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Austria, Vienna: Glorious Surroundings Lead to Glorious Decisions

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How can you sit and deliberate laws when you are distracted by all this fabulous art and architecture in the Rathaus (City Hall) in Vienna? To get on a tour, make sure to sign up ahead of time.

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

Canada: Hudson Village Theatre – Savannah Sipping Society is Light Summer Fun

Many of us enjoy a light read to while away a lazy summer afternoon. At the Hudson Village Theatre, you don’t even have to read to have fun – you can just listen and watch as four women meet, mingle and moan – and become a family of friends.

The director, Ellen David, takes this (Jessie) Jones (Nicholas) Hope (Jamie) Wooten delightful script and gently guides the dynamic quattro of actors as they learn “what is holding you back from one’s past and self-imposed limitations towards a compelling future”.  This could be any one of us.

The performers David chose are as well cast and strong as the four sides of a square. Randa Covington (Jane Wheeler) has defined herself by her work, and doesn’t know how to re-define herself beyond that. She tries to hold on to her safe proper business countenance, but is weighed down by feeling second best in her family. Marlafaye (Lisa Bronwyn Moore) gets the classic “dumped for a younger woman” part, so feelings of anger and rejection are keeping her from moving forward. “I swear the older you get the harder it is to jump start a new life”, she says.

Dot (Kathleen Fee), the oldest of the bunch, has just lost her husband, the only man she has known, and with whom she had planned to retire. She has no idea how to figure out what comes next. Her subtle acting is deliciously wonderful as she delivers many funny zinger lines. Paula Costain as Jinx moves and talks with the right zippy attitude to convince them, as their new “life coach”, to go (as David says)” beyond their comfort zone to a brave new world where they eventually find themselves”. Jinx reminds us that her older sister (now incapacitated with dementia) taught her that “it’s the happy in life that counts”.

The set by Jean-Claude Olivier is a comfortable porch, so the women have an informal place to gently and liquidly reveal their sagas. As this is a “Sipping Society”, drinking props (by Lea Robertson) were a fun challenge due to the many iterations of serving different kinds of alcohol. Marlafaye once toasted, “Girls, here’s to living single and drinking doubles”.

There were more costume changes than you would expect (by Elisabeth De Medeiros), creating a fashion show which helped define the scenes and the forward movement of their lives.

Jamie Wooten, one of the playwrights, was a writer for The Golden Girls, so the quality of their patter and the giggly one-liners is in the same genre of that hysterical show.  When Marlafaye sees Randa’s house for the first time she opines, “Yeah, sure is a pretty place. Everything’s so neat and clean. I’m not like that. Instead of cleaning my house, I just turn off the lights”.  When Randa comments on drinking mead, “This really isn’t so horrible”, Marlafaye responds, “The very words I said on my wedding night”.  Marlafaye also says,  “Sex is like a brownie – when it’s good it’s really good. And when it’s bad….it’s still pretty good!”.

Andrea Romaldi, the artistic director writes, “friendships are our lifelines and support structures. Good friends cheer us, challenge us, bewilder us and irritate us, but ultimately they support and help us grow into our best selves”. Head out to Hudson and lift a glass to friendship.

Location: 28 Rue Wharf, Hudson, QC J0P 1H0
Phone: 450- 458-5361
Dates: til July 22
https://villagetheatre.ca/

 

US: Portsmouth, NH – FREE Weekly Open House at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses hosts open houses at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in New Castle every Sunday from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October (Columbus Day weekend).

No reservations are necessary as tours are on a first come, first served basis. Children must be 42 inches tall to climb to the top, and adults are not permitted to carry children up the stairs. Portsmouth-Harbor-Lighthouse

Visitors get to climb to the lantern room to enjoy the magnificent view and to see the fourth-order Fresnel lens up close. Volunteers will tell visitors about the history of the light station, and there will be souvenirs for sale.

There are 44 stairs to the watch room and a 7-rung ladder to the lantern room. Flat shoes (not sandals or flip-flops) are required to climb the ladder into the lantern room.Lighthouse TourIMG_1886small-620x250

Location: Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse Coast Guard Station,
25 Wentworth Rd
, New Castle, NH 03854
Date:  Every Sun, starting June 3 ’til Oct 14th 2018
Time: 1 – 5pm
Tel: 603-534-0537
portsmouthharborlighthouse.org
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: portsmouthnh.com

US: Mystic, CT – Spiritual Recharging at Winter Solstice Celebration thru Yoga and a Gong Bath

Winter Solstice is a good time to feed your inner light with  clarity that will prepare you for the New Year. It  is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.Yoga 19457606

Winter Solstice Celebration allows you to experience both the power of Baptiste Yoga with Elizabeth Johnstone and also the Gongs with sound healing artist Stephanie Marisca of In Divine Harmony. In this workshop learn to release tension through the powerful principles of Baptiste yoga. Allowing the heart to open the healing sounds of gong tones,  sound relaxation will gently restore harmony to your body, mind, and spirit.Yoga Gong 18525058

Bring whatever you need to be comfortable laying on the floor for the Gong Bath. Suggested to bring a change of clothes and a blanket. Cost: $35 In Advance/ $40 Day of

Location: Mystic Yoga Shala, 80 Stonington Road #2B, Mystic, CT 06355
Date: Sat, Dec 16
Time: 4 – 6 pm
Tel: 860-536-0237
mysticyogashala.com

For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: ctvisit.com/mystic
thisismystic.com

US: Daytona Beach, FL – New 1.5-mile Digital Animation Magic of Lights at Daytona International Speedway

During this year’s holiday season, families will be able to enjoy a festive drive through experience at Daytona International Speedway. The “World Center of Racing” will be transformed with hundreds of light displays into a holiday spectacle, an all new 1.5 mile long Magic of Lights, using the latest in LED and digital animation technologies specifically designed for this iconic venue.Magic of Lights Car81

Experience the holiday spirit at The Magic of Lights™ running every day through the holidays from dusk to 10 p.m. The experience will include a drive behind the Ticket and Tours Building, through the world’s only motor sports stadium and conclude in the Midway display area outside the facility.

For a fun and memorable family entertainment, head to the Daytona International Speedway. To commemorate the season of giving a portion of every ticket to Magic of Lights benefits the Florida Hospital Foundation.Magic of Lights Reindeer1

Location: Daytona International Speedway, 1801 West International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Dates: until Dec 31st, 2017
Hours: every night from 5 – 10 pm
Tel: 330-441-4255
magicoflights.com/daytona
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: daytonabeach.com

US: Baltimore, MD – Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show

Light City is a FREE festival that transforms Baltimore with large-scale light installations, performances, music and innovation. Central to Light City is the BGE Light Art Walk along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, featuring more than 50 attractions including visual arts such as illuminated sculptures, projections, interactive technologies, performances, concerts, food vendors and a children’s area.

Baltimore Light City Skyline

Performance artists bring Light City to life with entertaining acts including fire (a showcase of fire and LED performances utilizing dance, flow arts, circus arts, and music), illuminated puppets, projections, stilt walkers, dance, musical entertainment at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater and along the BGE Light Art Walk.

Inner Harbor Skyline Photo Courtesy of Baltimore Office of Promotion and Arts

Music is a major attraction at Light City. The festival features a full schedule of FREE concerts including local, regional and renowned DJs, bands and musicians across every genre.Light City Baltimore Congregation KMA

Families can visit Mini Light City in Pierce’s Park for hands-on, illuminated craft activities in a youth makers’ tent, children’s entertainers and whimsical snacks such as lighted cotton candy. The park is home to a sound garden by artist David Hess.

Congregation_KMA_Photo by: Tom Wexler

From the south shore of the Inner Harbor to Harbor East, festival -goers can explore 1.5 miles of world-class installations – all free, accessible and open to the public.Light City The Pool

Attendees of the Light City Baltimore festival are encouraged to download the free app prior to their visit to see all that the festival has to offer including the festival map, schedule and general festival information. lightcity.org/light-city-baltimore-app

The Pool  Photo by Jen Lewin.

Location: Baltimore’s Inner Harbor – lightcity.org/map
Date: Fri, Mar 31 – Sat, Apr 8, 2017
Hours: lightcity.org/schedule
Tel: 410-752-8632
lightcity.org
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitbaltimore.org

US: Fayetteville, NC – Incredible Lego® Bricks Exhibit & Holiday Light Show in Botanical Garden

Make sure that you include a stop in Fayetteville to see the NATURE CONNECTS® Art with Lego® Bricks Exhibit at Cape Fear Botanical Garden which lasts until January 8, 2017.

Kids and kids at heart will appreciate this award-winning, record-breaking exhibition, inspired by nature and built by artist Sean Kenney, with over 500,000 colorful LEGO® bricks. The exhibit features  larger-than-life sculptures representing the complex and amazing network that interconnects all living things on Earth.

The sculptures will be displayed throughout the Garden to encourage you to walk by an 8-foot tall hummingbird, go nose-to-nose with a 5-foot bumblebee, admire a 7-foot rose, and watch an oversized koi leap about in the Cypress Pond.

Interpretative panels for each display with feature a message to connect children with the natural world and promote environmental stewardship and conservation. Adding to the exhibit will be activities for all ages, hands-on building stations, and design competitions.nature-connects-art-with-lego-bricks-exhibit

Cape Fear Botanical Gardens also offers some evening entertainment for the holidays:  Holiday Lights in the Garden – where the Garden will be transformed into a sparkling wonderland with thousands of lights illuminating plants, trees, and new exhibits.

Attractions and festivities include a synchronized show of lights and music shimmering over the Cypress Pond, a mile long stroll featuring thousands of lights aglow, photos with Santa on select evenings, S’mores roasting over the fire pit, and free crafts for children. The Garden Gift Shop, brimming with wonderful holiday selections, will be open each evening. nightly until Dec 23rd, Dec 26th – 30th, 5 – 9pm.

Take advantage of their on-line special pricing:.eventbrite.com/e/holiday-lights-in-the-garden-pre-sale-tickets-29281713393

Location: Cape Fear Botanical Garden, 536 N. Eastern Blvd., Fayetteville, NC 28301
Dates: until Sun,  Jan 8, 2017 – *Excluding holidays: Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Eve and Day.
Hours: Mon – Sat: 10am – 4pm, Sun: 11am – 4pm *Last Admission: 3:15 pm
Tel: 910-486-0221
capefearbg.org
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitfayettevillenc.com

US: St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Illuminated with Holiday Magic from Ground to Rooftops

The  23rd Annual Nights of Lights festival turns the city of St. Augustine into a dazzling holiday display, glowing with holiday magic – from the ground to the rooftops. Selected by National Geographic in 2011 and 2012 as one of the ten best holiday lighting displays in the world, St. Augustine’s Night of Lights features three millions tiny white lights that create a magical atmosphere in the Nation’s oldest city.

Tracing its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays, the spectacular lighting reflects the city’s 450-year history and illuminates the beautiful setting for lasting holiday memories.nights-of-lights-lightner-museum

Many historic landmarks and locations are beautifully ablaze during Nights of Lights. The waters of Matanzas Bay glow from the nightly reflections of lights strewn along the bay walk and displayed on the Bridge of Lions. The Plaza de la Constitucion shines from the top of trees and throughout the famous center of St. Augustine’s historic district. The Guilded-Age Hotel Ponce de Leon, now the campus of Flagler College, is outlined in lights. And the Lightner Museum, once a resort hotel also built by Flagler, is lit so brilliantly that it is a favorite among visitors.nights-of-lights-bridge-of-lions

The trains and trolleys offer special seasonal tours that take you through the best areas of Nights of Lights, and there are also a variety of specialty tours; everything from walking to horse-and-carriage tours, and even tours to see the lights from the water and from the air. This holiday season don’t miss St Augustine’s Night of Lights.

Photos Courtesy of FloridasHistoricCoast.com

Location: Plaza de la Constitucion, 106 King Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Dates: Daily until Jan. 31, 2017
Tel: 800-653-2489
floridashistoriccoast.com/nights-lights
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: floridashistoriccoast.com

US: Fort Lauderdale, FL – It’s 12 Miles of the “Greatest Show on H20”

Christmas is that special time of year when winterfest-parade-fireworkslights illuminate the night sky. In South Florida, they have an annual tradition of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel Winterfest Boat Parade where privately owned boats and yachts take over the intracoastal waterway and display all of their Christmas glory.

The Boat Parade sets sail for 12 miles starting in downtown Fort Lauderdale heading North to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. Approximately one million spectators view the parade, along with millions more via television and the internet, bringing national and international recognition to South Florida. The event is the Top 20th Parade in the World and considered the Greatest Show on H2O.

Private boats to the giant showboats and corporate mega yachts will be adorned winterfest-parade-boatswith hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, decorations, celebrities, musical groups, beauty queens and many other exciting entries. Parade highlights: Grand Marshal Showboat, Galleria Mall Reindeer Barge and the Santa Showboat.

Fun, Family entertainment. Free admission along the Rwinterfest-boat-parade-logo2iverwalk.

Parade Route: Downtown Fort Lauderdale on the New River, heading East to the Intracoastal then North to Pompano Beach
Date: Saturday, December 10, 2016
Time: 6:30PM to 11:00PM
Tel: 954-7670-0686
WinterfestParade.com
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: sunny.org