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Broadway tour

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

Earlier this week, we took the girls to see Les Misérables, the musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo. This has been one of my favorite musicals since I first watched it on PBS as a child. When I watched the movies with my daughters and the Big Guy, we all sung along and laughed and cried. But nothing beats seeing Les Misérables from any seat in the house at the theater. The voices on stage transport your soul back to a time of civil unrest during the French Revolution.

With glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking production of Les Misérableswhich broke box office records during its pre-Broadway tour, has left both audiences and critics awestruck, cheering “Les Miz is born again!”

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption-a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Featuring one of the greatest scores of all time, with thrilling and beloved songs including “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” “Do You Hear the People Sing” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history. Along with the Oscar-winning movie version, it has now been seen by more than 130 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages around the globe. Les Misérables is still the world’s most popular musical, breaking box office records everywhere in its 33rd year.

READ ALSO: Phantom of the Opera a Family Review

Nominated for three Tony Awards, this latest Broadway production is a more than worthy chapter in Les Miserables’ long history. It debuted at the Imperial Theatre in 2014 and ran for two years, drawing huge acclaim for its stripped-down storytelling, which jettisons some of the bloat attached to previous productions, and the atmospheric video projections that lend the show a hugely cinematic backdrop.

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer from the original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton and original adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. The original Les Misérables orchestrations are by John Cameron with new orchestrations by Christopher Jahnke, Stephen Metcalfe and Stephen Brooker.  The production is directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, designed by Matt Kinley inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo with costumes by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter, musical staging by Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt and projections by Fifty-Nine Productions. Music Supervision is by Stephen Brooker and James Moore, with casting by Kaitlin Shaw for Tara Rubin Casting.

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

Speaking of the cast, Nick Cartell as Jean Valjean, was probably the best I’ve ever heard. He moved everyone in the theater the way he told the story of Jean Valjean with his amazing voice. He presented Jean Valjean in an underdog way that made you really want to take him in and help him out. You rooted for him. You wanted to see him get the redemption he so desperately seeked. Another big voice was Paige Smallwood’s, Éponine. I would say she was equal to Cartell’s Jean Valjean. Her voice gave you all the feels and, even though we all know how it turns out for Éponine, I found myself wishing for a plot twist.

READ ALSO: Wicked, Good for the Entire Family

Josh Davis was a powerful and unrelenting Javert and while you want to hate him, you felt this underlying sympathy for him. Josh Davis’ performance was stellar. J Anthony Crane and Allison Guinn, Thénardier and Madame Thénardier, were hilarious and perfectly cast. They masterfully delivered every joke to perfection with bold, vibrant voices and impeccable timing. Other stand out performances were delivered by Matt Shingledecker, as Enjolras, Mary Kate Moore, as Fantine, Joshua Grosso, as Marius, and Jillian Butler, as Cosette. Really the entire cast was stellar. I could watch and listen to this casts’ production of Les Misérables over and over again.

One last cast member that I need to mention, Parker Weathersbee, as Petit Gervais, Gavroche, captivated me. He is making his national tour debut with Les Misérables and he brought the house down with his performance. He is such a big personality in such a young performer.

The new production is currently playing to sold-out houses across North America, Mexico City and on tour in the U.K. To date, Les Misérables remains the 5th longest-running Broadway production of all time. If you’ve never seen Les Misérables, I highly recommend that you go see it on tour.

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

It has something for everyone; drama, a revolution, history, a love triangle, unrequited love, humor, tenderness, parental love and, my personal favorite, a man doing his best to survive the human condition while chasing redemption with a passion. A theme I think everyone who’s ever lived can relate to some degree. It’s hard to find the words to encompass such an amazing production with such a powerhouse cast. I was moved to tears throughout the show and it wasn’t just me, the Big Guy and my girls were tearing up several times. We were absolutely blown away.

READ ALSO: The Aladdin Experience

For me, giving my girls the gift of the theater is one of my favorite things aside from travel. But in a way, aren’t we transported to different spaces and times when we see a Broadway show? The memories of laughing, singing and crying in the theater together, looking over and sharing a smile, giving a standing ovation to a well-deserved group of performers, there is nothing quite like it. We will share those memories forever and one day, when I am gone, my girls will hear Fantine’s Death and think of me and the time we saw Les Misérables together when they were children, well, somewhere between children and women.

Nick Cartell, Josh Davis, Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, Les Miserables, Les Misérables tour, Jean Valjean, why everyone should see Les Misérables, Cosette, Mary Kate Moore, Fantine, Eponine, Paige Smallwood, Joshua Grosso, Marius, Jillian Butler, Broadway, Les Misérables U.S. Broadway Tour

I encourage you to share these experiences with your children if they are able to stay up, stay still and mature enough to appreciate the themes. My girls are 11 and 14-years-old but we’ve been taking them to Broadway shows and the ballet since they were preschoolers. This is how their love of the theater began.

Les Misérables will be at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend from March 19- March 24, 2019. If you miss it there, check out the Les Misérables website for future dates.

I do know that the Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon Les Misérables will return for its much anticipated Chicago engagement at Broadway In Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W Randolph) July 9-27, 2019, direct from a celebrated two-and-a-half year Broadway engagement.

Individual tickets for Les Misérables will go on sale at a later date.  For more information, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

IfLes Misérables teaches us anything, remember always, that where there is love, there is hope.

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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.

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Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

This past weekend, we took a road trip to Chicago. I still can’t believe that there is so much that I haven’t taken the girls to do in my hometown. Over spring break, I took the girls to see some of the more nationally known sites in Chicago. Usually, we just go to grandma’s house.

But last week, I took the girls home to some of my old stomping grounds i.e. the beach. My girls hear me talk about “the beach” all the time. They know I spent all my summers swimming and playing in the waves at “the beach” but as they’ve gotten older, they are all, “Hey, ma! There’s no beach in Chicago. It’s a lake!” And I‘m all, nope, Mommy doesn’t do “lakes” in the traditional sense because..ewwww, fresh water ( more like doesn’t move water) barely moves and unless there are rapids or waves, I’m not getting in. You’ve heard about those parasites that go up your nose and your urethra. No thank you!

Anyways, I totally digress, my point is I had to show them that my beach was a beach like the coastal beaches they’re used to, not like a rock covered pool of stagnant water buried in tick country. Yeah, don’t invite me to your lake house. I won’t come. I took the girls to the beach twice in 3 days. They get it now. They know what I mean. They loved it. They want to move to “the beach”. This makes me happy.

Aladdin, beach, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

We also consumed lots of food that is indigenous to “the region”. The region is where I hail from, it’s the Chicagoland area but not the city. We are 20 minutes from downtown, on “this side” of the border. Meaning everything we grew up doing was in Chicago but since you could walk to the state line in 5 minutes from my house, technically, I lived in Indiana but I knew nothing about Indiana. I never even saw corn until I went to college. Boiler up!

We hit our usual local eatery favorites; Barton’s Pizzeria and White Castles. You can take the girl out of the region but you can’t take the region out of the girl. Then we hit Portillos. I had a hot Italian beef with all the Giardiniera they could put on it. The spicier the better. It was delicious. My youngest ordered a Chicago dog with nothing on it but ketchup. WHAT? She nearly lost her ish when they brought her a poppy seed bun. Fortunately, she was too hungry to go into a full on refusal.

But this trip was even more special than usual because aside from hanging out with cousins and barbecues and beaches, we took the girls to the city for an extra special date night that included a stop at the Joffrey with my two ballerinas to surprise their besties visiting from North Carolina.

A side trip to Marshall Fields (oops Macy’s! Who am I kidding it’ll always be Marshall Fields to me the way the Sears tower will never be the Willis Tower) because mama made an unwise shoe choice and then we had dinner at the Randolph Tavern about a 1 minute walk from the Cadillac Palace Theater. It was delicious and even on a Friday night, it was perfect for the kids. Even had an awesome kids menu and did I mention the Sangria because I should have. It was delicioso!

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

But the piece de resistance was that we took the girls to see Disney’s Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theater thanks to the generosity of Broadway in Chicago. You know how we love our theater. If you have the chance to take your kiddos to go see it…go see it! It was amazing. In fact, you don’t need kids to go see it. If you watched it back in the day when you were a kid, it’s even better on stage. Bet you didn’t think it could be possible did you? Well, it is. I like live productions and 3-dimensional characters. I was in theater heaven.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The Cadillac Palace is a gorgeous old building located in the heart of Chicago’s theater district.

Aladdin the musical, adapted from the Disney film and centuries-old folktales including, “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical. Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage.

That was the press release version of Aladdin the musical.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

This is my version of Disney’s Aladdin on stage.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The colors are vibrant. The atmosphere is vibrant. It’s electricity and you can feel yourself drawing from the energy of those on stage. It started with a bang. I honestly was not sure that they could pull it off, bringing an animated story to the stage. I thought it would fall flat of my expectations but I was pleasantly surprised by how animated and magical it all felt.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The music was pitch perfect and so animated that you almost forget that you’re watching it on stage as you are transformed into an animated world of Agrabah.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater, Anthony Murphy

Genie, played by Anthony Murphy, was a show stopper. He was absolutely hilarious and played the part as larger than life. The only thing more grandiose than his stage presence was his powerful voice.

Aladdin, Jacob Dickey, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

Aladdin, played by Jacob Dickey direct from the Broadway production, looked a bit like a young Rob Lowe. He was the embodiment of the animated Aladdin. I didn’t think it could be done but he really brought the character to life, literally.

Aladdin, Isabelle McCalla, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

Jasmine, one of my girls’ personal favorite princesses, played by Isabella McCalla, was the tiny, spit fire that I always hoped Jasmine could be. She was feisty and sassy and perfection.

 

Aladdin, Jacob Dickey, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

 

Another favorite character of mine was Jafar’s sidekick, Iago, played by Reggie De Leon . Firstly, I loved that they changed the character from a bird to a human on stage. It just played better. He was a sidekick no more. He was hilarious, perfectly timed and his dry humor was appreciated more than I can convey.

 

I loved that the Abu character was replaced by 3 friends of Aladdin (Babkak, Omar and Kassim) not only did it play better in a live production, it gave the story a new dimension that made more sense in the real world. They were sort of an attractive, endearing version of the three stooges but they had pipes.

I know that everyone loves the “Whole New World” scene in Aladdin the animated movie but I have to say the magic carpet ride in the live production was nothing short of magical. I swear I saw no strings and I still don’t know how they did it. It must be that Disney+Broadway+Chicago=Magic.

Now, I will warn you, if you are a die hard Disney Aladdin animated purist, like my husband, there have been some changes.  I will list them here so that you know they are coming. There are more songs ( because it is a musical), Abu has been replaced by 3 male friends of Aladdin ( so there is no monkey on stage), Rajah has been replaced by 3 female attendants (so again, no tiger on stage. I think that’s safer for all involved), Iago is not a bird but instead a human and Genie is not a cartoon but he is larger than life and very animated.

My personal opinion, I’ll take the live action production on stage.The animated movie is still near and dear to my heart because of the hundreds of times that I’ve watched it with my girls but you can’t beat the magical feeling of being part of a live production. I think my daughters and my nephew totally agree with me.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

 

Aladdin is now playing in Chicago as part of the North American tour launch at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph Street) for a limited premiere engagement through September 10, 2017.

Tickets for Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre start at $44.  In Chicago, tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.  A select number of Premium Ticket Packages, which include a prime seat location, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available for many performances. Group tickets for 10 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. For a complete performance schedule for Aladdin, please visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to see Disney’s Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace in Chicago by Broadway in Chicago but all opinions and love of Broadway stage productions are my own.

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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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Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing the Broadway Tour, theater, Broadway, kids and the arts 

Have you watched Dirty Dancing the movie? Who hasn’t, right? But did you know that there is a Dirty Dancing Broadway tour? I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone who knows me that our family is theater lovers. There is nothing quite as spectacular as a live production.

The original is one of the quintessential movies of my generation. There was something about the Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Garner dynamic that was so unbelievable but at the same time exactly what every teen girl/woman secretly hoped for; that they’d get the hot guy not just because he wanted to throw her in the back of his car and have his way with her but because he fell in love with her personality and that made her the most beautiful girl in the world. Doesn’t every woman want to be sexy but respected?

Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing the Broadway Tour, theater, Broadway, kids and the arts 

Just in case you are not familiar with the story, here is the premise for Dirty Dancing:

The story takes place in the summer of 1963, 17-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman is about to learn some major life lessons and a thing or two about dancing. On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, ‘Baby’ shows little interest in the resort activities and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles upon the staff quarters when an all-night dance party is in full swing.

Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing the Broadway Tour, theater, Broadway, kids and the arts 

Mesmerized by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, ‘Baby’ can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor. ‘Baby’s’ life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off with breathtaking consequences.

Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing the Broadway Tour, theater, Broadway, kids and the arts 

These two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. It will be the “time of their lives”.

Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing the Broadway Tour, theater, Broadway, kids and the arts 

Even if you never saw Dirty Dancing, you can tell that the story is everything.

Dirty Dancing is an iconic love story on steroids with the best.soundtrack.ever! Honestly, Dirty Dancing was my best friend’s favorite movie and every time you spent the night (which was basically every weekend of our adolescents) we watched this movie.

Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing the Broadway Tour, theater, Broadway, kids and the arts 

I watch all of the movies from the 80’s with my daughters and its just as much fun now as when I watched them with my best friend back when I was a tween. So, imagine my delight when I found out that not only is there a live Broadway tour of Dirty Dancing but it is touring and coming to a theater near me (and probably you too!)

Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing the Broadway Tour, theater, Broadway, kids and the arts 

You heard me right! Dirty Dancing is back!

Exploding with heart-pounding music, breathtaking emotion, and sensationally sexy dancing. It’s been seen by millions worldwide and features 35 hit songs, including “Hungry Eyes, “Hey Baby”, “Do You Love Me?” and the the infamous, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

We’re taking our girls to see it and we can’t wait! I have read amazing reviews and I can’t wait to see how they bring the story to life on stage in live theater. I’ll make sure to share my review with you after we see it so you can get the skinny on whether or not you should go see it in a city near you.

If you’ve seen Dirty Dancing on stage or even if you haven’t, I’d love to hear your thoughts on a stage adaptation.

 

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

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theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

Feeling a little wicked this morning. Something just has my heart nostalgic for quieter times. We are caught up in the storm and chaos of everyday life. Somehow, it seems like the world just spins a little faster once school starts back. I thought things were crazy when the Big Guy and I were dating back in college. We were firing on all cylinders or so I thought. I had no idea what having children and a life together would really mean. It’s truly a beautiful mess and I love it but some days, it is a bit overwhelming so I love when we get the chance to experience something amazing and outside of ourselves together.

Hands touch, eyes meet, sudden silence, sudden heat Hearts leap in a giddy world. He could be that boy but I’m not that girl.  Don’t dream too far. Don’t lose sight of who you are. Don’t remember that rush of joy. He could be that boy. I’m not that girl. Every so often we long to steal to the land of what might have been but that doesn’t soften the ache we feel when reality sets back in. Blithe smile, lithe limb. She who’s winsome, she wins him. Gold hair with a gentle curl, that’s the girl he chose and heaven knows, I’m not that girl.  Don’t wish, don’t start. Wishing only wounds the heart. I wasn’t born for the rose and pearl. There’s a girl I know; he loves her so. I’m not that girl.

This is the lyrics from one of our favorite songs from Wicked, I’m Not That girl and now it’s a memory we will always share because we experienced it together. You know those special moments that happen when you least expect it.

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Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts, theater

Wicked Emerald City Tour

There are people, places and things in life that magically transport us to another time. Most of my fondest memories can be inextricably linked to lyrics to songs, lines in movies or the way I felt the first time I read powerful words movingly strung together on a page. And now, all of these beautiful moments intertwine with my daughters and there is new joy and perspective seeing life through their fresh eyes.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

One of my fondest memories as a child was watching The Wizard of Oz with my own mother, every year on Thanksgiving. Our family tradition had nothing to do with Black Friday shopping or things at all; it was about a warm, fuzzy feeling that permeated our togetherness like the lingering scent of a beautiful woman or the reassuring voice of a mother to her child in the middle of the night. Our tradition included football on the television while the food cooked, family sitting around the table sharing what they were most thankful for and then just when we are about to fall into a tryptophan induced turkey coma we’d settle down on top of one another vying for the best seat in the living room, next to my mom, and we’d, almost in a dream, watch this amazing movie. We were entranced for that entire hour and 52 minutes. It was magical.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

When I was pregnant, I knew this would be a tradition that I wanted to continue with my own children. It was going to be just as magical as when I was a child. Then while I was pregnant with my first daughter in 2004, I read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the the West by Gregory Maguire. I was hooked. It changed my entire perspective of a favorite childhood movie. I wanted my girls to know this story. I needed my girls to know the “whole story”.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

By the way, 12 years later, I have 2 beautiful daughters who love the theater as much as I do. We’ve spent our years cuddled in front of the big screen watching my old favorite, The Wizard of Oz but I promised myself that one day I would take them to see this amazing musical that was inspired by the Wicked novel. We play the soundtrack on repeat on most morning drives to school; all of us singing at the tops of our lungs.

 

Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

Last year, I was in New York for business and I knew I had to see Wicked on Broadway.  It was my first time actually getting to see the production. I bought whatever ticket I could find available and I went. It was more mesmerizing and magical than I could have ever imagined. It was absolutely amazing and I am not just using that term lightly. It exceeded every expectation I ever had. I left the Gershwin theater hopeful and inspired and knowing that I had to bring my family back. I didn’t even bother with souvenirs because that was almost too cruel. But when and how? We live in Indiana.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

A few months ago, I saw that Wicked was touring and I was absolutely over the moon because one of the stops was near me; only a short 1.5-hour drive. I had to make it happen. It’s just one of those situations where you know that you have to do this with your family; like watching the inauguration of the first African-American president or voting for the first woman president or seeing the Grand Canyon or the Aurora Borealis in person. It’s a gift to my children; a memory that they will never forget.

 

theater, kids and the arts, Broadway, Wicked, Broadway, Theater League, Children and the arts

 

So last Thursday, we took a little road trip on a school night and made our little girls’ dreams to see Wicked come true. Wicked is playing at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend, Indiana until Sunday, September 18th. If you are in the area, you should definitely get tickets and go see this amazing production.

But even if you are not, it’s touring all over the country and I’m sure Wicked is coming to a city near you.

If you live near the New York City area you can catch it at the Gershwin. It will be something you will never forget. Wicked has taken up residence in our hearts and we will never forget the night we all saw it together, not for as long as we live.

Wicked… You’ll be with me, like a handprint on my heart! Because we knew you, we have been changed for good.

 

Disclosure: I was provided media passes to the Wicked performance but the genuine love and adoration that I feel for this production are completely my own.

 

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