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France, Paris: Venus, Samothrace, and Mona

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Three of the most recognized pieces of art in the world. The Venus de Milo (found on the Greek island of Milo) is over 200o yrs old and is still seen as the epitomy of classical female beauty. The Winged Victory of Samothrace is a mastery of carving – just notice the wind ruffling her 2200-year- old dress. And dear old Mona, our guide said she has that secret smile because she knows where Rodin hid The Thinker’s clothing! (See him at the Rodin Museum here in Paris)

France, Paris: Louvre Palace

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You might not have known that the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre was a palace. Before that it was originally built in the late 12th to 13th century as the Louvre castle under Philip II. Francis I chose it as the residence for French kings where it remained until good old King Louis XIV decided to move to Versailles and this building was then used to store his pretty things.

 

Great Britain, London: Big Ben and Parliament

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You get two photo ops for the price of one in London because Big Ben (in the re-named Elizabeth Tower) stands right next to the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament). Big Ben is the name of the largest bell. When built, in 1859, the clock was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world. In August 2017, renovation work began in order to include a lift, and to re-glaze and repaint the clock dials. Though the clock could chime throughout the work being done, it was too loud for the workers so the bells will remain silent except for such occasions as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday. Here we caught it from the top of the Hop On Hop Off bus with the tour guide telling us about it.

Austria, Innsbruck: Sitting on Top of the World in Innsbruck

 

Creating everlasting family memories on the Nordkette mountain top in Innsbruck.

US: Daytona Beach, FL- The Latest LED Technology and Digital Animations at Magic of Lights® Holiday Display

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, a 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 drive-through from the comfort of your own car. At every turn, and in every direction, the magical route is overflowing with spectacular light displays and animations. Be transfixed when Santa’s team of reindeer cross in flight above your vehicle, see the sweetest 200-foot long Candy Cane Lane, a delightful Snowflake Forest and even more festivities.

Magic of Lights is a fun and memorable family entertainment. 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, 2018
Hours: every night from dusk – 10 pm
Tel: 330-441-4255
magicoflights.com/daytona
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: daytonabeach.com

Austria, Wattens: On Stage in the Crystal Dome Swarovski Crystal Worlds

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“You are the world” – the Crystal World that is, when you stand in the center of the Crystal Dome.

 

 

Canada, Montreal: Pulitzer Prize Winning Play Glengarry Glen Ross

It’s special when we can get to view a play which was honored with a Tony nomination and garnered a Pulitzer Prize.  Glengarry Glen Ross, now playing at the Mainline Theatre (produced by Acts to Grind Theatre), shows off David Mamet’s ability to write profound dialogue.

This story highlights the cynical, difficult, pushy life of real estate salesmen in Chicago. I was not surprised to learn that the play is also often referred to as “Death of a Fuckin’ Salesman”, because it is notorious for its use of profanity. That hardly resonates in today’s foul language world – on the other hand, today’s politically correct society would flinch at the prejudice shown against East Indians and Polish people.

Mamet’s characters are drawn down and dirty as lying, backstabbing, double-dealing tricksters willing to toss out ethical principles to justify their work. Yet they really are passionate about selling, and especially enjoy the nitty gritty details of closing a deal.  One of Mamet’s goal in writing this play was to highlight the plight of so many people who go about their lives performing regular jobs yet often having to endure indignities while doing so.

Actor Zag Dorison (Shelly Levene) does an amazing job of making you feel his nervousness and despair; we twitch and pull on our lapels right along with him. Dorison, commenting on his character, “This play will always be relevant. There will always be those who exploit others and are out
for a buck at the expense of someone’s savings and dignity. Although the character of Shelly Levene is down on his luck, he believes that
it’s just a streak that will break; he had been a shark and wants to be one again. It is interesting that in spite of this, the audience still
sympathizes with him when his whole world comes crashing down upon him.”

Michael Aronovitch (George Aaronow),  Izak Benrobi (Ricky Roma) and Jake Caceres (Dave Moss) have all been cast well for their parts, and they make their distinctive personalities apparent. Bryan Libero (John Williamson) really makes you dislike him while the company man, Olivier Ross-Parent (Blake/Baylen) is properly detestable.  Davyn Ryall (James Lingk) does well as the meek patsy trying to get his money back.

Be prepared for Mamet’s long soliliquys for each of them – with the other salesmen there mostly as an audience for their rants.  Since this is a small theatre, you too feel as though you are right next to them in the room. Be careful though because as Levene says, these guys are so manipulative, they know how to sell you something you didn’t even want.

Location: MainLine Theatre, 3997 St-Laurent, 2nd floor
Dates: Presented in English: Wed-Sat Nov 7-10, 14, 15, 16, 17, at 8pm. Sun matinees Nov 11, 18, at 2 pm
Tickets: (Prices include taxes and service charge) $22 general admission; $20 Seniors; $18 Students
Tel: 514 849-3378
e-mail: boxoffice@montrealfringe.ca
www.mainlinetheatre.ca/en/spectacles/glengarry-glen-ross
youtu.be/kQOG32GINho
NOTE: mature language. Recommended ages 14+

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: Providence, RI – Over 5,000 Intricately Carved Pumpkins and Spooky Nights at the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

A fall tradition at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, is the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, attracting more than 100,000 visitors for this truly “spectacular” event.

Don’t miss this year’s show that includes more than 5,000 intricately carved pumpkins featuring scenes of wizards, fairytales, and the luminaries of great myths and legends, alongside superheroes, and historical figures who changed the world. Revel in the sights and sounds of the season, and celebrate this otherworldly experience. This seasonal art show aims to delight and amaze the whole family, and not to scare anyone. – Tickets on-sale now

You can also experience the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride during the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. From 115 feet above riders enjoy an aerial view of the park and admire the plethora of jack-o-lanterns from above. Get an eagles-eye view over Providence and into Narragansett Bay in comfortable side-by-side seats.

There are also a number of Special Events taking place which are included in the price of admission (with the exception of Spooky Zoo and Boo at the Zoo Family Overnight). Kids and adults are encouraged to wear costumes; masks are not permitted for teens/adults over age 12.

Children’s Fairy Tale Nights – Wed and Thurs, Oct 10th & 11th @ 5:30pm-8pm: Meet beloved children’s fairy tale characters.  Take pictures with Peter Pan, Cinderella, Snow White, Robin Hood and favorite Dr. Seuss characters such as the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch.  As the sun sets, find your favorite fairy tales characters intricately carved on the pumpkins.

Wizarding Nights – Wed and Thurs, Oct 17th & 18th @6pm-8pm:
Wizards and witches get your wands, mount your brooms and fly on over to meet some of the characters from J.K. Rowling’s beloved series.  Before you embark on the pumpkin trail, try a butter beer or a chocolate frog.  Then travel the pumpkin trail, and identify characters and scenes from the wizarding world.

Super Hero Nights – Wed and Thurs, Oct 24th & 25th @6pm-8pm:
Comic book fans might meet Black Panther, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider Man, and the gang, take a photo, and find out how they all save the world.  As the heroes go back out to fight evil, find your hero’s pumpkin on the pumpkin trail.

Spooky Zoo – Sat and Sun, Oct 27th & 28th:
Spooky Zoo is back, offering daytime outdoor autumn activities for the whole family.  Come trick-or-treat (while supplies last)  beginning at 10:30 am on the Treat Trail by the red wolf exhibit. Kids and adults will enjoy a packed schedule of seasonal activities. Activities are free with Zoo admission and all children 12 and under dressed in costume get in for half price.

Boo at the Zoo Family Overnight – Sat, Oct 20th and Sat, Oct 27th, 2018:
Snooze at the Zoo for the wildest family overnight adventure in town. The night begins with pizza and ice cream before educators engage you and your children in an owl pellet dissection, program animal encounters, and give you VIP access to the world famous Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. Set up your sleeping bags in the Meller-Danforth Education Center with popcorn and a movie to snooze to. You’ll need your zzzzs before waking up with the animals. A light breakfast will be provided before a morning Zoo tour.

The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular takes place 7 days a week. Take advantage of Value Nights, Mon-Thurs, which will save you a bit of money and are usually less crowded.

 

 

 

 

 

Location: Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence, RI 02903
Dates: Oct 4 – Nov 4, 2018
Times: 6 – 11 p.m. (last admission at 10pm)
Tel: 401-785-3510
rwpzoo.org/plan-your-visit/events/jack-o-lantern-spectacular
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: goprovidence.com

US: Ormond Beach, FL – Ormond/Daytona Beach Tricksters and Hot Rods

The Ormond Beach Community Day is a fun filled event for the whole family. All the fun takes place on Saturday, September 29th from 11am to 4pm at Destination Daytona.

This free community non-profit charity event features outstanding food, live music, vendors and entertainment including a professional  BMX Trickstars shows, classic car show, RV exhibit with Giant Recreation World, Motorcycle Police Demos,  drum line performance, a visit from the National Guard, top 40 hand picked Hot Rod show, kids play area with face painting, balloons, bounce house, and all full day of live music.

Location: Destination Daytona, 253 Destination Daytona, Ormond Beach, FL 32174
Date: Sat, Sept 29, 2018
Time: 11am – 4pm
Tel: 386-868-8484
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: daytonabeach.com