We’ve Got Magic to Do… Just for You

I am one lucky blogger. Last night, I got to review Pippin at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. I miss seeing and reviewing shows in New York so much, but I am so grateful that TPAC offers opportunities to see so many amazing musicals throughout the year. Thanks to them, I get a little taste of Broadway about once a month, and Pippin was the show of choice this month.

pippin

I actually saw Pippin in New York about a year and a half ago, when Husband and I took a little NY vacation. To be honest, I liked the show, but I didn’t love it. I don’t know if we were just too tired or too pregnant, but I remember feeling confused and unhappy with the ending. Last night, I arrived with small expectations and few memories of the show. Then, it completely blew me and my expectations away.

Pippin is fantastic.

It is a combo of cirque du soleil, magic, Fosse dance moves, scantily clad performers, satire, burlesque, comedy, murder and love. Could you squeeze anything else into a 2.5 hour show? It is entertaining from beginning to end, and while it is sometimes hard to decipher exactly where and when the story is taking place, it doesn’t really matter. It’s Pippin’s journey to find meaning in his life and the unbelievable talent and stage presence of the “leading player”. And, yes that’s the name in the playbill, for that character has no actual given name.

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The Leading Player is being played by Sasha Allen (from season 4 of The Voice), and she is phenomenal. When she is on stage you cannot help, but watch every move she makes. She is flawless and has a powerful voice. Another character who took my breath away is Berthe, Pippin’s Grandmother, played by Priscilla Lopez. She is 67 sings, dances and performs aerial stunts better than any 30-year old I know. I aim to be her when I grow up.

Terrence Mann, left, foreground, and Patina Miller in the musical "Pippin."

The show ends with a meaningful lesson, as well as an uncomfortable idea. True happiness may be found in the most simple joys of life, but time and time again, each generation will question whether their life had any meaning at all.

pippin (1)

Pippin will be at TPAC until March 15th. Get your tickets here, and check out dates in other cities here.

Cheers

These Teens Will Never be the Same

Two days ago, I was invited to cover one of the coolest events I’ve ever witnessed. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center along with Cydi Laupers’s True Colors hosted a behind the scenes day for Nashville’s Oasis Center. It was so inspiring and touching to watch this event, the kids and the professionals who made it happen, but before I tell you all the amazing details, I should give you some quick cliff-notes on the organizations involved so you truly understand the impact of the day.

true colors

True Colors is the organization that put this whole shindig together. This organization was founded by THE Cyndi Lauper, and its mission is “to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, creating a world in which young people can be their true selves”. I chatted with their Community Organizer Intern, Cassie, and learned that this is all put together by their “Raise You Up” program, which involves Kinky Boots with a community organization. She also informed me that 40% of homeless youth is from the LGBT community (mostly due to family rejection), which is clearly unacceptable and why True Colors is so dedicated to helping these kids.

oasis

Then, there is the heart of this whole operation, the Oasis Center. This local organization is HUGE. It serves about 4,000 local youths a year, and it’s mission is to “provide safety and support to  the most vulnerable and disconnected youth…it seeks to provide resources that allow them to transform their situations and prepare them for productive fulfilling lives”. That’s perhaps the most important mission ever, to encourage the future, our youth. I also had the pleasure of speaking with Pam, the program director, who taught me lots about the Oasis Center. Their were a limited number of teens/ youth that could attend this special event, so Oasis brought a group of LGBT kids as well as some that have a strong interest in theater. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of the kids who were on the list to go, showed up, on time and ready to learn. That’s some kind of miracle, because as all us teachers know, students are never ever all present, on time and ready to learn. These particular kids knew they were in for something special.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I entered the main lobby of the theater yesterday. I did not know the age of the kids, how they would behave, how interesting the tour would, or would not, be and very little about either organization. I met up with the group of teenagers right before they entered the largest theater to watch the cast of Kinky Boots rehearse. Oh my, the look on their faces as the cast began singing and dancing was priceless. That one moment was worth my drive to TPAC.

in theatre

There was one boy in particular, a talented young dancer, who was so lit up when the dancing began. You could see the wheels turning as he watched the insane choreography being rehearsed on stage. Like, he all of a sudden realized, “Oh, I can do this, this could be my future.” As the number ended, the small group of teens erupted in applause, even though they were told not to make a peep. They couldn’t help themselves, and the cast certainly didn’t mind the appreciation.

We were all then taken backstage for a little behind the scenes tour. The kids got to see what a dressing room looks like, where costumes are kept, how the cast enters and exits and lots of other cool ins and outs of the backstage world. I think everyone’s favorite part was seeing the thigh-high high-heeled sparkling boots in everyone’s dressing room.

We ended in a conference room, where the kids had the opportunity to listen, learn and ask questions to part of the Kinky Boots crew and several staff members from TPAC. You may think this sounds boring, but I promise you it was far from it! I learned so much myself that I’m ready to put in my application! These teens got to learn about the coolest jobs in the theater business that most of us either don’t think about, or didn’t even know existed. The staff told them their background (some theater, some not), their experience (EVERYONE lived in NYC at one point or another), how they got their job (work hard! do what you love! learn! be scrappy!) and some funny personal experiences (one involving a Barney suit). The, they were able to ask whatever questions they wanted! Once again, you could see their eyes light up, the wheels turning and the excitement, excitement about their own dreams and ambitions.

meeting

I was so impressed with these young people. They were genuinely interested in everything they were being presented. They were polite, respectful, enthusiastic and asked some really great questions. (My favorite was, what was the best/worst play you ever worked?) This wasn’t even the end of the day. Yes, there was more.

Once the speakers finished, the kids got to eat dinner (pizza and soda) before going to see the entire musical themselves! THEN, after the show, they got to stay for a Q&A with the cast! Who gets an opportunity like this? I grew up in a nice area, went to great schools and never got to do anything this cool. Teenage Hilarie is super envious of them. These at-risk teens got an experience of a life-time. They were exposed to talents, jobs, art, culture and career options that they otherwise would have likely never known existed. That is amazing.

HUGE thank you to the True Colors Fund for selecting Nashville as your second city to participate in this program! Also, if any of you are interested in donating, volunteering or somehow getting involved with the Oasis Center please visit this link. TPAC, as always, you rock.

Cheers!

These Boots are Made for Watching

Kinky Boots is in Nashville!!!! EEEEEeeeee! I LOVE this show. I saw it on Broadway in New York when it opened and actually sat right behind Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein (the creators of the musical).It was a magical night of drag queens, glitter, shoes, high kicks and British accents. Can  you ask for more? Yes. You can ask to see the show again, the traveling show. Lucky me. I got to see it for a second time last night at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

kinkyboots

My friend, Bella, and I went together and because we love dressing up, we decided to dress the part, which can best be described as….well, kinky. That’s really just a nice way to say we looked like hookers, cute hookers. TPAC was decked out for the show. They had the usual huge crowd, themed snacks and souvenirs, but they also had a shoe cam. It’s like the one you see on the E! network.

workin' it!
workin’ it!

The BEST part was seeing Tony (one of TPAC’s best employees) dressed in the iconic red high-heeled boots! From across the room a spotted a photo backdrop and a line of people waiting to take their photo with who I assumed was a cast member. I then see Tony’s head peaking through the crowd and thought he must be doing crowd management. Then, the crowds parts just enough that I spot the boots… the red boots on Tony’s feet! It was amazing, and yeah we definitely took advantage of that Kodak moment.

tony

 

Before the show began we took the theme one step further and ordered ourselves a double of the “Kinky Boots” drink, delicious BTW. One minute before showtime we finally got to our seats, settled in, took a sip of our pink drink and got read for a show unlike any other.

red boots

 

Kinky Boots is a musical based off of a movie based on a true story. The story is of two boys with two dreams. One dreams of dancing in high heels. One dreams of doing anything, but running the family business, a shoe making factory. As adults. the first boy is a very talented drag queen in London, the latter is forced to run the shoe factory when his father unexpectedly passes away. The factory is failing quickly and the son has no clue how to save it in everyone he loves’ jobs. The two very different young men cross paths unexpectedly and together they not only learn how to save the business, but also discover the importance of accepting others and being true to yourself.

Throughout the heartwarming and hilarious story are some seriously impressive musical numbers. The music and lyrics reminds me of classic Broadway hits, but the dancing is like none other. It’s not often you see grown men doing high-kicks, splits, back handsprings and a myriad of other moves in 6-inch heels. Well… I guess it’s possible you do see this often, depending on what clubs you frequent, but I guarantee you that you have yet to see this level of talent.

The show rocked. We left feeling excited, happy and desperate to go shoe shopping.

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Kinky Boots will be playing at TPAC until February 8th! GO SEE IT! You may even spot a celebrity… Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson were there last night. Check out show details and future shows here. If you don’t live around Nashville (shame on you), check out the tour dates here.

Cheers!

I Met the Blue Men

the group

The Blue Man Group is in Nashville at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center this week, and I should have seen them last night, but thanks to a sick cranky baby (who is currently fighting sleep with every little bit of will power she has), I stayed home and Husband went to the show. Lucky for you, he’ll be sharing his very own review very soon. I have seen the Blue Men before, once in Orlando and once in New York, but I was still very excited to see them again. Not all was lost though…this morning I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of the guys (sans blue), learning about their instruments and even snagging an interview. Lucky me.

First of all, if you haven’t seen them perform yet, you are missing an incredibly entertaining and wildly creative show. Second of all, if you have seen them, you should know it is REALLY weird to see them in real life without all of that blue paint. I know this should be obvious, but they look like real people. Real people, with hair, regular eyes and the ability to talk and smile. It’s hard to imagine them as the performers when you are talking to one out of character. It’s a lot like talking to a 70 year old Asian woman who tells you she is Mickey Mouse from 9 to 5 at Magic Kingdom. (True story.)

blue men

It was cool to watch them play a few instruments, goof around and talk to us about how all the pipes and whatnot in the show work, but the real excitement was when I got to talk one-on-one with one of the talented performers. His name is Adam. He’s young, very tall, funny, a former musical theater performer and has been a Blue Man for the last year and a half.  Here’s what he had to say about being on tour, auditioning for a Blue Man and more…

adam

Me- What’s the different between the tour and the permanent shows, like Orlando and New York?

Adam- There are a decent amount of difference between the shows. New York is our smallest show and it’s very intimate. They aren’t able to do the bigger aspect of the shows that we do on tour in these big venues. New York is a great show though, and you can really see and connect with every single person in the audience, which you sometimes lose in these bigger shows. We try to accomplish the same goal in each show though, which is to communicate with the audience on a different level, without talking.

Me- What’s your trick to keep from smiling? You guys are so funny, yet you never crack a smile! How do you look at each other and never laugh?

Adam- Well, we do, in our heads. When we are in character we try to stay solid. Instead of thinking of things as funny, we try and discover why the audience is reacting to certain things.

Me- Have you ever accidentally broke character?

Adam- Well, I mean, we try not to, but it’s tough. Sometimes, random things happen and we are just like “that was crazy!”.

Me- Once you become a blue man, how long can your career last?

Adam- Potentially…it’s kind of open ended. As long as you keep evolving as a Blue Man and keep exploring your character and coming up with new things, keep it fresh, it can be open ended. It’s awesome, it’s a great job. A dream job.

Me- When auditioning to become a Blue Man, what are some of the things you have to do?

Adam- We do a little drum interview, but it’s not very long because most of the audition is about acting. They do a lot of silent improv kind of games. They might set up a situation that you have to solve with other guys without talking. You may be up there with three guys you’ve never met before, put in a really strange situation and you can only communicate with your eyes and non-verbally. After a few days, you end up learning a number from the show and implement that into the audition as well.

Me- That sounds hilarious. We should be able to watch auditions.

Adam- It’s a kind of a secret process. They have their ways of trying to see the Blue Men in people.

Me- Do you have a background in acting?

Adam- I do. I was in musical theater before this. I did a lot of singing, dancing acting and I also played piano, which helps a lot in the musical aspects of the show. So, I went from that to not talking at all! I love it though, it’s really the best job in the world. I get to do it every night and we get to experience different cities. It’s a blast.

Me- Okay, one more…are the ever any inquiries about “Blue Women”?

Adam- It is possible, yeah. As long as you meet the requirements. You have to be musical, able to carry a beat, 5’10 to 6’2… so a pretty tall woman, but if you meet the requirements and have what they want than yeah, it’s possible. They hired a woman who was a Blue Man before, who performed in Boston.

Very cool.

Thanks Adam!

Stay posted for Husband’s review of the Blue Man Group and remember they are in Nashville until January 11th. Get your tickets here!

Cheers!

Luna’s First Musical and a Review of Rudolph

Last night, I was able to take Luna to her very first musical. For the first time, Luna was invited to review a show with me at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. We dressed up (coordinating, obviously), packed many baby emergencies in the diaper bag and even watched a TV version of the musical we would be watching. What show did we attend you ask? Why, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, of course!

It's almost impossible to keep her still for a photo lately. This was the best I could get of our festive outfits.
It’s almost impossible to keep her still for a photo lately. This was the best I could get of our festive outfits.

Even though I was super pumped to introduce her to one of my most favorite forms of art, I went in assuming I would only see half the show. It is an almost two hour show after all. I packed some snacks, water and a quiet toy to keep her busy, and sat at the end of the aisle so I’d be prepared to run out with a crying baby. Much to my surprise and delight, Luna was the best freakin’ baby ever! We NEVER had to get up and she seemed to really enjoy the show! She danced, bounced to the music, clapped and really watched the characters as they moved all over the stage. Even if the show was awful, it gets a good review simply for keeping a 10 months entertained.

so excited for the show to start!
so excited for the show to start!

The good news is, it wasn’t awful. As the little girl announced behind me as we exited the theater, “that show was adorable!” And, it was. The characters all looked and even sounded exactly like the characters from the classic cartoon that we will all forever remember fondly from our childhood. Can you believe it’s 50 years old??? Rudolph’s nose shines brightly, the reindeer really do fly, the abominable snowman is BIG and scary and the narrator, Sam the Snowman, remains the best character. It was nostalgic for us grown-ups and apparently good as new for all the little people. The theater was full of kids and I only saw one that had to leave in the middle of the show. The set was very impressive and the puppets were so cool! They reminded me of the puppets used in the Finding Nemo musical at Disney World.

This chic does not dig Santa....
This chic does not dig Santa….

The bad news is, the story is just as strange as it always was. As a child, I remember the story of Rudolph fondly. Poor Rudolph is teased for being different, which is a storyline we can all relate to one way or another. He finds his own group of misfit friends, learns to like himself, use his difference as a strength and grows up to be a happy successful reindeer. Yay, Rudolph! As an adult, Rudolph is a much sadder story. He Dad is so ashamed of his son for looking different. Santa has no faith in him. The other reindeer kids are bullies and even the coach treats him like an outcast. It’s kind of shocking. At one point Rudolph returns to his home to reunite with his family after being gone for months and months and Santa is all like “tough luck kid, they’ve been gone looking for you and now I might not have your Dad to pull my sleigh, thanks a lot.” Hardly anyone cares at all about Rudolph until they find out he can do something for them. In a way, I guess it’s a reflection of real life. Few friends are hard to come by.

The one theme that still rings true is that the character trait that makes you feel like an outcast is what makes you unique. Being different isn’t bad. You just have to learn to use your gift to add some brightness to the world, like Rudolph.

We had a great night out and I am so happy that Luna loved the show! If you are interested in seeing Rudolph at TPAC, which plays from December 16th through December 21st, checkout the ticket options here. If you want to see the tour dates of this traveling musical take a look at their schedule here.

Enjoy the show!

Cheers!

Yay for New Traditions and Discounts!

Now that December has arrived so has the start of our many holiday traditions. I have always been big on celebrating Christmas and creating new traditions while continuing old ones, but it takes on a whole new level of festiveness now that we have Luna. Two days into December and we have already pulled out the decorations, listened to holiday music all day everyday, done some serious Christmas shopping, read a Christmas book, taken family pictures, started an advent calendar, drank cocoa and of course, began watching Christmas movies… a favorite being Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

lovies

big guy

You all remember this classic, right? The stop-motion animated movie with the squeaky voice Rudolph who learns that his unique nose that causes him to feel like an outcast is actually what makes him special? Heart-warming, right? And, somehow, after all of these years, the stop-motion, the story and the music all remains as popular as ever. It’s timeless. And, speaking of time, it’s actually the 50th anniversary of Rudolph. And, I just learned the TV series has been turned into a stage musical! AND, it’s coming to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center!!!

rudolph elf

I am of course going to the show (and hopefully taking Luna as well, fingers crossed she’s in a good mood!), and I’ll be writing a review as well, but I needed to write this post in advance. You know how much I love TPAC, theatre and supporting the arts. I am constantly telling you all to get off your bums and see show, visit local museums, hit up the crafts fairs and whatnot? Well, the powers that be at TPAC have informed me that they are offering a special deal for tickets for this show, leaving you with no excuse to miss it!

Use the code “BUMBLE” to get 25% off select seating for the Tuesday-Thursday performances. NOW, you seriously have no excuse to not see this show. Take your kids, dress in your cheesy Christmas sweaters, drinks some cocoa and start a new tradition! I’ll be there Tuesday night and hope to see you there! Buy your tickets here, and if you are not locals, then check out the tour schedule here.

Happy Holidays from me and TPAC, cheers!

Hello! Book Of Mormon Came to Nashville!

bookofmormon

Wednesday night the biggest show on Broadway premiered in Nashville. Surely, you have all heard of the Book of Mormon. It’s huge, it’s crazy popular, award-winning and very controversial. Before I review the show we saw in Nashville, I think I need to give you a brief synopsis.The biggest question I’ve gotten from people pertaining to the show is “Is it offensive?” And, honestly, the answer just depends on how sensitive you are.

Let me explain, The Book of Mormon is a musical that follows two brand new Mormon missionaries who are unexpectedly paired together and sent to Uganda. They imagine living on the set of Lion King while spreading the word of God and baptizing dozens of Africans into their religion. However, Uganda turns out to be the scariest place they’ve ever imagined and is riddled with disease, crime, death and people who don’t exactly trust that any God will fix all their troubles. The story that ensues is the most ridiculous, hilarious and brilliant show that’s hit Broadway (as far as I’ve seen). It sounds like a serious story, but it’s full of tap dancing, an electric guitar playing Satan, science fiction character cameos and some of the worst language you have ever heard.

tour

So, back to that question…is it offensive? Well, if blasphemy, cursing, gay jokes, mocking of religion or suggestive moves and language offends you, then yes. This shows will probably be the most offensive form of entertainment you have ever seen. You have to remember that Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the creators of South Park) are 2 of the 3 creators of the Book of Mormon. These two men may be crude, but they are wickedly smart and talented. The show is filthy, but it’s also full of heart. The two main characters are truly trying to better the world, and you can’t help but love and root for them. Vogue magazine explains it best…

the filthiest, most offensive, and—surprise—sweetest thing you’ll see on Broadway this year, and quite possibly the funniest musical ever.

We saw the show for the first time in New York and were lucky enough to see it performed by the original cast, including Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad.I can only imagine that seeing these two perform the roles they originated is equivalent to seeing Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth perform Wicked. No one can compare. Then there’s the songs. We LOVE the soundtrack to the Book of Mormon, and my favorite song is by far “I Believe”. I know every inflection and get goosebumps every time at the end, so hearing someone else sing it even slightly differently isn’t easy.

Book of Mormon Tour

The two starts of the Book of Mormon tour group are no Andrew Rannells or Josh Gad, but they do an incredible job filling such big and talented shoes. Although, the standout star was by far, Denee Benton. She plays the lead female role, Nabulungi, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Remember her name, I am certain she is going to be huge one day.

denee

Compared to the version we saw in NY, the tour is very close to being just as amazing. The final notes of “I believe” aren’t earth shattering, but the singing, the comedic timing, the dancing and acting are phenomenal, maybe even the best Broadway tour I’ve seen. The show has stuck with me and I have had the songs in my head all day. Actually, I have a feeling the show stuck with most people.

My favorite part about seeing the show last night was hearing the shock in the crowd as each joke got cruder, every line more offensive and song more crass. You could literally hear the room gasp and then roar with laughter. The audience definitely seemed surprised at the amount of profanity in a Broadway musical, but still appreciated the well intended story and the clever lines. I didn’t hear one negative comment as we exited the theatre.

MORMON THEATER REVIEW 3

If you ever hear of Book of Mormon coming anywhere near you, you better get online and purchase tickets the minute they’re available. Those puppies sale like hotcakes and you are going to be very sad if you miss this show. Check out their tour dates here. And, of course, remember to look at TPAC’s upcoming schedule. They’ve got some good shows coming up!

Cheers!