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Musical

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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Cirque du Soleil, Luzia, Chicago, Mexico, Waking Dream

Have you heard of Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring show, LUZIA? If you are a long time reader of The TRUTH, you are fully aware that we are huge fans of the Cirque du Soleil. We’ve been to several live performances and if we haven’t seen it under the Big Top, chances are pretty high that we’ve seen the DVD. Last summer we took the girls to see, Kurios, in Boston.

The Big Guy and I fell in love with the Cirque du Soleil n our honeymoon, when we saw our first performance, La Nouba, at Disney Springs, which by the way is retiring so if you get the chance to see it this year before it leaves, I’d highly recommend it. We were enthralled by the feats of impossibility the performers could complete and captivated by the sounds and colors of the new world we were immersed into and that was it. Love at first sight.

You can imagine the excitement that filled my heart when I heard about the Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring production, LUZIA, especially since it is based on the culture and land of my father’s people, Mexico. I feel very connected to this show and cannot wait to see it.

Cirque du Soleil, Luzia, Chicago, Mexico, Waking Dream

Cirque du Soleil is excited to bring back its magic to Chicago this July with its latest soul-touching production, LUZIA.

From July 21 – August 20, 2017, audiences will be invited to a redesigned white-and-gold Big Top next to United Center to escape to an imaginary Mexico – a beautifully intricate world suspended somewhere between dreams and reality. If you’ve never seen a Cirque du Soleil under the Big Top, you need to. It has that very otherworldly feeling of the circuses back in the 1940’s.

LUZIA is Cirque du Soleil’s 38th original production since 1984, and its 17th show presented under the Big Top. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 160 million spectators in more than 400 cities on six continents.

Cirque du Soleil, Luzia, Chicago, Mexico, Waking Dream

But what is LUZIA, you ask?

LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light (“luz” in Spanish) quenches the spirit and rain (“lluvia”) soothes the soul.

Freely inspired by Mexico, LUZIA is a poetic and acrobatic ode to the rich, vibrant culture of a country whose wealth stems from an extraordinary mix of influences and creative collisions – a land that inspires awe with its breathtaking landscapes and architectural wonders, buoyed by the indomitable spirit of its people.

The tableaux of LUZIA weave an intricate, contemporary mosaic that awakens your senses and transports you to a place suspended between dreams and reality. Featuring a cast of 44 performers from diverse artistic backgrounds, LUZIA surprises with acrobatic performances breaking down the barriers, such as integrating water into contemporary circus disciplines.

For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia.

This 4th of July, get 4 LUZIA tickets for the price of 3! Buy 3 and get your 4th ticket free. Offer good June 26th– July 4th 11:59 p.m. Offer on PL1,2,3 for the first 2 weeks of shows.

This show that is guaranteed to be more explosive than the fireworks.

LUZIA opens July 21st in Chicago under the big top at the United Center-lot K.  Get ready to be transported to a surreal world of wonders!

@cirquedusoleil, #LUZIA, #cirquedusoleil, Cirque du Soleil, Luzia, Chicago, Mexico, Waking Dream

Also, thanks to the generosity of Cirque du Soleil, I am giving away one pair of tickets to LUZIA in Chicago to one lucky reader. Just enter below.

I’ll also report back after I see Cirque du Soleil LUZIA on the July 21st and tell you all about it.

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Disclosure: I was provided 2 passes to give away to one lucky reader but all opinions and love for all things Cirque du Soleil and LUZIA 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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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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theater, Dralion, Cirque du soleil, dralions, the arts, acrobats

Two more days until I attend media day for Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion farewell tour; excited is an understatement. I’ve been planning this for 5 months. It comes right in the middle of a really busy week but I’d gladly forgo sleep for this. I’ve been waiting 15 years to go backstage to what I consider the greatest show on earth.

People need down time; moments of sheer enjoyment. You cannot go 100% all the time or you will crash and burn, says the manic mom typing this blog. As a treat, this week my family is attending Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion farewell tour; thanks to the good people are Cirque du Soleil. We’ve been fans of Cirque du Soleil since seeing La Nouba for the first time on our honeymoon in 1999. We even took our girls back to see La Nouba earlier this year.

Are you familiar with Cirque du Soleil? No? What???? Cirque du Soleil is a circus of artistic beauty and creativity beyond anything else. We love the ballet and opera, pair that with some wicked acrobats, international arts and astounding trampoline artists and you’ve got a small taste of what Cirque du Soleil is.

theater, pas de deux, Dralion, Cirque du soleil, dralion, the arts, acrobats

 

I’m not a fan of the traditional circus because of the use of animals. You know cages and whips and all that kind of kill my enthusiasm for the entire thing but Cirque du Soleil is something that the Big Guy and I gladly share with our girls and will for years to come.

Cirque du Soleil is a Quebec based company recognized all over the world for high-quality, artistic entertainment. Since its dawn in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has constantly sought to evoke the imagination, invoke the senses and provoke the emotions of people around the world.

As someone who has seen every Cirque du Soleil either on video or in person, I can tell you that it is ethereal and magical every single time. That is the simplest way to explain it. What the people in the shows can do with the human body is spectacular; musicians who sing like angels, acrobats who defy gravity and trampoline artist who achieve the unimaginable with ease and grace. Cirque du Soleil makes the impossible seem possible.

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This week, I will be seeing Dralion for the very first time in person.

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What is Dralion you ask?

Fusing the 3000-year-old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the multidisciplinary approach of Cirque du Soleil, Dralion drawls its inspiration from Eastern philosophy and its never-ending quest for harmony between humans and nature. The show’s name is derived from its two emblematic creatures: the dragon, symbolizing the East, and the lion, symbolizing the West.

In Dralion, the four elements that govern the natural order take on a human form. Thus embodied, each element is represented by its own evocative color: air is blue; water is green; fire is red; earth is ochre. In the world of Dralion, cultures blend, Man and Nature are one, and balance is achieved.

Dralion, Cirque du soleil, dralions, the arts, acrobats, pas de deux

Maybe that’s what I really and truly love about Cirque du Soleil the meshing of all cultures, peoples and beliefs. It’s “hope” under a tent. It’s being transported to a perfect world for a couple of hours and I adore every single saturated in amazing moment of it.

contortionists, Dralion, Cirque du soleil, dralions, the arts, acrobats, pas de deux

Dralion is coming to Ft. Wayne, IN ( probably to a city near you too) and will run this Wednesday November 5th thru Sunday November 9th. There is even a family four-pack promo going this week, 4 tickets for only $100 using the promo code Halloween. That is a fantastic deal and worth every single dollar. If you are anywhere near the area, I would highly recommend that you go see this farewell tour. It may be your last chance.

bamboo poles, Dralion, Cirque du soleil, dralions, the arts, acrobats, pas de deux

Speaking freely and honestly, I will tell you, Cirque du Soleil is one of the coolest things you will ever experience. You will leave the auditorium with children who are thrilled and amazed and your mind will be thoroughly blown. I can’t wait to tell you more about the show after I attend opening night and media day later this week. Hope to see you there.

What’s your favorite Cirque du Soleil show?

Have you seen Dralion?

Image via Cirque du Soleil 

Disclosure: I was given tickets to see Dralion but all opinions are my own. I have been in love with Cirque du Soleil for 15 years and would have purchased tickets to Dralion on my own had I not received them.

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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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When my family and I traveled to Orlando, Florida recently, we had the pleasure of attending Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Disney World. We love taking our girls to the theater and letting them enjoy cultural events while they are still young enough to really enjoy the magic because of the infinite possibilities of their imaginations and let them develop a love for the arts naturally.We’ve been taking them to the ballet and the Chicago Shakespeare theater for years; next stop, Broadway. La Nouba tells the fascinating story of the boundless and festive journey of the imagination. The Big Guy and I first saw La Nouba on our honeymoon in 1999. Since then, the Cirque du Soleil and, more specifically, La Nouba have held a special place in our heart. So, imagine how excited we were to share it with our daughters?

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

In case you are unfamiliar with Cirque du Soleil, it is a version of the circus that is humane, uses no animals and captivates the audience, young and old alike, with acrobatic feats that defy the imagination and music that makes your feel like the whole thing is a wonderful, magical dream. Dazzling costumes, dramatic lighting, bizarre choreography and ethereal operatic music set the stage for clownish observations, a human puppet and a host of amazing acrobats that all bend and weave together to create one of the most exciting and engaging shows under the soleil.

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

A door opens and the two worlds collide. Enter the attic of make-believe, where the mundane meets the marvelous. Dreams and nightmares intertwine. La Nouba which calls on both individual and collective memory, is an unforgettable journey into a world at once threatening and exhilarating, frightening and familiar. La Nouba beckons to us, challenges us to uncover passions we thought we had lost long ago; to frolic in our childhood dreams and enter a place where the extraordinary transforms and overcomes the ordinary.

 

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

We took our daughters, ages 6 and 9 at the time, and they both were enthralled with the performers. My 6-year-old LOVED the Titan, especially when he performed on the trampolines and the little girls doing the Diabolos act. In fact, she made me buy her her very own set and plays with them almost daily. My 9-year-old was smitten with the Green Bird and the dancers. The Big Guy finds the power track/ trampoline act to be the big show stopper. Me, I must confess, I am mesmerized by the aerial ballet in silk. The show definitely has something for everyone and I could go on for days talking about La Nouba but as a picture is worth a 1000 words, a production like La Nouba leaves me speechless. La Nouba is something that has to be experienced to be believed and to fully enjoy it.

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

Next time you are at Disney World, and I know you will be if you have kids, if you are on the fence on whether or not to take your children to see La Nouba, I am here to tell you that it will be something they will never forget.

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting

Have you been to a Cirque du Soleil production? What was your favorite act or character?

travel-family travel-Orlando-Florida-Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba-culture-parenting, Disney World

If you’ve seen La Nouba, what was your favorite part of the show?

Photo Cirque du Soleil

Disclosure: I was provided 2 tickets for review purposes, but all opinions and thoughts are my own. I’ve been in love with La Nouba since the first time I saw it on my honeymoon in 1999.

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Shrek-the-musical-Chicago-Shakespeare-Theater-Shrek-Fiona-Musical-kids-Broadway-show-funny-arts-culture

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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