Friday, March 9, 2018

Day 269- Waitress- Pittsburgh Broadway Series-Savor the Flavors

The musical Waitress,  similar to this blog,  is about a  woman’s  life journey.  Unlike me, who struggles with cooking and baking, Jenna is an expert pie baker who used this delicious skill to cope with a burnt life in a small town.  Jenna and her two friends, Becky and Dawn, are waitresses who through friendship and love eventually  savor the flavors of a better life (culinary puns are intended).   

Waitress is based on the book (Jessie Nelson) and the movie with the same name. Just like Jenna’s pies, it  is filled with  scrumptious  music and  lyrics by Sara Bareilles (Love Song). 

 I will try to tone down the food references but it is hard to do,  when in  the opening song, What's Inside, Jenna (Desi Oakley) explained  that  she “bakes from the heart” and that her whole life is in her recipes.  What Baking Can Do is act as  her conduit for coping and escaping.  She sings,“I will serve my worries away. I’ve  done it before. I bake me a door to get through.”   Many of us can relate to finding our own way of coping through the bumps of life. I write and blog  and  Jenna bakes pies!

Jenna baked as she felt  trapped by her  life with her husband, Earl (Nick Bailey), a man who possesses  but does not love. He reinforced this in the song, You Will Still Be Mine  after  he  learned that Jenna  was pregnant.  

Even though life can be messy, Jenna, Becky, and Dawn all  found their own  path through it.  Dawn  found  it though  on line dating where she met  Ogie  (Jim Hogan),  who was  the  “lid to her  pot”, and Jenna  and Dawn found it though affairs.

In the show stopping  song, I Didn't Plan It, Becky (Charity Angle Dawson)  reminded all  that we are  imperfect beings with a universal  need to  “feel”.   Singing about her affair, she belted, “ I didn’t plan it but it’s finally something to feel. We are all just looking for a little less crazy and sometimes it’s a hard left turn down a road that you thought you’d never see. I needed saving and a good mistake needed making”.

 The song, She Used to Be Mine, was a heartfelt reminder  that life can give  you a beating.  Jenna   sang, “when you are not who you used to be, when she is gone but she used to be mine.”  However you can find the power to change when, Everything Changes,  and in instant you are a mother and you’re “both born”.

Waitress  with its powerful musical lyrics takes us on a palatable  journey  through life that from time to time can be a little tart. In Waitress, like baking or enjoying a succulent pie, we taste the  flavors and savor the joys of life that we can choose to  create. 

(Listen to Waitress sound track here)

(Waitress runs from March 6  through March 11, 2018 as part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. For tickets go to )

Spiritual Reference
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

Other Sources
Waitress tour  Here
Waitress Sound track here

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Day 268 Bodyguard-Pittsburgh Broadway Series-Punches With Music and Suspense

The musical, The Bodyguard, is based on the iconic 1992 movie with the same name that skyrocketed Whitney Huston's career. The movie was packed with record billboard hits: So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My love, and the song that always gives me goose bumps- I Will Always Love You.   Who can forget the romance between singing superstar, Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) and Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner), who was the former secret service agent  hired as Marron’s bodyguard to protect her from an obsessed stalker/assassin. It was a thriller and a love story. 

The musical was packed with iconic songs and yet it captured the suspense of a thriller as a deranged fan attempted to get close to the superstar.  The play
successfully jockeyed between Marron's concerts and the creepy stalker which gave us punches of music and the feeling of apprehension and excitement of a thriller from the start to the finish (watch here).

The musical opened with the bang of gun shots which occurred when secret service agent, Farmer failed to  protect a congressman. Then  we were the audience at  Marron's  concert as  the stage exploded with Queen of the Night complete with buffed dancers and some pyrotechnics.  

This musical worked because of the vocal talent of   R&B/Pop recording artist, Debora Cox as Marron and Jasmin Richardson as Marron's sister. Both had powerful vocal ranges and the clarity that could successfully tackle the demanding songs which were made popular by Whitney Houston. 

It was as if Whitney Houston was reincarnated on stage as  we  listened to one hit after another (Greatest Love of All, I’m Every Women, Run to You, Saving All My Love For You, So Emotional and more).  I was transported back to the 90’s as I remembered singing these songs that dominated the radio. I think many in the audience were right back there with me because everyone seemed to be singing!

When Farmer rescued  Marron from the stalker's knife and lifted  her to safety like her “knight in shining armor”, I thought, “I need a guy like
that ”! We were  hooked on the romance when they passionately kissed during their first date. Marron then sang I Have Nothing on a star filled  stage.  I know it sounds a bit “cheesy” but it worked, or at least it did for me.

We all  waited for  "the song" that came  at the end. That triumphant masterful Huston hit, I Will Always Love You  was powerful. Deborah Cox hit it right on the mark. You could feel the energy from the audience as the first few notes were played. My friend leaned over to me and asked, “what’s everyone yelling about”. I answered with excitement, “she is going to sing THE SONG”!  

After the story line concluded, the entire cast reentered  with  I  Want to Dance With Somebody  and everyone in the audience was on their feet celebrating. The Bodyguard kept punching with music and thriller excitement but the best few punches were saved for the end!

The PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series is definitely going to stay in my life survival tool box . Don’t miss the last few shows Waitress , Rent and Cinderella.  

 Other Sources 
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
I Have Nothing

Friday, February 23, 2018

Day 267-Pittsburgh Ballet-Swan Lake-Masterful, Classical, Beautiful –A Fairy Tale

My blog inspiration book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book” reminds us to “Take in some culture once in awhile”. There is nothing more cultural than the  ballet Swan Lake. In fact, this love story is the pinnacle of classical ballet with the demanding technique of the dance for the principle dancer  who takes on the roles of both  Odette (White Swan) and Odile (Black Swan). With the  additional pairing of  Tchaikovsky’s  score which was performed  live by the  PBT Orchestra, this was a masterful performance!
Masterful performance **

 Even  if you're new to ballet, the story in  Swan Lake is easy to follow. As it unfolds you can’t help being in awe of  the beauty and  skilled dance  in  all four acts. In this ballet an evil sorcerer casts a spell that turns a princess into a swan by day and human at night. The spell is only broken by true love (of course). The princess(Odette) and prince (Siegfried) fall in love but the sorcerer (Von Rothbart) sends his daughter (the Black Swan) to trick him into professing his love to this impostor which seals Odette's fate as a swan forever. This is a fairy tale drama to match the fairy tale dance.

Swans dance in unison** 
Swan Lake was filled with those iconic poses characteristic of a classical ballerina. As I watched the graceful  arms and  soaring dance of the White Swan,  I smiled as I thought about that little ballerina  in my childhood jewelry box that repeatedly turned to the  music.

Four swans dance in unison with speeding precision on point**

 Odette(Amanda Cochrane)* fluttered her arms like a bird and seemed to be on point forever with so much grace. The stage was often filled with dancers in white  who were easily identified as swans with one arm raised and with a slightly flexed hand resembling the neck of the bird. Then the dancers in sets of four, with hands clasped, moved in unison with speeding precision across the stage on point- amazing!

Not to be outdone by the swans in the Act 1 and 3, the men filled the stage with power jumps and multiple turns  at the prince’s 21 birthday party and in the Great Palace Hall. I am not sure how many times I leaned over to the wide eyed little girl beside me and said, “that’s amazing”!
Prince and Black Swan
The famous powerful dance of the Black Swan  in Act 3  had us counting the 32  consecutive fourette turns (whipping turns). She spun around and whipped the other leg around her body jockeying up and down on point. 

There was just so much to take in and it was all augmented by the beautiful set and sound of the full PBT Orchestra (listen to the Swan theme here). This was a classic, masterful, beautiful fairy tale night!
fairy tale night!

(Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's  Swan Lake runs from Feb. 16-25, 2018 at the Benedum Center. For tickets and for more about the 2017-18 ballet season go to )

* also preformed by Hannah Carter, Alexandra Kochis and Julia Erickson
** photo by Rich Sofranko.

Spiritual Refection
Look at the birds in the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6: 26)
Other Sources
Pittsburgh Ballet Theater

Monday, February 19, 2018

Day 266 Dave Bennett -“From Swing to Rock” with Pittsburgh Symphony POPS-Musical Journey

Dave Bennett, Multi-talented repertoire

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra collaborated with  Dave Bennett to bring the  legendary  swing sound of Benny Goodman and the rock n’ roll sounds of   Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, and Johnny Cash to Heinz Hall  in the show “From Swing to Rock”this weekend.  Dave Bennett, a self-taught jazz clarinet player, also played the electric guitar, piano, drums and sang, taking everyone on a musical journey with the Grammy winning Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Sarah Hicks.
Sarah Hicks

Dave Bennett with his multi-talented repertoire had the audience on a musical ride from the 1930's big band swing era to the 1950's rock n' roll beginnings. Opening with "In the Mood", he played the clarinet in the famous Benny Goodman style. He then slid into a "Swing Medley" adding five more big band favorites with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “Serenade in Blue” with the  full sounding orchestra  was “dreamy” but during most of this set, I wanted to jump up and do a jitterbug. I joined many in the audience who were tapping their feet and bobbing to this music.     
Bennett playing Jerry Lee Lewis Medley with PSO
Then Dave Bennett transitioned into  piano playing  Jerry Lee Lewis with a medley of six songs which ended with “Whole Lot of Shakin Going On”.  He injected  energetic key pounding adding his foot to the keys, which is characteristic  of “wild man” Lewis!

It was a fun ride.  Bennett even produced that smooth low tone “Elvis voice” with his  guitar riffs  which made the Elvis Medley from “Heart Break Hotel” to  “"Blue Suede Shoes" bounce. He then cruised into “Love Me Tender” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” which was impressive with the added symphonic sound.  

In the second half, there was a  Johnny Cash set and Bennett performed his original “Lonesome Highway” . The jazzy "Wichita Lineman" allowed his band to jam  and then “Sing Sing Sing”  gave us all a little more big band sound near the conclusion of the show both of which are on  Bennett's new CD, Blood Moon.

Sarah Hicks was wonderful to watch as she conducted the PSO down this musical  highway.   Bennett  and his jazz band with the Pittsburgh Symphony gave us a  fantastic whimsical  musical journey from swing to rock n’ roll!

I will definitely keep the Pittsburgh Symphony POPS 2017-2018 season in my survival tool box. I am looking forward to  Midtown Men, with the  four original Broadway singers  from Jersey Boys, continuing the musical journey  through the 60’s with this  Grammy winning Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Spiritual Reflection
And the priest said to them,"Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord"  (Judges 18:6)

Other Sources
Wichita Lineman

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Day 265 Multiple Choice Events at Wilson Center- (Meetings) Anthony Hamliton, Experimental Dance

Movement  performed to the sound of 64 miniature robotic devices that  produce  rhythms for the  show Meetings is definitely thinking outside the box which is just what Austrian choreographer, Anthony Hamilton is known for, and is  just what this blog is all about.  I was excited to experience Hamiton's collaboration with dancer, composer and sound engineer, Alisdair Macindoe, which brought  a unique performance duo for  another Multiple Choice Event to the August Wilson Center. I was ready for Meetings, my first  “experimental dance/sound instillation” experience!  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

March/February Preview of Events and Posts

Since this blog is  all about keeping a forward trajectory in midst of change and reaching your personal best, I wanted to preview some of my planned experiences in  the hope  that it will inspire some to join in. As Dale Carnegie once said, "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." Let's all get busy!

 Heisenberg, March 8 to April 8, 2018 Pittsburgh Public Theater

It’s always fun to laugh at romance and Heisenberg  is a romantic comedy named after physicist, Werner Heisenberg that pioneered the  “Uncertainty Principle”- that  particles position and momentum  can not be  measured at the same time.  The play applies this scientific unpredictability to a relationship between a spirited 40 something year old American women and an older retired Irishman.  I can’t wait to see the stages of this seemly mismatched relationship  as it is performed in the round with the audience on all sides.

Join me for a little Irish/American unpredictable romance in Heisenberg at the Pittsburgh Public Theater.  For tickets go to

Blog Post to Follow

Waitress, March 6 to 11, 2018- PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh-Benedum

The musical Waitress  like this blog, is about a woman’s  life journey. Jenna is an expert pie baker who uses this delicious skill to cope with a burnt life in a small town. Jenna and her two friends, Becky and Dawn, are waitresses who through friendship and love finally savor the flavors of life.  With a musical score from Sara Bareilles this should be a tasty show (food pun intended).

Join me for Waitress from March 6 to March 11, 2018, part of  the  PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. For tickets go to   

Blog Post to here

Phipps Conservatory- Orchids and Tropical Bonsai Show through Feb 25, 2018 and The New Tropical Cuban Forest

Instead giving your sweetheart  flowers why not surround him or her with beautiful flowers during a visit to Phipps Conservatory. I’d much rather have a durable  plant than a bouquet of cut flowers.  I guess that is the practical side of me. A visit to Phipps Conservatory, where you are surrounded by beauty, is an even better option in my book!

 There are just a few days left  to experience the Orchid and Tropical Bonsai show with the vibrant colors of over 40 species  of orchids on display through out Phipps.  I am amazed at the skill used in the Japanese art of shaping  Bonsai trees into a “mini me” of their giant counter parts. The new Tropical Cuban Forest  with  native foliage and exhibit stations on Cuban birds, Cuban cuisine, natural medicine and a 1946 Chevy in a little Havana setting, are sure to  provide a  “Cuban experience.”

Join me and surround your sweetheart with beauty and  get a little bit of Cuba! For tickets go to

Blog Post to Follow

The Musical Bodyguard- Feb 27 through March 4-Benedum

The musical, The Bodyguard, is based on the iconic 1992 movie that skyrocketed Whiney Huston's career and that was packed with record billboard hits: So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My love, I Wana Dance with Somebody and the song that always gives me goose bumps- I Will Always Love You.   Who can forget the romance between singing star Rachel Marron (Whitney Huston) and her hired bodyguard (Kevin Costner). It was a thriller and love story.

I can’t wait to hear film and R&B/pop artist Debra Cox belt these iconic songs in the musical  with  television star Judson Mills as her bodyguard.  Join me at the Benedum from February 27 through March 4, 2018  and experience this “musical romance” during this month of love!

For tickets go to

Blog Post to Here

Pittsburgh Ballet-Swan Lake-February 16-25, 2018-Benedum 

The pinnacle of classical ballet is reached in the love story, Swan Lake with  Tchaikovsky's masterful  score performed by PBT Orchestra.  In this ballet  an  evil sorcerer casts a spell that turns a princess into a swan by day and human at night. The spell is only broken by true love (of course). The princess  and  prince  fall in love but the sorcerer sends his daughter (the black swan) to trick him into professing his love to this impostor - fairy tale drama to match the fairy tale dance.

I can not wait to experience the scenic beauty and the  masterful classic ballet technique  of the the graceful swan, and the power of the black swan with  jumps and turns and the famous 32 fouette turns (whipping turns) in Act 3.

Join me and celebrate  Valentine’s Day week with  Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's  Swan Lake which runs  Feb. 16-25, 2018 at the Benedum Center. For tickets go to

Blog Post to here

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Day 264- Pittsburgh Broadway Series, Wicked The Musical-Friendship and Love in a Mysterious World

Even as an adult I loved the mysterious land of Oz in the movie The Wizard of Oz. The musical, Wickedtells us more about this world. It’s the story about a woman born with green skin who is misunderstood and labeled because of her appearance. She becomes the Wicked Witch of the West but as a young girl she had a beautiful popular friend, Glinda, the Good Witch. Wicked is an adventure about political struggles, social injustice, but mostly, friendship and  love in this mysterious world.  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Day 263 Pittsburgh Dance Council-Grupo Corpo- Contemporary Brazilian Dance Company/Breezy and Fiery

I  love the ballet so  Grupo Corpo,  an internationally acclaimed Brazilian dance company that mixes ballet with other dance forms like samba, bossa nova, and modern dance piqued my interest. Pittsburgh Dance Council recently brought this company to the Byham Theater. The company preformed Suite Branca, a monochrome white dance piece and  Dance Sinfonica. This contemporary melting pot of dance styles  was a new visual experience that I would describe as cool and breezy, and then hot and fiery!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day 262- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra-The Firebird and More

The Pittsburgh Symphony 2018 session opened this weekend with Juanjo Mena conducting. I have ventured to the POPS in the past but I was now ready to experience the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in the more "classical sense".  I love the ballet, The Firebird  (I even saw the movie), so I  was ready to enjoy the flight in Stravinsky's composition for his first ballet in 1910.  There also was a lot more to this program and I was excited to also experience my first flute concerto with Principle Flutist Lorna McGhee in this classical musical evening.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day 261 The Frick-“Undressed” -An Underwear Exhibition

In this empty- nest period, I have made experiencing art a staple in my life (see Days 88 and 188) but I never  envisioned that I would be viewing undergarments as the subject of an art exhibit! The Frick Art and History Center always brings interesting art shows to this town and Undressed, about the design of underwear, seemed too unique to pass up especially when The Frick Art and History Center is the exclusive North American venue for this exhibition organized by London’s Victoria & Albert Museum!   When you think about it, an undergarment is the closest thing to our body and wearing "granny panties" or "a lacy something" from Victoria Secret says something about you, so why wouldn't  the evolution of underwear design say something about our society?