appeal to your senses. I was, however, most impressed by the use of the true dialogue. Being that I am such a fan, I always expect to be let down when a classic is produced on stage, especially if it is updated for contemporary audiences. I understand why this is done, to make the production more easily relate able and understood but it has always made me feel like they were “dumbing it down” for their audience. This was NOT the case at the CST production. The wardrobe and the set were changed somewhat to be timely but the dialogue itself was true to the original Shakespeare and thanks to the superior acting skills of the cast, even a Shakespeare novice could understand what was going on and thoroughly enjoy the production.
All of the cast were superior. Obviously, I loved the characters of Romeo (John Lillico) and Juliet ( Joy Farmer-Clary). Juliet was absolutely beautiful and played the part with a childlike innocence and limited view of the world. Romeo was very charming and lived on the stage like your average teen aged boy; feasting on romance and living inside of his own head, oblivious to the reality surrounding him. The chemistry between the two was palpable. The two actors were very well suited for their parts. Even with the combustible chemistry, they played the parts very innocently (as it was meant to be since the characters are young teenagers not adults). It really added to the romance of the show.
Other characters of note were the Nurse (Ora Jones) who gave the part a certain je ne sais quoi that really made her endearing to the audience. She was boisterous, over the top, and vivacious. I loved watching her reactions to the goings on of the other characters. Another fabulous addition to the cast was  Benvolio ( Steve Haggard) who made the character very likable and funny. He added a lightheartedness to the play that was definitely needed to balance out the tragedy. But my favorite character was, as it has always been, Mercutio (Ariel Shafir). Mr. Shafir played Mercutio perfectly. He was funny, honest, over the top, loud, sarcastic, and honorable. Mercutio was portrayed as the friend that everybody wants to have in their life. The quick wit of the dialogue coupled with the physical acting of the character provided much entertainment. All of the cast were exceptionally well suited for their parts. Gale Edwards did a fantastic job directing this production.

It is so seldom that we get a night out away from the children and this was also my birthday so I was hanging the moon on this production. I am happy to say it did not disappoint. I would recommend this production to any friend of mine and I highly suggest it for date night for any couple that wants an excuse to snuggle into your own Romeo. The story is timeless, the cast superior, the theater beautiful, and romance is definitely in the air. The Big Guy and I left the building holding hands and the production really did start my birthday celebration of with a bang!
Romeo and Juliet runs September 15, 2010 thru to November 21, 2010,with multiple performance times available. There are also many great activities and attractions going on at Navy Pier this fall so come for the show and make a day or night of it on the Pier! If you live in the Chicago land, Northwest Indiana area, I would highly recommend making this performance a date night destination while you still have the opportunity. For more information click the link below
Disclosure: I was provided with tickets to see Romeo and Juliet by  The Chicago Shakespeare Theater in order to view the performance  and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were NOT influenced by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater..

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The Emperor’s New Clothes~ As readers of this blog, you all know that I am not really a “reviews” blog. I do, however, love to bring wonderful, exciting opportunities to my readers if they are beneficial 1) to maintain Mommy’s sanity 2)  for our children’s health; because lets face it us Mommies can use all the quality recommendations we can get to help in our search for healthy green products, organic, nutritious snacks, and general opportunities and activities to keep our kids active and healthy 3) I am a HUGE proponent of educating our children in the arts, broadening their horizons, and anything that makes learning a fun activity and not a chore. Basically, I am trying to raise some very well-rounded, healthy happy, children..as I am sure you all are , as well. That being said, I have to share with you, my friends, an experience that my family and I enjoyed this past weekend , courtesy of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Arriving at CST to see The Emperor’s New Clothes

Saturday, we had the pleasure of seeing the CST production of The Emperor’s New Clothes. We arrived at Navy Pier in Chicago, where the CST theater is so conveniently located. Convenient because CST, has designated parking at the Navy Pier garage ( so no worrying about “GARAGE IS EMPTY”) and they validate parking at a 40% discount for patrons. BONUS! Anyone who has ever had to park in the city knows that the parking situation at CST alone, is AWESOME! I was excited already and I hadn’t even entered the building yet.

So excited for the Emperor’s New Clothes to Begin

We arrive and were ushered into this gloriously enchanting theater, set up very similar to what a traditional Elizabethan theater would have been set up.Basically, the stage juts out into the center of the theater and there is truly not a bad seat in the intimate theater. The colors of the set were vibrant and my children were immediately engaged by the bold color choices and props used. The lighting worked in tandem with the characters to create an illusion of boundless space and time. In a matter of seconds, we were transformed from the Emperors closet, to a forest, and then to a shop without ever leaving our seats. The color and props supplied quite the feast for our visual appetites..

Complimentary to the vibrant colors of the set were the spectacular colorfulness and depth of the characters. The characters were multifaceted and their personalities were appealing to both children and adults alike.My daughters were giggling, clapping and thoroughly engaged throughout the entire performance. I was happily surprised. We have taken our daughters to other shows, most of the children’s channels variety and they have enjoyed them, I assume mostly because of the familiarity. This was the first time my girls have been to the “Theater” for a performance with an actual story line and not just singing and dancing performed by giant puppets or TV characters, other than the Nutcracker ( which they are obsessed with because of ballet).
The Emperor’s New Clothes is about a larger than life emperor, his daughter and their relationship. As a side story, it also explores the relationship between a seamstress and her son and Lord Vince, the Emperor’s right hand man who is actually trying to humiliate the Emperor and dethrone him so that he may become Emperor. At the core of the musical it is a love story of the most meaningful kind; the love and bond between a parent and a child. In addition to the main characters, the parents and children, there is a fantastic supporting ensemble cast consisting of the Emperor’s 3 secretaries, and random peasants who to say are humorous is a grand understatement. My children were laughing belly laughs and my husband and I were almost in tears.The Hans Christian Anderson play was skillfully  and creatively adapted to be easily related to by its 21st century audience of all ages. When it was over, my girls didn’t want to leave! As a bonus, some of the characters from the Emperor’s New Clothes were available to sign programs after the show was over. My daughters loved that they got to meet the “Stars” of the show. They couldn’t stop talking about it all day. Between the audacious costumes, the brilliant sets,  and the unforgettable antics of the cast; The Emperor’s New Clothes is a must see for any parent who wants to find a extraordinary way to introduce their child to the wonderful world of the classics and the theater. My children, as well as my husband and myself, had a fabulous experience at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater .
The Emperor’s New Clothes runs June 30, 2010 thru to August 29, 2010,with multiple performance times available. There are also many great activities and attractions going on at Navy Pier this summer so come for the show and make a day of it on the Pier! If you live in the Chicago land, Northwest Indiana area, I would highly recommend taking your child to see this performance while you still have the opportunity. For more information click the badge below

Disclosure: I was provided with tickets to see the Emperor’s New Clothes by  The Chicago Shakespeare Theater in order to view the performance  and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were NOT influenced by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater..

CST Presents The Emperor’s New Clothes

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The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family

One of my favorite Disney Cartoons is The Little Mermaid. Even before I had children, I loved it. I thought it was all about the music but this past weekend, I took my daughters to see Disney’s The Little Mermaid the live production at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, a Broadway musical adaptation of the beloved film, staged by award winning director and choreographer, Rachel Rockwell. I fell in love all over again with this charming tale but this time for completely different reasons.

Every summer we make a trip to the city and spend the day at Navy Pier. It always starts with a family series production at The Chicago Shakespeare Theater. If you’ve never been, you really must go. Each year, the productions seems to get better and better. Last year, the girls saw Seussical and the year before, Shrek the Musical but we all agreed, the 75-minute production of The Little Mermaid is our new favorite.

The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family,ursula

There is just something so charming about bringing your child (or your own) childhood favorite cartoon to life. It truly is magical and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater never disappoints. The theater is intimate and interactive, with characters flowing in and out of the aisles. The stage is so close that you not only feel like you can reach out and touch the story but you feel a part of it. If you want to teach your children to love the theater, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a great place to start. I took my children to their first production when they were 5 and 3-years-old.

Ariel, The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family

This summer’s Chicago Shakespeare theater production surprised me because I saw the story through new eyes, maybe it’s because I am a parent of daughters now, myself. The musical follows Ariel, (Rachel Eskenazi-Gold) a young mermaid that longs for a life beyond the sea. In her adventure to independence, she defies her father, King Triton (Matthew Jones), makes a deal with the sea witch, Ursula (Rebecca Finnegan) and find her happiness with Prince Eric (Brandon Springman) all while accompanied by her loyal friends, Sebastian (joseph Anthony Byrd) and Flounder (Matthew Uzarraga).

This time, I not only saw the story of a young girl trying to assert her independence and the arc of falling in love for the first time, I saw the story of a parent letting go and I found myself crying in the audience. It was unexpected and beautiful. This time, it wasn’t just about first love it was about the ultimate love, that of a parent and a child. I don’t know how I never saw it before.

My daughters are only 8 and 10-years-old but the letting go has already begun. The asserting of independence started almost immediately and now, well, tweens seem a lot more independent then when I was their age.

The stage design was vibrant and beautiful and I felt like I was under the sea with Ariel and all of the others. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater really made The Little Mermaid come to life and it was beyond memorable.

Ursula, The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family

If you have small children or as the lady sitting next to me, have grown children who grew up on The Little Mermaid, bring them. They will love it and you will all leave the Pier feeling absolutely nostalgic and wanting to hug one another, just a couple minutes longer. That is the magic of the marriage of Disney and the stage.

The 75-inute production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is best enjoyed by ages 5 and up and runs from now until August 16 in CST’s Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $22-$24 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier Garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s box office at 312-595-5600 or visit the website at www.chicagoshakes.com

While you’re there make a day of it. Navy Pier is growing like crazy. We had lunch at Harry Caray’s and dessert via Garrett’s Popcorn (Chicago Mix, baby!) but there are so many options and you can’t beat the view of the city! Just walk outside and wander after a show and the possibilities are endless.

The Little Mermaid, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, travel, family,ursula

If The Little Mermaid is not your favorite Disney production, which one is?

Disclosure: I was provided tickets for review purposes of The Little Mermaid but all opinions are my own.

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The holidays are off and running with Halloween right around the corner, which means before we know it…Thanksgiving will be here and then in a blink of an eye Christmas and New Year. I love the holidays but I try not to get so swept up trying to get to each next holiday that I forget to enjoy the season and all the great things the season has to offer with my family.

As most of you know, my family is a big fan of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Not only do they have great children’s productions they also offer fabulous productions for date night, like Romeo and Juliet. They are located right on Navy Pier, so my family normally makes a day of it.It’s a great way to spend a day together exploring the city.That is why we are so excited about the upcoming family series production The Carnival of the Animals and the Story of Babar,the little elephant.

Image courtesy of The Chicago Chamber Musicians.

Camille Saint-Saens’ the  Carnival of the Animals turns a parade of marching animals into a lively musical romp, where the tales of donkeys, turtles and swans are told through charming melodies.In Francis Poulencs’ The Story of Babar,the Little Elephant, a curious elephant leaves the jungle for the big city.Whimsical tunes tell the story of Babar’s travels, where he learns to wear a suit, drive a car and read books before returning to the jungle to become king of the elephants.Between concerts each day, interactive exhibits staged in the CST lobby will give children a chance to explore the instruments representing the animals- musicians will be available for autographs and young performers will demonstrate the craft and answer questions about the featured instruments.

The latest CST production in the family series is another fabulous musical event for the entire family.From the Courtyard Theater stage, audiences embark on an adventure through the animal kingdom with the Chicago Chamber musicians (CCM).The Carnival of the Animals and The Story of Babar the Little Elephant will have a limited run November 6 and 7, 2010. The concerts are held at 10 am and 11:30 am on each day. Tickets are $15 and $18 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier garages, which as you know in Chicago is worth its weight in gold.

I’ve not seen it yet but we are very excited. CST is very family friendly and my girls love going to the theater. I love it because for the price it is a great way to introduce the little ones to some culture, chamber music and the theater plus it f can easily be followed by a great lunch on the Pier or a day walking around downtown with the family getting to know the fabulous city. If you are anywhere in the Chicago land or Northwest Indiana area, hope to see you there.

And don’t forget for a Romantic Date Night, Romeo and Juliet is still running until November 21,2010. There is still time to see it.I would highly recommend it.You can read my review here.

Disclosure: I was provided with tickets to see the Carnival of Animals and The Story of Babar, the little elephant by  The Chicago Shakespeare Theater in order to view the performance  and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were NOT influenced by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater..

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Phantom of the Opera, broadway theater league, broadway tour

I’m pretty sure that you can say the words, Phantom of the Opera to just about anyone, anywhere in the world and they will know what you are talking about. It is one of my favorite musicals of all time.

I love the story because I am a sucker for a good love story but I love one with a plot twist and a good soundtrack even more so. But then you set that story in Paris and the romance level goes up about a billion percent.

Base on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.

READ ALSO: Wicked Good for the Entire Family 

I saw the movie. I’d seen the performance on PBS. I watched the 25th-anniversary performance at the Royal theater with my daughters and that was it. My oldest, she fell in love with the story and the music immediately. Obviously, this made my heart happy. It was like, check, this is something we can share and bond over. I told myself that one day, I would take my girls to see it.

As many of you know, I’ve made it a priority to raise the girls to be well-cultured. I want them to understand and appreciate the arts. For me, art is the great equalizer because talent is not something you can be taught but rather something innate. It is a gift given to you and it is your responsibility to nurture and grow it. It takes a lot of hard work and hustle to make it as an artist and there’s more who don’t than who do make it so I want my girls to understand how special those talented people are and how hard they’ve had to work to get to that stage.

Phantom of the Opera, broadway theater league, broadway tour

We take the girls to as many shows as we can. I made this a priority when they were very little. We take them to live concerts. We encourage them to participate in the arts. They both dance ballet and play the violin. I’m working on teaching them to speak a couple other languages because I think people need to be diversified. It’s not enough to just be smart, you need to have common sense. It’s not enough to travel, you need to be able to immerse yourself into those cultures to truly enjoy the experience. And one cannot just watch art, one must be open to feeling it and being caught up in it. Even as a member of the audience, you have your part to play.

Last weekend, we finally found ourselves seated in the theater waiting for the show to begin and I looked around and that’s when I realized we were surrounded by a whole lot of people who had a genuine love of the arts, more specifically Phantom of the Opera.

When we see a show or hear a song, it is human nature to relate it to ourselves; a moment in time captured that makes us identify with the art. Phantom is about love; unrequited and the naiveté of young love. It’s funny too because depending on where you are in life, the different your interpretation and isn’t that one of the greatest things about art? Our interpretations can change as our experiences do, in that way, art is ever changing.

Phantom of the Opera, broadway theater league, broadway tour

When I was younger, I saw the love story as Christine and the Viscount. I rooted for them and the Phantom was a monster. But now, I saw the love story between the Phantom and Christine. He was in love with her but he also wanted to possess her. Christine loved him, was intrigued by him, but at the same time was terrified by the way he looked and maybe even by the way she felt about him.

Was it shallowness or self-preservation? Once you’ve had your heart broken, it’s a little harder to put yourself out there, especially when you’re falling for a brilliant, monstrous beast of a man who wants to possess you. It’s a little overwhelming.

Phantom of the Opera, broadway theater league, broadway tour

I found myself angry with Christine because she was so immature. How could she not love someone who loved her so much? And I found the viscount to be infantile in his pursuit of her but then again, that is young love. Impetuous and silly and beautiful and grand.

In the past, I would have instinctively rooted for him. It’s like when you watch rom-com movies. They do outlandish things. They cheat on spouses, they hurt people but you root for the main characters to get together and you ignore their bad behavior and you want it to work out but in real life, you’d think they were the worst people ever because of the destruction their affair caused to all those involved. Why are we so lenient in art where we are so rigid in life?

READ ALSO: Aladdin Broadway Tour

The thing is as I looked around the house, I saw so many couples because on the surface, it is a love story about a young man and a young woman but beneath is a beautiful love story about a man too ugly to be seen by the world who is completely devoted to a beautiful woman who sees his beauty within. Sadly, reality eventually makes her see his ugliness and, in the end, she chooses the choice society would deem acceptable. Or did she? Perhaps the true ugliness is his need to possess her versus to just love her.

The performance was stellar and the Phantom was outstanding. The entire cast was spectacular. If you have the chance to see the Phantom of the Opera on tour, do yourself a favor and do it. It will not disappoint.

Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is raved by critics “bigger and better than ever before”  and breathtaking. It features a brilliant new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony Award®-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony Award®-winner Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and new staging by director Laurence Connor.

The production, overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh, boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier. The beloved story and thrilling score – with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade” – is performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this PHANTOM one of the largest productions now on tour.

Worldwide, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has been seen by more than 140 million people and won more than 70 major theater awards.

The new production of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is suggested for audiences aged 6+. The production includes gunshots and pyrotechnics. We encourage parents to consider these factors when making their decisions about attending the performance.

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to see Phantom of the Opera at the Morris Performing Arts Center by the Broadway theater league but all opinions and love of Broadway stage productions are my own. If you want to experience such performances, feel free to check out hadestown tickets.

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theater, broadway, mamma mia

Mamma Mia, last week was crazy and chaotic but absolutely fabulous. I had been at Mom 2.0 Summit, arrived home on a jet plane on Saturday, celebrated Mother’s Day on Sunday and then on Monday, our wedding anniversary, we celebrated by taking the girls on a little road trip to go see the Mamma Mia farewell tour. I was exhausted almost to the newborn standard but it was totally worth it.

theater, broadway, mamma mia

See, I have been waiting to see Mamma Mia on stage for 8 years.

Since that one time Bella, then 4-years-old, told me that “slipping through my fingers” was “our” song while we were watching the movie. Yes, we watched Mamma Mia a lot in those days. It was during the horrible commuter years. The girls and I loved that movie because it was fun and about the mother/daughter relationship at a time when it was just us most of the time.

Anyways, if you have ever heard ABBA’s “Slipping through my Fingers,” you already know that this song can bring any parent to her knees. It was especially hard back then when I was looking at my 4-year-old and knowing that soon she would be leaving me, well, in 14 years or so. Still, her little face looking up at me with those eyes and her sweet face; I still can’t listen to that song without tearing up.

Childhood is fleeting. It just keeps moving on, whether we want it to or not. Believe me, I’ve tried to speed it up and slow it down many times but it never works. When it comes to time and parenting, we are all helpless suckers just trying not to blink and miss a single second. Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture and save it from the funny tricks of time.

The point is Mamma Mia has had a very special place in my heart for a really long time. Bella has been begging me to take her to see this production for years but I was just never sure they were old enough. I know my girls like musicals and theater (hello, have we forgotten the Moulin Rouge 5th birthday party?) but I also know that Gabi has fallen asleep during almost the last half an hour of every production we’ve ever been to because she’s still really young.

theater, broadway, mamma mia

But when the opportunity to see it came, I knew we had to take it. How could I not? It is the farewell tour and there was no way that I was going to miss experiencing Mamma Mia live with my girls. We had to drive almost 2 hours on a school night and missed a couple classes but OMG, it was so worth it. This is a memory that we will never ever forget. Every time we hear the music, we will be back in that theater, the four of us, singing at the top of our lungs like fools. Dancing, singing, incredibly happy fools. I will never forget this anniversary or that night!

theater, broadway, mamma mia

In case you have never seen or heard the story Mamma Mia, it’s about a mother (Donna), her daughter (Sophie) and 3 possible fathers. The entire situation comes to a head when Sophie is preparing to get married at the ripe old age of 20. Talk about a wild walk down the aisle.

Over 54 million people all around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that make Mamma Mia the ultimate feel-good show. The sunny, funny tale unfolds on a Greek Island Paradise. On the eve of Sophie’s wedding, her quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother’s past back to the island that they last visited 20 years ago with Donna.

theater, broadway, mamma miaThe story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship from a good time to the time of their lives. It truly does transport you to a magical moment and if you get the chance, I highly suggest you see Mamma Mia before it’s gone. Chances are it’s probably coming to a city near you soon.

The cast of Mamma Mia was so vibrant and perfectly cast. Betsy Padamonsky, as Donna, took the character to a new level. Her voice was pitch perfect and her big, beautiful personality shone through. Really all of the cast was stellar but I must give a shout out to Lizzie Markson, Cashelle Butler and Sarah Smith. These ladies brought the characters to life in a way that few can. We enjoyed every single second of the show and would love to see it a million times more.

I’m so happy we got to experience Mamma Mia together and before it’s gone. We will never forget it. And yes, I cried when I heard, “Slipping through my fingers.” I sat there in the theater between my two girls, holding their hands while they held my heart.

They aren’t that 1 and 4-year-old anymore. They are growing up so fast and that fact is not lost on me. I know they are slipping through my fingers. It’s like trying to catch sand or water but we will always have this moment, sitting in the theater together listening to this song on a warm night in May when nothing else mattered but being there with them.

I’ll probably never be able to listen to that song without crying and I am totally okay with that because that means I got to love in a huge, amazing way for that Mamma Mia will always have a special place in this mamma’s heart.

theater, broadway, mamma mia

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Disclosure: I was provided tickets to experience Mamma Mia on stage but all opinions and genuine love of theater are my own. 

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