Monday, December 16, 2013

Aladdin And His Winter Wish: Teen Dream plus Ben Vereen!*

Last Wednesday we attended the opening night performance and festivities for ALADDIN AND HIS WINTER WISH at the Pasadena Playhouse. I just have to start off this review with this photo, because there was a live camel in the courtyard, which you don't see everyday. Or maybe you do see this every day, in which case just skip over this fantastic image:

(Completely unrelated, Ron Jeremy walked right by me after I snapped this. There is absolutely no punchline to that – just one of those things that happens in life. While you're snapping a photo of a live camel in a courtyard.)

(Although I should add that what followed was a slightly awkward conversation with my teen girls when they asked, "Who's Ron Jeremy?")

A press release describes the play like this:
An updated version of the classic Arabian Nights tale, in the style of a traditional British family Panto, ALADDIN AND HIS WINTER WISH is a singing, swinging and soaring adventure that features family-friendly magic, with a comedic twist, dancing (with “So You Think You Can Dance” alumni), a live pony and contemporary music. A Panto is known for its interactive style and humor that appeals to everyone from ages 2 – 102! 
I took my two teens with me, mainly because they're huge musical theater fans and also because they wanted to check out Jordan Fisher (Aladdin) from Disney's popular Teen Beach Movie. Let me just say they were very impressed, both with his singing and acting abilities as well as his ability to look attractive in his sleeveless shirts and harem pants.

He definitely has great stage presence, as does his costar Ashley Argota (from Nickelodeon's True Jackson VP.) The two provide a lot for the tween/teen audience to relate to with their youthful performances and energetic renditions of pop tunes from One Direction, Bruno Mars and Carly Rae Jepsen. (As did the adults - how can you not want to dance to 'Call Me Maybe'?)

Bruce Vilanch as 'Widow Twankey' was the show's centerpiece with his huge presence and over-the-top humor. His costumes alone are worth the ticket price. My daughters immediately said his performance reminded them of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray and that's no surprise – Vilanch played the part on Broadway.

But I was most excited to see Ben Vereen in his role as the Genie (even though my girls had no idea who he was.) I haven't seen him appear in anything for awhile, and it was great to see him singing and dancing (yes he still has the moves!) on stage at the Pasadena Playhouse – it made me want to run out and rent All That Jazz to see more of him and to show my daughters his early work. (Hopefully they won't ask to see the same of Ron Jeremy.)

If you want to take your family to a unique, family friendly, all ages show this holiday, definitely check out ALADDIN AND HIS WINTER WISH at the Pasadena Playhouse. Performances run through December 29 and you can click here to purchase tickets. There are also a couple of special experiences your kids can take part in, like Golden Tickets (a special on-stage sing-a-long experience during the show) and Character Breakfasts.

*My sincere apologies for the ridiculous rhyming title.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

Pin It

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Villa Metro: You're Invited To Experience Awesome

You're invited to experience awesome! The awesome of Villa Metro, that is, a new development of 315 contemporary Mediterranean-inspired homes in Valencia. I'm not sure just how awesome, as I haven't been there yet, but today I'll be getting a preview and tour of the new community and it sounds great. Awesome, even.

A few of the things that I'm looking forward to checking out are the trails, recreation center, community vegetable garden and especially the easy access to Metrolink. It sounds pretty amazing – I should probably leave my checkbook at home.

I'll be posting some pictures and a review of the development in the next few days, but in the meantime if you'd like to check it out for yourself, they are having a Grand Opening that is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, August 17 and 18 from 10am – 4pm. On Saturday there'll be a Mediterranean street festival with live music, food and prizes, and on Sunday they'll have refreshments, giveaways and music. Head on down! Be awesome!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   

Pin It

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cavalia Odysseo: From Horses to Hot Guys, Something For The Entire Family

Last week we were lucky enough to be invited to opening night of Cavalia Odysseo, taking place in that huge big-top white tent you've seen in Burbank. You've probably heard it referred to as "that horse show" but it's really much more – an uplifting, energetic, beautiful blend of theatrics, live music, acrobatics, dance – and yes, horses.

Lots of horses. Sixty-seven of them to be exact. Which is why I was a little alarmed when minutes before the show my 14-year-old says, "I hate horses," in that blasé, matter-of-fact way she usually says, "I need three dollars for donuts." We contemplated selling her ticket and leaving her with the popcorn vendor but there were people watching, so off to our seats we went.

It only took a few minutes to change her mind. It's easy to underestimate the effect live animals have on a couple of city girls, whose only animal contact is with our neurotic house cat. From the moment the horses appeared on stage, my girls were captivated. The interaction between the horses and the performers (while always gentle) is exciting and mesmerizing. It had equal parts of theatrics (the acrobats seemed to defy gravity) and an almost zen calm about it. For once my girls' eyes were filled with wonder instead of the reflection of their iPhones.

By intermission "I hate horses" had turned into "I want to work in a horse show." I'm not making this up – she would have signed up right there if they'd had any need for a 14-year-old rider who'd never ridden a horse before.

I should add here that part of the appeal for my 14 and 16-year-old daughters was their fascination with the majestic, muscular creatures performing before them. Yes, I'm talking about the numerous shirtless male riders who make up the cast of the show. While my husband and I were in awe of their riding skills and dexterity as they jumped, flipped and somersaulted off the horses racing across the stage, our girls were Tweeting things like "Hot guys on horses. #heaven." Either way, we were all extremely impressed with their talents.

In addition to the animal and acrobatic performances, the set itself is breathtaking. The 15,000 square-foot stage resembles a hilly landscape and a video backdrop (the size of three IMAX screens) changes to create various seasons and locations, from the African desert to the American Southwest. One of our favorite parts was the finale, where a lake suddenly appears – 80,000-gallons of water flood the stage in less than three minutes.

Another aspect of the show that we were so impressed with – and is often overlooked – was the live music. If you looked closely up and to the sides of the stage, you could see the musicians performing amongst the "trees" – an intriguing sight for my musical husband and kids.

My entire family whole-heartedly recommends this show for all ages. No love of horses is required, just an appreciation for a beautifully done and artistically produced spectacle that turned a 14-year-old horse hater into an enthusiastic equine admirer. Note to Cavalia producers: She'll be ready to work soon – she's already practicing some training moves on our cat.

Cavalia Odysseo is playing through March 24 
777 N. Front St., Burbank

Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m. Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Call 1-866-999-8111 for tickets or  
order online here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive four press tickets for my family to see Cavalia Odysseo. All opinions expressed are my own, except those of my 14-year-old daughter since, you know, we have no control over what teenagers think.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   

Pin It

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It Was A Good Day: SPUD Showed Up At My Door

I'm not a fan of going to the grocery store; the crowded parking lot, the long lines, the unflattering lighting. And it's even worse during the holidays, although I have to admit I did get an adrenaline rush out of wrestling that woman over that last Christmas ham. (Sorry, mom – hope your shoulder heals.)

So I was thrilled when I was asked to check out, a company that delivers locally grown organic produce and groceries right to your door. All the great stuff that I usually seek out at the grocery store, magically appearing in my kitchen with just a click of a mouse. Too bad the lighting in my office doesn't flatter my chin any better.

Here's a little bit about, from their website:
In 1997, SPUD.COM was founded based on the idea that there was a better, more sustainable way to buy groceries. Not only was there an opportunity to directly connect communities with local farmers and food producers, ordering food online and using a just-in-time home delivery system meant a better product and convenience for customers.

When you purchase local food, you are involved in an important movement that contributes to your local economy, improves food security, reduces your environmental impact and provides more nutrient rich foods.
  • Over 50% of our products are locally sourced, which creates jobs and reduces transportation emissions.
  • Our goal is to buy from as many local farms and suppliers as possible. By buying locally, you get fresher, tastier food and help support your local community.
  • We sell a growing list of Fair Trade products guaranteeing better wages and conditions for farmers and food producers
  • 100% of our produce is either certified organic or local and sustainably produced, while over 50% of our grocery items are organic with the remainder being naturally produced with no chemicals or preservatives. We sell a variety of eco-friendly products like recycled toilet paper and phosphate-free detergents.
  • Our delivery service reduces pollution and congestion. When a van leaves our warehouse with 100 orders, it decreases the number of vehicles on the road.
I was impressed with the selection of products on – several varieties of baguette, for instance (including a dark chocolate one that I resisted in a favor of a plain one) and lots of cheeses (including our choice, a Dubliner white cheddar.) Plenty of locally-grown, organic produce – from the everyday (apples and bananas) to my favorite Japanese squash (Kabocha.) And a big selection of staples like canned beans, tomatoes, rices, pastas and grains to keep your pantry stocked. The only thing missing: the current issue of People magazine I always pick up at the check-out line.

And best of all – on most products I found the prices comparable with my local grocery store; $2.89 for that aforementioned Artisan baguette, $4.89 for the cheese. A bag of broccoli florets was $4.99, the same price of its non-organic counterpart at the grocery store. Add to all this the $4.99 I saved from not buying that People and I think I definitely came out ahead, although woefully uninformed about Kim Kardashian's recent OB visit.

(One unique feature – has some special product categories you can shop by, including Fair Trade, 100 Mile Diet,  Local and Picks For Kids.)

I placed my order right before Christmas, and it was scheduled to arrive just as we were leaving on a short vacation during the week before New Year's. This was perfect, as we were set to stay at a cabin in Yosemite, one without phone service or internet. I knew I was going to need a lot of food to keep my mind off of all my friends' Facebook posts of cute cats I was missing.

The food arrived just on schedule, in sturdy plastic crates. All the food was packaged for maximum freshness – cold foods were packed in silver insulated pouches with ice packs and frozen food with dry ice. Part of my order included frozen chicken breasts and they were frozen solid when they arrived. (Added bonus: Those silver pouches make awesome evening bags – finally I can take a sandwich to the opera!)

While shopping for groceries on will probably not eliminate my trips to my local grocery store entirely, I do intend to use it as a way to get more organic and locally grown produce into my kitchen. And I can't wait to try it out for my next big holiday get-together – although I will miss fighting over those last few Easter hams.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive product for review from Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery, a company that sources local and fresh produce for delivery to your doorstep, as part of a campaign with All opinions are my own. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

Pin It

Related Posts with Thumbnails