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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: Benson, NC – A Celebration For Farmer’s Best Friend – the Mule

The small town of Benson, North Carolina, with a population of around 3500, will swell to approximately 30,000 come September 21-24, 2017 when the 68th Annual Benson Mule Days Celebration, which honors the farmer’s best friend, the mule, is Benson Mule Days 2017-09-13_12-54-40sponsored by the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce.

This festival is filled with family fun and activities for everyone young and old. The weekend is packed with rodeos, a mule pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, street dances, carnival rides, camping, parades, bluegrass shows and more.

Friday, visitors can enjoy many events including the Mule Competitions held in the Chamber Park and Arena. They will see mule coon jumping, a mule race, Best of Show and many other events.  If you haven’t seen a mule competition this is a must see for the whole family.Benson_Mule_Days

Saturday is a big day at Benson Mule Days as thousands of spectators grapple for a place to sit or stand to observe the one of the biggest parades in North Carolina. Bands, floats, Shriner units, classic cars, antique tractors, unique entries, beauty queens, and hundreds of horses, mules, buggies, wagons make their way down Main Street of Benson beginning at 10am.

There are three rodeos of which the first begins on Friday night followed by a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon performance. A new event this year are Mule Day Dances. After the rodeos on Friday and Saturday nights, kick up your heels at the Chamber Park.Benson_Mule_Days_ Horses3

Get a complete schedule of events- here

Location: Various – see schedule
Date: Sept 21-24, 2017
Hours: Various – see schedule
Tel: 919-894-3825
bensonmuledays.com
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: johnstoncountync.org

US: Lexington, MA – China’s Golden Dragon Acrobats: Breathtaking Showmanship of Magical Stunts

The ancient art of Chinese Acrobatics is an old and long running tradition that began in China well over two thousand years ago. Over its long and rich history it has developed as one of the most popular art forms among the Chinese people.

The Golden Dragon Acrobats represent the best of a time-honored custom that combines award-winning acrobatics, ancestral dance, spectacular costumes, ancient and contemporary music and theatrical techniques to create an unforgettable experience of breathtaking skill and spellbinding beauty.Chinese Acobats - Rings

The legendary Golden Dragon Acrobats performs at Cary Hall with their amazing feats of athleticism, daring, heart-stopping stunts and the finesse of the centuries-old art form.This unique cirque spectacular showcases a tour de force of traditional Chinese acrobats highlighting their remarkable skills and physicality.

Boasting the best in gasp-inducing juggling with props as varied as ladders and giant spinning wheels, tumbling and balancing acts, the performers show just why they’re world renowned. Their spectacular artistry and colorful accoutrements are combined with cirque-style acts. The traditional and contemporary musical score and explosive choreography creates an exciting  show of mesmerizing mastery showmanship and breathtaking, magical stunts that is nothing short of phenomenal.Chinese Acrobats - Bike

Location: Cary Hall, 1605 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420
Date: Sat, April 8, 2017
Time: 3 -5pm
Tel: 617-531-1257
caryhalllexington.com/wordpress1/?projects=the-golden-dragon-acrobats-april-8
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: merrimackvalley.org

US: Alexandria, VA – Alexandria Celebrates George Washington’s Birthday

This city throws a birthday party every year for its famous first citizen, George Washington, who lived here most of his life (when he wasn’t off leading a war or being first president of United States). He was born February 22. 1732 in Virginia and Alexandria commemorates with  George Washington-themed events throughout the month each February.George Washington's Birthday

In the spirit of the old cherry tree tale, from now until Feb 11th, Alexandria restaurants are challenged to a very cherry culinary contest. At participating restaurants diners are encouraged to vote for their favorite cherry drinks, starters, entrees and desserts.
(703) 829-6640 For participating restaurants and more info: washingtonbirthday.com/events-1/2017/1/29/cherry-challenge   Photo Credit: Tisara Photography

How about a Walking with Washington Tour. Walk in George Washington’s footsteps through his hometown, historic Alexandria. View some of the sites connected to the General, like where he filled his prescriptions or slept overnight. FREE
Begin your journey: Ramsay House Visitors Center, 221 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Dates: Sun. Feb 5, 12, 19, 2017
Time: 2 -3:30pm
washingtonbirthday.com/events-1/2017/2/5/walking-with-washington

Historic Alexandria “Open House” : In honor of the birthday of George Washington admission is FREE to the following sites on Parade Day.
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (134 North Royal Street, Alexandria, Virginia), 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Friendship Firehouse Museum (107 S. Alfred St., Alexandria, Virginia), 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Old Presbyterian Meeting House (323 South Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia), 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The Lyceum (201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, Virginia), 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Carlyle House (121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, Virginia), 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S. Fairfax St., Alexandria, Virginia), 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Christ Church (118 N. Washington St., Alexandria, Virginia), 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m
Date: Mon, Feb 20, 2017
Time: 9am – 4pm
washingtonbirthday.com/events-1/2017/2/20/historic-alexandria-open-house

Throughout the weekend, participate in public wreath-layings at the Washingtons’ Tomb, see 18th-century dancing demonstrations and character performances, and enjoy birthday cake with “General and Martha Washington.” Feb 18 & 19: Included in admission. Mount Vernon Photo Credit: Mount Vernon

On February 20, see the Official Observance Ceremony of George Washington’s Birthday, a special military demonstration, and a musical salute to the first president. The Pioneer Farm will also be open on this day. Admission is FREE
Photo Credit: Mount Vernon

The celebration continues on February 22 as Mount Vernon offers FREE admission on George Washington’s actual birthday.
Dates: Feb 18, 19, 20, 22, 2017
Time: 9am – 4pm
mountvernon.org/plan-your-visit/calendar/events/celebrate-washingtons-birthday-on-presidents-day/

For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitalexandriava.com

US: Fredericksburg, VA – Gingerbread Houses, Miniature Dollhouses, and even the Grinch

Looking for some fun, family friendly entertainment this holiday season, well Fredericksburg has you covered.

Why not check out the 30th Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit at George Washington’s Ferry Farm . This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays.” A long-standing holiday tradition,  adults and children alike will enjoy the sights and smells of the festive creations displayed at George Washington’s Ferry Farm.gingerbread-house-txt
Location: 268 Kings Hwy (Route 3 East) Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dates: until Dec 30th (Closed December 24 & 25)
Hours: Mon – Sat 10am – 4pm; Sun 12pm – 4pm
Tel: 540-370-0733 x24
ferryfarm.org

Visit Historic Kenmore this holiday season for an exhibit of highly detailed, replica dollhouses – including the mansion – and miniatures in the Crowninshield Museum Building. A Wee Christmas – Dollhouses and Miniatures Show where you can  share memories as you explore life in miniature. Put your mind and eye to the test with their “I Spy Miniatures” challenge – fun for young and old alike. doll-house-exhibit
Location: 1201 Washington Ave, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dates: until Dec 30th (Closed December 24 & 25)
Hours: Mon – Sat 10am – 4pm; Sun 12pm – 4pm
Tel: 540-373-3381
kenmore.org

And for the kid in all of us, Mr. Grinch is coming to Downtown Fredericksburg! Every Sunday in December Mr. Grinch will be available for a 15 minute ride down Caroline Street, sing some Whoville songs, admire the decorated store windows and enjoy the ride. This is a great photo opportunity and kids get a Christmas Goody Bag.grinch-carriage-ride
Location: 706 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dates: every Sunday in December
Hours: 11 to 4pm
Tel: 540-371-0094
visitfred.com/events/mr-grinch-coming-to-downtown-fredericksburg

For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants and Attractions: visitfred.com

 

US: Concord, MA – Good Things Come in Small Packages at Dollhouse Exhibit

 Four centuries of dollhouses are on display in Concord at The Art & Mystery of the Dollhouse exhibit featuring many of the finest representations in both public and private collections. Admirers young and old will appreciate the chance to step into that intriguing miniature universe at the new presentation at the Concord Museum, on view until Jan. 15. art-of-the-dollhouse

Explore tiny worlds that capture life’s detail and the imagination through dollhouses and miniatures from the 17th through early 20th centuries show the evolution of dollhouses from treasures for wealthy adults to colorful playthings for children. This captivating exhibition explores the tiny worlds that capture life’s detail and stimulate the imagination.

Highlights include an extremely rare dollhouse from 1695, and an array of 19th- and 20th-century doll homes from The Strong National Museum of Play,  View “room dollhouses” that celebrate interior design history and play with a hands-on Hape dollhouse. There is even a celebrity doll in attendance — Melissa Shakespeare, the doll of children’s author and illustrator Tasha Tudor. art-of-the-dollhouse2

The Concord Museum will be hosting an array of special programs throughout the exhibition months includes a hands-on room box building workshop, story times with dollhouse-inspired crafts and gallery talks led by specialists in the world of miniatures.

Location: Concord Museum, 200 Lexington Road, Concord, MA 01742
Dates: Until  January 15, 2017
Hours: til December Mon–Sat, 9–5pm; Sun., 12–5pm
January Mon–Sat 11–4pm, Sun. 1–4pm                         Tel: 978-369-9763
concordmuseum.org/art-and-mystery-of-the- dollhouse.php
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions:
concordchamberofcommerce.org/visitor-information

Photo Credit: Photos by Gavin Ashworth
picture 1 – Camden House; England, dated 1838; Private Collection: This house includes all its original furnishings, including a copy of T. Goode’s miniature edition of The History of England (1837). Camden, now part of London proper, was in 1838 a suburb with housing developed for working people. The Cratchet family of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol (1843) lived in Camden. The house first came to America in 1964.

picture 2 -Georgian House; England, 1720-1730; Private Collection: This oak dollhouse on stand is in the form of an early Georgian country house. When it was owned by pioneering dollhouse collector Vivien Greene, the house included a clockwork (wind-up) ghost. The ghost intrigued the young Prince Charles when he saw the house in the first (1955) major exhibition on the subject of early dollhouses.

Canada: Montreal, Quebec – Voiles en Voiles Pirate Ship

Voiles en Voiles is a family-oriented park in the Old Port of Montreal, based on a pirate ship and consisting of aerial climbing, zipping, wall climbing and inflatable bouncing games. Voiles en Voiles Pirate ShipThis is an idea of what you are up against at Voiles en voiles.

Canada: Montreal, Quebec – Old Montreal’s Voiles de voiles

View of the Voiles de voiles Pirate Ship adventure from the SOS Labyrinthe in Old Montreal. The Voiles consists of games, aerial courses and bouncy castles that can keep you occupied for hours.

voiles

Canada: Montreal, Quebec – SOS Labyrinth at Vieux-Port de Montréal

The SOS Labyrinth is one of the great family attractions at Montreal’s Old Port. Essentially, you have to make your way through this huge complex maze and find 4 items: the Captain’s hook, a pair of Dutch wooden shoes, a travel wallet and a Cuban pitchfork. The stories behind these items can be found on the wall as you enter the labyrinth, and they are also on their web site. Plan to spend about an hour here.  labrinth

 

Canadian Museum of Nature is Museum of Fun

If you are heading out to Ottawa to enjoy our nation’s capitol, leave some time to explore the Canadian Museum of Nature. It’s the perfect place for all ages of the family to enjoy themselves. The brainy kids (or adults) can soak up extensive details about nature while the playful gang can pull levers or turn knobs in a deep sea sub, IMG_5043learn on many touch screens, or even dance around in front of  the endothermy camera checking out their colorful “hotspots”.

Everyone is awed by the the 19.8-metre blue whale skeleton in the Water Gallery but keeping going further in. All the way in the back are many interactive games for young and old alike: make believe areas for the wee ones, a board game along a wall,  animal jigsaw puzzles on touch screens, word games, etc.  

Gawk at the dinosaur fossils or walk amongst the fleshed-out dinosaur creatures for photo ops with kids. In the Vale Earth Gallery swoon over the 1200 gorgeous minerals, rocks and meteorites. Our 5 1/2-year-old couldn’t get enough of the joystick which controls a huge earth or the button to start the volcano.

Sure there’s a full size mammal gallery but the 11, 8 and 5 1/2 year-olds all stayed longer in the small Nature Live space where they oogled the cases of walking stick bugs in different camouflage colors and thicknesses. How many of you have come face to face with a tarantula? Then they listened intently as a docent showed fossils which were indigenous to Ottawa.

If you have time there are two 3D movies, “Prehistoric Planet 3D and Micro-Monsters 3D” (both too scary for the 5 1/2 -year old) but our gang liked the interactive museum more.IMG_5051

The famous Bird Gallery, with  one of the most extensive collections of Canadian birds in the world re-opened June 1. A special exhibit on now is Ultimate Dinosaurs June 11-September 5 and then upcoming is Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly, October 6-April 2 .

A brand new Arctic Gallery will be unveiled on June 23 which is set to explain how the arctic is changing, including plants, animals and people of the area plus scientific research. Outside, three new ecozones will be shown off on June 17 including a woolly mammoths and an “iceberg”.

I’d like to give a thumbs up to the friendly security guards who answered questions informatively and helped to point out nearby bathrooms and water fountains.

Canadian Museum of Nature, a Beaux Arts building, was our first national museum, completed in 1912. Trivia buffs should note that this building  served as home to Canada’s House of Commons and Senate following the fire that destroyed the Centre Block of Parliament in 1916.

Location: 240 McLeod St., Ottawa
Phone: 613-364-4021
www.nature.ca

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