“Finding Neverland” Imagine, Believe and Fly

“Finding Neverland” flew into Segerstrom Center for the Arts awakening the inner child of everyone.

The delightful musical draws on inspiration of how one family’s dynamic became the catalyst behind playwright’s J. M. Barrie’s beloved story of Peter Pan. The Davies children and their mother’s transformational arc strikes healing chords of hope and possibility despite dismal or limiting circumstances.

Music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy and book by James Graham shape a turn of the century London narrative that makes everyone a believer of possibility again.

Mia Michael’s choreography shined with her visceral movement and a storytelling heartbeat. I always love watching how she can use the simple inhale of breath with a head movement to bring power to the scene. Her ingenious use of a table or bench broaden a dancer’s vocabulary and is a playground for athleticism. Her use of rhythm was amazing with sticks being used as time clock hands and the dancers hitting the floor in unison. This show uniquely has the cast create expansive shapes that result in engaging positive and negative space. From each arm reach to flex foot I was entertained.

National tour cast of “Finding Neverland” (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

The other positives for the show are numerous.

The children (Ben Krieger as Peter, Finn Faulconer as George, Mitchell West as Jack and Tyler Patrick Hennessy as Michael) were so endearing with pure vocals and genuine emotion. They carry a great portion of the show and gave amazing performances that equally matched the adult leads.

Billy Harrigan Tighe as J.M. Barrie and Christine Dwyer as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies showed the beauty of friendship and the importance of taking stock of reality while never losing the capability of wonder and play. It is Sylvia’s health state (you don’t discover until later) that grounds many moments making the search for optimism and glimmers of imagination to go on so relevant. J.M. Barrie’s discover of story within reality is heart-touching with the relationships with the children.

Billy Harrigan Tighe (left) as J.M. Barrie and Tom Hewitt as Captain Hook in the tour of “Finding Neverland.” (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

Tom Hewitt as Charles Frohman/Captain James Hook serves as an excellent contrast coming in with daringly fun temptations of darkness whether in spirit of skepticism or physical alter-ego.

The special effects in the show are astounding leaving moments long to be cherished as happy thoughts.

Treat your family and yourself to some happy thoughts by taking them to see “Finding Neverland” on tour. Please check the website for dates.

Peter Pan Printable Quote for Sale at Shining Inspiration Etsy shop, “Finding Neverland” Fashion Inspiration

ABT’s World Premiere “Whipped Cream”: Delightful Ballet Treat

Segerstrom Center for the Arts – American Ballet Theatre’s Whipped Cream Photo by Gene Schiavone

Alexei Ratmansky’s masterfully choreographed “Whipped Cream” made its American Ballet Theatre’s World Premiere at Segerstrom Center For the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA this past week. I had the pleasure to see the closing performance cast.

The Pacific Symphony played Richard Strauss’s 1924 “Schlagobers” ballet score to perfection. The score takes you on the journey of a boy (Daniil Simkin) with a zealous penchant for sweets who indulges in the whipped cream sending him on an eye-opening trip to the doctor and a rescue to Princess Praline (Sarah Lane).

Segerstrom Center for the Arts – American Ballet Theatre’s Whipped Cream Photo by Gene Schiavone featuring Sarah Lane as Princess Praline and Daniil Simkin as the Boy

Sarah embodied poise and a welcoming lead to Daniil’s youthful exuberance. Daniil’s reactions to his surroundings offered a pleasant departure to your more stoic ballet stories. He portrayed humor while dancing through predicaments which made his rescue celebration of turns and leaps soar.

The boy’s journey to that celebration commences in act one scene 2 when his sweet imagination lands on the whipped cream and the sweets that come to life.

I loved how Stella Abrera as Princess Tea Flower and returning David Hallberg as Prince Coffee enter the stage through enlarged containers labeled tea and coffee.

Stella and David fulfill their roles with preternatural technique and dazzling movement. They each embody their character with richly textured movement. Stella oozes grace and charisma with joyous flirtation and David brings dynamic artistry.

It was so refreshing to see a ballet living up to the lightness and fluffiness of whipped cream itself. The show features confectionery treats such as marzipan, sugarplums, gingerbread brought to life by the dancers and the genius Mark Ryden’s costuming.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts – American Ballet Theatre’s Whipped Cream – Princess Tea Flower – Sketches for Whipped Cream by Mark Ryden and Stella Abrera as Princess Tea Flower – Photo by Doug Gifford

Mark serves as both the scenic and costume designer whose cohesive vision received many murmurs of surprise and applause. The set’s delectable details that create a playful act one and intriguing set up to act two are not to be missed. Neither are the giant heads for the priest and doctor or the giant puppetry of stuffed animals.

“Whipped Cream” will ignite your inventive and imagining spirit as you indulge in a true ballet treat! Look for further ABT performances of “Whipped Cream” at the Metropolitan Opera House from May to July 2017 and be transported to sweet entertainment!

Segerstrom Center for the Arts – American Ballet Theatre’s Whipped Cream – Sketches for Whipped Cream by Mark Ryden

Act 1 Focus Grabbing Standout: Joseph Gorak as Prince Cocoa whose powerful leaps were accompanied by beautiful silent landings.

Act 2 Shimmering Highlight: Mademoiselle Marianne Chartreuse brought to life by Catherine (Cate) Hurlin capturing whimsy and delight while dancing alongside Roman Zhurbin and Duncan Lyle as liquor bottles. The three are able to aid the boy escaping the doctor who becomes intoxicated.

Printables Inspired by “Whipped Cream” on Sale at Shining Inspiration Etsy Shop and Tulle Skirt by Space 46

To purchase a printable quote and to see others inspired by the show please visit Shining Inspiration’s Etsy shop.

For a pre-show or post-show treat in the Costa Mesa area head on over to The Royal Tea and Treatery (a gluten and dairy free facility). Perhaps your sweet tooth can indulge in a mini desert with a cup of tea or a salad and sandwich for more filling fare.

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Timeless Theatre Weekend Part 2: Circus 1903

Craftsmanship, showmanship and ingenuity come together to create early 20th century circus entertainment with astounding 21st century puppetry mastery shared as a uniquely imaginative show.

Circus 1903 –The Golden Age of Circus is a must see sensational show transforming a theater space to the circus grounds of 1903 infused with the nostalgia of a time past where specialized human skill and a lifetime dedication to craft take the spotlight. Brilliant doesn’t even begin to describe it!

I enjoyed seeing the United States premiere run at the Pantages Theatre on Sunday. From the beginning the audience is invited into the world of circus by charismatic Ringmaster Willy Whipsnade (David Williamson).

The Elastic Dislocationist-Senayet Asefa Amare, Circus 1903 Sideshow Act 1

There is a charged electricity of oohs and ahhs connecting performer to audience with one astounding act after another. The producers of the show (Simon Painter, Tim Lawson and MagicSpace Entertainment) are expertly adept in lining the right amount of variety and length of acts to delight children and adults alike. The special effects are the people themselves which make the show all the more special.

The Lopez Family, Johan and Jonatan Lopez, Maria Jose Pontigo, Daredevils of the Highwire in Circus 1903 Act 2

The pace of the circus is driven masterfully by the dramatic music (composer: Evan Jolly) adding to the excitement. I marveled how each performer’s movements and trick timing matched the music’s rise and fall. The special touches of the music reflect some Latin flavor for Los Lopez’s death-defying highwire or the music’s playful excitement for Fratelli Rossi’s human body foot-juggling is superb.

Other special moments include Williamson’s interaction with children brought from the audience in act 2 that is both engaging and endearing.

One of the highlights of the show is when life-size puppets of a mother elephant named Queenie and a baby elephant named Peanut enter. Suspension of disbelief and a mind’s ability to believe is harnessed by designers Mervyn Millar and Tracy Waller for the company Significant Object. This reinvention of a classic circus act combines human like eyes with elephant’s graceful movement.

This circus is an inventive twist on an entertainment classic that has arrived just at the right time. Barnum and Bailey after over 100 years have decided to close their big top. The timing of this new show is just what audiences need to escape, to laugh again and to enjoy time with others.

Enjoy Circus 1903-The Golden Age of Circus with those you love when their circus caravan sets up in a theatre near you! The wonderment of human skill and laughs of merriment are timeless! Please check out their website for more information.

 

To buy this instand downloadable printable and to see more Circus inspired quotes please visit Shining Inspiration’s Etsy Shop page by clicking here.

To buy this Etsy printable please visit the Shining Inspiration shop here.
To buy this downloadable printable please visit Shining Inspiration’s Etsy shop

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Timeless Theatre Weekend Part 1: Sat. #NewsiesForever

The entire Newsies story taken from screen to stage back to screen is one of triumph and feel-good entertainment that certainly brings the magic of Disney.

Disney’s NEWSIES: The Broadway Musical made its worldwide cinema debut this past Feb. 15, 18 and 22 courtesy of Fathom events taking the sold-out Broadway musical to more than 700 movie theaters across the United States.

The musical was filmed onstage at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, CA bringing Alan Menken’s music, Jack Feldman’s lyrics, Harvey Fierstein’s book and Jeff Calhoun’s stage direction to audiences for the price of a movie ticket.

The show takes you to 1899 where newsboys took a stand against the giant publishers of the newspaper world in a strike that galvanized the ragtag youth of New York in a classic David and Goliath story.

The superstar cast included the leads and some memorable faces from the Broadway production combined with the national tour cast. It was thrilling to see all the actors link arms to form a new band of brothers who were “all for one!” The comradery of Broadway originals Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly), Kara Lindsay (Katherine Plumber), Ben Fankhauser (Davey), and Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Crutchie) shined on screen.

Some of my favorite moments unique to this film version included the varying shots depicting a closer look into a character’s inner thought life. The scenes that highlighted relationships were richly flushed out with details such as those on the rooftop. Kara Lindsay’s “Watch What Happens’ solo took on a whole new level of meaning where you saw and experienced the mental gymnastics her character goes through for each lyric.

Christopher Gattelli’s Tony award winning choreography with signature gymnastics and dance moves is elevated to a new level of appreciation as well. The movie version lets you see the intricacy of difficulty while never losing sight of the dynamic athleticism sweeping the entire stage. For instance, Michael Dameski’s turns on a newspaper ending “Seize the Day” is a standout moment shot from different angles. The tapping sounds are as clear and crisp as ever and the facial expressions tell a compelling story with each leap and head spot.

Other standout moments come from Jeremy Jordan who brings his stage, film and television star power to the newsboy leader Jack Kelly. He is able to find the perfect blend of charisma and chutzpah needed for Jack.   Audiences are swept up in emotion with Jeremy’s powerhouse vocals in “Santa Fe” and are endeared to Jack’s unique relationships to each of the newsboys.

Kara Lindsay as Katherine Plumber and Jeremy Jordan as Jack Kelly in Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical (Credit: Disney Theatrical Productions)

Movie theater audiences can cheer right along with the filmed audience when Tommy Bracco (Spot Colon) enters or when Andrew Keenan-Bolger’s Crutchie is released from the refuge. In addition, laughs can be had at jokes that hit right home by Ben Cook (Racetrack), Nico DeJesus (Romeo) and Ethan Steiner (Les). Steven Blanchard’s Pulitzer and Aisha De Haas as Medda Larkin are a joy to watch too!

I am so thankful that more people will see such strong male dancing and be inspired to stand united to make a difference! Both the dance moves and the courageous moves to stand up for one another are timeless visuals to serve this generation and the next! #NewsiesForever

And now “The World Will Know” too as this filmed live version will air once more on February 22 at 7 PM in the United States but also in movie theaters across the world. For more information please visit FathomEvents.com

On Saturday, I had the pleasure seeing Newsies at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre built in 1926.

Pre-show:  Audiences were treated to hearing Disney songs and Newsies signature songs from organist Rob Richards.

Post-show: The audience was invited into the adjacent Disney’s Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop and were given a sample of their famous chocolate. Sweet treats from the menu served as the ultimate grand finale.

Kate Spade Newspaper Print Canvas Tote, Newsies, Stories of the Unlikely Broadway Hit book

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Newsies Inspired Printables Available for purchase at Shining Inspiration’s Etsy shop & Newsboy cap from Village Hat Shop

For a different kind of captivating magic check out what I did on Sunday in my next post!
Let us jump from 1899 to 1903 in Timeless Theatre Weekend Part 2: Circus 1903 posted tomorrow!

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A Whale of a Tale, Moby Dick at South Coast Repertory

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production Moby Dick at South Coast Repertory creates “wow” moments, a visual feast and a theatre treat!

Moby Dick at South Coast Repertory
Raymond Fox, Micah Figueroa, Javen Ulambayer, Kareem Bandealy, Jamie Abelson and Anthony Fleming III in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick adapted by David Catlin. Photo by Liz Lauren. © Lookingglass Theatre Company and Liz Lauren.

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick in association with Actors Gymnasium is a visceral immersive and visually stunning dive into Herman Melville’s classic novel adapted into a 2 hours and 15 min show by director David Catlin.

I had the pleasure of experiencing the show’s west coast premiere at South Coast Repertory’s Segerstrom Stage in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Your ears and eyes will be engaged with the actors who use astonishing acrobatic skills to create movement on a ship, drowning, extracting oil and hunting. The haunting musical call of the Fates/sirens (Kelley Abell, Cordelia Dewdney, Kasey Foster) and recreation of the sea make the musical elements and the sea dominant players themselves. The use of fabric and unique movement transitions give the water a mercurial temperament and paint the waves as a treacherous beauty.

The actors ride the range of emotion with Captain Ahab’s (Christopher Donahue) driving mad obsession in hunting the white whale that injured him. He plunges the ship Pequod and its crew including Ishmael (Jamie Abelson), Starbuck (Walter Owen Briggs) into inner and outer turmoil. The madness leads up to some of the best moments of the show where the captain and crew meet their so called fates. Watch out how the characters of the Fates create the White Whale, the mesmerizing lighting cues (Lighting Design by William C. Kirkham) and how the audience is swept under the water in the process.

Moby Dick, South Coast Repertory Theatre
Anthony Fleming III, Christopher Donahue, Emma Cadd, and Jamie Abelson in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick adapted by David Catlin. Photo by Liz Lauren. © Lookingglass Theatre Company and Liz Lauren.

The stunning aerial staging and circus athleticism choreographed by Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi and played on Courtney O Neill’s brilliant set design is not to be missed.  If you are in Southern California catch the remaining performances of the show Feb. 14 –Feb. 19 at South Coast Repertory. There are numerous “WOW” moments that you will surely talk about later.

Audiences can continue to be enthralled by this production when it returns June 7, 2017-Sept. 3, 2017 to the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago.

Make every day Valentine’s Day filled with love for your significant other or gal pal! Think about giving the gift of a shared memory with tickets to the theatre!

Plus, make it an entire night out with dinner at the Water Grill off Bristol Steet for an evening performance or at Wahoo’s Fish Taco (also off Bristol St. in Costa Mesa) for a matinee. Add some sea salt caramel chocolates, some roses, and an apple pie pop in a Kate Spade whale tote bag. Tie the entire presentation together with a framed printable or a card that says “I whale always love you.” Surprise your friend with the tickets and you will have a WHALE of a good time!

Moby Dick Whale Printable
Printable is available for purchase at Shining Inspiration Etsy shop

For tickets and more information please visit South Coast Repertory’s website. To buy this whale printable to frame yourself visit this Etsy shop’s page at https://www.etsy.com/shop/shininginspiration.

I hope you can make every day a Valentine’s Day! SEAS the day and create a shared memory with someone you love!

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Tap Into a Sunny Outlook: 42nd Street

sunnyside

In the musical 42nd Street’s National Tour, Peggy Sawyer (Caitlin Ehlinger) maintained her bright positive attitude and willingness to go after her dream with tenacity and joy! When someone was a naysayer and acted in cynicism to discourage, Peggy was the refreshing light who was willing to love her job even in the chorus. She made a positive difference with what she was given, held onto her dream and her true friends even when she found stardom. Peggy won over those naysayers by being herself!

Be your own kind of Peggy at your workplace or life! Embrace who you are, go after your dreams, appreciate what you have and love those around you not for their status but for true friendship.

The company of 42nd Street featuring Caitlin Ehlinger as Peggy Sawyer
The company of 42nd Street featuring Caitlin Ehlinger as Peggy Sawyer

PEGGY: Miss Jones and Mr. Barry just invited everyone. Is something funny?

JULIAN MARSH: You are. Eyes shining like a kid at Christmas, dreaming of parties and opening nights, the tinsel and glitter of musical comedy. Just look at yourself – a speck of dust on this stage, indistinguishable from the forty other specks of dust I put there!

PEGGY: I know that, Mr. Marsh. But put all those specks together, you have something alive and beautiful that can reach out to a thousand people we’ve never seen before.

JULIAN MARSH: Broadways dreams, Sawyer! We’ve all have ‘em!

PEGGY: Well, I mean to hold on to mine, Mr. Marsh!

It was a joy to watch the production at Segerstrom Center for the Arts! Thank you to the cast and creative team for bringing shining positivity!  I love Caitlin Ehlinger’s performance as Peggy Sawyer with her energetic tapping and beaming smile that lights up the stage!  Check the website for more tour information!

42ndstreet

Monday Moments and Musical Mondays: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

hunchbackquote

The US premier of the musical production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at La Jolla Playhouse soars past Disney’s cartoon version to reveal epic storytelling backed by a dramatic score.  What resonated in me deeply was the weight of the question weaved throughout great storytelling.  “Who is the monster and who is the man?”

The two and a half hour production entertains swiftly starting from Quasimodo’s physical transformation from a regular man to a disfigured one.  Actor, Michael Arden makes this dramatic transformation by putting on a hump, distorting his body and smearing black streaks across his face right in front of the audience.  Throughout the production there is a mixture of stunning vocals and theatrical spectacle telling the story through dark suspenseful scenes as well as joyous moments like the gypsy parade of Topsy Turvey—a familiar tune by Disney’s Alan Menken version. The ending dramatically concludes effectively as it began with Arden removing the hump and black streaks from his face.

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda and the cast of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" at the La Jolla Playhouse.-Kevin Berne
Ciara Renee as Esmeralda and the cast of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the La Jolla Playhouse.-Kevin Berne

It is at these metamorphoses and unmasked transitions where the show makes the leap from lighthearted jokes to anchoring down one of the messages that the complexity of a life can’t be forced into a shallow mold. The production’s use of kindness and yearning to fulfill human desires rings true for the audience.

The show had me wonder how many times do people in real life put on their version of a hump and smear makeup on their face to fulfill the world’s expectation of them and to hide what they treasure most? How many times are people expected to judge too quickly? What makes a monster and what makes a man?

Michael Arden (foreground) and the cast of La Jolla Playhouse's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." — Kevin Berne
Michael Arden (foreground) as Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” — Kevin Berne

You can catch this epic tale of “passion and hope” at  La Jolla Playhouse until December 14th, at Paper Mill Playhouse from March 4-29th and possibly on Broadway!

What: Inspired by the classic Victor Hugo novel and the only stage collaboration between two giants of American musical theater. Music by Alan Menken (Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Little Shop of Horrors), lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin). An intimate retelling of the famous love story, with a lush, emotionally rich score and a production that will leave you inspired. Not recommended for children under the age of 10.  A US premiere by two Broadway legends.

When: La Jolla Playhouse through December 14th, Paper Mill Playhouse March 4-29th

 

Happy Monday!  See beauty in everyone!

 

Monday Moments: Step into the Light

Sun

I got to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard of Oz at the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts and it amazes me how each time I see a version of the story I pick up on something new. This production cleverly combines the classic lyrics from the movie with new songs to enjoy.

Some of the classic lyrics are the optimistic voices that occur before the beloved four characters enter the Emerald City.

wizofoz_musicaltourYou’re out of the woods
You’re out of the dark
You’re out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light

Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the face of the earth or the sky
Hold onto your breath
Hold onto your heart
Hold onto your hope
March up to the gate and bid it open

Some of the new lyrics from the song “Already Home” include the reminder that “home is a place in your heart” but sometimes “we have to finish to begin” and “we have to lose before we win.” Enjoy the journey!

Happy Monday!

For more information about “The Wizard of Oz” tour and where to buy tickets click here.

Sleeping Beauty-Matthew Bourne

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Matthew Bourne’s “Sleeping Beauty” is a visual masterpiece that extends gothic undertones into the well-designed set, lighting, costumes, overall staging and dancing itself.

Bourne’s creative ingenuity is highlighted through the utilization of Tchaikovsky’s classic music with a newer energy that is bewitching.

I like some of the contemporary twists and the passage of time that moves the story along with touches of comedy. For example, this production swaps out pointe work and classic ballet phrases for vampires and inclusion of different dance styles per act.

Special moments to look out for are the use of puppetry to portray the younger Aurora and the staging with the conveyor belt type movement effect.

This production gives you flashes of an enchanting realm beyond that might leave you shivering with delicious horror or give you lovely pieces of dreams.

Go see the production of “Sleeping Beauty” at the Ahmanson Theatre that closes Dec. 1 and experience it yourself.

Click here to buy tickets.

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Friday Film: “Oklahoma!” Beautiful Mornings

One of my favorite musicals is the filmed 1998 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” starring Hugh Jackman as Curly. The musical opens with Jackman richly signing the song “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’!”

“Oklahoma!” launched the collaboration between the composing and writing team Rodgers and Hammerstein and celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. beautifulmornings2

I like how the musical opens with a song about finding beautiful positivity in the morning and later explores the message of tolerance.

How do you start the day with beauty? Happy Friday!

The taped 1998 version starring Jackman can be enjoyed in high definition this Friday, November 15 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival. Please check local listings.  If you miss it on PBS then watch it on YouTube by clicking here.