An American in Paris Dances Onto the Starlight Stage

I’ve seen a lot of musicals in my life, but never one like An American in Paris.

Imagine a story told in song, like an other musical, but the actors are professional ballet dancers. So not only do they sing beautifully, but they walk with the grace of people that have trained for most of their lives, and glide across the stage, into each others’ arms.

The story, set in post-war Paris, is romantic, and told through dance as much as its told through words. The set magical, and the show itself is nothing short of delightful.

 

From KCstarlight.com:

An American in Paris is the romantic new musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. Inspired by the 1951 Academy Award-winning film of the same name starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, An American in Paris takes audiences back in time through vivid storytelling and dance sequences. In post-World War II Paris, American soldier Jerry Mulligan is awestruck by the beautiful ballerina Lise, triggering his decision to stay in the city and explore his passion for painting. From that magical moment, Jerry becomes engulfed in a whirlwind of new experiences, friendships and romances.

 

An American in Paris’ enchanting choreography, beautiful score drawn from the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin, 14-piece live orchestra and a cast brimming with professional ballet artists will make for an evening to remember under the stars!

Tickets for An American in Paris at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $14 to $142. Tickets are available online at www.kcstarlight.com, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

I was given two complimentary tickets to the performance in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.

MAMMA MIA! Says Farewell at Starlight Theatre This Weekend

It’s your last chance to see the touring production of MAMMA MIA! as they say “farewell”, so get yourselves to Starlight Theatre THIS WEEKEND before they leave and the Jersey Boys come to town.

MAMMA MIA! is So. Much. Fun. The songs have you tapping your feet and clapping your hands all the way through, and the family drama leaves you wanting more and wondering what will happen next.

It was a beautiful, PERFECT night for the show last night, and it looks to be a perfect weekend for it, as well.

From KCstarlight.com:

MAMMA MIA! is one of the most successful musicals of all time, the eighth-longest running show in Broadway history, and one of only five musicals to have played for more than 10 years on Broadway (October 2001-September 2015). The show originated in London’s West End in 1999 and continues there today.

Inspired by the storytelling magic of ABBA’s songs from “Dancing Queen” and “S.O.S.” to “Money, Money, Money” and “Take a Chance on Me,” MAMMA MIA! is a celebration of mothers and daughters, old friends and new family found.

The musical tells the story of an independent, single mother, Donna Sheridan, who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island. Donna is about to let go of Sophie, the spirited daughter she’s raised alone. For Sophie’s wedding, Donna has invited her two lifelong best girlfriends – practical and no-nonsense Rosie and wealthy multi-divorcee Tanya – from her one-time backing band, Donna and the Dynamos.

from kcstarlight.com

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie has invited three guests of her own. On a quest to find the identity of her father to walk her down the aisle, Sophie brings back three men from Donna’s past to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier. Over 24 chaotic, magical hours, new love blooms and old romances are rekindled on a lush island full of possibilities.

From kcstarlight.com

 

The story line, about making a life for yourself, valuing the family you have and wishing for the family you’ve always dreamed of, is led by the timeless music of ABBA (sung by the extremely talented cast). You will laugh out loud, long for these characters to find their way, and sing along. GUARANTEED. To the very, very end, you will have fun.

Tickets for MAMMA MIA! at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $14 to $127. Tickets are available online at www.kcstarlight.com, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

I was given two tickets to the show for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own (as always).

Under The Sea: The Little Mermaid Opens Starlight’s 67th Season

Starlight Theatre opened its 67th season of live Broadway entertainment last night with its production of Disney The Little Mermaid, and the girls and I were there to see it happen.

The show runs through June 11, with a total of 8 shows to choose from. Tickets for Disney The Little Mermaid at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $14 to $102. Tickets are available online at www.kcstarlight.com, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132.  All performances begin at 8 p.m.

Based upon Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless tale of love and nearly 30 years after the beloved animated film was released, Disney The Little Mermaid continues to spark the imaginations of the young and young at heart. The musical tells the story of an adventurous young mermaid who lives in a magical kingdom beneath the sea, yet longs to leave her ocean home and live in the world above. It also features the songs we all know and love, including such favorites as “Part of Your World,” “Kiss the Girl” and the Academy Award-winning “Under the Sea.” Along with the classic songs from the Disney film, the musical contains over a dozen new songs. My personal favorite of these new songs was “She’s In Love,” which showcased the mersisters and Flounder (Flounder was awesome, by the way).

We’ve been fans of the Disney movie for as long as we can remember, and we were so excited to see it live on stage (I was just as excited as the girls were, I’m not ashamed to admit it), and I can promise you, we sang those songs all the way home. (Okay, I did. The girls fell asleep after about five minutes in the car.)

Cast of Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo by Mark & Tracy Photography

 

I am always, ALWAYS impressed with the shows at Starlight. They are professional, entertaining, and often, spectacles of color, sound, and energy, and Little Mermaid did not disappoint. The set was actually more sparse than a lot of Starlight’s productions, but it went seamlessly from underwater to the surface scenes and back again.

AND, extra awesome bonus: for this season on, Starlight has two large screens above the stage, so you can see close ups of the actors, even from the far back seats.

Fun fact: the original Broadway cast had Titus from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in the role of Sebastian.

I really felt (and my daughters agreed) that every actor had an incredible singing voice….and you can’t necessarily say that about every show you go to, no matter where or what it is.

Diana Huey in Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo by Mark & Tracy Photography.

 

Jennifer Allen in Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo by Mark & Tracy Photography

 

Next up in the schedule is Mamma Mia! (and I am SO excited)!  Check out the full summer Broadway lineup on KcStarlight.com.

I received two complimentary tickets in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are completely, utterly, undeniably my own.

First of the Lasts (Grand Finale LTYM Show Piece)

This is what I read in our grand finale Listen To Your Mother: Kansas City show yesterday. I wrote it between our first and second (final) rehearsals, and my son gave me his blessing to read it in front of the audience (while he was helping me get the show notebook together). I’m still very much processing what the end of the show means for me and feels like to me, but this, sharing my essay, is the easy part.

photo by Sarah Guthrie

First of the Lasts

I walked through an invisible wall, a thick barrier from the hallway to the sensory overload that was the fifth grade classroom. There were eggs being dyed, donuts being eaten, laughter, confusion, and the communication struggles that can only be between a room full of eleven year olds and a group of their moms. The high volume didn’t mean that instructions were actually being heard or attention was where it belonged, but even amid the exhaustion that comes from adults corralling two dozen kids and kids letting loose without actually being out of control, everyone was having fun.

 

It was my oldest’s Easter party at school. Like a typical unorganized mom of four, I probably wouldn’t have thought about the fact that it was his very last school party before he goes off to middle school in the fall unless the head room mom hadn’t sent a note home saying as much. In just one short paragraph, she reminded us that we would never again have the chance to spend an hour in a sugar-induced room of chaos with our kids and that they are, in fact, growing up too fast.

 

As the oldest child, he’s gotten the shaft many a time. Once he was old enough to go to school, he had a toddler sister (and shortly after) a baby sister. Then his baby brother came along. All of these siblings demanded care during the school day and weren’t all that pleasant to take to their brother’s classes. They did go once in awhile, when I wasn’t able to take them to their grandpa for babysitting, but I was so preoccupied by keeping them out of the party treats and classroom toys and holiday crafts that the best I could usually do was take a picture of big brother and little sibling to at least prove we were there to help and celebrate.

 

Once his younger sisters got a little older and went to school themselves, we had discovered that they required a gluten free diet. I’m not sure if you’ve dealt with food allergies at school, specifically during the times when the entire class period revolves around food (like birthdays and holiday parties), but I think you can probably imagine that I felt better being in the classroom with them to make sure they didn’t eat a gluten-filled treat from a well-meaning but clueless parent volunteer.

 

Of course, then all of the kids were old enough to go to school, which meant that I was free to help out during the day! It also meant that I am one person and they were in four different classrooms. I finally got the chance to see the baby of the family in the school environment, so I went to his parties sometimes. I played the gluten police at the girls’ parties on many occasions. And my oldest, who doesn’t often get worked up about things, would, every once in a while, ask me why I never came to his parties.

 

That isn’t to say that I always screwed the biggest brother over when it came to school. I sat next to him on the stuffy, bumpy school bus for field trips a few times. We visited museums and nature centers. I sat with him and his friends while we ate sack lunches and I listened to them talk about Minecraft and movies and whatever else they loved and I didn’t really understand.

 

As he gets older, I’ll freak out about each new thing he goes through first, like the braces, and advanced movie ratings, and school health talk experiences. Thank god for my friends with older kids that have already gone through this stuff and let me pick their brains when my son comes home from school and says “I think I need to wear deodorant….my armpits are starting to stink.”

 

So when that paper came home telling me that my boy was walking into middle school in the fall and that if I didn’t make it to the party, I would never get another chance, I made sure to get it on the calendar. I didn’t call the head room mom to tell her I could be there and help, though….I just showed up. As a result, the other moms were assigned jobs and I got to just go and watch. I did set out the snacks while the other moms got the groups through their stations, but for the most part, I got to stand on the perimeter and chat, take a few pictures, and just experience. Not bad for my son’s very last school holiday party. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he appreciated that I came to his classroom and stayed there while the other three parties in his siblings’ classes were also taking place.

 

It’s all about learning as you go with your oldest child, and with a big family, sometimes you just can’t give everyone all of the attention that they crave. But a little goes a long way.
I’d like to think that I treat all of my kids the same, but I know that’s not entirely true. I expect more from my oldest, and sometimes think that because he is the oldest, he can handle the disappointment of losing out on my time. But I’ve also had more time with him and get to experience everything new as he does. My mom has always said that kids are like pancakes….you always burn the first one. Hopefully, you can scrape off the black bits and smother it with butter and enjoy it just as much as the golden brown stack underneath.

Puppy Parade

I don’t really talk to them. I mean, when they come back in the house after a potty break, I tell them how sweet they are. My pups. But that’s it.

For a few weeks after school started this past fall, and all of the kids left for eight hours every day, I was sad….a little lost. But then I realized that I really, really enjoyed having the house to myself, and the quiet, and the freedom to go someplace only having to worry about my own self. The introvert in me rejoiced (and continues to rejoice).

Some people feel like they need to go out and get a job when all of their kids go to school, which is awesome to be able to do without worrying about day care costs as much. But I work from home (mostly) and can Netflix binge TV-MA shows while I work (because aren’t all the really good shows nowadays rated TV-MA??), so it’s kind of perfect.

I’m never lonely, though. I mean, I’ve got this little girl glued to my side nearly every second of the day, and can’t walk or sit down anywhere without another (bigger, older guy) plopping on the floor. Actually, it’s more like easing onto the floor, because you know…he’s old.

We recently took in another guy that needed a new place to live, another heeler named Rusty. He’s younger and chubbier and doesn’t always tack himself onto me. But, he also doesn’t let me go anywhere without being involved. Although, he’s the only one that doesn’t follow me into the bathroom. In fact, the first time I got up and went to the bathroom with him here, he stopped at the doorway and acted a little embarrassed. Which is TOTALLY fine with me because it gets to be kind of a full house in there as it is.

Most days I do an exercise video, which is so much easier without the rest of the family talking to me or needing something from me or watching me. Louise does think that that’s the perfect time to play ball, but you know, whatever. We don’t get outside for ball much during the day, so I’m happy to oblige. Grim has his spot on the couch, and as long as I don’t give him any attention and then walk away, he stays there. Russellmania didn’t get the memo about mama’s exercising, though, and it took a few days for him to…not sit in front of me and stare.

So anyway, I’m not a crazy dog lady. Yet. I don’t have one-sided conversations or anything. And I would never use any kind of baby talk when I say hi to them. Never. Not ever. Ahem. I’m not like that. Yet.

I just lead the puppy parade.

Six is Practically Out of the House.

The no-longer-a-baby baby is six today. S.I.X.

 

Our youngest is almost done with kindergarten. He’s starting to read. He’s got his own opinions about EVERYTHING. He fake cries a lot, and snuggles a lot. He hugs his big brother and tells him that he loves him in his sweetest little boy voice. And he means it.

He changes his mind as quickly as he can make it, or he can hang on to his decision until the end of time. It’s anybody’s guess.

“Smile.”

“I am smiling.”

 

He likes:

His momma. Louise, and big sister Ivy.

He does not like:

Bedtime and waiting (he wanted to put Henry and Essie on there, but I knew it was temporary and not nice so I vetoed that).

His favorite foods are:

Quesadillas and pizza (and they’re pretty much all he’ll eat right now except for breakfast foods).

His favorite movies are:

Moana, Ghostbusters, and Godzilla.

His favorite book is:

Ghostbusters

His best friends are: 

Blaine, Jru, and his momma.

He is stubborn, he is sweet, he is six.

What’s Happenin’.

It’s spring break here, on this first day of spring, and the weather is gorgeous. For most of the last several spring breaks, I’ve been traveling to conferences or trips, so the kids and I haven’t had a good ol’ fashioned, lazy, sunny, relaxed spring break in a while. I’m digging it.

Ivy’s playing rec league volleyball and loves it. T and I love practicing with her, too. She’s our little #1….she’s a great server and she can run lines like nobody else. Get em, girl.

This is me trying to get a picture of her running lines:

 

Henry got rid of his retainer, so now he’s got naked teeth until he loses all of his baby teeth and gets “phase 2.” Can’t wait for that. Ahem.

EB is not interested in teams of any sort (yet or ever, who knows), but she’s been writing and drawing up a storm.

And Erv….Erv will be six in a few days. That’s all I have to say about that right now. He’ll be doing his Kindergarten Promotion in a couple of months.

I’ve been doing a workout program (TurboFire, I’ve done it before) for close to five weeks now. I’m feeling sore and a little stronger, but I can’t really see any difference yet. Hopefully I will soon, or my motivation my dwindle pretty quickly.

Kathy and I are deep into producing our final Listen To Your Mother show. We’ve selected the cast and we’re thisclose to making our charity official. The first rehearsal is in a couple of weeks, and tickets are going on sale soon. Things are getting real.

I’ve also been doing an online Adore Your Wardrobe course, learning how to best clothe my particular body and style. It’s pretty life-changing, actually.

 

Anyway, that’s what’s up. How are you??

My Tribe

A lot has happened in the last six months (obviously) but there’s one thing that changed drastically and has made a huge difference in my life.

I’m an introvert (tell us something we don’t know, Greta), and I’ve always had close girl friends that I can pick up right where we left off, no matter how long it’s been between visits (you know who you are). I cherish those friendships that will likely last a lifetime, and I miss those girls when I don’t get to see them. That’s a given. But I don’t go out to parties or social things that involve people I don’t know very well, it makes me super uncomfortable. I’d rather go to a coffee shop and talk over a latte for two hours with one or two people. In the last few months, though, a friendship has developed with two local moms (local, as in, ten minutes away and local, as in, unheard of in my adult life). I don’t even really know how it started, but we’ve become a trio of gals that chat every single day, at least a little bit, even just to check in on those super busy days we all have, go to each other first when we need to vent, get ideas, or just talk to someone over four feet tall. We also have gone out several times on days when we really, really needed a night away from momming. Those have been planned and completely spontaneous, both. Adult beverages or not, that time away is so good for the soul (the weary, overwhelmed, mom-first, woman-second soul).

I’ve always known that adult friendships are important, and getting time away from the family is super important, but I didn’t really have that before. I’m really, really thankful for them. You know who you are.

my tribe

Hello, Old Friend.

Hey there, it’s been a while. I’ve been itching to write, but I can’t seem to make any words come out of my brain. You know the feeling?

Anyway. Let’s just open the wound here and worry about that later.

Here’s to 2017.

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What If?

To say that this week has been stressful is the understatement of the millennium. This summer has been stressful, really, with trying to buy a house and actually close on it and move, but this last week all but did me in. I’ve had to find distractions to keep my mind off of the fact that I want to throw up all the time. But not just any distractions….the kind that completely occupies your brain. That’s hard to come by.

But I did get a stress reprieve for a few hours on Tuesday night. I put on my most cheerful outfit: a leopard print dress, black wedges, and a bright yellow necklace, and took my friend Erika to Starlight Theatre. Don’t let the picture fool you, though….I was smiling because I was not just out with a friend and distracted, but had just enjoyed an amazing Vodka Tonic from the Starlight bar. It helped a lot.

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So did this week’s Broadway production, If/Then. You’ve probably heard about it if you follow Broadway at all…..the incredibly popular Idina Menzel played the lead role in NYC a couple of years ago. This touring production, though, has a lesser known but equally talented (seriously) Jackie Burns, Anthony Rapp from Rent (the Broadway show AND the movie….I was totally star struck) AND Tamyra Gray from the first season of American Idol.

The musical explores the idea that one small decision can change the path your life takes entirely, and follows one woman, Elizabeth, whose life goes in two completely different directions (“Liz” in one, “Beth” in the other). It’s a funny, real, very modern show…adult in both subject matter and language (trust me). It reminded me of Rent a bit, with its setting in NYC and its characters in their thirties.

if then

If you need a distraction from your kids (summer break, hello) or just want a night out with girlfriends, this is an excellent choice.

if then logo

Tickets for If/Then at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $14 to $142. Tickets are available online at www.kcstarlight.com, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

I received complimentary tickets to see the show but no other compensation. All opinions are my own (obviously).