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Canada: Choir Boy “Sings” in Montreal Before It Hits Broadway

A half century ago, a creative actor/director and immigrant (from South Africa via England), Maurice Podbrey, together with his equal half, Elsa Bolam (and Herb Auerbach and Peter Duffield) managed to knit together a theater company, Centaur, which was and is no easy feat. If that wasn’t nerve wracking enough for a person, Bolam then went on to start another successful one, Geordie Productions.

In an unintentional but perfect nod to the past, Eda Holmes, Centaur’s new artistic director, brings us Choir Boy set in a boys’ prep school while Podbrey’s first production, The Prime of Miss Jean Brody, took place in a girl’s school. The play is written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who comes with a pretty flashy CV: he’s the Chair of Yale’s School of Drama, where he is also the Playwright in Residence at the Repertory Theatre. and he was also Playwright in Residence for Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Company – and happens to be a member of the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble. And let’s just throw in here that he wrote the story of Moonlight which won Oscars for best picture and for the writing.

The story is mostly about Pharus (played by Steven Charles), a gay student making his way through a very traditional private school. Charles commands the stage throughout, and we can’t wait to see where his star takes him (to the Broadway production?). His fellow students talk, yell, fight and sing a cappella as they share intimacies and rivalries when the old school values conflict with our modern world in rules, nepotism, faith, sexuality and school board traditions.  Tight direction by Mike Payette keeps you riveted throughout, while Lighting Designer Andrea Lundy’s magic creatively moves you around the set (loved the purple).

Floydd Ricketts, the musical director and arranger, was the right man in the right place to be able to create new arrangements of spirituals, gospel and jazz songs for a cappella harmonies.  Ricketts notes, “Even though this music comes from pain, there is also joy in it”. Dayane Ntibarikure, assistant director and choir movement facilitator, did a brilliant job of  having the actors move “slave slowly” around the scenes, adding foot stomping  to song and subtly evoking a chain gang in the shower scene.

Holmes has tweaked the play runs slightly this year by adding (less expensive) preview shows to get the performance just that more perfect for opening night. You know how much I like a deal, and Centaur offers much for FREE with behind-the-scenes info to enrich your  theater experience: Talk Back after the shows , Sunday Chat Up, Thursday Pre-Show Convo and the Saturday Salon.

How perfect that this golden Centaur season started by lifting our spirits with the power of music blended with this timely story. See Choir Boy in Montreal before you can’t get tickets on Broadway (Dec 2018)!

Location 453 St-Francois-Xavier
corner: Notre-Dame
Tel: 514-288-3161
Dates: til Oct 28
www.centaurtheatre.com
Metro: Place d’Armes

US: Beaufort, SC – Dragon Boat Race For a Worthy Cause

Don’t miss one of the Lowcountry’s signature events, the annual DragonBoat Beaufort Race Day. The exciting dragon boat races will take place Saturday, June 24, 2017 at at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park on the river from 8-4.DragonBoat Beaufort (1)

Witness the fierce competition and camaraderie as teams of paddlers race on the Beaufort river to win trophies and raise money for local cancer patients. Among the fun and festivities will be an opening ceremony, three heats of races, the moving Carnation Ceremony for cancer survivors and their families and the closing medal ceremony.

DragonBoat Race Day will include many local businesses, community groups and teams of friends and family racing against each other. The mixed Cancer Survivor Division will be the showcase for the heroes and heroines, honoring the spirit of DragonBoat Race Day.DragonBoat Beaufort (4)
Twenty paddlers
sitting side-by-side in a dragon-headed 42 foot-long vessel, paddling furiously to the beat of an emphatic drummer. The goal: physical wellness and psychological well-being through this thrilling, team-oriented support program that even offers opportunities to travel to competitions worldwide.

There will be 35 teams each racing three times. There will be two divisions – Mixed Community and Cancer Survivor teams. All teams race together. Cancer Survivor teams must have at least 8 cancer survivors in the boat during each race. After the first and second heats, teams will be placed in racing categories based upon their time; the third heat will decide the medals. Cancer Survivor placings decided by accumulating the two best times from each team. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded for the top three finishers in each racing categories during the Awards Ceremony at the end of the day.DragonBoat Beaufort (5)

Location: Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, downtown on the Beaufort River,  SC
Date: Sat, June 24, 2017
Time: 8am – 4pm
Tel: 843-473-4477
dragonboat-raceday.com
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: southcarolinalowcountry.com

 

US: Lumberton, NC – This Show is Going to the Dogs…and Cats

If you are an animal lover, this show is for you. Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is a family-oriented blend of the unique comedy and juggling skills of Gregory Popovich, and the talents of his furry costars.popovichlyingdown

Featuring European-style circus extravaganza including physical comedy, juggling, acrobats from the Moscow Circus, along with mimes, contortionists and jaw dropping juggling by internationally acclaimed award winner Gregory Popovich. There are more than 30 pets in the show, including highly intelligent dogs, house cats, a variety of birds and a miniature horse, each one has been rescued from animal shelter. The animals show off their dexterity in a variety of unbelievable stunts and skits, including “The Dog Classroom,” “The Amazing House-Cats,” and “The Animal Train Station.”  cat-piggy-back

Popovich, a fifth generation circus performer who learned early on how to develop strong bonds with animals, has rescued a majority of his performers from shelters all over the country, and has transformed them into Las Vegas stars. He is a gold medal winner in Paris, France and a special award winner in Monte Carlo. Gregory and his pets were finalists on “America’s Got Talent”, were guests on TV shows with Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson and was a feature on Animal Planet. Do not miss this opportunity to see this unique family-friendly show featuring this legendary circus entertainer and his furry friends.popovich-carolina-civic-center

Location: Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater, 315 North Chestnut St., Lumberton, NC 28358
Date: Thurs., Feb 2. 2017
Time: 7 pm – 9 pm
Tel: 910-738-4339
carolinaciviccenter.com/event/popovich-comedy-pet-theater/#.WEg1Rn2rHfc
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: lumberton-nc.com

Canada – Ontario Weekend Getaway: Low Fat Donuts, Fair Trade Coffee, Chainsaws and Friendly Alpacas

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Why not get away with your family to Almonte, ON, just west of Ottawa . The very first reason is that Ed Atwell of Healthy Food Technologies (hft) has figured out how to make low-fat donuts that are scrumptious. He “tricks” the donuts by frying them (in zero trans fat oil) for 1/2 the time and then baking them at the same temperature. Watch the video to see him explain the process he invented.

Now take a walk around the corner and pick up your to-go-with coffee at fair trade high quality Equator Coffee Roasters. They roast the beans right there, having bought them from small-scale farming communities and paid the farmers well. Do not  miss the Oh-so-Canadian maple-flavored latte. It’s worth driving there just for that! Kids can enjoy the hot chocolate.coffee


Next you can pick up snacks for the car or yummies to take home at Dandelion Foods co-op before a 45 min. drive to Wheelers Pancake House and Maple Sugar Camp. D
andelion Foods co-op sells whole, local and organic foods and some for specialty diets. Here you can buy the famous Hummingbird chocolate bars favored by Prime Minister Trudeau. Note the PB & Joy (with peanut butter) and the spicy Mayan.  Please bring back the Empire Cheese caramelized onion cheddar cheese for me.
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For lunch and fun, at Wheelers Pancake House you can visit the Maple Museum and the Chainsaw & Logging museum and the kids can have fun in the playground. Handy men and women will be mesmerized by Mark Wheeler’s dad Vernon’s collection of hundreds of chainsaws. Everyone will enjoy his “largest collection of pure maple syrup artifacts” which help explain the history of the maple sugar industry. From First Nations wooden spigots to the plastic lines of today, syrup pour-ers, molds, pails, and everything else related to this sweet topic, it’s all here at this 38-year family business. Don’t forget to leave room for the freshly made pancakes and delicious syrup right from their trees.
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For the grand finale, we visited Keith and Elizabeth Adam’s alpacas and llamas at their  Serendipity Farm. For retirement they decided to raise alpacas for the fun of it. The couple exudes their enjoyment of spending their golden years with these elegant, fluffy friends. They’ll chatter about the little quirks of each of the animals as well as the work associated with raising them.

Alpacas produce fiber that is as fine as cashmere, soft, silky and much warmer than sheep’s wool, while also wicking moisture away from the body.alpacas
In their little shop you can buy scarves, gloves, purses, as well as fiber felted sheets, alpaca and fiber rovings and handspun yarn.

Leave some time too for the local shops which wind their way along the downtown streets. Yes there’s plenty to do in Lanark County for a low-key interesting getaway weekend. We are not sure how this area attracted so many hippie/free trade/entrepreneurial types who seem to care for the planet. You can feel virtuous spending time and money in this town.

Equator Coffee Roasters, 451-A Ottawa St, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0, Tel: 613-256-5960
www.equator.ca

Dandelion Foods, 541 Ottawa St, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0,  Tel: 1-613-256-4545
www.dandelionfoods.ca

Healthy Food Technologies, 25 Industrial Rd., Almonte ON  Tel: 613-256-9900
(HFT) https://www.facebook.com/HFTinc

Wheelers Pancake House and Maple Sugar Camp, 1001 Highland Line, McDonalds Corners(Lanark Highlands), ON K0G 1M0 Tel: 613-278-2090
www.wheelersmaple.com

Serendipity Farm Alpacas & Llamas,  929 South Lavant Rd, Lanark, ON K0G1K0  Tel: 613-259-3304 or 613-222-6303
www.serendipityalpacas.ca

www.lanarkcounty.ca

 

US: Palm Beach, Florida – Flagler Museum Gold Detail Ceiling

Ceiling detail in the entry hall of the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. The carving was intricate, and the gold was real gold.

Flagler Gold Ceiling

 

Cosmos Tour: Prague Vienna Budapest – Prague Jewish Ghetto

Old New Synagogue

Old New Synagogue

The former Jewish Ghetto (now called Josefov) in Prague goes back to the 12th century. In fact, the oldest synagogue in Europe, the Old-New Synagogue, is still there and it is still used for its purpose, as there are regular services. An old legend says it was built of stones from the Second Temple in Jerusalem. This quarter was demolished in 1897. Today, there are 6 synagogues, the Jewish City Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery from the 15th century. Notice the Rabbi’s house has gold decorations and the clock with hebrew letters which dates to 1674.

In 1389 the biggest anti-Jewish pogrom in the Middle Ages took place here, when about 3,000 citizens of the Jewish Quarter were killed, turning the walls of the Old–New Synagogue dark with blood. Their homes were plundered and burned.

However, in the 16th century, this quarter was thriving. Some of the synagogues we can still see were built then. The Maisel Synagogue houses an exhibition of the Jewish Museum in Prague. In the 1950’s, the Pinkas Synagogue became a Memorial to victims of the Holocaust. The walls of the nave, gallery and vestibule were covered with names of about 80,000 Bohemian and Moravian Jews. You can also see drawings of Jewish children made in the Terezin concentration camp between 1942 and 1944. There were more than 10,000 children under the age of 15 there. In 1577, the High Synagogue was built as a part of the Jewish City Hall, and the original vault with some Gothic features and stucco decoration still can be seen.

The Rabbi's House

The Rabbi’s House

Nowadays, Paris St. in this area is one of the most popular places to live in Prague. If you get hungry, you can eat at the King Solomon kosher restaurant. Michelle Obama ate there when she was in town.

www.cosmos.com/Product.aspx?trip=46050

 

Germany: Munich Residenz

The Wittelsbach dynasty ruled the German territories of Bavaria from 1180 to 1918 – that’s 738 years,  pretty impressive.  Munich Residenz,  their former royal palace, is  located right in the center of Munich and very much open to the public. After 4 centuries of building it, the giant palace is made up of  many styles: late Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neo-Classicism.PalaceMunich

Though spartan on the outside, it is very opulent inside. You can tour it for its architecture, over-the-top room decor (130 rooms), and displays from the former royal collections. After WWII, the Cuvilliés Theatre was built into the Festsaalbau wing. You can also catch the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Hercules Hall. In his time, Mozart performed in this palace.

The Treasury houses the jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty and spans 1,000 years, from the early Middle Ages to Neo-classicism, and includes: crowns, swords, golden objects, rock crystal, ivory, goblets, icons, tableware and toiletries.

The palace suffered huge damages during WWII, but the curators managed to store furnishings, art and  details of its architecture in mines. When you are wandering around the 10 PalaceStatuecourtyards, see if you can find this fountain with statues of  fire, water, earth and air on its corners.

The Wittelsbach family’s head, since 1996, is Franz, Duke of Bavaria, and he still hangs out in Munich. During WWII, the Wittelsbachs were anti-Nazi and were arrested when Franz was 11. He spent time in several Nazi concentration camps. After the war, he studied at the University of Munich and became a collector of modern art. Some of his collection is on loan to the Pinakothek der Moderne Museum (see other post).

www.muenchen.de/int/en/tourism.html

Cosmos Tour: Prague Vienna Budapest – Budweiser and Pilsner Beer

BudweiserBudweiser beer was developed  in the Czech Republic. It was originally called Budvar (and still goes by that name in some countries). Beer has been brewed in Budweis since 1245. It tastes different here than the one in the US.

The two cities most associated with Czech beer are Pilsen and Budweis which both had breweries in the 13th century. The 2 most famously exported Czech beer brands are Pilsner Urquell, which was the world’s first pilsner (pale lager) and Budweiser Budvar. Pilsners have a clear golden colour, a light flavor and lots of foam.

In 2012, for the 20th consecutive year, the Czech Republic had the highest beer consumption per capita in the world –  170 litres per person.

 www.cosmos.com/Product.aspx?trip=46050